OMAHA Beach, D-Day 0630 hrs
Easy Red-Fox Green Sectors
The long awaited invasion begins.
Thirty two dual drive (DDs, propellers/tracks) heavily modified amphibious Sherman tanks of the 741st Tank Battalion (B & C Companies) were launched from tank carrying landing craft several miles off the Omaha beach objective. These tanks were in support of the 16th Infantry Regimental Combat team of the 1st Infantry Division. The 30 ton iron monsters descended the landing craft ramps into into 3-6 foot waves, 18 knot winds, 3.5 miles off Easy Red/Fox Green beach. Under these extreme severe conditions 30 tanks were swamped, sinking immediately. The majority of the crews were rescued by the US Coast Guard. Of the two remaining water logged DDs only one actually reached the beach to be effective. It was joined by three others a few minutes later but all four were destroyed by German shell fire within ten minutes. Later, after maneuvering through the layers of German underwater and shoreline obstacles, 16 tanks and bulldozers arrived “dry shod” from Landing Craft Tanks (LCTs). The first engineers and infantry casualties on Omaha were at this location at 0620. In the weeks previous to the invasion uniformed British commandos, reconnaissancing this beach were captured, brutally interrogated then shot as spies. They were buried by the French citizens and remain in the Coleville-sur-Mer church cemetery high on the bluff overlooking the English Channel. This is but just a half mile from the brother soldiers in the Coleville American Military Cemetery. Standing on the beach or walking across the sand bars, at low tide, one can imaginatively visualize the torrential weather, hear the din of constant gunfire from the 16 inch shells of the battleships passing overhead. Turning around looking at the vacated German positions still visible but previously only identifiable by twinkling machine gun fire ravishing the soft skinned assault troops awaiting their anticipated supportive tanks and armored protection. This is “standing where they fought”.