Soldier feared D-Day strike would fail
From his PT boat in the Atlantic Ocean, Edmund Daumit had a gruesome view of the carnage of D-Day.
At one point, from his “bird's eye view,” the Monessen native was “positive” the onslaught of German fire was so severe that the Allied attack would fail.
“I was watching the boys get killed,” Daumit said. “It was insanity from the word go.”
Daumit recalled watching as German troops fired from atop the fortified wall at Allied soldiers landing on the beaches of Normandy, France.
“It was a slaughter,” Daumit said. “We had no protection. The Germans, with their machine guns up on the wall, were shooting the boys like ducks on a pond.”
Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the mass Allied invasion on the beaches at Normandy that began the liberation of Europe from Axis control.
The youngest of 12 children, Daumit graduated from Monessen High School in 1939. He was drafted in 1942, inducted Dec. 22.
He completed basic training at Fort Meade, Md. Within a year, he had been shipped to South Hampton, England.
After landing in France, Staff Sgt. Daumit was in charge of procuring supplies for the 19th Tactical Command of the Army Air Corps, which served as the air power for Gen. George Patton's Third Army.
In December 1944, Daumit took off in a jeep, out to meet up with a handful of friends in D Company who were from Monessen.
“I'm in a jeep, and I see all of these American tanks coming toward me,” Daumit recalled. “The MPs come up to me and told me to turn around. They said, ‘D Company's getting their asses shot off.'”
That was the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge, Germany's last major offensive, which was aimed at countering Allied advances through Europe.
Patton received credit for bailing out U.S. troops bogged down and overrun in the Ardennes Forest.
Daumit also fought in Africa before being discharged Oct. 15, 1945.
In 1997, Daumit made his way back to Normandy. Along with his wife, Barbara, he visited Sainte-Mère-Église, a commune in lower Normandy. They toured the D-Day museum, viewed the German bunkers and visited soldiers' graves.
“You see all of those graves,” Barbara Daumit said. “It's inconceivable to think those were just young, young men. We saw the bunkers, how fortified they were.”
Edmund Daumit said of that historic day, “I've put it out of my mind. It was total, utter insanity.”
But a movie brought it all back for him. Barbara Daumit remembers watching the 1998 film, “Saving Private Ryan,” with her husband. The opening 27 minutes of the film graphically depict the D-Day invasion.
“He said, ‘Barb, that's exactly what it was – the carnage.'”
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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