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29TH DIVISION - WWII STORIES

 

Robert LOWRY

 

29th Infantry Division

116th Infantry Regiment

C Company

I was based in a very small village by name of Ivybridge, near Plymouth, in England. We trained very hard and long hours. Sometimes it was after dark when we would return to camp, tired, dirty and very hungry. We were able to get a pass for a day, usually on Sunday and would go into the village to attend church. Many times I, along with a couple of other soldiers would be invited to a home for dinner after the service, and we thought that was wonderfull. The English had very little food and we felt we were taking food from them.

On D-Day we were on a troopship by the name of Javelin.  The night before D-Day was very quiet, there was much praying, we were scared and wanted to get it over with quickly. General Eisenhower came in over the radio on the ship and wished us Godspeed.

At about 05:30 a.m. we went down rope ladders into LCVP’s, circled in the channel for about half an hour until the other LCVP’s were ready to head to shore. It was very rough and we slammed into the side of the ships as we went down the rope ladder. I don’t remember for sure who our platoon leader was but I think it might have been a 1st Lieutenant by the name of Dallas. Our Company commander was Captain Hawks. Neither one of them made it to shore. The officers were in the front of the boat and when the coxswain let the ramp down in water that was about 30 feet deep, 5-6 men went into the water and I’m sure drowned because of the heavy filed packs, ammunition, etc, they were carrying.  As soon as those in front saw what was happening they called out: "Raise the ramp" which was done but those who were trying to get out had their arms, feet, legs, hands and other parts of their bodies crushed in the ramp, which I think about 10 or 12 men. There was one officer who made it to shore, a 2nd Lieutenant by the name of Swartz. He was what we called a 90 days wonder because they only had about 4 weeks of training before being shipped over to England to join our Division. He was killed that afternoon. H-Hour was at 06:30 when we landed on the beach at Omaha Dog Green, which we later referred to it as Omaha Bloody Red because of the blood shed from killed, dying and wounded men, mostly young boys like myself. We jumped into the water which was about level with my mouth and tried to make it to shore which was a real struggle. We were so exhausted from being seasick we just wanted to lie on the sand to recover. The beach where we landed was about 1000 yards to the north of where we were supposed to land. There were lots of tanks, bulldozers, trucks, jeeps and bodies in and out the water.

One of the boys in my squad (Lambert) was assigned to cut the barbed wire entanglement on the beach so we could get through. He was shot through the heart and of course died within seconds. Our Battalion Commander, Colonel Canham, crawled up and took the wire cutter from his hand and proceeded to cut the wire. He was shot through the wrist and a medic bandaged him and he then shouted : “All of you who want to die stay where you are and those who want to live follow me.” We followed him (Colonel Canham) up under the cliffs where the Germans were firing at us from their machine gun emplacements above. It was a diabolic carnage. They had us pinned down, trenches, as they were firing mortars and 88’s at us.

 

Copyright: Laurent LEFEBVRE