My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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WASHINGTON, Tuesday—Here is the third and last installment of Ensign Swain's letter describing the Normandy invasion:

"Had not more than gotten them (the wounded) squared away, when we took up the hook and got into port the morning of June 9th. We unloaded our wounded at the yard, and thought we would catch a little sleep before going out again. But we soon saw an end to that when we had a load all signed, sealed and checked by 4 in the afternoon. I am not kidding when I say I was dragging myself behind me about that time. There was no question of sleep, for something was bound to come up and keep you going.

"By 4 the next morning we were under way again and heading back to the front. This time we had faster convoy and better protection, and by the afternoon, at least, some of us had caught a little sleep. Thus fortified, we were ready for anything. This time we pulled into a new beachhead and the one which had been the hardest to take on D-Day. In fact, it hadn't been operating long before we got there. Spent the night under awful and terrifying attacks and constant anti-aircraft fire. It was something to watch, and even the dive bombing runs proved fascinating, for we were missed completely, although the shrapnel fell like rain on the deck. We had moved our anchorage about a half hour before one dive run let go a string where we would have been.

"The beach was such that we had to run in at high tide and dry out, so we spent the day wandering along the beach. Many picked up some souvenirs, in spite of its being frowned upon. It was sure good to see that tide start to come in so we could pull off and be mobile at least. We could see the first airfield on French soil swing into operation. For the first time in four years, planes took off in France which were Allied planes.

"We heard so many tales of what happened on the beach, and I wish that I could tell you all of them—of the snipers, the French attitude, and the tremendous assaults taking place. Stories of the prisoners who are delighted to have been captured by Americans and who claim that Hitler is crazy, his visit to the front last Sunday a fake, and the conviction that Germany is already beaten; of the paratroopers and their surprise raids, and all the rest. The biggest and the very best thing I can say is that we are trying to get this thing over as soon as we can, so that we will get back to the ones we are fighting for and the freedom of thought and action that makes America what it is.

"P. S.—Excuse the mistakes as I tried to peck this out in a hurry. Think that you can get a little idea of what happened."

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Washington (D.C., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 30, 1944

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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MEP edition publlished on 2008-06-30

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.