Cosmos Quattro shares his experiences in the Army during World War II. He remembers his time training in both the United States and England with Company I and vividly describes his memories of D-Day and the losses he faced there.
Interviewee: Cosmos Quattro
Interviewers: Cherie Ciaudella, Joseph Hood, Patrick Jackson, Sara Underwood
Date of Interview: June 7, 2016
Bodmin, that’s the city [in Cornwall, England] that our division landed in, Bodmin. And then we trained in jumping off and jumping on, and loading, unloading, loading, unloading day after day, waiting for the day when they’re going to say we were going to ride in to see Hitler. We always prayed about when that day would come and when we were going to meet him. We seemed all tuned up to him, and old Hitler was tuned up to meet us too, well no doubt about that. So we wound up our days in the infantry. Sixth of June 1942, is when we were supposed to go battle in England. So there we were, all trained up for two years on the water, in the water, out of the water, in the water training, training, training. You get to the real thing, and then there’s no water, you know. (laughs) So we paddle out [when the] 6th of June came, and the whole world turned upside down. All the soldiers, all the airplanes, all the tanks, all the guns, everything that the army had was in England. You couldn’t even move around if you didn’t hit something that belonged in England. Boats, even airplanes didn’t matter, tanks didn’t matter, all belonged in England. So they start, I don’t know, about a week loading up that way. It started about a week loading up on the boats as well as I can remember. Getting into the fighting range across the channel. So D-Day we [are] going across the channel. Then came an awful big storm, tore us all apart, separated all the ships. Put us in a very dangerous position because we just were all scattered out; we weren’t ready for no battle. When that storm was over, we were just about over too, but finally we pulled together. We circled around and got all ships all in place. We all got in line, took about two days to get in line. And so, then here we go in to the battlefield. A whole night it took to load them ships for the invasion. So now the time’s come for the invasion. I mean that was a time, you know, you said your prayers. You didn’t know whether you were going, or whether you were coming, or what was going to happen. The whole day we battled. Soldiers are getting off, getting up to get on the beach. You get shot at, get bumped off. You have dead soldiers, live soldiers criss-crossed everywhere. And they got their dose of medicine for the invasion. So we got on the land. I waded water up to my chest, and some of them waded water up over their head. I couldn’t swim anyway; they didn’t know that, but I couldn’t swim. I prayed to the Lord I didn’t get in any deep water. Well, I didn’t get in no deep water. Only up to my chest, and that’s when I said, “Thank you, Lord. That’s enough from me.” (laughs). The rest of ’em will be all right. We all got on land. You know then you’re on your own when you’re on land. The best way you can walk, the best way you can crawl, the best way you can do whatever you can do [to keep] from getting hit, that’s the thing to do (laughs). Who knows what else to do? Bullets flying everywhere, tanks firing, big guns firing, oh, it was a circus! You never saw the like of that stars and stripes and cars and boats, all kinds going on at that invasion. Everybody’s crawling on the ground, some on their knees, some of them were praying, and some of them were crying, some of them were blowed up to pieces. You couldn’t do nothing and nothing much to do anyway. So we took about three days to get off the beach. We were bombed at, shot at every way, shape and form. They either hit you or they didn’t, one of the two, never a three. So you managed to get a foothold. We got on land pretty good. It’s solid in France, and then the real battle began.
Pretending to be Dead
The Germans were on patrol. We were advancing in a place where the Germans were on patrol, and there was a wire fence [that] had a lot of chickens. In Germany [where] the people live, there [were] a lot of chickens. So we got this chicken house. And so they came up on me, up on our outfit on patrol too to see who was behind us. We run into the German patrol so they start flying bullets at me and the other two guys which were on patrol. I hopped out of there so they shot the two of them down — my two buddies. They went down, and [in] my position, I just hit the ground. I didn’t know what else to do or what else to feel. I just went [down] and hit the ground. I didn’t know what else to do or what else to feel. They came in. The Germans were still not firing but they kept coming and coming. They found me on the ground, and they sat there and talked for I guess maybe five or ten minutes. What they were talking about, I don’t know, but they were saying something. Anyway, they thought I was dead. They didn’t bother me. [They] only gave me a kick with their foot, turned me over. I was laying on my back, and they gave me a kick. It turned me over on my face down so they thought that was good enough I guess. So they left. Our platoon came and discovered me again. They rescued me, and we were all safe from then on out.