Mike McKinney, Staff Sergeant, 1st Inf. Div. 16th Inf. Reg. Co. L.We had been training for the invasion since we arrived in England somewhere before Christmas 1943. We were stationed in an army camp near Weymouth. The training's consisted mainly of rehearsing the taking of a pillbox. The storming of a particular pillbox would also be our assignment on the invasion-day. A hill on the back of the camp was prepared as practice-target. There was a little cut out spot on the hill that was supposed to be the pillbox. We would attack the hill one section at a time. There was a special procedure for taking the pillbox and each section went over and over this until everybody knew exactly what to do. The rest of the time was spend keeping in shape.
We didn't practice any landings while we were in England. We had been tagged as an invasion force in 1940. So even before our country went to war, we were practicing landings, climbing nets, getting on and of transports and getting of landingcraft's onto the shore. We practiced in Buzzard Bay in Massachusetts and in Caliba in Porto Rico. After that we had become seasoned veterans. You have to keep in mind that we had already twice invaded a hostile coast when we arrived in England. The first time we landed in Oran, Tunisia and the second time in Sicily.
At this time I was a technical sergeant. I was the second in command in our section and it was my job to relay the lieutenant's orders to the men. I was the non-commissioned officer that put the men to work. A company normally had four platoons, but before the invasion they had split these platoons up and divided the company into five sections.
Security was not very strict up to the point that we were quarantined to our camp. We knew that we were going to land sometime. We had figured that the landing would probably take place in France, but we had no idea where. We saw no use in speculating where or when so we didn't gave it much thought. We had figured that we would be the first troops to land in France. The training with the attacking of the pillbox pointed in that direction. When we were quarantined we knew that it would only be a matter of days before the invasions was to take place. During this time G2 provided us with the information they had gathered on the German defenses. Now we knew that our destination was Normandy. G2 told us that people had landed in France to gather information. They said their were Jumping-jacks in the water and barb-wire stretched along the beach. We already knew that there were pillboxes on the top of the beach. They told us that they were made of concrete up to eight inches thick.
On June the 4th we got notice to pack up and move out within the hour. We were loaded on trucks and taken to Weymouth. When we arrived in the harbor we were loaded directly onto the transports. The weather had been real bad for the last days and when we loaded on the transports it was still storming. We were all set and ready to go for June the fifth but then we heard that the invasion had been postponed a day. We were told to relax and check our equipment again. Whatever we did we were not allowed off the ship. We could take a nap in one of the many hammocks, but not many did. We were to hyped to sleep. I kept myself busy checking out the guys of my section. At first I was busy issuing three days of C-rations. Later a Father said mass and I went to mass. Some men talked to the chaplain, others wrote letters.