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6 thoughts on “29th Infantry Division D-Day”

  1. No wonder so many of them drowned… That’s way, way too much gear for an assault landing.

    I screwed around with the display gear at a re-enactment back when, with all the right weights in all the right places. At the time, I was a fit active-duty soldier, and I’m here to tell you that crap was insanely overweight for what they should have been carrying. My personal opinion, after having researched what one of my old units did during D-Day (299th Engineer Battalion, which was basically reduced to non-existence after the landings), is that the officers making those decisions about load-out should have all been shot. I’d lay long odds that if they’d said “Take ammo, a K-Rat, and that’s it…”, the casualty rolls would have been a hell of a lot shorter. By the time you get done with the fear, the sea-sickness from the run-in, and everything else those poor bastards had to deal with, the majority of them had to be exhausted before the gates even went down. Which contributed heavily to the massive casualties suffered–Most of those guys were unable to even move, once they got out of the water, if they managed that. I talked to guys from the demo teams that the 299th was broken down into, and they described being unable to get men off the obstacles they had to blow because they were too tired and exhausted to move. Some of them wound up getting blown up with the obstacles because of that, which made a lovely mess of the demo team’s minds. Some of those guys were reduced to tears, decades later, just describing what they’d had to do.

    299th Engineers landed at full strength on June 6th. Before noon that day, they suffered so many casualties that it took until the Battle of the Bulge before the battalion was judged fit for further combat. Most of those men died spread out in penny-packets across the beaches, tasked with obstacle demolition and mine clearing. Despite massive amounts of training and preparation, they were unable to really accomplish their mission, dying in the attempt.

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    • the reality was, the planners expected the first wave to get mauled. the over loading was then expected to supply the second wave. Which did happen. One of the reasons the majority of the first assault wave was inexperienced troops. only some of the 1st, the rangers and the 82nd had combat experience.

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      • I’d be interested in cites, if you’ve got them. I don’t think I’ve ever run across that in any of the reading or research I’ve ever done about D-Day.

        The really egregious crap they had to carry were things like cigarette cartons, which were mandated in some units. And, which also got good and wet, weighing the poor bastards down.

        Somewhere in all my crap, I’ve got a copy of the loadout packing list for the guys in the 299th, and one from one of the regiments they were supporting. The numbers are nuts, and some of the things they were made to carry were just… Inexplicable. The thing that struck me was the things like cigarettes, and the rations. Frankly, I’m pretty sure I would have preferred to lay off and lived off of the D-Ration bars for the first 24 hours, but some of them were made to carry like four C-Rations, broken down.

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        • I’ve read about a million books on WW2 and cant remember which ones I got that from or I would direct you to them. most of my posts on WW2, vietnam and the war of northern aggression is just me writing from memory, I don’t look up stuff and note book and page before I relate it. Watters is the guy to go to if you want carefully curated info Im afraid.

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  2. The 29th was a National Guard division and when they came ashore at Normandy, the unit had not been shot at since WW-One. Whether or not their inexperience had anything to do with it, I can’t say for sure but I also have read that somewhere. Most of the combat experienced outfits in the European Theater were in Italy at the time and presumably otherwise occupied.

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  3. Never heard of the whole carton being issued. Typically all the sources I’ve seen said it was a slightly heavier 24hr load. So 3 meals of C or K rations and then some extra assault specific stuff. But then again those were just regular infantry numbers not specialty troops like engineers who probably did have a ridiculous amount of extra stuff with them for all the anticipated demo etc.

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