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HQ1ST MORTAR PLATOON IN NORMANDY
Letter to Bill Goudy

Page 1


Page 2

9 September, 1985

Dear Bill:

Reunions uncover much nostalgia -- and I wanted to convey to you my thoughts forty years ago while I am at the typewriter.  Of course, everything now is academic and mere commentary.

We both believe that the 81mm Mortar Platoon was special; if only from a personal bias; going into Normandy forty years ago, I felt that you had the best gun.

I switched with Vancourt to take in a gun for several reasons:  Hesse, Johnson and Alexander was one.  And I thought I could talk you into particular operations.

I had a distinct theory of how mortars should be used -- which was to avoid aiming stakes and be set as a kind of artillery in battery. (I felt that digging gun emplacements was only to keep idle hands busy -- and doubtful even in a set battle.)

What was completely ignored by others was the mobility of these guns (which, after all, we carried all over Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, Ireland and England) and how quickly we could take them down and set them up.

Normandy, of course, with its hedgerows makes this theory moot.

But I felt that we could set up a gun -- sighting directly of possible -- lob three rounds, breakdown and set up again some 500 yards away.  To do it again.

This would mean a honing of distances; I figured 600-1000 yards which would keep us out of range of small arms fire,  Never mind the corrections.

And, peculiar to us, every six rounds we fired, we gained another hand until we were resupplied.

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To carry mortars as we did was merely the work of pack animals; the speed we could tear down and set up a gun didn't figure in the equation.  We moved as fast as a rifleman and we had a bigger gun.

The structure of the platoon (Abbot, Meadows, sections) didn't bother me much; I knew how fluid this could become from our maneuvers we attended.

But not the chaos of Normandy when I didn't even get a gun and has distressed me ever since.

And this tactic is better suited to 60mm mortars which I would include a few in a reconstituted platoon.

I remember you well, Bill, because you were more than an "observer" of things happening than me.

I was not so smart as I was lucky: after all -- [Herbert] Hesse, [Hubert?] Johnson and [James] Alexander were the only survivors out of the plane ... albeit Kreigsgefangeners {POWs.]

Years of events and things have happened since but I remember you, Bill, as just yesterday.

My love to Mabel and take care,

Airborne!

/s/ Tom

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