"The Battle for Fox Green Beach" by Dwight Shepler.

22 June 1944


   1. After a false start on 4 June, cancelled and postponed one day according to the Postponement Plan, this vessel, accompanied by U.S.S. DOYLE, sailed at 1300 B 5 June from Weymouth Roads, England, to rendezvous with the 31st Mine Sweeper Flotilla as defensive escort. Rendezvous was effected without difficulty about 1800 B in Lat. 50-05N, Long. 04-47,5W, and sweeping of assault force channel #4 though the German mine barrier was commenced. Station was taken about 1500 yards astern of leading MS, DOYLE in column 600 yards astern. Station keeping was difficult as MS used for formations and maneuvering British flag and light signals whose meaning was unknown.

   2. Sweeping of channel #4 was completed without incident about 0300 B/6th. Sweeping of Omaha transport area and Omaha Fire Support Channel #3 was completed, also without incident, about 0330 B, at which time 31st MSF withdrew to seaward and EMMONS and DOYLE lay to about 300- yards off Port en Bessin awaiting time to commence shore bombardment, and covering approach of heavy bombarding ships. Shore bombardment was scheduled to begin at H-40 minutes (0550 B).

   3. At 0537 an enemy shore battery on the bluff just east of Port en Bessin opened fire on us. Batter was estimated as 3" to 4", and approximately 10 rounds were fired, obtaining no hits but several very near misses and straddles. Fire was vigorously returned, expending 16 rounds of 5"/38 Shell, and the battery was silenced for several hours. This is believed to be the first naval counterbattery fire, in the Omaha area at least, of the operation. Range was between 2500 and 3000 yards.

   4. At 0545, five minutes early, shore bombardment of assigned targets on Fox beach was commenced. General firing by all bombarding ships was also started at this time, and heaving bombing of the beaches by aircraft was underway. EMMONS had moved westward from Port en Bessin area, but in order to avoid line of fire of U.S.S. ARKANSAS, FFS GEORGES LE[Y]GUES, and FFS MONTCALM, a position had to be taken that required a true target bearing of about 240° and range about 5500 yards, although ship was only 2000 yards off the shore. 258 rounds of 5"/38, 2/3 AA Common and 1/3 Common, were fired with two casualties - hydraulic line to rammer in Gun #2 split after second round and the same casualty in Gun #1 occurred after 60 rounds. Both lines were promptly brased during a later lull and gave no further trouble. TOSTANOSK, E.H., 608 27 72, Cox, USNR, rammed 65 rounds by hand in Gun #2 during this phase and the gun missed no salvos. Fire was lifted at H-5 minutes as scheduled, and the first boat wave hit the beach about on time.

   5. Spotting during this neutralization phase was extremely difficult. EMMONS and BALDWIN were both firing at same target area, and ARKANSAS and MONTCALM were firing at adjacent ones. Heavy air bombing, plus concentrated fire from several LCG’S, LCF’S and LCT(R)’s, was also in progress, and the beach areas were shrouded in dust and smoke. Navigational position was maintained by SG radar ranges and bearings on Port en Bessin breakwater, the only prominent landmark showing on the scope, and gun range, bearing and elevation of the target were passed to Control by phone. Sea was slightly choppy, swells about 1 foot high, wind force 3 from SW, visibility 5 miles, tide running Eastward about 1.9 knots. The ship could be maintained in reasonably close position by twisting, and kicking ahead on one engine. A dan buoy was dropped later to maintain an accurate position for fire support.

   6. From H to H + 20 minutes, 41 rounds 5"/38 AA Common were fired at designated target areas behind Beach Fox using air burst to deny enemy reinforcement of beach defenses. Target areas were still obscured and results could not be observed.

   7. Shore Fire Control Party #9 assigned to us was scheduled to land at H + 30 minutes but evidently did not make it, as no communications were established all day until 1910. At that time a test transmission on CW auxiliary frequency was heard and acknowledged and EMMONS was told to “Standby-wait”. No further word was ever received either on CW or on the two FW voice frequencies provided, although we made frequent calls for two more days. It is not known what happened to this party, and their failure to make contact was most disappointing. As a result we had no knowledge of locations of our own forces, and we fired on targets of opportunity only with reluctance and after considerable delay attempting to confirm their enemy character. Commander Task Group ONE TWENTY-FOUR point NINE was of great assistance in designating targets over TBS.

   8. The Port en Bessin area was technically a British sector, but as no British forces were present and the strongholds in this vicinity were still troublesome, they were taken under fire at intervals from 0800 to 1500, firing a total of 186 rounds 5"/38 and 440 rounds 40MM. The ARKANSAS also coached on by TBS to complete the destruction of an emplaced gun to eastward of the town using 12" AP projectiles. Enemy personnel were strafed by 40MM fire, and a small German naval craft behind the breakwater was shelled using air burst as she could not be hit directly. During this period EMMONS lay to approximately 1500 yards off shore and good observation could be had of shore activity in the area.

   9. An enemy mortar post concealed in a hedgerow behind Fox beach was destroyed by 44 rounds of 5"/38 at 1537. This post had been actively opposing landings on the beach and was finally revealed by its puffs of smoke. At 1815, 66 rounds were expended in destroying the Colleville Church Steeple, whose use as an enemy observation post had been reported by CTG 124.9.

  10. At 2100 while lying off shore west of Port en Bessin, an enemy battery believed to be 4 88MM guns, possibly carried by tanks, opened fire on us, dropping several very close straddles. This battery also fired on DOYLE but registered no hits. The origin of the fire could not be determined, but the whole area of the bluff was heavily covered with 5" and 40MM fire from both ships. EMMONS expended 222 rounds 5"/38 and 464 rounds 40MM. The battery ceased fire and caused no further trouble, but it is not known whether it was destroyed.

  11. Light air raids over the transport area took place the night of D/D+1. No enemy planes approached close enough to be taken under fire. One German pilot was picked up from the water, but died within an hour of severe internal injuries.

  12. About 0900/7, short use was obtained of the SFCP assigned to the BALDWIN. Thirty rounds 5"/38 were fired at inland targets at Mosles (705835) under its direction - results reported successful.

  13. Suspected mobile gun emplacements were taken under fire at 1000 along the cliffs west of Port en Bessin with 51 rounds 5"/38. Results were unobserved.

  14. No further shore bombardment was undertaken as locations of own forces were unknown and contact could not be made with assigned SFCP. Ship subsequently reported for duty with area screen and later to CTF 129, after a trip to U.K. for replenishment.


   1. Adequate liaison with mine sweeping groups should have been provided. The mine sweeper’s signals, flags, maneuvers, formations and sweeping methods were practically unknown and considerable difficulty in keeping defensive station on them was experienced. Only on short conference between Commanding Officers of EMMONS and DOYLE and Senior Officer 31st MSF was held as the MSF was not in the vicinity until just before operations started.

   2. A week before D day, this ship was shifted from Destroyer Squadron TEN under Commander Task Force ONE TWENTY-TWO to Destroyer Squadron EIGHTEEN under Commander Task Force ONE TWENTY-FOUR to replace the ENDICOTT. The vast amount of operational material, orders, intelligence, etc., for force “O” had to be absorbed in too short a time. Operations with Desron 18 were unfamiliar but fortunately no misunderstandings or mistakes resulted. When this ship returned to Desron 10 for duty, copies of Force “U” operation orders were not available and many communication difficulties were experienced. It is recommended that flagships carry additional copies of such operation orders and related material for issue to ships newly joining after operations are underway.

   3. The ship’s anchorage in Weymouth Roads, England, was too far (approximately 4 miles) from the flagship (ANCON) and the beach for efficient work, and the lack of boats was keenly felt, as this ship had only one motor whaleboat.

   4. The ammunition supply facilities in Portland were considerably disorganized. It required a daily trip to the beach by an officer for four days to obtain transfer authority for 45 rounds of WP shells which were actually on a coaster not a mile away.

   5. Voice radio discipline and security on TBS and TBL circuits were very poor. Information on topics such as ship movements, linking them with coded dispatches, were frequently given in plain language with the obvious result of jeopardizing our cryptographic system.

   6. Extensive liaison with the Army prior to such an assault is a “must” item. In particular the shore fire control parties should become well acquainted with all ship personnel with whom they will have dealings, and arrange beforehand a comprehensive plan of action. To insure confidence in Naval gunfire support, all possible Army Officers in the unit to which the SFCP is attached should make a careful study of the ships’ ordnance equipment, and pass such information down the line to their own commands. The SFCP assigned the EMMONS visited the ship only 2 days before getting underway and brought with them 6 or 7 Army Captains and Lieutenants of the companies we were to support. These latter had never been aboard a destroyer or any other major warship, knew nothing of the ship’s gunnery installations and fire control gear, and were greatly impressed with the advanced equipment and means for fire control. They admitted they had been dubious of our capacity to shoot accurately at land targets and had imagined we carried little more than the equipment of several army field pieces. It is hoped we sent them away with a healthy respect for a ship’s ability to support land troops.

   7. A destroyer of this type could handle at least two SFCP’S. It was the general experience that a large proportion of the time the SFCP could not observe or was moving up with the troops, and another party located elsewhere in the vicinity in position to observe could have used the ship’s gunfire support. Targets of opportunity are unsatisfactory at best, particularly if the locations of friendly forces are unknown. A large proportion of the time the ships were idle and their services could have been used if 2 or more SFCPs per ship had been assigned. Spare partied could have been assigned to ships such as the EMMONS whose regular party was killed or captured.


   1. The SG and SA-2 radars operated faultlessly. Gunfire shock caused no casualties, and it is considered that these delicate equipments were outstanding in their reliability.

   2. The FD radar was not satisfactory. It is believed that the installed unit is at fault and not necessarily the design, as constant trouble with this set has been experienced, apparently beyond the capacity of even manufacturers engineers to correct more than temporarily. Further report is made in separate correspondences.

   3. The battery performed highly satisfactorily. Only two minor casualties occurred - both to hydraulic lines to rammers - which were promptly repaired.

   4. The special 1/50,000 chart maps with gridded overlays, the navigational information, and the intelligence photos, sketches, and monographs furnished were excellent and of inestimable value to understanding and carrying out our mission. The British Military Grid System is easy to use and caused no difficulties whatever.