|D-Day Campaign Pt. 5 |
|Assaulting the Bluffs at Fox-Green|
Despite the success the Allies had in establishing a beachhead on D-Day, hindsight has questioned whether Operation Overlord was really a viable plan or was it a stroke of luck and German bungling that were truly responsible for its success. The failures of the Wehrmacht command structure, equipment and manpower may have virtually precluded a German victory on the beaches. The near disaster at Omaha could have been duplicated elsewhere on the coast. The actions on Omaha Beach show how close a seaborne invasion can come to disaster when landing at such a heavily fortified area with equally dogged defenders.
While each beach posed its own problems, with the exceptions of Courselles and Le Hamel none of the resistance posed by the Wehrmacht along Normandy equaled the ferocity of what awaited the American soldiers who would land at Omaha. The terrain was the largest factor in keeping soldiers pinned on the beach for so long. While most of the landing sites consisted of beaches running directly into little resort towns, Omaha was a series of bluffs and cliffs reminiscent of the failed Dieppe raid. A series of ingenious tunnels and defense works allowed fire to come from on the beaches unseen in the folds of the bluffs with devastating effect.
This is the situation that the soldiers who landed at the Fox-Green sector of Omaha Beach faced. At 0630, the LCTs of the 16th and 116th RCTs (Regimental Combat Teams) landed scattered along their destinations on Omaha beach. The companies tasked with the capture of Fox-Green landed off-course and mixed in with units that were supposed to end up on the other side of the beach. The intense fire from the bluffs took its toll, reducing battalions to companies and companies to platoons and even individual sections. To make the situation even worse, most of the Duplex-Drive Shermans that were to support the invasion were launched too far out and sank. The situation was so dire that Omaha was almost written off by General Omar Bradley with further waves being diverted to other beaches. Constant naval support and a heroic effort on behalf of the men of the landed forces would be needed to carry the day.
As subsequent waves landed, and were reduced close to destruction, the need to get off the beach, even while under such a deadly situation became apparent to the survivors. What was left of E, I, K and L companies organized themselves and decided to strike directly at the strong points overlooking the beach. In order to do so, scalable points along the bluffs had to be found in order to mount an attack on the defenses. A valley that cut through the bluffs posed the danger of mines and crossfire, but also the opportunity to reach their objective at Colleville. Either way, to stay on the beach was to die, and the way must be made clear for further waves to land and that could not happen unless control of the heights was taken. Joining them was two of the few tanks to land on the beach and covering fire from offshore destroyers.
Scenario DD-5: Assaulting the Bluffs at Fox-Green
At 0800 hrs on June 6th, 1944 scattered elements of the 16th and 116th RCT struggle to organize themselves on Omaha Beach and assault the defilades at Fox Green. The allies must seize enemy strong points as the defenders of Fortress Europe try to drive them into the sea.
Breach the enemy defenses and seize the strongholds overlooking the beach. If possible, drive the Germans back and take the crossroads leading to Colleville as well. In all four points can be taken, but with limited men available and under constant fire, resources must be spent wisely. Most importantly, the defenders themselves must be suppressed so they cannot continue to effect fire onto the beaches.
It is at this point that the Wehrmacht is strongest in the Normandy sector. This presents a clear opportunity to drive the enemy into extinction on the beaches or in the sea. Success is pivotal as an Allied defeat may end the offensive on this beach entirely. Failure could turn the flank of other defenders elsewhere on Omaha Beach. Hold the objective and destroy the attackers.
The soldiers at Fox-Green managed to make good a headlong attack at the strong points at the beach, reaching the top of the bluffs and securing the heights. From there, part of the beach was secured and troops were free to march inland toward Colleville. Despite this small victory, the soldiers atop the bluffs feared a possible armored attack as there was little they could do against such an attack with only the light weapons they possessed. While that attack never came, the 16th and 116 RCT were stopped cold at the outskirts of Colleville as the rest of the 352nd Infantry Division hunkered down in the town for a siege. As elsewhere on Omaha Beach, the American forces at Fox-Green suffered horrendous casualties. Courage and the stark need for survival in the most dire of circumstances spurred heroic attacks and charges in the face of such daunting losses. At the end of the day, the Americans had a tenuous hold on Omaha Beach. (Allies 14-12)