World War II D-Day Accounts from the Cornelius Ryan Collection

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Cornelius Ryan WWII papers, box 019, folder 03: Benjamin Branche Talley

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Amer Int- Release HQ V Corps TALLEY, Benjamin Branche NY 3 Box 19, #3

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NY-3 LL 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 ? Benjamin Branche Talley.

What was your unit and division? Headquarters, V Corps. (Deputy COS for plans for V Corps) (Commanding Officer, V Corps Information Team.)

Where did you arrive in Normandy, and at what time ? Approx 0730 6 June 1944

What was your rank on June 6, 1944? Colonel

What was your age on June 6, 1944? 41.

Were you married at that time ? Yes.

What is your wife's name ? Manila Davis Talley.

Did you have any children at that time ? Yes.

What do you do now? Vice President, Raymond International Inc., Construction 140 Cedar Street, New York City. Tel: CO 7-7070

When did you know that you were going to be part of the invasion? June 1943. I transferred from Alaska especially to take part in the Invasion.

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 quiet and as normal as such a trip could be. Everybody were calm and went about their business. In the afternoon of 4 June, and of 5 June- since we returned to [crossed out] Portland Harbor [end crossed out] Portland Harbor, on 5 June for a fresh start- we stood on deck watching the convoy and the escort of planes overhead.Some reported they saw a floating mine. I did not. Many of us were tired and lay in our bunks much of the time. I read and slept. I slept well during the evening and was scheduled for a wakening at 0030 since I was to be first to disembark. They called me at 0030 5 June and told me we returning to England because of weather. I went back to sleep and slept until about 0700 on 5 June, got up, was called to the Headquarters Ship for conference with the CG V Corps; requested authority to land at 0700 rather than 0900 as originally planned. The CGasked, "And, wh t shall I tell Mrs. Talley?" I replied, "Tell her I did just what I wanted to do." He said, “Remember, it is the equipment we are worrying about, not you". To this I answered in the same manner, "I understand". I returned to my ship, and we set out again. [inserted] [?Gerow?] - he told him that he should follow 2nd wave. [end inserted] What were the rumors on board the boat, ship or plane in which you made the crossing ? (Some people remember scuttlebut to the affect that the Germans had poured gasoline on the water and planned, to set it afire when the troops came in ). There were no rumors aboard our ship. Having seen what the British did to protect their own shores, nd knowing the terrain where we were to land, we appreciated it was a “natural" ffor t he use of incendiaries on the water,and we were fearful or it, but there were no rumors.Also, our intelligence t old us t here were large rocket launcher positions back of the beach, and we were apprehensive, since we “heard" they were 11" diameter. Everyone was remarkably calm. It seemed so then, and does now, after 14 years.

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- for Cornelius Ryan 2 -

Your name B. B. Talley.

Did you by any chance keep a diary of what happened to you that day?

Yes. My job was to dispatch a continuous commentary of the landing. For about 9 hours, I sent a message each 15 minutes (approx) I have those, and filled in the data shortly after D-Day.

Were any of your friends killed or wounded either during the landing or during the day? Yes. One of my drivers. Also my senior staff sergeant died of shock or heart failure immediately reaching shore. General Helmick carried the staff sergeant shore and lay him on the beach. He did shortly thereafter. I was not with them.

Do you remember any conversations you had with them before they became casualties? None

Were you wounded ? No. I knew I would not be. I was Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans, and knew the stage and the script and every part every unit was to play. Therefore, I went about my task quietly. I repeatedly wrote Mrs. Talley, "The German or the Jap has not been born who can touch me."

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?

Do you remember seeing or hearing anything that seems funny now, even though it did not, of course, seem amusing at the time? Knowing myself as I did, it seemed unusual then that I was not nervous or excited,and it seems so now. I was mindful of what was going on around me, and took precautions not to do anything foolish, but at no time felt fear. If that is bravery, I can take no credit. My prayer was a simple one: "Thy will be done, and may I conduct myself as I should. " It was, at the time, of little concern whether I crossed the beach, and did not worry about it.

Do you recall any incident, sad or heroic, or simply memorable, which struck you more than anything else? Yes.

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- for Cornelius Ryan 3 - Your name B. B. Talley.

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? Not particularily.

Where were you at midnight on June 5, 1944? Preparing to disembark in a Dukw, 12 miles offshore of Normandy.

Where were you at midnight on June 6, 1944? One the beach.Shortly after midnight I crawled into the entrance to a German dugout and slept quietly until awakend by the heavy German bombardment around daybreak.

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?

Colonel John O'Neill, Engineer, Fifth Army, Headquarters, Fifth Army, Chicago, Illinois.

Have written him.

Addenda: On D-Day, I commanded the V Corps, Information Team, which was a specially orgainzed signal unit consisting of 5 officers and 17 enlisted men whose duty it was to give an independent radio account of the landing.We were equipped with 4 radio stations,- 2 in Dukws, 2 in jeeps. Both jeeps were drowned out,and one duks received a direct hit and burned. The remaining dukw throughout D-Day was the only radio station in operation ashore.With the tactical units, either the operators were killed, or the stations destroyed. Every member of my detachment was decorated. I received the DSC, and each other member the Silver Star f or Gallentryin Action. It is believed this is the largest single unit in WW II in the army where every member was decorated for bravery. The account of this team was broadcast on the program "You Are There", which was on TV 10 Years after D-Day. It was rebroadcast on the Armed Forces Network, and accounts, or extracts from my D-Day Diary were published in "Saga",- the July 1954 number, I believe it was. The original of this diary is in the Museum at Arromanches, France. I have a copy.

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 VOCATINO OR OCCUPATION WILL BE LISTED.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP.

Cornelius Ryan

Frances Ward Research, The Reader's Digest

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Interview:

B.B.Talley Suite 1308 140 Cedar Street New York 6, N.Y.

Release - June 6, 1958 (signed) Persuaded Gadley to set up 4 radio stations to give the Ancon a running commentary of the battle. Lost 3 stations Army - 1958 p 8 32 - phantom passes the word" Wearing 2-piece yellow hooded rainsuit 11th Beachead for Talley Wife staying at fathers - got radio broadcast - father lives in West Va.- father said "Come with me we'll go for a walk" They kept him away from radio all that day. He wrote five letters that day, simple letters: "We've landed in France. It was really as bad as we thought it would be" Kept letters in nursette bag. Turned them over to Navy. The only radio in operation on shore. At midnight he crawled into German tunnel and slept solidly. Said the Lord's prayer before he went to sleep.

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Talley

persuaded Ladley to set up 4 radio stations to give the Ancon a running commentary of the battle. Lost 3 stations

Army 1958 pg 32 phantom passes the word

weaving 2-piece yellow hooded rain suit

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11th Beachhead for Talley

wife staying at fathers - got radio broadcast - father lives in West Va- father sd "Come with me will go for a walk" They kept her away from

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Kept letters in musette bag. Turned them over to Navy the only radio in operation on shore At midnight he crawled into Ger tunnel + slept solidly. Sd the Lord's prayer before he went to sleep.

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radio all that day He wrote five letter that day simple letters: "We've landed in France. It was nearly as bad as we thought it would be"

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May 9, 1958

V Corps Staff

Dear General Talley

A book about D-Day, June 6, 1944, is being prepared by Cornelius Ryan for publication in The Reader's Digest in book form on the 15th anniversary of the Normandy invasion in the spring of 1959. It is being written with the complete cooperation and assistance of the Department of the Army and the Departmetn 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 from the Department of the Army, of the part which you played in the invasion, we hope very much that you'll be interested in the project and will be willing to help us.

Mr. Ryan is presently in Europe trying to get the project under way there. He will be back in this country very shortly, and during the late spring and early summer of this year, both in this country and in Europe, he will be interviewing many of the people who agree to contribute to the book. Very probably, he will wish to talk with you during that period, if you are willing and able to see him. In the meantime, since we are literally dealing with hundreds of poeple, we are finding it necessary to keep an individual file on each person who agrees to. help us. Therefore we hope that if you are willing to help with the book, 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 do indicate the sort of information which we are seeking.

In Mr. Ryan's absence, I should be most grateful to know as soon as possible when and if you will be available for interview during the next two or three months. We will look forward very eagerly to your reply. We want very much to tell your stroy and the story of your unit, and in order to do that we need you. Thank you so very much for any help which you can give us.

Sincerely yours,

Frances Ward Research Department

Brigadier General Benjamin B. Talley 55 East 10th Street New York 3, New York

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