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JOUR-J TOUR par LAURENT LEFEBVRE

Utah Beach

Utah Beach was the code name for the right flank of the Allied landing beaches during the D-day. Utah Beach, about 3 miles long, was the westernmost of the five landing beaches, located between Pouppeville and the village of La Madeleine.
Two hours before the main invasion force, a raiding party swam ashore at Îles Saint-Marcouf, thought to be a German observation post. It was unoccupied.

Almost exactly at H-hour the 4th Division assault craft lowered their ramps and 600 men waded through waist-deep water for the last 100 or more yards to the beach. The actual touchdown on the beach was therefore a few minutes late, but the delay was negligible and had no effect on the phasing of the succeeding waves. Enemy artillery had fired a few air bursts at sea, but otherwise there was no opposition at H Hour. The first troops to reach shore were from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry. Captain Leonard T. Schroeder, leading Company F, was the first man from a landing craft to reach the beach. The 1st Battalion landed a few minutes later. Both came ashore considerably south of the designated beaches. The 2nd Battalion should have hit Uncle Red Beach opposite Exit 3. The 1st Battalion was supposed to land directly opposite the strong-point at les Dunes de Varreville. The landings, however, were made astride Exit 2 about 2,000 yards (1,800 metres) south. This error was potentially very serious, for it could have caused great confusion. But, it did not. The original plans, in which each assault section had a specific mission, could not be carried out in detail, of course.

When Brigadier General Roosevelt realized the landing craft had drifted south with the current and smoke more than a mile from their objective - and that the first wave was a mile off course - he personally made a reconnaissance of the area immediately to the rear of the beach to locate the causeways which were to be used for the advance inland. He then returned to the point of landing, contacted the commanders of the two battalions (Lieutenant Colonels Conrad C. Simmons and Carlton O. MacNeely), and coordinated the attack.

The American airborne landings in Normandy were the first United States combat operations of Operation Overlord. 13,100 paratroopers of the U.S. 82nd Airborne and 101st Airborne Divisions made night parachute drops early on D-day, June 6, followed by 3,937 glider troops flown in by day.

D-Day casualties for the airborne divisions were calculated in August 1944 as 1,240 for the 101st Airborne Division and 1,259 for the 82nd Airborne. Of those, the 101st suffered 182 killed, 557 wounded, and 501 missing. For the 82nd, the total was 156 killed, 347 wounded, and 756 missing.