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THE ASSAULT LANDING OF NORMANDY FRANCE ON JUNE 6th OF OMAHA BEACH, EASY RED SECTOR.------
It was around 5:00 am that we approached the area where the LCTís were to form columns to approach the beach for landing. It was about 5:30 am when I was given the order from the Skipper to hoist certain flags that indicated forming one single column. Upon lowering the flags the LCTís were to break away and head for their respective landing area. The LCT 538, Skippered by LTjg Hamilton Adams was the lead craft in the column of 8 LCT ís --numbered from the 538 to the 545. The 538, 539, 540, 541 and the 542 were to land at EASY RED SECTOR and the three other LCTs ---the 543 544 and the 545 I believe were to make landing on FOX GREEN SECTOR .We were all to land at around H-hour which was around 6:00 or 6:30 AM.
The shelling and machine gun fire coming from shore was so heavy that it made it very difficult to make a good landing to be able to allow the troops to leave the craft. The ramp was lowered but it was immediately raised as we had to back off without any vehicle having a chance to leave the LCT. In the short time that we were at the landing site we had been hit several times by German 88mm gunfire along with machine gun fire and all this caused the loss of several crew members. To add to our woes, as we were backing off the beach, the current caused us to drift into an obstacle with a mine attached to it. The explosion caused damage to two or three watertight compartments on the bottom of the LCT and the flooded compartments caused us to almost get permanently hung up on the beach and getting completely blown out of the water. We did finally get off the beach and started looking for another area in which to land.
With the bottom compartments flooded it caused a bad starboard list and prevented us from making a landing close enough to shore to allow the vehicles to safely disembark. We did finally get to another area to unload the troops and vehicles but because of not being able to get close enough to shore, most of the vehicles didnít make it to the beach. .They were blown up before they got near dry ground. When we landed the first time it was total chaos with bodies floating around as well as body parts flying through the air.
The LCT 539, Skippered by LTjg Linwood Rideout, made a landing to our Port side and their initial landing was no better than ours. They went through the same as we did, suffering direct hits from the 88MM guns and also casualties as well. The 539 also had to retreat from that area and look for another place to make the landing. The LCT 540 Skippered by LTjg. Fredrick Nye Mosses rammed the beach and suffered NINE direct hits from the German 88ís killing the Skipper in action along with several other crew members. It was shortly after our second try at landing that the engineers were able to repair the compartments so that we could properly maneuver the craft.
After that we were able to resume our mission which was to go out to the anchorage area where the Liberty Ships were anchored and start bringing new troops and supplies to the beaches as reinforcements. This we continued to do until night fall.--- One of the things that I will always remember about that morning was that horrible whining noise of those German 88 projectiles whizzing over our heads. Believe me there was an awful lot of other noises.
By this time the bombing had stopped because of out troops on the beaches. The shelling was in full force both from the shore batteries as well as from our own Naval Warships. EASY RED SECTOR of Omaha Beach was directly under some real menacing shore battery fire. The Germans were hitting us with great accuracy so much so that it made you think they were looking right down at us. It was thought that they were using the church steeple as an observation post. As that became apparent our Skipper somehow got a message from a tank commander on the beach asking if we could help them by getting a message out to the ships asking if they could help them by destroying the steeple on top of the village church in Vierville.
The message was handed to me and at the skippersí request, I signaled the nearest ship to us which happened to be the Destroyer Harding and I relayed that request. It took a few moments for them to get approval from the higher up but when it finally came we could see the guns begin to swing around toward the steeple and the shelling started and in no time the steeple was gone. Soon after that we immediately started to notice that the shore battery shelling was now very erratic with none of the accuracy they had earlier.
We later found out that in the process of shelling the steeple there were American casualties. It seems some of our troops had gotten through and were in the area and already had started firing on the steeple. As nightfall came down upon us it became apparent that our ground troops had made enough headway to make the beach area much safer to be around. This account was written as remembered by Albert J. Berard Signalman 3 rd class of the LCT 538.
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