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Hank LeFebvre

I led my men from the C.47 plane over Normandy on the night of 5/6th June, 1944.

We landed in fields. Each of the fields in this area of Normandy was not more than 50 yards square and was outlined on all 4 sides by hedgerows.

A hedgerow consisted of a berm of earth about 3-feet thick and 3-feet high. On top of the berm were thick bushes growing to a height of between 6-10 feet. In addition to this, each berm had drainage ditches on both sides about 2 feet deep.

What we found were thousands of little fields, each an island unto itself. Men could be fighting and being killed in one field and men could be resting in the next.

We heard the sound of German voices coming towards us. We ducked down into a drainage ditch along the hedgerow and waited for them to pass. Unfortunately for us they did not pass.

Just on the other side of the hedgerow I heard the unmistakable sound of a machine gun being set up, the snap of the tripods being extended and the sound of the bolt going back and forth as the ammunition belt was fed through.

It appeared that we were in the middle of a German platoon.

We could hear them talking quite clearly just on the other side of the hedgerow.

What do we do?

There was no way to throw a hand grenade through the hedgerow.

We had to whisper very quietly.

I thought that we could sneak out of our position, but when we tried to move the dried brambles and weeds would crackle loudly and we could the Germans saying "VAS IS LOS?" German for "What was that?" and we would freeze.

I recalled from our briefing back in England that the troops landing on the Normandy coastline would relieve us by D+1, so I figured we would just stay put until the Germans were forced to move. But the seaborne invasion didn't make it to us as planned.

My pathfinder friend almost got his hand stepped on by a German who was apparently going to a platoon outpost on our side of the hedgerow. My fiends hand was on the edge of the ditch in which we were hiding and suddenly 2 legs went by us.

Our days and nights were spent huddled together. I was sure the Germans would be driven out by our forces momentarily, so we waited.

We lived on a little water and D-Ration chocolate bars. It was 3 nights before we finally heard the Germans packing up to leave.

Making sure they were gone, we left our hiding place and proceeded down the hedgerow until we came to a road.

After checking my compass for an easterly direction, we started out and shortly ran into our own forces. It was a tense confrontation as every one was a bit jumpy.

I parted company with my pathfinder friend and never saw him again.

I found only 5 men from my platoon, Albertson, Benthin, Hicks, Hunt and White. From then on the 3rd platoon of 5 men and one officer was the point for A Company.

I am so proud of these men who were exposed to the first fire of every engagement.

They were always there, brave, courageous and bold.

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