Follow TV Tropes

Following

Storming the Beaches

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/shottoremember03privateryan.jpg
"Keep the sand out of those weapons! Keep those actions clear! I'll see you on the beach!"
Advertisement:

So you've got your troops and you're ready to take the fight to the enemy. The men are pumped, the tanks are fueled, and it's time to win this war.

There's a problem, though. The enemy is sitting on the other side of a sizable body of water. It may be a large river, a lake, or even an entire ocean. The bottom line is that you can only get to where you need to be if you deal with the water hazard first.

So what's the next move? An amphibious assault, of course! Load your boys up on boats, hovercraft, water-tight armored trucks, or whatever sea-worthy transportation you've got lying around and send them to storm the beaches.

The iconic Real Life examples of this trope made famous during a little dust-up known as World War II secured the image of an army invading an enemy-held shore in the public consciousness and inspired the use of amphibious attacks in all kinds of military- and war-related works. But this kind of warfare is of course much older than that. Ever since humans learned how to build boats, they've been using them to get the drop on their enemies — just ask those Horny Vikings.

Advertisement:

How well this tactic works varies wildly. If the enemy does not expect an attack from the water, the invaders will have an amazing advantage. However, in most cases you can look forward to a protracted battle for the beach! The goal is to get boots on the ground, establish a beachhead, and then bring in as many reinforcements as possible as fast as possible in order to advance into enemy territory.

For times when the invading force decides to go by air instead, see It's Raining Men.


Advertisement:

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Used as an allegory in the Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt episode "Pulp Addiction" for sperm cells trying to attain the cervix. Their biggest adversary is General Scott: tissues that blot them up before they can secure a beachhead near the vulva.
  • Armored Trooper VOTOMS. The first episode of Pailsen Files features a disastrous opposed landing against a Balarant position. While the overall operation was a success, the on-screen battle only has a single survivor - Chirico.

    Comic Books 
  • In the French comic Yiu, it's mentioned that Australia was the last country to hold out against the worldwide apocalypse, finally succumbing to massive naval invasions from the rest of the world.
  • Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War opens with the Allied forces storming the beaches of Sicily in July 1943.
  • Hunter's Hellcats: In Our Fighting Forces #120' the Hellcats makes an amphibious landing on an Italian beach while under fire from German aircraft.

    Fan Works 
  • The Discworld of A.A. Pessimal has a footnote saying that when General Tacticus reached the edge of the Discworld with no more lands to conquer (seemingly) and a large and bored army with time on its hands, he sent back to Ankh-Morpork requesting $AM50,000 and the services of boat-builders, for the purpose of building landing craft so as to sweep across the Discworld's equivalent of the Pacific, mopping up all the small islands. (and by then having retrained his soldiers as Marines).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Big Red One. Following a squad of the U.S. 1st Infantry Division through World War II, three different amphibious landings are depicted - in North Africa in 1942 (with French soldiers defending the beach), in Sicily in 1943 (with Italian soldiers opposite) and D-Day in Normandy in 1944 (this time with Germans on the other side).
  • Inchon. Ostensibly a film about the epic amphibious landing by UN forces that turned the tide of the Korean War. In reality a propaganda piece of the Reverend Moon.
  • The Longest Day. It's a movie all about D-Day, so naturally it features tons of scenes from the 5 different beaches the Allies landed on.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. During the pirates' attack on Port Royal, they send some of the crew on boats to assault and loot the town.
  • Saving Private Ryan begins on D-Day at Omaha Beach, and it does not shy away from just how brutal it was. The mission to save the titular soldier begins after the troops have cleared the beach and begun moving inland.
  • The 2010 Robin Hood movie (directed by Ridley Scott, starring Russell Crowe) had a storming-the-beach scene many felt was influenced by Saving Private Ryan.
  • One sequence in Red Tails has the Tuskeegee Airmen assigned to provide air cover to an amphibious landing.
  • The Return of the King had Orcs making an amphibious landing at Osgiliath using barges that looked like medieval versions of the D-Day landing craft.
  • Edge of Tomorrow features an amphibious assault on the alien-controlled Normandy beaches. The humans invade with helicopter dropships, hovercraft, and even landing boats.
  • Unlike the original novel, Starship Troopers features the Mobile Infantry landing on Klendathu in dropships which are very much inspired by World War II landing craft.
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen has a Lock and Load Montage after the Pentagon realizes that the NEST team and Autobots are under attack by the Decepticons in Jordan. This includes Marines in the Persian Gulf landing troops and tanks by sea.
  • A Walk in the Sun. Depicts the landings at Salerno. The subject matter is dealt with realistically and had the cooperation of the U.S. Army. Notable for having been filmed during the war, just a year or so after the actual battle, and in its unromantic depiction of military action (unusual for the time) - during the landing sequence the platoon leader loses half his face to an enemy shell. Still liked by critics, at the time, and before he gained fame for his own realistic depictions of World War II combat, Samuel Fuller wrote to the producers to tell them how much he despised it.
  • A rare villainous example in Wake Island, in which the Japanese twice attempt to storm the tiny little atoll defended by 400 U.S. Marines. The first time they attempt it the Americans put up such a vigorous defense that the Japanese abort their landing. The second time they attempt it they succeed and wipe out the garrison.
  • An unopposed landing is shown in The Thin Red Line, the Japanese forces having withdrawn to the interior of Guadalcanal.

    Literature 
  • Red Storm Rising. As World War III gets under way, the Soviets land in Iceland and quickly overpower the American defense force on the island. Then later, a joint British-American task force retakes the island from the Soviets.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Band of Brothers. Depicts the actions of the 101st Airborne Division on D-Day. While amphibious landings aren't directly shown, the main mission depicted in episode 2 is the silencing of German artillery firing on Utah Beach. The amphibious assault across the Rhine River in March 1945 (Operation Varsity) is referenced; Captain Nixon participates in the supporting paratroops landings off-screen, which is mentioned in dialogue.
  • The Pacific. Companion of sorts to Band of Brothers, depicts a number of amphibious landings in the Pacific Theatre of World War II from the viewpoint of three U.S. Marines, including both opposed (Iwo Jima, Peleliu) and unopposed (Guadalcanal, Okinawa) landing operations.
  • Dieppe. Canadian miniseries that focused on the planning and training for the disastrous Dieppe Raid of 1942. Inspired by the book Unauthorized Action, shifts focus back and forth between the British, Canadian and American war leaders trying to prosecute the war, and a platoon of Canadian soldiers eager to get into the fighting. Possibly for budgetary reasons, only the actions on one of the six landing beaches are actually portrayed at the conclusion of the film.
  • Played for laughs on Top Gear. While doing a "serious" test of the Ford Fiesta, Jeremy asks if it can be used in an amphibious assault. We then see him doing just that.
  • In Vikings this tends to be subverted as the Viking landings are usually unopposed since the defenders don't have the time to assemble a force big enough to stop them. On one occasion they have to storm the beaches the other way since a Saxon force blocks them from their ship. This is played straight when the Vikings sail up-river to invade Mercia. The Mercian commander decides to oppose their landing by splitting his army and defending both sides of the river. Ragnar simply choose the side of the river with fewer defenders and sails his ships right for the river bank. The Vikings storm the river bank and quickly rout the defenders while the Saxon force on the other side of the river watches helplessly.
  • The Game of Thrones episode "Blackwater" combines this with Storming the Castle, in the form of Stannis Baratheon's assault on King's Landing through the city harbor. He makes it ashore but can't bring any siege machines bigger than a battering ram aboard his landing boats, but on the other hand his troops also overturn one of the boats to shield the ram from arrows. Much of his fleet is blown up before landing with a fireship packed with wildfire, which was probably critical.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Some Avalon Hill war games in which amphibious invasions are the focus of the game: Advanced Squad Leader Module 9 Gung Ho!, Air Assault on Crete/Invasion of Malta, Anzio, Breakout: Normandy, D-Day, Fortress Europa and The Longest Day.
  • The D-Day Series of war games by John H. Butterfield simulates some of the nastier amphibious assaults of World War 2. Games in the series include D-Day at Omaha Beach, D-Day at Peleliu, D-Day at Tarawa and Operation Jubilee: Dieppe, August 1942.

    Video Games 
  • Rising Storm, has the Iwo Jima, Kwajalein, Saipan, and Betio maps, which involve either US Army soldiers or Marines pushing inland while Japanese Army or Marines try to halt their advances.
  • Medal of Honor has several examples.
    • The original Medal of Honor first had you rescue an Allied operative in North Africa, with the two of you then light a signal for the Allied fleet offshore to begin Operation Torch
    • The iconic third level of Medal of Honor: Allied Assault is set during the Omaha Beach landing on D-Day. Lt. Powell, the Player Character, is tasked with clearing the German machine-gun bunkers alone following his entire unit being killed or wounded in the landing. And it's pretty clear from the onset that this level is heavily based on Saving Private Ryan's own Omaha Beach Landing.
    • Medal of Honor: Frontline, starts with the main character storming the very same beach at Normandy in a more polished sequence that might as well be direct from Ryan.
    • Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault features the Tarawa landings, where members of the 2nd Marine Division struggle to move inland while clearing Japanese defenses.
    • While Medal of Honor: Airborne focuses primarily on Paratroopers, the Utah Beach level has members of the 4th Infantry suffering casualties from German machine-gun nests, which forces Travers and his squad to clear the remaining Germans out.
  • A staple in the Ace Combat series: in pretty much every game, there is a mission where you provide close air support to amphibious troops attempting to establish a beachhead on enemy territory. To name a few specific examples: "Operation Bunker Shot" in Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies, "Lit Fuse/Operation Footprint" in Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, "Anea Landing" in Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation, "Pipeline" in Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, etc.
  • Command & Conquer:
    • Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn: The first mission has GDI landing troops on a Nod fortified beach to establish a base, with fire support being provided by a nearby gunboat.
    • Several in the Red Alert games (both initiating and defending against) with that series' additional emphasis on naval combat compared to the Tiberium line (all the naval power is in GDI hands, so Nod can't really do these). In 3, for example, the first Allied mission is defending the British coastline against such an attack by the Soviets.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day. Conker joins up with the Squirrel High Command in its war against the Tediz. He joins a force of Squirrel troops who must capture an enemy beach and attack a large stronghold. They even wear American World War II uniforms. The scene where Conker stands on the beach watching in absolute horror as his fellow squirrels are cut down all around him is one of the very few serious moments in what is otherwise a hilarious comedic game. The player (as Conker) must then charge up the beach while ducking behind cover to avoid machine gun fire.
  • The Avalon Hill Game Company's D-Day: America Invades, which covers the Allied invasion at Normandy during World War II. It has three scenarios covering the Omaha Beach landings, a combined Utah/Omaha campaign game and the Operation Cobra breakout.
  • The first story mission in Final Fantasy VIII has SeeD storm the beaches at Dollet to drive out Galbadian forces.
  • Call of Duty
    • The American campaign of Call of Duty 2 began with the landings at Pointe Du Hoc, where the U.S. Rangers are tasked with destroying several artillery places on the cliffs. Unfortunately, the guns turn out to be further inland.
    • The level "Goalpost" of Modern Warfare 3 has the player taking part in an amphibious landing against the Russians in Hamburg. Somewhat unusually for this trope, the player and his squad aren't in the amphibious landing vehicles but a V-22 Osprey. Though it does land on the beach, leading to you storming it all the same.
    • Call of Duty: World at War has a unique take on this. Rather than having the beach landing here take place in Normandy on D-Day like the World War II-era titles, this one takes place on the remote Pacific island of Peleliu. Unlike Normandy, the hazards come mainly from the coral reefs on the beach, which cause Miller's landing craft to get stuck. The defending Japanese here, rather than firing from solid concrete bunkers, are instead firing from exposed trenches that get wiped out after an artillery strike.
    • Call of Duty: WWII has the first level, set during the Omaha Beach landing on D-Day. Unlike most examples, however, the level doesen't simply end once the German defenses are breached. Instead, the focus is mainly on clearing German opposition further inland.
  • No matter what age in Rise of Nations, all ground units turn into landing craft when moving over water and convert back into tanks or infantry when they hit the beach. If you are in the "Conquer the World" campaign and are invading across an ocean, you will start off with just transports carrying your invasion army.
  • Valkyria Chronicles has Squad 7 participate in two amphibious operations:
    • In Chapter 3, Welkin's unit is ordered to retake the critical Great Vasel Bridge from the East Europan army. A frontal assault on the near bank would be suicide, so Welkin has his tank waterproofed and literally drives it underwater across the riverbed to the far side, securing a beachhead for the rest of the squad to follow in boats.
    • In 11, the squad hits the beach at Marberry in northern Gallia to help secure vital industrial areas. The enemy is very well dug-in, with trenches and bunkers backed up by multiple tanks. Before the landing, Isara works overnight to develop smoke rounds that allow troops to sneak by indestructible machine gun towers.
  • The expansion pack Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne introduced the naga race to the game, who are amphibious Snake People, playable in a few quests during the campaigns. As one of the very few units in the game that can move in water, attacking from the sea is among their preferred battle tactics.
  • One Worms3D level recreates D-Day by having you take out a team of German worms on a beach fortification, complete with vast fleet of ships in the distance (it's actually possible to go towards them, but they're not solid and the worm sinks immediately.
  • World in Conflict is loaded with this.
    • At the start of the game, the Soviets launch a surprise invasion of the United States by loading up their troops on disguised cargo ships and sneaking them into Washington State, past the U.S. Navy. They quickly overrun Seattle and Tacoma and spread out inland as the Americans, who have most of their troops in Europe, struggle to stop them.
    • During the flashback missions that showcase the fighting in Europe before the Seattle invasion, the Soviets had destroyed much of the U.S. Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea, then followed up on it by staging an amphibious invasion of southern France in an attempt to open a second front as they had been stalemated in West Germany.
    • One Soviet mission features a raid on a Norwegian air defense station. To get to it the Soviets must land the troops on a cold, snow-covered Norwegian beach in the most unique way. They use massive Ekranoplanes (basically huge seaplanes, which they in fact had prototypes of in Real Life). The planes land in the water then race towards the beach at high speed while firing rockets to weaken the Norwegian defenses. The planes' cockpits then slide open and unleash the Soviet strike force.
    • The mission in New York City features Spetsnaz commandos taking over Liberty, Ellis, and Governor's Islands and capturing some U.S. vehicles, including amphibious transports which they use to send reinforcements to Ellis when the Americans move in to rescue the hostages. The U.S. Army Rangers have to stage amphibious assaults of their own to retake the islands.
    • Just before the U.S. launches the operation to liberate Seattle, they send troops to retake a group of Islands in the Puget Sound to capture Soviet anti-ship missile batteries for use against the Chinese invasion fleet that's heading to Seattle to reinforce the Soviets.
    • In the end, the aversion becomes a plot point; the Chinese can't storm the beaches because of their lack of amphibious landing gear, and need Seattle Harbor to land. This makes the race for Seattle all the more vital.
  • World of Warcraft: The Strand of the Ancients battleground has Alliance and Horde forces storming a beach in Northrend to seize control of a Titan relic that the opposing faction possesses.
    • The Kvaldir are a group of mysterious Valkyr warriors who appear from the sea in mists and attack several coastal settlements. Basically, Azeroth's version of Vikings.
  • Armor Games' Warfare 1944. The first game of a new campaign and one of the custom games are a limited version of the D-Day invasion. Depending on your side (American or German) you are either invading or defending against the invasion, respectively.
  • Possible but risky in Crusader Kings. Your army will take serious environmental penalties for landing in a hostile province when an enemy army is present. There are lesser terrain penalties for attacking across a river or straitnote , as well. The second game compounds this with the fact your morale will be capped at 50% after the sea voyage. However, landing in a friendly province, or one you previously occupied in the same war, does not apply the penalties even if hostile troops are present.
  • The Battlefield 1 War Story: "The Runner" has the player storming the beaches of Gallipoli in its first mission.
  • Doable in Total War: Rome II when attacking coastal towns from the sea. Your men will spawn in weak transports and have to land in and around the town. They will also have to get past harbour defenses in cities and naval garrisons.
  • Civilization:
    • In Civilization II and III, a late-game technology allows the creation of Marines, who can attack directly from transport boats.
    • From Civilization 4 onward, combat units suffer penalties if they attack another unit from water or from across a river, but sufficient combat experience lets them gain the Amphibious ability, which negates the penalty.
  • Very risky in any game in the Age of Empires franchise; only Transports can carry troops across water, and they're slow and extremely vulnerable, so it's possible to lose lots of troops before even reaching land if any siege units, towers or missile troops are defending the landing. On the other hand, you can land just about anywhere, so it's very difficult to defend an entire coastline, and once the ships touch land all the troops will disembark at once and fight at full strength.
  • The first stage in area one of the third Time Crisis involves the two main characters storming a beach full of enemy troops. That's right, only two VSSE Agents storming a beach full of bad guys... and killing them all.

    Western Animation 
  • In G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, both the Joes and Cobra make use of this fairly often, especially if there are islands in the equation.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender had a submarine attack, with waterbenders working in concert to move a small fleet of earthbender-powered tanks past the Fire Nation's defenses and surfacing to attack, all during the short time the firebenders would be powerless. However, it turned out to be an Empty Fort Strategy, with the heroes barely escaping with their lives and leaving their parents captive.

    Real Life 
  • As a general rule, there are two types of amphibious landings: unopposed, and opposed. An opposed landing usually only works if the attacker has dramatic numerical superiority, because losses at the beaches will be serious.
    • Due to that, almost all amphibious landings before the 20th century were unopposed. Defending all possible beaches was just as costly as attacking the few fortified ones was.
  • The Mongols tried to do this to the island of Kyushu, but the local Japanese armies managed to drive them out. Contrary to popular belief, the typhoon during the first invasion had only struck the Mongol forces after they had already started retreating. Then, in an amazing second wind, Kublai Khan came back a few years later with an even bigger force and BOMBS. They were again repelled, this time with help from the famous Kamikaze typhoon, and the Japanese having had a few years to fortify the beaches with walls, leading to the total annihilation of the combined Mongol/Chinese/Korean Fleet.
  • World War I. In 1915 the Allies invaded the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey in an attempt to capture Constantinople. After eight months of hard fighting and heavy loss of life on both sides it became clear that the invasion could not succeed and the Allied forces were evacuated — ironically without loss of life as the evacuation was far better planned than the original landing.
  • World War II European Theater:
    • Nearly two years prior to D-Day was the ill-fated Dieppe raid in August 1942. It was meant to be a raid in strength where five thousand British and Canadian troops were landed with orders to capture and hold the port of Dieppe. It failed badly, with most of the force getting killed. Allied planners learned fortified ports should not be first-day landing objectives. The British were already building experience with small-scale hit-and-run commando raids at strategic points around the German-held coast, obliging the Germans to tie down a lot of men in static garrisons - in Norway as well as France.
    • Operation Torch, the Allied capture of Vichy French-held areas of North Africa in November 1942. The landings succeeded against weak Vichy French and Italian opposition, and dropped off a full British and American army group. The German and Italian forces found themselves squeezed from east and west because the Brits already had an army in Egypt. Add on the fact that the Royal Navy was making resupply from the north via the Mediterranean a major problem and the Sahara to the south isn't exactly accommodating to large military activity, and by early 1943 North Africa was free of Axis forces.
    • The Salerno landing in September 1943 saw British and American armies make landfall in mainland Italy, against intense German opposition on the landing beaches.
    • The Normandy landings of Operation Overlord on June 6th, 1944 are the most famous, and largest, real life example to this day. The Allies invaded Nazi-held France across the English Channel. The Americans landed at Omaha and Utah Beaches, the British at Sword and Gold, and the Canadians at Juno. Of these five beaches Omaha is the most well-known because it was the most difficult, with the Americans suffering heavy casualties before finally breaking through. They were helped by a massive deception operation: though the Wehrmacht had fortified virtually their entire 3,000 mile Atlantic coast (the so-called "Atlantic Wall"), the obvious target was the short distance from Dover to Calais. So the Allies faked a build-up of troops and materiel at Dover and sent fake messages in old codes they knew were compromised, and then hit a couple hundred miles further west in Normandy.
    • Two months after D-Day, in August 1944, the Allies launched another large-scale amphibious assault in southern France: Operation Dragoon. The mostly American force and their Free French allies (who made up the rest) plowed through the Germans. With Allied forces now advancing from both the north and south, the Germans were caught in a gigantic pincer. They began retreating but not before 140,000 German troops were captured or killed, devastating for the Wehrmacht because Germany was running out of professional soldiers by this point.
  • Most of the Pacific Theatre of World War II (anywhere outside the fighting in mainland China or southeast Asia) was this. The Americans and Japanese fought tooth and nail over scores of islands, big and small, across the Pacific Ocean. Some examples...
    • The Japanese invasion of the Philippines began just hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. 100,000 Imperial Japanese troops landed on the northen end of Luzon, the largest island in the country. The American and Filipino troops under General Douglas MacArthur fought back fiercely, but were horribly outmatched. The Japanese occupied the Philippines for two and a half years until it was liberated in 1944.
    • Incidentally, the only amphibious assault to be turned back at the water's edge was the first Japanese landing at Wake Island only a few days after Pearl Harbor (a second attempt two weeks later was successful). All other amphibious operations (including Dieppe) had at least partial success in getting troops beyond the beach.
    • Following up on their success in the Battle of Midway in June 1942, the Americans began the Guadalcanal campaign in November of that year. There would be much bitter fighting as both sides worked to bring in seaborne reinforcements.
    • The Battle of Tarawa in 1943, another very famous amphibious assault in the Island Hopping Campaign. The U.S. Marines Corps secured Tarawa Atoll from the Japanese Marine garrison who, as was usually the case, fought almost to the last man.
    • In October 1944, The U.S. began the liberation of the Philippines, staging their own amphibious assault. They pushed the Japanese out and provided yet another iconic photograph of the war when General Douglas MacArthur came ashore after the main assault, fulfilling his promise to the Philippines that he "would return". Also of interest, is the fact that, unlike other Pacific amphibious assaults, the liberation of the Philippines was handled exclusively by the U.S. Army, not with any help from the Marine Corps, due to the Philippines being much much larger than the small islands the Marines had been fighting on up to that point, as well as MacArthur himself specifically requesting that no Marines be involved in the campaign.
    • The Battle of Iwo Jima is the other candidate for the most iconic amphibious assault in World War II. The USMC went up against the more than 20,000 strong Japanese garrison. It proved to be the bloodiest battle of the Island Hopping Campaign for the U.S. They took more casualties than the Japanese, who were almost entirely wiped out on the island. Despite that the Americans successfully took the island and provided the world with the Iwo Jima Pose.
    • Had Operation Downfall taken place (Olympic in southern Kyushu in November 1945, Coronet in the Kanto Plain in March 1946), it would have surpassed even Overlord in the number of invading Allied troops (up to 5 million US troops and another 1 million British; in contrast there were "only" 2 million total Allied troops involved with Overlord after two months). The massive number of casualties projected from the experiences of fighting in Iwo Jima and Okinawa (1 million American, half a million British, ten million Japanese including civilians) was used to justify the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to avert this (whether the reader agrees with this assessment or not is beyond the scope of this page).
  • During The Korean War, the North Korean invasion was turned back when the UN forces under General Douglas MacArthur, staged an amphibious assault on the west coast of South Korea near Incheon, near the capital Seoul which was under communist control. To make it even more awesome, they landed in an area that was notoriously bad for shore landings (among other things, the area tends to get muddy and ships risked getting stuck), waiting until the tide was right before attacking. The North Koreans were not prepared for it, as the bulk of the KPA was at the Pusan Perimeter trying to take out the last UN hold on the peninsula.
  • One of the famous stunts by special forces commander Larry Dring during the Vietnam War was organizing a private 'invasion' of a beach where some VC would take occasional pot-shots at a passing Navy vessel. When hauled up before his CO to explain, Dring could only reply, "Well sir, I once saw a movie about World War 2." You can read the story here (Story #1, pages 6-8).

Top

Example of:

/

Feedback