Date of D-Day if the Allies want to land at high tide

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Re: Date of D-Day if the Allies want to land at high tide

Post by Sheldrake » 10 Apr 2021 16:16

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Re: Date of D-Day if the Allies want to land at high tide

Post by Sheldrake » 10 Apr 2021 16:18

Funnily enough I have just been re reading the notes I made on the planning diary kept by Brigadier HJ Parham BRA Second Army. Sometime around March 1944 he made a note of a visit from the Major General RA - the senior Gunner at 21 Army Group. Parhams noted that the RN were very keen - over-keen on Beach Drenching while expectations were too high from heavy day bombers especially if there was cloud cover.

Parham was a big enthusiast for getting support from the USAAF. His notes include frustration and the lack of interest if not dishonesty by the RAF in claiming that they could undertake all manner of clever stuff such as breaching dams, bit were not going to go the extra mile to take out hardened anti tank positions on the beaches. He was fulsome in his praise for the support and co-operation of the 8th AF and their willingess to take on a task for which they had not been trained.

As I posted the heavy day bombers and naval gunfire did suppress most of the German artillery that could have interfered with the landings. The fireplan was overall good enough to get the infantry ashore; even on Omaha Beach. Making a comparison with the first day of the Somme, the allied casualties suffered by V Corps on Omaha beach were around half those suffered by the most successful of the British Corps on 1st July 1916. Nowhere on D Day was there an outright failure or repulse as there had been on three out of the five attacking corps on 1st July 1916 or on the opening days of Op Diadem by the Polish and XIII Corps and the FEC three weeks before D Day.

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Re: Date of D-Day if the Allies want to land at high tide

Post by Sheldrake » 10 Apr 2021 16:57

rcocean wrote:
10 Apr 2021 15:26
It retrospect, it would've been better to have delayed he Omaha landing even longer and allow the Navy to pound the beaches. I think this was the point that a British author made in "Omaha Beach - A Flawed Victory". Either land in darkness so the Germans don't have a good target, or blast the beach defenses with enough Naval Support to allow the troops an easy landing. He blames Bradley for choosing an in-between "worst of all worlds" choice, namely a landing in day light with inadequate naval gun support. One wonders how much the British benefited from extra time for their ships to pound the beaches.
The author of Omaha Beach Flawed Victory is Adrian R Lewis a retired US Army Major. Any Briton who repeated the nonsense written about how the British duped the Americans would be blackballed from every military club and officers mess in London...

Lewis is a source of the bilge that Op Overlord should have copied the successful techniques developed in the Pacific (mostly AFTER Op Overlord had taken place.) He ignores the difference between the situations. In the PTO the navy could pummel an isolated island for a few days at their leisure. In the ETO there were a dozen Panzer divisions waiting to respond.

This book is one generated by mini industry trying to paint an extremely successful operation that succeeded with far fewer casualties than expected as a failure. The idea that the planners should have predicted everything flies in the face of everything we know about war - it is chaos and no plan survives contact with the enemy.

To return to your point. Historically the D Day operation on Omaha Beach continued with the assault and follow up waves making up their own plan B (infantry up the bluffs) when plan A (tanks up the draws) was not working out. The historic cost was around 3,000 casualties mainly from the early assault waves. a total of 34,000 landed on Omaha Beach on D Day.

At what point could Gerow or Bradley made the decision to withdraw from the beach? Maybe things were looking bad by 0830 hours. By that time maybe 6,000 men had been landed, although a high proportion might have been casualties.

What would have happened to the men on the beach? There were wounded men, men pinned down by the sea wall and some men working their way inland. How are they going to get off the beach? It is far easier to beach a laden landing craft and float and empty craft than land an empty one and float off a laden one? Or is the landing going to be halted and the men ashore left to their fate? The likely cost of halting the landings on Omaha might be say, 80% of the men who landed - maybe 5,000 men as PW?

Assuming that the Omaha beach operation has been halted. What is the next step? The Lewis idea of a leisurely bombardment of the bunkers PTO Island style is a return to the WW1 strategy and ignores the need to neutralise the unlocated German artillery that inflicted so many casualties on Omaha Beach. There is not the time for that. An hour extra bombardment isn't going to do much either. (Have you seen the German positions? The bunkers are sited to fire in defilade down the beach and protected to seaward by very thick concrete walls. They would need a direct hit from a big gun to do any damage.)

Wouldn't it be easier to divert the follow on waves to Utah Beach? And that is where some of the alternative histories start thinking about a German victory.

Neither Gerow nor Bradley had been in that situation before. The plan was that D Day had to succeed and the pre D Day discussions involved IRRC Gerow(?) being asked what would happen if the first wave of 1st and 29th Divisions failed. - Send in the 2nd Infantry then 2nd Armoured Divisions. D Day was so important that it had to be made to work regardless of casualties. As it turned out , although Omaha was the toughest beach, the assault succeeded with casualties well below the worst case. They were right to hold their nerve and trust the initiative and training of their soldiers.

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Re: Date of D-Day if the Allies want to land at high tide

Post by Richard Anderson » 10 Apr 2021 17:01

Sheldrake wrote:
10 Apr 2021 16:57
The author of Omaha Beach Flawed Victory is Adrian R Lewis a retired US Army Major. Any Briton who repeated the nonsense written about how the British duped the Americans would be blackballed from every military club and officers mess in London...
I have long argued that the worst thing about Major Lewis' work is that Flawed Victory is a terribly flawed book.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: Date of D-Day if the Allies want to land at high tide

Post by rcocean » 10 Apr 2021 17:14

The author of Omaha Beach Flawed Victory is Adrian R Lewis a retired US Army Major. Any Briton who repeated the nonsense written about how the British duped the Americans would be blackballed from every military club and officers mess in London...
Ha. My mistake. Labeling him as English, is either an insult or a compliment, depending on your Point of view :D
To return to your point. Historically the D Day operation on Omaha Beach continued with the assault and follow up waves making up their own plan B (infantry up the bluffs) when plan A (tanks up the draws) was not working out. The historic cost was around 3,000 casualties mainly from the early assault waves. a total of 34,000 landed on Omaha Beach on D Day.

At what point could Gerow or Bradley made the decision to withdraw from the beach? Maybe things were looking bad by 0830 hours. By that time maybe 6,000 men had been landed, although a high proportion might have been casualties.
Sorry, I didn't realize that Lewis in his book stated the attack should have been halted. I thought he said the original time of the landing should have either been delayed to allow for more gun support or moved up earlier to allow for a nighttime landing. Did I say the landing at Omaha Beach should have been halted? If so, I gave the wrong impression. I certainly agree that once Bradley went forward with his plan, and the troops landed on Omaha Beach, there was nothing to do but solider on and continue the attack. I was attempting to criticize the original time of landing.

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Re: Date of D-Day if the Allies want to land at high tide

Post by rcocean » 10 Apr 2021 17:16

"I have long argued that the worst thing about Major Lewis' work is that Flawed Victory is a terribly flawed book."

Did you critique on this forum? if so, do you remember where? Or will a "search" find it?

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Re: Date of D-Day if the Allies want to land at high tide

Post by Sheldrake » 10 Apr 2021 20:51

rcocean wrote:
10 Apr 2021 17:14
To return to your point. Historically the D Day operation on Omaha Beach continued with the assault and follow up waves making up their own plan B (infantry up the bluffs) when plan A (tanks up the draws) was not working out. The historic cost was around 3,000 casualties mainly from the early assault waves. a total of 34,000 landed on Omaha Beach on D Day.

At what point could Gerow or Bradley made the decision to withdraw from the beach? Maybe things were looking bad by 0830 hours. By that time maybe 6,000 men had been landed, although a high proportion might have been casualties.
Sorry, I didn't realize that Lewis in his book stated the attack should have been halted. I thought he said the original time of the landing should have either been delayed to allow for more gun support or moved up earlier to allow for a nighttime landing. Did I say the landing at Omaha Beach should have been halted? If so, I gave the wrong impression. I certainly agree that once Bradley went forward with his plan, and the troops landed on Omaha Beach, there was nothing to do but solider on and continue the attack. I was attempting to criticize the original time of landing.
You are correct. Lewis argued that more time should have been allowed for naval bombardment. My recollection is that he considered the night landing option as a British concept born of historic weakness leading to sneaky attempts to land pre dawn.

Op Overlord to that time was the only major allied amphibious landing launched in daylight. All the operations in the Med expected to be opposed had an H Hour in darkness. One big lesson from Dieppe was that the Atlantic wall defences were too strong and defenders too alert to sneak ashore and it was too difficult to co-ordinate simultaneous landing at night.

Lewis draws heavily on the argument that the PTO was the origin of a truly American amphibious doctrine - with the added spice for Navy and Marine corps oriented readers that this was looking at a failure by the US Army and the Limeys.

There are big problems with an extended bombardment. If the aim of the bombardment was to destroy the defences, this would take a lot of ammunition and a lot of time. Nor is there any guarantee that any attack will be a walk over.

For example at Vimy Ridge April 1917 celebrated by Canadians as a victory there was a preliminary bombardment to eliminate german positions and guns. There was a field gun for every 9 yards and a heavy gun for every 20. The bombardment opened on 20th March for a zero day of 9 April. Enough defenders survived to inflict 10,000 casualties on around 40,000 assaulting infantry.

The assault on Saipan in June-July 1944 was initiated with a two day naval bombardment from seven battleships, eleven cruisers and 36 destroyers and assorted fire suipport ships. Nor was it totally effective as enough defences survived to sink 20 LVTs. The resulting battle ashore cost the three divisions of the V Amphibious corps 13,000 casualties - probably more than suffered by the Army's V Corps on D Day and the three weeks following.

The big problem with trying this in support of the cross channel attack is that any tactical surprise would be lost. Two days notice of an a landing would be plenty of time to ensure that the Panzers were lined up ready to counter attack and eliminate any chance of landing troops from the air.

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Re: Date of D-Day if the Allies want to land at high tide

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 10 Apr 2021 22:03

Sheldrake wrote:
10 Apr 2021 20:51
The big problem with trying this in support of the cross channel attack is that any tactical surprise would be lost. Two days notice of an a landing would be plenty of time to ensure that the Panzers were lined up ready to counter attack and eliminate any chance of landing troops from the air.
Not to mention U-boats, S-boats, mini-subs, mine laying, the Luftwaffe, etc.

Regards

Tom

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Re: Date of D-Day if the Allies want to land at high tide

Post by Richard Anderson » 10 Apr 2021 23:29

rcocean wrote:
10 Apr 2021 17:16
Did you critique on this forum? if so, do you remember where? Or will a "search" find it?
I've criticized it before here and on other sites when posters have used Lewis' arguments citing him as a source. I have never done a full review of the book, which would require re-reading it and that is already a few days out of my life I will never get back. I recollect Dorothy Parker's famous bon mot, "this is not a book to be tossed aside lightly, it should be thrown across the room with great force." :D
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: Date of D-Day if the Allies want to land at high tide

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 11 Apr 2021 03:57

Sheldrake wrote:
10 Apr 2021 16:57
Assuming that the Omaha beach operation has been halted. What is the next step? The Lewis idea of a leisurely bombardment of the bunkers PTO Island style is a return to the WW1 strategy and ignores the need to neutralise the unlocated German artillery that inflicted so many casualties on Omaha Beach. There is not the time for that. An hour extra bombardment isn't going to do much either. (Have you seen the German positions? The bunkers are sited to fire in defilade down the beach and protected to seaward by very thick concrete walls. They would need a direct hit from a big gun to do any damage.)
I can make arguments for changes n the pre H hour bombardment of OMAHA Beach, but those won't support Lewis, going in a different direction as it were.

Where failing in the preparatory fires is in this case, & typically in preparatory fires, is weak target location. The precise location of most of the gun bunkers is unknown. Concrete or even log and sandbag protection means a direct hit is needed to neutralize of destroy the weapon. Its not common to have that degree of accuracy in target location before a assault. Some targets sure, but not many & absolutely not a majority of the key defense positions. You don't really get that until a spotting or forward observer team gets eyes on the target. Then the cannon fire can be dialed in for the direct hits. This fits the pattern on the Normandy beaches 6th June. The preliminary Naval gun Fire support did not neutralize much. After the first few assault waves are ashore & the spotting teams established, the ships fire support starts hitting things in a decisive way.

Suppression is the other goal of fire support. That is 'stunning' disorienting or concussing the defenders. If they are mentally & physically incapacitated by the incoming fires it can assist the assault. Temporary deaf and concussion being the two principle effects. Two things are needed to achieve this. First large volumes of fire in a short time, second is a very short time between the end of the 'Suppressive' attack and the arrival of the assault. In a perfect world the first assault squad touches the enemy trench or bunker one second after the fragments of the last projectile/bomb hit it. In the case of OMAHA Beach & to a lesser extent with the others there was neither the volume of naval gun fire needed to get the necessary suppression effects nor a tight synchronization between the end of the fire and the arrival of the first assault waves. Whatever the reasons, good or bad, the synchronization was not as tight as desirable.

The other source of suppression & possibly neutralization was air attack. On paper the 1000+ tons of bombs aimed at each beachs Resistance Nests should have done the trick. As we know accuracy varied a lot and generally was not as hoped. Equally important is the time between the end of the air attacks and the arrival of the first assault wave is longer than desirable. Again, for a lot of well known reasons the synchronization was 'off'.

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Re: Date of D-Day if the Allies want to land at high tide

Post by Sheldrake » 11 Apr 2021 10:19

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
11 Apr 2021 03:57
I can make arguments for changes n the pre H hour bombardment of OMAHA Beach, but those won't support Lewis, going in a different direction as it were.

Where failing in the preparatory fires is in this case, & typically in preparatory fires, is weak target location. The precise location of most of the gun bunkers is unknown. Concrete or even log and sandbag protection means a direct hit is needed to neutralize of destroy the weapon. Its not common to have that degree of accuracy in target location before a assault. Some targets sure, but not many & absolutely not a majority of the key defense positions. You don't really get that until a spotting or forward observer team gets eyes on the target. Then the cannon fire can be dialed in for the direct hits. This fits the pattern on the Normandy beaches 6th June. The preliminary Naval gun Fire support did not neutralize much. After the first few assault waves are ashore & the spotting teams established, the ships fire support starts hitting things in a decisive way.

Suppression is the other goal of fire support. That is 'stunning' disorienting or concussing the defenders. If they are mentally & physically incapacitated by the incoming fires it can assist the assault. Temporary deaf and concussion being the two principle effects. Two things are needed to achieve this. First large volumes of fire in a short time, second is a very short time between the end of the 'Suppressive' attack and the arrival of the assault. In a perfect world the first assault squad touches the enemy trench or bunker one second after the fragments of the last projectile/bomb hit it. In the case of OMAHA Beach & to a lesser extent with the others there was neither the volume of naval gun fire needed to get the necessary suppression effects nor a tight synchronization between the end of the fire and the arrival of the first assault waves. Whatever the reasons, good or bad, the synchronization was not as tight as desirable.

The other source of suppression & possibly neutralization was air attack. On paper the 1000+ tons of bombs aimed at each beachs Resistance Nests should have done the trick. As we know accuracy varied a lot and generally was not as hoped. Equally important is the time between the end of the air attacks and the arrival of the first assault wave is longer than desirable. Again, for a lot of well known reasons the synchronization was 'off'.
I don't disagree with your analysis, but would like to add in another factor- recovery time allowed to the defenders. By 1944 it was known that the suppression effect from artillery bombardments lasted for no more than 2 minutes. Unless the infantry closed with the defenders this time, German (or Japanese) would have recovered from the suppressive effects. This was known as long ago as 1916 but seems to have been one of those things lost in peacetime. The implications are that the infantry would need to be well within 200 metres/yards of the enemy before the last rounds hit the target. Unfortunately this was well inside the safety distances of 20th century artillery accuracy and ammunition. This is a grim prospect. If we want the attack to succeed we need to make some human sacrifices of around 1-3% of the attacking infantry. In the planning for D Day a great deal of attention was paid to the risks of friendly fire. There was the danger of naval gun fire hitting the assault waves, the risk of fighter bombers flying into the shells of the naval bombardment and something that over worried the navy, the risk of the USAAF bombing the assaulting troops and landing craft.

The Assault troops hit the beach a good 300-400 metres/yards from the nearest defenders and the other side of local wire etc. That is 6-8 minutes at WW2 planning times. The beach drenching stopped at H Hour. Fighter bombers at H-5 SP Artillery at H-10 ish Ditto the spectacular rockets. Heavy bombers around H-10 - and 1000 yards inland (?) Destroyers were firing at targets flanking the beaches. Battleships and cruisers were never firing at the infantry defences. Most of this was wasted.

Parham the BRA Second Army was aware of the thinning of the barrage from H-10 which is why he was so keen to add the 100 tanks and close support howitzers of the RMASG to add firepower for the last 10 minutes.

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Re: Date of D-Day if the Allies want to land at high tide

Post by Sheldrake » 11 Apr 2021 10:21

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
11 Apr 2021 03:57
I can make arguments for changes n the pre H hour bombardment of OMAHA Beach, but those won't support Lewis, going in a different direction as it were.

Where failing in the preparatory fires is in this case, & typically in preparatory fires, is weak target location. The precise location of most of the gun bunkers is unknown. Concrete or even log and sandbag protection means a direct hit is needed to neutralize of destroy the weapon. Its not common to have that degree of accuracy in target location before a assault. Some targets sure, but not many & absolutely not a majority of the key defense positions. You don't really get that until a spotting or forward observer team gets eyes on the target. Then the cannon fire can be dialed in for the direct hits. This fits the pattern on the Normandy beaches 6th June. The preliminary Naval gun Fire support did not neutralize much. After the first few assault waves are ashore & the spotting teams established, the ships fire support starts hitting things in a decisive way.

Suppression is the other goal of fire support. That is 'stunning' disorienting or concussing the defenders. If they are mentally & physically incapacitated by the incoming fires it can assist the assault. Temporary deaf and concussion being the two principle effects. Two things are needed to achieve this. First large volumes of fire in a short time, second is a very short time between the end of the 'Suppressive' attack and the arrival of the assault. In a perfect world the first assault squad touches the enemy trench or bunker one second after the fragments of the last projectile/bomb hit it. In the case of OMAHA Beach & to a lesser extent with the others there was neither the volume of naval gun fire needed to get the necessary suppression effects nor a tight synchronization between the end of the fire and the arrival of the first assault waves. Whatever the reasons, good or bad, the synchronization was not as tight as desirable.

The other source of suppression & possibly neutralization was air attack. On paper the 1000+ tons of bombs aimed at each beachs Resistance Nests should have done the trick. As we know accuracy varied a lot and generally was not as hoped. Equally important is the time between the end of the air attacks and the arrival of the first assault wave is longer than desirable. Again, for a lot of well known reasons the synchronization was 'off'.
I don't disagree with your analysis, but would like to add in another factor- recovery time allowed to the defenders. By 1944 it was known that the suppression effect from artillery bombardments lasted for no more than 2 minutes. Unless the infantry closed with the defenders this time, German (or Japanese) would have recovered from the suppressive effects. This was known as long ago as 1916 but seems to have been one of those things lost in peacetime. The implications are that the infantry would need to be well within 200 metres/yards of the enemy before the last rounds hit the target. Unfortunately this was well inside the safety distances of 20th century artillery accuracy and ammunition. This is a grim prospect. If we want the attack to succeed we need to make some human sacrifices of around 1-3% of the attacking infantry. In the planning for D Day a great deal of attention was paid to the risks of friendly fire. There was the danger of naval gun fire hitting the assault waves, the risk of fighter bombers flying into the shells of the naval bombardment and something that over worried the navy, the risk of the USAAF bombing the assaulting troops and landing craft.

The Assault troops hit the beach a good 300-400 metres/yards from the nearest defenders and the other side of local wire etc. That is 6-8 minutes at WW2 planning times. The beach drenching stopped at H Hour. Fighter bombers at H-5 SP Artillery at H-10 ish Ditto the spectacular rockets. Heavy bombers around H-10 - and 1000 yards inland (?) Destroyers were firing at targets flanking the beaches. Battleships and cruisers were never firing at the infantry defences. Most of this was wasted.

Parham the BRA Second Army was aware of the thinning of the barrage from H-10 which is why he was so keen to add the 100 tanks and close support howitzers of the RMASG to add firepower for the last 10 minutes. A lot would depend on the fire support from tanks on the beach. The allies were a bit lucky to get away with the D Day Assault.

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Re: Date of D-Day if the Allies want to land at high tide

Post by Aber » 11 Apr 2021 11:27

A few observations on the defences. There were multiple separate problems:
  • beach obstacles designed to stop landing craft - needs engineers on the beach
    obstacles at high water mark and above to trap vehicles and men on the beaches (including mines) - needs engineers on the beach
    anti-tank guns sited to fire along the beach (with concrete to protect them from naval bombardment) - needs engineers/tanks on the beach
    infantry positions (some concreted some not) overlooking the beach- infantry assault/tanks/naval gunfire
    artillery positions inshore for indirect fire on the beach - naval gunfire/air attack
Naval gunfire can only address some of the issues. Most need engineers/infantry to cross the beach and attack close up.

My takeaway from Lewis book is the seeming disconnect between the assault infantry divisions who could only plan for the tools they actually had, and higher levels who controlled air and naval support.

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Re: Date of D-Day if the Allies want to land at high tide

Post by rcocean » 11 Apr 2021 17:32

I can make arguments for changes n the pre H hour bombardment of OMAHA Beach, but those won't support Lewis, going in a different direction as it were.

Where failing in the preparatory fires is in this case, & typically in preparatory fires, is weak target location. The precise location of most of the gun bunkers is unknown. Concrete or even log and sandbag protection means a direct hit is needed to neutralize of destroy the weapon. Its not common to have that degree of accuracy in target location before a assault. Some targets sure, but not many & absolutely not a majority of the key defense positions. You don't really get that until a spotting or forward observer team gets eyes on the target. Then the cannon fire can be dialed in for the direct hits. This fits the pattern on the Normandy beaches 6th June. The preliminary Naval gun Fire support did not neutralize much. After the first few assault waves are ashore & the spotting teams established, the ships fire support starts hitting things in a decisive way.
Excellent analysis. I was reading the official Naval post action report on D-day:

https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/re ... tune2.html

And the navy commanders point of the lack of good liaison between the Naval ships and the ground troops. Targets weren't engaged out of fear of hitting US troops and ships that wanted to fire on the enemy couldn't because no one on the beach or doing the air spotting was identifying targets. The other point mentioned reinforced something stated here, namely that the German positions were either impossible to locate from the sea, or were almost impossible to hit with naval gunfire. The curved "Bow" nature of Omaha beach meant the Germans were often firing guns Enfilade on the beach and making it difficult for the Navy to line them up and destroy them.

One thing I wondered was, the Navy opened fire at H -40 minutes. And the teams to destroy the obstacles went in at H hour, with the LCT's going in at H +35. Was the naval gunfire lifted at H Hour? or was the Navy firing on the beach while the obstacles were cleared?

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Re: Date of D-Day if the Allies want to land at high tide

Post by rcocean » 11 Apr 2021 17:36

BTW, I know that in the Pacific standard procedure was to drench the beach with rocket fire just before the first wave hit. This was developed since the gap between the gunfire lifting and the Troops hitting the beach allowed the Japanese to recover. Another naval commander mentioned that on Kwajalein instead of the gunfire lifting at a certain time, a plane would drop colored flares when the LCT's were about to hit the beach, which was the signal for the gunfire to lift. I guess that wasn't done on June 6th.

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