First person: D-Day + 15 on Omaha Beach by Sid Birns

By Sid Birns on June 3, 2014

The port of embarkation in the south of England was wet and mudddy.  No matter where you looked, all you could see were soldiers going in and out of tents surrounded by all kinds of equipment that would be used once we landed in Normandy.

The invasion force was in front of us having landed on June 6th, 1944, D-Day. The invasion of Fortress Europe was on and we were waiting our turn to board the landing craft.

The order finally came and we started boarding late in the afternoon with full field packs and rifles. I was carrying a .30 calibre carbine.  By the time we were all on board, it was dark. We pulled out to take our place in the invasion line. The boat came to a full stop in the English channel waiting its turn to proceed across the channel to land in France on the beaches of Normandy.

The landing craft didn't have any kind of bunks so we all lay down on the flat bottom of the boat and used our packs as pillows.  At one point there was a sudden bang and scraping sound. We had collided with another landing craft. We found out that one of our platoon commanders had been on deck and was at the collision point and ended up with a broken leg.  He was taken off the boat and sent to the hospital.   The collision occured because no lights were on any of the landing craft. Blackout was mandatory. 

The next morning we had to leave this boat and switch to another landing craft. Even though we were anchored, the boat rocked and rolled and sea sickness began to take over.  Once one started to throw up, the domino effect took over and many of us went up on deck to get fresh air in the hopes that it would keep us from throwing up again. It didn't.

Birns_DD.jpgWhen daylight finally came we could see  all the other landing craft waiting and probably going through the same kind of 'hell' we were now experiencing.  For three days we stayed in position, just waiting and throwing up.No one could eat, all we knew was that we wanted to get off this damned boat.During this time, it seems the only person not sea sick was the cook who was on the back of the boat cooking and serving food for anyone who had the desire to eat. I didn't see anyone even moving in that direction.

Finally as dawn broke on the fourth day, we started our trip across the channel. The seas were  very rough, the English channel showed no mercy. We were still sea sick. When we finally hit the beach and the order to disembark came,  we didn't walk down the gangway on the side of the landing craft, we  ran and as soon  as some of the guys hit the beach they got down on their knees and kissed the ground.

We assembled on the beach and  headed towards a break in the hills in front of us. Obviously, the fighting had moved  inland and we were following the same path. Once we were off the beach  we moved onto an open road and the first sign we saw was the sign to St. Mere E'glise.  We had landed on Omaha beach, D+15. 

June 6, 2014 will be the 70th anniversary of D-Day, there aren't too many of us left. In a few more years the memory of WWII will be nothing more than history books. I hope by that time, there will be peace in the world and we will be headed towards economic stability and maybe, just maybe, WWII will not have been fought in vain.


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