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Assault Force U – Utah Beach – After Action Reports

Assault Force U – Utah Beach

After Action Reports
Western Task Force

AMPHIBIOUS OPERATIONS
INVASION OF NORTHERN FRANCE
WESTERN TASK FORCE
JUNE 1944

From: Commander Assault Force “U”

Order of Landing Assault Waves: Early planning provided for two waves of infantry in LCVPs, Wave 1A of DD tanks, Wave 3 of LCT(A)s, with Demolition Units in LCVPs and LCMs landing with Wave 4 at H plus 17. Because of the urgency of earliest attack upon substantial beach obstacles known to exist, a late decision was made to move up 4 LCVPs with Navy Demolition units, on each beach, from Wave 4 to Wave 2, thereby starting demolition work 12 minutes earlier. This resulted in Wave 2 totaling 15 LCVPs on each beach. It was well understood that this number of craft was more than could be effectively controlled by a single Wave Commander. This Wave was accordingly organized as two boat divisions. Whether because of the excessive numbers, or for other reasons, the actual number of craft landing with Wave 2 for both beaches was reported to be 14 to 16. Other units of Wave 2 appear to have landed with later waves. 12 LCVP or 6 LCI(L) or LCTs are believed to be the largest number that should be assigned to a single wave.Deployment. Assault LSTs towing RHFs were phased to arrive at Transport Area simultaneously with transports, but by-different channels. Earliest arrival of LSTs was based upon two considerations: first because decision had been made to lift Navy Demolition Units and their munitions in LSTs and to land them in LCVPs from LSTs; second additional LCVPs from LSTs were required for lift of Assault elements from APAs.

Immediately astern of the LSTs were the LCTs carrying DD tanks, and the Fire Support Craft and the LCMs, part under tow, the rest under their own power. This arrangement permitted these units, timely arrival of which was essential, to cross astern of the transports, moving directly to the Rendezvous Area, except that the LCMs proceeded direct to Assembly Areas of APAs to which assigned.

The next unit to arrive was the convoy of LCTs organized in two sections, one for RED, the other for GREEN beaches. These anchored immediately to seaward of LSTs, with units assigned to early waves nearest LSTs.

The final assault units to arrive were the LCI(L)s which arrived at H-hour and were able to proceed without serious interference to their areas, those for RED Beach anchoring to SE of APA, those for GREEN Beach to NW of APAs.

This arrangement worked particularly well considering the numbers of craft included.

Timing Arrivals in Assault Area presented unusual difficulties in this operation for the following reasons:

  1. slow speed units, including LCTs, had a distance of approximately 140 miles to cover;
  2. currents up to a maximum of 3.0 knots might be expected, particularly near the end of the passage when time adjustments by varying speed could be made only to a very limited extent;
  3. the numbers of craft involved resulted practically in a solid formation in the slow channel totaling 283 ships and craft;
  4. most of these convoys included units from several different staging points requiring accurate rendezvous, and necessary time to join formation.

Underwater Obstacles. Obstacles on UTAH Beach presented no problems. Detailed information of the experiences of the demolition parties is not at hand but it is known that all obstacles were dry when the first wave landed and by 0900 the beaches were cleared of obstacles. The landing as made south of the beaches originally chosen, was at a place where there were fewer obstacles than on the planned beaches.

Recommendations.

Landings should be made at a state of tide when any obstacles are on dry land.

DD Tanks. These were scheduled to land at H-hour simultaneously with Wave 1 or as soon thereafter as practicable. Due to late arrival in Transport Area, loss of one Primary Control vessel, and inability to make up time because of slow speed, these actually landed at H plus 20. Precise timing of these units is so uncertain that no reliance can be placed upon the ability of these units to land at any exactly specified time. This fact was recognized and provided for in the assault briefing.

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