Bill Guarnere, Joe Toye and I landed in the same field about 0,5
mile north of Sainte-Mere Eglise. We spent all night working our
way to the coast. We captured an ammunition group of Germans during
the night. We arrived at Le Grand Chemin just before the order came
for “E” Company to attack the “Guns of Brecourt”.
The results of that attack are well known except this. When we got
back to the road I grabbed the mortar where I left it and put the
tube on the ground between my legs and I started firing rounds at
Brecourt where I could see the top of the roof. I let loose 7 or
8 rounds without knowing if I did any damage.
In September 1984 I returned to Brecourt Manor
and after lunch in the Manor my wife and I were standing in the
entrance yard when Michel de Vallavieille asked: “who fired
the mortars down here?” I volunteered that I had. He then
showed me shrapnel marks on the rock sides of the building. An after
battle map the brothers had drawn following D-Day showed a number
of bodies around the area in which we were standing. I do not know
if I was responsible or not.
After capturing Carentan the company was in a
defensive position. Dick Winters came down the line one day asking
for a volunteer to take out a high noon patrol Nearing me he said:
“Malarkey you are a new non-com (a military officer appointed
from enlisted personnel) you just volunteered”. I was to report
at noon to the company Command Post with Rod Bain, his 300 Radio
and six riflemen. Lewis Nixon was at the C.P. and he’s the
one who was ordering the patrol. He handed me a map showing a cluster
of farm buildings about 0,5 miles west of us and 7,5 miles south.
I had never had any training for a patrol, who I picked on it and
so forth. The ones I remembered were Bain, John Sheehey, Ed Spein
and Dick Davenport.
I would stay 4 or 5 yards behind the scout who
would stop at each cross hedgerow and then we would change directions,
always moving west or south and keeping the hedgerow between us
and the target. When we had made about 10 jogs I stepped up behind
John Sheehey, as I did I stepped on a dry twig, when it snapped
a German helmet came up out of the hedgerow from out of a pit blind,
he was looking to his left, John and I were about 10 feet away to
his right. I pulled my carbine up, not firing but hitting Sheehey
in the butt. He whipped up his Tommy Gun taking the German through
I could see the farm buildings a couple of hundred
yards away. I did not call Winters but ordered the patrol to run
back the same way we came. Automatic weapons were firing at us randomly,
however, we always had a hedgerow between us and any gunners. Rod
Bain had a tough time with the 300 Radio as did Ed Spein with his
real short legs. When we reached the Command Post, Nixon had left,
probably getting a drink. Winters remarked that that was the last
daylight patrol going out of here.
The rest of Normandy was pretty standard stuff
except for John More finding the main supply stores at Utah Beach
and securing cases of fruit for us to gorge ourselves on waiting
for an L.S.T. to take us back to England and making that trip on
our return to Aldbourne with a fancy motorcycle with side car.
The English summer of ’44 was pleasant with
many missions scrubbed. Sobel sent word from someone else to tell
Sgt. Malarkey and Alton More that I am not going to reclaim the
motorcycle until they go into combat again. He would have come sooner
but did not want to confront Dick Winters.
September 17th, 1944 brought our jump into Holland. I became acting
platoon Sgt. Of the 2nd platoon when Bill Guarnere injured his leg
in early October. In mid October Winters picked me up to take me
to some headquarters. On the way he said I was to be a forward observer
for a Corp of British Artillery. When I asked what I knew about
that he said I did not need to know anything.
My outpost was to be in the orchard along the
Rhine where we maintained nightly outposts. My mission was to observe
German traffic west of Arnhem to Utrecht. On the night we were to
take position, Rod Bain, Eugene Jackson and I were in the company
mess with Winters for final instructions and food for the day. It
was 3:00 am, in walks corporal Plesha who was supposed to maintain
the outpost until we got there. When I asked him what the hell he
was doing coming in early he responded he thought it was near daylight.
The truth is he was getting nervous in the service.
We moved cautiously across the bottom land and
reached the orchard without incident. I told Rod and Jackson to
lie down and rest while I cut saplings with a machete to build a
blind. When finished I laid down on the side of the ditch looking
to the east, in about a half hour I could see the first speck of
light. A short time later I saw something bob up the ditch, I kicked
Rod and Jackson and jumped behind an orchard tree. When I challenged
them there was no response, at the same time a dog was smelling
the barrel of my Tommy Gun. Why I did not fire I do not know.
I challenged them again this time I saw a white
handkerchief waved in the air. I sent Jackson up the ditch, he yelled
there were 8 Germans. He belted one with his rifle when he found
a P38 (a Luger Pistol) on him. They had dumped their weapons far
up the ditch. Why they decided to surrender I do not know. I do
know they had to come across the Rhine. I don' t know if Plesha
knew that. I had Rod get Winters on the 300 Radio to find out if
we should keep them here all day. He said to bring them in so they
could be interrogated. I never did hear the end of the story about
them. The dog came in with us.
In the later part of October the company was to
be involved in the Rescue of British Paratroopers and some American
Pilots from across the Rhine in a mission created by British Colonel
Dobey. A protective force under Heyliger was to cross down river
from the orchard. The 2nd platoon would have machine gunners on
both sides of the orchard and the rest of the platoon would man
the boats with British crews to return the escapees. I had the first
boat across, I did not see any of the protective troops. I had to
ask if they were the escapees. Everything went without a hitch and
we escorted them to a reception area over the dike.
There was another unusual event in Holland involving
an area we referred to as “Hell’s Corner”. It
was the location that was at the junction of the railroad dike and
the island dike. We would rotate platoons in and out of there. One
night Winters came down to it and wanted myself and Rod Bain to
go out to a wooded area to see what kind of German activity we could
hear on the railroad dike.
We silently went out about 11:00 PM. About 15
minutes after we entered the woods mortar shells started hitting
the trees. Winters called to ask what was going on. I replied tree
bursts were occurring, so he ordered us out. The only thing I can
surmise is that the Germans had some sophisticated listening device
that would pick up the slightest sound.