Original U.S. WWII Named 112th Engineer Battalion D-Day, Omaha Beach Veteran Grouping For 1st Lt. Merle Barr - 20 Items
Original Items: Only One Grouping Available. Now this is a fantastic grouping belonging to 1st Lieutenant Merle S. Barr. Lt Barr served with the 112th Engineer Battalion and landed with the 1st Infantry Division during the Normandy Invasion on June 6, 1944 and was among the first wave of soldiers to hit the beachhead. The grouping features an assortment of different insignia, but the best in the grouping is the scrapbook. The scrapbook contains various letters, pictures, captured German pictures and newspaper clippings. The newspaper clippings are actually about Lt Barr and even features a column where he wrote about his personal experiences leading up to the invasion and after!
Lieutenant Merle S. Barr, with the Combat Engineers, graduated from Chelsea high school, Class of 1940, worked for some time at Grove Bros., and then at Plant 4, Federal Screw Works. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Merle Barr of Chelsea.
Inducted into the Army, he was sent to Camp Grant and then to Fort Belvoir, Va., where he started basic training in January, 1943. Selected for officers' training, he graduated as a 2nd Lieutenant in July of the same year and was sent to Fort Devens, Mass., where he volunteered for overseas duty and reached England in time to celebrate his 21st birthday.
The insignia features the following:
- Officers Peaked Visor Badge
- Engineers “Castle” Collar Device
- x3 Ribbons (Presidential Unit Citation, EAME, Victory Medal)
- x5 Shoulder Sleeve Insignia
- German Heer Army Breast Eagle
- Personal Letter
- x3 Photos
- x2 2nd Lieutenant Rank Bars
- “Mirror-Wise”, A Precarious Story
- Scrapbook: The scrapbook features dozens of telegrams, letters, newspaper clippings, personal photographs, captured German photographs and more!
This is a lovely grouping, packed full of research potential!
The following letter tells a few of his experiences since that time.
“Thursday, June 15, 1944.
Dear Lucile and all:
At last I can write a few notes to bring you up to date on the events over here. Censorship restrictions have been lifted considerably and so much has happened in the last few days that it's hard to know where to begin. Guess the best thing to do is start back in England.
We arrived via the "Queen Elizabeth" at the "Firth of Clyde," Scotland about October 20 and after the usual processing, moved to Newquay, Cornwall which was our home station up until shortly before invasion time. Our days in England were spent entirely in preparation for the part we were to play in the event the whole world was waiting for. We did a lot of work in preparing the mock beach and surrounding country, the southeastern coast of England, which was used for beach landing practice and then took part in the many practice invasions which took place there. For a while we were moving from land to ship and back so often that we were beginning to wonder whether we were soldiers or sailors. That accounts, in some measure, for the many times you didn't hear from me as often as usual.
We arrived here on the French coast at H plus seventy minutes and as we walked off the ramp into water up to our necks it was obvious that we were about the first to hit our sector of the beach. The Germans were thicker than flies and the obstacles on the beach and in the water were still all intact. As we made our way out of the water and across the sand they opened up on us with machine guns, artillery, mortars, and in general everything they had.
Their fire power was terrific and the accuracy of the inland artillery was almost unbelievable. We were still trying to pick out some of the machine gun emplacements when the ship we had just left received a direct hit and exploded. I glanced back long enough to see the two sailors who had wished us lots of luck just minutes before hanging over the side in flames.
About that time I decided this was not a job to take up as a career. It all looks exciting in the movies but no one can ever realize what it's really like from seeing it from a comfortable seat in the theater. Reinforcements poured in behind us and many of us moved stead- ily forward but many of my best friends are buried just above the beach road.
Since those hectic hours we have advanced considerably and our beachhead has grown and changed greatly in appearance. I had an opportunity to go back near the beach the other day and could hardly imagine it to be the same place. I dare say it's the busiest piece of coastline in the country and the flow of supplies is terrific.
The Navy and Air Corps have done a wonderful job in the operation and we have all got to hand it to them. They're really in there pitching.
It's now 0100 hours and the Jerry's usual one or two night raiders are overhead now. They never show up during the day but every night they turn out about this time and the fire we turn on them makes our July 4th celebrations of the past look pretty sick.
The weather has been very good to us since the landing and every evening about 2000 hours our own bombers go over, in huge numbers, headed inland. The high altitude bombers fill the sky with beautiful graceful vapor trails. It's a sight that will never be easily forgotten.
Our first mail since long before D- day arrived today and there were certainly a lot of smiling GI's when the old familiar "mail call" was given. There are more letters in England which will probably be shipped over in the next few days. Believe me, they are really appreciated these days.
I was very surprised to find the Germans as well equipped as they are and in the condition of the equipment they have. I've inspected several captured supply points and I've seen the fire arms, clothing and equipment on their dead and wounded and they seem to be pretty well supplied. In general their personal equipment is every bit as good and in some cases better than ours.
One thing is certain though, they could never hope to keep up with the pace we have set in production. This section of France is quite similar to England, good farmlands and lots of hedges. The people have been very helpful in many ways but our lack of French limits our personal social contacts considerably.
Before I get away from German equipment, I forgot to mention that I'm writing this with a German officer's fountain pen and now that I've tried it out I think it might just as well have been left to be sent home with his personal effects. A "machine pistol”, an officer's raincoat and a pair of field glasses are also in my possession and I'll tell you a few interesting stories about them when I get home. Guess all "Yankees" are alike fighting for souvenirs.
Now that everything is pretty much under control and the front line is progressing as normally and as rapidly as possible, our engineer work keeps us pretty well away from the excitement (if it can be referred to as excitement).
Our kitchen trucks arrived today and we have visions of hotcakes, butter and syrup for breakfast. They will be quite a treat after several days of "K" and "C" rations. The rations are really not bad after you get used to them but I don't approve of them as a steady diet.
It's getting near time for me to go off duty and that means hitting the ole bedroll which will feel pretty good about now.
Be seeing you, Merle.”
A lovely grouping that comes more than ready for further research and display!
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