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Private James L. Lockhart

29th Infantry Division - 115th Infantry Regiment - B Company

Omaha Beach

 

I was on LCI #619 when we moved into the channel from the Port of Saltash near Plymouth, England. It seemed we were forever moving. After two or three days of continuous moving a rumor started among the personnel that we were going to some other place than the French Coast, and several were getting seasick.

By June 5, 1944 a really heavy storm hit the English Channel and the invasion was postponed due to the rough seas until the following day, June 6, 1944. When morning came most all of Company B was seasick for the D-Day Landing. I made a trip to the galley and had a meal of baked beans & bacon, which I enjoyed, alone.

Aboard LCI #619 was 180 personnel of Company B, 1st Battalion, 115th Regiment, 29th Division and a Senior Officer Lieutenant Colonel John Cooper, CO of the 110th Artillery Battalion. As the LCI started in for a landing on DOG Red area, Captain Phillip Alston told the men he would land them on dry sand if it took him all day. He made one attempt to land, but had to try another area. All of B Company was lined up facing the ramps preparing to walk ashore, but just before they did they were told the landing area was a new one and they might have to fight before they got off the beaches.

By this time the LCI was taking heavy machine gin fire on the left side of the ship near the ramp. Everyone near the ramp moved over to the right side of the ship. Then, as the ramp went down everyone moved off the LCI without hesitation. The Captain of LCI #619 had kept his promise and everyone made it to shore without getting their shoes wet. My unit did not spend anytime on the Normandy Beach, we kept moving off the beach to get away from machine guns firing at us. We made our way up a draw to keep from being killed where we landed. Soon as we got off the beach it was green fields with land mines everywhere.

After Company B reached high ground overlooking Omaha Beach, we tried to get to Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer in the direction of Langereville. German mortar fire was coming down like rain and several of my friends were injured. I can remember William Mohler getting his toes blown off and Charles Byers was hit in the spine with a large chunk of shrapnel. He was trying to crawl to safety but was not able to get back to where I was. There were Medics near, but refused to go for him under fire. I believe the first brave thing I had ever done, was taking off all my gear, and run over to Charles and carry him back to the Medics.

Several members of my platoon were replaced by new personnel before we were in position to move from one area. The Germans would not give up easily since they were dug in and had a very good field of fire. There was no end to the small fields that were surrounded by very thick hedgerows and this caused Company B to take a very heavy toll on experienced personnel.

I feel I was one of the lucky ones, as First Scout, the Germans would wait and let me pass by until a larger group came through so they could do the most damage.

The bad part of the first 4 or 5 days in combat was not getting any sleep and also doing without food, because the C Rations had to be split up for 12 men and several times you would not be anywhere close to any of your buddies to share with them.

As we continued to advance several of the platoon members were killed or wounded less than a mile from Omaha Beach.

James L. Lockhart