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Thread: Omaha beach

  1. #1
    Join Date: Sep 2017

    Location: Northampton

    Posts: 177
    I'm Chris.

    Default Omaha beach

    I have just been looking at Saving Private Ryan. Lots of Americans got killed on Omaha beach. A terrible blood bath. The people fighting have my upmost respect and I wouldn't want to be on either side. So, don't take what I have to say below as flippant - I am just totally confused!

    I know the allies bombed the coast beforehand and ended up killing more French civilians than German Machine gun posts or blowing up mines on the beach.

    No war historian am I but the film suggests that heavier gear should have been arriving with the troops but landed somewhere else by mistake.

    Having looked round a bit on t'interweb I cannot seem to find any answers to the following: why didn't they just take a look with binoculars to check things out before sending 100s of men to their deaths. You know, peek over the front of the landing craft or something. If nothing had been bombed or damaged I'd be turning round and communicating back to base!

    Or am I completely naive and not a suitable military strategist candidate?

    Any thoughts?
    Last edited by Lerxst; 08-01-2018 at 07:04. Reason: clarity

  2. #2
    Join Date: Apr 2012

    Location: Southall, West London

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    I'm Geoff.

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    There's always the risk of chance elements and inaccurate intelligence in miltary ops. You can bet Omaha beach and vicinity would have been subject to as much scrutiny as possible, without giving the game away, sufficiently ahead of time. Probably by spies and submarines off the coast. Obvious aerial reconnaissance would alert the enemy.

  3. #3
    Join Date: Feb 2013

    Location: W Lothian

    Posts: 48,086
    I'm Grant.

    Default Omaha beach

    A lot of stuff sank or drifted several miles down coast. Shelling of the beach missed and the behind the lines drops didn't all work as hoped.
    It's zn incredibly difficult thing to do and overall our losses were much lower than expected. The brits and Canadians had an easier time.
    Peeking over the end of a landing. Craft is not a healthy thing to do and wouldn't have changed things. Orders are orders
    Regards,
    Grant ....

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: democracy simply-doesn't-work
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  4. #4
    Join Date: Aug 2009

    Location: Staffordshire, England

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    I'm Martin.

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    They were supposed to have armoured support but the amphibious tanks were dropped off too far from shore and were swamped by the choppy sea. Omaha was really the exception, on the whole they took far less casualties getting ashore than they expected. On the flip side once ashore they had expected to get much further inland much more quickly than they actually managed to.

    There wasn't anywhere to land in France that wasn't guarded to some degree (bearing in mind you have to have a suitably broad, shallow sloping beach so you can get vehicles ashore). So anywhere they picked was going to require landing under fire.
    Martin



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  5. #5
    Join Date: Sep 2017

    Location: Northampton

    Posts: 177
    I'm Chris.

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    Quote Originally Posted by struth View Post
    Orders are orders
    Sums it up. I appreciate it all looks easy on paper (or from a living room in 2018).

  6. #6
    Join Date: Apr 2017

    Location: Cheshire UK

    Posts: 611
    I'm Martin.

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    Yes Ive seen the cemeteries there and its all very moving. This is a war that shaped us all really but I cant imagine my life facing heavy machine gun fire while trying to advance up a beach.

    I remember a former spitfire pilot telling me I had a soft life and I suppose I cant really argue with that. I have a difficult time talking about heroes and fighting for our freedom. It was a bloody war that should never have happened. The real men say they were just doing their duty. Like it or not I feel we couldnt have done this without American help.

    Im wary of any Hollywood style portrayal. Im just trying to imagine the feeling of disembarking from a landing craft against all the odds of survival.

    Like any war the front line troops had the short straw. I do get the feeling that planning mistakes were made and people were best off well behind the front line. I try and look into what we are all about as a species and why war continues all over the world
    Last edited by Minstrel SE; 08-01-2018 at 13:42.

  7. #7
    Join Date: Apr 2012

    Location: Southall, West London

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    I'm Geoff.

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    No doubt most of the very senior brass led from behind desks.

  8. #8
    Join Date: Sep 2017

    Location: Northampton

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    I'm Chris.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Minstrel SE View Post
    Im wary of any Hollywood style portrayal. Im just trying to imagine the feeling of disembarking from a landing craft against all the odds of survival.
    I am also wary of the Hollywood portrayal of things. But the film did inspire me years ago to investigate the whole thing. I cycled once down through Holland attempting to get to Omaha beach to see it for myself (Jeez, 11 years ago now). I ran out of money before I got there but went to Ipres/Ieper instead - where part of stalemate of the First World War played out. The sheer scale and number of the war graveyards there (of all nationalities) are jaw-dropping and I never got used to yet another 20-year old's name engraved on a stone.

    You're right about the guys in the front-line drawing the short straws (which reminds me, lunch is now over..). I suppose the guys at Omaha beach couldn't really turn round - it would be dereliction of duty.

    It must be like a game of Risk for some people at the top. I need to see a film like that every now and again (even a Hollywood half-fantasy) to keep things in perspective.

  9. #9
    Join Date: Feb 2013

    Location: W Lothian

    Posts: 48,086
    I'm Grant.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lerxst View Post
    I am also wary of the Hollywood portrayal of things. But the film did inspire me years ago to investigate the whole thing. I cycled once down through Holland attempting to get to Omaha beach to see it for myself (Jeez, 11 years ago now). I ran out of money before I got there but went to Ipres/Ieper instead - where part of stalemate of the First World War played out. The sheer scale and number of the war graveyards there (of all nationalities) are jaw-dropping and I never got used to yet another 20-year old's name engraved on a stone.

    You're right about the guys in the front-line drawing the short straws (which reminds me, lunch is now over..). I suppose the guys at Omaha beach couldn't really turn round - it would be dereliction of duty.

    It must be like a game of Risk for some people at the top. I need to see a film like that every now and again (even a Hollywood half-fantasy) to keep things in perspective.
    i think much of the portrayed landing conditions were fairly accurate for many at omaha. rest of film is bunkum
    Regards,
    Grant ....

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: democracy simply-doesn't-work
    .... ..... ...... ...... ................... ..... ..... ..... ..... .....
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  10. #10
    Join Date: Jul 2014

    Location: Shropshire

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    I'm Anto.

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    If you have visited the beaches , as I have a few times , then you will have been struck by just how difficult the immediate terrain was for the Americans at Omaha .
    The British Canadian beaches were basically sea fronts immdiately behind the beach itself whereas Omaha , has the maching gun emplacements higher up and further back , with some awkward land inbetween !
    Not a lot of cover ,whereas Gold ,Sword and Juno , they had the sea walls to cower under ,not nice either but more protection.

    The DD Sherman floating tanks they had propellors at the back and a canvas shroud like a trampoline guard rail ,had to be deployed futher out to sea than intended and the choppy water swamped lots , 27 in fact , causing them to sink like stones together with their brave tankers They also drifted off course with the swell and tide . I cant recall how many made it ashore there but only 2 or 3
    And of course the bombing was as accurate as bombing usually was during the war.
    Brave men indeed
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