Private Harold Baumgarten
29th Infantry Division - 116th Infantry Regiment - B Company
|As we approached the beach, the bullets started hitting our LCA. The Company B boat on our left was hit by a shell and blew up. The splintered wood, metal, and body parts were raining down on us from about fifteen feet above. Our young British sailor wanted to drop the front ramp in the twenty-foot-deep water and motor away. Lieutenant Donaldson pulled out his Army Colt 45, pointed it at the frightened seaman, and bellowed, 'Take us all the way in." The sailor's fear was well founded. He saw the boat explode on our left, heard all the explosions and gunfire around us and saw the teller mines attached to the wooden pilings in front of us. Finally, the boat stopped, and the front ramp went down in neck deep water.
German MG 42s were trained on our ramp opening, as I stepped forward to leave the craft. The water was bright red, from the blood of some of those who had been in front of me. Lieutenant Donaldson was killed immediately, Clarius Riggs was machine gunned on the ramp, and then fell headfirst into the bloody water.
I jumped into the neck-deep water (for my height) with my rifle above my head. On leaving the ramp a bullet creased the top of my helmet. About 300 yards straight ahead was a 20-25 foot high cobble (shale) stone seawall. There was barbed wire on its top. Looming above this wall was a bluff that rose up another 75 feet, and had enemy positions (trenches) hidden in it. There was about 200 yards of dry sand leading before it with "ramps" and "hedgehogs," which were all mined. The ramps were logs at 45-degree angles facing the water. The hedgehogs were composed of three beams welded together and cemented in the sand. These obstacles plus the two I had already passed in the water, the element C (Belgium Gate) and angled stakes, were all placed to destroy the assault boats at high tide. The Belgium gates were made of metal, 10-feet-wide and 7feet-high, and cemented down.
Some of the fellows, who were able to exit the boat without getting machine gunned, were being dragged under by the wet combat jackets and heavy equipment. Their life preservers were of no value. The water was over the head of the average man in my boat. German snipers were also picking them off. The water was being splattered up by bullets, as I ran through it. It was surreal. About 20 feet to my left front were two of our Dual Drive Amphibious medium army tanks, with their rubber sides down. re were the other fourteen that were supposed be here?
Six 29ers were clinging to the one first to my left and seven were clutching to the one closest to me. The distal tank had a dead soldier hanging from turret. It had been knocked out. While the tank closest to me was actively firing its 76mm cannon at the enemy. About 200 yards from the wall, we were now running in ankle deep water. Robert Dittmar was ten feet in front of me to the right, and another of my boat team was behind me on my left. A burst of machine gun bullets came from above the wall and slightly to our right. I heard a thud from Dittmar's direction. Then instantaneously my rifle, which was carried at port arms across my chest, was hit and vibrated in my hands. My rifle had a clean hole in its receiver, in front of the trigger guard. The seven bullets in the receiver had stopped the German bullet from penetrating the rifle to hit my chest. I had heard another thud behind me at the same instant, and my other boat team member had been gunned down.
Dr Harold Baumgarten - "Eyewitness on Omaha Beach"
Copyright 2000 - | Laurent LEFEBVRE - D-Day Historian