DUPLEX DRIVE TANKS
ON OMAHA BEACH

New information surfaces,...

A group of men seek shelter behind the tank in the middle on Omaha,
on the left a DD tank with its canvas skirt still intact,…
(Click on the picture to enlarge it)

In the summer of 2016, Theo Vervloet pointed me towards a new picture with DD tank, and two Shermans with deep wading trunks (all three of the M4A1 version). The picture was published on the website of 16th Infantry Regiment. The maker of the picture is unclear (if you know more, please let me know), but it’s a fantastic picture. It is clear to suggest that the picture was taken in the sector Easy-Red (on the border of Fox-Green). There are three Sherman tanks in the picture, two with deep wading trunks, and a DD tank, all three belonging to 741st Tank Battalion.

The position of the sector can be judged by the pictures Capa took

When the picture is compared with the one Robert Capa took, than it is obvious that the tide has come in. According to a French site, the new picture was shot around 11.00 hours. One notice at once that the men, on Capa’s pictures, below the dunes are no longer there. But what strikes the onlooker to the new picture are the men standing behind the tank in middle of the shot, they seem to seek shelter for the enemy fire which sporadic is still coming from the direction of Wn 61 and Wn 62.

The position of the three tanks are in the square with ‘DD’ (top left)
(picture: Google Earth)

Because of the 'still' picture, all three tanks seem that they are no longer moving. The 30 ton tank in the middle seems to been stuck in the sand. But the DD tank has just passed both Shermans with wadingtrunks, through the surf. From the chimney some smook is visible, which drifts to the front of it (it is proven with other pictures taken during the landings that the wind was coming from the right, with thick smoke all the way from Wn 65). On closer inspection there seems no damage to the tanks. On the two Shermans with the deep wading trunks even the ‘chimneys’, which are of thin sheet metal, look fine to me. On the DD tank, the canvas skirt also looks still pristine.

Men seeking shelter behind the tank in the middle,
Left; the DD tank with the canvas skirt still intact,...

On this picture a lot of things are going on that justify to go deeper in it. The Sherman tank at the back seems to have taken the route towards Wn 62, the biggest threat for Fox-Green and especially Easy-Red. One thing becomes at once obvious, are a bunch of men seeking shelter behind the (stranded?) tank. According to writer Martin K.A. Morgan, of the book 'The Americans on D-Day: A Photographic History of the Normandy Landings', this Sherman was under command of Staff Sgt. Thomas R. Fair. De men carry no weapons, and their helmets seem a bit small, and there is no webbing visible on their clothing,… is this the crew of the tank where they are hiding behind? But one thing is certain, the Sherman with the wadingtrunks where the men are seeking shelter behind, was towing an M8 ammunition trailer. In such a trailer there was room for ninety-three 75mm shells (or fourty-two 105mm shells). I'm convinced that the bonnet is removed from the trailer and place beside it, which obscures the wheel of the trailer.

On board of an LCT, an M8 ammo trailer can be spotted behind the Sherman tank

The uniforms as worn by American tankers in Europe
(Drawing: MiniArt model kits)

There is a sense of relaxation, there seems to be just sporadic enemy fire. Most men are wandering in the open, like the soldier standing on the front of the tank on the right, who looks like a tanker. It seems to me as if he is glancing towards the bow gunners position. Is this Sherman brought to a still stand? Notice on this Sherman the number 2 on the rear wadingtrunk. According to the book 'The Americans on D-Day: A Photographic History of the Normandy Landings' by Martin K.A. Morgan, this tank, #2 was under command of Sgt. James B. Larsen. Future pictures will proof it was at that time still in action.

The crew of the tank(s) shelter behind their vehicle?

As mentioned before, I believe that de DD tank in the picture has just passed the stricken other Sherman, under command of Staff Sgt. Thomas R. Fair. This DD tank was, according to 'The Americans on D-Day: A Photographic History of the Normandy Landings' by Martin K.A. Morgan, under command of Staff Sgt. Turner G. Sheppard, B Company, 741st TB. This DD tank put an 8,8cm PAK 43/41 in a large casemate, at Wn 61, out of action around 07.10 hours.
(I have my doubts on this assumption. This DD tanks was in my opion dropped onto the beach by an LCT, and did not 'swim', as the DD did commanded by Sheppard, and he landed more to the east.)
The crew of the DD tank are sitting behind their periscopes. The spilthatch of the commander is open, the two halves are visible. I could be mistaken, but is the head of the commander visible? The .50 caliber machinegun hangs loosely towards the sea and surf. Which way is this DD tank heading for? In my opinion searching for a free range of fire towards enemy stronholds as Wn 61 and Wn 62. The last one is higher upon the hill, and is the elevation of the 75mm gun of the DD tank enough to find en destroy a target that high?

A medic runs in a hurry with a stretcher (‘Litter)

Another specific detail is visible on this picture, a running soldier with a stretcher. In the American army the stretcher was officially called a ‘Litter’. At a first glance the litter seems short for a litter. I thought for a while that it could maybe also been Bangaloor pipes. These had a length of around five feet (1.5 meter). But if you measure the ‘thing’, and compare it with the soldier carrying it, it exceeds this length with at least half a meter (compare this with the picture below).

Medics with 'Litters' are boarding an LCT for their trip to Normandy

The running medic does one look for casualties on this picture. The picture is not that sharp, but there are some figures visible that looks like they are victims of war. At the left of the picture two bodies seem to lying stretched on the beach, with another figure sitting near them (wounded?). Between the DD and the tank at the back, some men seem to standing around something or someone (a victim?). More casualties are not visible, and that is possibly due to the tide that came in. Many casualties were tugged into the sea. Wounded men sheltering in shallow craters, drowned when their hideout filled with water.

Casualties on Bloody Omaha (in the white squares)

I thought that this was the end of the line on the DD tanks on this stretch of Omaha Beach. But then came a mail from Oslo, Norway that had some more information on the section shown below, that there were not just three Shermans, but at least four were stranded on the beach in this section! More on this on the next page,...

Top left, in the square, four Sherman tanks out of action on the beach

On the next page, the search for answers continues,...

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