View Full Version : A Moment of Reflection

08-18-2006, 10:16 PM

At just about this time of day, 64 years ago, 19 Aug 1942 (GMT) , a force made up of about 5000 infantry troops of the 2nd Canadian Division, one of Canada's finest units, commanded by Magor General John Hamilton Roberts, suplemented by some 1100 British Commandos, 15 free French soldiers, five German expatriate interpreters, and 50 U.S. Rangers, were launched from some 235 Royal Navy ships to execute a surprise strike at the Nazi held french port at Dieppe France.

All went well until about 0345L when the leftmost section of the assault force had the misfortune of crossing paths with a German convoy of small ships heading toward the coast at Dieppe. A firefight ensued, which of course ruined all hopes of surprise for the entire operation. A few minutes difference in timing either way would have made all the difference in the world in the success of the mission.

Over the next few hours, despite the valiant efforts of those well trained young soldiers, the assault force was literally cut to pieces. Of the 5100 or so invaders, some 3650 failed to return! The 2nd Canadian Division ceased to exist as a viable unit.

But..., valuable lessons were learned. Lessons that made a major difference two years later when the Normandy invasion took place. Such a pity that those young boys never knew what a difference they made!

Certainly no words can ever replace the void created by the loss of such fine brave men, and I'm sure all the Mama's and Daddy's have all gone on by now. But if any of you, or anyone you know, is in anyway connected with any of those heros, Please pass the word that the sacrifices made there at Dieppe are not unnoticed or unappreciated.

08-18-2006, 10:50 PM
To the memory of the men, first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of their country.

08-18-2006, 11:16 PM
Saw this in the local paper-


Veteran laughed at Katrina
Bataan, now that was bad
MOSS POINT - James Donovan Gautier took the news about his wiped-out beachfront Pascagoula home standing up.

When the 87-year-old World War II veteran and his wife of 59 years, Emmie Gautier, 86, heard from his daughter, Diane Gundy, that nothing was left on their property on the beach in the Fountainbleu area after Hurricane Katrina, Emmie gasped, but James did not.

"You know what?" Gautier said to his daughter, with whom he is living in Moss Point. "I've survived worse than that and I'll survive this."

Gautier, a sergeant with the 27th Bombardment Group out of Shreveport, La., survived a fierce four-month battle with minimal training against a ferocious, relentless Japanese army in 1942. He survived a 65-mile march at bayonet point through steaming countryside on starvation rations while watching his comrades regularly being tortured and murdered. He survived a dangerous journey of thousands of miles in a cramped boat with fellow prisoners of war while being bombed by Allied planes because they did not know the unmarked Japanese ships had fellow Americans onboard. He survived endless months as a slave laborer in a foreign land thousands of miles from his Gulf Coast home.

Gautier even survived an atomic bomb. He was just 30 miles away from Nagasaki when the second of two atomic bombs was dropped on Japan that brought about the end of the Allied conflict with Japan.

Today is the day we celebrate VJ Day, or Victory over Japan Day, because it was the day in 1945 that the Japanese emperor Hirohito broadcast the announcement of his country's surrender.

For men like Gautier, among about a dozen survivors of the infamous Bataan Death March who came from the Gulf Coast, the day is a more vivid reminder of the nightmarish memories that are their burden.

Gautier said the day is good if it helps people remember the true costs of freedom, namely, how the horrible suffering that he and his comrades went through resulted in a better world and it is therefore important to not take that freedom for granted.

"That is something I don't want people to forget," Gautier said.

Gautier wrote a book about his experience, "I Came Back From Bataan," and regularly tours the Coast, speaking at Keesler Air Force Base and schools to keep the important memory of his story alive.

Unfortunately for Gautier, his keepsakes are gone now. Katrina took the medals he won in the war, although they have since been replaced. Katrina took his mountain of books about Bataan, countless old pictures and who knows what else.

Gautier keeps a positive outlook and, despite his wife's reservations, fully intends on moving back onto his beachside property.

He said he wants to go back because he simply loves the water, like any good Coast-bred boy should, and the water is calling him home again like it did so many years ago through the hell he was forced to endure.

"That's where I wanna die," Gautier said. "But I wanna catch a mess of crabs first and boil 'em."


Bataan Death March

Gen. Ned King, commander of the approximately 78,000 American and Filipino soldiers on Bataan, the Philippines, surrendered after fierce fighting to the Imperial Japanese Army on April 9, 1942. (In 1865 on that same day, General Robert E. Lee surrendered a smaller force of 26,000 or so at Appomattox Courthouse).

Beginning at the tip of Bataan peninsula, guards began walking the prisoners of war toward a railhead 65 miles north for transport to a prison camp. This distance would not be considered far for a well-fed and supplied army. But four months of disease and starvation, and the trauma of surrendering, left the Americans and Filipinos in poor shape. The Japanese soldiers were impatient and sadistic. If a man stumbled or ran for water or food, he was beaten, bayonetted, shot or beheaded. "Buzzard

Squads" of Japanese soldiers followed the columns of prisoners and usually murdered those who fell behind.

Depending on the POW's stamina and the guards' behavior, the march took six to 10 days to complete. Bodies littered the Bataan National Highway. An estimated 650 Americans and 5,000 to 10,000 Filipinos died on the Bataan Death March. By 1945, after more than three years as POWs, less than half the men who surrendered on April 9 were alive to come home.

Three factors came together to produce the atrocity known as the Bataan Death March: The Japanese still had to defeat the 12,000 American troops on the island of Corregidor across a 2-mile channel from Bataan; they grossly underestimated the number of American-Filipino soldiers on Bataan; and the Japanese military culture held no regard for men who surrendered.