This Day in History: 1945-02-28
Vivid details of the “D-Day” invasion of Normandy were given by Gpl. William Kwasnicki a member of the Second Infantry Ranger Battalion. The Mahwah native was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Victor Kwasnicki of 14 Island Road. He was home on leave after seven months of combat duty and three wounds. His outfit was given the task of silencing a German artillery battery which was preventing the American troops from leaving the beach. “The Jerry battery,” he related in a War Department interview, “was located atop a steep cliff. All the approaches were covered by enemy machine gun and rifle fire but we were determined to scale the cliff. I’ll tell you how hard we were concentrating. As I started up the cliff I was hit in the right leg by a machine gun bullet. I didn’t even feel pain. I remember seeing blood on my pants and wondering what caused it. Buddies on either side were hit but we could not stop. Slowly our unit went higher and higher. A bullet creased my helmet and scrambled over. We pressed on until we were within grenade throwing distance and let the Jerries have it with thermite grenades. Then our riflemen opened up, and after a savage fight that lasted about thirty minutes, the Jerry battery was silenced.” He did not even report his wound until four days later. After his leave he expected to return overseas.