Cornelius Ryan WWII papers, box 011, folder 47: Bertram Kalisch

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12th Army Gr Photo Gr KALISCH, Bertram Wash DC 1

[*Call about picture*]

[*Interviewed?*] Box 11, #47

O-E

SIGNAL CORPS WATCHED ACTION OFF OMAHA BEACH ARMY PICTORIAL SERVICE

Gen'l. Bradley's pictorial officer, 12th Army Group. Lt Col.

T he first view of Omaha Beach, opposite Easy Red, resembled a movie drama rather than reality. Puffs of smoke from the naval bombardment burs ting on the shore...the Texas whamming away with the big turrets on a 2minute schedule that shook us up although we were a few hundred yards astern...the destroyers closing in to batter the cliffs...and swarms of our LCVPs heading into the beach

THE SEASICK PIGEON Orders were to send first negatives off the landing craft by carrier [crossed out]½ogepnxxxxxxxxa[end crossed out] pigeon. Lt Martin Lederhandler, photo lt., did just that only his pigeon was seasick and wouldn't leave the LCVP. When it was finally shooed off--it flew towards shore and the enemy. When we overran a German CP some days later, we picked up a German field paper and found a picture credited to Lt. Lederhandler, American Army Signal Corps, with the caption saying this is the American Infantry Div. coming ashore to be destroyed. I sent it back to SHEAF with the comment that if the enemy could credit our combat cameramen, why couldn't SHEAF? They never replied

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[*LL WASH, D C (add. info on Wall & pigeons) O - E WASH-1 (DC) Could he get pictures?*]

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? Bertram Kalisch

What was your unit and division? General Bradley's Pictorial Officer,12th Army Group. Altho no Group staff officers were to participate in vasion,Col.David Page,P and PW Officer,First Army and Col.Grant Williams,Signal Officer appointed me Acting Pictorial Officer, First Army June 6-17 to direct combat cameramen

Where did you arrive in Normandy, and at what time?

Arrived about a mile offshore June 6 in LST that was one of First Army's Command ships. Watched D-Day action--first assault waves--but did not get ashore until D plus 2 when Col.Page and I went into Omaha Beach,which was still under 88 fire with gasoline=loaded LCVP.

What was your rank on June 6, 1944? Lt.Colonel,Signal Corps,Army Pictorial Service What was your age on June 6, 1944? 42 years old-- celebrated my birthday on June 5 aboard LST which put out that day,then turned around and returned to Weymouth for another start.

Were you married at that time? Yes

What is your wife's name? Bessie Wilson Kalisch

Did you have any children at that time? Bertram,Jr. at that time 18 years old who served with 3d Marine Division in Pacific Robert Burns at that time 16 years old_-a student at St.Paul's School,Garden City,NY. He is now a Captain,USAF

What do you do now? I'm Chief,Audio-Visual Division,Office of Public Affairs head by Ass't.Sec'y Murray Snyder. My Division handles all activities relating to still pictures, newsfilm,television,motionpicture productions and radio.

When did you know that you were going to be part of the invasion? In April,1944 I was temporarily assigned with Major Audrain,Canadian Army, to prepare Pictorial Annex for Operation Overlord.Later I was briefed on invasion plan and visited all combat photo units in"sausage"and worked out assignments. Also arranged installation of cameras on tanks and landing craft

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? We were quite busy aboard the command LST with messages,orders,etc. plus last minute planning.Ind their off moments some people smoked,played cards, read, wrote letters or took a nap.There was considerable tension in the air==and more joking and kidding in conversation than usual.I was quite impressed by the immense flotilla underway--seemingly filling the Channel and wondered why the Luftwaffe was so slow in reacting. The first view of Omaha Beach,opposite Easy Red, resembled a movie drama rather than reality.Puffs of smoke from the naval bombardment bursting on the shore...the Texas whamning away with the big turrets on a 2=minute schedule that shook us up although we were a few hundred yards astern...the destroyers closing in to batter the cliffs...and swarms of our LCVPs heading into the beach.

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). very few rumors...we did expect some kind of air attack ..and knew the ashore waters were full of obstacles and zeroes in by 88 [crossed out]in[end crossed out] in the Blockhouses and cliffs.

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[*tie in with info on Wall,*]

- for Cornelius Ryan 2 - Your name Bertram Kalisch

Did you by any chance keep a diary of what happened to you that day? I did not--but recall that I spent all my waking hours,between messages and conferences,watching our troops on the beach through binoculars...you could see some LCVPs in trouble and sinking..and those which made th beach come under fire.

Were any of your friends killed or wounded either during the landing or during the day? [*hand written*] Capt Herman V.Wall,165th Signal Photo Company, went in with the first assault wave.He was to be our courier officer==collect the film on the beach and relay it to the Augusta.He had his leg shot off when he crossed beach.

Do you remember any conversations you had with them before they became casualties? No,but Stars and Stripes had an editorial on Wall's courage and devetion to duty--he got the first official pictures back to England.

Were you wounded? No

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

Do you remember seeing or hearing anything that seems funny now, even though it did not, of course, seem amusing at the time? On D plus two on Omaha Beach ,German phosphorus shells caused a false "Gas" alarm.Col.Page and I had no masks and felt mighty naked.However,when we came to a fromation on the beach and they saw us without masks,they took theirs off.Just about that time,word was passed "Flase alarm" and everyone who had put on a amsk looked sort of sheepish.

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

On reaching the beach,I started hunting up the combat cameramen and collected their film. None had seen Wall and on my return to the beach,I was wading to hail an LCVP to take me to the Augusta with the film,when I noticed what looked like a camera bag floating nearby.I secured it and found it was Wall's. We did not learn until two days later that he had been picked up and returned to England. At the time we thought he had been drowned,since engineers we encountered insisted that the LCVP with an officer cameraan aboard was swamped and sank near the beach.

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- for Cornelius Ryan 3 - Your name Bertram Kalisch

In times of great crisis, people generally show either great ingenuity or self-reliance; others do incredibly stupid things. Do you remember any examples of either? [*handled by CR*] Credit this one to the Germans=I sold it as a war anecdote to the SEP in 1947.Orders were to send first negatives (stills) off the landing craft by carrier pigeon.Lt.Martin Lederhandler,photo lt. did just that...only his pigeon was seasick and wouldn't leave the LCVP.When it was finally shooed off-- it flew towards shore and the enemy. When we overran a German CP some [crossed out]t[end crossed out] days later,we picked up a German field paper and found a picture credited to Lt. Lederhandler,American Army Signal Corps,with the caption saying this is [crossed out] how[end crossed out] the American Infantry Division coming ashore to be destroyed. I sent it back to SHEAF with the comment that if the enemy could credit our combat cameramen,why couldn't SHEAF? They never replied. [*Connie has copy of picture*]

Where were you at midnight on June 5, 1944? Aboard the LST.which was one of the First Army Command ships,getting underway to cross the Channel.

Where were you at midnight on June 6, 1944? We were off the Normandy coast==opposite Easy Red,Omaha Beach,about a mile offshore.I stayed on deck most of the night,watching the flashes of firing on the beach and the USS Texas nearby,still hammering away.

Do you know of anybody else who landed within those 24 hours (midnight June 5 to midnight June 6) as infantry, glider or airborne troops, or who took part in the air and sea operations, whom we should write to? [*Wall*] Besaides Capt.Wall,who lives in Los Angeles(I don't have his address,but the Adjutant General,Armyshould) there were a number of correspondents and press photographers mentioned in Barney Oldfield's book"Never A Shot in Anger" who are around New York,Washington,Chicago and Los Angeles. [*Better for info.*]

NOTE: Am sure,our Book and Mag Branch and that of the Army and Navy could help you locate persons named in the questionnaires you will get. The official histories of the Divisions participating should supply you with plenty of leads.

I'M in Rm. 2E=791,Pentagon and expect to be here in June and July-- altho I am occasionally out on official trips. Will be happy to see Ryan anytime he wants to drop in.

Bert Kalisch

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 SUFFICIENI' 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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This German newspaper, dated June 28, and captured on July 11, front pages the picture of the unloading of the

LST 282 with the following explanation:

ON THE WAY TO DESTRUCTION

Reloading of vehicles of the 4th American Infantry Division from a special transport ship to a barge. The barge was destroyed by German Coast Artillery fire. The picture comes from the USA reporter Lt. Lederhandler of the 4th American Division and was taken from a carrier pigeon which fell into German hands completely exhausted.

LST 282 carried the then Chief of Staff of the 4th, Colonel James S. Rodwell (now Assistant Division Commander and Brigadier General) and his party. (There is one inaccuracy contained in the newspaper's explanation--the "Barge" was not destroyed.)

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