Box 024, folder 21: Robert J. Graham

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GRAHAM, Robert J.

Canadian 3rd Div.

Box 24, #21

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[inserted]Barrie, ONTARIO RC Army[end inserted]

For Cornelius Ryan Book about D-day [inserted]BLACK[end inserted]

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? Robert James GRAHAM

What was your unit and division? 18th Fd Coy RCE 3rd Cdn Inf Division

Where did you arrive in Normandy, and at what time? Courselles France 7 am 6 JUN 44

What was your rank on June 6, 1944? Sapper

"What was your age on June 6, 1944? 18

Were you married at that time? No, I was married 4 SEP 1948

What is your wife's name? Gloria Mae

Did you have any children at that time? No

What do you do now? Office Supervision - Payrolls - Accounting

When did you know that you were going to be part of the invasion? When my Unit moved to a concentration area north of Southampton Eng called, I believe, Chandellors Ford, and we were issued with French currency.

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? As "D" Day was originally scheduled for 5 JUN 44 we boarded an LCI at Southampton on 4 JUN 44. However a severe storm and heavy seas through the invasion fleet into confusion and most of our time was spent in discussing the possibility of turning back to England or, just how long our small LCI would stay afloat.

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). Any rumors that were passed among us were pretty well ignored by the men as the majority of men, including myself, were so seasick during the channel crossing that we didn't care what the Germans did just as long as we could set foot on good earth again.

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- for Cornelius Ryan 2 -

Your name R J GRAHAM Did you by any chance keep a diary of what happened to you that day? I did have [crossed out]x[end crossed out]small one but I have misplaced it in the last couple of years but I do have clippings from the local newspaper and also a War Map on which I made notations.

Were any of your friends killed or wounded either during the landing or during the day? No one in my particular section was either killed or wounded until "D" plus 1

Do you remember any conversations you had with them before they became casualties? N*A

Were you wounded? Yes twice. On 8 JUL at Caen France and 17 SEP 44 at Boulogne France.

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? The first time I was wounded I did not know it for some time as it happended at night when the Bren Gun Carrier I was in was blown up at Falaise. It was not until the sun came up and the fellow in the slit trench with me noticed the blood on my face that I found that I had a piece of shrapnel in my cheek just below my left eye. The second time I felt nothing as I was hit by the blast from a "88" and knocked unconsious as well as having shrapnel in my left amr and chest.

Do you remember seeing or hearing anything that seems funny now, even though it may not have seemed funny at the time? I can remember one fellow who had lost his helmet and as the Germans were firing "Air Bursts" at us he needed protection for his head and some[inserted]D-day?[end inserted]where he secured the top of a garbage can which he was holding over his head as he moved forward into position. It didn't seem funny at that time because we were all concerned about this shrapnel that was raining down on us from the sky but later on in a lull in the fighting we kidded him about it. This same fellow was later killed in the same battle by shrapnel in the stomach.

Do you recall any incident, sad or heroic or simply memorable, which struck you more than anything else? We had by-passed a German strong-point on D plus 1 and we were dug in around and old French Chateau about two miles off the beach when large naval shells from our ships in the channel started shelling the German strong point which we had by-passed. Our cook who had managed to secure a couple of chickens was in the process of cooking them for us could not make it back to the fox-hole in time, and a direct hit landed near him and blew him to pieces. This was a sad incident for us in the plattoon as it was our first casualty and also the cook had been very well liked by every man in the section.

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- for Cornelius Ryan 3 - Your name R J GRAHAM

In times of great crisis, people generally show either great ingenuity or self-reliancej others do incredibly stupid things. Do you remember any examples of either from D-day? I cannot think of any at the present time

Where were you at midnight on June 5, 1944? On the English Channel standing off from the French sea-coast

Where were you at midnight on June 6, 1944? About one to two miles inland. We had got in as far as the main Caen-Bayeaux Highway but the Germans had forced us back.

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? There is one fellow from Barrie who I went to school with whom Imet on the beaches of Normandy on "D" Day who is still alive. I do not know his present address but his name was Rfm T SMITH and his father still lives in Barrie and runs an optometrist business here. There is another one by the name of L*Cpl STOVER from Owen Sound Ont but I do not know his present whereabouts.

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

Cornelius Ryan

Frances Ward Research, The Reader's Digest

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BARRIE, Ontario.

6 AUG 58.

Dear Miss Ward,

I was reading through our last months copy of the Legionnary magazine and came across the attached clipping in which I was quite interested as I am a "D-Day" veteran.

I enlisted in the Cdn Army in MAY 1942 at the age of 16 and my Unit was the 18th Fd Coy RCE 3 Cdn Infantry Division which was the first Cdn Unit to hit the beaches on "D"-Day 6 JUN 44. At that time I was still 18 and,I believe, one of the youngest soldiers to participate in the Invasion. In the campaign in North West Europe I was wounded twice, the first time on the 8 JUL 44 at CAEN France and the second time at BOULOGNE France on 17 SEP 44. The last wound invalided me back to England where I remained until FEB 46 and my return to Canada and subsequent discharge.

I would be quite interested in giving you any further information that would be helpful in the publication of Mr. Ryan's book. In my possession I also have the copy of the 3rd Cdn Division War Map, showing its major battles and Headquarters during its campaign in Europe.

Hoping to hear from you in the future.

I remain Yours very sincerely [signature] Mr. Robert J GRAHAM 104 Nelson Street BARRIE, Ontario.

Rjg*cp Att ( / )

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