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james127

The Beast of Omaha. Credible?

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I came across an old article about a German soldier named Heinrich Severloh who is now nicknamed "The Beast of Omaha". He was a machine gunner stationed at WN 62 on Omaha Beach on D-Day. The claim is that he fired for 9 hours, went through 12,000 rounds from his MG42 and an additional 400 from his K98, and was responsible for at least 1000 casualties by himself (but maybe more). Seems a little unbelievable to me, but I don't know. Thoughts?


Always looking for stuff from the 40th Infantry Division (Korean War), the 7th Armored Division (WWII), USS Bunker Hill (WWII) and USS Mullany (WWII).

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Anyone who has visited Omaha will see how his claim is ridiculous. The beach is 4 miles long and WN62 covers only a small section, even with great fields of fire it’s impossible for one man to cause nearly 50% of the total casualties.

Combine confusion, smog of war and heightened senses and it’s nothing more than a fancible story.

Having stood in WN 62 I very much doubt that everyone was lining up to be gunned down.


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Anyone who has visited Omaha will see how his claim is ridiculous. The beach is 4 miles long and WN62 covers only a small section, even with great fields of fire it’s impossible for one man to cause nearly 50% of the total casualties.

Combine confusion, smog of war and heightened senses and it’s nothing more than a fancible story.

Having stood in WN 62 I very much doubt that everyone was lining up to be gunned down.

 

So here are the three possible scenarios that I've come up with to explain this:

 

1.) Against what seems plausible, he is telling the truth and inflicted that number of casualties on D-Day.

2.) He's lying and taking advantage of the fact that few were still around to either confirm or refute his claim.

3.) The day was crazy and chaotic and what may have seemed like 1000+ was more likely 100 or 250 or 500.

 

It would be interesting to know how many casualties the US estimated occurred in that one sector in front of WN62. If I'm not mistaken, it's right there around the border between Easy Red and Fox Green.


Always looking for stuff from the 40th Infantry Division (Korean War), the 7th Armored Division (WWII), USS Bunker Hill (WWII) and USS Mullany (WWII).

Check out my history page on YouTube: https://tinyurl.com/historyunderground

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I would say the enfilading fire from the 88's at either end of the beach are right up there.

 

I'm thinking the 116th alone took about 900 casualties or a little more just on 6 June...….


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How many times would he have had to change barrels on the machine gun? They must have been overheated, and eventually get warped right?

 

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How many times would he have had to change barrels on the machine gun? They must have been overheated, and eventually get warped right?

 

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The barrel of an MG42 can be changed in seconds. He probably had several spare barrels.


Mike B. in 'Bama

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12,000 rounds sounds like a lot, but when you consider that the rate of fire of the MG42 is stated to be around 1,200 rounds per minute, if he fired 12,000 rounds, that would only be about 10 minutes total firing time over the course of 540 minutes (equal to 9 hours). Then, you have to ask, how could he know, with any certainty, how many casualties he inflicted? He would not have been able to survey the battlefield after the shooting stopped. Sounds to me like his claims are grossly exaggerated.

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I don't doubt that he may have fired that many rounds, but I agree that there is no way he could know how many men he killed or wounded.


Mike B. in 'Bama

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I don't doubt that he may have fired that many rounds, but I agree that there is no way he could know how many men he killed or wounded.

 

Agree. But from his perspective, I can see where it might seem like he inflicted 1000+ casualties. I can't imagine how it must have felt to be on the receiving end of the invasion and having wave after wave of U.S. troops pouring in on the beach.


Always looking for stuff from the 40th Infantry Division (Korean War), the 7th Armored Division (WWII), USS Bunker Hill (WWII) and USS Mullany (WWII).

Check out my history page on YouTube: https://tinyurl.com/historyunderground

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