As a child going through the suit case, handling the artifacts, I could sense momentous events, Germans and Americans, horror and death. The Nazi wallets were stuffed with personal pictures of handsome young German soldiers posing with friends, family and sweethearts. This impressed on me the reality of war. These dead Germans were human beings, and I could feel a certain empathy for them while still hating their cause. But if somebody had to die, I thought, better them than us. We didn't start this war.
|Uncle Theo? (Sitting)|
Looking at many pictures of D-Day, however, I get an impression that it was rainy and wet. It was a massive logistics operation, moving men, weapons, supplies and machines onto Normandy Beach. LST's, a small ship with doors that opened in the bow, pushed their noses up close to the beach. A special bridge built by British engineers provided the runway from the LST bows to the beach. The LST's opened their large doors and expelled tanks, trucks, jeeps, artillery and long lines of troops. Funny to think that 70 years have passed since that great undertaking -- a lifetime ago.
|LSTs Unloading Men, Weapons and Machines|
Normandy Beach, June 1944
(Click to see full size)
My father wrote to my uncle, who was at that time "somewhere in France," sending him a clipping of the photo, and asking if it were him. I still have his letter in response, a letter headed "In France" and dated August 17, 1944. He wrote "About the clipping you sent [the answer] is yes, but I probably could give no details now. You see, this division has been under rigid censorship for two years, being an arm'd [armored] division." However, Unc is facing away from the camera, so we will never be able to prove it (but dang, it sure looks like him to me). That's the photo above.
As the allied troops moved off the beaches and into the French interior, my uncle went with them, winning both a Bronze Star and a Silver Star for tending the wounded under heavy small arms and artillery fire, near Carentan, France. He also won his second Purple Heart prior to the Battle of the Bulge (the first was in Sicily), when he was wounded and sent back to England to recover.
The Coast of Normandy as It Looks Today:
The American Cemetery is to the right, the last resting place for those who died on the beaches.
|Some of the Artifacts Brought Back From Normandy|
by My Uncle Theo, Pvt, 2nd Armored Division
I will make a second post of some of the pictures that my uncle found in wallets of fallen Nazi soldiers during the Normandy invasion. These pictures, except for Alfred Schmid, have not been published anywhere before.
See post below this one for those pictures.