Cornelius Ryan WWII papers, box 007, folder 08: James Durward Sink

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SINK, James Durward 116th Inf 29 DIV

Box 7, #8

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Roanoke, VA. VA 41

For Cornelius Ryan Book about D-Day

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? James Durward Sink

What was your unit and division? Hq. Co. 116th Infantry, 29th Division

Where did you arrive in Normandy, and at what time? Landed 300 yards east of les Moulins draw, Omaha Beach about 7:55 AM, D-Day.

What was your rank on June 6, 1944? Captain, Communications Officer, 116th Infantry

What was your age on June 6, 1944? Age 29

Were you married at that time? Yes

What is your wife's name? Mildred V. Giesen

Did you have any children at that time? One - a son.

What do you do now? Superintendent, Traffic Engineering & Communications, City of Roanoke, Va.

When did you know that you were going to be part of the invasion? General-Fall of '43, Specific about March 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 crossed on the "Charles Carroll", APA-28. Trip was conventional as had been on this ship many times before. Situation did not become serious until General Quarters sounded sometime around 2:00 AM and preparations to start ashore commenced. Many men looked upon the operation as just another rehearsal.

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 rumor I remember most was based on the fact that the 29th had been over sea a long time and was that all men in the 29th surviving when the beach head was taken would be returned to the States.

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- for Cornelius Ryan 2 - Your name James D. Sink

Did you by any chance keep a diary of what happened to you that day? No, but I reconstructed the action later. As a boat team commander I prepared a narrative for S. L. A. Marshall later.

Were any of your friends killed or wounded either during the landing or during the day? Yes, quite a few. Best I remember, nine men of my company killed or wounded that came in with my boat.

Do you remember any conversations you had with them before they became casualties? Back in England with Major John W. Sours, Regimental Supply Officer and S/Sgt. Fred W. Goad, my wire chief. Both these men had a premonition that they would be killed and both were correct.

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? DNA

Do you remember seeing or bearing anything that seems funny now, though it did not, of course, seem amusing at the time? even Yes - - plenty of things. Such as men trying to hide behind the obstacles in the water.

Do you recall any incident, sad or heroic, or simply memorable, which struck you more then anything else? Yes - the way the men assembled into leaderless groups with no apparent aim.

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- for Cornelius Ryan 3 - Your name James D. Sink

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? Yes - During the afternoon of D-Day I returned to the beach to round up my boat team which had scattered. The direct route I was taking brought me into the rear of the German position commanding les Moulin draw and the beach in this area. I was not aware the position was occupied but discovered the fact before the Germans knew I was in ontheir rear. Spotting a machine-gun oosition several yards away I asked one of the men accompanying Lt. Kelley and myself to hand me the bazooka which he did, I then asked for the ammunition to discover that the ammunition bearer had abandoned it about 30 minutes or so before.Did I feel like an idiot when the Germans discovered my presence a few minutes later.

Where were you at midnight on June 5, 1944? Aboard APA-28, Charles Carroll

Where were you at midnight on June 6, 1944? At Crossroads just southwest of St.Laurent with 3rd Bn. 116th Infantry.

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?

Yes- William M. Riggs, DSC LaFollette, Tennessee

Elmer H. Shindle, DSC 232 Juniata Street, Lancaster, Pa.

Lt. Colonel Harold A. Cassell, Fort Bending, Ga.

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 5/9/58 Frances Ward Research, The Reader's Digest

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May 8, 1958

Major James D. Sink 2816 Woodlawr Avenue, S.W. Roanoke, Virginia

Dear Major Sink:

Many thanks for your informative letter regarding our D-Day project. I know that Mr. Ryan wants to interview you personally, but in the meantime would you be good enough to fill out the attached questionnaire so that we will have something to work on and prepare for that interview.

At the same time we will get in touch with the various people you suggest. If you do have any other names and addresses, please let us know so that we can write to them, as we are extremely eager to include as many members of your division as possible in the story.

Yours very sincerely,

Frances Ward Research Department

Enclosures

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