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
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
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
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.
page 2 --
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
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
I remember you well, Bill,
because you were more than an "observer" of things happening than
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
Years of events and things have
happened since but I remember you, Bill, as just yesterday.
My love to Mabel and take care,