WEST POINT, N.Y O-E NY 24 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? KARL [crossed out]EDWARD[end crossed out] EVERETT WOLF
What was your unit and division? Headquarters Co. 3rd Bn, 16th Inf, 1st Inf Division
Where did you arrive in Normandy, and at what time? To the right of Easy Red Beach at some time between 0655 and 0710 on D Day. I was with the 3rd Bn CP Group and we were landed on the wrong beach, far to the right of our correct landing place. [*OMAHA*]
What was your rank on June 6, 1944? 1st Lt.
What was your age on June 6, 1944? 22
Were you married at that time? No
What is your wife's name? Lola S. Wolf
Did you have any children at that time? No.
What do you do now? Assistant Professor of Law Law Dept United States Military Academy
When did you know that you were going to be part of the invasion? About the 21st of May 1944.
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? The trip was crowded, sleeping quarters jammed with gear and personnel and people were apprehensive and moody. Some were playing cards and dice and others singing. I remember several conversations I had with other officers, all of whom I had just recently met. One conversation was with Captain Al. Morehouse, who was killed on the landing while coming off the same landing craft. He indicated he never expected to make this trip as he had hoped for a white boat trip home. I also remember talking to Captain Dahlen, the Chaplain and Lt. Walker, in addition to several enlisted men in the Headquarters section.
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). One rumor I am pretty certain of was that Axis Sally in one of her most recent broadcasts had indicated the date the D Day landing would be made on. [*Can we check this in Europe?*]
- for Cornelius Ryan 2 - Your name MAJOR KARL E WOLF
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? I had only been assigned to the 16 Inf since 18 May 1944, but several acquaintances were killed.
Do you remember any conversations you had with them before they became casualties? I remember talking to Captain Al Morehouse a short time before our landing craft set down. I asked him to identify the sound of a German machine gun for me since it had been previously discussed. Also, I became seasick on our small assault landing craft. Someone gave me two seasick pills and a paper bag to vomit in. My being sick in the crowded landing craft made three others sick around me, in addition to making me quite unpopular at the moment.
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? I remember exactly what it was like. The realization that four men lying on the other side of the hedge hog from me in the water were killed by machine gun fire, impressed me that it was unhealthy there. Then when I got on the beach where dying men were laying next to me and numerous others being wounded , I couldn't help thinking what a helpless and hopeless situation a [crossed out]Do you remember seeing or hearing anything that seems funny now, even though it did not, of course, seem amusing at the time?[end crossed out] wounded person is in during an assault landing. All this was in addition to the usual fear of being in combat for the first time.
DO YOU REMEMBER SEEING OR HEARING ANYTHING THAT SEEMS FUNNY NOW, EVEN THOUGH IT DID NOT, OF COURSE, SEEM AMUSING AT THE TIME? Yes. As my group started crawling single file the length of the beach, toward our unit which was on the extreme left of the landing beach, we had to pause because some machine gun firing was raking the beach just ahead. We stopped and laid flat on the ground. The next thing I remember was being awakened by the man in back of me and realizing the group ahead had started without me following them. The effect of the seasick pills had caused me to fall asleep on D Day within an hour or two after H hour while all kinds of firing and noise was taking place.
Do you recall any incident, sad or heroic, or simply me morable, which struck you more than anything else? I remember seeing an LCI come in con- siderably later, land, and both ramps drop. Then, about 14 men walked off into the water which was over their heads. Of these 14 we were only able to save about three from drowning. I remember a tall Engineer Capt. doing a marvelous job directing men and equipment while exposing himself to the enemy fire. I heard he was later killed.
- for Cornelius Ryan 3 - Your name MAJOR KARL E WOLF
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? I remember a Captain from an AAA outfit show terrific bravery and initiative upon landing by securing a bazooka from his halftrack and firing on an emplacement until his halftrack was hit and exploded.
Where were you at midnight on June 5, 1944? On board ship trying to sleep.
Where were you at midnight on June 6, 1944? Just returned to our Bn CP near the beach from a trip the length of the beachhead during which another Lt and I tried to locate our Bn transportation.
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? [*LL*] Yes, Lt Col Emil V. B. Edmond, Army War College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. [*[crossed out]no[end crossed out]yes*] [*LL*]Chaplain Johan Dahlen, Barronett, Wisconsin [*I'm writing him*]
I possibly was one of the most recent arrivals in the European theatre to participate in the D Day landing as I had departed the United States as a replacement on 1 May 1944, landing in England on 15 May 1944, and joined the First Division while they were in their concentration area on 18 May 1944.
[*Karl E. Wolf*]
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.
Frances Ward Research, The Reader's Digest
[*wrote 4/1/59 see folder in Neg. file*]
MAJOR KARL WOLF LAW DEPT., U.S.M.A. WEST POINT, NEW YORK
28 Mar 1959
Miss Frances Ward Research Department The Reader's Digest 230 Park Ave. New York, N.Y.
Dear Miss Ward:
On 16 June 1958 I sent, in accordance with your request, my only copy of "The History of the 16th Infantry". If you no longer have a need for the use of it, I would greatly apprec- iate having it returned as I expect to leave West Point this June.
Sincerely, Karl Wolf