Memories of D-Day: Omaha Beach

US troops in a landing craft nearing Omaha Beach

US troops in a landing craft nearing Omaha Beach

This beach is now known as “Bloody Omaha” because of the 2,200 casualties suffered by the American troops who landed here on D-Day. High cliffs and strong German defences made this a formidable objective. Despite heavy losses, by the end of 6 June the US 1st and 29th Divisions, and the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions, had gained a foothold at Omaha.

Countdown on Ohama Beach>

Dale L. Shrop was in a demolition squad of the US 1st Engineer Combat Battalion, attached to the US 1st Division. He landed on Omaha Beach, in the face of heavy enemy fire.
“ I was with the first wave at zero hour and one of the lone survivors of that day. I could not swim when we jumped off the LCI [Landing Craft, Infantry]. I was tied to my platoon sergeant with a nylon rope. Imagine being sent on this type of mission when I couldn’t swim. I also had a life preserver on. It was not so humorous then because I was too scared to even know my name. A lot of the guys were hit below the waist and lost the use of their arms or legs, and the tide came in and got them before the medics got them. Another tragic thing I saw when I went back to the beachhead after it was secured – they had bodies stacked in rows like one would stack cordwood.”
LCI = a “Landing Craft, Infantry”, one of the medium-sized craft that carried infantry only.
[Warren Tute Collection, D-Day Museum]

Carter Barber was an American war correspondent on the transport ship U.S.S. Bayfield. He witnessed the landings on Omaha Beach from a US Coast Guard cutter (a small boat) just offshore.
“ We slowed to a snail’s pace and, around 4.45am the anchors rattled down into the water, and I could hear some of the curses of men swinging their assault barges over the transport’s side. At five the barges were circling around in the water off their looming mother ship, and the terrific barrages started from the battlewagons [battleships] that had preceded us into the Bay of the Seine. It was like a review, the way we took those barges into the beach. You couldn’t see the heads of the troops over their sides… just the coxswain’s helmet sticking up from the stern. I looked aloft, saw our cutter’s flag twisted around the mast, and in a spurt of patriotism, climbed aloft, to free the banner. Just as I came down from the mast, we saw our first bunch of men. It was light then, and the scene was quickly changing from one of an even line of boats knifing in orderly rows behind their leaders towards the beach to a scene of carnage. One Higgins boat was completely disintegrated by a direct hit from shore. There were no survivors, and I couldn’t even see the dismembered parts of the troops ashore come down after they’d been blasted sky high.”
[Warren Tute Collection, D-Day Museum]

Photographs courtesy of the D-Day Museum, the Imperial War Museum, US Navy/US Coast Guard, and The News, Portsmouth. Images may not be copied without permission.