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Sword Beach to Bremen., A Veterans tale. Sapper

Discussion in 'Honor, Service and Valor' started by sapper, Sep 18, 2002.

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  1. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

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    It is indeed my pleasure to make your acquaintance Alex Campbell. May I offer you my best wishes to you, and all of yours. Specially as the Vets are beginning to get very thin on the ground, Most of the NVA and Market Garden Associations have closed down. The old members are too frail to attend, and no one wants to take on the duties.

    The whole purpose of the writings was to keep the memory alive of the dear friends we left behind. In that, it appears to have succeeded, if only in a small way.
    "From the fields of Normandy I bring back many memories, beneath them I leave many friends"
    Cheers and all the very best.
    Brian
    Sapper
     
  2. Zwingli

    Zwingli Member

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    Hello Sapper
    Once again I thank you for sharing your memories as I too believe they should be recorded that future generations should never forget the sacrifices made to ensure the freedoms they enjoy today.
    I am currently writing my father's memoirs from the war. He was a pathfinder pilot, who was shot down on his 44th mission, imprisoned in Stalag Luft III and was on the "horror march" near the end of the war. I am very lucky that my father is still alive and his mind is still sharp at almost 85 years old.
    You write with great passion and allow the reader to envision some of the horrors you encountered.
    Keep well sir and may I extend my best wishes for a joyous holiday season.

    Leslie (Trotter) Zwingli
     
  3. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

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    I am truly humbled that anyone should take the trouble to write as they do. For than I can only do one thing, that is to say "thank you very much" And to remember the whole purpose of these postings, is for that one reason that I mentioned earlier

    That is for all the brave young men that never came home, should be remembered.

    I have probably posted this before, but I wrote it with sincerity.

    Quietly! Quietly! Whisper my Name.

    So many long years ago I died, under Norman apple trees.
    But now my Spirit wanders, as a warm and gentle breeze.
    Hush! Quietly, Whisper my name, in that long forgotten place.
    Then feel the warmth of my Spirit, caress lightly on your face.

    For now, I am the jewelled Summer Lark, that soars on high.
    Bright in heavens concert hall, my song will fill the sky.
    I am the tumbling cloud’s that rise, to touch the face of Joy.
    No longer held by earthly bonds, a once young and vital boy.

    In an instant life was swept away, in a brutal savage war.
    Look not for me in Normandy, for I am there no more.
    I am the peace in woodland glades, in veiled cascades of green.
    Feel me close, in your times of joy, sensed, but never seen.

    Whisper my name, and hear my voice, in cascading woodland spring,
    Or England's flowered primrose banks, wherein the bluebells ring.
    Don’t mourn for me, quietly call my name, I'll visit in your dreams.
    And, fill your mind with the beauty, of heavens joyous scenes.

    Hush! Hush! Just whisper, quietly, call my name.
    Whisper quietly.

    Brian Guy.
    For all my Friends of long ago.
     
  4. Zwingli

    Zwingli Member

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    Sapper

    I love your poetry. You should look into getting it published.

    Kindest regards

    Leslie
     
  5. cd13

    cd13 Member

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    Sapper,

    I'm a little late to this thread but I wanted to say THANKS for all of your stories here. They will occupy me for hours and hours - these are fantastic accounts! Thank you, Sir, and God Bless. I hope this finds you in good health and happiness.

    Happy Holidays from America :)
     
  6. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

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    Hi CD13 Thanks for that mate.
    sadly it is rare for an ordinary soldier, of whatever regiment or corps to write about the events and happenings....It is nearly always "Ossifers" What is written here is the life of a Field Company RE in war..Trouble is the old boys cannot remember and so many of them will not write those memoirs down.

    That to me is a loss of a precious bit of history, for once they depart, it is lost for ever.
    Lots of good wishes.
    Cheers sapper
     
  7. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    Thank you very much Brian. To you and all the others who grace us with the gift of your words to us, younger people.

    Every word a treasure.
     
  8. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

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    Cheers Za Rodinu.
    I am just pleased that it was of interest.
    My very best wishes to you and yours
    Sapper
     
  9. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

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    Take a moment please to remember the last of my personal Normandy mates. Richard Harris. The First Suffolk's Infantry from Sword Beach..... Dick landed on Sword On D day and was wounded while attacking the rearguard of the Falaise pocket. Losing half a hand amongst other injuries.
    A very dear friend from the Eighth Brigade. I had already lost Derek Hinton and Ted Brown both personal and close friends.

    Dick Harris was the last of my very close friends, One that I shared the horrors, the emotions, and comradeship of those that have experienced battle. For those of us that have shared the violent action in war, have a special relationship. Something that others cannot know,
    Sadly, we shall no longer share lunch at Sturminster Newton and fight old battles again
    Rest In Peace Dick......
    Brian
    (Sapper)
     
  10. ctcarlisle

    ctcarlisle Member

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    Sapper:-

    I come late to this forum, this being Christmas Eve and all, and already I am glad first to to be able to reach people who shared my father's experienced then secondly to be able to spend some time reading about it. This I look forward to doing in a few days. Therefore, 'Sapper' I thank you for sharing this time with us.



    I joined another similar forum to this one a few days ago and posted the following information about my father who retired from the Canadian Army in 1959, a Lt. Col. He held a Major's rank in July 1944 when his unit the 22nd Canadian Armoured Regiment hit the French shores near Courseulles-sur-Mer. At the risk of boring those on that forum who have already read this, I'll paste the following for you and the readers her. I'll be in touch in the next few days:
    "I am wondering if there are any members here whose parents were part of 'Normandy' - I'm sure there are - and specifically anyone who was or whose parents were involved in the eastern push by Canadians, specifically the First Canadian Army, through Falaise, or Falaise Gap, and the push towards Belgium...my dad was, and although he's no longer with us, Christmas is a time I get to spend a few hours reading his memoirs, looking at his maps and reading books. If so, I'm glad, if not then I outline his involvment for your reading interest.​

    My dad was 35 when he was finally called into 'active service' in Northern France in July 1944. He and my mum had arrived in England in December 1939 a few days after their wedding and my dad, at the time, was a major in the 22nd Canadian Armoured Regiment, previously known as the Canadian Grenadier Guards. He had spent the past 5 years in London, England attached to the Canadian Headquarters, then in the field with his regiment that had arrived in England in 1942. ​

    Amidst the Blitz and the chaos in England during the first few years, my parents had nonetheless managed to start a family, my older sister was born February 1943 in Aldershot, and my next sister was born in Northern England in December 1944. But July 26th 1944, my dad set foot on French soil at Courseulles...​

    He was OC of 'A' Echelon of armoured Sherman tanks that wound their way towards Caen, arriving there July 31st or so. (I can only imagine the devastation they saw judging from the photographs on a French website I saw yesterday...). He must have been part of the end of Operations Totalise and Tractable because their route took them past the Bourguebus ridge on August 11th, to the East of Falaise on August 19th, through Trun on August 22nd then eastwards towards the Seine. He traced a Broglie-Bernay-Rouen direction and crossed the Seine at Pont de l'Arche on August 29th. ​

    I found out that his pay during the entire period was C$9 a day!​

    Indeed, it was all the "beginning of the end"...but what a graveyard it must have appeared to him - now just 3 days behind the front, thanks to a high attrition rate ahead. The yound up ahead were falling fast and the 'older' ones were in the rear, I guess.​

    He spent the next several months bogged down, I understand figuratively and literally, in Northern Belgium (I don't know if he made it as far as Antwerp or the German border) and was finally returned to England in the late spring of 1945. Funny, I have disproportionate amounts of information on the Falaise part compared to the Belgium part...perhaps drudgery and routine had set in by winter 1944...nothing like the Battle of the Bulge however.​

    His small family of four finally arrived back on Canadian soil in July 1945, with the rest of the regiment and established themselves in Ottawa where he spent the next years attached to various Army divisions until my dad, Lt. Col TH Carlisle, retired in 1959. ​

    I was born in 1947 and my other sisters in 1949 and 1951; and as I look back on my dad's Army career, I am still amazed at the complete dedication these men and women showed. I am even more happy to find sites like this one where events and memories can be shared and what a nice surprise to see photographs (coloured ones too) of the day. Both our parents have passed, so, in a way,this is a close as I can get to them and their lives during the War. ​
    So, from our family to all of yours, Merry Christmas...
     
  11. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Welcome CTCarlisle, glad to have you here and a salute to your father, for his service.
     
  12. Kieran Bridge

    Kieran Bridge Member

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    Welcome CT.

    I joined the forum recently out of interest sparked by my father's involvement in the same salients as your father. He was at Falaise, the Seine crossing, Belgium and the battle of the Schelde. Fortunately, he is still with us, but as someone else has said, the veterans' numbers are declining. In recent years he has been willing to write about some of his experiences, which even in his understated style are quite hair-raising. Here is a web-page where some of his recollections are posted.

    The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (P.L.)

    Lest we forget.

    Best wishes to all for the holidays and 2008.

    Kieran
     
  13. ctcarlisle

    ctcarlisle Member

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    Kieran:-

    I look forward, as I hope others will, to reading the article your father wrote. Instead of highjacking this thread of Sapper's, I will also respond privately to you.

    It is so extremely reassuring to hear and read the words of these gallant soldiers...there is no better witness than to know these men and women and the gift they share with us is priceless -and much appreciated especially at this time of year. Thank you Kieran!

    Charles Carlisle
     
  14. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

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    I realise that time is flying, and that the deeds of long ago are now things of History. But for many of us that are left, we still recall the deaths and woundings of young men with a great deal of sadness. So many young men, so long ago. Is it really nearly 64 years?
    Must be.... all my pals have departed to where old soldiers go. There is no one left to talk to over the phone now. That is sad
    Sapper
     
  15. ctcarlisle

    ctcarlisle Member

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    Sapper, I really missed you during the holidays, as I'm sure many did here too. (I know you were seeing your friend off). And, whereas none of us "young guys" (I'm a baby-boomer) can ever replace the buddies you had, I can state for a fact that you have in this medium a new-found list of people who read you, who therefore respect, and thank, you. Sure, the internet is different and what is now had in 'quantity' will never make up for the "quality" of the friends you once had, there is some solace in greater numbers...as the saying goes.

    Personally, I had a great time over the holiday period going over my dad's (Lt. Col. TH Carlisle, 22nd Armoured Regiment, RCA) maps of his route through Caen and Falaise and onwards towards Belgium. Just the contact with members of this board and another French board, I saw movies and photographs of the actual battlefields, found a new set of "friends" to correspond with - and looking at the photos, watching the movies and reading the correspondance brought me closer to my dad that any time in the past. He passed away in 1963, a long time ago when I was a boy still, and sure, it's not as if he were here, but the sharing of the information did me a lot of good and made him feel next to me. Now it's whole new world...

    So, yes, these photos are "History". But how many of us have ever read the words and stories like yours of someone who was actually living History as it happened? Not many...how precious is that???

    So - at the very least - I can thank you for that! I wish you well and hope to spend more time reading your words.:)

    Charles Carlisle
    Montreal
     
  16. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

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    Hi Charles.
    Falaise? What a bucket of worms that names conjures up! While the Canadians were at the top of the bag creating havoc, we were at the back driving them towards the neck of the bag. The fights that went on at the back from rearguards determined to give the German army time to get away, were to say the least FIERCE!
    I have never seem so many bodies, and what was worse, piled up on each other in places. A real shocker.
    It was the poor bloody horses that suffered the most. Panic stricken, running about on broken legs, to finish up, dead, legs in the air, amongst a horrifying mangled mess of bodies of men and animals. Many of them blackened, burnt, and rigid.

    There is something quite horrible about the sight of the rigid burnt remains of men still standing in their tank turrets. It was a common sight, I recall that I expected them to move, for although they were burnt black they still looked like humans.

    That combined with those that hung down from the tank turrets, burnt to death before they could finish getting out. Died draped over the side of the tank.

    The carnage inside that pocket at Falaise, remains a picture of utter destruction, of misery beyond belief, as the Germans desperate to get out tried everything to get away. The stench of death was overpowering and never forgotten.
    I sometimes wonder who had the job of clearing up that massive charnel house where so many died?
    Not us, we were far away still chasing.

    One saving grace about Falaise...The Das Reich. Number two SS Panzer Div. Responsible for the Horrors and murders. The burning alive of the women and children locked in the church at Orador sur glan, And later, of the Hanging of 99 men on the lamp posts in the little town of Tule, on their way to Normandy, from down near the Limoge area......They were caught up in the Falaise mincer. Sadly, they did not all get killed

    That pocket showed Monty at his most ruthless.
    PS, I still have copies of the D Day battle maps, for D Day and D Day plus one, the originals in a museum, brought back by a friend of mine, still had them stuffed inside his tunic when he arrived back in the UK wounded. I must admit they are a bit tatty now having been used for 60 years plus!

    Cheers sapper
     
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  17. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

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    Sadly a great friend of mine. (Richard Harris 1st Suffolks) that was wounded during the drive at the rear of the Falaise pocket. Has just died. The last of my veteran friends.
    It is very quiet here now.
    Sapper
     
  18. ctcarlisle

    ctcarlisle Member

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    Sapper:-

    Hello Brian...been away a bit as my sister (58 only) passed away suddenly just before Christmas and bless her, she left a house full of personal things that we the siblings have to sort through. Sorry to have heard of the loss of your friend, I think it was just before Christmas Day that I read your post - wasn't he the man who lost part of his hand in combat?

    I read all your posts up until about the time you reached Holland and were injured the second time, so I have a bit of catching up to do. I also heard today that a gentleman from France, aged 110 years, and a veteran from WW1 just passed away. Also sad.

    Not much point to this post, Sapper, but to let you know that I look for you every now and then, and hope to be able to do so for a long time to come. Oh yes, I found a photo of my dad, driving what appears to be a Ram tank somewhere either in Normandy in 1944, or perhaps even during training exercises in England in 1943 or 1944. I thought he commanded a Sherman, but the photo suggests a Ram, which I don't believe were common in July and August 1944 in Normandy at least... He was 35 in 1944 and has been gone for 45 years now.

    All the best, and again thank you for helping us know the reality of the time...

    http://i33.servimg.com/u/f33/11/82/83/22/dadin110.jpg
     
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  19. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

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    Lovely to converse with you. Cheers .
     
  20. big sang

    big sang Member

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    hi brian
    I have recently joined this forum and came across your story .
    I think it is incredibly important that wwii veterans like yourself tell thier story .I allways think the truth is told by the ordinary soldier as it allways seems to differ from the "official version". Men like yourself tell it like it was ,not a version that might suit someones agenda . My dad passed away over a year ago now he to was a wwii veteran .He truly was my hero .Unfortunately he didnt talk much about it but my mam would tell me the odd story and i would wind my dad up sometimes and he would tell me some things.
    I tell my children everything i know about it ,because they remember my dad as a frail old man not the crazy scottish highlander who rampaged through western europe from D.Day to belsen and helped liberate it. My son is 20 the same age my father was when he landed on sword beach. My son has problems getting his head around that.
    Wonder if you ever came across my dads unit it was 141 rac.79th.armoured division the buffs.,he was a churchill flame thrower tank driver.
    Well it was an honour talking to you , your good health.
     

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