Why only infantry were sent in the first wave at Normandy landings?

Discussion in 'World War 2' started by vashstampede, Aug 12, 2012.

  1. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    Normandy beaches were only defended by less than 10,000 German soldiers total. The first wave landing on all beaches combined outnumbered Germans more than 10 to 1, but as we all know from all kinds of media including history books, channels, and movies, that the D day landing took heavy casualty under German machine gun fire. The reason being simple. The massive wave of infantry were exposed to the machinegun fire from well positioned German bunkers.

    The question is, why did the allies only send in infantry in the first wave? Why didn't they land some tanks on the beach first? Machine guns would be ineffective against tanks, and the bunkers could have been destroyed by direct fire from the tanks' main guns easily instead of forcing infantry soldiers suicide charging at the bunkers with TNT.

    Whose idea was it?
    Was there a specific reason for not having tanks on the beach during the initial assault on D-day?

    I know tanks were able to drive on those beaches just fine, because they came in on the second and third wave, after massive number of infantry were massacred.
    cavtrooper likes this.
  2. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    While I'd be the first to admit that I am, and perhaps terminally so, Pacific Theater Centric and therefore pay little attention to events in the European Theater except where US aircraft carriers or USN squadrons of any type are involved, but there are certain pieces of information that one cannot avoid picking up just in passing. Which leads me to ask, whatever gave you the idea that there were no armor units specifically assigned to, and some of which even made it ashore with, the first waves at Omaha and Utah beaches? The record looks pretty clear to me.
  3. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    Well, lets just say on Omaha beach alone, over 40,000 infantry soldiers landed. How many tanks were used in the first wave? You tell me since you know the number lol.

    I am not saying there were no tank involved in the landing. They just didn't go in front of the infantry. Most of them didn't even land until much later. Why let infantry get slaughtered while they could have had tanks go in first to take all the bullets? What were those German bunkers going to do to tanks?
  4. Agrippa

    Agrippa New Member

    First of all, it is a lot faster to move men on beach landings than tanks. A number of amphibious tanks were supposed to join in the first wave but a large number floundered or sunk almost as soon as they were discharged by the transport ships. Secondly, there were lines of mined steel x-bars which were designed to stop landing crafts and vehicles. The naval bombardment on Omaha failed to take them out so it took a while for engineers to clear a path for LCM's to come ashore and land tanks.
    Amphibious assault is always led by troops whose initial objective is to secure a beach head onto which vehicles like tanks can be delivered. The essence of amphibious assault is speed. The reason for the heavy casualty at Omaha was the inaccurate naval bombardment; most of the shells landed way behind the beaches.
    Your question is like asking why drop paratroopers when you can drop tanks first.
  5. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    Well some of the facts you listed were the reasons why there were not massive tanks in the first wave. Such as many of them were sunk before reaching the beach, and they were blocked by those x-bars.

    However your last sentence isn't really making any sense. Paratrooper dropping is proven to be ineffective throughout the history. It is just like beach landing. You need armors instead of only infantry in the initial attack. Or you are asking for heavy casualty. Example: Operating Market Garden.

    Amphibious tanks were also not effective enough, since they are mostly light armored and not having big guns. Landing tanks doesn't have to relay on amphibious tanks. Directly have landing craft rush onto beach and release normal armors like Sherman, etc. could have made a huge difference in secure the beach. As I recall, most of the German bunkers were only armed with machine guns, they would be unable to stop Sherman tanks while they could be easily destroyed by the high explosive rounds from the tank main guns.
  6. 51highland

    51highland Member

    Oh dear! Oh dear! I think it is time to leave this site.
  7. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    You might want to actually look up what type of tanks were assigned to the first wave assaults.
  8. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    It would be more helpful in a discussion on the forum if you show your set of statistics and information along with the source links instead of asking people to "go look it up" when you disagree with their information. :)

    For the information I could find, very few tanks were landed on the beach at the beginning, and they didn't make any impact on the first wave assault. While the allies infantry struggled to make their way out of the beach under the heavy machine gun fire from the bunkers.

    I know there were difficulties to land and use tanks on the beach at the beginning. I'd rather be "difficult" with some machines and very few lives than losing thousands of lives.
  9. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    No, actually it would be better if you did your own research, that way you wouldn't have to take my word for it and you would have the satisfaction of self edification. So, you tell us, and don't make a guess, what type tanks were scheduled and did go ashore at Normandy?
  10. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    So you decide to tell everyone who holds a different opinion "go look it up" or "you should do your own research" instead of giving out your set of facts/numbers? Based on your assumption that someone will not take your word?

    That is no way for a friendly discussion.

    On Gold Beach, the British used Donald Duck tanks, which is an amphibious tank developed from M4 Sherman. Most of them were lost before reaching the shore and most of the remaining were lost shortly after reached the beach.

    On Omaha Beach, 743rd Tank Battalion landed only a dozen or so DD tanks.

    On Utah Beach, same DD tanks were used. More of them were landed than the previous two beach due to their landing craft got closer to the beach before releasing them.

    I don't know what is your idea of many tanks were used on the initial attack. Having a few dozens tanks tagging along with 20,000~30,000 foot soldiers on each beach does not count as "many". My idea of of armored landing would be massive hundreds of tanks taking initial firing from the defenders, allowing infantry soldiers to hide behind them.

    Now, I am not going to ask you to "look it up". I would gladly to hear your set of facts and numbers along with your argument.
  11. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    Your initial complaint was that there were not tanks assigned to go ashore with the first wave.

    There were, now you have figured that out for yourself.

    You then complained that amphibious tanks were inferior and that M-4s would be superior.

    The tanks so assigned, both DD and to be offloaded directly on the beaches were M4s. This you have now also discovered on your own.

    Now if your complaint is in regard to sea conditions, results of combat action or other vagaries impinging on operations, those, I would suggest have naught to do with whether or not tanks were assigned to go ashore with the initial assault wave. Your inital assessment of the operations planning did not seem to reflect an accurate reading of the plan(s) . . . and now you have searched and answered your own initial posting. Congrats!
  12. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    Not everyone can know every piece of accurate information in the world about everything. That goes for me, you, and everyone else.

    Forum is a place for people to discuss based on same or different information. When someone has some inaccurate information, as a friendly person you should correct the facts with what you know along with your source in a friendly tone, instead of repeatedly showing impatient attitude with unfriendly tone.

    Just saying I am not overly joyed after this conversation which could have been an interesting discussion for fun.

    Back on the topic, I stand with my point. Only very few tanks (next to none) were sent to the beaches. Dozens tanks does count as next to none when you have tens thousands of infantry on the mission. It was a bad idea for not having tanks as the majority units.
    Yes, Omaha Beach had only 2 out of 29 DD tanks successfully landed. Yes, it is due to sea condition. But if they were not trying to land amphibious tanks (released 2 miles from the shore), then the tanks would have made to the beach with much higher successful rate. If they had send in hundreds instead of just 29, then there would have to be a whole lot more tanks on the beach see action instead of just two.

    Your argument is based on "there were tanks". Yes, there were. But next to none as the number was too low to begin with, and even lower after many didn't even make it to shore.

    No, DD tanks are not the same as regular M4. Unlike your statement, in fact DD tanks had less armor.
  13. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    Hundreds? And just from where were all the landing craft for these hundreds of tanks supposed to come? You seem to be forgetting some, oh dear, logistical, problems, such as concurrent landings in the Marianas and the craft reserved for the landings in southern France. If you have no capability to transport, then you go with what you have.

    And exactly what armor was removed from those standard production modified to DD capability M-4s. Don't doubt your word, just have never heard, nor seen, that particular factoid. Pray, please provide enlightenment.
    51highland likes this.
  14. 51highland

    51highland Member

    There may have been more tanks on the American beaches if, like the British, they had launched the swimming tanks closer to shore.
  15. 51highland

    51highland Member

    64 tanks were to be launched by the Americans, 32 of them were allotted to the 1st Division area, 29 of them sank. the remaining 32 tanks were kept on their landing barges and landed direct on shore. Those 32 were originally intended for 29th Divisions half of the shore.
    On Utah beach men of the 4th Division were storming their particular beach,
    page 168 of Cornelius Ryan's book ,"the longest day" quotes; " strung out along the mile of beach, their canvas skirts hanging limply down, were the amphibious tanks - one of the big reasons why the assault had been so successful. Lumbering out of the water with the first waves, they had given a roaring support to the troops as they dashed across the beach."
  16. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    Frankly, having some small experience as an M48 driver, lo, those many, many, many years ago while undergoing the requiste years in cadet gray at an obscure military college in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, I find the concept of removing existing armor from an already manufactured tank a little difficult to comprehend.
  17. 51highland

    51highland Member

    page 177 referring to the British/Canadian beaches and the frogmen cleaaring under water obstacles; "working under fire, Taylor, like the other frogmen methodically set to work. They blew the obstacles singly, because they were too large to blow up in groups. Even as they worked, amphibious tanks came swimming in among them, followed almost immediately by first wave troops".
    That suggests that the tanks were ashore first.
  18. Susan Kelly

    Susan Kelly New Member

    Well besides the obvious answer that there where tanks on the beaches it is a great question to ponder on. Why only around 100 tanks for the first wave in Omaha. Was it logistically impossible to include more? I have never done the math on how many landing craft arrived with the first wave and how far apart where they.

    Also seeing how much of those tanks sunk and never made it to the beachheads makes you wonder how ill prepared they where. Probably a must-do idea to bring some armor along and no time to properly train the crews. At least in harsher weather conditions.

    Still most battles are over dramatized and only Omaha is known for having the "best" luck in countering harsher sea and resistance. Other beaches have known to have gotten tanks off to fight alongside them fairly easily.

    Probably the true answer is that there where plenty of tanks as logically anyone would need. Most beaches did ok. It's just Omaha became Omaha for different reasons and bad luck. At the start of the battle every beach was as good as the other and no one really knew how far they would make it.

    Oh and destroying bunkers with tank fire is kind of ridiculous. I don't know what kind of shells you would need to harm such a superstructure. You do know even the navy had a try and most bunkers remained intact. You seriously would need some kind of rail gun and blast it round after round to damage it. Shooting through the gap uphill at such a distance would of been quite a feat, not something a commander would plan on doing on any level. I'm talking about the Omaha bunkers.
  19. 51highland

    51highland Member

    Try googling "Petard Mortar" re bunker busting. On the British and commonwealth beaches, "Hobarts funnies" were utilised to great effect, the American commanders did not appreciate their worth and were not used.!!!!
  20. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    The naval guns missed. They shot too far inland. If they scored direct hits (which is unlikely from that distance), the bunkers wouldn't stand a chance.

    Most bunkers with those machine gun nests are easy to destroy by direct fire from a tank gun with HE round. The shock wave alone could take out the soldiers inside even if the structure couldn't be destroyed. And the tanks could easily score direct hits on the bunkers on the beach.

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