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Up DeLury (2) DeLury (3) DeLury (4) DeLury (5) DeLury (6) DeLury (7) DeLury (8) DeLury (9q) DeLury (10)

Normandy Thoughts (3 of 10)

Well, we moved out in single file, about six of us, and came to a moon-lit farmhouse that looked very dark and sleepy with no sign of life showing from the windows. Lt. Quade knocked on the door and we were let in. With the help of a candle, his map and a French-English dictionary the lady of the house managed to show us approximately where we were - which was not where we were supposed to be by miles. It was just the lady and her son who was about ten years old. I gave him a pack of Camel Cigarettes. I think I might hold the dubious honor of giving out the first pack of American cigarettes on the European Continent during World War II.

Dawn came up slowly and when it was actually morning with a blue sky and bright sun, there was a feeling of euphoria. The dreaded night was over, and I was still alive; the dreaded night which haunted us for months, night and day, when our minds would dwell on it. Would our plane be shot down, would we drown in the English Channel, would we go down in flames, would we be shot in the air descending in our chutes, would we be bayoneted as we hit the ground in our cumbersome equipment, and lying helpless trying to extricate ourselves? My feeling of euphoria was short-lived.

Morning had arrived and with it, I found, we lost our best ally, the concealment afforded us by the shadowy night. Now we were naked; all we could do was hope that all the people who shot at us missed most of the time. We couldn’t dig in and do a holding action because the Krauts had the communications, transportation, tanks, artillery, and they were holding anti-paratroop maneuvers in the area of the drop, coincidentally at the time of the Invasion. Once they located us they would surround us and just chew us up - so all our actions were evasive. We'd go in one direction, hit Germans, run like hell and try again at a different route; but all the time we were trying to reach our own Regiment's position or any other sizeable friendly force.

During the day we picked up a few more troopers who were in the same boat as we - trying to find their own Regiment. I remember we had about twelve men altogether, which fluctuated daily. They would kill three or four of us and we would pick up an equal number of strays. We came across a road crossing and a brief fire fight had just occurred. I saw my first dying German half under a small army truck in a pool of blood and making throaty noises. His comrades were running down the road about 200 yards away. We fired at them but couldn't tell if any were hit. There were two troopers from the 507th Prcht. Regt. who seemed like close friends. They searched the truck and found a German Luger, and the one fellow put it in his belt. I remember thinking if the Germans captured us and we had their equipment, they might shoot us on the spot. Shortly thereafter we were pinned down by ever increasing German machinegun fire. We set up a thin defense line comparable to the British square.

We were trying, to protect an area half the size of a football field bordered by big trees and some hedges. I was firing at a wooded neck that appeared to conceal one of the machineguns, and my new friend, Red Fately [Fateley], who was so happy to see me on the night of the drop, lay dying about ten feet to my right. Lt. Quade sent word that we were almost surrounded and we were going to wake a run for it. We started a fast assemblage before our try for escape, and one of the two friends that took the luger from the truck was calling for his buddy, and yelling his sobriquet "Brooklyn! Brooklyn!" but "Brooklyn” did not respond. Then this follow started to get very emotional, yelling, "they killed Brooklyn,” and literally wanted to charge the Germans surrounding us. In a few minutes we would all die if we didn't move, so move we did, and luckily eluded the Reaper. The reason that I mentioned the "Brooklyn” episode was that it was pure Hollywood. I never remembered seeing any emotion displayed like that again. Death was so common that there was no time for mourning. You almost develop an emotional callousness that borders on the maxim "Better him than me."
 

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