Cornelius Ryan WWII papers, box 006, folder 38: Gordon Dinsmore McDonald

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Easy Green Dead

Sgt. amputated man's leg with scissors

McDONALD, Gordon Dinsmore 29th Dir Va 26

Box 6, #38

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[handwritten] Roanoake, VA. VA 26

LL GREENor BLUE, on basis of story of brother, p.2.

THOUSANDS OF MEN, ON LAND AND SEA AND IN THE AIR, PARTICIPATED IN THE INVASION OF 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? Gordon Dinsmore McDonald

What was your unit and division? 116th Infantry Regiment (29th Division

Where did you arrive in Normandy, and at what time? H hour + 70 minutes on Omaha Beach

What was your rank on June 6, 1944? Master Sgt. [check mark]

What was your age on June 6, 1944? 24

Were you married at that time? yes

What is your wife's name? Patsy B. McDonald

Did you have any children at that time? no

What do you do now? Shipping foreman American [?Viscose?] Corp.

When did you know that you were going to be part of the invasion? First part of May, '44

What was the trip like during the crossing of the Channel? Do you remember, for example, any conversations you had or how you passed the time? I was aboard ship about 3 days prior to the invasion. Arrangements were made for all the Grade one Sgts. to eat in the Chief's mess. The chow was of typical Navy quality, which we were not accustomed to during our 22 months stay in England. The quantities we ate brought about comments from some of the war correspondents aboard (that we were being fattened up for the kill.

What were he 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).

I do not remember any particular rumors aboard ship.

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- for Cornelius Ryan 2 -

Your name Gordon D. McDonald

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 became casualties? Yes - on numerous occasions during our amphibious training in England, my very good friend and wire chief of my platoon would comment that " once we get on that beach that would be the bloody end." On the way in to the beach, we were standing together in the L C M & he made the same comment. He was the first man killed from our boat team.

Were you wounded? No

Do you remember what it was like--that is, do you remember whether you felt any pain or were so surprised that you felt nothing? --

Do you remember seeing or hearing anything that seems funny now, even though it may not have seemed funny at the time? No

Do you recall any incident, sad or heroic or simply memorable, which struck you more than anything else? [crossed out] No [end crossed out]

Late in the afternoon of D-Day I recall talking with the First Sgt of our Regimental Medical Detachment. He was covered from head to foot with blood. I inquired about his brother also with the same medical detachment and he said that the last time he had seen him, he was crawling into a mine field after a wounded G.S. There was an explosion and he assumed the brother was killed. I might add that during D Day he alone completed the amputation of some 'R.R's ' leg with a pair of surgical scissors. He found out later that his brother had not been killed.

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- for Cornelius Ryan 3 -

Your name Gordon D. McDonald

In time of great crisis, people generally show either great ingenuity or self-reliance, others fo incredibly stupid things. Do you remember any examples of either from D-Day? No

Where were you at midnight on June 5, 1944? aboard M.S.S. Charles Carroll

Where were you at midnight on June 6, 1944? Approzimately 1,000 yards inland

Do you know of anybody else who landed within the 24 hours of D-Day, June 6, as infantry, glider or airborne troops, or who took part in the air and sea operations, whome we should write to? A.E. Humphreys, Jr. 3635 Martinell Ave, S.W. Roanoke, Va. J.D. Sink, 2816 Woodlawn Ave, S.W. Roanoke D.[?C?]. Davidson, 3143 Williamson Road N.E. Roanoke D.R. Spicer, 4727 Eden Drive, N.W., Roanoke This man was wounded by the same shell that killed "The Major of St. Lo, (Major Tom Howie) I might add that [inserted] there are [end inserted] quite a few men in the Roanoke and surrounding areas that participated in the D-Day landings. I will be available for interview at any time!

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

THNK YOU FOR YOUR HELP.

Cornelius Ryan

Frances Ward Research, The Reader's Digest

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July 18, 1958

Mr. Gordon MacDonald 3217 Lawndale Road, S.W. Roanoke, Virginia

Dear Mr. MacDonald:

A history of D-Day, June 6, 1944, to coincide with the 15th anniver- sary of the Normandy invasion next year is being prepared by Cornelius Ryan for publication in the Reader’s Digest and in book form. It is being written with the complete cooperation and assistance of the Department of the Army and the Department of Defense. This will not be another strategic history of invasion day, but a story of the twentyfour hours of D-Day as people lived them and remembered them. For this, we can only go to the men who were there and, if they are willing, invade their memories. Having learned of the part which you played in the invasion, we hope very much that you will be interested in tie project and agree to help us.

During the next few months, both in this country and in Europe, Mr. Ryan will be interviewing many of the D-Day participants teo agree to contribute to the book. Very probably, he will wish to talk with you during that period. In the meantime, since w© are deal ng with literally hundredtsof people, we have found it necessary to develop an individual file on each person who agrees to help us. Therefore, we hope that if you are interested in the project, you will complete the enclosed record and return it to me at your earliest convenience. We truly believe that these questions will serve you, as well as us, if they can help to crystallize some hazy memories and to indicate the sort of information which we are seeking.

I should be most grateful to know as soon as possible when and if you will be available for interview during the next few months. We want very much to tell the story of your unit, and in order to do that we need your personal account. We look forward eagerly to your reply.

Sincerely yours,

Frances Ward Research Department

FW:LL Enclosure

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