Tag Archives: D-Day

- We Remember: Bedford County and the 70th Anniversary of D-Day


Into the Jaws of Death, A LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) from the U.S. Coast Guard-manned USS Samuel Chase disembarks troops of Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division (the Big Red One) wading onto the Fox Green section of Omaha Beach (Calvados, Basse-Normandie, France) on the morning of June 6, 1944. American soldiers encountered the newly formed German 352nd Division when landing. During the initial landing two-thirds of the Company E became casualties.  23-0455M, Chief Photographer's Mate (CPHoM) Robert F. Sargent - This media is available in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).

On 6 June 1944, soldiers of the Allied Expeditionary Force stormed the beaches of Normandy as part of Operation Overlord, the largest seaborne invasion in history.  Thirty soldiers from Bedford, Virginia, members of Company A of the 116th Infantry assaulted Omaha Beach.  “By day’s end,” according to the National D-Day Memorial, “nineteen of the company’s Bedford soldiers were dead.  Two more Bedford soldiers died later in the Normandy campaign, as did yet another two assigned to other 116th Infantry companies. Bedford’s population in 1944 was about 3,200. Proportionally this community suffered the nation’s severest D-Day losses.”  The Personal War Service Record of Virginia’s War Dead, part of the records of the Virginia World War II History Commission, documents the sacrifice of 15 of the 19 Bedford soldiers.

The Virginia World War II History Commission was established by an Act of the Virginia General Assembly approved on 8 March 1944. The commission was a policy-making body comprised of twelve non-salaried citizens appointed by the Governor. Its purpose was “to collect, assemble, edit, and publish. . . information and material with respect to the contribution to World War II made by Virginia and Virginians.”  One of the most important records created by the Commission were the Personal War Service Record of Virginia’s Dead, a questionnaire completed by the next-of-kin of Virginians killed during … read more »

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- “…we all have tiers in our eyes and our hearts are in the pit of our stomacks”


Doug Raymond, shown in an undated photo taken during his service with the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II.

It is rare for anyone to be directly involved in an event that can be labeled, without exaggeration, a turning point in world history.  The recollections of those who have done so take on a special significance for the rest of us as we try to imagine how it must have felt to be part of an extraordinary moment in time.  As archivists, we can only hope that these recollections are recorded and preserved before memories fade and entire generations pass away.

Today, on the 68thanniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy, one of those voices speaks through the June 1944 diary of Douglas J. Raymond (1921-1994), an acting petty officer in the Royal Canadian Navy.  A native of Rosemont-LaPetite-Patrie, Quebec, Canada, Raymond became a United States citizen and resident of Virginia after the war.  While keeping this diary, he was serving aboard the destroyer HMCS Saskatchewan providing anti-submarine protection for the landing forces.

Raymond’s widow, Mary, donated the diary to the Library of Virginia last July.  In a note she tucked in with the little book, she apologized for her late husband’s spelling, saying that it was more phonetic than technically correct.  No apologies are needed, as the diary is an honest, sensitive, and exciting account of what a 23-year-old man saw, thought, and felt in the midst of intensely stressful circumstances.… read more »

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