Today I watched a really interesting programme through the History Hit TV app. I chose this out of the plethora of documentaries available due to the fact that it was the last chance to watch it as the archive film footage falls out of license in early January and it will no doubt be removed from viewing lists then. So, despite having read scores of books on the subject matter and watched endless documentaries and films the tantalising footnote that new theories explain why the death toll on the sands of Omaha beach were so high caught me like a clickbait on YouTube.
The documentary was very enjoyable and the few things I took away from it are..
- The plans for the assault on Omaha Beach were drawn up in late 1943. In November 1943 Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was assigned the task of defending northwest Europe as part of Hitler’s Fuhrer Directive 51 and immediately set to strengthening the Atlantic Wall including the area the Allies had earmarked as Omaha Beach.
- Omaha Beach was defended by the 352nd Infantry Division, this unit had been overlooked by Allied intelligence reports. The 352nd included field artillery units which would have been able to target the beach from a few miles inland. Was this the reason Omaha beach was a massacre?
- And lastly, the documentary states it was the US Rangers destined as the 2nd wave at Point du Hoc that actually forced the breakthrough on Omaha beach. Apparently the first wave of US Rangers were of target and had to turn 90 degrees from their course to head towards Point du Hoc meaning it took them longer to get there, the Germans were waiting and that this delay meant that no signal was sent once they got to the top of the cliffs to the 2nd wave waiting offshore. These 500 US Rangers eventually got deposited on the sands of Omaha and it was them that breached the wire.
I had never heard of #3 before so will be looking a bit more into it. All in all the documentary was fascinating and was full of some exceptional archive footage interlaced with more recent views of the areas. If you have History Hit TV or access to watch this documentary definitely give it a go as it passes an interesting hour.
Thanks for reading.