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
Harvey Jacobs
William O. Gifford
Philippe Bauduin
Albert Lefevre
René Etrillard
Suzanne Lesueur
Marie Thierry


Melvin B. Farrell
Omaha Beach - 2nd Platoon, Company B, 121st Engineer Combat Battalion

About 1:00 in the morning of June 6th we were awakened, those who could sleep that is, and had chow consisting of toast and G.I. coffee. At 1:30 A.M. the order came through to board the smaller Landing Craft, "LCM's" as they were called, and at a given signal were to rendezvous for the frontal assault on Normandy Beach. These boats were large enough to accommodate a full platoon, 41 men, combat gear and all, and had a ramp in front which the operator could lower to allow fast exit.

Ours was the 2nd Platoon, Company B 121st Engineer Combat Battalion and was scheduled to be the lead of spearhead because of the nature of our mission.

This mission was to demolish a masonry wall about four feet high and four feet thick that ran parallel to the water's edge so that the Tank forces could get in. Every man of us in the 2nd Platoon carried 40-Lb. satchel charges of TNT for this purpose plus one 7 foot bangalore torpedo and full field pack, rifle, etc.

A few yards from the beach was a barbed wire entanglement that we would encounter before getting to the wall. The bangalore torpedoes were for the purpose of cutting huge holes through those obstacles.

I had been on the English Channel at least four times before and had never seen the water so rough. It was vicious. Waves would throw the LCM up out of the water and it would slam down with a bone-breaking jar. Every man jack of us were so seasick we had regurgitated on ourselves and everyone around us by 5:00 A.M.

"H-Hour" or landing time was originally set for 6:00 A.M. This was changed, moved to 6:20 A.M. because of high tide and rough water. Our radio operator was so sick he missed the message so our "H-Hour' was still 6:00 sharp.

As we neared the beach we began to look about us. Never did I think there were so many boats and ships in the world. They were everywhere!

The Air Force had taken the paratroops in earlier in what appeared an endless stream of planes. Then about 6:00 A.M. they started bombing and strafing the beach to try and soften up the defenses. The large battlewagons behind us opened up with their big guns lobbing shells over our heads to the beach. It would seem that nothing could have withstood such a bombardment of shells and blockbusters but somehow the German personnel escaped serious injury. At least they were still very much alive and alert at 6:00 A.M.

About 200 yards out our LCM floundered, nosed up on a hidden sandbar and stuck fast. The operator seesawed back and forth but she wouldn't give. The machine gun fire rattling off the sides set up such a din of noise you could hardly think. The operator threw the ramp down and yelled, "Hit it!".

I was the 3rd man out. We three wheeled left and jumped off the side of the ramp. Machine gun fire was now raking the inside of the LCM, and a high percentage of our men were killed before they could get out.

When the first three of us jumped we landed in a shell hole and what with all the luggage we had plummeted to the bottom like a rock. We walked along the bottom until we climbed out of the hole. It seemed an eternity before we reached the surface. We were then on the barren sand but there was another stretch of water between us and the beach. This stretch contained a maze of tank traps, mines and every object the Krauts could plant to thwart a landing attempt.

It all seemed unreal, a sort of dreaming while awake, men were screaming and dying all around me. I've often wondered if all the men prayed as fervently as I did. I remember going past one of the log type tank obstacles with "legs" attached to the back end. I ran up beside it and got down as low as I could to rest a moment and find as much shelter from the hail of machine gun fire as possible. Looking over the log I discovered about half way up was a large Teller Mine with "trip" wires running in every direction. Since some of this type detonators are tension devices I knew that if a bullet cut one of those wires it would blow me to bits. But the question was how to get past? I knew I had to make it so without hesitation I angled off to the left and by the devine help of God I made it through the maze of wires with all my gear.

I suddenly found myself confronted with what seemed a mountain of rusty barbed wire. I slid the bangalore as far under as I could, cut as short a fuse as I dared, lit it and ran back about ten paces and flattened myself out on the ground. It blew a gap about twenty feet wide in the wire.

This section was under intense fire from the pillboxes that we could see on the hill. Every fifth bullet used in machine guns is a tracer, which you can see in the form of a glow. These looked so dense and crisscrossed that it is hard to believe anything could get by unscathed.

With heartbreaking slowness I arrived at the wall behind which several of our men were already waiting for us. I threw my satchel charges onto the wall and attached the lead fuse to the primacord they had already stretched and started crawling down the beach for safety from the coming explosion.

When the explosion occurred, the first wave of infantry was about a hundred yards out. At this time our initial mission was completed so we huddled behind the ragged remnants of the wall we had just blown. I turned my gaze toward the coming infantry and saw my Sergeant, Steve Kleman, not forty yards from me. He was sitting down, had been hit through both hips. I tried four times to get out to him to drag him in. Each time I left cover a hail of machine gun fire would drive me back. By this time he had been hit so many times it was hopeless.

Company B sustained 73% casualties on this landing, but lying behind the cover of the wall we could not tear our eyes off the infantry. They ran through and up the hill in a never-ending stream, the dead and dying piling up behind them. I honestly could have walked the full length of the beach without touching the ground, they were that thickly strewn about. Stark raw death in every imaginable form lay all around us. I remember a Corporal, still walking, looking for a medic, with his whole chin and nose shot away, cut cleanly and evenly.

I wonder if I shall ever be able to forget all this.

Melvin B. Farrell

These memories were published with the permission of Melvin B. Farrell's Daughter : Gail Farrell.