D-Day – Normandy
by Michael DiRienzo, Brooklyn, NY, Battery A


On the morn of June 6th, the year 1944,
Destination Normandy, D-Day of the war.

The waters were still, the clouds were high,
All was quiet, not a bomber in the sky.

We jumped off our LST into waters knee deep,
Worn out and tired, we had no sleep.

Then all of a sudden, before we knew,
All Hell broke loose with the morning dew.

Shells and bombs all around, the enemy fixed and ready,
All over, men moved forward, a little scared, but steady.

The battle was rugged and one bloody mess,
All the heroes that were made, I know you will never guess!

Some of us were lucky, others were not,
But those who have died will never be forgot.

Everything was quiet now and silently we dug in,
Darkness was upon us, another day will soon begin.

Off into sleep, our minds were miles away,
Thinking of home and what people will say.

We have accomplished our mission, although not yet done,
There's still a long way to go before the war is won.

To all back home doing their share,
Keep up the good work for the boys over here.

A job is a job and it has to be done,
We are doing ours, strikers do none!

We don't ask for much from our folks in the USA,
All our hearts desire is one letter a day.

Back home is different, everything's in fashion,
Over here it's just one thing and that's just K-ration.

We now you all worry for your kin over here,
So keep buying war bonds, so we'll soon be over there.


When elements of the 225th landed at Omaha Beach on June 18, 1944, they encountered the flotsam of jetsam of the initial assault, as well at the bodies of men killed fighting inland, waiting for burial. A poignant tableau to even the most hardened veteran, but even moreso to the green, young men arriving every day to energize the fighting juggernaut the Allies were building to claw themselves out of the slow-expanding beachhead. The modern view of Omaha (background image) is in sharp contrast to the wreckage-strewn strand (above) that was the beach for weeks after the landings, mutely testifying to the horrible price paid for the tenuous Allied toehold. Everywhere the detritus of battle that there was no time to remove: battered landing craft, blasted beach obstacles, bulldozed piles of broken equipment, disemboweled Shermans, tangles of barbed wire, scorched field jackets, the dented helmets of the dead. Mike's poem and the recollections of other members 12 days after D-Day still resonate today in what visitors feel when they walk the beach where the first waves foundered in the bloody surf, or when they explore the bluffs from which the German machine-gunners rained fire down onto the Americans scrambling across the sand. It is the special sad resonance of "Bloody Omaha," where the first battle heralding the beginning of the end of the war in Europe started and ended in the same day. Where some men were destined to die violently in the anonymous chaos of combat at H-Hour and others were destined to land just hours later and walk ashore casually smoking a cigarette. Pvt. Lawrence Belmont recalls the piles of the dead stacked in bloody mattress covers atop the bluffs. Most of those men are still there, interred in the American cemetery at St. Laurent-sur-Mer, a grenade's throw away from the first Allied landing strip in France, which the 225th found themselves defending shortly after arriving. As Mike says, they never will be forgotten.

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