Box 023, folder 42: James E. Anderson

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ANDERSON, James E. Canadian 3 Can. Div. Box 23, #42

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Excerpt. For Cornelius Ryan Book about D-day

THOUSANDS OF MEN, ON LAND AND SEA AND IN THE AIR, PARTICIPATED IN THE INVASION OF NORMANDY BETWEEN MIDNIGHT JUNE 5, 1944 AND MIDNIGHT JUNE 6, 1944. IF YOU WERE ONE OF THEM, PLEASE ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS. What is your full name? James Ernest Anderson What was your unit and division? North Shore (NB) Regt. 8 Bde 3 Can. Div. Where did you arrive in Normandy, and at what time? St. Aubin Sur Mer. We were an assault battalion and landed at H hr. I remember the time was delayed a few minutes to allow the L. C. A's to get into position. What was your rank on June 6, 1944? Major [check mark] What was your age on June 6, 1944? 32 Were you married at that time? Yes What is your wife's name? Marion Harvey Anderson Did you have any children at that time? Yes. One son, born 1940. What do you do now? Deputy Minister, Social Services. Province of New Brunswick When did you know that you were going to be part of the invasion? We all took it for granted that we would be part of the invasion force as we did assault training as early as 1942. During the year and one half before D-day we did continued training in combined operations on the South Coast of England and in Scotland. What was the trip like during the crossing of the Channel? Do you remember, for example, any conversations you had or how you passed the time? See back of this page. What were the rumors on board the boat, ship or plane in which you made the crossing? (Some people remember scuttlebut to the effect that the Germans had poured gasoline on the water and planned to set it afire when the troops came in). There were no rumors on the ship that I remember hearing.

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I was on the bridge with the Captain when we sailed from our position behind the Isle of Wight, where we had been aboard ship for two days. Our ship, the H. M. S. St. Helier, carried assault craft in the davits. She was a converted channel steamer and good in the sea.

Most of the officers were either in the ward room or with the men. I remember no one being very sleepy and the time seemed long waiting to give the men the sea sick tablets before breakfast. Breakfast of sausage and scrambled eggs was not enjoyed, with the usual remark, "Where will we have the next one?".

I spent considerable time on deck during the crossing and well remember the bright orange color of the sky over the Cherbourg area, the escort ships and the red guide lights for the ships.

I remember only one conversation — A young Lieutenant from attached troops, the tallest and thinnest man I ever met, said he was going ashore sideways so they could not hit him. I do not know his name but he obviously carried out his plan, as I saw him later on the beach — shot through the nose.

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- for Cornelius Ryan 2 -

Your name James Ernest Anderson

Did you by any chance keep a diary of what happened to you that day? I kept a small company diary in abbreviated and coded form.

Were any of your friends killed or wounded either during landing or during the day? The officers and men of our unit trained and worked together, many for the four years from mobilization to D-day. I had a great many friends killed and wounded on D-day.

Do you remember any conversations you had with them before they became casualties: At this time I remember only one conversation with Major J. A. McNaughton, a First War veteran and A Company Commander. Just after landing I asked him how his company made out and he replied, "Not very well, I lost some of my best boys". I asked him how he made out himself and he held up his hand, showing where a bullet had gone through the palm. He was killed five hours later at Tailleville.

Were you wounded? No.

Do you remember what it was like--that is, do you remember whether you felt any pain or were so surprised that you felt nothing?

N/A

Do you remember seeing or hearing anything that seems funny now, even though it may not have seemed funny at the time?

Nothing.

[crossed out] See back of this page. [end crossed out]

Do you recall any incident, sad or heroic or simply memorable, which struck you more than anything else?

See back of this page.

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I remember these particular incidents:

1. I always felt we would get ashore without opposition and it was an unpleasant surprise when first machine gunned in the landing craft.

2. A party of elderly Frenchmen carrying a wounded civilian on a mattress down the burning main street of St. Aubin. One, wearing a gold colored fireman's helmet, took time out to give the "V" sign and yell, "Vive les Canadiens".

3. A Spitfire supporting the landing flew into a bank of rockets from the rocket ships and disintegrated in the air.

4. A rifleman moving up in a section looked at his brother lying in the ditch, where he had been killed a few minutes before. He marched past without breaking step.

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