Firsthand Account of Omaha Beach on D-Day
Last week, I wrote about the book War Letters I am rereading and shared some personal letters that soldiers throughout American history sent home to their families. This week, I have to share with you one more letter I found from the book recalling a soldier’s memories of D-Day to his wife, Mildred. His name is Dom Bart. He was a part of the 29th Infantry Division and in the first wave of soldiers to arrive on Omaha Beach. Read his words and honor the men who fought for our freedom now more than 70 years ago.
“The elements were at their worst and our landing craft was half filled with water. We used our helmets to throw it overboard and I never thought we would make it. Some of the boats never reached shore. It was a horrible sight.
Finally the word came – Let’s go – and there we were in combat, something new in my life. But oh, what an experience.
We didn’t have a chance to fight back, as we were dropped in water over our heads. No one’s fault as the entire beach was strewn with mines. With a stream of lead coming towards us, we were at the mercy of the Germans and we had all to do to reach shore and recuperate. I floated around in water for about one hour and was more dead than alive. Tried to land at several places, but always had to withdraw. It was impossible to get ashore.
I lost all hopes and said my last prayer to the Good Lord. The prayer was a passage to safety, but I sure was in a bad way. Got to the beach half frozen and almost unable to move and then I passed out. How long I remained there, I don’t recall, but when I came to, the fighting was at a climax. Pulled myself together and sought a rifle and around I went trying to locate my outfit. It didn’t take long to spot them and was I glad. But gracious Lord, what was left of them, just a handful, about 25 out of the 160. The battalion was almost wiped out, 800 casualties out of 1,000 men.
Our position was desperate, but with sheer will, fear and luck we overcame all obstacles and pushed inland to capture Vierville-sur-Mer, our first town. The price was high but covered ourselves with glory and for that we received the Presidential Citation. Later on we received another at Vire, France.
Yes darling, our outfit can be proud for the part it has played in helping to win the war. Whenever there was a tough nut to crack, the 1st BN., 116th Infantry, 29th Division was called on and always came through with flying colors. I’m very proud of it.”
Pfc. Dom Bart