"Slaughter vividly conveys the reality of combat during World War II in his book with sweeping passages that literally place his reader on the battlefield beside him." Belvoir Eagle
Before D-Day, regular army soldiers called the National Guardsmen of Virginia's 116th Infantry Regiment "Home Nannies" and"Weekend Warriors" and worse. On June 6, 1944, on Omaha Beach, however, these proud Virginians who carried the legacy of the famed Stonewall Brigade showed the regular army and the world what true valor really was. In this moving World War II memoir, the author captures the life of GI Joe from pre-Pearl Harbor days through training, deployment overseas, and more training. All leads up to D-Day and Normandy on June 6, 1944, when Sergeant Bob Slaughter came across Omaha Beach with Company D of the 116th Infantry and the Bedford Boys.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Foreword Alex Kershaw 7
How It All Began 17
Stateside Training 27
Going Abroad 45
The 29th Rangers 59
Assault Training 77
The D-Day Plan 95
Rough Ride to Hell: Omaha Beach, Dog Green 103
Omaha to Saint-Lo 119
Saint-Lo and Beyond 139
Shrapnel Wound at Hill 203 147
Recovery and Return 155
A Long Winter into Spring 167
My War Ends 181
Eyewitness Accounts of Omaha Beach, 29th Infantry Division 213
Tricky Tides at Omaha Beach 273
Fatalities, 1944-1945: D Company, 116th Infantry Regiment 277
Additional Documents 279
What People are Saying About This
I have been privileged to know Bob Slaughter for almost twenty years, a period during which I observed his passion to keep alive the spirit of those men, living and dead, who participated in the great D-Day invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. His commitment to the history of that great event, in which he was a participant, has never wavered. In Omaha Beach and Beyond: The Long March of Bob Slaughter readers can now learn firsthand the story of this remarkable American soldier and patriot.
—Joseph Balkoski, Maryland National Guard Command Historian and
author, Beyond the Beachhead: The 29th Infantry Division in Normandy
The long march of Sergeant Bob Slaughter as told in Omaha Beach and Beyond gives the reader the memories that Bob has lived with every day for the past sixty-three years. After reading this, his memories will live with you too, forever!
—Major Richard D. Winters, Distinguished Service Cross, E Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne (“Band of Brothers”), U.S. Army, World War II
Bob Slaughter’s recollection of the fighting in France after the D-Day invasion is a firsthand account of a soldier’s experience that tells it like it was for all of us who were there.
—Staff Sergeant Walter D. Ehlers, Congressional Medal of Honor,
Company D, 18th Infantry, 1st Division, U.S. Army, World War II
Omaha Beach and Beyond is an excellent account of a Ranger-trained 29th Division infantryman in World War II. It’s a quick, exciting, and rewarding read.
—1st Sergeant Leonard G. Lomell, Distinguished Service Cross, Company D,
2nd Ranger Battalion, Battlefield Commission, U.S. Army, World War II
Belvoir Eagle, July 25, 2007
“Slaughter vividly conveys the reality of combat during World War II in his book with sweeping passages that literally place his reader on the battlefield beside him.”
Why then, did the twelve-nation Allies have so much trouble bringing the war-weary Nazi empire under control? The cost of the war had reached into the billions and billions of dollars, and had caused the loss of many millions of human lives. Why then, was this war so difficult for so long?
This book fails to answer any of that.
My purpose instead is to tell the untold story of a few young citizen soldiers, including myself, who were caught up in a world war that turned out to be so utterly brutal that it still remains difficult to write about it even now, over sixty years later. Much of this account tells the story of the melding of national guardsmen and drafted soldiers into a fighting unit that defeated a well-disciplined, well-equipped, and well-led professional Axis army.
Before D-Day, the regular army called 29th Division soldiers "home nannies" and "weekend warriors." Some volunteer or drafted soldiers actually regarded former national guardsmen as inferior. Major General Leslie McNair-later killed by friendly fire in Normandy -wrote to Washington that in his opinion, National Guard officers were unfit for combat.
A few guardsmen and reservists were indeed deficient, and were quickly separated out. A relatively few other guard officers were too old or otherwise unfit, but thevast majority became the nucleus of the wartime army. Many former Virginia National Guard officers and noncoms led the 116th Infantry Regiment, which stormed Omaha, the most viciously defended of the Allied landing beaches.
Most of these men became outstanding wartime leaders. Technical Sergeant Frank Peregory of K Company, 116th, for example, first won the Soldiers Medal by plunging into a frozen North Carolina canal to save a fellow soldier's life. Later, he posthumously won the nation's highest award, the Medal of Honor, for extreme valor in combat. He hailed from Charlottesville, Virginia, and was a former national guardsman. In the name of fairness, I hasten to add that the 29th Division was blessed with many great drafted and volunteer soldiers as well.
This book portrays the months and months of man-killing assault training and physical conditioning that we soldiers willingly accepted. Despite enduring those many, many months of unbelievable hardships and harsh military discipline, many of my comrades were killed within minutes on the bloody sands of Omaha Beach, or mere days later in the entangling Normandy hedgerows. Others survived only to be killed within a few months, on the wintertime battlefields of Nazi Germany.
Recalling events of long ago and in the proper chronological order is, at best, an educated guess. However, many of my long-dormant memories, fuzzy at first, crystallized into focus with the help of reliable evidence from other credible eyewitnesses. We are not talking about information from best-selling books about World War II, but unique, untold stories set down in the words of ordinary former officers and men of the 116th Infantry and the 29th Division. Many of these contributors have now answered the last roll call. Thankfully, their memories are not buried with them and will live for all eternity!
During early D Company reunions, a pseudo committee of "intellectuals" engaged in many serious roundtable discussions. These stories often conflicted at first, but usually after recourse, evolved into almost unanimously accepted facts. For some, recurring flashbacks would not evaporate easily into oblivion. Many vivid episodes often resurfaced while lying in bed, only to return in sweaty nightmares after sleep arrived.
All of us vividly remembered the history-changing event that occurred on December 7, 1941, when an audacious Japanese sneak attack destroyed the American Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. This single event drew the United States and much of the world into the second great war of the twentieth century.
The men of the 116th Regiment also recalled the danger of the transatlantic crossing as we sailed for war in October 1942. As we watched from the deck of one of the largest ocean liners afloat, 332 Englishmen perished. In an incredible midocean shipwreck, the RMS Queen Mary sliced through one of our light cruiser escorts, the HMS Curacao. This tragedy occurred on a calm and sunny afternoon in the North Atlantic Ocean.
Nor did those of us who volunteered for the 29th Rangers ever forget the harsh, wintertime physical training we endured at the Commando Training Depot on the rugged highlands of Scotland. The British commando instructors were given the task of preparing 1,000 American volunteers for a tough special assignment. Half of us washed out, and the 500 that were left wondered why we had accepted the hardships in order to become 29th Rangers.
There were greater and lesser adventures, but all are worth retelling. The amphibious assault training at southern England's beaches; living and hiking on the water-soaked and utterly bleak English wintertime moors; D-Day briefings at the marshaling area; and, of course, the terrible disaster suffered by the 116th RCT (Regimental Combat Team) at Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. That fatal day, the Allied navies and air forces undoubtedly saved the lodgment at Omaha by keeping Jerry's vaunted panzers at bay until our depleted and vulnerable V Corps was adequately replenished and reinforced. In my opinion, the Omaha Beach sector would have failed had it not been for the supporting warships and airplanes.
It was comforting to have nearby the elite 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions, the veteran Big Red One 1st Division, the 4th Ivy Division, and two airborne divisions-the combat-tested 82nd All Americans, and the 101st Screaming Eagles. They were just as scared and shaken as we were, but we knew that if we could just hold on for a few days, reinforcements were on the way. Who could ever forget D-day, even if it were one hundred years ago!
I remember buddies with whom I spent passes to London, men I played cards with a couple of days before the landing, who signed their autographs on my Eisenhower D-day missive, who shook hands with me on the Javelin's deck-young men, as I was, all killed during the largest air, land, and sea battle ever fought. Many more were maimed and never seen again. How could I forget this epic event, even if I fail to recall all the proper names and faces?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A good story teller that exposes the reality of war.