They were on Omaha Beach

"They were on Omaha Beach, 213 eyewitnesses by Laurent Lefebvre" looks at the invasion of Omaha Beach through both local and veterans testimonies. It follows the invasion minute by minute, told by those who were there, living through the chaos.

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Lieutenant Wesley Ross

146th Engineer Combat Battalion - B Company

Omaha Beach

 

As we approached the beach, I began seeing splashes in the water from the mortar, artillery, and small arms fire, so I quickly lost interest in being an observer, and ducked down behind the steel ramp and sidewalls. This was really fingernail-biting time, as detonation of our explosives by mortar or artillery fire would have been devastating. This unfortunate scenario was visited upon two Gap Assault Teams on the 299ECB's eastern sector, when their explosives were detonated prematurely. Both NCDU officers and the majority of their NCDU members were killed. The two army teams, to which they were attached, must also have suffered similarly as 299ECB pro-rated fatalities were almost double that of the 146ECB.

As we came close in, our navy gunner began "hosing down" the beach ahead with his twin .50 caliber machine guns, mounted near the stern of our LCM. This certainly was a morale booster, because as we approached the beach we saw several dead GIs face-down, bobbing and rolling in the surf. This was unsettling--this was just a few minutes after our infantry covering force had been programmed to be the first foot-soldiers ashore. These men may have been tankers in the DD-Tanks that sank in the heavy surf. Had they been in our initial infantry cover force, their under-the-chin assault gas masks should have kept them face-up in the water--even though drowned.

There were no visible tankdozers or infantrymen near our landing area when we scurried from our LCM, five minutes late from our planned landing time of 0633--(per Ensign Blean). This five minute delay had an adverse affect on our mission, as will be seen. Our tankdozer was late, and I had thought that our infantry covering force was also late. (We had landed on Easy Green, approximately 200 yards west of our assigned spot, and the infantry may have landed properly.) The fortified house near the mouth of les Moulins Draw, was a short distance east.

Gap Assault Team #7 was 200 yards to my west, and another team an equal distance to the east (Gap Assault Team 9?). This approximated the planned spacing. All eight 146ECB primary Gap Assault Teams landed on our western beach sector, and all were reasonably near their designated sub-sector areas--even though many writers have stated that the tidal current pushed most of the boat teams to the east. This may have been true for many of the infantry landing craft; and all four of our 146ECB support Gap Assault Teams did land far to the east on the 299ECB beach sector...

As for Gap Assault Team #8, its members hurried inland 150 yards near our "foxhole", and began placing the C-2 charges. Bill Garland, Earl Holbert, Bill Townsley, several NCDU members, and I slid the rubber raft out of the LCM, containing the backup explosives and bangalore torpedoes. It took some real tugging to skid out the raft, all the while sweating it out while presenting a stationary target with our backs to the enemy. Earl then pulled the raft eastward beyond the edge of our gap and tied the long small-diameter rope to one of the wooden obstacles...

Running a zigzag path up to our Super Foxhole located midway between the wooden obstacles and the steel hedgehogs, I found Sgt W. Grosvenor firing his M-1 at the fortified house near the mouth of D-3 Draw to our left front, attempting to suppress the machine gun fire coming from there. After a short discussion, I grabbed his big Signal Corp wire-reel containing the primacord ring main (two strands of primacord frictiontaped at two foot intervals to a small rope), and took off in high gear...

While proceeding with the placement of the charges, I just happened to be looking eastward into the pre-sunrise sky, when an artillery round hit the sand sixty feet away. It ricocheted twenty feet into the air and its pointed nose was clearly visible against the morning sky before exploding. It split along its length and sent a two foot long "V-shaped" chunk of steel flopping over and over toward the northeast! High explosive artillery rounds are designed to produce multiple high velocity fragments, so this was a faulty round--the result of slave labor sabotage?? If so, it was much appreciated!

We were under heavy small arms fire almost immediately and machine guns, mostly unseen by me, were tracking our movement. I saw three riflemen slinking to my left, in defilade behind the natural sandbank seawall above the high water line. They were heading east toward the fortified house near the mouth of les Moulins Draw, but I was too busy to monitor their progress. These men may have been from our infantry covering force--the first contingent ashore from the 116th Infantry--and if so, may have been attempting to silence the enemy machine gun fire from the fortified house...