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  • Point Du Hoc

    Assuming the guns were actually there, how important was it to take Point Du Hoc? (that is, how big of a threat were they to the invasion?)

    Moreover, how smart was it to take them by an amphibious invasion?
    I know the Rangers took heavy losses, if the guns were actually in position one would expect stronger defenses on the beach, the top of the cliffs (and the beach itself) would make natural killing zones, more then in other invasion sites, all of that would make the mission much harder-if possible.

    -Wouldn't an airborne raid/attack from the rear be easier to carry out?
    -Was one even considered? if so, why was it abandoned?
    -If the guns were in their historical locations, could such a raid be successful?

    Your thoughts please

  • #2
    Originally posted by Golani View Post
    Assuming the guns were actually there, how important was it to take Point Du Hoc? (that is, how big of a threat were they to the invasion?)
    Adding four 15cm cannon to the firepower directed at Omaha beach was not a lot in terms of additional weight of ammo. The German were short of ammo anyway. Having direct and continual observation from or very near the battery position along the length of the beach does make a difference. Haze & smoke would partiall obscure the distant portion, but skilled artillery observers could work around that. So the fires from this battery would be more effective than the 1.5cm & Nebelwefer fires from the inland batteries. Those lost communication with their observers fairly quickly. In some cases during the first hour. The artillery observers started taking casualties early on when the naval gun fire shifted to the crest of the bluffs after the intiall preperation, and they had less of a view of the length of the beach.

    The Pont du Hic battery was also better positioned to fire on the ships in the disembarkation areas, the Fire Support areas, and the landing craft assembly areas off shore.

    The bottom line is the regiments of the 28th Div on the west end of the beach take more casualties and their advance off the beach is delayed even more.

    Originally posted by Golani View Post
    Moreover, how smart was it to take them by an amphibious invasion?
    I know the Rangers took heavy losses, if the guns were actually in position one would expect stronger defenses on the beach, the top of the cliffs (and the beach itself) would make natural killing zones, more then in other invasion sites, all of that would make the mission much harder-if possible.
    It is not clear to me how many defenders were there. Part of the artillery battery & some service troops? The Rangers found them confused and unaggresive, unable to counter attack effectively. With the guns in place the canon crew might defend their position a bit better.

    Originally posted by Golani View Post
    -Wouldn't an airborne raid/attack from the rear be easier to carry out?
    -Was one even considered? if so, why was it abandoned?
    -If the guns were in their historical locations, could such a raid be successful?

    Your thoughts please
    A Parachute drop on a cliff sounds like trouble updrafts or turbulence off the bluff is likely to scatter the paras everywhere. While the British glider units were able to make some precision commando coups, such as the Pegasus bridge attack, the Allied leaders had some sort of mental block against using this technique more often.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
      It is not clear to me how many defenders were there. Part of the artillery battery & some service troops? The Rangers found them confused and unaggresive, unable to counter attack effectively. With the guns in place the canon crew might defend their position a bit better.
      That's my point.
      I know the Rangers took heavy casualties, don't know how many in the initial phase, but surely extra guns would have caused more casualties.

      A Parachute drop on a cliff sounds like trouble updrafts or turbulence off the bluff is likely to scatter the paras everywhere. While the British glider units were able to make some precision commando coups, such as the Pegasus bridge attack, the Allied leaders had some sort of mental block against using this technique more often.
      I didn't mean on the cliffs, I figured landing behind, in a small force and raiding/attacking from the rear.

      Here's a scheme map, that's how far south the map goes so those are possible LZ's/DZ's, it could be further south if needed of course.
      Attached Files

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
        A Parachute drop on a cliff sounds like trouble updrafts or turbulence off the bluff is likely to scatter the paras everywhere. While the British glider units were able to make some precision commando coups, such as the Pegasus bridge attack, the Allied leaders had some sort of mental block against using this technique more often.
        The succesful attack on the Merville battery, a similar fortification east of Sword Beach, was done using paratroops and a glider assault, which shows that it would have been feasible.

        Similarly the Omaha beach exits also seem a good proposition for assault from the rear.

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        • #5
          Right, so how come it wasn't done this way?
          I'm sure we're not the first people to think of it, it must have been brought up as an option and denied, why?

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          • #6
            The guns at Pont du Hoc were without their sights, so they wouldn't have been terribly accurate had they been called upon to provide any fire support missions against the invasion beaches.
            "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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            • #7
              Originally posted by johnbryan View Post
              The guns at Pont du Hoc were without their sights, so they wouldn't have been terribly accurate had they been called upon to provide any fire support missions against the invasion beaches.
              Actually they were not there at all. They had been moved to a camoflaged 'storage' position several kilometers inland. Not sure why this was done. Perhaps because of the several air raids on the point in the previous weeks? alternately the position they were in may have been more suitable for a ordinace repair section to service them. About the same time these guns were moved the other batteries in this sector had a portion of their ready ammo moved to new storage areas further to the rear. One source pegged this as half the batteries ready allotment. Neither source I've seen explains why this was done.

              The gun sights are ordinarily removed from cannon and stored in protective cases. Leaving them on the gun while moving or in storage causes long term problems. When standing by for fire missions water proof canvas or leather covers are used to keep the sun, rain, snow & ice off them. In this case they were either packed in a crate near the guns, or the gunners carried them off when they retreated.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Golani View Post

                I didn't mean on the cliffs, I figured landing behind, in a small force and raiding/attacking from the rear.

                Here's a scheme map, that's how far south the map goes so those are possible LZ's/DZ's, it could be further south if needed of course.
                Gliders would be the thing here. Those DZ are scary close to the sea for parachutes, at night. The Brits can try that if they like but not I.

                Like I pointed out earlier the Pegasus Bridge op was a excellent example of what glider assualt could do. One can ask why gliders were not used the same in many other situations. In Market - Garden the DZ were usually many kilometers from the bridges. Why did they not send teams in gliders to pick them off at the start?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                  Gliders would be the thing here. Those DZ are scary close to the sea for parachutes, at night. The Brits can try that if they like but not I.

                  Like I pointed out earlier the Pegasus Bridge op was a excellent example of what glider assualt could do. One can ask why gliders were not used the same in many other situations. In Market - Garden the DZ were usually many kilometers from the bridges. Why did they not send teams in gliders to pick them off at the start?
                  Offhand, I would say that Pegasus Bridge was a maximum effort, given its strategic importance. There may not have been any additional gliders available, nor aircraft with which to tow them.
                  "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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                  • #10
                    Not 100% sure but think the guns at PdH couldn't fire directly on OMAHA anyway since the bunkers embrasures were facing north and that the beach is east-southeast from the point.

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                    • #11
                      Even if they couldn't traverse that far right (east) they could pose some threat to the invasion fleet (and most importantly reinforcement and supplies)

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                        Gliders would be the thing here. Those DZ are scary close to the sea for parachutes, at night. The Brits can try that if they like but not I.

                        Like I pointed out earlier the Pegasus Bridge op was a excellent example of what glider assualt could do. One can ask why gliders were not used the same in many other situations. In Market - Garden the DZ were usually many kilometers from the bridges. Why did they not send teams in gliders to pick them off at the start?
                        Actually one of the gliders at Pegasus bridge crashes in the canal and drowned one of the Para officers.

                        I don't quite get the question about Market Garden though.... the DZ's were mostly chosen for the gliders, not the paras. The bridges themselves are mostly in the centre of towns so gliding down next to the bridges wasn't possible. A lot of the flat ground was waterlogged... not so much of a problem for paras but suicide for glider. The nose digs in and the glider summersaults when it lands. The original plan for anhem was to land 8 ks from the bridge but land armed SAS style jeeps by glider so an advanced team could charge to the bridge and take it by suprise. Many of the jeeps were lost in the landings and between that and the problems with the radio it didn't work out very well.

                        Edited to add- for the ultimate glider assault I have to Kurt Students boys at Grand Sasso. Have a look at the size of the mountain behind the glider in the picture! 10,000 feet up, they land on the mountain, take Mussolini without any casualties and then a little Fieseler Storch flys in, lands on a postcard size landing strip and lifts off again. Neat! Shame they were fighting on the wrong side.
                        Attached Files
                        Last edited by peter_sym; 03 Aug 09, 07:12.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by johnbryan View Post
                          Offhand, I would say that Pegasus Bridge was a maximum effort, given its strategic importance. There may not have been any additional gliders available, nor aircraft with which to tow them.
                          This was a tiny commando style op. a few gliders were landed nearly on top of the bridge so the assualt force could reach it within a minute or two. The main force landed on a larger LZ nearby, but far enough away suprise on the bridge guards was unlikely. Ambrose wrote a book on this attack (What did he not write about?). I vaguely recall a British book on the same subject, but cant find the title on the internet.

                          Skorzenys rescue of Mussolini is one example of a precision glider landing & commando assualt. The fortress Eban Emael was another. Gliders were snaked into sucessfull landings among the gun turrets/casements, cupolas, walls, a shed, barbed wire fences, and scrub brush. No doubt there are one or two other examples of precision glider/commando style attacks.

                          "Not 100% sure but think the guns at PdH couldn't fire directly on OMAHA anyway since the bunkers embrasures were facing north and that the beach is east-southeast from the point."

                          Thats worth investigating. I recall there was concern for the threat of the 15cm cannon to the amphibs. Their loading and assembly areas lay between 5000 and 8000 meters from the beach. Those would be in easy range or most of the 15cm guns used by the Germans when dawn came & they would be transfering the following waves to the landing craft.

                          A look at the map shows the beach heading just slightly SE from Pont du Hoc. Perhaps 100 degrees from north. It is also apparent a portion of the amphib assembly area/line of departure for Utah Beach, and the south end of the beach may be in range. Depends on the cannon model and ammo available.
                          Last edited by Carl Schwamberg; 03 Aug 09, 08:44.

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