D-DAY 'TOP SECRET' ASSESSMENTS AND MAP OF GERMAN DEFENSES (3)
Map and set of three important printed documents from the files of Lt. Col. William B. Gara, commander of the crucial 1st Engineer Combat Battalion and among the first to land on Omaha Beach. The map and all three of the documents are headed 'TOP SECRET - BIGOT' and were used in the planning of the D-Day landings in Normandy. Taken chronologically, the first document is 17pp. 4to., [England], Apr. 20, 1944, issued from the headquarters of the 1st Engineers and headed: 'S-2 ESTIMATE OF THE ENEMY SITUATION'. This is an in-depth report covering enemy infantry and reserves in the entire Point du Hoc and Omaha Beach areas, as well as mobile reserves, air strength (greatly exaggerated), naval vessels, shoreline and beach defenses, pillboxes, barbed wire and mine locations, underwater obstacle types, blown roads and bridges, inland defenses including artillery locations, dumps, and radar installations. There is also a section on enemy morale, described as 'not good', and the composition of the defending troops, being 'a good 25% of non-German' and fifty percent being elderly, very young, tired, or unfit. Civilian cooperation impeding the German defense is also anticipated, as is the German counter moves. A second report bearing the same title is included, May 13, 1944, 6pp. It updates the previous report, adding certain reserve mobile units discovered, more closely locates underwater obstacles and new types of obstacles, and locates newly-found minefields anti-tank ditches and 'light defenses'. A third report, 5pp. 4to., Apr. 20, 1944 sets forth the 'ORDER OF BATTLE SELECTED GERMAN DIVISION[S]' It reports on the locations of, among others, the 21st Panzer Div., 155th and 179th Panzer Training Div.s, six infantry divisions, and the 3rd Fallschirmjager Div. Also present is Gara's official 'TOP SECRET - BIGOT' map prepared as an inclosure to the reports, this being copy no. 8, Apr. 20, 1944. The 28.5 x 22 in. map, printed and then hand-inked by engineer Gara, shows the presumed locations of several dozen German infantry, motorized and Panzer units along the coast and inland, covering all of the landing beaches. Much more important historic content. Marginal file holes, two or three pages loose from their staples, light toning, else very good. Obtained directly from Gara's estate. WILLIAM B. GARA (1917-2001) was an American Army Lieutenant Colonel, commander of the 1st Engineer Combat Battalion, 1st Infantry Division. Gara was a genuine war hero by any definition. He led his 700 men from North Africa to Sicily, he landed among the very first soldiers on Omaha Beach, was heavily engaged at the Battle of the Bulge, and fought into Germany until the end of the war. His most valiant service was at Omaha Beach where the 1st Engineers were tasked with landing minutes after the infantry, clearing obstacles to allow more landing craft to safely arrive, and continuing to clear barbed wire, mines, anti-tank obstacles and ravines, etc. from the beaches to a point a few miles inland to clear the path for infantry, tanks, and then truck transports. Under intense enemy small arms and anti-tank fire, Gara's engineers, along with elements of the 37th Engineers Battalion, opened the first and most important exit from Omaha Beach, E-1, allowing American GIs to flank the German defenses and begin their drive inland. By war's end, Gara had received two Silver Stars and two Bronze Stars.