This is the second part of a very long letter Dan wrote in May of 1945 recounting his initial trip to Europe during World War II. He was a Civil Engineer and Surveyor who probably worked on the creation of maps that were critical for D-Day.
This is the second portion of a letter written by Dan in May of 1945 which includes a letter returned to him by the Censor concerning his trip from London over the English Channel to Normandie.
(The trip to France is told in the letter I wrote last summer in Normandie. The Censor sent the letter back to me, but I have saved it and here it is only a year late) –
No, I am not writing from a muddy foxhole but our living conditions are quite different from those we enjoyed in London. I am in fact, writing from an orchard surrounded by newly-raked piles of hay while the farmer and his entire family from little Josette to la Grand’mere, toil through long hours to gather hay for winter fodder. About a five minutes walk down the hill a brook winds through the fields and each evening after supper, curious passers-by can see a cluster of American soldiers performing their customary ablutions, almost “au natural”.
The saga of our journey from London is not marked by any outstanding event, although the mere circumstances sufficed to make the trip a kaleidoscope of thrills, ennui and hectic intervals. We were rather glad to leave London as you can rapidly imagine (buzz-bombs). We went first to a marshaling area where final preparations were made for the channel crossing. Two days later we were sent to the port of embarkation (Southhampton). The crossing was calm and the beach landing (Cannes) was effected without getting our feet wet. It was just another routine crossing for the Navy but to us it represented one of the biggest events of our lives. We saw many of the places that had played a role on D-Day, and even the fact that a contingent of WACS came across on the same convoy did not destroy the significance of it all.
From the beach we went to a “clearing area” where we “feasted” on K-rations while awaiting transportation to our new quarters. It was dark when we finally set out and we could see flashes and hear guns from the front. We arrived at our destination when it was still dark and curled up on the dew-soaked grass until dawn. Now we are well met up in our orchard home and next time I write I shall tell you how we get along with our new French friends.
Tomorrow, another segment of this long letter dealing with his activities from landing in July to the middle of August. The rest of the week will include segments on various dangers “your little Dan has run (from) during the war”.