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BRODY HAND (4 of 7)

After a while we came to a Frenchman's house. We knocked on the door and Bob Nobles could speak a little French. So we went in and woke them up, a man and his wife, an old couple. We tried to find out where we were, and what was river called. We finally got out of them that it was the Douve River. That's where we weren't supposed to be, but that's where we found out where we were, more or less, somewhere on that river. So we went on towards the river and we ran into some more French people out in the field. We spent the night there.

Then after dark, we got up and took on off again down towards the river. It was slow going because you never knew where you were going to run into anybody. The next night we made it down to the bridge. It wasn't the bridge I was supposed to blow, but it didn't make any difference. I had the material. I was supposed to blow any bridge, far as that goes, that was across the rivers. We slipped up best we could and laid there that day watching the bridge, seeing the Germans come and go. That night we were fixing to go back, get in the river, and swim down there and put the demolition underneath the edge of the bridge. But during the day one of the pilots of the glider planes came by and we talked to him a while and he said, "Well, there's no way you're going to get to the bridge."

I said, "Well, we'll have to wait and see tonight. I know we can't get there today and have time to do anything. Sure, we won't be able to do it today."

We went on back, found a little shed and we stayed in it. That night we went back down there. We tried to get in the river and get up there to it. We couldn't get up there without getting everything wet. That was our big problem. Well it didn't hurt to get the demolitions wet, but we couldn't get in there without getting our fuses and everything wet, primer cord and all. So we planted it as best we could, where we could. It wasn't too good a job, I tell you. We got the hell out of there and got back. By then, it was daylight. We said we'll go back the next night and we'll blow it then. Course we didn't know at the time that we never would get back to blow that bridge.

Meantime we decided, well, we'd run out of food. We were going to have to get some food or do something. So we headed back down the river the other direction. On the way back, we hadn't gone too far, when we ran across a little old French cottage. We went in and Bob Nobles was able to talk to them enough about getting some eggs and milk and stuff. But they'd have to wait until tomorrow and save it overnight for us.

We hadn't gone a little ways when we saw a bunch of troopers heading down the side of a hill. It was part of our old company troop. There were 20 some odd people all together. One of the sergeants I knew very well. Lieutenant [Leon] Lavender was in the group. Sergeant [Bramwell] Phillips was one of our sergeants in Third Platoon, which I was in. I'd known him for a long time, all the way through basics. They told us to come with them. They were going down to a small place. They had a chateau down there to rest up in and see what they could get. The idea was to get a boat.

By then we had probably gathered up twenty-five to thirty troopers, two officers, Lieutenant [Joe] Lewellen, who had part of his hand shot off, and Lieutenant Lavender, two British sergeants, myself, and quite a few of the enlisted men. They had butchered a cow and were trying to barbecue it, cook it. Lieutenant Lavender had left the French a note, "IOU one cow, US Government, LT Lavender." I don't know if the Frenchman got paid for his cow or not. But it was good eating and we had a lot of fun talking about it anyhow.

We told them that we knew some Frenchmen back there who we could get butter and milk and maybe some oil to cook with, but we'd have to wait and go back tomorrow to do it. So they said, "That's fine. Do it then."

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