George A. Davison
Omaha Beach - 320th AAA Barrage Balloon Battalion, VLA.
The following letter written by Sgt. George
Davison, son of Mr. and Mrs Frederick Davison, of West Franklin Street, describing
the invasion, was received by his wife, Mrs. Mary Reeves Davison and son Richard,
a few days ago. The letter was written June 14. Two other (Davison) brothers
are in the service, one in England and the other in New Guinea.
"I am writing you my first letter
since I left England. You know I told you in my letter previous to this one,
it would be some time before I would be able to write you. Well that time
has over lapsed now. I don't know whether to say I am a lucky man. You know
the war separated us for a while, but after laying in my hole in the ground
and listening to bullets go over my head bursting beside me, not more than
reaching distance away, I have come to the conclusion that there is one with
more power than the walking, would stand by me and see me home again. I have
experienced something that few have in the world because these few who hit
France before we did said it was hell. I have seen things happen worse than
things in the World War.
I don't know how much they will allow me
to write in this letter, but I came to France just a few hours after the first
ones. I am in good health and condition. I don't have a scratch on me. I have
been to church and Sunday School and asked forgiveness of everything I ever
done to anyone and prayed. There was not a moment that I was not thinking
about everyone back home. All sorts of thoughts came through my mind. After
I had secured myself firmly in the ground like a ground hog. I felt a little
bit better. I could write page after page of about what happened. Probably
it would be cut out, but nevertheless I will have lots to tell when I get
home. I hope that won't be too long. You can realize how much it means to
one when they are living the life I am. A dinner of beans would taste like
turkey to me. Write me and tell me what went on in the States and at home
on the day of Invasion. Well, ours was a day of ducking bullets and anything
that would kill a man. I an still trying to take care of myself. They told
us not to keep any diary of anything that went on at this time.
I know they must have been worried about me. Tell them I am thankful and still
carrying my old nick name of "Stuff".
I hope I shall see you and Ritchie and you all soon."
The following Stars and Stripes article
by Allan Morrison tells of the Unit my father, George Davison, was with but
does not list the Unit by name. The Unit was 320th AAA Barrage Balloon Battalion,
VLA (Very Low Altitude).
"Balloon Umbrella Raised on D-Day Has Sheltered the Beachheads Since"
by Allan Morrison (Stars and Stripes Staff Writer)
A U.S. BEACHHEAD, July 5---
During and since D-Day barrage balloons
flown by a Negro barrage balloon battalion have provided a screen of rubber
several miles long on the two main beachheads, assisting in the protection
of troop landings and the unloading of supplies. There are two significant
aspects of this unit's work. First, the VLA (very low altitude) balloons confounded
sceptics; their part in keeping enemy raiders above effective strafing altitude.
Second, the unit has the distinction of being the only Negro combat group
included in the first assault forces to hit the coasts. The balloons were
flown across the channel from hundreds of landing craft, three men to a balloon,
and taken ashore under savage fire from shore batteries. Some of the men died
alongside the infantryman they came in to protect, and their balloons drifted
off. But the majority struggled to shore with their balloons and light winches
and set up for operation in foxholes on the beach. The balloons still fly
as protective umbrellas, some from the sites taken under 88 fire, others snugly
established in former German pillboxes built into the cliffs and man their
balloons around the clock. The balloons are armed with a lethal device attached
to the cable. Should an enemy pilot try to fly through the barrage and strike
a cable, the device releases a "flying mine" which explodes against
the plane. The unit's first kill came recently when a JU88 ran afoul of the
cable supporting the balloon of commanded by Cpl. George Alston, of Norfolk,
Va. Pride of the battalion is a group of medics who covered themselves with
glory on D-Day by landing in the face of heavy fire to set up a first aid
station on that beach.
The men praised by the unit's CO, Lt. Col. Leon Reed, of Middleboro, Ky.,
Capt. Robert E. Devitt, Chicago, Ill.;
S/Sgt Alfred Bell, Memphis Tenn.;
Cpl. Waverly B. Woodson Jr., Philadelphia;
Cpl. Eugene Worthy, Memphis, Tenn.;
Pfc. Warren W. Capers, Kenbridge, Va.
All have been recommended for decorations."
From my father George's written account
"..........Then came the time for the business at hand, we were told
that we would be attached to the 1st Army and land with them. Also they would
be our mothers because they knew what the score was they had been through
the Italy Campaign and had landed or made a beach there. We were to ask them
anything that might puzzle us because they were already told to help us any
way possible we were Greene Troups. They did just that, on my boat there was
1 Balloon crew and myself and one other colored soldier, we ask a lot of questions.
And we were answered promptly and kindly. These men of the 1st Army were of
the best group of men I had come in contact with any where. The ones with
the Western Southern or New England accent, it didn't make any difference
they were all the same........
.........As a truck went down the ramp, I grabbed on to the racks and this
truck went out of sight so I let go of the truck racks thinking to myself
I'll try and make it on my own, I can swim and that vehicle might keep me
down for some reason in that deep water. So there I am in that water, with
to much weight, so I shrugged my shoulders and off went my musette bag.........
.......all the time this was happening the enemy was putting down a steady
stream of cross fire, we were let off in to deep waters. I believe the Lord
was on my side because if he would have let just one of those tracers hit
those 105 Hw shells it would have been all over. You could have taken the
skillet off the stove cause the gas would have been gone!"
Sgt Davison was onboard an LCT, # 608.
George died 01 Oct 2002 at the age of 80 years. I heard him say little about
the D-Day Invasion but as I look at his photos and read his words about that
day in June, it was an experience that greatly affected his life.
This story is published with the permission of George
A. Davison's Son : William A. Davison.