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We Were There at the Normandy Invasion

Clayton Knight

213 pages
Library of Alexandria
TOWARD sunset on the first day of June, a small black car rattled past a crossroads sign in a tiny village in northwestern France. The sign pointed to the near-by town of Sainte Mère Église, about two miles farther inland. The coast of the English Channel was nearly three miles back in the other direction. Behind the wheel of the car sat a thin, anxious Frenchman. Hunched beside him was a young, blond Englishman. The younger man was shabbily dressed, and most of the lower part of his face was covered by a bandage. The car pulled up and stopped in front of a house with a weather-beaten sign on it which read: Pierre Gagnon Gas Tobacco Chocolate A lone gas pump stood between the house and the highway. Beyond the house lay Pierre Gagnon’s farm. The driver waited a moment and then honked three times sharply. Almost immediately the door opened. A dark-haired boy of about twelve came out. The man behind the wheel asked, “Is your father here?” The boy nodded and politely explained, “If you want gas I can work the pump.” The driver frowned nervously and repeated, “Get your father.” From the direction of Ste. Mère Église three German soldiers came in sight, their heavy tread echoing in the stillness of the drowsy village. Both men in the car and the boy glanced at them. When the boy did not move, the driver spoke more sharply, “Your father, bring him here.” The boy turned and disappeared through the door. The driver and his passenger waited. The younger man slid low in his seat, his back toward the approaching soldiers. Chatting among themselves, the Germans paid no attention to the car nor to a girl of fifteen who had come to the house door. Behind her stood her father, Pierre Gagnon, a burly man with a thick mustache, and rumpled country clothes. He brushed past the girl, and at a signal from the driver, went to the pump. The driver left his seat and bent close to speak to him.