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Secrets and my Recollections of World War II

Gardner L. Friedlander 1990, 2000

Story in the Air


Friday, March 16, 90

Dear Gard,

    I do not recall that our relationship at Dartmouth was anything more than a passing acquaintance; nevertheless, I have no trouble conjuring up your image (of then of course) at the sight of your name. We simply did not travel in the same circles. However, on reading your war-time account in the Dartmouth War Diary that arrived here yesterday. I discover that we were in close proximity in the E.T.O. - almost dodging the same bullets at times.

    When you saw to your "horror a number of American C-47 aircraft carrying our paratroops shot down by our own merchant ships", you didn't know you were staring up at me. Although my plane did not go down (about 25 out of 125 did), bullets penetrated the floor, and a shell exploded next to the plane as I jumped (an officer is first out) and knocked my 16 men to the floor. I thought I saw my plane go down in flames close by, and my men assumed that I had jumped into tracer bullets that were seen coming through my legs at the open door. We had a surprise meeting the next afternoon when we finally got together. Since I was new to combat, I had not identified the flak as American - probably just as well. It is good to discover that someone cared.

    I was also on Salerno Beachhead, jumping in on the second night. After entering Naples as the docks burned and fighting in the mountains up to Cassino, I also was at Anzio. I can even pinpoint my initial position. I was up to my bellybutton in water between our L.C.I. and the beach when a German plane strafed the shore and dropped a bomb down the funnel of the adjacent L.C.I. Sent there as reserves, we stayed for 60 days. Then we went to England, Holland (jump), Belgium Bulge (by truck), Rhine crossing, and meeting the Russians northwest of Berlin. Our tracks were quite close together.



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Gardner L. Friedlander 1990, 2000
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