D-Day strategy question

December 9th, 2010  

Topic: D-Day strategy question

I'm a civilian and my knowledge of military tactics is rather limited so please bear with me

I watched "Saving Private Ryan" again a few days ago. One thing that made me wonder was the opening sequence in which the invading landing forces seemed to literally walk into unchallenged German defense positions (machine gun bunkers) and suffer severe losses. I realize this is a movie and I don't know how accurate and representative it is, although I'm sure military and historic advisors were involved.

So my perhaps naive question is: Why didn't the Allies take care of the bunkers via naval/aerial bombardment before landing the ground forces on the beach? According to this article, supporting fire by warships was provided. But the movie doesn't really reflect that. Is this simply a failure/omission on part of the film or were there any other reason?
December 9th, 2010  
The movie starts after the ineffective bombardment by Destroyers, Cruiser & battleships(don't know witch were assigned to that location), plus air bombing of the area. A lot of preinvasion bombardments in the Pacific didn't get the job done.
December 9th, 2010  
But at nearby Omaha, they suffered severe losses. The Allied naval barrage and bombing raids on the German defences had proved ineffective and the Americans encountered a crack division of German troops.

The rocket barrage from the landing craft fell short as well.

The film was reasonably accurate but showed the US Navy rather than the Royal Navy landing the Rangers!
December 9th, 2010  
The swimming tanks were unloaded nearly ten miles out to sea as the ships carrying them did not want to get hit by German Artillery and in the heavy seas none of them made it to the beach. The Americans also turned down all of the Hobart Funnies that they were offered by the British and had worked so well on all the other beaches. The medium bombers missed the targets and what ever could go wrong went wrong. It is to the Americans credit that they carried on and took the beach head despite all the failings.
December 11th, 2010  
It also didn't help that intelligence didn't pick up the fact that a new German division (was it airbourne?) had been moved into there. These guys had fought on the Russian Front and so were fierce warriors that the Americans hadn't expected to match.

Of course the issue with comparing 'Saving Private Ryan' to D-Day is this. It only focused on Omaha Beach which was by far the worst beach. I think it reached nearly 2500 casualties? The other beaches received far, far less! Actually far less than expected. I believe I about 400 casualties on all the others except the Canadians which I believe received very little resistance and was a walk in the park. That was all due mainly to the amazing deception the Allies did to make the Germans think they would land in Calais. In fact, it was so convincing that the Germans actually believed that the Normandy landings were a diversion and sent very few reinforcements to stop the Allies. it wasn't until the Allies were practically on Paris that the Germans realised their mistake. So I would argue that the success of D-Day was down to that intelligence diversion. But if you think that was superb should read up on Operation Mincemeat which helped save thousands of lives on the Sicily landings.
January 2nd, 2011  
The British and Canadians went ashore with flame throwing Churchill tanks, others that could throw a dustbin size bunker busters along with flail tanks which helped them clear the beaches. To say the Canadians had a walk in the park forgets that many of the Canadians that were captured were shot on the spot, there were quite a few found with there hands bound and then shot, and of you check out the figures for Canadian deaths you will find that they were quite high
January 27th, 2011  
The bombers dropped too far inland to do any good,and the naval shelling was too brief.
January 27th, 2011  
There were errors made on the allied side, but one also has to give the Germans some credit...they are wonderful engineers.

The bunkers themselves are enormous, the walls are a mix of several steel girders sunk in reinforced concrete several feet thick. And in most cases the structure is sunk several feet with within the earth, or sunk within a hillside with only the observation and gun ports visible.

No not only were they were incredibly difficult to knock out, many of them were difficult to spot by air and naval units, though the French resistence did offer some help to allied command in this regard.
January 27th, 2011  
The huge bombs lobbed at them by the the tanks cracked them open and the flames from the crocodile tanks would enter the bunker through the cracks blowing it up
January 28th, 2011  
Del Boy
Well - so much for those bunkers!

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