Saturday, June 6, 2009

I Watched Our Planes . . .

. . . Roar From Crookham Common

This morning at 1:20 a.m. , 65 years ago, I woke to the sound of airplanes roaring on the airfield above our Hut Camp in Thatcham, England.

Rising along with the other guys in Hut 12, I went outside and watched
as plane after plane towing gliders filled with soldiers - including my Taunton friends Joe Cananzey, Bob Sullivan, Bill Garvin and Bobby Dumont , all paratroopers and all "temporary" neighbors - streaking away to the east, the general direction of France.

D-Day. We'd been expecting it. Weather had delayed it a couple times. We looked toward our kitchen hut. The cooks were busy. Breakfast so soon?

First Sergeant Brill strode over to us saying: "Dress in fatigues, eat quickly, check your weapons, you're heading for Southampton. Board the trucks at 0300."

By dawn we were at the port, loading supplies, including our Bailey Bridges, on a second round of supply ships following the already-gone shiploads of combat troops - probably including Lady B's Jack - all heading for the Normandy, Omaha and Utah beaches on France's Coast, a couple hours across the English Channel.

We took a brief break from loading as an officer shouted "Tenshun," and then "line up." Minutes later a tall figure with stars on his shoulders walked the line in the fog of the morning, saying to each soldier, "thanks for helping, God bless us all" - General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Later we all heard on the radio a solemn announcement by Sir Winston Churchill that the war to liberate Europe and save the world had commenced.

Then followed General Eisenhower's "Order of the Day":

"Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

"You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months.

"The eyes of the world are upon you. The hope and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world."

The order went on, ending with:

"Good luck. And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking."

You can reflect on the subsequent years of conflict today, tomorrow and remember those who died trying to resolve it all - and then pray again that world conflict still existing will someday cease forever.

- 30 -


  1. Quite a juxtaposition...the San Diego affair noted yesterday, and the fresh memory today of what that kind of thing led to just 65 years ago. This country has a short memory sometimes.