Cornelius Ryan WWII papers, box 012, folder 49: Herman Victor Wall

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Wall, Captain Herman V. 165 Signal Photo Co. Assigned to First Army ETO CALF. Box 12, #49

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Now in I ran but hots of info at home in Calif. Shall I write [?write for Jr - on suggestion.?] [?Ryan see in Calif??] *Had leg blown off on Omaha Beach - was with Yank photographer when killed THOUSANDS OF MEN, ON LAND AND SEA AND IN THE AIR, PARTICPATED IN THE INVASION OF NORMANDY BETWEEN MIDNIGHT JUNE 5, 1944 AND MIDNG=IGHT JUNE 6, 1944. IF YOU WERE ONE OF THEM, PLEASE ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS. What is your full name? Herman V. Wall What was your unit and division? 165 Signal Photo Co. Assigned to First Army ETO Where did you arrive in Normandy, and at what time? Omaha Beach, Easy Red sector Time not definite, shortly after H hour What was your rank on June 6, 1944? Captain What was your age on June 6, 1944? 39 Were you married at that time? No What is your wife's name? Ruth J. Wall Did you have any children at that time? What do you do now? Photography, Illustrative, Advertising, Story Illustration. Now on Assignment as Director of Photography for the International Communications Library Project Los Angeles State College Foundation. Now on location in Persia, after completing two month in Turkey. When did you know that you were going to be a part of the invasion? As Commanding Officer of the 165th Sig. Photo Co. and Company Officers , were "Bigoted" quite some time before the Invasion, perhaps six week of longer. 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? [crossed out] were B Longer [end crossed out} The crossing was routine. As we approached the beach, I photographed a panarama view of Omaha Beach with six or so frames in sequence. Also watched the shelling of the beach and block houses by the Navy. 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).

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- for Cornelius Ryan 2 - Your name Herman v. Wall Did you by any chance keep a diary of what happened to you that day? No diary, but a complete scarp book of letters, magazine and news clippings. Citations Were any of your friends killed or wounded either during the landing or during the day? A yank Magazine photographer was killed by the same shell that caught me. I can't recall his name at this time but will send it along or it is in the scarp book. Pete Paris Do you remember any conversations you had with them before they became casualties? The Yank photographer and I [crossed out] [illegible] [end crossed out] met in the marshalling area and had several days together. He had completed the landings in Africa and Sicily and was assigned to cover the landings for Yank. Pete Paris should definitely be mentioned in your book. Were you wounded? Yes. Left leg amputated. Left Arm and right leg shrapnel wounds. 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? Surprised. shook, but did not loose consciousness. Ten or fifteen men were hit by the same explosion, some killed, some wounded andI was able to have an aid man put a turniquet on my leg, not realizing the other wounds which clogged up with the uniform,. and told them to carry me down to the beach were he boats were coming [inserted] in [end inserted]. this they did and was picked up later by an Amphibious Jeep and taken to a larger craft in the Channel. Do you remember seeing or hearing anything that seems funny now; even though it did not, or course, seem amusing at the time? i was fortunate for not many wounded were taken off the beach for several days. I regained consciousness during the night of June 6th on an English LCT when the Medics applied first aid and trimmed off the leg. At this time I discovered that my camera was missing which I had the presence of mind to ruck into my blouse. It still had the roll of exposed film taken on the beach. I called the Captain of the LGT and he had possesion of it. He returned it to me and again it was replaced under my blouse. The next thing I remembered was that I was being transferred by crane from one ship to another, in the harbour. The Americans had one side and the English the other. I heard someone yell "That man is dead" and it was me he was pointing to. I replied something to the effect of "To hell I am" and discovered that my camera was missing again. I called for the Skipper who again returned the camera to me.

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

Eight months later while a patient at Percy Jones General Hospital I was in the lobby on crutches talking to a veteran in a wheel chair. He had one leg amputated and the other in a cast and during the conversation discovered that we were on the same beach at the same time. I asked him up to our ward where I had copies of the pictures that the War Dept. had sent to me. He was in a Beach Brigrade and I remembered that I had made pictures of a Beach Brigrade making their landing. By coincidence I had a full length picture of him coming up the beach. Of a million men, I met one of the men I photographed eight months later in the Army Hospital. I do not recall his name but have it in the scrap book. I made copies in the hospital lab and gave him the negative and several prints of same.

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- for Cornelius Ryan 3 - Your name Herman v. Wall

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? My problem was to get this film back to Army Pictorial Service in London and the problem started with the Aid Men wanting to use the strap off the camera to use as a turniguet for my leg. I convinced them that the strap off the gas mask would do aswell. It seemed that everyone I came in contact with was determined to liberate the Leica and I was as determined to get this film and camera back. The Skipper of the LCT returned the camera and as he did so I told him to step back, I was about to "heave", He did not understand me and leaned in closer. I was on target and covered him. I excused myself for laughing but tried t tell him before it happened. I had my camera...... When I arrived at the Evacuation hospital in Weymouth I was able to have a call put through to the Army Pictorial Service and they sent a plane to pick up the film. These were the only still pictures of the Invasion for several days and consequently used heavily for news release and Intelligence.

Where were you at midnight on June 5, 1944? English Channel on our way to Normandy

Where were you at midnight on June 6, 1944? On an English LCT Returning to England Round Trip Ticket.....

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? I will try and secure some names of men who made the landings.

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 SEPERATE SHEETS IF WE HAVE NOT LEFT SUFFICENT 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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May 9, 1958 Dear Captain Wall A book about D-Day, June 6, 1944, is being prepared by Cornelius Ryan for Publication in the Reader's Digest in book form on the 15th anniversary of the Normandy invasion in the spring of 1959. It is being written with the complete cooperation and assistance of the Department of the Army and the Department of Defense. This will not be another strategic history of invasion day, but a story of the twenty-four hours of D-Day as people lived them and remembered them. For this, we can only go to the men who were there and, if they are willing, invade their memories. Having learned from the Department of the Army, of the part which you played in the invasion, we hope very much that you'll be interested in the project and will be willing to help us.

Mr. Ryan is presently in Europe trying to get the project under way there. He will be back in this country very shortly, and during the late spring and early summer of this year, both in this country and in Europe, he will be interviewing many of the people who agree to contribute to the book. Very probably, he will wish to talk with you during that period, if you are willing and able to see him. In the mean time, since we are literally dealing with hundreds of people, we are finding it necessary to keep an individual file on each person who agrees to help us. Therefore we hope tjay if you are willing to help with the book, you will complete the enclosed record and return it to me at your earliest convenience. We truly believe that these questions will serve you as well as us, if they can help crystallize some hazy memories and do indicate the sort of information which we are seeking.

In Mr. Ryan's absence, I should be most grateful to know as soon as possible when and if you will be available for interview during the next two or three months. We will look forward very eagerly to our reply. We want very much to tell your story and the story of your unit, and in order to do that we need you. Thank you very much for any help which you can give us. Sincerely yours,

Frances Ward Research Department

Captain Herman Wall, 0475085 672 South Lafayette Park Los Angeles 5, California

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