Big Red One Takes Fox Green
Title: WWII: Europe: France; “Into the Jaws of Death — U.S. Troops wading through water and Nazi gunfire”, circa 1944-06-06. A LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) from the U.S. Coast Guard-manned USS Samuel Chase disembarks troops of Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division (the Big Red One) wading onto the Fox Green section of Omaha Beach (Calvados, Basse-Normandie, France) on the morning of June 6, 1944. American soldiers encountered the newly formed German 352nd Division when landing. During the initial landing two-thirds of Company E became casualties.
The photograph was taken by Chief Photographer’s Mate Robert Sargent during the troop landing phase of Operation Neptune, the naval component of the Operation Overlord Normandy landing commonly known as D-Day. The photograph was taken at 7:40 AM local time. It depicts the soldiers departing the Higgins boat and wading through waist-deep water towards the “Easy Red” sector of Omaha Beach.
The Higgins boat depicted in the photograph had departed from the attack transport USS Samuel Chase about 10 miles (8.7 nmi; 16 km) from the coast of Normandy at around 5:30 AM. Waves continuously broke over the boat’s square bow, and the soldiers inside were drenched in cold ocean water. In all the Samuel Chase lost six landing craft on D-Day: four foundered near the beach, one was “impaled” by a beach obstacle, and another was sunk by enemy gunfire.
The image is one of the most widely reproduced photographs of the D-Day landings. The original photograph is held by the United States Coast Guard Historian’s Office.
Military Units Featured
US Army, 1st Infantry Division
The 1st Infantry Division is a combined arms division of the United States Army, and is the oldest continuously serving in the Regular Army. It has seen continuous service since its organization in 1917 during World War I. It was officially nicknamed “The Big Red One” (abbreviated “BRO”) after its shoulder patch and is also nicknamed “The Fighting First”. However, the division has also received troop monikers of “The Big Dead One” and “The Bloody First” as puns on the respective officially sanctioned nicknames. It is currently based at Fort Riley, Kansas.
Military Equipment Featured
The landing craft, vehicle, personnel (LCVP) or Higgins boat was a landing craft used extensively in amphibious landings in World War II. The craft was designed by Andrew Higgins based on boats made for operating in swamps and marshes. More than 23,358 were built, by Higgins Industries and licensees. Typically constructed from plywood, this shallow-draft, barge-like boat could ferry a roughly platoon-sized complement of 36 men to shore at 9 knots (17 km/h). Men generally entered the boat by climbing down a cargo net hung from the side of their troop transport; they exited by charging down the boat’s lowered bow ramp.
Chief Photographer’s Mate (CPHoM) Robert F. Sargent. Robert F. Sargent (August 26, 1923 – May 8, 2012) was a United States Coast Guard chief petty officer. A photographer’s mate, he is best known for Into the Jaws of Death.