Friday, June 6, 2014

D-Day

Robert Capa, photographer, Normandy Beach , June 6, 1944
 "The move to the ships and craft took place the 3rd of June and we started loading up the night of June 5 but waited twenty-four hours. ... June 6 ... eating a quick breakfast at about 2:00 a.m., climbing over the side on a cargo net at about 3:30 a.m. into a wildly pitching LCM, bouncing on board while the craft joined a rendezvous circle and waited for the last of our wave to join.  We were afloat and sailed out with barrage balloons to prevent bomb attack.  Training and planning had ended and D-Day had started for the 54 occupants of LCM 1098.  Finally, we ceased circling and started the straight run to the beach, still in the dark.

While we travelled the 12 miles to the shore line, the dawn came up... Everyone soon was experiencing the pangs of seasickness, wanting to get off that pitching and rolling boat no matter what might come next. You couldn't stick your head over the side, so everyone was vomiting in the boat.  I positioned myself right at the front as I believed it was essential that the members of the command be first on the beach...

In our craft we could feel the bottom scrub some sand and jar to a grounded halt. Obviously the boat had struck a sand bar.  I plunged forward, jumped into the dark water, feet first, and was surprised to find I was in eight-foot deep water. My lifebelt brought me back to the surface, already swimming.  Soon my feet touched bottom and I was able to begin splashing and running out of the water.  Winded, I paused to kneel in the shelter of a steel hedgehog, then lunged ahead and dove into a depression filled with water.  Suddenly, my ankle felt as if hit by a baseball bat. I was afraid to stand up for fear of being shot and I was afraid to stay where I was for fear I'd be drowned.  Eventually I decided I had to move, and I'd try running and if I could run OK then my leg must not be broken.  I hobbled the remaining 50 yards to the shoreline and lay down against the stony rubble. .. There was no one in front of me, beside me, nor behind me that I could see or hear."


Being interviewed, Normandy, June 6, 1994
Susan's step-father's account of June 6, 1944. That day he was shot in the ankle but went on with the 121st Engineers Combat Battalion, 29th Division, to St. Lo, Brest and on to Paris. He continued to serve in the army in France and later in Okinawa and in Viet Nam, where there was, to his immense pride, a $2,000 price on his head.

Pops, we miss you.

1 comment:

Cally said...

Thanks for posting this fascinating, unimaginable glimpse into D-Day. RIP Susan's step-father and thank you for your incredibly brave contribution.