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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. jubilee

    jubilee recruit

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    He never told us, but we believe that he was with the South Lancs. That's one of the reasons I'm getting his service records.
     
  2. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

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    In that case we would have seen a great deal of action together. As part of the renowned Eighth brigade. That was The East York's .The South Lancs, and the Suffolk's, with my Assault/Field Co RE in our habitual 8th brigade.

    Interesting that we should have seen action together.
    Sapper
     
  3. jubilee

    jubilee recruit

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    We moved house recently, and I'll be blowed if I can find his written story. I know it's here somewhere.........

    As soon as I find it, I'll have some details to share!
     
  4. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

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    Sometimes when I post something on this site…I think to myself “These readers must think I am Methuselah!” Or a leftover from a time long ago…And in a way; I suppose I am.

    I may have posted something like this topic before, I am not quite sure… The German army had years to perfect the art of war. The mines they left behind (anti personal) were never designed to kill, rather to wound and maim, To over burden the support system and clog up operations,

    Now I am certainly not sure if what follows; was designed to turn the peoples of France Belgium and Holland against us.

    It was simply this: when we drove the enemy out of a village, very often they would drag all the contents of the houses into the street. So that furniture and household goods were scattered all over the place.

    That had the effect of making it look as thought we had ransacked the village…Clever stuff.
    Sapper
     
  5. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

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    The 6th of June....1944

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Remember! Remember! The grey wind tossed seas on that Tuesday Morning.......

    When freedom returned to the shores of Europe. And of the men that made it possible... For all those that made the ultimate sacrifice; and for those that carried the pain ever since. Remember!

    I have a recording of the shelled church bells of Hermanville, ringing out across the Normandy Country side on D Day. Accompanied by the sound of shells and mortars.

    Makes the hair on my neck stand up, Takes me back........
    Sapper
     
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  6. rkline56

    rkline56 USS Oklahoma City CG5

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    Thank you, Sir, from a grateful nation(s)! Indeed.
     
  7. rkline56

    rkline56 USS Oklahoma City CG5

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    I doubt if anyone thinks of you as anyone but a true champion of liberty and a hero to us all. You are part of a group of strong men and women in a dark period of world history who dug deep and summoned the fortitude to free a couple continents from the yoke of oppression that threatened to swallow all of mankind. Thank you so much for recording your experiences here.
     
  8. texson66

    texson66 Ace

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  9. rkline56

    rkline56 USS Oklahoma City CG5

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    Brian,
    Can't begin to describe what I make of it. I have always had the utmost respect for the courage of the Allied Combat Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, Marines, Engineers. Abject sadness that so many fine men were lost. Thanks again for posting this awesomely important history. I will make sure my two sons and daughter read this and pass it to their friends and children so that the memories of your and comrades and yourself remain near to the heart and soul of Freedom.

    A thankful world salutes you!!
     
  10. rkline56

    rkline56 USS Oklahoma City CG5

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    "There is no way that I could ever bring myself to booby trap the body of a dead comrade. That was unthinkable. It was not even clever, for he was so obviously dangerous to touch, that not even the stupidest of souvenir hunters would have touched him.
    Sapper. What are the views of those that read this? Would you do it? I would be very interested to hear what you all have to say on this subject."

    Nope, couldn't do it. That is some weak behavior, Brian. I hope you did get some of this story published. It is really well written and your comments lend new insights to the battles.
    Richard
     
  11. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

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    British army discipline would have come down on you like a ton of bricks, had we tried to booby trap a body. The Royal Engineers stood by a strict military code. Prisoners were treated correctly. People belongings were always respected.

    That is how we operated. Here I can only speak for my own mob. We were expected to appear clean and shave each morning no matter how fierce the battles of how harrowing the surroundings., IF we were to die, we would at least be clean shaven for the event.....
    . Big Grin!
     
  12. surfersami

    surfersami Member

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    Brian,
    I have been off the forum for a while, it is good to read your events of history again. ( I've committed to not calling them stories anymore as that has the connotation of a fairy tale. You are telling history and that is extremely important.)
    While I was in France learning the language, I had the opportunity to visit the beaches of Normandy. I made a point of visiting all of the landing beaches of D-Day. I must say that when I arrived at the British sector beaches I was totally taken with how hard it must have been. There did not seem to be room to maneuver, or anywhere to hide. On the American beaches, although there was great expanses to cross, it seemed to me that could also be a blessing as the fire from defenders would have to be more precise.
    Not being there during the fighting, I can not talk with any authority on the subject of which beach was tougher, I am not so arrogant as to say the Americans had it the worst. What I saw makes me glad that I was not there on any of those beaches, and that I could go when I did and reverently pay my respects to all who fell on those yards of hallowed sand. Thank you for my freedom Sir.
    John
     
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  13. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

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    Medals! Ah now there is a subject of contention! They are as scarce as hens teeth, and when they do appear, they end up with the officers. One thing we can be proud of The Third Div RE Field Companies. Won more gallantry medals than any other regiment or Corps in the third Div. 43 to be precise. And even better, with far less men that the other battalions. But NOT MINE.....Bugger!

    Finally. I wrote to the PM as a last resort...never even got the politeness of an answer! Much as expected..... So much for help for old Vets......Like all of it, it is just talk.... I see this afternoon the PM nattering on about the military covenant?
    Sapper
     
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  14. rkline56

    rkline56 USS Oklahoma City CG5

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    I salute you, Sir. I have only started reading your history lately. I can't salute your earlier posts as too much time elapsed, I respectfully do so now. I am sure everyone who has read your posts completely respects you most highly, as well you deserve, for putting this information on the record. By doing so I attempt to salute all of your comrades as well. May this forum be passed along through the generations and continue to grow exponentially in importance and scope of reference knowledge for all to see. Peace be with you.

    Richard
     
  15. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

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    THis is part of a much larger description;

    Good Night Nurse.

    Bloody hell! Not again!

    Having been wounded back in Normandy I had the feeling that I was now safe, lightening never strikes twice does it? I had been roped in to do part time dispatch duties beside my normal active duties. Being one of the more experienced 19 year old soldiers I had been entrusted to collect the next day's battle orders from HQ back at Venraij, leaving at about midnight or one in the morning, there was in operation, a bank of searchlights set to illuminate the countryside, a sort of artificial moonlight shining in the direction of Overloon and the Enemy, making night driving much easier. The first night I took an armoured half track to collect the orders, much safer to have some protection when on your own and carrying sensitive material. I had collected the water proof sealed case containing the battle orders and was on the return journey, when I took the wrong turning and drove into a tank road, (they were kept separate, some roads had to be for wheeled vehicles only) the half track sunk into the mud churned up by the tanks, right up to the doors in deep sticky Dutch mud, try as I might, I could not get the thing out. The thought occurred to me that I was in danger of stopping the war. How to get out? Then I thought, those searchlight boys ought to have something big enough to drag me out, with time getting short, I scampered off in the direction the nearest searchlight, as I approached a voice called out "halt who goes there" when I answered "friend" he called out "hang on, I know that voice" "Come in!" this man from my home town had our typical country way of speaking, he invited me into his tent and made me a very generous mug of rum and strong tea, plus a yarn, he got a very large Scammel truck with a winch on the front, drove down to where it was stuck and pulled the half track out like a cork. Luckily the war was able to continue.

    After that shambles I decided to take a motor bike the next night, no trouble going, but on the way back disaster! In the vicinity of the Molen beek that had caused so much trouble for the R.E earlier, I was about to discover that lightening does strike twice. There was a dark red flash and violent explosion and blast, I was sent tumbling down the road over and over, the bike had parted company with me and shot off somewhere else. What caused the explosion? I do not know, nor ever will, whatever it was, it caused a great deal of damage and for many years after, I spent time picking bits of shrapnel out of my body as they came to the surface. I still have some floating about, just to remind me, one under my watch strap, never had it removed. Oh dear! laying in the deserted road, unable to move and all was quiet, it really did look as though I was going to stop the war this time. How long I lay there I do not know. Time had little meaning when you are badly wounded. Found by some soldiers that had been in a lorry and had collided with the bike, they realised that there must be someone on the road, they found me and stayed with me until a medical officer came to deal with me While we were waiting it started to snow, I remember the gentle feel of the snow softly falling on my face. The doctor told me "This will hurt a little" one of the soldiers lit a cigarette and put it in my mouth, when the doctor started to tend to me I bit the cigarette off and it went down on my chest and was burning me, the soldiers were searching for the fag while the doctor tended to my wounds. Taken back from the front line, I found myself in a school, my stretcher balanced on top of a school desk with a large window alongside. Unable to move and partly deaf, to my amazement a young English nurse came to give me some treatment, "are you an English nurse"? "yes, of course I am" She walked across the room with a hypodermic syringe that looked like a knitting needle on the end of a half pint milk bottle, a huge thing full of green liquid, "you're not going to stick that in me?" "got to" she said, "anti gas gangrene injection, stops you getting gangrene in your wounds" after, I had this very large green swelling on my arm to add to all my other disfigurements.



    I am still finding bits and pieces today
     
  16. michi4773

    michi4773 Member

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    Thank you, Sir, for this story. I'm a little late in reading it, I must admit. It's one thing to see it in a movie, but to hear it from someone who actually lived it....I am pround of you and all you served with. God bless!!:)
     
  17. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

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    Thanks!
    Its always nice to hear from folk that read these stories of days long gone. It serves to keep the memory alive of those we left behind.

    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
     
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  18. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

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    Lets look back to the days when we Veterans were young. The days when “We” were going to make the world a better place to live in…... How naïve it was to be 19. An age when all things seemed possible.
    So what were we doing on the 28th of June 1944?

    My platoon No 2. Supported an attack through the Chateau de la londe and on to Le Mesnil wood. Two knocked out tanks were demolished. No mines were encountered.

    The attack did not develop beyond the Chateau, and 2 platoon returned to harbour.

    A Observation post was created in Le londe. 2,000 anti/tank mines were laid for 8th brigade, out in front the infantry. All 3 platoons were employed and the task was completed by first light without incident.

    I recall this well. We out in front of everyone, laying mines under the nose of the enemy, and they never knew we were there.. All done silently and highly efficiently…..

    Don’t ask how we got away with it? Just plain lucky!
     
  19. rkline56

    rkline56 USS Oklahoma City CG5

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    Hello Brian,
    So the mines covered your front and pre-selected sectors on the flanks? That would have required a lot of coordination and communication to let every squad leader know where the safe paths were in case they had to patrol; or was the battalion just planning to hold there for a spell before moving around the field? How long a pause would justify laying down a minefield? When you moved out did some engineers stay behind to clear the field for friendly Allied units that would follow?

    I hope that doesn't sound like a dumb question but I want to understand the planning and coordination required. It seems fairly difficult but you guys had plenty of practice and it must have become second nature.

    Thank you and hope you are well, Sir!
     
  20. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

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    Each field took the time that its area and type required. No set time. Although there were three platoons out in front . They were as silent as mice. It really was a great job. Had the enemy known we were there, we would have been decimated... On completion, the officer in charge would survey and plot the field for future reference. It was done "Accurately" men's lives depend on it when lifting later. There was no time when a field would justified, they were put down as and when desired.

    There was no "Safe Path" through. If required they would be lifted within days. No one stayed behind. Evey unit was aware of the field. They should be, for we were out in front of them!

    Funny enough there was one grave danger that always threatened our safety when mine laying. A field contains a hell of a lot of mines, and they have to be transported reasonably close to where they were to be laid. That was done by using Bedford trucks and taking the mines right into the area....Here is where the danger arose. The Bedfords had a noisy gear box, that whined in low gear, and could be heard for miles...BUGGER! So we tried everything we could to get there as quiet as possible
     

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