The Fire Mission Controller – Part Two

Jim Hardesty

Generations the Magazine recently presented an article on Jim Hardesty of Hamlet, a World War II veteran. The article chronicled Hardesty’s Army service during that war, and this week WKVI is presenting excerpts from that article.

Hardesty and his group landed in Swansea, Wales, and relocated to the south of England. Hardesty detailed his travel from the states to England.

“We boarded a cargo ship to take us across the Atlantic,” said Hardesty. “It took two weeks in rough North Atlantic weather worrying about submarine attacks. Nothing much happened except being sea sick. I was never so glad to see land in my life.”

After landing in Wales, they moved on to the southern part of England and settled down in a tent camp in Devon to wait out the invasion they knew was coming, and it was a short period of time before the expected invasion began to unfold. They waterproofed their trucks and cannons and were then loaded onto a Navy LST on June 12, 1944.

“As we waited to cross the English Channel, hospital ships pulled into port with the wounded and dead,” said Hardesty.

The invasion of France began June 6, 1944, known as D-Day, and every day afterward was known as D+. Soon they set sail and landed on Utah Beach on D + 8 – that is, June 14. When they first looked at Utah Beach, the beachhead was two miles deep. James could hear gunfire, but no one was shooting at them as they disembarked from their ship.

“I remember seeing many bodies lying all over the beach at erratic angles. A lot of bodies in some places,” James remembered. “They were American bodies, the Germans didn’t die on the beach. We did.”

That night, they found a place to de-waterproof their equipment and the next morning were placed in a position to fire at Cherbourg, France. James directed his first fire missions as the artillery was used to move the Germans out of their entrenched bunkers. After Cherbourg fell into American control, the 7th Corp headed into the hedgerow country.

Tomorrow we’ll follow Jim’s military adventures as the Americans fought among the hedgerows.