Emery Alvin Van Every was born October 4, 1923
near Clear Lake, Iowa. He is just now in 2003, approaching his 80th
Birthday. Emery attended schools in Belmond, Scheffield, Thornton
and Mason City, Iowa. Emery was drafted into the United States Army
on March 5, 1943 during his senior year of highschool. He took his
Infantry Basic Training at Camp Roberts, California. He then volunteered
and was accepted to be a paratrooper and was moved to Fort Benning,
Georgia where he took five weeks of parachute training, qualified
and received his parachute wings.
Emery was then transferred to Camp Machall - Fort
Bragg. While at Camp Machall, Emery was assigned to the 508 Parachute
Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, F Company. He was then
moved to Northern Field Tullahoma, Tennessee for more extensive
training and made his first night parachute jump. After a short
leave Emery returned to Camp Machall-Fort Bragg and learned that
they were to prepare for overseas duty. The group then proceeded
to Camp Shanks, New York.
His group left New York on December 28,
1943 with a destination of Ireland. In Ireland Emery was stationed
at Port Rush for nearly 2 months, he was then moved to Wollaton
Park, Nottingham England where they prepared for the invasion of
Emery made his D-Day jump into Normandy
and landed at 1:52 am on the morning of June 6, 1944 on the west
side of the Merderet River. Six paratroopers landed in the same
small area across the road from an apple orchard. After identifying
themselves with their crickets they crossed one by one into the
apple orchard where they met up with other paratroopers. There were
German forces a short distance down the road at a machine gun outpost,
and when the paratroopers went to investigate, some were taken prisoner.
Emery witnessed 2 of his fellow F company comrades , Leroy (Whitey)
Bauman and Joe Thornton being taken as prisoners of war. Upon landing
in Normandy the objective of Emery's group was to blow up a railroad
bridge in a village on or close to the Dove River.
Due to the fact
that there was a much larger concentration of German forces in this
village the group was not able to get the job done. However, they
were able to see the Airforce blow the bridge with the dive bombers
from Hill 30. After dawn arrived the German forces in this village
were able to spot the Americans, and pursued after them and they
chased them back to the causeway over the Merderet River leading
to St. Mere Eglise, Normandy, France.
With the German forces also being on the other
side of the causeway and bridge the American group of about 139
men were not able to cross the causeway. This being almost evening
and dark the American forces were forced to go into the swamp or
surrender. Emery and James Elash, who was a 30 caliber machine gun
operator, were forced to go into the swamp wading in water to their
necks. They went for some distance into the swamp where they found
a strip of land about 4 inches high and 4 foot wide, where they
were forced to stay for 5 nights and 4 days. With nothing but K-
ration cookies and a few sticks of chewing gum for this entire stay
in the swamp. At this time Emery and James proceeded to the causeway
where they found many dead 325 glider troopers from the Regiment
that had captured this causeway.
As Emery and James crossed the causeway toward
St. Mere Eglise they spotted other American forces which Emery believes
were also of the 325 Glider Regiment. These American forces took
in Emery and James but, would not give them anything to eat because
of the fact that Emery and Jim had not had any food for such a long
period of time. They did however, give them some sleeping tablets
along with some beef broth to put them to sleep. After they awoke
the next day these forces were able to take Emery and James to the
rest of the 508 Regiment who were on the East side of the Merderet
River. After this time the 508 were able to accomplish all of their
objectives one of the first was the crossing of the Dove River in
pontoon boats at about 2:00 am, where they were able to get up on
the road leading into this little village.
As they arrived on the road and laid down, 3 German
tanks came down the road leading into the village. The Officer in
charge was Lt. Pollette he gave the order to the bazooka gunner
to fire a round of bazooka ammunition into the side of the first
German tank coming down the hill leading to the village. This was
done through the tracks of the tank, but, the bazooka would not
fire therefore Lt. Pollette took a round of bazooka ammo in his
hand and was able to throw it through the tracks of the tank, stopping
it with the other 2 tanks behind it.
This disabled the first tank,
but, the other 2 tanks were able to escape back up the road going
up the hill. All German troops in the tank that was destroyed were
killed. At dawn of this day the American group was able to go and
capture or kill the rest of the German forces in this village. Unknown
to the American group there was a large group of German forces in
a chateau a short distance south of this village.
Of this group in the chateau the American group
was able to kill or capture many, but others escaped. After this
the 508 Regiment captured many other objectives leading toward Hill
95 at La Haye du Puits. One morning between the 4th and the 6th of
July, the 2nd Battalion of the 508 was assigned to spear head the
attack on Hill 95 temporarily being assigned to assist the 505 Regiment
in this attack. After being able to accomplish the capture of this
hill the 2nd Battalion was able to dig in on the forward slope which
overlooked the village of La Haye du Puits. In this village were three
churches with steeples which the Germans were using as artillery
observation posts. After some time the Germans were able to spot
the American forces dug in on the forward slope of Hill 95.
time the German forces started firing both artillery and mortar
shells into the American forces on the Hill. Most of the American
troops were able to get back on the reverse slope of the hill, but,
some were killed including Emery's platoon leader and squad leader.
These being Lt. Cook and Sgt. Harold. Emery was standing within
a foot of these men when they were killed. Emery was not wounded
at this time. Emery at this time was carrying a Browning automatic
rifle and needed an ammo bearer.
The ammo bearer was about 6 feet ahead of Emery
going down the reverse slope of the hill, when the German's were
able to drop an artillery or mortar shell in front of the ammo bearer
killing him. A piece of shrapnel also wounding Emery. After some
time Emery and many other wounded were taken back to England on
a Hospital ship. Where Emery recuperated and was able to return
to the Regiment after they returned to the Base camp in Wollaton
Park in Nottingham, England, where they prepared for the Invasion
The Invasion of Holland was to occur on September 17, 1944. Emery
was also able to participate in this operation, landing on some
ground above Beek, Holland on the 17th of September. Emery's Regiment
was assigned to take the approach to the Nijmegen Bridge in Holland
on the 19th of September.
Emery was again wounded for the second time as
they made this attack through Beek toward the bridge. He was again
returned to England to recuperate. The 508 Regiment was not returned
to England, but, was sent to a second base camp somewhere around
Sissone in France. The Military operation in Holland was called
Operation Market Garden. Emery again was able to return to the 1st
base camp in Nottingham England. He was married on October 4th,
1944 to a wonderful Nottingham Lassie named Eleanor Crandon whom
he met during his stay in Nottingham. After some time the remaining
508 troops still in Nottingham were able to close the camp and also
went to France to the 2nd base camp around Sissone. However, by
this time the 508 was again committed to combat and they were transported
by convoy to the Battle of the Bulge.
Emery again was able to rejoin
the 508 somewhere in the Ardennes or Hurtgen Forest sometime in
December of that year. Emery received his third wound while he was
riding in a jeep because of frozen feet.
This happened from an artillery tree burst from
a German artillery shell. He was then taken to an American Army
Hospital at La Havre, France. After being there for some time he
was able to go to a rehabilitation center at Etampes in France which
was across the harbor from La Havre. He was never able to return
to the 508 Parachute Regiment after being wounded this 3rd time.
Fortunately, Emery was able to be assigned to a Quarter Master Supply
Unit that was later assigned to Berlin Germany. Being thus assigned
Emery was able to visit his former parachute unit the 508 which
was stationed in Frankfurt Germany as General Eisenhower's Honor
Guard, Of which Emery and the 508 are very proud. While Emery was
stationed in Berlin he became the father of a Wonderful baby son
who was born to he and his wife Eleanor in Nottingham England.
at this time the point system for discharge was developed and as
it got to 81 points which Emery had accumulated he was able to return
to the United States and be discharged in Rockford, Illinois.
Emery's wife Eleanor and his son David were able
to join him in the States on the following Easter. They lived in
various locations in Iowa and had 4 more wonderful children and
also many Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren. Emery was awarded
the Purple Heart with 2 clusters for his being wounded 3 times.
He also was awarded the Silver Star which he never received for
his actions on Hill 95 at La Haye du Puits France.
Written by Stacie Coppinger,
Granddaughter of Emery Van Every as told to her by Emery himself.