My Dad, Grover Dobson was on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day (+1). This June will be the 60th Anniversary of D-Day! He landed on Utah Beach on June 7, 1944. He was in an Engineer Corp that built Patoon Bridges. Dad said they broke a record building a Patoon Bridge the fastest. He did this for a few months before word got out that Dad didn't care for what he was doing and he was sent to the 735th Tank Battalion in the 5th Division, which came under the command of George Patton and his 3rd Army. Dad said the 5th Division (Red Diamond) was called Roosevelt's Red Devil's. You could hear the pride in his voice and see the proud look on his face when he talked about the 5th Division, Roosevelt's Red Devil's. Dad liked being in the Tank Battalion a whole lot better than building patoon bridges. Dad became a 2nd Gunner on a Half Track, which consisted of putting the ammo into the gun (cannon type).
My Dad was in five major battles:
1) Normandy (D-Day)
2) Northern France
3) Ardennes-Alsace (Battle of the Bulge)
5) Centeral Europe
Dad talked about D-Day and how the water was red with the blood of our GI's and how there were many dead on the beaches and in the water. Dad didn't really talk about the gory things in the war but he would look somber and say: "War is hell." I'm sure every veteran who has ever seen action has said the same thing.
As I got older and in the last few years of his life, Dad passed away this past August 15th, 2003; he would talk more about the unpleasant side of the war as a tear would run down his cheek and he would choke up. He told how his friend was on the transport boat heading for the beaches of Normandy and he noticed his friend was wearing a colorful tie around his neck and he asked him about it and his friend told him that his Mother had sent it to him and he was wearing it for luck. A few hours later, when they were going ashore on Utah Beach Dad noticed saw a guy get his face shot off and he looked and saw that the GI had a colorful tie around his neck. That was the only way Dad knew it was his friend.
Dad thought a lot of George S. Patton and felt that he was the best General there ever was. Dad said before Patton came along they dug a lot of fox holds and didn't seem to be getting much done. Patton told them: "Men, you won't be digging anymore Fox holes!" Dad said they didn't either; they were on the move. Dad said how they went as far as 60 miles in one night. Patton moved his Army at night. Dad was glad to be on the move and NOT digging fox holds. Dad greatly admired and respected Patton and his no nonsense approach to the War. Patton had a job to do and he was getting it DONE.
Dad told one story of how they were given orders and directions to go to a certain location. When dawn broke they were looking right at the German Army. They had been given wrong directions. They were to have gone left instead of right or visa versa. Dad said it was U.S. Tanks and German Tanks facing each other. There was some fire exchanged on both sides and by the Grace of God they got out of there. Dad said: "I know some heads had to roll over that mistake."
Dad told how one time they got 2 weeks ahead of their supply lines and very low on food and he would scout around farm houses and find eggs and one morning was cooking eggs when his half track took a direct hit from a German shell. Dad was a distance away at the time as well as the other men, except for one guy who was inside. He came out swearing, they told him, "If I was you, I'd be thanking God, not swearing." The half track was undamaged, but it did have a nice assortment of holes and where ever they went other GI's would say: "You boys have sure been in the thick of the fighting." This was true, as Dad's 735th Tank Battalion was called a Bastard Battalion because they would attach them where ever they were needed the most. They were attached to the 87th Division "Golden Acorn "and the 17th Airborne Division, to name a few.
The direct hit on their half track was written up in the Stars and Stripes Army Newspaper with a picture of the half track and the unbelievable story of how no one was hurt. I'd love to get a copy of that article.
Dad told how he spent Thanksgiving, 1944 in Metz, France. He said there was a building there that was the size of 4 city blocks and had to have a thousand rooms inside. Being a farm boy from North Georgia, he was quite taken by it and all of Europe really. He was in England, France, Belgium, Luxemburg and Germany. He got to see a lot of Europe. I'm sure it wasn't the way anyone would ever want to do the Grand Tour though. But my Dad's generation answered the call of their leaders to go and fight and they didn't whine or complain, they went and GOT THE JOB DONE! They are truly the Greatest Generation.
Dad never really talked much about the war until his later years and I was grown. I know he was proud to be a World War II Veteran and to serve our country. Dad lived in North Georgia most of his life, except for a time he lived in Jacksonville, Florida. He is buried outside of Ellijay, GA in the North Georgia Mountains he loved so much. I'm truly proud of not only my Dad and all he did during WW II, but all our Veterans!! All our veterans: past, present and future are our hereos and we owe them so much. Yes, I'm the proud daughter of a World War Two veteran and I thank God for all our veterans. Thank you all for your service to our great nation. Freedom isn't free and it sure doesn't come cheap.
My Mom, Lois Davenport Dobson like many women went to work to help build and supply the War Machine. My Mom was one such women. She worked during World War II at a Shipyard in Brunswick GA. During the Battle of the Bulge, the military asked for more ships and a record number were built to meet the demand.
My Mom was never one to cry or choke up easily but she tells one story of working at the shipyard and a voice came on the loud speaker and made the annoucement that the invasion of Normandy by our troops was underway. The voice asked for a moment of silence for our men. Mom said she will never forget that moment and could never talk about it without choking up and barely able to speak. She knew my Dad was among those who would be in the invasion, as well as thousands of other young men with wives, mothers, sisters and brothers. Our women who supported the war effort back home are truly part of the Greatest Generation and are TRUE HEREOS.
We are losing these heroes at a rate of over a thousand a day. Most of them are in their 80's or better. I know I've lost both my parents within the past 3 years. Mom passed away March 28, 2001 from lung cancer (she was one of those women who had come a long way baby, to light up a cigarette and died from that freedom!!) I lost Dad August 15, 2003 after 13 months of being in and out of the hospital and in ICU a dozen times.
As told by their daughter:
Bonnie Dobson Andersen