One of most haunting books on Europe’s D-Day is the story of the men from Bedford County, Virginia that went to war as single company as told in the book “Bedford Goes To War”, by James W. Morrison. Their company was selected to be the 1st line of landing craft that landed on Omaha Beach on June 6th, 1994. Tragedy struck when 20 men from Buford Country died that day on the beach, but the families did not receive official notification until mid-July.
One poignant story recounted in that book was a letter written by a soldier who landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day plus 1, and found a plastic wrapped bible on the shore. He wrote this letter, dated July 9, 1944, to the family of the man who name was inside of the bible:
Dear Mr. and Mrs Hoback:
While walking along the beach D-Day plus 1, I came upon this Bible. Knowing that you no doubt would want the book returned,
I am sending it knowing that most Bibles are a book to be cherished. I would have sent it sooner, but have been quite busy and
thought it best if a short period of time elapsed before returning it.
You have by now received a letter from your son saying he is well. I sincerely hope so. I imagine what has happened is that
your son dropped the book without any notice. Most everybody who landed on the beach D-Day lost something.
The beach is now peaceful and quite since the German guns have been silenced. The bird have begun their daily practice and all the flowers and trees are in bloom,
especially the poppies and tulips which are very beautiful this time of the year.
With best wishes,
Private H.W. Crayton.
Mrs. John Hoback, whose sons Buford and Raymond were both killed on D-Day in France, had the letter published in the Bedford Bulletin.
Remembering Memorial Day, 2016
Charles B. Hodge