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'A lot of the people who got hit you couldn’t do anything for'
Corporal Maxwell Moffatt, 24, US 29th Division, 115th Regiment

"I was a medic in the second wave. Being a medic was dangerous work. Of the 96 men in the medical corps of my regiment, half of them died on D-Day.

When our large landing craft beached, the Germans had zeroed their guns on the ramp. I was the last man and thought about staying aboard and letting it take me back to England, but I felt I couldn't do that to the boys. I wasn't going to go down the ramp where men were getting shot, so I dived over the side since I could swim pretty well. God must have been looking out for me. The landing craft backed on to a mine and exploded. If I'd been on it I'd have been dead.

On the beach, the first wave had really taken a beating. It was pitiful. But I was told to get off the beach and let the navy medics care for the wounded. I didn't want to leave my friends who had been hit, but I ran like a rabbit.

We didn't get far inland, about 1,000 yards. The Germans were putting up heavy resistance. We lost lots of men to snipers – including another medic who I had to fix up. The Germans climbed trees to shoot at us. We weren't used to that, but you learn pretty quick when you're under fire.

I had to be on my knees to fix people – you couldn't do it lying down. To make myself less of a target, I'd drag the wounded behind a hedge.

We came to a little church and there were snipers firing from the steeple. We called in artillery from the ships and three shells screamed overhead like freight trains. The church came down.

A lot of the people who got hit you couldn't do anything for, lots of them got hit in the head. I did fix up about 10 of our guys on D-Day. One had been hit by a mortar and his foot was hanging off – the heat seers the wound so they don't bleed too much. He lives near me and I still see him sometimes and he thanks me."


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