Cornelius Ryan WWII papers, box 006, folder 10: William Russell Callahan

ReadAboutContentsHelp

Pages That Need Transcription

Page 1
Needs Review

Page 1

CALLAHAN, William Russell SC 1

0630 OMAHA CO F 116th INF. 29th Div. DOG RED

Capt.

GURGLING RIFLEMAN '‘After I got in, there was an 18" to 24" bank to the back of the beach. Several riflemen were in my vicinity firing blindly into the cliff-like hill to the right of Les Moulins. Suddenly I saw one of them double up on his side and start jerking. I thought he had been hit bad I managed to crawl over to him (had been wounded in side about 0730 but says nothing about it of importance). First I heard him gurgling. These gurgles I found to be curses. The source of his "wound " was sand in the chamber of his Ml and he was holding the muzzle with both hands and trying to kick the bolt open to extract the spent cartridge.

ENGINEER SHORE BRIGADE SGT. "He was hit early in the face. It looked like one eye and part of th bone over the eye was gone. This NCO was continually exposed, directing the other engineer troops,replacing drivers on the bulldozer when they became casualties, helping the wounded--some far less hurt than he. I saw him throughout the entire day. Finally in the early afternoon he stopped long enough for someone to put a clumsy field dressing on his terrible looking wound. I recall several men dying of shock with far less wounds than this man had, yet he continued to function and to be an inspiration to me and to those that saw him.

Determination

Box 6, #10

Last edit about 2 months ago by Lucio Alvarez
Page 2
Needs Review

Page 2

O-TE 21 Jackson SC 1

For Cornelius Ryan Book about D-Day

THOUSANDS OF MEN, ON LAND AND SEA AND IN THE AIR, PARTICIPATED IN THE INVASION OP NORMANDY BETWEEN MIDNIGHT JUNE 5, 1944 AND MIDNIGHT JUNE 6, 1944. IF YOU WERE ONE OF THEM, PLEASE ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS.

What is your full name? WILLIAM RUSSELL CALLAHAN

What was your unit and division? CoF 116th INF 29th DIV

Where did you arrive in Normandy, and at what time? Dog Red Beach (Omaha) 0650 hrs 6th JUNE '44

What was your rank on June 6, 1944? CApt Commanding Co F 116th

What was your age on June 6, 1944? 28 YRS

Were you married at that time? YES

What is your wife's name? MIRIAM SAVAGE CALLAHAN

Did you have any children at that time? NO

What do you do now? Supply Officer 2nd TNG REGT Ft Jackson S.C.

When did you know that you were going to be part of the invasion? AROUND XMAS '43 WE WENT INTO BIG TIME AMPHIBIOUS EXCERISES MY REGT BEGAN TO SPECIALIZE IN ASSAULT TECHNIQUES IN THE EARLY SPRING WE BEGIN TO GET THE DRIFT IN LATE JAN 1944

What was the trip like like during the crossing of the Channel? Do you remember, for exampole, any conversations you had or how you passed the time? TRIP WAS RATHER UNEVENTFUL- WE WERE IMPRESSED by NUMBER OF VESSELS INVOLVED WE WERE WELL TO THE FRONT of THE CONVOY - MY SHIP WAS THE thos JEFFERSON APW 30- Looking Aft ALL you could SEE WERE ships of ALL descRiptioNS EVEN hill down the (MAsts looks like A FOREST)- I dont REMEMBER ANY specific COVERSATIONS HOWVEVER The UNIT AND BN. OFFICERS CONTINUALLY CHECKED THE MEN EQUIPMENT AND the MOULDED RUBBER MODEL of OUR INDIVIDUAL LANDING AREAS.

What were the rumors on board the boat, ship or plane in which you made the crossing? (Some people remember scuttlebut to the effect that the Germans had poured gasoline on the water and planned to set it afire when the troops came in). THE RUMORS WERE [illegible] OF COURSE- THE BEST ONE THAT I RECALL AND THE LEAST PRODUCTIVEAWS THE EFFECT THAT THE ROCKET SHIPS WERE TO HAVE ON THE ENEMY IN THE NEINTY OF THE BEACHES. THE NEXT BEST AND EQUALLY UNPRODUCTIVE WAS TO BE THE BOMBING [?CARPET?] by THE AIR FORCE- I didn't get far enough into LA BELLE FRANCE my first TRIP TO SEE THE RESULTS OF EITHER THE ROCKETS OR THE BOMBS- SO to thE RUMOR ABOUT THE GASOLINE ON THE WATER-OUR SECTOR NEEDED NO EXTRA WARMTH.

Last edit 19 days ago by Alice Jennett
Page 3
Needs Review

Page 3

- for Cornelius Ryan 2 - Your name MAY 6th - R CALLAHAN

Did you by any chance keep a diary of what happened to you that day? NO

Were any of your friends killed or wounded either during the landing or during the day? YES

Do you remember any conversations you had with them before they beoame casualties? NO OTHER THAN ORDERS OR INFORMATION NOTHING SPECIFIC

Were you wounded? YES

Do you remember what it was like—that is, do you remember whether you felt any pain or were you so surprised that you felt nothing? I WAS HIT EARLY, AROUND 0730-0800- INTIALLY A HEAVY BLOW ABOVE my LEFT KNEE NOTHING SHARP. I WAS BOUNCED AROUND A bit AND hit in THE FACE AND hands AGAIN NOTHING SHARP- VERY LITTLE PAIN I MANAGED TO GIVE MYSELF AID TO A POINT AND GIVE MYSELF A SHOT OF MORPHONE - I WAS PICKED UP LATE ON DDAY BY A RAF gROUNd REGT EVAC TEAM AND EVACUATED TO AN LST LATE 7TH JUNE

Do you remember seeing or bearing anything that seems funny now, even though it did not, of course, seem amusing at the time? AFTER I GOT IN, AFTER BEING HIT ON THE BEACH TO THE BACK of the beach THERE WAS AN EIGHTEEN TO TWENTY FOUR inch BANK- SEVERAL RIFLEMEN WERE IN MY VICINITY TIRING "BLINDLY" into THE cliff LIKE HILL to the Right of LES MAULINS. SUDDENLY I SAW ONE OF THEM DOUBLE up on his sidE AND start JERKING. I THOUGHT that he had BEEN hit bad I MANAGED TO CRAWL OVER to him- first I HEARD him gurgling These girgles I FOUND too be CURSES the SOURCEW of his 'WOUND' was sand in the chamber [inserted] of his M1 [end inserted] AND he was holding the muzzle with both hands and trying to KICK the bolt open to extract the SPENT CARTIDGE- I WAS to SEE this ACTION REPEATED MANY TIMES- I didn't bother to CRAWL to the NEXT one that I SAW having This Trouble.

Do you recall any incident, sad or heroic, or simply memorable, which struck you more than anything else? ONE INDIVIDUAL STAND out. AN ENGINEER SHORE BRIGADE Sgt who was hit early in the face it LOOKED LIKE ONE EYE AND PART of the bone over the EYE WAS GONE. THIS NCO WAS CONTINUALLY EXPOSED dIRECTING OTHER ENG TROOPS REPLACING DRIVERS ON THE BULL DOZER WHEN THEY BECAME CASUALITIES. helping THE WOUNDED SOME FAR LESS HURT THAN HE, I SAW HIM THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE DAY- FINALLY IN THE EARLY AFTERNOON he stopped long enough for someone to put a clumsy field dressing on his terrible looking wound. I RECALL SEVERAL MEN DYING OF SHOCK WITH FAR LESS WOUNDS THAN THIS MAN HAD YET HE CONTINUED TO FUNCTION AND TO BE AN INSPIRATION TO ME AND TO THOSE THAT WERE AWARE OF HIM.

Last edit 19 days ago by Alice Jennett
Page 4
Needs Review

Page 4

- for Cornelius Ryan 3 - Your name

In times of great crisis, people generally show either great ingenuity or self-reliance; others do incredibly stupid things. Do you remember any examples of either?

Where were you at midnight on June 5, 1944? AT SEA, CROSSING THE CHANNEL ABOARD THE APA thomas Jefferson

Where were you at midnight on June 6, 1944? PARTIALLY BURIED IN THE SAND JUST OFF THE BEACH I'D BEEN PICKED UP MEDICS AND EVACUATED TO A LESS 'EXPOSED' SPOT. NIGHT BOMBERS [?JU's?] HELPED BURY ME ALONG WITH SEVERAL OTHERS. TWO I RECALL SUFFOCATED DURING THE NIGHT DUE TO THE BOMBINGS.

Do you know of anybody else who landed within those 24 hours (midnight June 5 to midnight June 6) as infantry, glider or airborne troops, or who took part in the air and sea operations, whom we should write to? LL Lt. CoL. John R. WOOLDRIDGE CONARC Ft. MONROE VA Have him Lt. CoL. thomas S. DALLAS faculty S AND C STAHSCHOOL ft LEAVENWORTH KANSAS LL Maj EUGENE A. DANCE ADVISOR SCN, UNION S.C. have CoL. FRED MCMANAWAY MONTANT MILITARY DISTRICT HELENA MONTANA have MR. JOHN L FLORA Rfd 2 ROANOKE VA [?out?] MR. ALEC HUMPHRIES VA ROANOKE VA have MR. JOHN WHITE VA ROANOKE VA have him CoL. [?ACHIE?] SPROUL 116TH INF [crossed out] [?STANDTON?] VA.[end crossed out] STAUNTON VA. [?out?] MR. Charles EAST HARRISONBURG VA. [?out?] LT CoL MITLIN CLOWE WINCHESTER VA. L.L *MR. BENGIMAN CARR SOUTH BOSTON VA. [?out?] CAPT DARRIEL SPICER HQ 116TH INF VANG ROANOKE VA

THE UNIT THAT I COMMANDED ORGINATED AS A NATIONAL GUARD COMPANY FROM SOUTH BOSTON VA. MR. CARR WAS MY COMMUNCATIONS Sgt AND LEFT A LEG ON THE BEACH HE IS NOW A WATCH MAKER IN SOUTH BOSTON. HE COULD PUT YOU ON TO MEN WHO HAD FAR MORE EXPERIENCE IN THE ASSAULT THAN I DID. SUGGEST STRONGLY YOU CONTACT HIM. Don't think this is a sufficicent lead.

PLEASE LET US HAVE THIS QUESTIONNAIRE AS SOON AS INCLUDE YOUR EXPERIENCES IN THE BOOK. WE HOPE THAT YOU WILL CONTINUE YOUR STORY ON SEPARATE SHEETS IF WE HAVE NOT LEFT SUFFICIENT ROOM. FULL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT WILL BE GIVEN IN A CHAPTER CALLED "WHERE THEY ARE NOW; YOUR NAME AND VOCATION OR OCCUPATION WILL BE LISTED.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP.

Cornelius Ryan 5/[?9?]/58 Frances Ward Research, The Header ’s Digest

Last edit 19 days ago by Alice Jennett
Page 5
Needs Review

Page 5

21 April 1958

Miss Frances Ward Readers Digest 230 Park Avenue Hew York, N. Y.

Dear Miss Ward,

Our daily bulletins have been quoting a DA message for several days concerning an article to be published about D Day.

Against my better judgement, I participated in this earth shaking event as an assault company commander. I commanded Company F, 116th Infantry 29th Division. Our D Day mission was to secure exit D 3 on Dog Red Beach, vicinity Les Maulins, move approximately 3,500 yards SW, vicinity Louvieres. Needless to state, this was not accomplished in the time specified.

I went in with my number 3 assault team commanded by Lt Theodore Lamb. Our LCVP was one of the first assault craft into the water from APA 30 (Thomas Jefferson). We were rail loaded and into the water a little after 0200. This left us four and one half hours to become thoroughly "miserable, wrung out, and don’t give a dammish" prior to touch down at 0630 hours.

We suffered heavily crossing the beach, The weakened condition of the men contributing as well as heavy enemy fire.

Unable to contact my tanks by radio, I went back on the beach to direct their fire. This was a mistake. While directing fire, I was wounded in both legs and right hip. In trying to get back to the shingle I was hit in the face and both hands. Ify interests and mission from that time until picked up late that evening by a medical unit of the RAF were pretty much survival.

I regret that this letter must convey a lot of "I", however, as individuals we only see that which particularly effects us.

I lost some wonderful people in this operation, officers and men, all fine soldiers. Any assistance that I might render, however small, in the writing of their story, I would be more than happy to contribute in any way possible.

Sincerely,

WILLIAM R CALLAHAN Major Hq, 2nd Tng Regt Fort Jackson, S.C.

Last edit 19 days ago by Alice Jennett
Displaying Page 1 - 5 of 6 in total