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  • British less massacred at Omaha Beach?

    WI the British had drawn Omaha as their landing beach?

    Would they have faired any better than the Americans? Or the Canadians at Dieppe?

    The British tended to be more heavily laden than US troops and their cheaper quality uniforms more readily water-loggable, so more would drown I'd suspect.

    Also the British physique was less lithe and they made slower runners than Americans, though probably better at "bullet dodging", and close in bayonet work.

    Were British troops equipped with Bangalore torpedoes? The suppressive firepower of the Bren was superior to the BAR, but the covering power of the Lee Enfield was inferior to the Garand.

    I believe whether there would be a near US-type massacre as in OTL or not would all come down to the wherewithall of the British beach commander in not opening under any circumstances the landing craft ramps until he saw that DD Shermans had landed ahead of him, or at least with him, unlike the Americans.


  • #2
    The biggest drawback the British Army has in this respect is far less ability to improvise and work from confusion. British infantry units would have become disorganized and pinned and their leadership would have spent far more time trying to organize things and make the beachhead "tidy" than simply rounding up whoever was available and trying to get off the beach.

    I also suspect that British engineers are less capable in terms of equipment than their US counterparts. This would have made clearing boat lanes and obstacles harder. To the plus, they would have AVRE and other specialist vehicles to make up for some of that.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Mifletz View Post
      WI the British had drawn Omaha as their landing beach?

      Would they have faired any better than the Americans? Or the Canadians at Dieppe?

      The British tended to be more heavily laden than US troops and their cheaper quality uniforms more readily water-loggable, so more would drown I'd suspect.

      Also the British physique was less lithe and they made slower runners than Americans, though probably better at "bullet dodging", and close in bayonet work.

      Were British troops equipped with Bangalore torpedoes? The suppressive firepower of the Bren was superior to the BAR, but the covering power of the Lee Enfield was inferior to the Garand.

      I believe whether there would be a near US-type massacre as in OTL or not would all come down to the wherewithall of the British beach commander in not opening under any circumstances the landing craft ramps until he saw that DD Shermans had landed ahead of him, or at least with him, unlike the Americans.

      What basis do you have to say the Bren was superior to the BAR? The BAR was much better ergonomically, had a heavier round, a better magazine placement, and more ammunition could be carried.

      I doubt there was much to choose from in terms of physical fitness.

      The M-1 gave US infantry a lot more intrinsic firepower than the bolt-action rifle.

      I think that TA has a key point: the internal cohesion of the units involved. The US units that hit the beach had been training together for years. British units may not have achieved that same degree of cohesion.
      Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Arnold J Rimmer View Post
        What basis do you have to say the Bren was superior to the BAR? The BAR was much better ergonomically, had a heavier round, a better magazine placement, and more ammunition could be carried.

        I doubt there was much to choose from in terms of physical fitness.

        The M-1 gave US infantry a lot more intrinsic firepower than the bolt-action rifle.

        I think that TA has a key point: the internal cohesion of the units involved. The US units that hit the beach had been training together for years. British units may not have achieved that same degree of cohesion.
        I think at the time there was much more of a union mindset in the British army. That is, British soldiers were more prone to a "that's not my job..." attitude or not being enthused about listening to officers they didn't know or who were not from their own unit.
        That is, a Captain from the Royal Engineers was not likely to inspire infantrymen from some line regiment to do anything. A US Army Captain was pretty much a US Army Captain so the troops would listen either way.
        In a confused situation where unit cohesion was gone or bad it is less likely that the British could have mustered up ad hoc units and gotten the job done.
        That isn't to say the men weren't brave or willing but that they had different social conventions based on their lifetime of experience.
        US or British troops were not about to commit willing suicide in fighting to the death like a Japanese soldier. Every nation has its social and national quirks like that.
        US soldiers were far more likely to question orders or recognize a poor officer and find a way to rid themselves of him than many other nations. British soldiers would put up with more BS from their own officers but certainly not ones that they didn't know or were from units they had no respect for.
        I think I got that pretty much right... Let's hear from the Brits on this.

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        • #5
          Arnold J Rimmer wrote:

          What basis do you have to say the Bren was superior to the BAR? The BAR was much better ergonomically, had a heavier round, a better magazine placement, and more ammunition could be carried.

          I doubt there was much to choose from in terms of physical fitness.

          The M-1 gave US infantry a lot more intrinsic firepower than the bolt-action rifle.

          I think that TA has a key point: the internal cohesion of the units involved. The US units that hit the beach had been training together for years. British units may not have achieved that same degree of cohesion.
          So much wrong with this...

          If the BAR had a heavier round, how could 'more ammunition be carried'? It's not as if the BAR magazines were much different in weight from those of the Bren.

          How is the magazine placement on the BAR 'better' than that on the Bren? Having the magazine under the gun not only meant that the firer's head had to be higher, but prevented the gun using any more than a 20-round magazine.

          The BAR was considered a clumsy weapon and not easy to fire, so I wouldn't say it was 'ergonomically better'.

          Rifles were pretty unimportant in WWII so minor differences in firepower between the Garand and Lee-Enfield wouldn't matter that much. The Bren gave a British squad much more firepower than the BAR - partly because the Bren barrel could easily be changed, whereas the BAR barrel couldn't.

          The British divisions that landed on D-Day had been training together for years - in some cases since 1940, so they were unlikely to have less unit cohesion than the US divisions.

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          • #6
            I can see no reason to think any allied troops would perform any different given the circumstances on Omaha.
            British troops had every bit of unit cohesion as their US comrades,some having fought in France,NA,Sicily and Italy.Others having trained together for over 4 years.
            A good number of the officers involved had been in tricky situations before.

            Omaha beach was almost evacuated at one point and this near disaster tends to remove the spotlight from the fact that Sword beach was no pushover.

            I'd also wager that the types of small arms carried by the 1st waves really mattered little because there was no way of putting effective infantry fire down on the German positions.
            US Destroyers had to come in dangerously close in order to get the German heads down,no amount of small arm fire was ever going to do that.

            Then we have the regrettable US decision to send in their DD tanks from too far out essentially losing a Bn of vitally needed heavy support within minutes.
            Contrast that with the British decision to land theirs either much closer in or on the beach and we can see that neither the US or Brit forces had a monopoly on flexibility.

            There's also the question of why the US refused any of the Hobarts Funnies that were offered them,I've never fully understood that.

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            • #7
              Returning to the OP for a moment, the British would have had fewer casualties if only because they had more "funnies", DD-tanks and better training with the latter.The initial thrust would have allowed for a better beachhead resulting in the Germans having a worse tactical situation.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by flash View Post
                I can see no reason to think any allied troops would perform any different given the circumstances on Omaha.
                British troops had every bit of unit cohesion as their US comrades,some having fought in France,NA,Sicily and Italy.Others having trained together for over 4 years.
                A good number of the officers involved had been in tricky situations before.

                Omaha beach was almost evacuated at one point and this near disaster tends to remove the spotlight from the fact that Sword beach was no pushover.
                Bradley considered for a few minutes diverting some of the follow up waves to another beach to relieve congestion. He dropped the thought as unecessary after a brief discussion with some of his staff. His consideration was based on bad communications with the commanders ashore, that is there had been no effective communication with the commanders on the beach. When Bradley considered this diversion after 10:30 which was after the infantry had infiltrated over the bluffs, after the Naval Gun Fire radio communication had been restabliihed around 08:30, and after the WN guarding the beach exists had begain to cease resistance.

                Originally posted by flash View Post
                I'd also wager that the types of small arms carried by the 1st waves really mattered little because there was no way of putting effective infantry fire down on the German positions.
                US Destroyers had to come in dangerously close in order to get the German heads down,no amount of small arm fire was ever going to do that.
                Amen. Rifles and MG vs concrete bunkers at long and medium range is a losing proposition. Worse when the bunkers are camoflaged, well sited, and the infantry have been landed in the wrong place.

                Originally posted by flash View Post
                Then we have the regrettable US decision to send in their DD tanks from too far out essentially losing a Bn of vitally needed heavy support within minutes.
                Contrast that with the British decision to land theirs either much closer in or on the beach and we can see that neither the US or Brit forces had a monopoly on flexibility.
                Two companies were launched at the planned distance, the remainder of the two battalions were run into the surf and discharged at the waters edge. Of the 30+ tanks that did make it to shore before 07:30 almost all were destroyed by enemy anti tank fire. The dozen AT guns covering the beach were entirely unsuppressed by the preparatory fires and picked off the tanks relatively quickly, often at long range. IIRC the German AT battery had four 5cm, four 7.5cm guns of French or Cezch origin with AP ammo, three 7.5 PAK type guns, one 8.8cm gun. All in concrete bunkers and all apparently undamaged when the tanks were disembarked.

                Originally posted by flash View Post
                There's also the question of why the US refused any of the Hobarts Funnies that were offered them,I've never fully understood that.
                The offer came relatively late in the preparation. The assault units would have had to be reorganized to crew the machines, and the assault ship loading plan redone. That was barely managable in eight weeks, the entire first two or three waves would have had to be retrained for new assault tactics/techniques which was not managable. Nor was training the crews and mechanics in a few weeks.

                A few weeks later in April Montgomery 'locked' the landing plan as demands from all directions to improve every detail had become counter productive. By that point changes in the assault and follow up had become a matter of robbing Peter to pay Paul with the landing craft. That is altering the load plan for one battalion or brigade required others to alter theirs as well, which required yet more boat squadrons to change as well.

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                • #9
                  Without their tanks, the taller better uniform material quality Canadians on Juno could also have faced an Omaha-type massacre.
                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VUAJdHk8x0

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post

                    The offer came relatively late in the preparation. The assault units would have had to be reorganized to crew the machines, and the assault ship loading plan redone. That was barely managable in eight weeks, the entire first two or three waves would have had to be retrained for new assault tactics/techniques which was not managable. Nor was training the crews and mechanics in a few weeks.
                    Late January or February '44 was the time of the several demonstrations of the Funnies. Time enough to be ready for late May.

                    IIRC at the end of May 79th Armoured had 60-something 'spare' AVREs so they were certainly available bearing in mind that D-Day was their raison d'etre.

                    Can't help but think that more armour on Omaha could only have been a good thing.
                    A company of AVREs on Utah may well have helped the troops push inland a bit quicker too.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mycroft Holmes View Post
                      Arnold J Rimmer wrote:



                      So much wrong with this...

                      1) If the BAR had a heavier round, how could 'more ammunition be carried'? It's not as if the BAR magazines were much different in weight from those of the Bren.

                      2) How is the magazine placement on the BAR 'better' than that on the Bren? Having the magazine under the gun not only meant that the firer's head had to be higher, but prevented the gun using any more than a 20-round magazine.

                      3) The BAR was considered a clumsy weapon and not easy to fire, so I wouldn't say it was 'ergonomically better'.

                      4) Rifles were pretty unimportant in WWII so minor differences in firepower between the Garand and Lee-Enfield wouldn't matter that much. The Bren gave a British squad much more firepower than the BAR - partly because the Bren barrel could easily be changed, whereas the BAR barrel couldn't.

                      5) The British divisions that landed on D-Day had been training together for years - in some cases since 1940, so they were unlikely to have less unit cohesion than the US divisions.

                      1) The magazines for the BAR are a much better shape, and were of a size that you could carry more without impeded body movement, unlike the longer Bren mags.

                      2) I take it you've never fired either weapon. The top-mounted Bren needed two hands to change, while the BAR, only one. You might want to check your facts on the firing height of the weapon, too.

                      3) I've fired them both. Have you?

                      4) Absurd.

                      5) Really? They hadn't fought since 1940? Is that your final answer?
                      Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Pro-American diehard Lockn'Load's R Lee Ermey admits that the Bren is "more effective"
                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-CfuvCHq4I

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Mifletz View Post
                          Pro-American diehard Lockn'Load's R Lee Ermey admits that the Bren is "more effective"
                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-CfuvCHq4I
                          Emory was a Marine. His judgment is therefore suspect.
                          Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The Bren was used up to the Falklands,
                            Wonderful bit of kit; dad swore by it. Don't know how it compares to the BAR, but considering how critical dad is everything else the Bren must've been good.
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Selous View Post
                              The Bren was used up to the Falklands,
                              Wonderful bit of kit; dad swore by it. Don't know how it compares to the BAR, but considering how critical dad is everything else the Bren must've been good.
                              I have no doubt it was a great weapon, I just don't see the basis for the claim that it was superior to the BAR.
                              Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

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