Box 023, folder 54: Henry L. Churchill

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CHURCHILL Henry L. Canadian 1st Can. Parachut 6th Brit. Airborn

Box 23, #54

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1st Can. Para BN Can Ext

1st/3Bge

For Cornelius Ryan Book about D-day

THOUSANDS OF MEN, ON LAND AND SEA AND IN THEAIR, 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? Henry Lyman Churchill PARA

What was your unit and division? 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion attached to the British (6th Airborne Division)

Where did you arrive in Normandy, and at what time? I arrived in Normandy one or two minutes after one o'clock in the night outside of a littel village of Varaville about 10 miles north of Caen

What was your rank on June 6, 1944? Private

What was your age on June 6, 1944? 30 years

Were you married at that time? no

What is your wife's name? Bessie

Did you have any children at that time? no.

What do you do now? fish

When did you know that you were going to be part of the invasion? we knew we were going to be in on the invasion several months before.

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? Every one seemed to be too much wraped up in there own thought to have too much to say, no one seemed to be nervous. I remember the [crossed out] piolit [end crossed out] pilot and co-[crossed out] piolit [end crossed out] pilot looking back at us in silence and they seem to be saying to them selves I am just as well pleased I am staying aboard. we had the lights on until we got a few minutes from the French coast and then they said to put them out and every one seemd to look at one another and there was a funny feeling seemed to come over one, our faces were all black and hands as well in this way they wouldn't show up in the light

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). The greatest amount of conversation was where we would make our landing and I always remember one soldier remarks in that he said we would land and cut of one of the peninsula's either Brest or Cherbourg and that is what we did.

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- for Cornelius Ryan 2 -

Your name Henry L Churchill

Did you by any chance keep a diary of what happened to you that day? No.

Were any of your friends killed or wounded either during the landing or during the day? yes we had men both killed and wounded but we lost the most in prisoners our battalion was 550 men and I thing that all we got together was 140 men our platoon was 18 men short

Do you remember any conversations you had with them before they became casualties? one of my pals used to say to me, Churchill lets go out and enjoy our selves to-night, for we havent got much longer to live. I would say to him that isnt the way to look at it He was the second man ahead of me and he never got out of his harness as the jerries got him

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?

Do you remember seeing or hearing anything that seems funny now, even though it may not have seemed funny at the time ? Our section Sgt Joe Middleton in our plane landed right close to an anti-tank gun position and was taken prisioner right off and they took him into their dug out it was dark of course in there Joe was having trouble trying to get them to understand what he said so he said cant any of you Jerries understand English. Then a voice said yes but it doesnt do much good. He was one of our boys [?thaken?] prisoner a little sooner

Do you recall any incident, sad or heroic or simply memorable, which struck you more than anything else? One of our company Sgt Majors I cant recall his name who was outstanding when it came to disapline which is very necessary and I remember hearing the remarks I wonder how he will be when it comes to action. The sad part of it was he didnt have very long with us once we landed. I think it was the first day that he and two of his men were pinned down on account of mortar fire and during this time they were all wounded, he gave them all morphine including himself and when they stretcher bearers came he had the other two taken out first and himself last but he died of his wounds soon after wards

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- for Cornelius Ryan 3 -

Your name

In times of great crisis, people generally show either great ingenuity or self-reliances others do incredibly stupid things. Do you remember any examples of either from D-day? One of our Sgts who landed in water about knee deep . [crossed out][illegible][end crossed out] and when he got out of his harness and looked about him saw two men approaching him. but were coming from difference angles. his gun and ammunition had gotten wet when he landed in the water but he got ready in case, as they approached he could hear them talking but the couldnt make out rather it was English or German the two men were together now and closer and about this time he recongized this languaged and fired and brought them both down with one burst had he of fired sooner they wouldnt of been together and he would of been in a greater danger

Where were you at midnight on June 5, 1944? In a briefing camp in England

Where were you at midnight on June 6, 1944? Out over the English Channel

Do you know of anybody else who landed within the 24 hours of D-day, June 6, as infantry, glider or airborne troops, or who took part in the air and sea operations, whom we should write to?

These are all men from out battalion

[crossed out] [?Petruice?] [end crossed out] Petruic, D P.O. Box 120 Avonlea, Sask.

P.A. Paterson R.R.#1 Campbellville Halton Co. N.S.

William Barr [?Hossier?] Sask.

Brigadier James Hill 3rd Parachute Brigade Bulford England

Frank Brady Liverpool, NS.

Bill Fitzsimons 183 Bayfield St Barrie Ont.

Edward [crossed out] P [end crossed out] Pinay Lorlie, Sask.

This was good in 1945 but may not be any good now but may help you to find him he was a fine solider and thought a lot of us Canadians

D.R. Hartigan 671 North Sydney NS

Jim Adamson 1060 Dansey Ave. New Westminster B. [crossed out] C [ end crossed out] C.

Jack Summerhays Canmore. Alberta was taken prisoner and has a good story for you if you can get in

PLEASE LET US HAVE THIS QUESTIONNAIRE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, SO THAT WE CAN INCLUDE YOUR EXPERIENCES IN THE BOOK. WE HOPE THAT YOU WILL CONTINUE YOUR STORY ON SEPARATE SHEETS IF WE HAVE NOT LEFT SUFFICIENT ROOM. FULL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT WILL BE GIVEN IN A CHAPTER CALLED "WHERE THEY ARE NOW;" YOUR NAME AND VOCATION OR OCCUPATION WILL BE LISTED.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP.

I have other addressed if you wish them but they are from the same battalion

Cornelius Ryan

Frances Ward Research, The Reader's Digest

A. Huton Prescott Ontario [inserted] Has an experience that is good [end inserted]

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I I would like to say that it was a wonderful experiance to take part in that great invasion and I wouldnt of wanted to of missed if even though I realized we all couldnt of made a safe landing in France. Two of the boys came and said I am going to give you my wife address and if I dont make it you can write to her about it and Henry you give me your girl friends address and we will write to her. I told them I would [crossed out] the [end crossed out] take their address's but I am going to make it and wouldnt need do give them her's. I wasnt going to let my self think I might not make it. We spent eleven days in a transit camp near Swinden where were were briefed on every thing. We had aerial photographs of all the country we would be in. There was an armed guard about every hundred feet. While we were in the camp the boys said I wonder when the envasion take place I could notice that the moon was getting full and on the full moon the tides would be the fullest and that would let the landing craft up further on the beach so we decided if would come on the fifth and we were only out one day. After supper on the fifth we got ready and left for the air port and shortly after we arrived five gliders took off and their mission was to be released approximately 6,000 ft in the air and five miles from the French coast

Last edit about 3 years ago by roweall
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