tv American Artifacts 4th Infantry Division D- Day CSPAN June 2, 2019 10:00pm-10:31pm EDT
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carlisle pennsylvania. majoris event, it is a complex. we are here on the army heritage trail. one can find reenactors, living historians from all different time periods ranging from the 17th century up to the present. my group though is here this weekend to discuss the 75th anniversary of the normandy invasion, which is taking place this summer. we thought it certainly fitting to commemorate that event. and us putting on these old uniforms, wearing old equipment, it certainly gives us a better perspective and appreciation of what the greatest generation went through. and if we can impart even a small inkling of that to passersby and families who come visit this place then we feel , like we have done a good job. the unit that we portray is the
fourth infantry division. it is a unit that is sometimes overshadowed in the realm of world war ii history. nonetheless it was one of the spearhead units involved in the normandy invasion. it was some of the first amphibious troops who were ashore. and they waded ashore on utah beach. unbeknownst to many of them, that time, they had actually landed on the wrong sector. they had landed half a mile off course. there was a little bit of uncertainty, perhaps hesitation as to exactly what they should do. but the assistant division commander, theodore roosevelt, jr., son of the president, who was the oldest american participant in the invasion, said very defiantly we are going to start the war right here. and indeed that is what they did. they carried the fight inland to the normandy countryside, where they really began to tally up casualties. the unit fought all around
mainland europe. they were the first american troops into various. -- paris. they were the first american troops into germany. unfortunately it inflicted a very grim toll. the unit in its entirety throughout the war suffered about 250% casualties. there is a perpetual stream of wounded, killed, and then the replacements and sometimes replacements after that were being killed and wounded as well. it was an absolutely devastating affair, but many of the men in the unit had the firm conviction that they needed to do this because there was really no other choice. this was the price of stopping fascism and its spread. as many world war ii veterans say to this very day, it is something that had to be done. and 75 years later, that is something that they still firmly believe in. of course theodore roosevelt,
jr. had a long military lineage in his family. his father of course stormed up san juan hill in 1898. during the spanish-american war. and then a number of years later, theodore roosevelt expected all his sons to serve in world war i. and theodore roosevelt said his son, i would look upon them with inme if they didn't serve the way i would look upon my daughters if they didn't have children. those were the expectations. junior really lived up to those expectations. he served in world war i. he was a political rival with cousin franklin roosevelt during the great depression. but when world war ii started the two cousins put their , differences aside. theodore junior wanted to get into the military once again. initially he served as the first commander in the infantry first division. he served in the big red one, which was one of the few battle
tested divisions to go into normandy. however roosevelt did not gain a lot of acclaim or trust in the eyes of omar bradley or george patton. theodore roosevelt, jr. had a very laid-back persona, and that wasn't up to snuff with somebody who was spit and polish as george patton was. omar bradley thought he had gotten too comfortable and too cozy and laid-back with some of the soldiers, and there wasn't that sort of rigid discipline that makes a good soldier a good soldier. he was removed from command from in the infantry division. firsthe wasn't down and out. he landed a spot as division -- as assistant division commander in the fourth infantry division in the month prior to the normandy invasion. and roosevelt pleaded with his commander, general raymond
barton. he was just unceasing. he wanted to go ashore with his men. barton finally acquiesced. barton realized at that moment that this is probably going to be the end of this general. his health was failing, he was suffering from chest pains, he wasn't telling anybody about it. he had very bad arthritis. his mobility in some cases was very limited but nonetheless he went ashore with the fourth division in one of the secondary waves on june 6. he had a cane in one hand, a revolver, -- a pistol in another. he stayed with his men through thick and thin. he rode around in his jeep which was called rough rider, named after his father's unit. unfortunately his poor health did catch up with him. only a few weeks after the invasion he suffered a fatal heart attack. he also becomes one of the highest ranking americans to be killed in france as the invasion
was ongoing as well. he rests in the normandy american cemetery to this very day right next to the remains of his brother quentin who was killed in the first world war. we would like to walk us or walk you through the perhapsittle bit and offer a little bit of perspective on the g.i. experience, so we will start here around the back. now often when americans think of the second world war, they think of helmets, they think of weapons, they think of sherman tanks. too.ar is this stuff it is the subtle small stuff, the everyday stuff that soldiers use on an everyday basis. and they certainly weren't eating five-star meals as they
were out in the hedgerows of france in 1944. these units of food that would come for breakfast, and dinner, and supper were really the staples of the g.i. diet. and often there would be a small can of food inside, some crackers, some bubblegum, and in other instances that would even include cigarettes. that was part of the ration. if they were lucky they might be able to acquire a radio along the way. but you know, when the folks look at this sort of stuff, it offers them a moment of empathy. you know when you look at , something like tooth powder or soap or a razor blade, these are the things that, you know, we would see on our fathers' and grandfathers' bathroom shelves. as we were growing up. it is also the common everyday
stuff that fascinates me. and sometimes fascinates visitors as well. ,o we will talk about magazines about the press, newspapers at the time as well at one of our later stops. so we will head over here to our re-creation of a rather small g.i. encampment. and as you can see, our members here are having lunch, chowing down in a very authentic way. also very authentic to nap as well, a very common staple of .he g.i. experience too and you know on average, an american soldier was about 22 years of age, wade 150 pounds. he had gone through the great depression. he was used to sacrifice and perhaps being short on supplies. unfortunately that economic
hardship well-prepared a lot of american youth for the forthcoming struggles in this global war. among some of the most iconic features of the american uniform is the helmet itself. and for all intents and purposes, this was the home of the american g.i. it was a multipurpose tool. it would be used not only for protection against raining fragments, shells, splinters, rocks, what have you, he could also use it for more things. this is an original helmet. i don't know who used it, but i carry it on in his memory nonetheless. what manufacturers would do with the steel pots, in order to diminish the shine and enhance the camouflage of it, they would mix sand within the green paint.
and that rough texture you see on the helmet would diminish the shine and offer additional camouflage. now there are a lot of other things that a soldier could do with this as well. he could use it as a digging tool. if he wanted to if he wanted to , he could take out the inside liner, and he could use it as a pot. after all it was a steel pots. if you were lucky enough to find an egg, you may be able to cook it. also you could use it as a washbasin, hold it underneath you, be able to shave your face, use it as a chair, as a pillow. one of the really notable phrases of the second world war, a well-known memoir, a helmet for my pillow. finally, to be used as storage in a way. something that was really popular among the troops were small, compact books that were
called armed services additions. -- editions. american publishers give these out by the tens of millions during the war. american soldiers' love of reading and literacy that they would later use after the war with the g.i. bill to attain higher education was really instilled during that time. they could shove those books in here but what they looked most is they would put photographs inside. this is actually a photo of my grandmother gertrude and what she looked like during the world war ii years. and like many young american women, she married a world war ii veteran when he came home from the service. and i carry this photo not only in honor of her but in honor of the man that she married at the end of the war as my way of paying small tribute to some of my family history. and if i could have an m1 grand,
please. i will show them that. thank you. this was the primary weapon of an american soldier that was fighting in europe. this could be slid back like this. you could put an eight-round block there within the rifle. general patton said that this was essentially the weapon that would help when the second world war. it is quite hefty, quite heavy. all things considered. but it really made a major contribution to the american war effort. and indeed it was used on through the korean war and in some circumstances the vietnam war. there are some militaries that have surplus of these in the active military. thank you very much. as we just kind of browse the
the here and look at all of equipment, it really gives us a sense of the things the soldiers carried. when some of the first initial waves of the normandy invasion took place, a lot of these american combatants had 70, 80, sometimes even 90 pounds of gear on them. and the codename for the operation that they were participating was known as operation overlord. in my view it well have been could have been named operation overload. these guys were packed down like mules. when i talk about the classroom and when a young family comes in, we might dress up a young person in a d-day kit to give them a sense of the war, it is something i do in the classroom too. ghs down on them
both physically and psychologically. you know, to think that they were wearing 80 pounds of gear, they are being heaved off the landing craft, into seven eight of water, while people are shooting at them. they then need to waddle up several hundred yards of beach that has landmines and obstacles all throughout it, when you take that in to consideration, it really gives you a humbling perspective of what the d-day experience was. not only for americans but also the british, french and canadian troops that stormed ashore that day as well. we are well to consider this weight of war and the things that they carried as we think about this 75 years later. the american tents that u.s. thes used often were called shoulder hat tent. in many ways it civilized the notion of teamwork and the very essence of camaraderie.
it would be one half of a tent and each soldier would have one half of a tent. in order to have a full tent, you needed to team up with a battle buddy so he could bring his other half. then you could share one. there were a lot of different variations on how they used this. got as large as creativity and materials would allow american soldiers. sometimes they would get six or eight of them together because you could file eight guys into it and if you're in the fall and the winter, all of those additional people inside a tent will offer additional body heat. it might keep you a little bit warmer. unfortunately for a lot of guys, they moved so frequently and quickly that a lot of times they didn't even have the opportunity to set up a tent or an encampment perhaps like we have here today. and you know the advance into monotonous. it was strenuous. it brought about some of the
most enduring hardships that could be imagined. there is one story of an american lieutenant we often like to share with visitors and students. there was a lieutenant in the fourth infantry division by the name of george wilson. and he wore the same pair of socks for five months. and he never once had the opportunity to take off his shoes and wash his feet. and come spring of 1945 when he finally had an opportunity to bathe, he went to take off his socks, and it pealed the skin off his feet. when we think of world war ii we , think of combat, we think of planes, we think of tanks. really it's small human interest stories like that that illustrate the g.i. experience more than anything else. they are short on supplies, they go into wintertime combat without the proper clothing or equipment. it was certainly no vacation. the story of artifacts of course is nothing without the story of
people. and when visitors come into our various displays we like to , reflect on that human element as well. here on this board we have a few , tangible reminders of all of that. perhaps most notably are copies of a d-day diary that was capped by a lieutenant in the fourth infantry division. this gentleman pictured over here on the right and his name was sidney mont. he and his men operated and 81 -- operated an 81 millimeter mortar, one of which i will be showing you here in a moment, as they landed on utah beach. and some of the words he has to offer about his experiences are quite profound. he talks about his men and his comrades falling to his left and his right. he is scavenging the beach. he is looking for loose pieces of ammunition and equipment he knows he will need later along the way.
personal, that element, it really helps bring history to life and that's one of the fundamental reasons of why we are out here to it -- here to import this knowledge to younger generations who may not have the opportunity to talk to their world war ii veteran. we see ourselves as an important conduit of sorts in transferring on this knowledge to other people. another notable individual that we see on here is another lieutenant in the fourth infantry division whose name is -- whose name is bill chapman. sydney -- like sidney mount he , operated, he and his men and an 81 millimeter border. he offers all sorts of unique perspectives and books written about him. and you know later on in the , war, the fourth infantry division served in a place that was a forest. for them that were lucky enough to survive it, they called it the death factory because it was
just like this perpetual conveyor belt of men being sent to the front lines almost needlessly or heedlessly. and mr. chapman was one of the lucky survivors of that carnage. as a lot of the servicemembers were working their way across the european continent, some things that gave them added pet or information was things like this. and this is a reproduction of stars & stripes, which was the official army newspaper, and it's still in publication to this very day. this issue is a copy from june 7, 1944. and there were two big events that happened in the first week of one is overshadowed. june. just two days before the invasion of normandy took place, the city of rome was also liberated. there was a mad dash for the
headlines who would grab the , most attention, grab the most news. unfortunately for those serving in italy and general mark clark their commanding officer was a , bit jealous by the level of headlines the normandy invasion grabbed. indeed there were about 150,000 troops involved in those opening phases and soldiers got somewhat fragmentary reports here in this early addition, talking about the invasion. but you know, periodicals like this really underscored the bigger point about why americans believed they were fighting this war. they saw freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, and the sanctity of journalism and literacy as a fundamental element of why they were fighting this war. their access to information, and their access to books they truly , believed that was part of the democratic notion that represented their country. in some ways those notions are outlined in the speech general
eisenhower issued to his troops on the eve of d-day. it is a very short, concise address. this was addressed in thousands in leaflet form to the troops. he also delivered a radio address, where he outlines this as well. and in many ways it could be considered the 1944 equivalent of the gettysburg address. eisenhower saying we have a fight to continue. it is a horrible fight, but it must go on because the consequences of not doing so or losing it are almost too horrific to take into contention. much like how slavery needed to be destroyed, fascism and the form of slavery that came with it was also something that needed to be defeated. his men took this message to heart. eisenhower developed a really strong esprit de corps with american soldiers. he cared about them, and they
knew it. it was one reason they fought so hard and diligently on his behalf. the harder they fight the war, the sooner the war will be over. another element i would like to show you is a weapon that we have over here. and this is an 81 millimeter mortar. i have mentioned this a little bit in some of our talks prior to this. and my good friends mike and andy are going to tell us a little bit about that. >> hello, everybody. here to talk to you about the 81 millimeter mortar. this was actually designed by the french in the 1930's. the u.s. army got a hold of it. they really liked the idea because up until that point in world war i they couldn't , really move around the battlefield. once they got in place, they sat there. world war i was more stagnant than world war ii. the mortars could sit there, it wasn't a big deal. the germans had a similar
weapon, they fired an eight centimeter mortar. so one millimeters smaller than ours. we could fire their rounds out of ours, they couldn't fire our rounds out of theirs. so a big win for the u.s. army. we designed it almost read from the french version and actually made a smaller version that was more transportable than this. three men with gary this mortar in the different pieces you see here. you have the barrel, the bipod and the base plate down here. each piece weighs about 43 pounds. one guy would carry each piece and you have a bunch of guys carrying all the ammo. the small rounds here, these are the m-43 rounds. they are in a cardboard transport to that is waterproof -- semi waterproof. this round could go 3300 yards
and it was used for antipersonnel, anti-light vehicle. this is the mortar round that a group would use. you have increment charges in the end. that's what produces the blast that propels the mortar round out of the tube. and a super quick fuse, so the minute this touches anything, it's going to explode. the bigger round we have here is the m-56. and the m-56 had a delayed fuse. on the delayed fuse, that is good for shooting at buildings, bunkers, any fortified structure that the germans might have been in. so it enters through the roof, and then it takes like a millisecond before it explodes inside the building. aboutad a shorter range, 400 yards. they also had a similar round. it was called an m57 and it was
white phosphorus used two obscure vision. once the white phosphorus hits the air, it burns and burns and burns. they used it to create casualties too. you might see on this box around here we have a life belt inflated. when the troops landed on d-day, they would, some of them put these on their packages of ammo -- if they dropped the ammo in the channel, they could retrieve it easily. they would use shoulder pads to carry these on their shoulders. a gun like this would be used in all kinds of operations, battalion commanders and infantry regiments. regiments -- the commanders would call this hip pocket artillery. they could go anywhere on the battlefield and be there, shoot, when ever they needed. at times they would consult many
-- consolidate many groups together for a lot of density of fire. other times they would put one or two by themselves with mortar units. this weapon system was carried by an eight man squad. you had your gunner, two assistant gunners, a squad leader, and the rest all carried the ammunition. they could take a lot 18 rounds , a minute was the maximum they could fire the for it overheated. jared: we hope that offers insider perspective on the daily trials and tragedies and triumphs that american world war ii soldiers went through. as we have been talking here a , number of world war ii veterans have actually come into our camp. they are the reason we are out here. we are here to hear their stories firsthand, impart them to other generations. we certainly encourage viewers to do much of the same thing.
we thank you for coming to visit our encampment today. >> want to get a picture here. want to get a picture. [speaking simultaneously] >> what regimen were you in? >> >> 26. 18. >> 26? >> that's my reenactment group. >> oh yeah. the destroyer. he saw the raising of the flag on iwo jima. donald.dick our ship was damaged the night before by a kamikaze attack. carrier in theft war was sunk alongside our ship. and then we had to limp in -- we put the bomb on yellow beach and watching those marines with those flamethrowers mopping up those tunnels -- the navy and
the marines never got along well during the war, it is always a fight, but i learned to love the marines that day. suddenly the brightest sun up rose that flag. i was 19 at the time. my fifthhe first time, invasion, it hit me why we kids were willing to die for that magnificent flag. and we did we did two thirds of , this -- of us never left the island. two thirds -- only two guys from the flag raising walked off that island. thank you, gentlemen. thank you for coming to visit us today. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] announcer 1: in a few minutes we will hear more about the fourth
infantry's role in in interview with david roderick. but first an interview with sharing abaum, collection of oral interviews with "american history tv." gemma birnbaum is with us from the national world war ii museum in new orleans. she joins us on c-span3's american history tv via skype. 75th commemorate the anniversary of the d-day invasion and its significance, explain the oral history project, how it came about and why you are doing it. gemma: i think oral histories has always been at the heart of the national world war ii museum ever since we started the d-day museum way back in 2000. originally a lot of this started because of stephen ambrose, our founder. he was a professor of history at the university of new orleans. he was a professor of history. he