Joe Manzella, Omaha Beach 3rd Wave

Joe Manzella was part of the 29th Inf. Division, 115 Reg. Co. B.
On June 6th I was awakened to the blast of the 16 inch guns and the rocketfire that came from the battleships lying next to us. The were aiming at fortifications in France. We had been told not to come near the doors, but I went up anyway and I did not regret it. It was a stunning sight that everyone should have seen.

We had boarded our ship three days before and we had waited until the night of the fifth before we finally had set sail for France. During the assemble with the other ships and the crossing of the Channel I slept like a baby, so I didn't notice anything of that. We of the 115th were not scheduled to land in the first wave, so we had a bit more time than the others to hang back. It was 10.00 when we boarded our landingcraft the LCI 619. The plan for us was to land on Dog Green and Easy Green, as follow-up forces for our 116th Reg. However at the time we boarded the LCI, the guns of St. Laurent were still very active and it was decided that we would land in the 1st Division sector, on top of the 18th Regiment. This regiment had landed at 0930 and had lost a lot of material, coming in on the beach. Personal casualties had however been low so far.

Most of the soldiers did not really know that there had been a change of plan. Prior to the invasion we had been told that we would probably not be fired upon while landing on the beach, since we were not in the first wave. Now a few minutes before the ramps went down, we heard that we would probably need to fight our way to shore. This came as a big surprise. We, the men that were on board of the LCI 619 were very fortunate. The coxswain had promised us before we left that he would put us on the beach with dry feet. He managed to advance further than other landingcraft and he kept his word. When the ramp went down, my mind was filled with only one thought "Get of the damn beach as fast as possible". I saw several dead GI's in the water and on the beach, while running past them. The Germans were still shelling the beach. That provided enough motivation to give it everything in that run to the bluffs.

The relocation of the landing of the 115th on top of the 18th Regiment added up to the chaos that already was existing in this sector of Omaha beach. The 18th was still pinned down on the beach when the 115th arrived and with their arrived the men pilled up at the bluffs. It took the whole morning, to reorganize the situation and it was not before 14.00 that the first men moved off the beach in this sector.

You can read more warmemories of Joe Manzella at this website

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