The Day (The Lanyard Trilogy Book 3)

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Still, German observers on Monte Soprano and other high perches saw well enough to mass fires. DUKWs hauling artillery and antitank guns to Yellow and Blue Beaches sheered away under the sleeting fire; another sixty lay out of range off Green Beach, and loitered near Red. Six LCTs attempting to land thirty tanks at A. Three shells smashed into an LCT carrying part of the st Tank Battalion; the blasts shattered the pilothouse, killed seven men, and set fire to a Sherman tank, which was shoved into the sea only with enormous effort. LST officers scrambled from side to side of the bridge as German shells struck port, then starboard, then port again; LST alone took eighteen hits.

Instead, by midmorning the beachhead in a few spots hardly extended four hundred yards. A bulldozer crew trying to scrape an exit from the beach was incinerated by an 88mm shell. On Blue Beach in the far south, a battalion was pinned to the dunes and would remain pinned for twenty hours; hundreds of men burrowed into the laurel brakes and ice plant, filching ammunition from the dead. There was more to filch after Mark IV panzers broke through the American line. Other tanks would machine gun them off.

They ran over wounded men…and spun their treads. Minesweepers finished clearing an inshore channel, allowing warships to press toward the beaches. Fire control parties, whose operations had been hampered for hours by balky radios, smoke, enemy aircraft, and utter confusion on the beach, now began sprinkling gunfire around the beachhead rim. By late morning, destroyers steamed within a hundred yards of shore, pumping 5-inch shells into the face of Monte Soprano.

The cruiser U. Savannah soon opened on German tank concentrations with scores of 6-inch shells. Her sister Philadelphia flushed three dozen panzers detected by a spotter plane in a copse near Red Beach; salvo upon salvo fell on the tanks for nearly an hour, reportedly destroying half a dozen and scattering the rest.

Eleven thousand tons of naval shells would be fired at Salerno, almost comparable in heft to the bombardments at Iwo Jima and Okinawa later in the war, but no barrage was more timely than the D-day shoot. A third regiment, the st, remained trapped near Blue Beach by enfilading fire from high ground to the south. Forty-eight DUKWs finally made shore, each carrying a howitzer, a six-man gun crew, and twenty-one rounds.

By P. The shallow American beachhead was secure, for now. A dozen miles to the north, the British also had won a lodgment on the hostile shore. German air attacks had harassed the fleet even before the landing boats were lowered, and 88mm airbursts lacerated some of the approaching landing craft.

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Dive-bombers caught the U. Nauset, an ocean tug assisting the Royal Navy. Fire engulfed the boat deck, then scaled a ladder to the chart room before spiraling upward in fifty-foot orange flares behind the bridge. Powerless, rudderless, and listing, Nauset struck a mine, snapped in half, and sank in sixty-five fathoms, taking her captain and first mate.

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More than fifty other crewmen were killed or wounded. But the preliminary naval bombardment eschewed by the Americans helped clear Red, White, and Green Beaches for the British. Besides the usual lost coxswains, confused soldiers, and fuming beachmasters, German gunfire soon intensified.

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LST caught nine 88mm rounds, with many near misses. LST suffered two dozen casualties. Beyond the beaches, the invasion unfolded with heady initial promise. Tommies rushed three miles inland to seize Montecorvino airfield, the preeminent D-day objective. Astonished Luftwaffe pilots pelted across the runway to their cockpits only to be shot down by tanks and self-propelled guns that blew apart three dozen parked planes. Yet the field remained within easy range of German guns, a misfortune discovered by an unwitting American air force colonel, John G.

Ayling, who landed in a B with a cargo of radio equipment.

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The aircraft had hardly taxied to a stop when 88mm shells riddled the fuselage, killing Ayling and his pilot, burning the plane to the spars, and, as it transpired, ending Allied hopes of using Montecorvino for the next eleven days. For every heartening advance, the British front suffered a disheartening setback. The 5th Battalion of the Royal Hampshire Regiment had pushed six hundred yards inland down a narrow lane hemmed in with high stone walls when a German counterattack caught two companies and the battalion headquarters like sheep in a slaughterhouse chute.


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