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Terrain Inland from Omaha Beach - Map

Terrain Inland from Omaha Beach - Map Geography Famous Historical Events Visual Arts World War II

The coast of Normandy, at the area of Omaha Beach, is not exactly perfect for landing a large-scale invasion force.  It took a great deal of careful planning to select the right spots.

We learn more about the actual terrain, and the challenges it posed, from American Forces in Action - Omaha Beachhead (6 June - 13 June 1944), at pages 10 - 12:

The coast of Normandy offers only a few areas favorable for large-scale landing operations...

Cliffs, reefs, and the wide tidal ranges combine to present natural difficulties. The estuary at the mouth of the Vire River is marked by extensive shallows, exposed at low tide, and flanked on the east by reefs that extend to Grandcamp. Beyond that seaside village cliffs averaging 100 feet in height tower above a narrow beach as far as Pointe de la Percée. Five miles further east, cliffs reappear at the shore line, and the beach is spoiled by rock ledges which continue as far as Port-en-Bessin.

It was on this five-mile, cliffless interval that V Corps planned its assault landings, designating the sector as "Omaha" Beach. That part of the stretch regarded as suitable for landing operations was about 7,000 yards long, on a shore which curves landward in a very slight crescent and is backed with bluffs which merge into the cliffs at either end of the sector.

The beach slopes very gently below highwater mark. With a tidal range of 18 feet expected at the period of the assault, low tide would expose a stretch of firm sand averaging about 300 yards in distance from lowwater mark to high. The enemy had placed "underwater" obstacles on this tidal flat. At high tide, men and vehicles wading up the beach could expect trouble with irregular runnels parallel to the shore, scoured out by the tidal current and two and one-half to four feet deep.

At the high-water mark, the tidal flat terminated in a bank of coarse shingle, sloping up rather steeply to a height of some 8 feet. In places it was as much as 15 yards wide, and the stones averaged 3 inches in diameter. On the eastern two-thirds of the beach, the shingle lay against a low sand embankment or dune line and constituted a barrier which was impassable for vehicles. On the western part of the beach the shingle piled against a sea wall, first ... of stone masonry sloping seaward, then of wood.

In short, it wasn't just the terrain that would be difficult for troops who were trying to move forward to secure the beachhead.  It was also the tides which could really hamper their process, making an extremely dangerous job even more frightening.

On D-Day, it was the Americans who were responsible for landing in this place and securing its beachhead. The Germans defended it the best way the could. The resulting battle, at Omaha Beach, resulted in a great loss of lives—and many injuries—for both sides.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5189stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Nov 24, 2016


Media Credits

Image described above, online courtesy HyperWar Foundation and iBiblio - The Public's Library and Digital Archive at University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill).

PD

 

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"Terrain Inland from Omaha Beach - Map" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Dec 11, 2019.
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