excerpt from "The Burning Shore"
Updated: Nov 24, 2022
Jason. Photo Credit: Brooke Striewski
~The 745th Tank Battalion was attached to the 1st Infantry Division (Big Red One) for the Amphibious Assault on the Normandy Beachhead; they landed on Easy Red Sector,
Omaha Beach/ Afternoon/ D-Day: June 6,1944.
"Over the radio, chatter and broken conversations permeate that cold expanse of subaqueous resonance. But the innards of the machine feel hot, they sweat profusely. Arrhythmic litanies of concussions. The drone of the gasoline engine laboring underwater, in its housing, and above all else, each man's heart hammering inside of him. Seasickness from the cross-channel journey lingers. The stench of vomit overpowers the stale breathing air.
Time near a standstill. Prayer uttered by all. The cramped space in their steel trap, disconcerting. Through one's whole body, the vibration of the tank and its slow progress across the sea floor.
Rising above the water line now.
A clarification of external commotion.
Through the periscopes, they can see, their vision is limited but they can see. A tide risen, with boys' corpses, their diluted and salty blood. The first wave. Faces awash in the seafoam, pushed aside by the tank. A man musters part of a Hail Mary to himself. Churning above the shoreline now, they are on the beach.
Through the gunner's sight, a film of red sea water distorts the view, ominous, draining away to reveal man's true colors. A screeching shift of the tank’s gears. The pungent smell of the vomit. He squints to better see. A crude path to follow across the sand, hard to notice through the bodies of the fallen and the lost equipment, past the burning peeps, the scattered office paper. There is a stray typewriter out there. The tank traps have been partially cleared. Some of the engineers met their end here. It was their job to clear obstacles under fire for the incoming armor. They carried explosives with them in so doing, around fifty pounds of it. Over the radio:
“What in thee hell. They even bomb the area?”
“What’s that comin’ in?”
The detonation to remove the tank's waterproofing creates another
terrific pop. “Goddamn. 88s, mortar, bazooka, everything, I don't know.”
Ears ringing. "Christ.”
They can see boys sheltering behind iron tank obstacles,
in puddles before the shingle. Some reach, to drag the
screaming wounded out of the way of the oncoming tank,
carefully, without joining their ranks. Some of the boys
get to their feet and scramble out of view
and to the relative safety at the
rear of the moving tank.
The engine revving louder, louder.
And above the din: “HEY. Dunny?”
“Shit burnin' everywhere. Jesus .”
A whisper: “Holy mary mother of god pray for us sinners…”
“Let's keep up the pace. For godsakes, don't run over the boys.”
“…now and at the hour of our death, amen.”" ~ © Our Family & CF/ J.L. Bumpus 2022
The Burning Shore and other stories of mine are derived from known facts,
testimonies, imagined in part, and will be published as a collection, with illustration.
Watch the Film Below to Learn More about my Grandfather and his Service with
the 745th Tank Battalion in Europe.
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