| Medic Earl
Omaha Beach, St. Lo, Port of Brest, France, Normandy, Belgium,
2nd Infantry Division 38th Regiment M Company
After my six months near Birmingham England in
a replacement camp, Just before June 6th 1944, we started moving
from camp to camp. We were issued all new equipment and rations,along
with candy bars cigarettes and a book on how get along with the
We boarded a ship for the trip across the channel.
I don't remember how long it took, but we were just off the coast.
I remember looking at all the ships loaded with men and everything
it takes to make war. Many Navel ships were firing their large guns
to support the landing troops a few miles inland. Some large shells
were landing close and not so close to the battle ships. The day
was clear but there was the smell of smoke and gun powder. We had
to wait for the landing craft to come aside.
Several at a time we went over the rail and down
the net to the landing craft, rising and falling, some times hitting
the side of the ship and then heaving several feet away. We had
to time our jump as to the raising or falling of the landing craft.
There were Navy personnel shouting what to do and helping to catch
the ones that misguided their jump. Of course at this time we were
all loaded down with all the equipment and full field pack.
Then we had to wait until the craft was full.
Finally we started the trip to shore, it seemed we were ten miles
out, but it was probably a mile. I think the day was June 9th, so
there was not large shells fired directly at us, but they were still
landing all around. We came ashore on Omaha Beach with the First
Division on our left and the 29th Division on our right. I saw bodies
lined up and every kind of equipment littering the beach.
Just to our left was a small section with barbed
wire around it with aprox twenty German prisoners. I had just turned
19 at the time and remembering thinking ' you lucky bastards, the
war is over for you and it's just starting for me ' .
As a group of replacements, we moved ahead in
small groups, each going to different units as needed. II finally
ended up for a day at the 3rd battalion aid station. The next morning
I was led to the front line to become the first aid man for M Company,
a heavy machine gun unit. The front had just liberated the town
of Trevieres and the medic I replaced had been captured the day
My combat started shortly after I landed. Our
regiment was on one hedgerow and the Germans were on the next, aprox
100-150 feet. I had just dug my foxhole and trying to remember just
where I was and what I was getting into, who the men were I had
just met, and most of all, what was expected of me.
Darkness had settled in and I tried to get some
sleep but there was a lot of things going on in my head. I felt
all alone and knew that the enemy was very close.
All was quiet for a while and then there were
shots fired on my left front, then every one opened up and bullets
were flying everywhere. The firing didn't last long and then down
the line came the fearful call MEDIC. I followed along the line
until I came to the spot. I was told that we had sent a patrol of
three men out to see if the Germans were pulling out.In the middle
of the field they were discovered and the fire fight started. Two
of the men made it back but the third was hit and needed help.
All was quiet except for the wounded man calling
for his mother. I went over the hedgerow and crawled to the man.
It was to dark to treat him there so I got him up and with his arm
over my shoulder, carried him back over the hedgerow. There with
help and under a couple rain coats and a flash light was able to
care for him. The Germans respected the medics and didn't fire at
After all this and I went to walk back to my foxhole,
my legs were shaking so bad that I could hardly walk. Then things
were quiet all night and I could only reflect what was in my near
I did finally sleep as all was quiet. The next
morning we were awake early,and after a K ration breakfast, the
lead scouts were advancing and soon, the company, platoon by platoon.
Machine gun nests at each corner had to be wiped out first and then
we found that they had retreated to the next hedgerow. This became
quite common as for several days our advance continued.
I didn't have many wounded to care for, because
each platoon had their own first aid man. Our heavy weapons company
had two sections, one section was attached to each of the two rifle
companies. The riffle companies had four platoons. That meant eight
first aid men plus me, nine for the battalion when in attack.
The attack went on day after day with many wounded,
but in the section I was in I don't remember any serious ones. About
this time, the First Division was relieved by a British outfit.I
remember them moving in. One of them told me it was The Royal Alster
Riffles. But with his brogue, I thought he said "They all lost
their riffles ", I said "thats ridiculous, how could you
all lose your riffles. This brought a grin from him and he repeated
himself very slowly so I could understand.
Shortly after that, while in attack, I had a very
sobering experience. One of our men stepped on a bouncing betty
mine. When I cut back his trousers I found that all was gone between
his legs. As usual I kept telling him that he would be O K while
applying the sulfa powder, applying a pressure bandage and giving
him the penicillin tablets and a shot of morphine.
At first the pain hadn't set in and when he found
out what happened, he said " my wife's going to hate me "
. We called for a litter and I had to move on I was getting too
far behind our troops. While trying to catch up I found a wounded
German, with a gun shot wound through the right shoulder. I had
quite a time with him, he didn't want me to touch him, I think he
thought I would finnish him off. I did uncover the wound and put
on the sulfa powder and a bandage.
When I took out the morphine he started to fight
me. I just put my hand in front of his face, shock my head no, and
pointed to the red cross on my arms and helmet, then he let me give
him the shot. This held me up longer and when I advanced to find
our men, I couldn't see anyone, You can't imagine how ALONE I was.
At some point during this time, we were pulled
out of line for a couple days. We had a shower and some clean clothes
and a chance to attend church. During the past weeks I had become
a real believer and decided I should be baptized. It took place
in an apple orchard in Normandy.
Indianhead shoulderpatch of the 2nd Infantry
Earl Lovelace's own personal Combat medic badge.
Men of M Company. Back row: Levine, Gwynn and
Stoll. Middle row: Tuner, Lovelace and Verock.
Front row: Mech and Cook.
Men of M Company. Back row: Schraeder, Stoll
and Hill. Middle row: Gwynn, Combs, Savage, Cook and Kliby. Front
row: Jennigs, unknown, unknown and Priest.
Earl in the snow near the Elsenborn Ridge. Earl
is on the left , Sgt.Harold Combes next to him, Richard Tanner in
the back. I have lost touch of Sgt. Combes but see and talk to Tanner