Men of D-Day


    
 Troop Carrier
Michael N. Ingrisano
Robert E. Callahan
Benjamin F. Kendig
John R. Devitt
Arthur W. Hooper
Ward Smith
Julian A. Rice
Charles E. Skidmore
Sherfey T. Randolph
Louis R. Emerson Jr.
Leonard L. Baer
Robert D. Dopita
Harvey Cohen
Zane H. Graves
John J. Prince
Henry C. Hobbs
John C. Hanscom
Charles S. Cartwright
 
 82nd Airborne
Leslie Palmer Cruise Jr.
Marie-T Lavieille
Denise Lecourtois
Howard Huebner
Malcolm D. Brannen
Thomas W. Porcella
Ray T. Burchell
Robert C. Moss
Richard R. Hill
Edward W. Shimko
 
 101st Airborne
John Nasea, Jr
David 'Buck' Rogers
Marie madeleine Poisson
Roger Lecheminant
Dale Q. Gregory
George E. Willey
Raymond Geddes
 
 Utah Beach
Joseph S. Jones
Jim McKee
Eugene D. Shales
Milton Staley
 
 Omaha Beach
Melvin B. Farrell
James R. Argo
Carl E. Bombardier
Robert M. Leach
Joseph Alexander
James Branch
John Hooper
Anthony Leone
George A. Davison
James H. Jordan
Albert J. Berard
Jewel M. Vidito
H. Smith Shumway
Louis Occelli
John H. Kellers
Harley A. Reynolds
John C. Raaen
Wesley Ross
Richard J. Ford
William C. Smith
Ralph E. Gallant
James W. Gabaree
James W. Tucker
Robert Watson
Robert R. Chapman
Robert H. Searl
Leslie Dobinson
William H. Johnson
 
 Gold Beach
George F. Weightman
Norman W. Cohen
Walter Uden
 
 Juno Beach
Leonard Smith
 
 Sword Beach
Brian Guy
 
 6th Airborne
Roger Charbonneau
Frederick Glover
Jacques Courcy
Arlette Lechevalier
Charles S. Pearson
 
 U.S.A.A.F
Harvey Jacobs
William O. Gifford
 
Civils
Philippe Bauduin
Albert Lefevre
René Etrillard
Suzanne Lesueur
 

 

Jacques Courcy
Bréville les Monts - Calvados

I was 7 and ½ years old in June of 1944, and we lived in the lower area of Breville, where I have always lived. At this time, there were many bombings on Merville, where there were non-movable gun batteries in clear sight that had been built by the Germans to cover a possible invasion of the nearby beaches.
On June 4th, we were forced to leave our home - my Dad feared for our safety - there was a central communications blockhouse just 300 meters from the house. He was fearful, since this had not been bombed, and he took us to the Saint-Côme Castle.
We moved there into some unused horse stalls, while the castle itself was occupied by the Germans, just as the important houses and places like 'le Belvedere' in Breville were also occupied by the Germans.
Except the intense bombing of Merville, we never suffered from the preparation of a great and large operation. On the other hand, the night of June 5th became a night of enormous and continuous noise.

My Dad and other adults went out into the night, and were quite satisfied. A glider had landed in a hedgerow just 200 meters from our location. The pilot was seriously wounded. My Dad and his friends took him out of the glider, and hid him on an embankment. The women then went and cared for the pilot, and took him food. The next morning he had disappeared.

Afterwards, we saw soldiers that appeared to be on patrol, whom were English soldiers, with blackened faces, and branches on their helmets. As they passed the livestock outbuildings, they became visible, which had an odd effect on me.
We also saw German patrols that were being directed from the castle located in the 'Bas de Breville'. Between Breville and Gonneville were the advanced German lines, where there was lots of weaponry - cannons and all sorts of materials.

On the day of June 6th, we, the kids, remained hidden in the outbuildings of the castle while my Dad left to find food for everyone. He was gone the whole day and didn't return until the night of June 6 to June 7th, because of the combat taking place. On June 7th, an English patrol commanded by Lieutenant Christie of the 9th Para came and asked my Dad if he had seen a glider land near to the castle. Dad took them to the place where two gliders had landed so they could recover materials. However, the English paratroopers were caught by a German patrol that was passing on bicycles, but fortunately suffered no harm.

At the entrance to Breville, in a small woods, there was a German gun battery that overlooked the Saint-Côme Castle. The English Commandos took this assault battery during the attack on Breville.

The castle was destroyed after having received an artillery hit in the front. It was alternatively occupied by others that followed the attacks and counter-attacks. After each attack, the English returned to refuge at Amfreville.

Every day my Dad went out to look for food or to help the English soldiers. It was necessary to find eggs, milk, and other things to eat. We were 20 refugees at this place. We always remained in the livestock outbuildings, but it a bit tranquil, in spite of the fighting going on around us. No one fired on us. The principal activity was at the castle - the livestock outbuildings were only an annex, and what the English wanted to do was to dislodge the German officers that occupied the castle. Along with what the English had accomplished in other places, they then wanted to occupy this castle, as it was a strategic point, just like the church steeple in Breville.

We stayed at the castle until the 12th or 13th of June. After these events, we left the castle, and set out for Breville. The field that led to the Godard Farm was a place that was the clash of English paratroopers and a German patrol. My Dad took a checkered handkerchief and attached it to a stick - both forces stopped shooting, and we passed through the middle of the field and between the two forces. For the anecdote, it was necessary for me to attend a 1984 celebration of the 40th year since the Normandy invasion to become acquainted with one of the English soldiers from that scene. This soldier, nicknamed "Spike", (18 years old at that time) was part of the group that was fighting in the field. He has remained my unfailing friend.
The village of Breville was completely wrecked, except for the town hall and the "Belvedere". We continued towards the "Bas de Breville" and the house, but this area was yet secure and my Dad decided to continue to the town of Dozule.
We recuperated a cart and horse, and the dozen kids rode in the cart while the adults walked along side. A mattress above the cart protected us from possible shrapnel from an artillery shell.
We went to Goustranville, but the bridge had been destroyed by the battalion Spike named earlier, and the Germans had reconstructed a bridge using small boats. During our passage an Allied plane strafed the bridge and soldiers located at Alentours. The horse bolted, and we all fell into the water. My hand was crushed between the cart and a boat. The German soldiers recuperated parts of people desecrated by the strafing, and they made a splint for my hand from bandages.
We arrived at Dozule, and the road that led to Rouen, where there was a German military hospital that would treat us. We were then greeted at Dozule by Mr. Auguste Lelaurier.
We then departed Dozule towards Drubec to take a rest. We tried to go by ambulance, but the ambulance was strafed. The mayor requisitioned a cart to help us make our way to Bonneville la Louvet, to the home of Mr. Noel, before continuing towards Vannecrocq, where our cousin lived.

During a stop to rest at the Chapelle Bayvel, we were in a house, and in the adjacent barn, there were 20 wounded Germans. Then came some inquisitive Canadians who came to see who was there. Upon discovery of the wounded and dead Germans, the Canadians transported them to a crossroads before continuing their advance.

At Vannecrocq, we were at a large farm, and, from time to time, some of the French Resistance came during the night to obtain fresh supplies. One day, a fighter plane was hit, and we saw the pilot bail out. He descended by parachute and landed near the farm. My Dad and three of his friends went to help him, and hid his parachute. They then hid the pilot in a haystack located in the corner of the wall. Germans arrived to search for the pilot; they probed the haystack with their bayonets, but since it was a thick haystack, the pilot remained unscathed. My Dad then contacted the local French Resistance, and they came and got the pilot, but I do not know what became of him.
This occurred sometime before mid-August.

We returned to our house at the end of August. The chaos was long. The wardrobe doors had served as roofs over the trenches, and the walls and windows of the house had taken many artillery rounds. The house was a wreck.

Jacques Courcy     (October 28, 2003)

Translation from French by Thad J. Russell