Saturday, April 7, 2012

Francesco Barone 1944 article

I found a 1944 issue of the Schenectady Gazette that tells of a member in my grandfather's unit killed in Normandy. (Unfortunately, the article misspells his last name.) Francesco Barone, like my grandfather, lived in Schenectady NY and was assigned to the 304th Port Company in the 519th Port Battalion. When I asked my grandfather if he knew any other GIs from his hometown, he said "Yeah, but he died on the beach." I didn't know this man was Barone until a family member happened to email me in 2010. There were a lot of guys in the battalion from New York, but their hometowns weren't listed in my records. Barone was killed when a German plane bombed the supply ship he was unloading. The attack on the SS Charles Morgan is discussed in my book, and I wrote several posts about it on this blog.

In 2010 a man living in France sent me photos of graves and honorary road markers for men that killed in Normandy. Below is the road sign mentioned in the article that was dedicated to Francesco Barone.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Pyramid Tents on Omaha Beach

A year ago I wrote a post about the huts built by the supply troops working on the Normandy beaches from June to November 1944. While these simple accommodations were the typical living arrangements, it turns out at least some companies received pyramid tents late in the operation.

These two photos were sent to me by Charles Morris. He served on Omaha Beach in the 284th Port Company, 517th Port Battalion. Sometime around October his company received pyramid tents. They knocked down their scrap wood huts and moved into these 6-man tents. It was good to get out of the cramped covered foxholes, but the GIs were able to use them only until November when they left the beaches for Antwerp.

The 284th Port Company's use of these tents seems to have been unusual. I speak to veterans representing eight different port battalions in Normandy, and no one else slept anywhere but their foxholes and huts. From June to July sleeping above ground would have been impractical. In June German aircraft would strafe and bomb the beach at night. In July the Germans continued nightly reconnaissance flights over the beach. They didn't attack, but the American antiaircraft guns would fire up at them, showering hot metal debris (and falling bullets) on the ground. It was wise to sleep in the safety of a foxhole. By August the German flights ended, but providing more comfortable shelters to the supply troops was low on the list of supply priorities.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Rising Sun pub, 1944

In 1944 the US Army's 339th Harbor Craft Company was stationed in port of Plymouth, in Devon, England. I haven't searched for the company's historic record, but I do know that a 339th member, David Stein, was there June 6 to September 25, 1944. The company was training and assembling/transporting barges for the upcoming Normandy invasion.

At some point someone from the company took a trip to Torpoint in nearby Cornwall. He snapped the below photo of some English kids in front of The Rising Sun pub. Thank you to Christian of Remember September 44 in the Netherlands who sent me the photo. I looked up the pub's name on Google, and was happy to see the place is still in business.

Rising Sun: The Green, Kingsand, Torpoint, Cornwall, PL10 1NH. Photo courtesy of Google Streetview.