Wednesday, April 27, 2011

They Said It... - Flame Thrower Harry Parley on Omaha Beach

In the following account from War Stories of D-Day: Operation Overlord: June 6, 1944, flame thrower Harry Parley, a private first class with the 29th Division, 116th Regiment, 2nd Battalion, E Company, describes the chaos of stepping foot off the landing craft and into the hell that was Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944.


"As our boat touched sand and the ramp went down, I became a visitor to hell. Some boats on either side of us had been hit by artillery and heavy weapons. I was aware that some were burning and some were sinking. I can’t recall if there were cries from the wounded. I shut everything out and concentrated on following the men in front of me down the ramp and into the water. Ahead of me was a stretch of beach at least a couple of hundred yards deep. I read the actual yardage somewhere many years ago, but I no longer remember it.

"The air was thick with smoke and the roar of exploding shells. I stepped off the ramp into a deep, water-filled pocket in the sand, and went under completely. With no footing whatsoever, and with the weight on my back, I was unable to come up. I knew I was drowning, and made a futile attempt to unbuckle the flame thrower harness. Inadvertently, I had raised the firing arm, which is about three feet long, above my head. One of my team saw it, grabbed hold, and pulled me up out of the hole onto solid sand. Then slowly, half drowned, coughing water, and dragging my feet, I began walking toward the chaos ahead." 

Photo courtesy of National World War II Museum, from War Stories of D-Day: Operation Overlord: June 6, 1944 by Michael Green and James D. Brown.

1 comment:

  1. Harry Parley is my husband's uncle, a wonderful man, a natural born commedian. He did not talk about this horror he went through in my presence at any dinners or family gatherings, so I'm feel very proud of him, for so many reasons. He was a true gentle man, loving, sweet, funny and we loved him very much. One day I was in our kitchen and the TV was on in the backround. I heard that Charlie Rose was on and I heard a familiar voice. I said to myself that sounds like Uncle Harry, I whirled around and sure enough, there he was being interviewed by Charlie Rose, he never told us he was going to be on. He was so humble and kind and just a total cut up and practical joker. We miss him alot.