Cornelius Ryan WWII papers, box 006, folder 42: Jesse Llewellyn Newcomb, Jr.

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Good on beach

NEWCOMB, Jeese L., Jr. Va 15

Box 6, #42

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O-TE VA-15 [?Kepirlee?] VIRGINIA

Half- [illegible] driver whose machine sunk off LCLWrite officer [illegible] from hometown

For Cornelius Ryan Book about D-Day

THOUSANDS OF MEN, OH 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? Jesse Llewellyn Newcomb Jr

What was your unit and division? Common CO 116 Inf - 29th Div.

Where did you arrive in Normandy, and at what time? About 620 or 20 Min before time on June 6 an Error in timing. We were with the [?engineers?] [illegible] [illegible] the beach -

What was your rank on June 6, 1944? T/5 Half Track Driver

What was your age on June 6, 1944? 29

Were you married at that time? No What is your wife's name?

Did you have any children at that time?

What do you do now? Merchant and Farmer

When did you know that you were going to be part of the invasion? We knew there was going to be an Invasion about 6 months ahead of time. Only about two weeks ahead of time were we given maps and told where we even going

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 ? We were on and L.C.T. The trip was rough. Our men were calm, Joking and nobody but the navy seemed nervous. There were a lot of plans and this made is feel better and a lot to talk about

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 ). There were not many rumors. we had been in England for about 18 months and knew what to look for Aircraft, and [illegible] - Boats we [?spoeted?] a dead German pilot in the Channel We knew the Gasoline rumor was a big Hoax

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- for Cornelius Ryan 2 - Your name Jesse Newcomb

Did you by any chance keep a diary of what happened to you that day? No. we were allowed only a bible and map. which come in most useful

Were any of your friends killed or wouiided either during the landing or during the day? approx. 1/3 killed or wounded out of [?7?] [?Ducks?] 7 Half Tracks and 6-105 guns- we lost 3 guns-4 [?Ducks?] And 3 half tracks either sunk or destroyed.

Do you remember any conversations you had with them before they became casualties? One is most vivid we were [?rooting?] for the Russians hoping they distract the Germans

The last thing I said to my assistant [?Driver?] and [?Mackenzie?] Gunner 50 cal. before the Half track [crossed out] [?track?] [end crossed out] sank. "Bad eye pyath you had better inflate your life preserver. I didn't want to dive off the boat but the officer said the last I saw of him he was holding to an [?angle?] [illegible] with a teller mine on it

Were you wounded? No

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? We were hardened to the fact we knew it was coming

Do you remember seeing or hearing anything that seems funny now, even though it did not, of course, seem amusing at the time? The Navy skipper was [?young?]. The seat my half track off in deep water and it never [illegible] stop sinking. I swam the rest of the way until I was pulled up by an L.C.I. and was put ashore by another smaller boat.

Do you recall any incident, sad or heroic, or simply memorable, which struck you more than anything else? Two men on the LC.I. claimed they had an heart attack. So I took their [illegible] [?and?] [illegible] and went ashore. The L.C.I. was too badly damaged to stay [?around?]

When I did get ashore- I was with the 1st Div Luckily I met an officer who was a mayor from my home town who have me valuable information about my outfit Major Charlie Penick SO, Boston-VA

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for Cornelius Ryan 3Your name Jesse Newcomb

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 ? The navy skipper got excited and put us off in deep water. Which was [?disaster?]. Some of the other boats hit mines.

Where were you at midnight on June 5, 1944? In convoy of Coast of France

Where were you at midnight on June 6 , 1944? Trying to sleep between A Dead German and a stack of ammo. Lost and afraid to move- couldnt find my outfit.

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? Frank Willis Chase City Va Jimmy Young Clarksville Va Bradley [?Green?] 17 Walnut St. Berea K.Y. Sam P. [?Eudailey?] Keysville Va [?Seph?] S Dye Swords Creek Va There is many from here who made the Invasion. A National Guard Co. If you ever have anyone in this territory I would be glad to [?paint?] them

PLEASE LET US HAVE THIS QUESTIONNAIRE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, SO THAT WE CAN 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 51.158

Frances Ward Research, The Reader's Digest

Anything else I can do to help you let me know Sincerely Jesse L Newcomb, Jr

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June 16, 1958

Mr. Jesse L. Newcomb, Jr. Keysville Virginia

Dear Mr. Newcomb:

A history of D-Day, June 6, 1944, to coincide with the 15th anniversary 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 Amy and the Department of Defense. This will not be another strategic history of invasion day, but a story of the twenty-four hours of D-Day as people lived the 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 the 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 who agree to contribute to the book. Very probably, he will wish to talk with you during that period. In the meantime, since we are dealing with literally hundreds of people, we have found it necessary do develop an individual file on each person who agrees to help us. Therefore, we hope that if you are interested in the pro- ject, you will complete the enclosed record and return it to me at your ear- liest 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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