Omaha discussed on John Batchelor


He's a vast landscape on the Normandy covers many features from the American sector all the way to the British and Canadian sector one beach however was at risk all the morning of June six Omaha beach and there's a new book the dead and those about to die which is the story of Omaha D. day an Omaha beach but a particular part of Omaha beach this is the first division the famous big red one that fought in a number of wars before this one there is a memorial right behind the White House in Washington DC to the big red ones fight in the first World War well this is the big red one on Omaha beach as the crack troops that Eisenhower and Bradley had to push into the center of the Normandy invasion these men and their story I learned from John McManus the author of this book is very little told it's striking but so much of the attention has been on the twenty ninth division which was the newly formed division which and the other part of Omaha beach this is thirty five hundred yards was the big red one section of Omaha and then to the west of them was the twenty ninth division this is the big red one they took a thousand casualties that day as did the twenty ninth and how they fought through what were terrible conditions and at the same time bad luck is the story that John tells Mr McManus professor of very good evening to you thank you for this let's begin with the landscape itself thirty five hundred yards and to look at it and to visit it you're looking at a are a romantic and rocky and windswept coast north of France what is the big red ones challenge how did Hefner the commander of the division see his chief efforts that morning could be good evening to you good evening to you as well thanks for having me I would say the you know you take one look at that the rain and you know that's the main challenge initially and you don't even have to be a military expert to realize that if you've got a crescent shaped beach which Omaha beaches and it's been closed on either side by cliffs and the beach is narrow and it gives way to high ground that you can have a heck of a time taking that so the the real advantages with the defenders and the Germans course took took great advantage of that with heavy fortifications so right there the planners for the Norman invasion understood Omaha would probably be the toughest nut to crack and so that's the primary reason why they assign the better part of two divisions to real good high quality divisions the first on the twenty ninth to a plus Rangers to assault that beach and they are that the assault force with with plenty of engineers to about one of every four soldiers who went in that morning was an engineer the larger picture it is June nineteen forty four France is still under **** control the Russians are advancing from the east however the war is stalled because of the long delayed opening of the second front Normandy begins a battle that springs all the way from early June till the end of August when Paris falls your opinion now John as you teach this here on the twenty first century was the war it riskier work was Eisenhower Bradley and at the direction of the president United States where they taking a gamble crossing the channel and throwing this amount of manpower against the Germans I would call it a risk more than a gamble certainly there's risk involved in an amphibious invasion and and many military folks will tell you that's one of the toughest operations to pull off you know because defender has a terrestrial advantage you're coming from the water perhaps coming from the air and in this case the Germans that had several years to fortify you know major portions of the the French coast the invasion of the sort presented so many challenges logistically and administratively diplomatically because it's a massive multinational effort if we get down to the soldiers level it presents you with all sorts of tactical issues and how you deal with those fortifications how you get in from landing craft in the water what kind of weapons are gonna have how many people you can put ashore because remember everything is dependent upon the shipping so I do think it's it's something of a calculated risk but it really has to be done if you want to come to grips with Adolf Hitler and you want to really present him with the full consequences of a of a two front war now make no mistake of course the the the bombing campaign you know Germany was absorbing major resources for the Germans and also you had the Italian theater too but neither of these was going to bring Hitler to his knees alternately your going to have to invade France get ashore and then develop you know massive military power from there a major theme of your book is leadership the quality of leadership makes the difference when your match gone forgotten the question of leadership in the big red one comes right up comes right away because Alan the very popular commander of the big red one insistently was relieved for indiscipline I think that's the generous way of putting it and he was replaced by a fifty five year old old army man a man who fought in the first World War he even what we need to know about him Allen was a beloved figure in the first division he was a cavalryman he was a soldier soldier he had leads the very proud regular army units through the North Africa campaign through most of the Sicily campaign he was the kind of guy you would probably have seen and known as a private soldier and he was a very very courageous and competent commander but he in the view of Allen's appears generals Bradley and Eisenhower he had allowed kind of attitude in disciplinary sort of attitude to set in in the first division in which they didn't necessarily always respect the officers who came from other units there was always a sense of the first division being a real go getter kind of unit in combat but a handful in rear areas you know bars and fights and all this kind of stuff and and so Alan you know is is basically relieved of command although we will get another division later or because he was too good to sit out the war news here too much integrity as well but so if you've never becomes kind of the the alter ego of of Allan how there was a lot riding on Huber's appointment as the new division commander because this was one of the go to units in the entire European theater for the western allies it was the unit that obviously Bradley was going to rely upon for one of the key objectives on the Omaha beach so the choice of humor is is really quite fortuitous in that yeah a lot of combat experience in water one hitter in the distinguished service crosses and badly wounded he began the war as a lieutenant and it is a lieutenant colonel he had once been a private he joined the army as a private soldier so it really come up through the ranks he had a lot of experience at the staff level by the time the World War two and he had quite a bit experience with the first division because he served in a warmer one and the inter war period so he's really well prepared when he when he comes to take over the position what's really quite fascinating about this especially if you're interested in leadership regardless of military or not and the the story of Allen and Huebner tells you that good leadership can come in very different ways humor was much more about discipline about doing things by the book he was not that he wasn't a lead from the front courageous kind of guy but no you wouldn't necessarily circulate around as much in combat is Alan woods he was a preparer he was someone who was very big on training these guys to a standard and I really think that makes a difference on the day the he he trains them to a winning standard which ultimately does make make a positive difference yes train train train of long marches interchangeable a part of a fighting machine everybody had to be able to use another weapon if they and also to take up commands if their superior officers failed to the men resent this because you have one quote saying we hated we absolutely hated it what they resented with what they felt was shall we say military chicken you know what they they felt that human or animal I remember most these guys the private soldiers or whatever the twenty year old kid they have no idea who this man is worries come from they think they're they're dealing with a state subject desk jockey who's coming in trying to enforce you know garrison type rules on them saying oh now you need office lugar officers now you need to you know to have spit and Polish and all this kind of stuff well really what humor was concerned about is making sure orders would be followed and that's why you ordered he he orders the whole division to begin saluting their officers but of course they hated that they felt they were above it but really in the end what mattered most to him was applied training skills knowing your weapons being physically fit being able to step in for the people one or two rungs above you on the hierarchy understanding someone else's job understanding of previous operations anything that would enhance your survivability in combat so initially they hated the guy but as time went on it came to respect him because they knew he would be out there training along with them doing everything we asked them to do and they they understood the was quite proficient he was very very good any new news stop self by the time the debate was a kind of grudging respect for him in the aftermath of the day once the big red one succeeds and there they are they're really gonna fight their way all across all across France and Germany invention either there's a lot of the form between user and and the man in the division just like Alan in that respect so the big red one is fortunate to have two great commanders in the in the course of World War two and then a third one one student was promoted to core command later on John cliff Sanders who was also a fine commanders well the book is the dead and those about to die D. day the big red one in Omaha beach John McManus is the author and when we come back the German side Velma Holbeach eat fox green easy read easy green dog read those that part the eastern part of the beach where the big red one landed on John after this is the John Batchelor show balance of nature changing the world one life at a time when I first started balance of nature I was hesitant but two months into the product I begin to see the difference and I have to really admit I was totally surprised I went from swelling feet to know some of my feet the first of may was the first time this year our job and three years and not just a job three laps I did seventeen lack some feeling alive and not sluggish and try it I would really like to say you have to try it so you can see the results for yourself even my girlfriend also that's what you need to try this is something can also okay well why are you so tired and I'm still the 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