UTAH BEACH : U.S. Troops



4th Infantry Division
" Ivy "

Utah beach is the code name given to the beach located more to the west of the landing zone. The beach, facing North-east and sandhill-edged is situated on the east coast of the Cotentin peninsula and at the edge of a marshland zone which had been flooded by the Germans. Only four causeways could be used to cross this marshland and reach inlands.

Along the coast, there were variable forms of artificial defences. On the beach itself, rows of obstacles were placed. These obstacles looked like piles or posts inclined towards the sea, of steel hedgehogs and barbed wire entanglements, of "C" elements and Belgium gates (Cointets elements).
Behind the beach, along the mansonry wall, the defensive system was organized with blockhouses, armored turrets, "Tobrouk" holes, trenches and underground dugouts. These works were connected to each others by a network of trenches and protected by iron barbed wires, minefields and anti-tanks ditches.

Cotentin peninsula was in the defence zone of the VIIth German army. This defence was affiliated to the 709th, 243rd and 91st Infantry Divisions.

Assault plan for the 4th Division (98Ko)
Plan for the 4th Division
(U.S. Army)
The Objectives :
On the field order number one dated May 28th, 1944, one can read "The VIIth corps will attack Utah beach the D Day at H-Hour and will storm Cherbourg in a minimum of time".
On top of the objectives given to the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, the 4th Infantry Division should attack Utah beach at H-Hour, to establish a landing zone, and then, push towards Cherbourg, jointly with the 90th Infantry Division which would land at D Day + 1.

The Invasion :
At 0430 hrs, elements of the 4th and 24th cavalry squadron reached the Saint-Marcouf Islands, facing Utah beach in order to seize what was supposed to be an advanced post or a small fort. At 0530 hrs, the elements were landed and the desert islands were occupied.

In the mean time, the transfer of the troops in the LCPV was held safely and the first wave arrived at the agreed hour on the departure line.

Almost at H-Hour, the ships let down the ramps and 600 men plunged into the water to reach the beach. These first troops reaching the shore were those of the 1st and 2nd battalion of the 8th Infantry Regiment. They were not at the scheduled place but had landed 1800 metres south.

B.G. Theodore Roosevelt Jr, who was in the first wave of assault, noticed this error and having recognized the field by himself, decided that the following waves of assault should land at the same place.

While Engineers were preparing the beaches for the arrival of new troops, the 1st and 2nd/8th Infantry Regiment started their new mission and moved forward inland to their previous objectives.
The 1st/8th were progressing to the North, to the Dunes-de-Varreville and the 3rd/8th to the West. The 2nd/8th were the paratroopers of the 101st Division at Pouppeville around 1200 hrs.

Soldiers ready to land on Utah Beach (98Ko)
Soldiers ready to land
( U.S. Army )

One of the main consequences of the error in the landing place was the overcrowding of the exit 2. The initial plan scheduled exits 2 and 3 for the flow of men and equipment but the proximity of the German defences at the North prevented them from the use of exit 3.
The 3 battalions of the 22nd Infantry Regiment which landing ended around 1000 hrs, had to progress through the flooded zone to join their objectives in the North-West towards St-Germain-de-Varreville.
Later that day, units of the 82nd Airborne Division landed by sea had followed the 3/8th. They had to join the 82nd Airborne at Sainte-Mère-Eglise and clear out the area in order to enable the landing of the gliders at 2100 hrs.

The end of the day :

The 8th Infantry Regiment reached his objectives of the D Day. They had relieved the paratroopers of the 101st Airborne in the area of Pouppeville and were positioned to protect the division from the South-West. The only problem was coming from a German pocket of resistance situated at the North of "Les Forges", where the gliders were to land.
The two other regiments of the 4th division didn't joint their objectives. The main reason was the flooded zone which delayed them all day long.

The whole 4th division landed in the 15 first hours of the landing day. The division only lost 197 men during the day and by the night of the 6th of June, 20,000 men and 1,700 vehicles were on Utah.

Utah Beach - HQ on red beach (56Ko)
HQ on Red Beach
( U.S Army )