History and Social Networking

Okay, this is just plain cool. Someone has started up a photo account that features pictures from the Normandy invasion. These seem to be period pictures, I’m guessing from press photographers who landed on the beaches and with the invasion force during Operation Overlord.

The entire photoset can be seen here, but be warned, there are some pretty graphic shots. The account has a number of other photosets, with thousands of pictures.

I find this interesting on a couple of levels. The first, as a history geek – these are pictures that seem to me to be pretty candid of the invasion – I’m guessing that most of these weren’t staged – as some Civil War photographs have been – and show a side of the Normandy invasion that really looks past the invasion component. We see the civilians caught in the path of war here, a lot of the devastation that the war left behind, and some of the very brutal elements as well.

The second thing that makes me interested here is that this helps to illustrate how the internet is potentially changing things. I came across these pictures via random search, something that I might not have come across otherwise. Social Networking sites such as Flickr have the potential to really link up some historical content together. Imagine an interactive historical site that allows for uploads of various events, written historical content and user comments about the event. This could really bring about some interesting changes in the way that historical events are studied, researched and interpreted, especially with events that are currently happening.

I’ve posted pictures up on flickr as well – when I was working on my Normandy Project back in 2007, I uploaded my shots of the Norwich students who fought at Normandy. I’ve since taken them down because they were only up there because I had forgotten a thumb drive, but I can see the benefit of having content such as this online.

What would be facinating would be a way to look over the entire Iraq war from its beginning, and watching how opinions change over time, but also to get first hand comments from people who were there. First-hand accounts, from the moment, are extremely handy, especially without the use of hindsight and interpretation from people at the scene.

There are some obvious problems with something like this, and other user-generated content sources, such as Wikipedia, as items can be updated, but they can be updated incorrectly at the same time. At the Society for Military History conference that I attended earlier this year, this seems like it has become, and will be a very contentious issue. Thus, items such as this can only be trusted so far, as incorrect information is a really bad thing to have when doing research.

I suspect that as the internet gains even more prominance when it comes to research in the near future, this will become more of an issue, but we will also see more historical content being published via sites such as this. It should be very interesting.


Operation Overlord

Today is June 6th, the anniversary of the beginning of Operation Overlord, which began the end of the German hold on mainland Europe. It’s also been a little over a year since I traveled to Normandy and got to see it for myself with a couple highly qualified tour guides, and it’s been over a year since I finished my final paper on the Norwich Students who fought at Normandy.

The past year has marked some changes since I went abroad. Last December, the last Norwich veteran of the day, Arthur Harrington, passed away. I’ve since begun my master’s degree in Military History, largely guided by my experiences in the country. Since then, I’ve done a lot of reading on the campaign.

Studying Normandy is an incredibly complex and difficult thing to comprehend. It was one of the largest military operations in history, even through to today. Millions of Allied and Axis soldiers were involved in the operation, which successfully liberated Paris on August 25, 1944. The sheer logistics of this is mind boggling.

World War II, in my mind, is one of the wars that shouldn’t be labeled as the Last Good War, or something along those lines. I’d label it as the Last Popular War. The sheer amount of media attention on the conflict in recent years is immense, and while such information is good, it’s overwhelming at times, and popular history tends to perpetuate things, like the labeling that WWII has received. In my mind, it’s a shame that some of the other conflicts, such as Korea, World War I, and others haven’t received the same attention, as this not only draws more people to the field of history, but it also helps uncover a lot of baseline data from people who were there.

Overlord and D-Day still hold a great deal of interest to me, as it’s a fairly easy thing for me to research, study but most of all conceptualize. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to revisit my Normandy project again and continue to research what the Norwich people did there, in more detail. For that, I’ll be visiting the National Archives, which should still have the original mission reports from various units, which will give me all the information that I need.

D-Day was a success. I’ve read accounts of where people have said that it was a horrible disaster, based on how many people had perished and how long it took to push further into France. I would argue that, when you look at the War in context, and think about just how complicated the situation was, and how everything came together. There were issues, and problems during the invasion. Many people died, some needlessly, but by doing so, they helped bring an end to Hitler’s hold on Europe.

In the meantime, it’s a good time to reflect on the invasion. It’s one of the few points in history where there is a really clear tipping point in a conflict, and the successes of this operation really changed the way the world operated in and helped shape today.

Writing Slate

So, I’ve been doing a bit of independent projects with history since I’ve graduated, both centered around the history of Camp Abnaki. I started this summer with archiving a lot of the records and sorting them out in house, and from there, I embarked on two projects:

1 – Comprehensive History of Camp Abnaki. This is going to be an extremely long-term writing project, given the scope of what I’m trying to do. Rather than just writing a history paper that essentially goes from point A to B to C to D, this project is going to look at the history of Abnaki in the context of 20th century history – how major events such as the stock market crash, the first and second world wars, the cold war, outbreak of flu, the 1960s and how attitudes towards child care have been changing since 1901.
This is going to take me a long time to finish, and it’s currently on the back burner due to it’s size and due to the next project:

2 – The life of Byron Clark. This paper’s in a more complete form now, standing at 25 pages, with probably another ten or so to be written. I’ve just gotten Clark’s journal, which I’m working on translating from cursive to a regular text file. However, in order to finish this in time, I’m going to have to forgo some of the translating and pick out sections where needed. I currently have one feeler out for a presentation at a historical conference in April, and I’m hoping to get this published (it will probably need to be edited down.) I’ve also currently put out requests for editing from three PhDs that I know.

3- Norwich University and the Invasion of Normandy. This was my thesis paper for my senior year at Norwich, and while I completed it for the course, topping out at 38 pages (50 with maps and sources), I’m not at the point where this is finished for me. I need to visit the National Archives and pull unit records for various infantry and armored divisions, which I found to give incredibly detailed information on the going-ons of the campaign. This is something that I’d love to get published someday.

4 – The Class the Stars Fell On – this is going to be my next project, and I’m going to start it right after I finish with my Byron Clark Paper. I came across the reference earlier this weekend when I finished Rick Atkinson’s An Army At Dawn (FINALLY), when he mentioned that the American Military Academy (West Point) class of 1915 numbered 162 graduates. Out of that class, 59 were made general, two of them reaching the highest rank possible, five stars (Eisenhower and Bradley). Following that, there were two 4-star generals, seventy-three 3-stars, twenty four 2-stars and twenty four 1-stars. The intent it to examine what role this class played in the world following their graduation and why this class was so extraordinary – no class since has graduated as many people who obtained the rank of General. This will probably be a long project as well – possibly book length. I know that there’s a lot of information, particularly about the more visible members of the class, such as Eisenhower and Bradley, but I’m going to need to research a lot of other people, to see what they were up to. I’m excited for the prospect of this project, and I suspect that it’ll take me a bit longer than I’d like because I’ll be starting my Masters in March, although maybe this can be a part of it.

RIP – Arthur Harringon

I just received an e-letter from Norwich from the alumni office, something that they’ve recently started doing. While looking through the obituary list, I came across one name – Arthur Harrington – that I recognized.

Some of you might remember that I did my final thesis on Norwich alumni who fought at Normandy, France during D-Day. Of the 43 people that I was able to find, I was only able to speak with one, Arthur Harrington, who landed on Omaha Beach on D+0 H + 6.

He was assigned to the 5th Special Engineering Brigade, where he was tasked with linking up communications between the 1st Infantry Division and the 29th Infantry division. He landed on Easy One, under enemy fire.

D-Day was the only time that Harrington took fire. He spent the rest of the war on the beaches, tasked to another special communications group that helped coordinate communications between the various branches (Army, Army Air Corp, Navy and Coast Guard), while helping set up a port at Normandy to supply the soldiers fighting further inland.

Prior to the invasion, he was involved with the planning of Overlord by analyzing reconnaissance photographs to help place equipment. Just before that, he was stationed in Iceland.

When I spoke with him a little under a year ago, he was happy to speak with me about my work, and about his role in the invasion. He told me then that he would not likely live to see the school again, and sent me a package of some papers relating to D-Day for the library’s special collections. I mailed him a copy of my final paper, and never heard back from him again. I gathered that he was fairly active where he lived in North Carolina. He was 89 years old.

His official obituary can be found here.

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. Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped, and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely….The free men of the world are marching together to victory. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory. Good luck, and let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.” ~General Dwight D. Eisenhower giving the D-Day order on June 6, 1944.

Sixty-Three years ago, 43 Norwich University alumni were fighting or preparing to fight as part of the first combined allied actions in France. On this day, Major Bill McNamara, NU ’36, Lieutenant Thurber Raymond, NU ’41, and Lt. Colonel Carroll Stowell, NU ’40, of the 1st Infantry, Major Jim Ballard, NU ’39, and Lieutenant George Briggs, NU ’32, of the 29th Infantry, Captain Arthur Harrington, NU ’40, of the 5th Special Engineer Brigade, Lieutenant Eugenio Bonafin, NU ’43, of the 87th Chemical Mortar Battalion, Lieutenant Thomas Fulham, NU ’47, and Lieutenant Robert Harrington, NU ’47, of the 4th Infantry Division, Lieutenant Lawrence Elman, NU ’43 and Lieutenant Fredrick Meinken, NU ’47, of the 4th Cavalry Regiment and Private Richard Austin, NU ’44 of the 101st Airborne. In the air, Lieutenant David Steward, NU ’47, Captain Jim McCarthy, NU ‘40, Lieutenant Sherman Crocker, NU ‘44, and Sergeant William Crawthorne, NU ’47, and possibly Sergeant Edward T. Yeller, NU ‘49, of the 9th Air Force, Lieutenant Edwyn Florcyk, NU ‘44, rgeant Mitchell Esoian, NU ‘49, Sergeant George Edwin Guidi, NU ‘49 and Sergeant Robert Wieler, NU ‘49 of the 8th Air Force, were all in Normandy at this time.

It’s a bit late, but here’s the conclusion to my paper:

While the locations of a number of alumni during the invasion can be determined by way of their units, there are several other alumni who are known to have participated in the invasion, but their whereabouts cannot be accounted for because of insufficient or conflicting information. The first of these is Wesley Goddard, NU ’33, who, according to the Norwich University Record, commanded field artillery during the invasion, and there is some indication that he served in the 18th Field Artillery Battalion. However, there is conflicting information regarding this unit, and it is not known exactly what Major Goddard was doing during the invasion. Similarly, alumnus Philip Bracket was also confirmed to have been in Normandy, given his award of the Normandy ribbon indicated in his alumni file at Norwich. He was a dentist in the US Army, but it is unknown what unit he was part of, or what his rank was. Lieutenant Colonel Storer Humphrey, NU ‘28, also in the medical field, was found to be listed in three separate units, the 100th General Hospital, 91st Evacuation Hospital and 160 Station, some of these having been in Normandy. As a brain surgeon, it is possible that he was called to duty during the invasion, as there were thousands of men injured throughout the invasion. In addition to these three men, there were a number of other Norwich alumni who were in Normandy at this time, but it is not known whether they participated in the invasion, or were replacements for casualties in their units. Further research could most likely clear this up.
The Normandy invasion spelled the beginning of the end of the war in Europe. From the breakout from Normandy at St. Lo, the allied forces went on to free Paris, the rest of France, Belgium, and Holland before moving on towards Germany. While they were rebuffed at times, they reached Germany by the end of 1944, and on May 7th of the following year, the last German forces surrendered. The war in Europe was over, and in August of 1945, the Second World War concluded.
Norwich University alumni would maintain close ties to the University through their letters to the Norwich University Record, as well as with each other, remaining in contact with one another or coming across each other during their leaves and chance meetings.
By examining the role of its alumni who participated in the war, it is clear that Norwich University alumni played a multifaceted and significant role in the Invasion of Normandy, serving in a variety of units throughout the invasion. Their experiences can be viewed as a microcosm for the rest of the Normandy Invasion. They exhibited bravery and courage, as several of the Norwich alumni would be cited for such with the Bronze Star, the Silver Star, and in one case, after Normandy, the Medal of Honor. It is fairly clear that the training that they received at Norwich University prepared them for a role in their work at Normandy, as 75% of the Norwich Alumni would serve in the invasion as officers. This demonstrates that Norwich University alumni were largely in a command role through the invasion, and through their leadership, most likely helped ensure the success of the invasion on their unit levels, although in some cases, it is likely that the leadership of Norwich alumni helped spell the success of the US forces.
A letter from Lt. Colonel Carroll Stowell, NU ‘30, perhaps best summarizes the role that Norwich University played in the minds of the Norwich Alumni:

Rose in rank during the two and one-half years I was in the first from 2nd Lt. to Major. During that period the battalion was awarded three Presidential Unit Citations. Have always felt that my Norwich background and trained were factors in my being assigned to the First Engineers and in the contributions that I was able to make to the successes of the unit.

Back in the USA

So, I’m back – currently in New Hampshire, with my Aunt and Uncle, who picked me up from the airport. Yesterday was incredibly long and with probably two of the worst flights that I’ve ever had. They were smooth, which was nice, but both legs of my trip home had one thing in common: screaming infants. Three of them. One on the transatlantic flight over, and another two on the two hour flight up. I don’t know what it is, biology maybe, that makes a squalling baby such a horrible thing, but it’s a horrible thing on a flight because of the limited space. The two in the last flight were also RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. Fortunately, I had my CD player and Victoria’s Wars to keep my sanity to some degree.
So, I’m back in New England, trying to readjust me biological clock, which is currently telling me that it’s around 2 in the afternoon, even though it’s really 9 in the morning. Aunt Jan and Uncle Tom are currently out to a meeting with a doctor (Uncle Tom had surgery a while back) and after they get back, I’ll head out and go home.

The trip was amazing, and it hasn’t really struck me until now how fast it went by. I have to say thank you so much to people who sheltered me and were able to meet up with me during the trip (And I feel really bad that I didn’t get to see everyone), but because of people’s help, I was able to survive in London and eat at the same time, so I’m thankful for that. Meeting up with people, such as Sara and Naomi was also great, because I haven’t seen them in a long time, and it was good to have someone to talk to, or bug, depending on the hour.

Normandy was surreal. Seeing the battlefields with two Army Generals is probably the best way to see the battlefields, given their background, and we got such a detailed look at the battlefields, that I think I need to go and throw out my paper and re-write the thing. As it is, it needs significantly more research time and writing time, because I’m still finding mistakes in it. (I did get an A for it though, which is a plus). Hell, while I was out there I was able to do some work on it – I found the resting places of four of my guys, as well as their service numbers, exact units and date of death, something that I either didn’t have or was incorrect. Yeah, I’m a geek like that.
Actually seeing Normandy put a huge spin on how I perceived the battle – the books and things that I’ve read don’t really tell the entire story – we looked at terrain and things like that at points, something that I’d never really thought of. And, Normandy is HUGE. Hundreds of square miles, all one fairly continuous battlefield. Most people think of just the landing beaches as where the fighting was – that was just the first day. And, like when I went and visited the battlefields at Marathon, Greece, I got chills thinking about what had transpired there, although in this case, there’s still a huge active local memory for the event. People still remember the battle there, and appreciate us for it. There’s still the bunkers, the beaches, bullet and bomb craters, and I’m sure if you really really looked, you’d find some of the equipment that the allies lost in the airborne drops (they lost almost 90% of the soldier’s leg bags due to prop-blast), bullets, guns and I’m sure that there’s still a couple bodies kicking around somewhere that were just never recovered. The battle here isn’t nearly as abstract as the one in Marathon.

Seeing London again was nice, but a little empty. I didn’t have anything official to do there, like school or work, or a larger circle of friends to hang out with. But, it was nice seeing everything again, the accents, the To Let signs, everything about London just came right back to me, and I was comfortable there. I got to see a bunch of familiar things, like the Imperial War Museum (I did end up finding and splurging on a book on the Falklands War) and some new things, like the Geological Society of London and got to see an original print of William Smith’s first Geological map, which was something like 12 feet tall and 6 feet wide. And lots of walking and bus riding.

All in all, it was a very very fun trip. I’ll have good memories from it, but I am happy to be back home (sorta – soon) and get back on with work here.

London / France Update

So, as I’ve mentioned, I’m in London. I went abroad last Wednesday from Manchester NH, and arrived sometime mid afternoon here. I went and found my hostel, and walked around London for a little while, refinding old places. Later in the afternoon, another Norwich alum, Naomi arrived at Waterloo – we were staying at the same hostel, and I was able to lead her to it. We walked around, found dinner and hung out for a little while. Thursday was fun – We went out to Oxford in the morning and walked around the place for a little while, went to most of the cool sites, although we didn’t go into any of the schools, but we did end up at the Eagle and Child, then went back home to London. From there, we discovered that the musical Spamalot was playing in the West End, and went out to go see that – absolutely fantastic and brilliant musical. Anyone who’s a fan of the movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail would absolutely love it – it’s a fantastic adaptation, and they’ve thrown in a huge number of references to Flying Circus and Life of Brian. I can’t remember when I laughed so hard. Highly recommended for everyone. The next day, we went out and met up with Sara, who’s still in London. We also met up with her friend Rob, who I met last time I was here. We walked around for the rest of the day, got lunch and dinner and generally caught up and chatted. It was a lot of fun. I brought my suitcase over to her apartment, which is waay out in Zone 3. It’s quite a ride out. The next morning, I left Naomi, who was to leave later in the week and went out to Heathrow, where I flew to Paris. It was a quick flight, and I arrived in Charles De Gaulle somewhat disoriented, but I found my hotel within an hour or so, where I met up with the Norwich people who were already there. I met up with Vice President Whaley and President Schneider, as well as several trustees, General Sullivan and General Nelson, which was cool. We had dinner there, which was fantastic, and then went to bed. The next morning, we were up early, got on the bus and picked out a couple more people, and then drove out to Normandy, via Caen. We stopped along the way at Pegasus Bridge, which was the first structure in Normandy to be liberated by the allied forces, the 6th British Airborne Company C. The store was a literal shrine to the American and British soldiers. I, along with General Sullivan, General Nelson, President Schneider and V. President Whaley had dinner in the back room, where I suspect that few tourists see. Afterwards, we walked around the area, saw where the three gliders of the Company C landed, as well as looked over the bridge. It was a cool walkaround. Our next stop was a windshield survey of the British and Canadian beaches and the tactical significance of their actions. We got back on the bus and went out to our hotel, which was really really high quality place. We had a seminar where we went over the overal world situations of World War 2, and I presented on half of my paper. We had dinner there and went to bed. The next morning (Tuesday), we set out for the vicinity of Utah Beach. While we were driving around, we spent a lot of time on tactics and the overall stratigy of the invasion and how all the elements fit in together. We first looked over the airborne forces and how they operated and the conditions in which they landed. We stopped by St Mere Eglis, which was captured on the first day, and where a lot of the American soldiers assembled. From there, we went to Utah Beach, where we went over the beaches. Utah was the easier of the two beaches, and we discussed that. There were a couple of bunkers on site, and we looked over those. We then got lunch and move on to Point Du Hoc, the site where the Rangers landed and took a German Battery that could fire down on the beaches and Allied forces. There are still a number of bunkers and craters still there, although the actual memorial is off limits due to cliff erosion. We returned to the hotel, dinner, etc, and the next day, we set out for Omaha Beach. We arrived there and talked about the people who landed there, and how it differed from Utah beach (2000 people killed as opposed to 200). We visited several sites there. I was presented a book by the entire group, who’d signed it, in thanks for my work on the Norwich people. I talked a bit about the Norwich alumni there, and we visited the American cemetary overlooking the beach. It was a horrible sight. I was a little disgusted by the people there – taking video and tons of photographs, generally acting like tourists. It seemed disrespectful. I found the resting places of four Norwich people (None were at that site). We then went on to lunch at Arromannes, where we got lunch and I sent off my postcards to the US (Various people should be getting them in a couple days). I went out to the cliffs and looked at the rocks and did some drawings, and we returned back to the hotel where we took a rest and had our last seminar, where we discussed the trip and how it can be used in the future. It was an interesting talk, and we took another break, packed and went to our last dinner there. Yesterday morning, we drove back to Paris, where I got my flight. I’d hoped to meet up with Linh, but we didn’t get around to meeting up like we’d hoped (Sorry!). I flew back to London, where I dropped by bags off and bought a couple of books, found a park and read for a while, then met up with Sara, got dinner and went up to her place, where I am right now. I called home, Sarah and work (to brag), and passed out. I’m taking a break today, just staying in, resting from all the walking around that I’ve been doing, and catching up on TV show finales that I missed. LOST was mindblowing, and Heroes (which I’m watching now) is just jaw dropping. Many thanks to Sara for letting me stay here, because it’s a much appreciated break and good to talk with people that I know. Pictures can be seen in the links below. Now, for the rest of Heroes and lunch.

Album 1

Album 2

Post-Invasion and Aftermath

With the first phase of Operation Overlord completed after the arrival of the Second Armored Division, the next objective was to secure the Normandy peninsula, pushing the German forces out and leaving the allies with a firm toehold in the continent, where they could reinforce the invasion forces, as well as establish ports and temporary airstrips. This would prove to be a slow, costly process, as the region is covered in banks and hedgerows – ideal terrain for a defending enemy, not for an invading army. During this time, a number of the Norwich University alumni who participated in the invasion would die by enemy fire.

The 3rd Armored Division would arrive in Normandy by June 29th, and included Norwich alumni Major Nathan ‘Duffy’ Quinn, NU ’34, and Major Howard Gardner, NU ‘36. They arrived in time for the attack on St. Lo.[1]

The last of the Norwich alumni to arrive during the invasion period of the war, by July 19th, and before the battles to capture the Cotentin Peninsula was Private Stephen Woynar, NU ‘45, of the 86th Cavalry Recon, Lieutenant John Hammell, NU ’47, Sergeant Jon Pimm, NU ’47, of the 1252nd Combat Engineers, Captain Arthur Pottle, NU ’47, of the 86th Cavalry Recon, and Captain Fredrick Wing, NU ’47 with the 15th Tank Battalion, all part of the 6th Armored Division. While Private Woynar is the only member of the unit confirmed to have been there through records, it seems likely that the remaining four soldiers were also present, given their unit and prior locations.

During this time, there were a number of meetings between Norwich men, in between combat stints. After thirty days of combat, Pvt. Richard Austin’s unit was pulled off the line, where he returned to England, and returned in September to Holland.[2] Captain Sherman Crocker (‘44) would be promoted to become the commanding officer of the 507th Fighter Group in December.[3]

The first casualty during the campaign was Major Jim Ballard, NU ‘39, of the 29th Infantry Division, on July 12th. The 29th Infantry was beginning a push towards the town of St. Lô, and exact details of Ballard’s injury are not known, although he does not appear to have been wounded seriously, and looked forward to returning to his unit in a letter to the Norwich Record[4].

The next day, Lieutenant Eugenio Bonafin, NU ‘43, of the 87th Chemical Mortar Battalion died. While acting as a forward observer for the 83rd Infantry Division, 330th Regiment, launching mortars to cover the unit’s advance, the battalion broke through the lines into a trap, and was enveloped by four German tanks. During the attack, Lieutenant Bonafin was killed by one of the tank’s machine guns. For his actions in the unit, he was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star.[5]

Colonel Harry ‘Paddy’ Flint, NU ’10, would die on the 24th of July. He was killed by a gunshot wound to the head while leading his men towards St. Lô on the main road. He told his executive officer: “From Paddy to Van: Strangely quiet here. Could take nap. Have spotted pillboxes; will start them cooking.”[6] Up farther, at a farmhouse, Flint was shot by a sniper, while explaining to a sergeant “how he should take up positions to drive the Germans out from their hedgerow trenches.”[7] His men quickly found the sniper and dispatched him, while their Colonel was given a cigarette and a dose of morphine before he passed away. Further casualties during this time included Lieutenant Edwyn Florcyk, NU ‘44, when his plane’s left wing was destroyed by anti-aircraft fire and crashed[8]. Lieutenant Lawrence Elman, NU ‘42, with the 4th Cavalry, would be the next to die, on July 27th, while reconnoitering a road near Marginey, when an enemy shell killed him. Lieutenant George Briggs would die on August 8th near St. Lo, when members of his platoon would find him after being hit by shrapnel. Private Stephen Woynar, NU ’45, died on the 12th of August during a patrol in Northern France, a booby-trapped landmine would kill Lieutenant Thurber Raymond, NU ’41, on September 10th, and Private Richard Austin, NU ‘44 perished on September 22nd by a mortar shell during actions in Holland. Captain Sten Bergstedt, NU ’32, would be killed in Germany on September 24th, Major Wesley Goddard, NU ’33, was wounded at Aachen in December and while being returned home, he passed away on December 13th. Captain Sherman Crocker, NU ’44, would be killed over Germany when his fighter was hit by anti-aircraft fire – his body was never recovered.

The Norwich alumni who had been with the invasion forces continued to work to clear the region of German forces. Perhaps the biggest moment would come during the breakout
at St. Lô, after weeks of movement and attacks, when the US forces broke the German lines, led by General Brook’s 2nd Armored Division, along with (Newly promoted) Brigadier General I.D. White, NU ‘22, Captain James Burt, NU ’39 and Lieutenant Colonel Briard Johnson, NU ’27 and Commandant (1950). During the massive assault, the entire city was ruined, and the Second Armored division is credited with the success of the attack and break out.

[1] Harrison, 444

[2] 1947 War Whoop (Need Page #)

[3] 1947 War Whoop (Need Page #)

[4] October 27 1944 Record, 22

[5] Ellion, 39-40

[6] Norwich Record, Feb 2, 1945, 23

[7] Ibid

[8] 1947 War Whoop (Need Page #)

D-Day 4 – 9: Days 5 to 10

On the 9th of June, the 101st Airborne, with the 506th, 502nd and 501st regiments, and presumably, Private Austin, attacked the German-held town of Carentan. The 501st attacked from the Northwest, where they captured a hill. Over the next several days, the 101st airborne would work to hold the town and defend key routes into the city.[1] Elements of the 175th Infantry would also participate in Carentan, but is it not likely that Lieutenant Jerome Eastman, NU ’32, would have participated. As he had been wounded several days earlier, when he first reached Normandy.[2] The capture of Carentan would link the two American beaches into a continuous front.

June 7th through the 11th showed the arrival of one of the most important units to the battle, the 2nd Armored Division, and along with it, Captain Gordon Fuller, NU ‘38, General Edward Brooks, NU ‘16, Colonel I.D. White, NU ‘22, Captain Sten Bergstedt, NU ’32, Lieutenant Col Briard Johnson, NU ’27 (and later, Commandant and Professor of Military Sciences), and Captain James Burt, NU ‘39. They arrived on Omaha Beach. In addition, the 39th Infantry, with Norwich alumni Colonel Harry ‘Paddy’ Flint, NU ’10, and Lieutenant Arnold MacKerer, NU ‘46, arrived on Utah Beach.

The Second Armored division, under the command of General Brooks, embarked for Normandy on the 6th of June, and arrived on the 7th, where they appear to have landed in several stages. General Brooks arrived on the 7th. While landing, a landing craft exploded next to Brook’s ship; close enough to push it around.[3] It is likely that Captain Gordon Fuller, NU ’38, was aboard this LST, as Colonel White, NU ’22, noted in an interview years later that the LST belonged to the 67th Regiment, which Captain Fuller was assigned to[4]. He would prove to be the first Norwich casualty in the Normandy Invasion, before he even reached the beachhead.

Command Combat B, which was commanded by Col. I.D. White (‘22), arrived June 8th, where they spent the rest of the day de-waterproofing their equipment and by that night, the entire unit moved to the Tournieres and Littry area, where they prepared for combat and scouted the area for enemy emplacements and for safe routes in the region[5]. Once the 2nd Armored division had landed in Normandy, the initial phase of the invasion was completed.[6] The next phase was to secure the Normandy region. The 2nd Armored Division was called into action to help reinforce the forces already in the battlefield, as there were reports that the Germans were launching a counter attack. On the 12th of June, the division began to carry out attacks on the Germans, first reinforcing a group of soldiers from the 101st Airborne division near Carentan. The 66th Regiment, which Captain Sten Bergstedt, NU ’32, was attached to, would remain with the 101st Airborne division and the 83rd Infantry division, until early July.[7] While this was happening, Combat Command B, under Colonel I.D. White, was clearing the assembly area of mines and the unit worked to find ways to fight in the Normandy hedgerows, as well as the use of armored and infantry units in support of each other.

The 39th Infantry Division, commanded by Colonel Harry Flint, NU ’10, also landed on the 11th of June, at Utah Beach. Lieutenant Arnold MacKerer Jr., NU ’46, was also a member of this unit, assigned to E-Company. The unit landed in the morning and marched to St. Mere Eglise and was immediately sent to Quinneville with Patton’s 4th Division. They arrived on June 14th and engaged the German defenders in the area there. Initially, they met heavy enemy fire and were forced to withdraw, but within the day, the Division was able to break the German lines at Quinneville. The unit was able to rest for a couple days, but was back on the line by the 16th, where they worked to cut off the peninsula that was one of the larger goals of the American forces in the area, something that was achieved by the 18th of June, granting the Allied forces a large port. The next week would be spent neutralizing the enemy forces that had been cornered by the attack.

[1] Ibid, 359-360

[2] Ibid

[3] Huston, 199

[4] Strodter, 224

[5] CCB Periodic Report, 7-11 June

[6] Huston, 200

[7] Huston, 203