Normandy Travel Blog

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Most people refer to the landing on Omaha Beach as Bloody Omaha. OMAHA was a critical beach which had 100 feet high cliffs overlooking 4 miles of sand. The operation here might have been a total disaster and endangered the success of the Allied invasion if it had not been for the spirit and determination of small groups of soldiers.

The German 716th Coastal Defense Division happened to be joined by the 352nd Infantry Division, there on an exercise, on the day of the invasion. Unknown to the Allies, the amount of German resistance expected on Omaha Beach would be doubled.

Landing runs by assault crafts were made too far from shore, 12 miles (19km), and by the time troops made it to the beach it was a three hour journey in rough water conditions.

27 of the 29 D-D tanks launched to support landing troops sunk, taking their crews with them. Engineers who were supposed to clear obstacles for the incoming soldiers were blown way off course. As the first assault crafts landed, cover was given by Allied ships firing from sea. But as the ramps lowered, the deadly accuracy of the German defenders gave the brave but inexperienced American soldiers little chance of surviving.

As successive waves of American invaders landed, they were amidst the chaos of dead and wounded men, burning vehicles, and wrecked landing craft. Each wave of landing troops suffered greatly. At noon Lt. General Omar Bradley seriously considered evacuating troops as most of the 1st and 29th Infantry were still pinned down on the beach.

Brigadier General Norman D. Cota of the 29th and Colonel Taylor walked along the beach and rallied men. Fortunately enemy bullets did not find them as targets. A company of Rangers who were supposed to be reinforcements for the forces attacking Pointe du Hoc were blown off course and landed instead at Omaha Beach. They managed to gain the foot of the western cliffs and then proceeded to take out one bunker after another, but not without great loss. Slowly the Americans took over German positions and the beachhead was secure at a cost of over 2,000 casualties.

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photo by: anupa_rk