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I was looking for info for a new friend who just wrote to me, and while searching for something within my extensive contact list, found this email from a friend of Jim Hennessey. Thought I would share this with everyone today. In fact, it reminded me to write to Tom to say hello.

 

 

This is from June 2012

 

 

June 2012 - A friend of Jim Hennessey's

Hello Marion,

I understand that your Dad's outfit (540th Combat Engineers) was among the first US units to fight in WWII. First in Africa, then Sicily and Italy before participating in the Southern France invasion followed by Germany in the Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe campaigns.

Before joining the 87th Infantry Div. during the Battle of the Bulge, I was in the 6th Combat Engineer Amphibious Special Assault Brigade that supported the 29th Inf. Division's assault on Omaha Beach and continued that support during Normandy and Northern France. The 6th Brigade was organized in England in early January 1944. In order to hopefully keep our unit secret from German intelligence, we were billeted in private English homes in Torquay, England (two men to a home). We practiced for the invasion at a nearby beach (Slapton Sands) but suffered a number of casualties when German E-boats happened to detect our presence.

Yes, it's hard to believe that 68 years ago on June 6, 1944, my buddies, including one of my 'first cousins' who was serving in the 29th Div. artillery, and I were spending a day on a French beach called OMAHA -- which was occupied by a very hostile bunch who were determined not to let us come ashore!

After WWII was over, I heard that around 11:00 AM on June 6, Gen. Omar Bradley was debating whether he should call the entire Omaha Beach invasion off because of the stiff resistance the Germans were putting up -- coupled with the fact that the Germans had brought in a very experience division that we didn't know about -- plus the fact that many of the US and British bombers failed to hit the their designated targets on the beach. The US Navy, however, managed to bombard the beach -- but not enough to knock out many of the pill boxes (some of which were several stories deep underground).

Had General Bradley ordered us to attempt to withdraw, I am certain our casualties would have been far worse than what the Brits experience at Dunkerque!

Although we eventually succeeded in the assault, there were a few Germans who were still resisting in several pill boxes overlooking the beach on June 7 --
and instead of having a beachhead at least a mile or so deep by nightfall on June 6 as had been planned, we were lucky to be 2000 to 3000 yards inland, holding on
by the skin of our teeth.

When the war ended on May 8, 1945, I was on the border of Czechoslovakia having been inside as far as Carlsbad two days before the war ended. At the urging of my buddies, I wrote an article covering the last three weeks of the war -- plus our return to the States to prepare for the invasion of Japan (which, thanks to Dear old Harry Truman) we were able to avoid. If you are interested in reading the article -- Google "Tom Stafford German Surrender".

I must add that, at 89 and being a 'one finger typist', I don't do much corresponding these days. In fact, unless my wife insist that I get off my 'butt', I don't do much of anything else!

Best regards,

Tom

 

 

 

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