tv Operation Overlord - The First Day CSPAN July 5, 2019 1:45pm-3:16pm EDT
following his lecture, he moderates a discussion with 96-year-old veteran eli linden and barbara george. >> good morning. it's a pleasure and an honor to welcome all of you here for our presentation this morning by alex kershaw. my name is si bunting. i work at the world war ii memorial. it's an honor and privilege of being around so many heros from that era in our history. and to welcome members of their families and those interested. in learning that history more thoroughly. and making up the deficiencies,
i may say, of the extent to which that history is being taught in our schools and colleges. particularly in our schools. the ignorance of the history of our country and particularly of its military history is being widely ignored and that's got to be fixed. and one of the best people to fix it, of course, is our speaker this morning, alex kershaw. we feel in this 75th year of the anniversary of d-day, particularly close to what we call the greatest generation, on memorial day we honored americans who had paid the supreme sacrifice in all of our wars. but we've always felt a
particular closeness to what we call the greatest generation many of whom are slowly passing from the scene. steven ambrose, biographer said the quality of character that we impute to them is one which has grown increasingly rare in our culture. namely, modesty. more than one of these gentlemen is said to me that when people thank him for his service, he is embarrassed. he thanks them for their thanks. but what else would i be doing? and that's, i think, a wonderful tribute and test end. alex kershaw is one of the titans of the profession. people who have made their life's work of the study of that war. and particularly of what to us is the most famous portion of
the war in europe. he is a graduate of university college oxford. probably its most prominent and famous graduate since the po et, shelly. how about that? it is also one of the few colleges at oxford that had a distinguished american president. can you remember who it was? kingman brewster. that's right. he recognized the promotion from yale to university, and it did well by it. alex needs, as they say, no introduction. most of you have probably read at least one of his books, but we are very grateful that he has joined us this morning, and without further adieu, may i introduce and present to you alex kershaw.
>> good morning. can you hear me okay? actually, that's way too flattering of you, sir. way too flattering. i did actually have a room not far from the shelly memorial, but i won't tell you what we did on top of the shelly memorial. i've been on a book tour for quite a while. i wanted to say that i'm 53 years old. i've been in this country 25 years. my wife is american. my son is american, and sir, thank you. i have spent 53 years of my life growing up in a peaceful and democratic europe because of what you did in world war ii. thank you for being here today. and i should say that there are several institutions in this wonderful country that -- whose
mission statement is to honor the sacrifice and to remember the courage of the so-called greatest generation, and the friends of the world war ii national world war ii memorial actually do that. their memorial, national world war ii memorial, actually do that. their mission is pure and it's successful, and i can't thank you enough, sir, for inviting me here today. you do a wonderful, wonderful job. before i move on, i wanted to remind you guys that at 5:00 this morning dwight eisenhower did this. i have to -- i have to get rid of my props, but he was in the room at suffolk house with seven of the overlord commanders, 53 years old. 60 filterless cigarettes a day, a constant ringing in his right arm-right ear, sorry and a palsy in his right hand from signing so many orders and documents, and at 5:00 this morning he walked with hands clasped behind his back like this, his chin on
his chest, blue-eyed, very handsome, looking very stressful, and some people said that he walked up and down for five minutes, and i -- i said to walter cronkite long after the way. no way did i walk up and down for five minutes. that would have been -- seemed like had a lifetime, but he was walking up and down deciding whether he should give the final order to go. that's today 75 years ago, and finally he looked over around 4:30 in the morning, and he looked up and said quietly let's go. so today is an historic day. i'm going to take you through very quickly some of the highlights of d-day. i'm going to focus mainly on yanks, of course, but my heart will beat a little faster when we come to some characters. the point of the book and my
story is to highlight the guys who got the job done, who had they not succeeded, d-day may have failed, so these are the people, young combat commanders, most of them never in combat before, never been fired at in ander before, who were given the critical jobs on d-day. they had the longest odds of survival, the toughest missions and the highest stakes. i'm going to start off with this really beautiful colorized photograph. this is easy red sector of omaha beach. second deadliest sector on omaha. 900 of you killed in around about three hours on omaha beach. this is robert capper's famous photographs. one of the famous photographs that shows you the 16th infantry regiment landing on omaha. that's -- move past, that so i -- i don't want any overt
self-advertisements. what i did was try to show -- tried to get the sweep of the invasion but take a character from each of the beaches and each of the major operations as a 50-mile front, and i wanted one guy to symbolize, to personify that force. around about, what still is it now? it's about 10:00, so 75 years ago around about now, give or take an hour or so, this gentleman here, lieutenant colonel joel crouch, was finally received his orders to go. now these guys are incredible. these are the crew of the very first plane to drop americans into normandy on d-day. crouch was the lead pilot, numero uno, head honcho in four amphibious invasions in europe, sisically, salerno, d-day, bastoin and finally a fifth day
across the rhine in march of 1949. by far the most respected and most capable c-47 pilot of world war ii. you'll notice the colors, the overlord colors on the c-47 coated behind them had just been coated over there. now excuse my language, am i al howard to use -- can i use the word badass in this company? >> yes. >> these guys are the definition of bad-ass, because they are the first americans to try and defeat nazis on d-day. the first 18 guys to jump out of joel crouch's plane are these guys. plane one dropped at 12:15 a.m. on d-day. the first 18 americans. they were pathfinders. their job was to set up radars
and bright lights to guide in that gorgeous long, long sky train of c-47s of six and a half,000 screaming egles that will arrive later. their job is to guide the way to set up the drop zones, and this is their commander frank villaman, 21 years old. he jumped at 12::15 a.m. from the c-47 and jumped from around 500 feet. we think it took 20 to 25 seconds. he landed and when his parachutes boots hit the dew-soaked grass of normandy, he officially became in 1944 the very first american to see combat to land in normandy on d-day. had made 43 jumps, practice jumps, before d-day, and on one of them every single man actually had a stogie in his mouth, and this is a true story. and on one practice jump one of his guys looked at him and he didn't have a stogie in his
mouth. he was about to jump out and they were oh, my god. quickly grabbed a stogie, stuck it in his mouth and everyone said okay. 43 times with a stoegy in his mouth and believe it or not, and when rolled over into that dew-soaked grass on d-day he still had a stogie in his mouth. badly wounded on the evening of 6th of june, went back to england, went awol from hospital, was demoted, put into a different unit of the 502nd por and saw combat all the way through to the end of the war. highly decorated. came home a great hero. first american on d-day. this is where my heart starts to beat very fast because this is the brits at pegasus bridge. here the first glider is around 30, 40 yards from its objective set free around midnight at 6,000 feet. the pilot has a compass and a stop watch and lands 30 yards from the objective. want to point out one thing
here. these are wheels on the wood and can it was glider, a wood and canvas glider. they are cosmetic. they are not used. that glider landed at 90 miles per hour, and this is what they used. they used this skid underneath. so can you imagine grips and crash lands at 90 miles per hour. the most successful operation of d-day was the first successful operation. the bridge, two bridges, pegasus here and one over here were taken in ten minutes, landed at 12:15, 12:25 and the first successive message of d-day goes out, ham and jam, ham for one bridge and jam for the other. and this is something that us brits are immensely, immensely proud of. the question is did you guys land first, or did we? when i say we i'm kind of -- i'm
half american, sorry. i won't apologize for that. in fact, it was, unfortunately, it was us. it was us brits, and this is a guy from the sas norm an poole, and he landed officially at 12:12 a.m., and he was part of a decoy unit, so when he jumped out of a plan he had a grammaphone in his arms and he landed successfully, started to play the grammaphone and the grammaphone played the sounds of war, and with him when he jumped were hundreds and hundreds of ruperts. does anybody know what rupert is? it's not rupert the bear, it's a mock paratrooper about 3 foot high so they dropped thousands of these in normandy, and hits operation was as success. the germans thought that the sound of war from the grammaphone was actually a british regiment and that all of these dummy parachuteists were actually real, so anyway, he's number one.
this is lieutenant -- sorry, captain leonard schroeder, utah beach here, officially recognized, again, in the press in 1944 as the first american to wade ashore. think about that, the first guy out of almost 30,000 on utah beach to come ashore 6:28 a.m. very good friends with thee door roosevelt jr., at 56, the oldest general officer on d-day. in fact, theodore roosevelt jr. was in the very first wave with him. he was "f" company commander and roosevelt went in with "e" company and around about 150, 200 yards to schroeder's right. i've actually stood on the very beach where they came ashore, and schroeder said he looked over to his right and saw this guy, the famous son of one of your great presidents, huffing and puffing with a walking stick running across this beach, you know, shouting at guys, and so very -- this is the sea wall at
utah over here on the right. lovely photograph showing you what it was like about three or four miles from the beach. 300 or 400 yards from the beach this officer here would not be taking a good glance at the beach. he'd have his head well down because they would be under extreme fire, but this shows you ordinary working class americans who remember formed a miracle. they are about to perform a miracle. they are landing in a very, very deadly part of omaha beach. one of the characters in my book, one of the guys i became very attached to. he looks my son there. this is lieutenant john spaldy taken in his early 20s. this is the famous praf from the national archives called the jaws of democrat up here you'll see the bluffs here, and that where my finger is pointing is where the american graveyard is
a col de-sur-mer uncertain powerful and perhaps the best slot of what it was like to end early on june 6th on omaha beach. again, a wonderful representation of the first wave on omaha. look how rough the water is. this is no cakewalk indeed, and some of these guys had been in a boat for four hours. schroeder, the guy i showed you, said that four out of five guys in his landing craft were seasick. most of them couldn't wait to get their feet on the beach. they didn't care whether they were going to get killed or not. just get me off that god damn landing craft. again, a beautiful, beautiful, an important robert capper shot. there you go. the bluffs are there. and you'll notice if you have really good eyesight that this is the first wave. these are soldiers down here on a shingle rise. that's the first place that you stood a chance of living on omaha beach in the first wave.
penned down just below the bullets but they can't get off that beach. very -- very dramatic, very intense shot of what it was like to arrive. imagine five and a half miles of that along omaha beach, and then you've got gis clustered around rome's bear kids here. bad thing to do, if you clustered too long for five, ten minutes as a group. you'd be killed. you'd be shot. the thing that you had to do on omaha was stand up and run as fast as you could into the like of fire. that was the way that you would live. really, again, beautiful intense shot here. we move on. this is actually for quite a while people claimed to be that guy in that photograph. there were several people who have claimed to be this man. we finally, most people agree, that there is actually private
huston riley, f company, 16th regiment and he signed the photograph. that was his third time in the first wave so when he land on omaha beach, that was the third time he had come out of a landing craft in the first wave. north africa, sicily and then omaha. moving on her, lieutenant george kirchner on the right, became "d" company commander on point of hawk. this photograph was taken after the war. on d-day they didn't stand around how best to get up the cliffs, and over here, again, these two guys, never been in combat before, 225 guys, 60% casualties, 75% killed in the two days after d-day. kirchner here, he was promoted. in fact, at the bottom of the cliffs he spotted rudder, the famous rid and shouted out to him and said i've assumed command of "d" company and
rudder shot back says i couldn't care a monkey and get your god damn butt up the cliffs and he said it was easier going up the cliffs than it was in training. he had been trained by the british, the british commando and we trained them properly. believe it or not, the is 20-foot cliff was tee or three times lower than some of the cliffs that they climbed in england. this is rudder and kirchner after d-day. both received the distinguished service cross. rid at a ceremony and he held up his dsc in front of the few men that were alive and he cried and said this is for you, and the guys shot back, no, you keep it for us. i won't go on too long about it because i'll get very emotional. about three weeks ago i was in normandy, and i was with a guy and the guide said to me, alex,
over in that field there, that's where the ceremony was held, and i found an account written by a ranger who said this is not far from where that photograph was taken. it's a beautiful day and the sun came out and the sun reflected off the stars on the officer's uniforms. the officers had been lined up one side of the lane and on the other side of the lane. he said i'll never forget the light catch the glint on the dead officers' stars. back to spaulding. i'm going to speed up. if you've been to the american graveyard from the lookout point, when you look down, you'll notice some of you that there's a beautiful winding path that goes down to omaha beach. that's named spaulding beach for good reason after this guy. look how young he is. he has distinction of being the first american overs and it's an
important distinction and crucial distinction. the first american officer never in combat before, nervous at hell the night before. bad dreams, sleepless nights for months. first guy to lead others off omaha beat. now, we needed him toll do it and needed dozens of others to do it on omaha. that's the story of omaha beach. these guys made the difference, not navy, not the bombers, not the generals, they failed. these guys saved the day so he arrived at the top of spald being path, walked through a-mile-per-hourfield and had an angel on each shoulder. the first guy to break out got to the top of cliffs around about 8:00 on june 6, 1944. i'll be self-indulgent now. he didn't go to my college, university college. actually bill clinton went to my college, too. if you go into the dining hall at my college, i don't want to
get too diverted here, but if you walk in, you'll see -- the first thing you see is three british prime ministers obviously and then over here, way over in the corner hidden is kind of a not very good oil painting of bill clinton right here, and that's when he obviously didn't inhale when he was opposite -- i did, but that's another story. anyway, but the reason i point here, this is a photograph taken, here he is. high larned chief, scottish noble and commander of two and a half pounds of the british working class, 33 years old, a fellow oxford graduate, a poet and brutal warrior. he said to his men that d-day was only third day he was in combat in world war ii. the two previous days had been so successful, the raids that he commanded, that he was a legend
among his raids. this is dieppe in 1942, most of you know it was a bleed disaster. he here's his part of the dieppe raid was a fantastic success and went like clockwork. he said you're going to be the fine cutting edge of the british army on d-day and he also said if one before you make a single mistake you'll never go into combat again. he was utterly ruthless and very, very effective. have any of you seen this photograph before? i'm going move quickly. this is an absolutely astonishing photograph because here is lord lovett himself here. 20,000-acre scottish estate. he's actually leading his men on to sword beach. this is around about 8:30 in the morning on d-day. you can see the tanks in the background, and those of you who have seen the move "the longest day" will recognize the piper here, the famous piper. the only guy out of 150 allied
troops on d-day that was allowed to play the bagpipes. in an interview after the war, boast them survived. lovett was badly wounded. half his stomach was blown away by a german shell but in relation to this photograph, he said i was watching loven. i wanted him to go first because i wanted him to test the water and see how deep it was. he was wading ashore there and he's actually playing the bagpipes here, here. the only guy with a bagpipe and the only guy wearing a kilt and as all true scottmen know, when you wear a kilt you don't wear anything underneath the kilt so milne said that he followed levet ashore and it was very
cold water. it was shockingly cold, and we don't know what -- anyway. i won't go there. they were very small. then he walked on to the beach. he wades on to the beach and levet turns to him and says play the pipes. he would turn to him all day and say give us a tune. give us a tune. very british, very exsen traffic. used to stop all the time and he played the pipes. he actually walked up and down the beaches three times playing the pipes on deday. an incredible, incredible story. let's move on. i'm not quite finished, but i'm almost there. this is me with another commando. he's french. so today in france today he's a good. he's a superstar because he's one of only three living frenchmen who landed on d-day, actually invaded his own country to liberate it.
leon gauthier. he had a green beret, and i was going to attempt to steal it but i would have been shot. he was a very, very proud commando. first wave sword beach. that's his daughter there, and what's amazing about this photograph, i find it amazing anyways, is if you look behind him. that oil pointing is a repetition there. and the was one of three french guys from 177 who invade their own country on deday. an amazing guy. great representation and very intense picture of what it was like for the british on sword.
you can seat guys being shot and wounded being carried ashore here. this is what it was like for british on sword. the only film that we have of the early hour or first hour or two of d-day is actual little motion picture film is taken by the canadians. there's around about three minutes, and this shows you the canadians. look at the intensity. this is coming in at juno beach. >> americans landed after. >> the second deadliest beach was omaha with 900. there's a reason that we talk about omaha beach because it was by far the deadliest place for allies on d-day. bradley over here, you can recognize him, the great general. this was taken mid-morning on june the 6th, 1944, and this guy is extremely worried. he's thinking do i pull off
american troops? the first division and 29th did i vision of omaha beach. the reports he's had has been as one officer described, it we are being butchered like hogs. even by 10:30, 11:00 in the morning on d-day, first guys arrived at 6:30, and he's getting version very sketchy reports of disaster, that this had been a failure. thankfully he didn't make a decision to pull troops off because he was very, very close withdrawing the 1st division and 29th division back from omaha beach. imagine what would have happened if he took those divisions off the second american beach. john spalding that i showed you early on, young americans, a few dozen perhaps, young officers made the difference. they pushed americans off that deadly beach. speeding up now, the penetration from omaha, kind of a weird map, but one. things i wanted to point out is that not one of the main exits, fired exits from omaha was taken
by others. not one. we outflanked them how difficult it was on decay. over 900 americans killed and 147th. 247 killed. company "a," national guard unit from betford, 102 men out of 180 killed. they landed on dog green sector, the most lethal place you could be on d-day, 102 men slaughtered. those are the scenes you see in "saving private ryan." that's not wounded, psychologically ruined the rest of your life but killed on the beach, and in bedford virginia there were 40 guys in company "a" and 90 were killed on omaha beach. you'll see the extent of the penetration, you'll see how narrow the head is.
imagine if we pulled trips off. the distance between utah and goal is 25 miles. it would have made a big, big difference. notice that the canadians here successfully are the closest. they pushed furthest inland about eight miles, but it's still a very sketchy picture by the end of june 6th, success by no means was assured and we would spend another 70 days in combat. some statistics here. you'll note that the number of americans killed is around 2,500. the total casualties were over 10 n.o.w. 6,000 u.s. casualties, far more than the british and the canadians, and that's because of omaha beach. so you didn't have the majority of troops on d-day, but you had the majority of deaths and
casualties. very quickly, a picture when it was relieved on the 8th of june. combat didn't stop for june the 6th for many of the guys in the first wave. for some it went on until may 28. spalding felt and these guys were fighting relentlessly for two days and finally relieved after counterattack on june 8. those who didn't sleep well on the 5th of june had been in combat awake for over 72 hours before their fellow americans managed to relieve them. jack coon here with the tommy gun and that beautiful weapon, he was the one who found the guns and finally because we can often talk about numbers but we shouldn't talk about numbers because what we should be doing today and tomorrow is remembering individuals, human being, people, and -- these are
19 faces of american human beings who never thought they would end up in the most critical situation. one guy from one community that sacrificed everything so that i and you can live in freedom. i'm a european, and i will finish now. i'm a european at heart. i love this country dearly. it's a great honor to be here and talk to you as an immigrant. slightly overeducated maybe, but i say to people when i take them to omaha beach, and i do that as often as i can. i say to them that this is the place where you'll feel proudest to be an american anywhere in the world. i take them to where they landed and the bloodiest place you can be in your history outside this country, and when you land on the shores of normandy, it's
mocked that you could have freedom and the nazis were not going to come along the mall. you're freedom was squad. >> the deaths were for you and me so that i could grow up in freedom. it was a great gift, a generous gift and most important in your entire history. thanks for being here. [ applause ] >> i will take questions absolutely. >> yes, sure. [ inaudible question ] >> we didn't enough experienced combat troops, only one had come and seen combat before. we had the fourth division and
the 29th division. 29th division was a national guard division, and, you know, we only had so many men and had to throw in wherever we could. there was an argument that guys who hadn't seen combat might be more effective, that they wouldn't be scared. they would be scared but didn't know what war was about. if you experience combat, every time you go back into combat it becomes harder. i wrote a book about the liberator felix sparks. do we have someone whose far was in the -- the 158th. thereto you go. 511 days your father was in combat in world war ii. imagine that. and the longest you could be in combat in world war ii was third division, 635 days to lib rat europe. did you know they had 40 medal of honor recipients in the third division, so 1st airborne who won the war? the brothers, they won everything, didn't they, just two medal of honor recipients,
but going back to your point the national guard units performed magnificently. no difference between them and the regular army. they did a regular job and they were representative of all of america. i mean, these were weekend warriors in the 1930s. they came from all different backgrounds. they were racially mixed. they did a phenomenal job. all sorts of doubts about them on d-day and the boys in the 29th division, blues and the grays, boy did they perform heroically and they did a fantastic job and carried on heroically. if you followed them, all the way until six weeks later, not a guy left in "a" k.they had all been killed or wounded. they did an amazing job. sorry, yeah. >> i saw a documentary the other night and according to the
documenta documentary gerbel played a great we will. >> he's the famed spy and counterintelligence operation and i've seen the same documentary, and there's some truth that our most effective or the agents that the germans thought was providing them the best information was actually convincing them pretty effectively that the normandy invasion on june the 6th was a diversion. in fact, hitler for at least two weeks believed that june the 6th, 1944 in normandy, was a diversionary exercise, that the pain confrontation would come at the pas de calais and they made the information to think that the germans thought that was
possible. one thing about intelligence, couldn't give smart includes. smart intelligent officers would not buy a story. had to give fragments of knowledge of and disburse it widely and they would have to figure it out themselves. >> garbo was an important part of that, did play an important role. >> i have a question about the russians, and the second front was -- the first front was the russians, and please comment. >> that's a very good question. we're talking about the russian involvement in the summer of 1944 basically, and operation migration, which some of you may know about, began in early august of 1944 on the eastern
front and was ten times the size of d-day. ten time, and it was never stopped. once the russians launched their attack in early august of 1944, they were never stopped. three-quarters of german casualties on the eastern front. it's not being revisionist to say that the it was chewed up and bled dry on the eastern front. not for our great ally, the soviet union, the stalinists, we would not have prevailed in europe in world war ii. he absolutely relied on them to an enormous extent to do most of the fighting and dying. which takes me to my next point, and i'll be very brief which is that when i had dinner with a couple of left wing frenchman about 20 years ago they said to me, oh,y know, this american. many i said hang on a second and
i said when is the last time you voted? you know, western europe is free today. it was liberated. eisenhower said we came as liberators, not conquerers. western europe was liberated by americans and british and what's forgotten is by the summer of 1944 in western europe, over 70% of the dying and fighting was done by americans. us brits don't like to say that too often, but you did most of the fighting and dying and finished the job in western europe. thank god. we had no one left and you guys did, and the reason why d-day is so important is because if we hadn't invaded or, rather, if that invasion had failed, all of western europe would have within communist. france is about to go communist anyway. that's why we liberated paris because eisenhower and churchill and roosevelt were scared to death that we would have done this at d-day, won the battle of normandy and all the france would have been taken over by
the communists because it was about to. we put de gaulle in. as a figurehead and as long as he wasn't a communist he would have put tom and jerry there. western europe was liberated with the sacrifice of thousands of american lives and you also have the marshal plarng the greatest act of generosity in american history. rebuilt the ruins of europe and not many europeans have paid their fair share. you guys liberated it. you rebuilt and protect the it for over 75 years and that's one of the great things of that story. that d-day marked the commitment to the commitment to democracy and commitment to western civilization in western europe. >> you mentioned earlier that the only way off the beach was to stand up and run right into the line of fire.
what do you think was motivating? i know, you've done a tremendous amount of research? was it a particularly american point of view, and how does that differ, you know, from the other forces that were fighting and when can we take from that as americans? >> you know, i would hate to sound nationalist on a day like this, but i came across a study of -- by an -- compares americans and british and germans several weeks after when the fighting became very, very bogged down and where it was a war of attrition, where character really emerged, and he said that the canadians were like ice hockey players, you know. if you whacked them hard, they would keep whacking you back. they were like fighting ice hockey players. very determined, fierce and canadians didn't take too many of the ss prisoners because they had various atrocities committed against them. us british we did stop for cups
of tea. we were often more hesitant. montgomery, yes, was hesitant to use large numbers of british lives, number one, because he suffered badly in world war two. he laid -- he knew all about war foyer. that is a massive, massive blue looting andronaki looked a lot like 1941. we were stalemated. we were certainly less gung-ho which brings me to the americans. you guys were prepared to be more aggressive. you used lives not lightly but you used lives to get the job done. you were by far in normandy the most aggressest.
relatively speaking are not been in the war for as long as you were. you were more did have didn't and aggressive on the ground >> i'm sorry. i apologize. >> and i would just like to mention the incredible seamanship and gallantry on behalf of the destroyers that went into what could very easily have -- they could very easily have gone aground and there gun was enormously accurate, and while it's' -- a lot different foruming off a barge, it was nevertheless a so important aspect. >> i apologize if i didn't
include a navy guy in the first we have. would think that would be. as the general says are the the end of things bagot because what you did in uand it a omaha, yes, made a difference. >> spalding got forces off the troops with you in terms of defense it was you guys. the first few hours it was very, very sketchy, but by the time you had ac -- by the time you guys knee when you were starting, and if it hadn't been for you guys, it would have been a very different outcome. thank you, i apologize for not mentioning your very important role on d-day. >> yes, sir. >> are you familiar with a study or somebody found orders where the rangers at at last month were told not to take the
cliffs, and could you sort of illuminate me on what happened there? >> the second commander of the ranger battalion was earl rid. on d-day but before rid it was a guy called little and two days before on the 4th of june he actually out in the english channel had been gathered with officer from the second ranger >> anyway had others said this is madness, a suicide mission, and he had a map. i think you're referring to it. >> yeah, that the guns weren't there, and he said why are we doing this? bradley called it the were important day, d-day. why are we doing this? we'll being sent to our death
because the guns aren't there. little was right. they weren't where they were supposed to be at pointe du hoc and they were disabled and could have been used on d-day. rudder took over the command at the 11th minute, literally had to be pulled down a gangway on a boat screaming and shouting and shoved into a room. it's extraordinary, extraordinarily lack of bottle, i would say. >> i should add that little went into combat after d-day and performed. >> i just wonder if you ever met major winters in your research? >> i didn't meet major winters,
but i've been to the monument in normandy where -- that's been placed there recently. i'm a huge fan. you know, winters was something of an astute war yofrmt i mean, he was very -- he didn't have a girlfriend all through the war and didn't want to be -- only one focus. my member an my sem. sudden is perhaps received the medal of honor for his actions on normandy. i'll say this quickly. only four americans received the medal of honor on d-day. well over 10,000 and think about all the thousands on omaha beach. for you americans, one rp -- i mean, that was kind of political, but, you know, he killed himself in normandy.
died of a heart attack on the 12th of die 1944. shouldn't have gone into combat, had a bad heart, insite offed and he deserved the met al for that period. >> oh, a only one of those guys came back after the war so you had only four on omaha. 153 distinguished service crosses and unbelievably there were so many guys that were so heroic we didn't see them perform 19 -- inhauer had to intervene, and i'll intervene. he had to interview. >> one both these was seige. a note was put in his file this
guy deserves a medal of onnor. do downgrade it. so many occasions so it just lote result and shows you the level of bravery there was on omaha. one last question or i think we can -- >> can you talk about the importance of that river. >> well, that's an amazing 82nd airborne story. one of the great battles that came offer d-day, 8 there is 9th, tenth stagep he mentioned to outnumber. my favorite general from world war ii was involved in the action, jim gavin. unbelievable in father of 1945
at 37 years old had an affair with mar that are gelhorn and the great -- at the same time. they even went to ledge together atowarding to he was a wee part ever th of that. thank you. thank you. >> i'd like to introduce two people before we go any further. first of all, this is barbara george. would you please stand up. the daughter of a distinguished american soldier and vet ran d-day from san francisco who is with us. thank you. thank you for being here. >> thank you for asking.
[ applause ] >> and also ely linden, would you stand up, sir. veteran. normandy campaign. >> right, right. >> it's a pleasure to have you here. and our panel discussion will now begin, doctor. >> if you want to ask a question later, do so with the microphone. please. >> may i say something but and this gentlemen. >> she's in minnesota. >> minnesota, okay. >> that's why we live in savannah. >> there is a species of british historians that i would call an
alico confederate and is it not true that at oxford one set text is the jackson bally campaign if you're reading a past degree and have you to immers yourself in the american civil war from the side of the south, is that not true? >> yes. >> unfortunately, unfortunately, they decided with the arrest crot is, that every. the fastball. it's in your hands. >> thank you, everyone for being here. everyone has heard enough from me so i'll keep my comments at a minumum. i can't help but notice that i have to say, sir, that the combat infantry badge here, i've been very honored to witt vet and to a man, and i hope you would agree with me.
in to a man the one medal they wear the. if, you actually did your job and saw the whole thing. i'm asking what you did 75 years ago? >> 75 years ago. >> on the eve of d-day. >> 75 years. well, i'm mayor i'd 70 years. my wife is here some place. and -- and 75 ago, sets see, that -- well, i would -- >> i was a prit nerve war at the time. >> vancouver 5th, known 88, just before debut. >> why i.
prnl. >> i was a prit nerve war in germany four, five minutes until the russians came in and liberated the camp, and they -- and i think -- i think the iron curtain was starting then because they kept us in their quarters probably for about -- for about five days, and we were hoping the gis would send trucks and bring us back to their lines. this was right near the relp river so we diedled. there were about eight of our members, and the fing they did was to employ -- and while being in the president. o.w. camp, one morning i walk within -- and that was the only
time that i too many -- the doctor that took care of, he was the british captain captured in dunkirk. >> wow. >> and he sat back when he saw that i was scratching myself and i was able to take a shower and i got rid of it, but -- but getting pack 35 -- >> you and the three as i. >> i arrived about three weeks after. >> i was there a couple of weeks and then they struck.
can the opinion third homage, and that's where i stayed until i was wounded. i was wounded at utah beach. in the battle of the hrnlg rose, and i had a piece of shrapnel the size of my fingernail which they took out and then they felt that it wasn't going to heal right away so they sent me back to england for about two months which was okay with me. [ laughter ] and -- and then i rejoined the outfit again. same company, same regiment and also patton's army, where -- where we -- where this is just. >> the next morning we had to go out. you had turkey for gaining
kniffing i was we had to go and take a -- at the zig -- i joined them and there were just two of us and the sergeant pointed at him and made him the first gunner -- well, the first scout and me the second scout, and then we would just coming out of a clearing, then the germans had pill boxes which we didn't know about, but the first scout was hit by a rifle >> so i hit the ground and we
d.so we did take the town and we had the two german prisoners that we captured, and we took this house, but we knew that the germans would come back and counterattack which they did. they encircled our couple of hases that we and hefying. when they put tanks in, that's when we knee we had to go intoles basement. now dog thinks in one corner they had an "qq that stood for bebraep. tir point i buried my doing, and 75 years ago i. >> they came in and the first they had could do is free a
ram -- so hasn't do that. they lined up. there were link up up outside and they didn't put us on their tanks to ride us behind the lines, so we had a piper cup, an american piper cup circling above, and they were directing ouralitiry fire so this started to buyer. the closed up to the who had. good in to kiem off. no idea where we were. this third round i really think would have hit the tank, and -- and that's -- they put us on
boxcars which i think we were on around three days. i don't think i sat down for three days, and they wrote us backsy is on the other side of the yelp river. it was lipsig, and when i got off the tank, i'm sorry, off the boxcar, i had plursy, seen i would catch. rest, frozen feet and whether i one too yesterday to this side, and otherwise i was fine. so they -- so the british doctor that was captured four years ago, well, then, he took care of me. all i had was a warm bed, so they -- they -- they eventually it got better.
i was only 20 at the time. >> wow. >> and -- and so that's about 76 years ago. i'm now 96. >> oh, wow. >> congratulations. >> yeah. so i went back and we stayed with the british. they put us in their barrack, and that was good, but americans would send american red parcels in, but in all that time in five months we just reserved. we just got one, and in the package was cigarettes which in a way couldn't save my life because one cigarette would buy a loaf of bred that big from the russians who used to go. >> eventually months later we
heard gunfire, and we knew the russians were getting close to other camp. the germans would tell us what's going on in the ward are war and we heard the battle of the bulge, and, you know, we thought it was just propaganda that they were telling us about, but i would say ten days later, almost a whole division of the 106th walked into our camp, so we knew that the war was going to go on a little longer. >> sir, can i come back to you in a while. thank you. i want to come back to normandy in a while, but madam, can i ask you. this must be a somewhat bittersweet occasion for you because you lost your father. >> in the war, yes. >> tell me about your feelings now as we go back 75 years ol.
what unit was he in? sorry. >> it was kind of hard for me because i was like 2 1/2 when i died, so i think probably my mother and grandparents were just an home prirg. he-ins krart. he landed on utah. he led his battalion and he say that the enemy had an ambush position in the back and he saw it was hurting severe casualties and everything and he organized the group of volunteers to go back and they took out the enemy position and he lost his life doing it. >> what died was that? >> the 7th. >> d-day plus one. >> so the eighth infantry regiment i showed you. >> you did. >> captain schroeder, would have known him. >> he absolutely would have known him.
>> first battalion commander or second battalion? >> i don't know that. >> his records were destroyed. i only have copies of his orders. i don't have, you know, the whole history. >> right. >> yeah, but, i mean, my mother talked like he knew general marshal and general patton and van cleve and strickland. i mean, she talked like she knew them owl, i will. the think the first -- he definitely would have encountered at some point general roosevelt. >> i'm sure he did. yes. >> as a commander. how do you look back on d-day yourself now? you must feel immense pride. >> it's sad, and i'm very proud of my father, but it's also very sad, and i get emotional. >> right. >> and when other people don't understand about d-day or operation overlord, it -- it amazed m
amazed me. it's important. we need to remember them. >> i should say that my mother's father was killed three months after she was born. >> oh, so sad. >> that's sad. >> she's 76 now. so to grow up without a father, you always think what might have been. >> yeah. >> thank you for being with us. it's hard, but wonderful for you to share that story. did you ever go to any reunions of the regiment? >> i've never known anything about them so there's not been any reunions. >> your father was killed on the 7th of june, so people don't realize that the fourth id on utah suffered 200 casualties.
most of those guys were killed by mines, not by enemy fire. the fourth, the day after when your father was killed, the fourth went into the hedge rows where you fought, sir, and started to fight very, very fiercely in normandy. so when you came into normandy, that would have been at the end of june. when you arrived there were over a million allied soldiers fighting in normandy and it was field by field. can you describe what it's like to arrive in that ferocious battle? how old were you? >> i was 20. when i arrived, we didn't even have to get my feet wet because they had ships that just let down right on shore. so that was good.
i didn't even have to worry about that. they must have been about three or four miles off the beaches already. when i landed, the first thing i saw at omaha was the cemetery. they were bringing back bodies to be buried there and i said, what am i doing here, i better get back on the ship. but they were doing that. and then i was in omaha for maybe one week or two weeks. i don't remember. and that's when i became a replacement. i was with the 76th division and they broke us up. so i was sent to utah beach where that was patent's third army. i joined the company k of the 358th regiment.
i was with them. that was the battle of the hedgerows, which we fought in. >> what was that like for you? you say battle of the hedgerows, but take us through an average day in your life in the hed hedgerows. >> they were trying to kill me. >> take us through a typical day then, if there was such a thing. >> thank god they didn't. we were dug in with another g.i. and the germans were shelling our area. i didn't realize but the shrapnel hit us nearby, and my buddy who was in the same fox hole had a piece of shrapnel that went through his arm.
and i went to bandage him and we called the medics. they were brave. they got out of the hole while we were still being shelled and they took care of him and then they asked me how i felt. i said as far as i know, i'm okay. but they checked me out and in my back right about over here there was a piece of shrapnel that was sticking half in and half out. they told me i was wounded. otherwise i never would have known. so they decided to send me back to the field hospital and that's where i was operated on. now, what they did, they took the shrapnel out but they put it together and they stitched it, but every time i would move my arm it would open up again. so they felt the only way i would get better and bet it
healed was to send me back to england, which i did. i went back. and they operated on me again and they just let it heal normally. then eventually some time in november i went back. naturally the army sent me in the wrong area. they sent me to belgium. i was supposed to go to france, but they sent me to belgium and we used to watch the buzz bombs coming over. in those days, they were all lit up. and as they would come, everything would stop and that's where it would crash. eventually they sent me back to my outfit. >> can you tell us about your mum? we often forget that people at home on d-day were waiting with
your mother for news of loved ones. did she talk about what it was like to be away from your father? >> she didn't talk much. she was just like the men in those days. i do know he became captain. for a year he wasn't allowed to take his dependents with him, but apparently she and us kids went with him. so we travelled to different bases. when she got the letter that he had been killed, it was hard because all her friends had been army wives and they'd all been sent back to their home states. they lost contact because communication wasn't like it was today. so that was hard on her. >> so she found herself alone on an army base. >> she had been sent back home,
but it was hard because her friends were in different states. >> were you the first born? >> no. i'm the third. >> she had three children. >> she had to somehow take care of us. >> how did she manage that? >> she took odd jobs here and there. i always thought they were volunteer jobs, but my brother told me she got paid a little bit. my father's parents were very helpful. her parents were not helpful. i do remember the banker in town because it was a very small town, he was very prominent. so on easter he would buy my two brothers suits. that was what he did every year. because they were growing boys. >> did you mother remarry? >> she did when i was about 14 or 15. it was not a good marriage. i think that's understandable
because i think all the wives were in love with their husbands. i went to an a-1 meeting an american world war ii children and we told our stories and i found that almost all the wives had remarried, might have been one that didn't, and almost all the marriages fell apart. i think that's just because they were so in love with their husbands and it was such a different person and such a different time, that just couldn't work out. >> do you remember that was because they were very young when they married and they idealized their husbands? >> that could be. >> oftentimes they hadn't spent that much time with them, wartime. >> it's hard to know, exactly, when they don't talk about it. >> many times i've heard relatives of veterans say that their fathers never talked about world war ii. you hear this over and over again.
when did you start talking about your experiences? >> it must have been years after i came back to the states. i was getting like 10% for my wound, which in those days was like $13.25 so it was practically nothing. i got a job right away, maybe a week later in an advertising agency which i eventually just made a career of. i never really talked about it. i had friends that some served in the south pacific and some served in europe, and out of 14 of us they all came out okay. i was the one that had the most
troubled time. so it was quite a time. >> do you still find it difficult to talk about, the reality of what you went through, the trauma that you saw? >> yeah. now i don't have a problem. i couldn't go to a movie that showed any kind of battle, but now i'm over that, at 96. [ laughter ] >> could i -- >> sure. carry on, please. >> i went to a memorial day service and there was a world war ii veteran there and he had been in pearl harbor. he said it wasn't until four years ago when he went back to pearl harbor that things just clicked for him. in fact, he went with his daughter and son-in-law and the daughter said to the mother, i've never heard dad talk about this before. as he said, now you can't shut him up. i think it took that long. they had a hard time with this.
>> did you go to reunions for your unit? >> not really, no. i didn't know what division to go. i was in the states for a year and a half with the 76th. but, no, i never really went to any reunion. >> i'm going to open this up to the audience because i'm sure we have questions. >> okay. >> i wanted to thank you both for being here. >> thank you. >> thank you for a different kind of sacrifice but a very important one. [ applause ] >> yes, sir. >> what is a hedgerow? >> can you explain what a hedgerow is? >> one thing that's going is my hearing. >> the gentleman wanted to ask you what a hedgerow is?
>> a hedgerow is a lot of grown leaves, a lot of trees and it was like a barrier where you couldn't see what was on the other side of it. >> it wasn't a three foot hedgerow that you have in maryland. it was almost sometimes 12-14 feet high. a sherman tank couldn't move its turret around. we had made a very serious intelligence failure. we hadn't recognized the landscape we were in was hedgerow country. it might take a day to take one single field surrounded by these hedgerows. >> that's where we used to dig our fox holes. >> it was a natural defense for the germans, wasn't it? >> yes. that was a german defense too. >> do we have any other
questions? [ inaudible question ] >> where is your father buried? >> normandy, american cemetery in france. >> i'd like to talk to you after. i'm going there -- >> that would be fine. thank you. >> yes, sir. >> were you ever bothered by your german captors concerning your jewish religion? did they catch on after a while that a lot of jewish g.i.'s ditched their dog tags. were you ever bothered by it again? >> what was his question? >> did the germans ever find out you were jewish? >> no. to this day i think my dog tags are still buried in that house because i went down about three or four feet. >> did you discuss that with jewish guys in your unit?
they basically marked us here. >> no, we didn't talk religion. no, that we didn't discuss. >> you never talked religion? >> no. >> anybody else? >> what was your father's name? >> captain malcolm l. george. >> thank you. >> we were the beneficiaries -- sir? >> did you know about the concentration camps? >> no, we didn't know about any concentration camps. no, it was a p.o.w. camp that had the russians, it had the french, it had the british.
and the italians afterward, after they surrendered they got out. >> how well were you treated? >> did the germans treat you humanely? >> yeah. the war was getting closer to the end. i remember when franklin roosevelt died, they let the americans fall out and pay homage to him. i remember that. >> 12th of april, 1945. >> yeah. right, right. i remember april 12th, 1945. >> lots of americans cried that day. did you see guys cry? that was your president. >> i did. i certainly did. i had tears in my eyes because he was the only president -- well, i you abraham lincoln. [ laughter ] >> personally.
>> sel >> several people have mentioned we were the beneficiaries of great leadership during world war ii. i sometimes wonder what would happen to politically incorrect generals in the age of wolf blitzer and political correctness and all of that. general patton talking to the 45th division in sicily said the following. i know many of you are of italian descent. that's how he pronounced it. the reason you're going to lick the italians you will be fighting is you are deskrended from italians who had the gumption to come to the new world and their blood is a rich and fertile blood and it flows in your veins. the italians you will be defeating have a weaker blood. wow, huh? [ laughter ]
>> just thought i'd share that with you. it's true. >> i think we have one last question in the back. thank you. >> that patton quote is you want to die for your country, your job is to make the other guy to die for his country. >> we're talking about george patton. you must be very proud to have served in the 3rd army. that's a swashbuckling, fantastic outfit. >> i used to clean out his pistol. >> you did? >> no, no. [ laughter ] >> where is it? can i have it? >> yeah, he was quite a general,
3 star. no, he never made 4 stars but he was a 3 star general. i have a picture of him at ft. myers they have a big painting of patton so i'm in that picture, yeah, yeah. a friend of mine took the picture. so i have him in my house. [ laughter ] >> that's a comfortable experience. >> yeah. but he was quite a general. >> definitely. well, thank you all for being here. thank you guys yet again. it's wonderful to have you here with us. thanks a lot for everything you did back then and now. >> right. [ applause ]
>> one other question. yes, sir? >> i have a comment and a question for the world war ii veterans. like all of us, we're just awed by your experience. i happen to be a vietnam veteran who also has the cib. and then i had the opportunity to teach at the army war college. we did a study on why we as americans are -- why do we fight? it's not for mother hood or apple pie. for those of you that were in combat, you're talking to another combat veteran. what was it that helped you and motivated you when you were in that fox hole kissing mother earth to get out of the way of the germans or whoever it was.
what drove you to fight? could you share that with me and with us? >> the gentleman asked what kept you fighting, what drove you to fight? >> well, we knew there was a war that we had to win, because eventually the germans, who knows with the invading they almost captured all of russia and all the other countries. so we knew it was a war that we had to win. that's what kept us going. >> i know it's very personal. any of the other veterans like to comment? >> i didn't hear that. >> were you also fighting for the guy right beside you? who were you really fighting for every day? was it your brothers in combat with you? >> yeah, yeah. well, i had two brothers.
one was older than me, who i happened to see when i was in the hospital in england, and one that was younger which they never sent overseas. i don't know if you know about the sullivan brothers where five of them were all killed. so they never sent the last one. i know my mother had three blue stars on her window. if you were killed they would change that to a gold star. i know that. >> my father was in the reserve corps and then he was called to active duty. i asked my mother why he did that. she said he felt it was his duty to serve. >> is that it? >> i think so. thank you. [ applause ]
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