ARMY TIMES
by Jack W. Mills

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I might say right here that it is quite a sight, to see those battleships shoot broadside and the shells going overhead. The shells have enough kick to them that the old battle ship would roll way over. I learned later on that the battleship was the U.S.S. Arkansas. The bullets weighs about a ton and sounds like a wire being swung around your head swishing when it goes over your head. First, you see a flash like lightning and then the concussion hits and shakes your pants legs like a strong wind and then the sound comes and that is nearly deafening. The Battleship had those 16 inch guns and they are big. I'm guessing at the size of those guns but they are big.

We also watched that duel between a Destroyer and an 88 MM gun on land. The 88 was walking his shots out toward the Destroyer and had there been a next one it would have hit the ship but it never came and we assumed that the ship got him. I think that the Navy really saved the day with their shelling of the beaches.

There were literally thousands of our airplanes in the air that day. We never seen a single German airplane that day. They did come back that night and bomb but it was a puny effort. Our planes never dropped one bomb on Omaha Beach. There was not one bomb hole, until the night when the Germans came back and dropped one. The English beach was bombed unmerciful and bomb holes everywhere. I went down there afterwards and see it.

We never went in until late in the afternoon (Omaha-Fox-Red was our destination) and the carnage was such that it is hard to imagine or describe. I had never dreamed that in my life time that I would ever see so many dead people. You could not walk on that beach without stepping on or over arms, legs, heads or parts of bodies. There was bodies everywhere and parts and pieces of bodies, this is the mildest way that I can describe it. I heard that there was over 3000 killed that day there and the total had reached over 8000 that was buried in the cemetery that was established just on top of the hill above Normandy beach. Later on the burial teams stacked the bodies like cordwood awaiting identification and burial and there was a bunch of stacks. This is the only way to describe it and I know it is not pleasant to read about and at times it is not pleasant to try to recall either. That's one reason that I never much wanted to try to recall it. We lost several of our guys that day but I don't remember just how many killed. I guess that we were lucky that we lost no more than we did. Our Captain, his name was Backstrom tried to hide under a blanket and just lay there crying, "they're gonna kill me". He was scared nearly to death. They made him a Major later on. The commander of a unit can color his record anyway he wants and that is how so many are covered up with medals. It was utter chaos and no one knew what they were doing for a long time.

I was in the hospital there on the beach and a corporal came through pitching out purple hearts to everyone in there and I told him to take it back that I didn't want it but I wished since that I had kept it. That's the way they gave out medals or at least the Purple hearts and probably others to. I imagine that half of them are not earned.

The beach was the best planned defense that could be had and why we had to pick that particular place to make an invasion, I will never understand. The first thing that boats met coming in toward the beach was poles drove in the ground and each one had a mine on top of it. The next thing was the mined beach and then barb wire entanglements. After that was a moat like ditch filled with water and then about a 30 or 40 foot ditch filled with those little round rolly rocks that a truck or tank could not pull through if they got that far. It was really well planned out but even with all that it was finally taken over.

Our beach was designated Omaha-Fox-Red. The entire beach was divided up into 3 parts, Omaha was divided into 3 parts, Fox, Dog and another one, I have forgot what the other was. Fox beach was divided into 3 parts red, white, and blue. We were to go in on Omaha Fox Red.

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