Passing - Peter B. Calhoun - 8th Beach Battalion
#1

I would like to extend my condolences to the family of Peter B Calhoun of the 8th Beach Battalion, WWII. I became friends with Sharon, his very proud daughter, who shared some of her dad's history with me.

 

Sharon wrote to me several days ago, and wanted to know if I could put her in touch with Jack Hickman, for she knew we had corresponded in the past. Jack was responsible for the unit's newsletters, and she explained how much those had meant to her dad. She wanted to talk to Jack and let him and the group know about her father.

 

I told her I hadn't talked to Jack in a few years, for several of the emails I had sent, bounced. Naturally I feared the worst.

 

Well, long story short, Sharon was able to reach Jack, and lo and behold he is still with us; great joy!!! This morning she included me in the loop, and I am now back in touch with my ol' buddy. Thank you Sharon.

 

 

I would like to share something Peter wrote, which is posted on the 8th Beach Battalion's site.

 

62 years - seems like only yesterday that I heard those German 88s whistling through the tree tops just behind Green Beach waiting for orders to move out down the beach road toward Yellow beach as we waited for the Army infantry to clear the road of Germans so that we could get on with our assignment.

 

Well, as it was we were able to move down the road towards Yellow Beach but were stopped short of our goal. On the hills overlooking Yellow Beach the Germans were entrenched in bunkers and had Yellow Beach completely covered with gunfire. We were given orders to move into coverage overlooking Yellow Beach close to a large house and dig foxholes as we were staying for the night. There was a garage close to the house and three or four of us decided to investigate. As we opened the door to the garage there laying on the floor was a dead man. This was the first dead person I had ever seen. Since the man was not in uniform we thought that he was probably a Free French fighter that the German's had found and killed.

 

The next morning, that would have been August 16th, our orders had been changed and we were to turn around and make our way to St. Rafael which was west of where we were. As we moved down the road many of the local people lined the side of the road and cheered as we went by. By mid afternoon we found our way to St. Rafael and found that the harbor was useless as the Germans had sunk a number of small ships and boats in the harbor. Though we could see Red Beach, it had not yet been secured due to the fact that a Navy Minesweeper had hit a mine set by the Germans. The Army unit we were with then directed us to a building about a quarter of a mile inland from Red Beach and this was where we were to bunk during our stay at Red Beach. Later that afternoon we heard a number of large explosions out towards Red Beach and were told it was a Navy Demolition Team blowing holes in a wall the Germans had built the whole length of Red Beach which ran from the Port of St. Rafael to the road that went to Fuji (spelling). Red Beach ended up being three landing beaches, Red Beach I, II, and III. As I recall A-2 ended up originally setting up Red Beach I and later moving down to the end of the beach and setting up Red Beach III where we stayed and worked for the remainder of the time we were in Southern France.

 

I remember the room I bunked in that converted school house. It was in the basement of the building and had one small window which overlooked a large fenced in area which was eventually used to keep German Prisoners. I bunked with Clyde Fortner and I do not remember who the other two A-2 guys were. I think there were four of us in this one rather small room. The Army set up a kitchen in the building and I can remember getting supplies off the LSTs and LCIs that would come into the beach Also I can remember the Army making a latrine out back behind the building but also close to a road that went by that area. There was no privacy at all and people would walk by and watch us go out and take a crap. In leaving our staging area north of Naples, we went aboard a British LCI and stayed on there until the landing in Southern France. We hit the beach in the second wave I believe. A-1 was ashore first and set up the beach. I think a couple of their guys got Bronze Medals for securing a pillbox and capturing some Germ ans.

 

62 years ago - man seems like only yesterday in many ways and ages ago in others. How fortunate we were to come out of that landing without losing anyone, so much different from Normandy where we could very well have been.

 

Thanks Jack for the e-mail. It is great to go back and think about times past.

 

By the way, after the war I got out, joined a reserve unit in my home town and was called back in when my unit was reactivated in 1950. Stayed in and retired in 1975. From 1950 until I was assigned to an aviation unit in Jacksonville in 1969 I was in the real Navy.

 

Peter B. Calhoun

 

 

 

Rest in peace. God bless...

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Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
Reply
#2

Please note, the army unit Peter is referring to is my dad's unit, the 540th Combat Engineers.

 

I thought I would place an email Jack Hickman sent to me a few years back, while introducing himself. Ah, it all ties in...

 

I hope you can find additional information for your web site.

 

The Eighth Beach Battalion was attached to the 540th just before and during the Invasion Southern France, August 15, 1944.

I remember they treated us just as if we were part of the 540th.

 

We bivouacked, ate with them, they shared cigarettes, beer and other goodies with us. Several days after we landed, the 540th pulled out, to cross the Rhine. We had to find a way to cook our meals.

 

We have been fortunate to still get together for reunions. We will have our 28th reunion, the last week of October in Gatlinburg, Tn.

 

Send me your address, I will send you information I have.

 

Jack

 

 

I look forward to hearing from Jack again, and filling in more of the blanks. If it weren't for Sharon writing to me with the sad news of her father's passing, I would have not been re-united with Jack...

Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
Reply


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