Cornelius Ryan WWII papers, box 019, folder 04: Melvin Thompson

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THOMPSON, Melvin 5th Eng Sp Brig NJ 14 BOX 19, #4

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Yardeville, N.J.

For Cornelius Ryan Book about D-Day

NJ14

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? Melvin Thompson

What was your unit and division? Co. A 348th Engineers 5th Engineer Special Brigade

Where did you arrive in Normandy, and at what time? Somewhere in the western part of OMAHA beach, in the morning about 10:00 or 11:00, I think, I dont remember the exact time

What was your rank on June 6, 1944? Pvt.

What was your age on June 6, 1944? 20

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? Work for a small repair shop as mechanic

When did you know that you were going to be part of the invasion? Sometimes between Jan and Feb, of 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? As I remember it the Channel was pretty rooght during the night, my buddy and I had our bunk [inserted] made [end inserted] under our bull - dozer and the water came on deck and got us wet. I dont remember any special conversations, some fellows played cards

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). None that I can remember

Last edit 8 months ago by Johnmeps
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- for Cornelius Ryan 2 - Your name Melvin Thompson

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? There was one fellow another to, I met on the beach who had been wounded from an enemy shell, outside of that the rest of the guys on our boat that i knew came threw O.K.

Do you remember any conversations you had with them before they became casualties?

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? No I didn't seem to feel any pain, we kept busy doing our job and tried not think of the things [crossed out] [illegible] [end crossed out] happening around us.

Do you remember seeing or hearing anything that seems funny now, even though it did not, of course, seem amusing at the time? No

Dc you recall any incident, sad or heroic, or simply memorable, which struck you more than anything else? One thing I remember, was a Chaplin from the British Army who was helping and confoting the wounded guys as much as he could and not paying any attention or even ducking from the shells hitting close by. The next day I see him riding a bicycle, capting food clothes found on the beach, to the wounded in a small village close by.

Last edit 8 months ago by Johnmeps
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- for Cornelius Ryan 3 -

Your name Melvin Thompson

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? When it came dusk and we [?wait?] to dig in, I found I had left my [crossed out] [illegible] [end crossed out] ammunition belt [inserted] back [end inserted] on the bull - dozer and my buddy had left his Rifle behind but had his cartridge belt, so between us we had one weapon

Where were you at midnight on June 5, 1944? On a boat on English Channel

Where were you at midnight on June 6, 1944? In a fox hole on Normany Beach

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 ? No one that i can think of off hand, there was a OFFICER who came in on the same boat with us, by the name of Major McHarg, but I dont have his address If you do come down to interview me, please let me know what date you will be here so i can take time off from work, Thank You

Melvin Thompson

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

Frances Wand Research, The Reader's Digest

Last edit 8 months ago by Johnmeps
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June 20, 1958

Mr. Melvin Thompson Crosswicks Road, RFD Yardville, New Jersey

Dear Mr. Thompson:

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 Army 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 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 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 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 it 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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