Omaha Beach

This famous beach became known as Bloody Omaha and for good reason.  The area has high cliffs around it with only five gullies leading from it which the Americans called ‘draws’. This beach is broad and at low tide is a long way from the waters edge to the base of the cliffs so was very easy for anyone on the cliff top to see clearly down on the men pouring out of the landing crafts.

The Germans manning the many gun emplacements in the area were thought to be of poor quality but in fact they were hardened troops of the 352nd Division who, as bad luck would have it, were in the area already carrying out anti-invasion exercises. Rommel, who had visited the area earlier, demanded that the whole sector be fortified even stronger so numerous gun emplacements were built along with concrete bunkers, pillboxes, anti-tank traps, machine gun posts, thousands of beach obstacles and anti-personal mines.

The plan was simple the beach was split into two main sectors codenamed ‘Dog’ and ‘Easy’.  The 116th Infantry Division would land on ‘Dog’ and the 16th Infantry Division would land on ‘Easy’.  After it had gained a foothold the 116th Division would go back to clearing an area to the River Aure beyond the N13, while the 16th Division would then head east to link up with the British at Port-en-Bessin.  They were both supported with two battalions of floating DD tanks.

The plan went terribly wrong from the start, the heavy choppy seas swamped the DD tanks with the result that they sank, so when the men landed they had no tank support. The landing craft dropped the men too far from the shore so when the ramps went down, they had to contend with a hail of bullets that awaited them, also as their equipment was too heavy many of them drowned. There was no cover on the beaches except for the obstacles that were there, so many tried to huddle around them for cover.  Bombers had been tasked with dropping their loads on the beach fortifications before the landing but it was found that they had dropped their bombs too far inland.  Wave after wave of men were bogged down on the beach and as the tide came in, the area became so small that nothing could move on it.
Late morning came and it was then that small breakthroughs were made by engineers who started to blow up the defenses at each of the draws and by nightfall troops on the beach began moving inland, although at a very heavy price with over 3000 dead.

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