St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri on June 5, 1994 · Page 79
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri · Page 79

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Sunday, June 5, 1994
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SUNDAY, JUNb b, 1994 ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH 3 -Day emones A Car, A Child, A Letter, A Rapidly Beating Heart M June Leiber Norman ofAffion was a bride of three months: My husband was stationed at Scott Field, and we lived with my mother in south St. Louis. My husband spent so much time riding the bus between Belleville and south St. Louis that we decided to buy our first car. On the morning of June 6, we bought a 1929 Chevrolet coupe; later that day, when we heard of the invasion, we decided to name the car "D-Day." We drove "D-Day." for 10 months, until my husband was shipped out, and then we sold it to my sister, who drove it for another year. I can't remember much about the cars I have owned since then, but I'll never forget "D-Day." Homer Poss of Highland was a soldier in the 82nd Airborne Division: On June 6, 1944, at approximately 2:30 a.m., I was dangling from a parachute over Normandy, France. You were interested in incidents that were "poignant," "humorous," "offbeat" and "sorrowful." Add to your list any emotion you want. I experienced them all that day. IflfiUfi&Wl PS,, i i Ml I i i -J. ' . i ' yKi LT s: ; , xj t- -4 s; X. . ! o - :S ,,..1.w. v v. NAMESAKE! ean Zifor SmiYj hjj ffo car was always called "D-Day" because her sister, June Leiber Norman, had bought it on June 6, 1944. Peggy Kramer of Town and Country, then Peggy Fay, was a junior at what is now Webster University: My family had moved in January 1944 from Huntington Drive in Normandy to North Meramec Avenue in Clayton. On June 6, when news flashes of the invasion came crackling over the airwaves, we stayed glued to the radio. A very dramatic announcer was relaying reports of the landings, the fierce fighting and the bombing in Normandy. Suddenly, my 7-year-old sister, Suzie, turned to my mom and said, "Boy, Mom, we got out of Normandy just in time!" John J. Cantillon of St. Louis spent D-Day aboard ship in the English Channel with the rest of the 2nd Armored Division: Just before the invasion, I wrote this letter to my parents: "Dear Folks, I'm censored, can't write a thing just that I'm well and sign my name. Can't tell when it's sunny, can't tell when it rains, all military secrets must secrets remain. Don't know where I'm going, don't know where I'll land; couldn't inform you if met by a band. Can't tell where we sail from, can't mention the date, and can't even remember the meal that I ate. Don't know for sure what I can do, except sign this envelope and mail it to you." Paul M. Sanders of Spanish Lake jumped into Normandy as a 22-year-old with Company A of the 82nd Airborne Division 's 505th Parachute Infantry: The day before we left, every soldier got $20 in French francs. Naturally, we started playing poker, and I didn't fare very well. It didn't matter, though. I had no place to spend it. Then we got on the planes, and I parachuted in the wee hours of the morning into a pasture near Ste.-Mere-Eglise. My first encounter after hitting the ground wasn't with the enemy. It was with a French dairy cow. I felt as if I was back home in Macedonia, 111. ,, Harry E. Eschenbrenner of Ballwin was a sergeant with the 439th Troop Carrier Group at Upottery, England: . Because radio silence was necessary (we didn't want to warn the Germans), my job was to signal the start of each takeoff, using skyrockets and flares. Our planes were scheduled to be the first to drop their loads in France. I don't know whether our wing actually dropped the first paratroopers but I've always thought it was possible that my signal actions may have started the D-Day invasion. Til r U IE ? w v i NX X i A .1 K V J I i ? 1 ..7fo (i: S2L IP Larry WilliamsPost-Dispatch PARATROOPER: Paul M. Sanders, a D-Day paratrooper, shows his decorations, including the Purple Heart and Combat Infantryman 's Badge. Ethel Cole of Lebanon, Mo., was Ethel Graham of i Washington: , , I supervised a group of girls working as clerks and stenos for the agency that operated cafeterias in the Pentagon. On D-Day, we were allowed to leave our office for an hour to go pray for a successful landing. We knelt with British sailors, French sailors and civilians of all creeds and colors. On my right was a girl who had lost her father. On my left was a girl who prayed aloud for her boyfriend: "And keep him sober." Mir J,..;...,A..lvl A miUnliTii- f - Nelson A. Reed ofLadue was 18, living in St. Louis as a freshly graduated high school senior: My grandmother lived with us and would regularly rise early, get the Globe-Democrat from out front and take it to her room, all before my father came downstairs. When my grandmother thought there was no news of interest, she would say, "Nothing new on the Rialto." My father followed the war news with great intensity, and her taking the paper irritated him considerably. One morning in June 1944, she came downstairs, having left the paper in her room, and announced with her sweet if vague smile, "Nothing new on the Rialto." When the paper was ( ,' later recovered, after my father left for work, it had a headline with five-inch letters: D-DAY INVASION. (Seven months later, I made my own landing as an infantry rifleman, on the German side of the Our River in the Siegfried Line.) Karen ElshoutPost-Dispatch BUDDIES: Everett P. Schultheis served in an antiaircraft artillery unit that had four servicemen from the Lemay area. Everett P. Schultheis of Arnold was with Battery B of the Army 's 467th Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion: Our gun crew for the D-Day landing consisted of the following guys who shared the same postal code, "Lemay, 23, Mo." Charles S. Bach, Alfred T, Hoffman, Norman Tallent and me, plus Calvin Rogers of Kansas City, Kan. Charlie, Al and I were still together when we celebrated VE Day 1 1 months later, and the three of us have maintained our close relationship to ' this day. : Mike Rudanovich of St. Louis was an Army corporal whose squad was attached on D-Day to a combat engineer unit: If it had not been for the Navy, we would have lost Omaha Beach that day. And those men on the beach they were something. Practically empty-handed, and they kept going. When I say we had nothing, that's the truth. Our tanks sank in the Channel, as did the artillery. Only the ships gave us cover. The men did the rest. Bibliography The following works were used to compile these articles: Ambrose, Stephen E., The Supreme Commander (1970), a wartime biography of Eisenhower by the premiere Eisenhower scholar, and D-Day: June 6, 1944 (1994), a look at the common soldier's side of Overlord. Baldwin, Hanson, Battles Lost and Won (1966). D-Day provides a poignant chapter in the sprightly history of the war's high points. Blumenson, Martin, The Battle of the Generals (1993). An American historian argues that Allied infighting and indecision in Normandy ruined a chance to end the war right then and there. This book lionizes Patton. Also, by the same author, "A Deaf Ear To Clausewitz," in Parameters, Summer 1993. This article says Eisenhower sought to conquer ground instead of the enemy. Botting, Douglas, and the editors of Time-Life, The Second Front (1978). D-Day gets the Time-Life treatment lots of pictures, a breezy text. Boyne, Walter J Clash of Wings (1994). This history of WW II in the air makes the point that only air superiority made D-Day possible. Bradley, Omar, with Blair, Clay, A General's Life (1983). Bradley's second autobiography, often bitter, always revealing. Calvocoressi, Peter, et al., Total War (revised edition, 1989). A deep, literate look by a team of Britons at the entire war. Cawthon, Charles, "D-Day: What It Meant," in American Heritage, AprilMay 1994. A historian argues persuasively that D-Day proved decisive long after war's end. Chalfont, Alun, Montgomery of Alamein (1976). A brief and tart biography by a British historian, with special attention to personalities and their impact on coalition warfare. Churchill, Winston S., Closing the Ring (1951) and Triumph and Tragedy (1953). Readers can almost hear Churchill's eloquent frustration at having Overlord override his Mediterranean approach to defeating Germany. D-Day Museum, Portsmouth, D-Day (undated). Among other things, this slick booklet offers photos of D-Day's leaders, weaponry even its shoulder patches. D'Este, Carlo, Decision in Normandy (1983). This American historian takes Montgomery to task, severely. Drez, Ronald J. (editor), Voices of D-Day (1994). Snippets of oral history from those who there on June 6, 1944. Dupuy, R.E., and Dupuy, T.N., The Encyclopedia of Military History (1977). D-Day in context, with World War II and with the entire history of war. Dupuy, T.N., A Genius for War (1977). Why was the German army so damned good? Mostly leadership, says this American military historian. Eisenhower Foundation, D-Day: The Normandy Invasion in Retrospect (1971). Essays by various experts take the long-range look at such topics as logistics. Ellis, John, Brute Force (1990). The war as an exercise in the statistics of industrial might. Hamilton, Nigel, Master of the Battlefield (1983). This is Volume II in a three-volume set of Montgomery worship. But it's invaluable for its inside detail. Harrison, Gordon A., Cross-Channel Attack (1951). The U.S. Army's own D-Day history, warts and all. It's dry but indispensable, and its maps are wonderful. Hastings, Max, Overlord: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy (1984). A Briton examines what he calls "some unpalatable truths" about the Normandy campaign. Hoyt, Edwin P., The Invasion Before Normandy (1985). The dress-rehearsal massacre at Slapton Sands and the lessons it taught the Allies. Jutras, Philippe, Operation Overland (undated). This pamphlet, put together by an expatriate American who runs the Airborne Museum in Ste.-Mere-Eglise, is a statistical mother lode. Keegan, John, Six Armies in Normandy (1982). An eloquent Briton studies the Americans, Canadians, Britons, Germans, Poles and French who fought the battle. Longmate, Norman, The G.l.'s (1975). A warm, affectionate look at the social impact of the American Gl on wartime Britain. Maule, Henry, Normandy Breakout (1977). A detailed look at the British army's travail in the fighting for Caen. McDonough, John, "The Longest Night: Broadcasting's First Invasion," in The American Scholar, Spring 1994. How CBS Radio set new standards with its D-Day coverage. Ruppenthal, R.G., Utah Beach to Cherbourg (1947, reprinted 1990). The Army's own history, minutely detailed and splendidly mapped. Ryan, Cornelius, The Longest Day (1959). Despite its limited scope, it's still the most readable popular history of D-Day itself. Stokesbury, James L, A Short History of World War II (1980). Brief, pithy and fun to, read. Taylor, Charles H., Omaha Beachhead (1946, reprinted 1989) The Army's own official history of the landing, with all its foul-ups, frustration and gallantry. Weigley, Russell F., Eisenhower's Lieutenants (1981) and The American Way of War (1973). The former offers keen insights into the campaign for northwestern Europe; the latter tells why the Americans fought it the way they did. Weinberg, Gerhard L., A World At Arms (1994). This long slog of a book covers the war as a geopolitical struggle; its chapters on Normandy sum up the issues nicely. Wilmot, Chester, The Struggle for Europe (1952). The first of the popular histories and one that argues the British point of view. Young,. Brig. Peter, ed., The World Almanac Book of World War II (1981). Its chronology keeps an untidy war in order. Eisenhower Center Seeks D-Day Stories If you 're a veteran ofD-Day, your story can become a part of the big historical picture. As m ilitary h istorian Stephen E. Ambrose notes in his new book, "D-Day: June 6, 1944," 'the Eisenhower Center in New Orleans is collecting "oral histories and written memoirs, artifacts and wartime letters, from the men of D-Day, from all services and nations, so long as there are survivors. " They will be stored in the archives of the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans. For instructions on preparing individual histories, veterans can write to the Eisenhower Center in care of the University of New Orleans, New Orleans, La. 70148. Area Paratrooper Hung In There One of D-Day's best-known soldiers is buried today in his hometown of . Metropolis, III. But a bit of him remains behind in Normandy hanging from a church steeple. The soldier was John Steele, who jumped into Normandy as an airborne infantryman with the 82nd Airborne Division. His unit's objective was the village of Ste.-Mere-Eglise and Steele, then 21, jumped right into the middle ofafirefight. As he twisted his chute to avoid a burning building, his parachute snagged on the steeple of the village church. Unable to free himself, he played possom until the fighting ebbed. Those who have seen the movie "The Longest Day " may recall Steele as the character played by Red Buttons. After the war, Steele became an accountant and first settled in Indianapolis. In 1958, he moved to North Carolina. There, on May 21, 1964, cancer took his life at the Veterans Administration hospital in Fayetteville just outside the gates of Fort Bragg, the home of his beloved 82nd Airborne. Steele went back home to Metropolis for burial at Masonic Cemetery on North Avenue. But to this day, the church in Ste.- Mere-Eglise has a mannequin dressed like the GI Steele, hanging from a snagged parachute on its steeple of gray stone. tr

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