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UTAH Beach

Monday 15 January 2001

Utah beach was the code name for the stretch of beach to the North of the Vire estuary end the east coast of the Cherbourg peninsula. The objective was to link up with the paratroopers, and Omahah beach,then cut off the peninsula and take Cherbourg.
The first wave, led by General Theodore Roosevelt, boarded their landing craft at 05.00. 0n the one and a half hour sea trip they passed a line of warships waiting quietly for 05.40. At the appointed time the ships started a bombardment of the coastal batteries. Each ship was allocated a battery. At the same time the dunes behind the beach were subjected to saturation bombing by hundreds of bombers.

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LCI - Landing craft Infantry

The landing ramp of the LCI was made of metal. The sides, of plywood. Not much protection.

The assault crafts’ target was the dunes at Vareville. The column of landing craft had several problems during the voyage. Of the four pilot boats one got it’s propellor jammed, another was sunk by a mine and another had to turn back, leaving just one. With the delay and the smoke covering the beach they landed one and a half miles too far south, due to the strong tidal current.
This turned out to be providential as this part of the coast was less heavily defended. General Roosevelt took the decision to bring the follow up forces to this wrong beatch.
There was very little resistance from the germans. They were third rate troops, invalided off the russian front or pressed men who just wanted to go home. They’d been promised air back up, back up from land and secret weapons. To all intents and purposes the germans had no air power in Normandy. Thanks to the paratroops no reinforcement was possible by land , and secret weapons didn’t exist.
A Captain Mabry who landed with Roosevelt was crossing the dunes alone when he was confronted by 5 german soldiers. One was about to throw a grenade so he shot him , and the others instantly surrendered. Mabry was surprised by this as they could have easily overcome him, but turning to follow their gaze he saw that they were really surrendering to the fleet of ships that filled the horizon.
Although there was so little resistance and there were only a handfull of casualties the Utah beach forces didn’t manage to establish a bridgehead as large as planned. The 82nd airbourne were still isolated at St mere Eglise, and a battery at Crisbeq was still operating in the north which restricted their progress.
It wasn’t till the next day that the troops could reinforce the men at St Mere Eglise.
The cutting off of the peninsula took 10 days and was acheived the 17th. Cherbourg didn’t capitulate till D+20 on the 26th June. There were still pockets of resistance in La Hague till July 1st.

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Tracked landing craft "Aligator"

These tracked landing craft were developped in the everglades, just as the other landing craft were. they were nicknamed Aligators.

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Liberty way Km00

The liberty way was inaugurated in 1958. It traced the route taken by paton from Normandy up to Bastogne. The first Marker, Km0, was installed at St Mère Eglise as the invasion started with the airborne troops, but Paton landed at Utah so the marker at Utah is Km 00.

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