D-Day from the Navy side…

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 Hoc–Vierville-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…


D-Day from the Navy side… — 13 Comments

  1. You are right, I’ve never heard of what the Navy had to do to help the troops assault the beach. Thanks for teaching me something I did not know.

  2. Hard to make an amphibious landing without naval gunfire support. I’d read about the Fitch and McCook. There were other destroyers and PT boats on station to stop E-boat attacks on the fleet; could have been uglier than the surprise in rehearsal.

    The little guys get the mission done, whatever the cost, while the big boys get the attention. Hats off to them.

  3. Forgive me if the holes in my memory don’t allow me to recall the details. I read somewhere that the pre-invasion bombardment by the cruisers and battleships at Omaha Beach was less effective than anticipated. The invasion troops were being held up on the beaches by the defenses on the cliff heights above the beach. A group of Destroyer Skippers decided to move in closer than their assigned positions. Risking mines, grounding and shore batteries to put accurate fire on the German positions. This helped break the stalemate on Omaha and may have just saved the invasion.

  4. Don’t forget the USS Texas. Fought in every major theatre in WW2. On D-day she was there. Here is some history of her on that day.

    After arriving in Normandy in early June 1944, the USS Texas and the British cruiser HMS Glasgow (C21) entered the Omaha Beach western fire support lane, near Pointe du Hoc. She was one of 702 ships in the US-British flotilla, and one of just seven battleships.

    Texas began firing 14-inch shells in support of the 29th Infantry Division and the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions. Within a span of just 34 minutes, she’d fired 255 shells – a shocking comparison to the 300 the vessel had fired during the entirety of Operation Torch. Texas then shifted her focus to more inland targets as the Allies moved from the landing beaches. Just 2,700 meters from shore, the battleship continued to bombard German positions throughout June 7-8.

    After briefly returning to England, Texas arrived back in Normandy on June 15. By then, the Allied forces had already pushed farther inland and out of her range; the ship’s large guns couldn’t aim high enough to launch shells where they were needed. As fire missions continued to be requested, the crew needed to think outside the box. If the port side guns couldn’t be raised any further, then the starboard side needed to be lowered.

    To lower the starboard side, the crew intentionally flooded the torpedo blister, lowering Texas an extra two degrees into the water. This was just the right angle for the battleship’s guns to fire accurately and complete the mission. Most vessels would never voluntarily flood part of their hull, but this daring move embodied the spirit the Allied forces showed at Normandy, which allowed for the operation to be victorious.

  5. As I understand it, the Texas (a New York-class battleship) flooded the starboard torpedo blisters in order for the crew to gain the extra two degrees needed to fire the port guns at the installations on shore.

  6. Neat stuff , wild and brave actions of men , quick decisions , bold moves, staggering heroism , set on a stage of choreographed chaos . Hell Yes !!!!! God Bless their souls , each and everyone .

  7. For those who may have been living under a rock, USS Texas has recently under gone much restoration work, with much left to do. Here she is re-floating out of dry dock–


    There are many videos on YouTube showing the work done in dry dock, including the torpedo blisters.

    A snappy hand salute today to this grand old lady.

  8. All- Yes, the DDs came in close, actually under fire and it cost Correy and her men. You are correct on what Texas did, and yes, that took ‘guts’ to purposely flood down.

  9. There is an account by a German Panzer Company of coming under fire from heavy naval guns – possibly 15” from HMS Rodney – and suffering 40% casualties before they could get mobile.
    Rodney was tasked with fire missions up to 22mi inland.

    When it comes to the big stuff, near-enough *is* good-enough.

    On a more general note, I don’t think there has been a major opposed landing that has not been supported by Naval gunfire. Not in modern warfare, anyway. Am I wrong?

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