Lester Leonard McLean
Omaha Beach, Normandy, France
618th Ordnance Ammunition Company, 6th Engineer Special Brigade
Lester Leonard McLean, my grandfather, was a
supply sergeant in the U. S. Army, 618th Ordnance Ammunition Company,
6th Engineer Special Brigade, under the 74th Ordnance, attached
to the 29th Infantry. His company was sent to England for training.
Most soldiers were billeted in civilians homes while they trained
and waited. Friendships and bonds were made. While in England, replacements
and support personnel were added.
On June 6, 1944, D-Day, the 6th ESB landed on
Omaha Beach at Easy Red sector between 10:00 and 10:30 am on the
third wave. According to my grandfather, artillery shells landed
and exploded to the left and to the right of his landing craft.
He told my dad, "I just knew the next one would hit us. All
I could do was pray." My grandfather's buddy, Ralph Fancher,
who was in the same company, told me the shells were going right
over their heads. They rained down, exploding and sending water
up into the sky. Tracer bullets bounced off of the landing boats.
The scene at the beach at that time was described
by a lieutenant in the 6th Engineer Special Brigade as follows:
"I noticed that nothing moved on the beach except one bulldozer.
The beach was covered with debris, sunken craft and wrecked vehicles.
We saw many bodies in the water. Then we saw that the beach was
literally covered with the bodies of American soldiers wearing the
blue and gray patches of the 29th Infantry Division. Burning tanks
and boats lined the water's edge. There was the sound of screaming
and agony. Dead bodies rolled in the surf.
The men had to descend the ramp of the landing
craft (some were transferred into a smaller boat and brought right
onto the beach), carrying equipment, supplies, and ammunition. The
company's original mission was to establish a beach dump near Vierville-Sur-Mer
near the D-1 Exit. Rough winds and heavy seas had created confusion
in the landings, so the dump they created ended up being near Les
Moulins, near the D-3 Exit. This area was basically the dividing
line between the 1st Infantry Division and the 29th Infantry Division.
They were in charge of supplying ammunition to the infantry on the
Ordnance also does quick repair jobs. They would
take good parts off one gun and place them on another, making a
good rifle &endash; ready to be taken to the front. In essence,
they made it possible for the infantry to fight the Germans.We would
not have won without them. At least, that's how a proud granddaughter
My grandfather was one of the lucky ones who made
it home. He went on to become a minister and did so for many years,
until he died. He was married, had three children, four grand- children
and one great-grandchild before he passed away of heart disease.
I know he's looking down on me now, and I hope he knows just how
proud I am of him. I will do my very best to make sure we never
forget what he and the other brave men and women did for us.
His granddaughter Kim Johnston
of the 6th Engineer Special Brigade.
with his future wife.
and an unknown friend.
The boys from the 6th Engineer Special Brigade.