Orv, England 1944 Orv Iverson
WWII autobiography

Chapter: France

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I do not remember the length of time I spent in England, However when I was flown back to Normandy the signal section had moved out. I was able to catch a ride that took me through devastated St. Lo to my outfit. After that we moved long distances through France. In fact it seemed as if we would just get the operational tents set up, then we would have to pack up and go again to another site. On one of the hops through France, a passing truck sideswiped our truck. We rode on top of the load. It almost tipped our truck.

In the last days of August 1944 we arrived at Versailles near Paris. We set up our operations among the trees near the Peace Palace . One of the items popular was perfume. I sent perfume to my mother and other female friends who wrote to me.

Although Paris was still off-limits to GIs because German soldiers were still holed-up in parts of the city, my friend Vincent and I decided to bicycle into Paris from Versailles, a distance of about 20 miles. Once we arrived in the city we biked to all the well known places, including Napoleon's tomb. I can remember getting my bike tires caught in the tram tracks crossing over the river to Notre Dame Cathedral. At the cathedral the French people were interested in buying cigarettes. I checked my pockets and found I had several 5 to a pack cigarettes left over from the K- Ration meals. I was paid about six dollars per pack for them. The FFI (French Underground) were racing about rounding up the remaining Germans and shaving the beads of the women collaborators.

Just as it was becoming dark in Paris, Vincent and I began talking with a couple of English speaking girls. They invited us to stay and then we could go back in the daylight the next day. This appealed to Vincent so he decided to stay for the night. I reminded Vince that the town was off-limits so that we weren't suppose to be there in the first place, and then to stay overnight would be pretty risky. I thanked the girls and departed for camp on my bicycle. Fortunately about half way back to Versailles I was able to catch a ride on a wine tanker. It had sort of a rail so I could place my bicycle on the side.

The next morning at the signal section campsite I was asked about Vincent. Vince had asked me to cover for him if he did not get back in time. We were required to be on duty by 8AM, but now it was nearly 11AM. Finally, Vince did report to duty. Vince was always tidy and neat, constantly primping in front of the mirror. However when he arrived on duty this morning he looked unkempt. He hadn't shaved and his clothes were untidy. He appeared tired. In fact from that time on Vince was never the same. He was always having me look at his private parts, asking me if I saw a sore or anything. Everytime we passed near a Catholic church he would go in and pray. He would not talk about what happened that night he stayed over in Paris.

Our stay at Versailles seemed to be a matter of a few days. It seemed as if we just got operations set up and then we were off again to another location. I barely remember some encampments. We were on the roll. The end of the war was just around the corner. I was sure I would be home for this Christmas, the third one since I left for the army in June of 1942.

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