An Arromanches Admirer
THANK YOU FOR your excellent September/October “Time Travel” article on Arromanches; it rekindled memories of my trip there 32 years ago.
My wife and I took a walk up the hill east of town and found a dirt-encrusted M4 Sherman tank. I yielded to temptation and climbed up. As I kneeled upon its hulking surface I thought: Who were the occupants of this vehicle? What had they experienced? Did they survive the battle at Normandy?
Later on the beach, I ran at a mad dash, looking to find cover as the Allies on D-Day would have. Breathless, I fell down in some overgrowth. One cannot comprehend what those men endured on that day. I was not frightened or laden with equipment but it was one heck of an experience—a sobering one.
Things change over time, but in Arromanches that change seems to be minimal. The Sherman tank appears to have been restored. It is now placed in a more suitable setting. The Hotel de la Marine is still there—we enjoyed our room and their hospitality.
The Maskelyne Myth
I NOTICED THE “Unknown Soldiers” column on the magicial Maskelyne. My father was involved in camouflage in North Africa during the war, and was scandalized at Maskelyne’s self-promotion after the war, including his book. My father maintained that Maskelyne was not involved in camo work but did develop a fire-proofing liquid that could have saved many lives if it had been adopted.
Unsung Artillery Men
FOR THE PAST 15 YEARS or so, I’ve been receiving World War II magazine. I am completely satisfied with the contents and the format. But so far I’ve not seen any mention of ordnance ammunition companies in this magazine.
I was drafted into the army in 1941, and went through extensive training as an ammunition specialist. The ultimate goal was to teach the proper placement, operation, and concealment of ammunition supply points in a combat zone.
My wartime exposure began with the invasion of North Africa; we landed in Oran and went on to many places including Ebba Kazure and Kasserine, establishing supply points as needed. The desert was quite a challenge; camouflage was a tremendous problem.
In Sicily and Italy the terrain was more suited to our functional needs.
Every once in a while the reconnoitered area was placed a bit too near the front lines, resulting in enemy fire. During a mortar attack, three of us dived into a foxhole—a sergeant, me, and a mortar shell! We all arrived at the same time. You can picture the scrambling and clawing that two of the three of us did to get out of that hole. The shell turned out to be a dud; it obviously was not our time.
I am proud to have been involved in this type of operation during World War II and Korea. If I were asked to reprise my role of those years, my response would be: “How soon, where do I report, and to whom?”
ANTHONY F. COOPER
Correction (and Applause) for Curt Schiller
I BELIEVE THAT Curt Schiller made a slight error in his comments about the Band of Brothers and their travels in his September/October reading list. Instead of the Swiss Alps he meant the Bavarian Alps, where Easy Company ended their military activity at the Nazi redoubt called Ober salzberg, which contained Hitler’s house, the Berghof, and his famed Eagle’s Nest.
I applaud Curt for his support of war veterans, and share his interest in the National World War II Museum—I am a charter member. Shortly after it opened (as the D-Day Museum), I was privileged to be part of a small group that spent a weekend with both Stephen Ambrose and Dick Winters. Ambrose, the force behind getting the museum started, was our tour guide. It was a fantastic experience!
LOUIS M. LINXWILER, JR.
More Gratitude for Ham Radio Operators
THE ARTICLE “Don’t Worry” in the September/October issue brought to mind my own experience: In 1944, after my B-24 was shot down in the Alps, I was sent to Stalag Luft 1 in Barth. I printed a note to my father, which never reached him.
Before the inevitable War Department telegram (“We regret to inform you…”) arrived at my father’s house, he began to receive postcards from good folks all along the Eastern Seaboard, “ham” operators and others who monitored Radio Berlin. My father received dozens of postcards from Maine to South Carolina. Most gave the bare facts while others added good wishes and prayers. A few requested that he replace the postcard so the senders could continue their work. The article told of one person who sent more than 3,300 postcards; $33 was a week’s pay or better.
The postcards were a godsend: Father never received any of the mail I sent, nor did the young lady I later married. (I never received any of the mail they sent, either; much of our mail was discovered in “storage” in a building at Luft I.)
One More Pan-Am Pilot
THANK YOU for your story on Pan-Am (“Juan Trippe’s World,” September/ October). In the sidebar about Captain Moon Chin, you mentioned that Moon, age 97, was perhaps the last known living Pan-Am pilot from the war era. I am happy to report that R. E. Butler, my father, is living on a ranch in South Texas at age 94. He was stationed in Texas, where he met my mother. I believe he flew through Mexico to South America and over to Africa.
RICHARD BUTLER II
In the September/October article “Juan Trippe’s World,” the route to Manila was Honolulu, Midway, Wake, and Guam. The Pacific Clipper flew west to LaGuardia, not east. The Yorktown did not go in for repairs before attacking the Yamato.
Originally published in the February 2012 issue of World War II. To subscribe, click here.