IX Engineer Command

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 Post subject: ALG on OMAHA Beach... ?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2005 8:22 am 
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Location: Belgium
This is what a Veteran sent me recently...

I DO NOT KNOW IF THEY REFERRED TO OUR OMAHA BEACH METAL MAT LANDING STRIP AS "ADVANCED LANDING" OR NOT, OR WHAT THE AIRFIELD STRIP NUMBER WAS.

WHEN I WENT BACK TO NORMANDY BEACH FOR THE 50TH D-DAY COMMEMMORATION, I COULD WALK ON THE SANDS EXACTLY WHERE THE AIRSTRIP WAS LOCATED.
THE GRANDSTAND THAT WAS ERECTED FOR THE 50TH D-DAY COMMEMORATION WOULD HAVE LOOKED OVER THE BEACH WHERE OUR C-47S LANDED IN JUNE, 1944. WE LANDED OUR AIRPLANE IN BETWEEN THE WATER WASHING UP ON THE BEACH AND THE HIGH GROUND ABOVE. THERE WAS NO MORE FIGHTING ON THE BEACH AT THAT TIME, JUST LOTS OF TRAFFIC. THE FIGHTING HAD MOVED INLAND A SHORT DISTANCE AWAY, UP ON THE HIGH GROUND.

WHEN WE LANDED THERE, THERE WERE BARRAGE BALLOONS EVERYWHERE, WITH STEEL CABLES BELOW THEM ;TO KEEP THE GERMAN FIGHTER PLANES FROM STRAFING THE BEACHL WE HAD TO MAKE OUR FINAL APPROACH BETWEEN THESE BARRAGE BALLONS. THERE WAS A RADIO JEEP ON THE GROUND THAT ACTED AS OUR CONTROL TOWER. THE METAL RUNWAY MADE LOTS OF NOISE WHEN OUR WHEELS TOUCHED DOWN ON IT. WHEN WE TOOK OFF WITH OUR WOUNDED SOLDIERS, THE PROP WASH FROM THE ENGINES CAUSED AN AWFUL LOT OF DUST, MAKING IT DIFFICULT FOR OTHER AIRCRAFT TO SEE WHERE THEY WERE GOING. THE AIRPLANES THAT TOOK OFF AHEAD OF US MADE OUR VISIBILITY VERY POOR, ALSO. THERE WERE MANY U.S. NAVY SHIPS NEAR THE SHORE AND THEY WERE FIRING ARTILLERKY SHELLS OVER OUR HEADS TO GERMAN TARGETS INLAND. WE COULD HEAR THE SHELLS WHISTLING ABOVE OUR HEADS. WHILE WE WERE UNLOADING THE SHELLS FROM THE AIRPLANE AND ON TO TRUCKS, AND THEN LOADING UP THE WOUNDED SOLDIERS ON TO THE AIRPLANE, OUR PILOTS, FLOYD KELLY AND JOE ANTRIM MET AN INFANTRY OFFICER FRIEND OF THEIRS ON THE BEACH. HE INVITED THEM TO GO WITH HIM IN A JEEP, UP THE HILL AND CLOSER TO THE FRONT LINES, WHICH WERE NOT VERY FAR AWAY. THEY WERE PRETTY EXCITED WHEN THEY GOT BACK TO THE AIRPLANE, AND KNEW THAT THE 155 MILLIMETER SHELLS THAT WE BROUGHT TO OMAHA BEACH WOULD BE PUT TO GOOD USE. I WILL NEVER FORGET WHAT I SAW THAT DAY. THE BOATS LANDING ON THE BEACH, THE BARRAGE BALLOONS, THE NAVY SHIPS FIRING THEIR BIG GUNS TOWARD THE GERMANS INLAND, ALL THE TRUCKS AND ACTIVITY ON THE BEACH, AND THE C-47 AIRCRAFT THAT WERE LANDING WITH SUPPLIES AND TAKING OFF TO RETURN TO ENGLAND.

Do you have an idea of the ALG n°... ?

Regards

Th(orsa)ierry


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 Post subject: First Omaha Airfields
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2005 1:27 am 
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Horsa ... you've hit on a topic near and dear to me. The first airfields on Omaha (and on the continent) were built by the 834th EAB; one of the units under the administrative control of my grandfather's unit, the 922nd EAR. My grandfather landed on 7 June and was responsible for overseeing all aviation engineer activity in the Omaha Beach area until the Advanced Elements of the IX Engineer Command arrived.

According to the Operation Neptune plan, the 834th EAB was supposed to land on D-Day on Omaha Beach. The 834th attempted to land on Omaha but the beach had not yet been cleared so they would not have been able to unload their construction equipment. After six unsuccesful attempts to land and having started to draw German artillary fire, the Navy towed the 834th's Rhino ferry back out of range of the enemy fire. While pulling back, the Rhino ferry was hit and damaged. During the night, all the equipment was moved to another ferry and made ready for another attempt the next morning.

On the morning of 7 June, the 834th was able to finally land on Omaha Beach but the location designated for their first airfield was still in enemy hands. Lt Col Livingstone, CO of the 834th, was able to negotiate the use of an area at the top of the bluff at St. Laurent-sur-Mer for the building of an airfield that had been set aside for use as a supply dump. The 834th began work on the airfield on 7 June and by the evening had an operational field finished. This airfield was first called E-1 (possibly because it was at the E-1 draw off Omaha Beach) but there was confusion with the emergeny landing strip (ELS) built by the 819th EAB on Utah Beach which was also called E-1. This field was used by both fighters for R&R (rearm and refuel) and by transports taking wounded back to England. E-1 was later changed to T-1 because it was used by transports and then ultimately used by the IX Service Command and renamed one last time to A-21C.
A monument to this field and the men who built and used it, can be seen just to the west of the American Cemetery.

The next day, the battalion moved on to St Pierre du Mont and began work on what was to become the first ALG in France, A-1. This field was completed on 13 June and was used by the 366th Fighter Group until the end of August.

For its efforts in building the first fully operational airfields in Normandy, the 834th EAB was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.

E-1 was an earthen airfield scratched out of the bluffs of the Normandy coast. A-1 was built using square mesh track (SMT) since the heavy pierced steel plank (PSP) materials had not yet arrived.

I hope this helps. Based on your friend's recollections, it sounds like he was talking about E-1.

David

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2005 12:55 pm 
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David,

Excellent !
I just sent the info to a former Radio-operator that landed there on June 7th.
I'll be happy to know more about the location

Regards

Thierry


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2005 3:44 pm 
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horsa wrote:
I'll be happy to know more about the location


What more would you like to know.

David

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2005 3:59 pm 
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Mistake my side...
"He'll be happy to know more", meaning the Radio Operator... not me !

Thierry


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2005 4:10 pm 
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Got it. Tell him to wonder on over the the web site (http://www.ixengineercommand.com) and I'll get him in touch with some of the guys who built the field.

David

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