Gun Hub Forums banner

1 - 12 of 12 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,727 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
This morning I got into a chat with an older guy at the home center, and noticed he was wearing a WWII vet's hat. I asked him about the war, and ended up having an amazing converstation.

This man had landed on Omaha beach on D-Day, as a medic. He stayed on the beach all day, pinned down and tending to wounded. On their particular sector of the beach there was only one road leading inland, and it was well-protected by German guns high on some bluffs. As of 1630 that afternoon they had not been able to move, and were in danger of being pushed back into the sea. Just about then, he said, two big Navy ships arrived off shore and laid heavy bombardment on the bluffs, which silenced the guns and let the trapped units advance.

This man said that he had learned more about D-Day from books and movies than he did from being there, because in that hellish environment your whole world shrank to the size of the cover you could find, and he had no idea what was going on even a few yards away. Also, he was totally absorbed by treating the wounded and trying to stay alive.

They finally got off the beach, and he lasted forty days in the hedgerows before being wounded himself. He said that the fighting was totally confused, with no discernible front line, and frequently they took fire from behind them, from ground they had just secured.

I asked him about the air cover, and he said it was outstanding. The only German planes they ever saw were light artillery spotters (whom they nicknamed "Bedcheck Charlie"). They never shot at these planes, because if they missed they gave their position away to the big guns. It must have been demoralizing for the Germans to be continually pounded by allied fighter-bombers, and never see any of their own.

It was a rare privilege to get to talk to this man; there aren't many of his kind left.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,499 Posts
You lucky devil.
You're right -- there are few left who saw that "longest day."

I hope you thanked him for his service to America and freedom.

'Many men went there as soldiers ... many men are there to stay ....'*

*- paraphrase of a line of music from the motion picture, "The Longest Day."
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
387 Posts
There's some great insight..We are fortunate to a WWII sailor in my church who took part in almost every major sea-battle in the pacific. So much living history. He is very sharp and active and still drives and can probably out run me in a foot race.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
13,170 Posts
I've read many D-Day accounts from both land and air and I'm always amazed at how LITTLE close air support there seems to have been on the beaches. Most 8 and 9AF fighter units seem to have been in the air in the general vicinity, "patrolling" for airborne opposition. There is sometimes mention of dropping bombs on or strafing targets a bit inland (often crossroads, bridges, rail lines, etc), but virtually nothing about bombing or shooting up beach defender strongpoints. Maybe they just hadn't yet developed the CAS doctrine in those days, I dunno. :confused:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,727 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
I think that on D-Day itself, the ceilings were so low that CAS was virtually impossible. Just as in the Battle of the Bulge a few months later, weather dictated the presence or absence of air support.

That having been said, allied tactical air forces gained and enforced near-total air superiority. American soldiers seldom had to fear attack from the air; for the Nazis, it was a near-constant threat. I read one war diary (and I believe I posted a link to it in another thread here someplace) of a Nazi officer whose unit was directed to reinforce the Normandy defenders. They started out for the front from just a few kilometers back behind the lines...and never made it. Two air attacks a couple of hours apart reduced the unit to a tattered remnant which had to retreat without ever reaching the battle.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,499 Posts
In the movie The Longest Day there were two Luftwaffe officers stationed at Normandie; they were ordered into the air, each did one straffing run and that was it. I don't know if that was accurate or not. The movie was technically accurat overall ... with standard "artistic license" Hollywood-style, so anything's possible.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,627 Posts
My father-in-law landed on Normandy. He was in the Signal Corps. He died shortly after I married my wife, but according to her he never mentioned the war. Certainly never brought it up with me.

He did see "The Longest Day" several times when it hit the local theater, taking his daughters with him.

His flag is encased and on our mantle.

I had occasion to speak to an old gentleman who was with me in a waiting room to give blood and urine for our doctors. He was at Normandy, although he downplayed his part. Said "I just drove supply trucks" during the invasion when I thanked him for what he did.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
3,882 Posts
IrishCop,

TYPICAL response of "The Greatest Generation" of GIs. = In 1971, I talked several times by phone to MAJ Audie Murphy, in preparation for AUDIE MURPHY DAY, which was sponsored by "COBB's COUGARS", i.e., the 144th Infantry, TXARNG.
(MAJ Murphy was killed in a private plane crash on 28MAY71, about a month before Audie Murphy Day, so we NG folks never got to meet him in person.)

MAJ Murphy told me , more than once, that, "I didn't do anything very special & anything that ten thousand other GIs didn't do." - That was the response from America's Most Decorated Soldier of WWII.

Note: When the famous John Wayne movie THE ALAMO was casting, Audie Murphy was asked to portray LTC William Barratt Travis. = MAJ Murphy reportedly said, "You need to find a BRAVE man to be Colonel Travis. And that's not me." = Audie Murphy was an HUMBLE & HONORABLE man!!!

yours, satx
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,114 Posts
Have I ever told the story about getting into an argument with a neighbor who's one of the Doolittle Raiders about heroism?

He finally took my point when I made my last best case with "Maybe you were just doing your job, but the fact is that by answering the call of duty even in the face of hopeless odds, you set an example for future generations like mine to follow. And THAT, sir, is enough to make a hero of anyone in my book." (It was long ago, exact wording may be a little fuzzy, but the basic point is there.)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,991 Posts
When I went in the Army many of the NCOs and officers were WW II vets. It was a pleasure and a privilage to serve with them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,940 Posts
My father in law ran an infantry company for Patton, acquiring a Silver and Bronze in the process.

I never heard him broach the subject in the 15 years I knew him but one evening when he was visiting us from FL I made the comment that his great grandchildren would ask me about those decorations one day.

He was silent for a moment and I was preparing to re focus on Jeopardy but then he finished the last of his second glass of wine and told me a story. It took him all of thirty seconds and we never spoke of it again.

"Toward the end of the war they were giving them away like Cracker Jack prizes."

Indeed.
 
1 - 12 of 12 Posts
Top