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
 

 

  Roger Lecheminant
Houesville - Manche

I was 20 years old in 1944. We were farmers and lived at Houesville, in the region called the Manche. Living conditions were difficult. We had some cows that gave us milk, and we made butter that we traded the nearby baker for bread. We traded for all sorts of things, and this is how we survived.

Since 1942, I was recruited to work for the Todt Organization, and was employed to work on the construction of German bunkers at Cherbourg. The city was bombarded, and I ran away one time, but the Germans came and arrested my father. I was obligated to then return to Cherbourg to stand before the Germans. They made me sign a document that stated I was to be considered a deserter of the German Army. Initially, they thought for a moment of sending me to work in Germany, but finally decided that I would stay and work there.
I was sent to Fort Roule, where we dug a tunnel under the fort, which housed large artillery guns that moved on rails so that they could be used when needed, and then stored.
At the time that we worked for the Germans, and were paid 48 Francs per day, also receiving a small portion of bread, 40 grams of sausage, and 40 grams of butter, and stayed in the South America Hotel in Cherbourg, in which 40 workers shared one room, sleeping on bunk beds.
There were also some Russian women who worked with us. They were at the coastal train station to unload cement from the arriving trains. In the evening, they made the crossing between the train station and the hotel escorted by German guards, were required to carry a stone on their heads, and were not allowed to speak.
Towards the end of May, the bombings intensified and this made things very unpleasant. The planes flew low over Cherbourg and strafed the city, while the German flak guns blazed away. In some cases, the flak guns mounted up on the mountains did more damage to the houses and chimneys than to the planes. I fled a second time, and this time they didn't find me. I decided to flee with a friend, and we spent nine hours on foot to go from Cherbourg to Houesville, taking only the backroads. I hid near to our farm, and, as events unraveled, the Germans never returned to get me.

At the beginning of the month of June, there was an increase in aerial activity, and we saw numerous observation aircraft. I thought that something was brewing, but did not know precisely what. My uncle said to me "If ever there is an invasion by the English here, say to them: Be Welcome". I have always remembered these words.

On the evening of June 5th, when night fell, we saw the first planes. They flew at a low altitude and dropped the first paratroopers. The amount of planes intensified during the night, and we found paratroopers throughout, at Blosville, Houesville, and Angoville. Parachutes of all colors were then seen strewn about, the nylon and cords hooked onto various objects.
We all remained at the farm, and didn't move all night. We heard machinegun fire, explosions, and saw flares illuminate the sky. We didn't sleep at all that night, and, a bit later, planes arrived towing gliders, which then landed around Hiesville. At dawn, paratroopers came to the farm and knocked on the door, asking the location of the Germans. They spent a moment in the farm's courtyard before leaving, and were part of the 101st Airborne Division.
The next morning, some of the animals were out in the fields next to the farm, and I went out to care for them. The hedgerows were filled with paratroopers, and they asked me where the Germans were. We were young and unaware, and walked everywhere out in the country.
During morning, the Germans, whom were holed up in the pastures, tried to escape through the areas that they had flooded . I found myself on the border of the flooded area, and I saw some American paratroopers arrive. I pointed out the escaping Germans to them, and the paratroopers fired some shots around them, without hitting them. The Germans turned around and returned, with their hands in the air. The paratroopers took them and returned to the village, and, upon arrival, shot them, leaving their bodies in the ditch.

The village Houesville had been liberated on the morning of June 6th, and only a few Germans remained that had tried to hold the town any way they could. Impossible for them was the crossing of the flooded area and three rivers.

During the weeks following the D-Day invasion, I had the habit of going for a walk on the road that went to the Grand Vey at the Madeleine. The sea was covered with ships, and the amphibious ducks were shuttling materials from the ships to the beach. I went down and took a walk along the beach; I should've paid attention to the military police, as they did not trust just anyone.

At Houesville, the mayor housed an American officer. This officer was in charge of handling the mail, and went back and forth by jeep to the beach where he met a small, fast boat that carried the mail to and from England. One day, the mayor's son and I went along with him down to the beach.
While he was delivering mail, we went for a walk on the beach. The military police came and took us to a tent set up in the dunes. After having discussed with them for about an hour, they took us by boat to England - the region of Southampton. The sea was covered with boats ready to depart. During this time, the American officer had located us - I don't know how he did this, but the following day we made the return trip to France. The American officer was waiting for us on the beach with his jeep. While we were returning to the house, my parents offered him a brass lamp that he took with him.

I then worked for the Americans, who employed us to assemble prefabricated hangars. This work lasted for about four months, and this helped us greatly because there was no other work in our area.

Roger Lecheminant     (January 29, 2004)

Translation from French by Thad J. Russell