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29TH DIVISION - WWII STORIES

 

George E (Bill) BRYAN

1st Lieutenant

29th Infantry Division

116th Infantry Regiment

Headquarters Company - 1st Battalion

On D-Day, My father was 1st Lt. George E. Bryan who was with the 116th Reg of the 29th Inf Div.  I believe he was in Hdq Co of the 2nd Batallion.  I believe he went in on Dog Green in maybe one of the first groups to hit the beach.  Upon disembarkment from his landing Craft he was in water over his head, but struggled on to the beach found a shell hole and was there when Col Canham came striding along with one hand wrapped in a bloody rag and a 45 in the other.  Col Canham admonished him  to get his men off the beach.  He was in the area of shingle and he described the rocks to me.  They were under machine gun crossfire yet Col Canham was simply walking through the machine gun fire. 

My father continued fighting with the 29th Div. through the hedgerows to the Battle of St Lo where he was standing next to Major Thomas Dry Howie, (also from SC) when Maj Howie was killed.  My father heard the incoming and dove for cover, but Major Howie stood exposed, shouting orders to his men and was killed.  I believe it was shortly after The Battle for St Lo that my father was slightly wounded and returned to England for a medical procedure, but afterwards returned to duty in France.  Somehow he was assigned to rear duty for the continued push through France and Germany and was not caught up in heavy combat after his return or the Battle of the Bulge.  His service in the rear was to act as an administrator (Like a Mayor) as the army pushed through villages and small towns moving into Germany.  I believe he was at the Liberation of Paris, and my family communicated for quite a few years with a German boy who acted as a servant cleaning his quarters etc. in one of the German Villages he served.  Theo Britt was that guys name.  He was older than I was.  I was born in  Sept of 1940.  Of interest, my father was aboard the Queen Mary when she collided with a British ship during the crossing.  Many British (more than 200) sailors were lost as that ship was cut in half during the collision.  Daddy had just returned to his quarters from serving guard duty when the ships collided.  He said the QM shook and he thought they had  been torpedoed by a U-Boat.  He slipped his shoes on and ran back up to the deck, but by the time he reached open deck the british ship was far behind and he could see only two dots in the distance.  The QM was running under radio silence and could only blow a SOS on the ships whistle.  There were other ships in the area which picked up some survivors.   My father described the hole in the bow of the QM as large enough to put our 2 story house in that we lived in, at the time.  Another point of interest was that Major Howie was a graduate of "The Citadel", "Class of 29".  My father was a Clemson Grad, "Class of 37".  After his death my father was interviewed and quoted  in SC Newspapers, describing how impressed he was with Maj Howie as a brave soldier, and nice person.  They were good friends as well.  "The Citadel" dedicated the Carrillon Bell Tower to Major Howie and the Howie family invited my father to sit with them at the dedication ceremony.  That took place I believe during the early to mid 50's.  I remember when it happened but did not attend.  I am not sure but maybe General Mark Clark might have also been on the podium at that ceremony. 

Sometime after D-Day, my father made Captain, the rank he held at his discharge. 

George E. Bryan, Jr.

 

Copyright: Laurent LEFEBVRE