D-Day, from a different perspective…

Gleaves Class Destroyer- This particular one is the USS McCook. See below for more…

We all know of the heroism of the Troops that hit the beaches on D-Day, June 6. What many people don’t realize is the Navy, in the form of Destroyers, were providing covering fire and taking the shore batteries from basically point blank (4000 yards and less) range to try to put them out of action and save the troops lives.

Three particular Destroyers stand out- The USS Corry, DD-463, which was the lead Destroyer, and was actually sunk by counter-battery fire from the shore. HERE is a link to her story, with an interview by Edward R. Murrow of the Commanding Officer, LCDR Hoffman.

Another is USS Fitch, DD-462, she was also on the line and was doing the same thing as Corry. The Fitch actually came to the rescue of the Corry personnel, saving many of them, in addition to continuing to counter-battery against the Germans on the shore. HERE is a link to their deck log. Interesting reading, to put it mildly!

Lastly the USS McCook, DD-496. McCook departed with Destroyer Squadron 18 (DesRon 18) and ships of Assault Force “O” for the coast of France. Early 6 June, she arrived in the Baie de la Seine and at 03:20 commenced bombardment of the beaches and waterfront of the Pointe du HocVierville-sur-Mer area. By 06:16 she had neutralized her assigned targets (three pillboxes, 13 machine gun nests and three shore guns) and had begun to take on targets of opportunity. By the end of the day, she had added to her score seven pillboxes, eight gun emplacements and ten stone houses, in which enemy machine guns and snipers had been placed.

One of the things McCook did was take out the batteries at the top of Pointe du Hoc, allowing 2nd Ranger Battalion to actually make the climb.

I know this is not the standard D-Day post, but I wanted to take a little bit of a different tack than what you normally see…

Thanks for stopping by and reading!


D-Day, from a different perspective… — 14 Comments

  1. Thanks for a fuller look at June 6, 1944. I was reading about the USS Texas and its role in the landings a couple of days ago. There were some good pictures taken from the Texas of the destroyers working closer to the beaches.

    The Coast Guard’s role during the landings is another angle some historians have missed.

  2. Thanks for the history lesson Jim. I never even thought about how many others were involved in that battle. BTW I love Murrow… what an outstanding journalist he was.

  3. Let’s also remember that the majority of the ships and boats in the invasion force were RN. Most of the troop ships and landing boats were manned by Brit sailors and merchant marine.

    That’s something we forget. My Father-in-Law went ashore in the 2nd wave and told stories about how well the RN treated then while aboard ship. They always had hot meals available around the clock as well as hot tea and coffee right up until it was time to man the landing boats.

  4. Thanks! We usually only think about the rushing of the beaches and the folks who were dropped behind the lines.

    Can you imagine just how loud it was that day? The collective efforts of those involved that day just amazes me.

  5. ADM- Most don’t…

    Somerled- You are correct, but I’m on the road and couldn’t dig those links out on a balky computer.

    FF- There were literally, I believe, something like 10 direct support (e.g. ships, airplanes, logisitics) for every trooper that hit the beach.

    Crucis- Yep, and they did great work too!

    RT- Noisy does NOT even come close. Many could not hear for literally days after hitting Omaha, according to some who were there!

  6. JR- There were a LOT of folks who spent time on DD’s in WWII and Korea, they were literally the greyhounds of the Fleet, and it took a special breed to take those “small boys” into the North Atlantic at ANYTIME, much less escorting convoys to Murmansk.

  7. Destroyer captains have big ones.

    Dad was a Chief Machinist Mate (and plank owner)on DD-440 (USS Ericsson) in the Atlantic. They sunk the last German submarine sunk in American waters.

    His yougest brother was in a DD tank (743rd Tank Bn) leading the way into Omaha Beach. They were 6 minutes ahead of the infantry but you never hear about them. They arrived on the beach in mass because an enterprising LST driver saw what was happening to the 741st Tank Bn and made the command decision to take them all the way to the baech instead of launching them offshore.

  8. You can add one of my uncles to the list of DD guys.


  9. That last sub sunk by the DD440 was 8 miles off Block Island and my kids have been out diving on it and one of them has two name plate artifacts from it!
    I had what I always considered the “misfortune” to be assigned to a DD in the mid 60’s with the DASH program. It was the USS Harold D. Ellison DD864. This post gave me a little different outlook on that particular assignment. Just a little though! It was bitch being the only airdale stuck with a bunch of black shoes!

  10. Ambrose’s D-Day book spends much of a chapter on the Destroyers on D-Day. Without them and their risky tactics it is hard to fathom how our men could have ever gotten of that hellish beach. These ships disregarded safety guidelines by coming in to a mere 600-900 yards off the beach, close enough to see the riflemen’s targets, then aiming and taking out the same targets with their cannon.

    There’s a great story in the book which I have to recount word for word: …(Frankford) Gunnery Officer Keeler recalled: “A tank sitting at the water’s edge with a broken track fired at something on the hill. We immediately followed up with a 5-inch salvo. The tank gunner flipped open his hatch, looked around at us, waved, and dropped back in the tank, and fired at another target. For the next few minutes he was our fire-control party. “

    – from D-Day by Stephen Ambrose p.387