© 2014 Enfys McMurry All rights reserved.
June 14, 1944: Reporter Ernie Pyle, moving with the troops through the Cotentin Peninsula, thought the Normandy countryside “a dreamland of beauty...too wonderfully beautiful to be the scene of war.” For the men fighting there, it was a struggle not just fighting the Germans, but coping with relentless wet, stormy weather and the “bocage,” the field boundary hedgerows formed by 2,000 years of collected earth and tangled roots. Inch by inch, the men fought, pushing the Germans north to Cherbourg. To control this port on the Atlantic tip of the peninsula, was essential for the arrival from Britain of supplies for the war as it pushed into France and Germany. Pfc. Roy Davis wrote home to his parents in Mystic, he “could see the Germans coming out of their foxholes all over the place with their hands up.” It would be Roy’s last communication with his parents.
June 15, 1944: For eight days the fighting in Normandy had dominated the news. On this day, June 15, the major headline of the Iowegian changed the focus. It read, “Bombs Hit Japan.” It was the
first bombing of Japan since Jimmy Doolittle’s “suicide “ mission 2 years previously. Flying from Chengdu, China, over Japan, pilots of the U.S.20th Air Force bombed key Japanese industrial centers. A month later the people of Centerville learned the organizing and planning of the raid was the work of Centerville’s 31-year old Col. Dwight Monteith, the assistant operations officer of the 20th Bomber Command. Dwight was a 1930 graduate of Centerville High School whose mother worked at the County auditor’s office. Homer McClellan had recognized Dwight’s work ethic and S.A. Martin of the Pure Ice Company had supported Dwight’s passage through West Point. On the same day was another headline: “Reports Landing Attempts on Two Jap-Held islands.” The islands were the Marianas: Saipan, Tinian, and Guam. Mapping the landing sites in Gen. Nimitiz’s office in Hawaii was Lloyd “Pat” Patterson of Seymour. Backing the invasion forces moving into the Philippine Sea was the greatest armada the world had ever seen. On board the aircraft carrier the South Dakota, the division commander of the ship’s 5 inch guns, was Robert “Bob” Beck. Among the accompanying destroyers was Mystic’s (today Exline’s) John Golden on duty at the radar screen of the U.S.S. Patterson. And landing on Saipan amid torrents of Japanese artillery and mortar fire was a 17-year old marine in the front line of the 2nd Infantry: Centerville’s J.B.Kelley. (473-474)