Rich, Haunting History at Omaha Beach
Omaha Beach is steeped in both history and bloodshed. Its name was originally a code for the Allied forces who sought to overtake five areas of the German-controlled French coast of Normandy. On June 6, 1944, U.S. troops suffered heavy causalties in their attempts to overtake the beach and link it to five neighboring sectors. The D-Day assault on Omaha Beach distributed seasoned troops of the 29th Infantry Division to the western half of the beach and untried troops of the 1st Infantry Division to the eastern half. The first attacks were layered with a combination of infantry, tanks, and combat engineer forces designed to break down German defenses and allow for more formidable Allied warships to take to the beach. Awaiting the 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions was the highly experience German 352nd Infantry Division, comprised of over 12,000 men. That day, the Germans sought to defend the coastal strongpoints and eviscerate any seaborne threats presented by the Allied Forces.
Tribulations were aplenty for the Allied Forces. The German 352nd Infantry Division presented an impressive challenge in addition to Allied struggles to navigate the waters. U.S. troops wrestled to land their craft and repeatedly missed targets throughout the assault. Losses were severe and U.S. efforts resulted in over 3,000 casualties and approximately 1,000 deaths. Bombarded by a barrage of fire, clearing the beaches was made yet more difficult for engineers and heavy causalities from the landing further delayed the assault. As they advanced, U.S. troops were forced to improvise their assaults and scale the bluffs to ultimately penetrate small areas that led to eventual weaknesses in German defense. After days of fright, loss, and firepower, the Allied objective of D-Day was fruitful. Following a successful seizure of Normandy, Omaha Beach was used to house supplies and cargo ships were intentionally sunk at the shoreline to create a defensive barrier. The beach became the location of one of the two prefabricated Mulberry Harbors that were beaten by wild storms shortly after the events of D-Day. Nowadays, remnants of the harbor can be seen at Omaha Beach when the tide is low. While the surrounding areas have merged and flourished into a peaceful beach community, Omaha Beach remains relatively untouched. The long stretch of coast faintly echoes of a victory won with strife and great human cost.