June 17, 2017

1944. American Sailors Find War Souvenirs in Normandy

Searching for Souvenirs
"A group of U.S. infantrymen pose in front of a wrecked German tank while displaying a captured swastika flag. The infantrymen were left behind to mop-up in Chambois, France, last stronghold of the Nazis in the Falaise Gap area," August 20, 1944 (source)
From the Scottish newspaper The Press and Journal, June 15, 1944:
It Was No Place For Navy

The first American "tourists" landed in France on D-Day plus one. They were helped by a British patrol in their hunt for war souvenirs, says Bill Downs, C.B.S. correspondent with the British forces south of Bayeux.

They were three sailors dressed in blue dungarees—members of the crew of a landing craft which had to stay beached for repairs. They decided to wander inland and see if they could find souvenirs—Wilbert Barr, of Houston, Texas; Edward Bacalia, of Inkster, Mich.; and Martin Warwick, from Bothell, Washington.

A British patrol guaranteed to lead them to souvenirs.

They ran into a German patrol in forested no man's land, they were mortared and sniped, and in the end the Germans withdrew.

The sortie yielded a German helmet, two pistols, two rifles, a Nazi machine-gun, and a Nazi flag.

Around a bend on the way back to the beach, however, they suddenly found themselves surrounded by British tommy-guns. A British lieutenant ordered "Hands up" in German. The German equipment fell to the ground with a clatter.

It took a quarter of an hour to convince the lieutenant that they were not spies.

Barr said: "After that we walked whistling 'Yankee Doodle' loud. Up there is no place for the Navy."