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Old 03-23-2008, 07:58 AM   #46
Larry deZeng
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Blair, you beat me to the punch by a couple of minutes!


Eric in Post #40 said:
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About 800-900 Americans were apparently killed on Omaha that day. Accurate figures are still unknown and historians disagree on the figures. With all due respect, as some of you already know, I'm skeptical with his claims of injuring/killing 2,000-2,500 Americans.
MauserKar98k said:
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About Severloh's self-claimed kill numbers. His number of kills probably is a little inflated, but if he was in action from 6 to as much as 9 hours like he says he was, his number probably isn't that far off.
It's difficult to imagine that there aren't some academic studies on Severloh's claim. Has anyone searched Google for them? It would be the sort of thing done by a D-Day memorial organization or veterans' group. Also, think tanks like the Rand Corporation or the Dupuy Research Institute in WashDC might have done something on it.

Just for starters, Omaha Beach ran from Pointe de la Percée to Ste.-Honorine, a distance of 5½ miles (nearly 9 kilometers). Emplaced opposite this stretch of beach and sand bluffs were 8 big guns in concrete bunkers, 35 anti-tank guns in smaller pillboxes and 85 well-fortified machine-gun emplacements or nests. Very few of these had been disabled by bombing and naval gun-fire when the first wave landed. German weapon fire swept the shoreline with murderous fire nearly the day-long, according to all accounts. In the 24-hours of D-Day (midnight to midnight), approximately 6,000 Americans were KIA, WIA and MIA to all causes in the invasion, including airborne casualties. That’s the grand total. For Omaha alone, I have seen total figures ranging from 2,000 to 3,000. If this seems low, remember the very heavy losses incurred by the 82d and 101st behind Utah Beach. So if the Omaha casualties were say 2,500, and the ratio was 1 killed for every 3 casualties, then we would have around 800 to 850 dead on Omaha. Now, given the hail of lead poured down on these unfortunates from all those guns noted above, and given that Severloh was just one of those guns, a little math and deductive reasoning tells us that his claim cannot in any way be supported by the facts.

Source:
Tute, Warren, John Costello & Terry Hughes. D-Day. New York: Collier Books, 1974. 256p. Specifically, pp.150-51, 190, 235.

--Larry
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Old 03-23-2008, 09:42 AM   #47
bigschuss
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Larry, thanks for that additional info.

I'm sure Severloh did some serious damage. There's no doubt about that. WN62 wasn't taken out until that evening (10 PM?), and that was by a flanking move AROUND WN62. Only then could the engineers go to work on the beach clearing obstacles.

I love this quote from that previous article...

Lt-col Stuart Crawford, formerly of the Royal Tank Regiment, and a defence consultant, said it was entirely possible that a single German soldier had killed so many GIs. He said: "I have fired that machine-gun. I did it as part of my training, and it has an extremely high rate of fire. He was in a position which was almost impervious to the weapons which the Americans could bring to bear on him. The Americans made the mistake of not landing tanks with the first wave of troops, so they had no support or protection."

Firing the machine is one thing. Understanding how the situation developed at the Colleville Draw on D-Day is another.

"The Americans made the mistake of not landing tanks with the first wave..."

No, they made the mistake of launching them at sea. Of the 16 that launched in the 741st, I think only 2 made it. The rest swamped.

Source: Balkoski, J. Omaha Beach
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Old 03-23-2008, 04:14 PM   #48
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If 90% of the casualties occurred in front of WN62, they obviosly don't account for the blood bath on the Dog sector area of the beach at Vierville-sir-Mer. A Co. of the 116th Inf. Regt. was damn near wiped out!

-eric
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Old 03-23-2008, 11:19 PM   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigschuss View Post
...One, did he fire his MG42 into a full LCVP first? Or did he fire at a single G.I. as he unloaded with his K98? I suppose in the morning he could've done both. But this is a little confusing, and leads me to my next observation...

Two, has anybody ever actually fired a K98 at over 300 meters? At the Colleville Draw, the beach crossing was AT LEAST 300 meters, maybe a tad more. WN62 was situated on the bluff another 100 yards or so. I can't imagine anybody seeing a helmet fall of and roll into the ocean at over 400 meters??? Sorry. My gun club has a 300 meter range, and you'd be hard pressed to see a half-silhouette of a man at 400 meters, let alone a helmet.

MauserKar98K, when you wrote...

"However, the very high proportion of casualties WN62 inflicted in relation to the other defenders of the beach (some say as high as 90%)"

...does this mean that they killed 9 out of every 10 G.I.'s landing in their sector? This I would buy. Or does it mean that they killed 90% of all G.I.'s on Omaha Beach? That I wouldn't, for the reasons mentioned above...

Best,
Blair
First of all, the accounts that I read (since I started researching this just yesterday) said that Severloh only had access to 2 barrels for his MG42. While he was waiting for the barrels to cool, he picked of individual targets with his 2 K98s. This is when he shot the American square in the head and he had his "revelation" to what he was doing. I assume that he "emptied" the LCVP with his MG42 sometime before this point, but I can't say for sure.

Two, it is a matter of speculation, but I assume that Severloh shot the "revelation soldier" when he was further up the beach, especially if our guys were trying to get onto shore as fast as they could and Severloh was taking his time picking off single targets. So if he was say, half-way up the beach, the "revelation soldier" would have been around 250 meters away (300-150+distance from WN62 to the bluff, was it really 100 meters?), reasonably easy prey for a seasoned lanser and his trusty K98.

Now that I look back, the source of my claim that 25 or so landers of WN62 accounted for 90% of the casualties on Omaha Beach probably wasn't the most reliable. That was my mistake. Now I think about it better, Omaha is a big beach, so this claim is very unlikely. I posted the link below:
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/in...6082954AAXsMNJ

another:
http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...ad.php?t=38122
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Old 03-24-2008, 06:30 AM   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MauserKar98k View Post
Two, it is a matter of speculation, but I assume that Severloh shot the "revelation soldier" when he was further up the beach, especially if our guys were trying to get onto shore as fast as they could and Severloh was taking his time picking off single targets. So if he was say, half-way up the beach, the "revelation soldier" would have been around 250 meters away (300-150+distance from WN62 to the bluff, was it really 100 meters?), reasonably easy prey for a seasoned lanser and his trusty K98.
Thanks for your input. Yes, the whole MG42 or K98 things is perfectly logical. No problem with that one.

And I did consider that maybe he shot the "revelation soldier" when the soldier was closer to the bluff. But, the text of his description describes the helmet falling off and rolling into the ocean?

I suppose anything is possible, and time does cloud memory for sure. This is probably a case where Severloh's account is a blend of fact, distant cloudy (and painful) memory, and an exaggeration of numbers.

Besides this....I sure wish I could get a copy of the book!
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Old 03-24-2008, 06:47 AM   #51
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Blair wrote:
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.....Besides this....I sure wish I could get a copy of the book!
There seem to be a lot of them available starting at around $20:

http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/Sear...ts=t&x=57&y=13

--Larry
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Old 03-24-2008, 11:55 AM   #52
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I just spent half the night reading all the comments on other forums (axishistory,etc.) regarding the "beast of Omaha". General impression is most folks brush those inflated claims under the rug as unproven and untrustworthy. The main D-Day historians, ie. Cornealius Ryan and Ambrosia apparently don't even mention him! All my books on the Omaha battle don't mention him either. What does this tell you? Try a google search and lots of info comes up.

I believe a great deal of casualties were closer to the Vierville draw so there must have been some intense MG fire there too.

-Eric
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Old 03-24-2008, 12:08 PM   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry deZeng View Post
Blair wrote:


There seem to be a lot of them available starting at around $20:

http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/Sear...ts=t&x=57&y=13

--Larry
Thanks for that link, Larry. I should've said that my problem isn't finding a copy, but finding a copy I can read. Iche spreche kein Deutsch!

Blair
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Old 03-24-2008, 12:14 PM   #54
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Eric wrote:
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The main D-Day historians, ie. Cornealius Ryan and Ambrosia apparently don't even mention him! All my books on the Omaha battle don't mention him either.
Perhaps even more importantly, Paul Carell does not mention Severloh in his Invasion - they're coming! The German account of the allied landings and the eighty days' battle for France (London: George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd., 1962), and this is exactly the sort of personal level account Carell fills all of his books with.

So, is this a case of Severloh remaining quiet about his "exploits" until 2006 when, in his 82nd year, he decided to get it all off his chest and compose his memoirs? Or is this a fellow of far more modest accomplishments who, with malice of forethought, decided to write a sensational book to make money and lay claim to grossly overstated feats to satisfy an out of control ego?
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Old 03-24-2008, 12:31 PM   #55
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Blair wrote:
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Thanks for that link, Larry. I should've said that my problem isn't finding a copy, but finding a copy I can read. Iche spreche kein Deutsch!
Sie brauchen nicht, Deutsches zu sprechen. Sie müssen nur Deutschen lesen.

I thought you might be able to identify the passages of interest to you, scan them into your computer, edit the scan, and then cut and paste the passages one-by-one into Babelfish or one of the other on-line translators. I used to do that with Russian text and it worked quite well. Fortunately, I read German like English so I don't have to do that with the material we work with here on Wehrmacht Awards. Anyway, it was a thought.

--Larry
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Old 03-24-2008, 12:46 PM   #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry deZeng View Post
Blair wrote:


Sie brauchen nicht, Deutsches zu sprechen. Sie müssen nur Deutschen lesen.

I thought you might be able to identify the passages of interest to you, scan them into your computer, edit the scan, and then cut and paste the passages one-by-one into Babelfish or one of the other on-line translators. I used to do that with Russian text and it worked quite well. Fortunately, I read German like English so I don't have to do that with the material we work with here on Wehrmacht Awards. Anyway, it was a thought.

--Larry
Good idea, Larry. I just used a translator to translate that passage. Yes, I only need to READ German, not speak it. It would be a lot of work, but perhaps well worth it!

Dank für Ihre Hilfe (again with the translator)
Blair
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Old 03-24-2008, 04:17 PM   #57
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I think everybody is over analysing, as usual. Severloh was there, there is no dispute about that. Take the account for what it is: a memoire writen dozens of years later; describing a very traumatising, complexe and intense event....

I have spent the last several years trying to write an oral history about the war in the region of Nice. The simple fact is that almost all witness accounts contain statements that are clearly untrue, and contradict other statements. Numbers of dead are usualy the most imprecise memmory, and are almost always exagerated... It doesnt mean the people are lying or malicious... The man who gave me the vital info for finding that mass grave near Nice, also said that there were 19, or 27 germans buried in it the first time I talked to him. The second time he said there were 39.... In fact there were only 14, but it is still thanks to what he said that I found the grave. There are still people around who think that "they didnt find all the Germans"... because in their heads there were at least 30.

I am realy dumfounded that nobody has translated this book yet. If I wasnt so buisy with university and other projects, I could translate one page per day, and post it on the forum.

JL
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Old 03-24-2008, 06:08 PM   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean-Loup View Post
I think everybody is over analysing, as usual. Severloh was there, there is no dispute about that. Take the account for what it is: a memoire writen dozens of years later; describing a very traumatising, complexe and intense event....

I have spent the last several years trying to write an oral history about the war in the region of Nice. The simple fact is that almost all witness accounts contain statements that are clearly untrue, and contradict other statements. Numbers of dead are usualy the most imprecise memmory, and are almost always exagerated... It doesnt mean the people are lying or malicious... The man who gave me the vital info for finding that mass grave near Nice, also said that there were 19, or 27 germans buried in it the first time I talked to him. The second time he said there were 39.... In fact there were only 14, but it is still thanks to what he said that I found the grave. There are still people around who think that "they didnt find all the Germans"... because in their heads there were at least 30.

I am realy dumfounded that nobody has translated this book yet. If I wasnt so buisy with university and other projects, I could translate one page per day, and post it on the forum.

JL
Over analyzing? Maybe. Thinking critically and working toward clarification of a historical account. Definitely. Nothing wrong with that.

I envy you, Jean-Loup, that you were able to give this book a read.

Best,
Blair
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Old 03-24-2008, 07:07 PM   #59
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Jean-Loup,

We are just bouncing thoughts off to one another for historical accuracy and opinion. Had Severloh killed/wounded that many Americans it would rewrite history, to an extent. I've interviewed over 300 Peleliu survivors and always confirm their accounts with historical truth...ie, after-action reports, archival photos, unit journals, company diaries, letters written at that time, etc. his claim is suspicious....I want to believe his story but can't until I find proof it actually happened such as other eye-witnesses. I still believe most casualties on Omaha occured closer to Vierville. Who was that machine gunner on the bluffs overlooking WP72?

-eric
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Old 03-24-2008, 11:47 PM   #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry deZeng View Post
...
So, is this a case of Severloh remaining quiet about his "exploits" until 2006 when, in his 82nd year, he decided to get it all off his chest and compose his memoirs? Or is this a fellow of far more modest accomplishments who, with malice of forethought, decided to write a sensational book to make money and lay claim to grossly overstated feats to satisfy an out of control ego?
I think it is more a case of the former more than the later. Apparently, up until he revealed that he was the "Beast of Omaha Beach" during the interview in 2006; he said that the only person told about his actions on June 6th was his wife. This makes sense, since revealing this to anyone else would have raised some eyebrows at the very least, and at the very most, probably would have lead to his execution. You don't advertise to your captors that you killed a huge number of their comrades.
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