WITH AMERICAN FORCES IN FRANCE (AP) — This story was first revealed on June eight, 1944, after AP journalist Don Whitehead, who grew to become recognized by his colleagues as “Beachhead Don,” landed on Omaha Seaside in Normandy on D-Day with the first Infantry Division. His story was delayed by greater than a day because the Military’s communication system for the battle correspondents broke down, and journalists weren’t in a position to get the information out for greater than 28 hours. The AP is republishing Whitehead’s authentic report back to mark the 75th anniversary of the assault that started the liberation of France and Europe from German occupation, resulting in the top of World Battle II.
Preventing as American troops did in Tunisia, Sicily and Italy, doughboys have smashed via the outer crust of Hitler’s fortress in a gallant show of braveness and talent.
By no means earlier than has a military tried to land such huge numbers of males and supplies in such a short while, however the job is being carried out after a shaky begin.
Once we landed behind the assault troops the enemy nonetheless was pouring a heavy machine-gun mortar and artillery fireplace into the boats as they drove ashore and had our troops pinned behind a gravel financial institution simply above the water’s edge.
Provides Pile Up
Troops, provides and automobiles started to pile up on the seashore at an alarming fee. The enemy managed the exits with correct fireplace and the time schedule was being disrupted.
One unexpected issue right here was that three recent regiments of German infantry moved onto the seashore space simply earlier than the touchdown for anti-invasion maneuvers. They had been sitting of their positions when the armada arrived offshore.
However below the urging of a soft-spoken brigadier common the organized enemy positions had been silenced and the nice surge inland started.
Within the matter of some hours the engineers had roads constructed from the seashore and heavy gear was pouring throughout.
Alongside the seashores had been underwater boundaries, barbed wire, emplacements, concrete homes with 88-mm. weapons protecting the seashore approaches. The partitions of homes had been of bolstered concrete 4 to 6 ft thick,
200 yards from the seashore on the aspect of a steep financial institution the Germans had constructed one strong-point and had one other below building. This blockhouse was about 15 ft sq. with one opening via which was poked the snout of an 88-mm. gun.
Behind the thick partitions had been circumstances of ammunition, Behind the blockhouse the gun crew had tunneled into the aspect of the hill and put in dwelling quarters.
Two younger Germans had been presupposed to man the weapon however they had been in quarters when the naval bombardment started and a shell ripped squarely via the gun port.
They ran out of their tunnel and hid below a bridge the place Lieut. Carl W. Oelze, Cleveland, discovered them and took them prisoner. One was 17 years previous and the opposite 18 and each stated they had been glad the invasion had come and that they had been prisoners as they didn’t need to battle anyway.
On the opposite aspect of the draw was the same place and additional inland above the exit from the seashore was one other concrete blockhouse with its 88-gun pointing down the method.
The prisoners coming again to the rear seemed quite small and scrawny. They seemed with surprise on the greater and stronger American boys and their tremendous gear.
Throughout the night time German snipers infiltrated our traces and made life uncomfortable. The troops had been moist from wading via the surf and the bedding of most troops was misplaced in automobiles swamped on the seashore.
Basic is Calm
Huge weapons of our warships are standing offshore and belching flame and smoke. Small craft are shuttling troops and weapons to the strip of seashore. Huge bulldozers are gouging out a street.
Alongside the seashore are nonetheless the khaki-clad our bodies of boys who gave their lives within the United Nations bid to crush German’s armed may. However there weren’t so many as I had anticipated to see, and I patrolled this strip from finish to finish.
Canadians reported that German parachute troops had been being dropped on a small scale behind Allied traces.
American parachutists took one village.
In my books a lot credit score goes to the tall lean brigadier common who confirmed absolute disregard for his personal security in organizing his troops and getting them transferring inland.
I can not title him. However I can title the cool calm lieutenant who stayed by his aspect throughout the entire time. He was Robert J. Riekse of Battle Creek, Mich.
Eight hours after touchdown, not a single enemy airplane made an look over our seashore.
Wounded Man Topples Over
We had waded ashore to the rattle of machine weapons and the bursting of shells.
A soldier driving on the rear of a “duck” on the water edge behind me abruptly gave a startled cry and toppled into the water. A medic dragged him to the seashore and handled a wound in his thigh.
Wounded males, drenched by chilly water, lay in gravel, some with water washing over their legs, shivering and ready for stretcher bearers to take them aboard returning small craft.
“Oh, God, let me aboard a ship,” whimpered one youth in semi-delirium. Close to him a shivering youth dug with naked fingers into gravel.
Shells Burst all Round
Shells burst on all sides of us, some so shut they threw black water and grime over us in showers. They smacked into water across the boats, however in all of the shelling I noticed just one boat hit and she or he pulled out below her personal energy.
An A. E. F. sergeant, William McFadden, Olean, N.Y., stated, “I used to be dam*ed glad to get onto the seashore, and I will be glad to get off.”
A runner got here from an advance unit bearing a message for the overall. He was John P. Foley, Trenton, N.J.
Though nicked by a bullet over one eye, Foley got here via enemy fireplace to hold an necessary message which resulted within the common sending reinforcements to a sure sector.
“You have carried out a tremendous job, lieutenant,” stated the overall, “and proven nice initiative and logic.”
Then the overall started working to get troops off the seashore. It was jammed with males and automobiles. He despatched a gaggle to the precise flank to assist clear out the enemy firing immediately on the seashore. Quietly he talked to the lads, suggesting the following transfer.
The Military’s communication system for correspondents accompanying American troops broke down utterly and for greater than 28 hours we had been unable to get information out. The general public relations officer introduced a radio ashore early among the many assault waves, however it was put aboard a jeep which he was unable to seek out till the following day.
There was presupposed to be a system of couriers to take correspondents’ dispatches from the seashore to ships, however there have been no couriers.
My first article was handed to a litter bearer who stated he would attempt to get it to a management ship which has a courier service.
We had been much more bitterly upset once we turned on the radio and heard a B.B.C. report from British correspondents accompanying British troops. Their communications apparently functioned nicely.