LST Group 35 – Omaha Beach
After Action Reports
Western Task Force
INVASION OF NORTHERN FRANCE
WESTERN TASK FORCE
From: Commanding Officer LST GROUP 35 (OMAHA BEACH)
At 1120 LST 307 was struck by a 105mm shell in the port side of the ward room, killing six and injuring fourteen men. This was the commencement of an extremely accurate general shelling of the entire group by an enemy 105mm battery located to the eastward of Red Beach in the vicinity of the Orne River. All barrage balloons were let go at this time. The size of the battery was definitely determined by an unexploded 105mm shell extracted from the forward 40mm magazine of the LST 331. Intermittent shelling was experienced from 1120 to 1600. The following direct hits are known to have been made:
The only defensive measures which could be taken under the circumstances were to complete the off loading, take fire fighting and damage control measures, and safeguard personnel as far as possible. Smoke was tried, but due to on shore breeze complete concealment could not be obtained and as no effect was observed upon the accuracy of the enemy fire by this measure it was discontinued. Efforts to lay smoke to the eastward and seaward of the beached ships likewise proved to be completely without effect. This was a very feeble effort and no concealment resulted. However, the enemy had already established the range accurately so it is quite possible that even a good screen would have been ineffective. Fortunately no serious fires occurred as the only method for fighting them were the C02 extinguishers and such ballast as was available in unpumped tanks. Counter battery fire was delivered by a British Cruiser and later an LCG. This resulted in a temporary cessation of fire by the enemy battery. This fire was resumed in each case after counter battery fire ceased.
From information received from the beach it is apparent that the existence of this enemy battery was known and that the beach had been shelled repeatedly before. This information was not given to the LSTs until after they came under fire. Attempts had been made before to neutralize the battery, the location of which was not accurately known, but without success.
It is recommended that if LSTs are to be beached and dried out within range of known enemy batteries that adequate and prompt counter battery fire be provided and maintained throughout the operation. That this would probably be effective was demonstrated by the fact that enemy fire ceased when counter battery fire was used and recommenced when it was withdrawn.