To-day I want to again continue with timepieces loaned by people who either served or family's that served in the defense of your great country. Once again,I start by emphasizing this is not about a watch but about the 'man' behind the watch.
The timepiece in this case a simple Bulova is just a symbol to the memory of the experiences of a brave man (at that time a boy) as he lived through WW2.
The story begins for Joesph C. Hartmann in 1941, when at the age of 16 he reported for duty to serve his country, being only 16 yrs of age he was sent home, then in 1942 two days after his 17 birthday he was 'called to duty'.
Mr Hartmann describes in an interview that after 'very' basic training, he is assigned to anti-submarine patrols in the Navy. He chose the navy in his words: "to see the world" re-calling later "I was only a kid"
He then requested a transfer to the battle ship 'New Jersey' but was assigned to 'Amphibious Landing Craft' training. As you may have guessed preparing for 'D Day' Next he was assigned to the British 'C Class light cruiser - HMS Capetown' which was being prepared for the D day attacks on 'Omaha' beach' notable one of the toughest of the beaches to be taken on June 6 1944 'D day'
Omaha beach linked the US and British beaches. It was a critical beach that had to be taken in order for the overall plan to succeed. Omaha was also the most restricted and withOUT doubt the most heavily defended beach.
The terrain is very different to the other beaches, it has an unusual assortment of bluffs and cliffs. It was the most beach chosen for 'D Day' Any advance made by US troops from the beach would be limited to narrow passages between the bluffs. advances up these very steep bluffs were difficult and extreme. German strong points were set up to command all the approaches and the pillboxes located on the higher ground above the beach were equipped with both heavy artillery and machine guns, easily picking of both the amphibious landing craft (long before the troops hit the beach) and the ones that finally managed to land.
In Joesph's own words he was "scared to death"
Joesph, with some other 138 US service men left Plymouth - England under cover of dark on June 5 1944. They lay just off the beach waiting for in his words"D Day - H- hour - the code for June 6 at 6.30am".
Again in Joesph's words "we were sitting ducks" then at 'H- hour' "all hell let loose". The seas were very rough and the amphibious landing craft were bobbing up high on the waves allowing the German 80mm guns (in the pillboxes) to just 'pop' them off. The crafts that did make it to the beach then dropped their gates for the soldiers to storm the beach, only to be met by a hail of machine gun fire"
Joesph goes on to say "If the Germans had had planes Omaha would have been a failure"
Joesph was assigned to HMS Capetown and he comments:"The 'heroes' were the men on the landing crafts - the gate dropped down- and the poor men ran into machine gun fire."
To hear Joesph Hartmann full account, it is worth listening to his interview in the link below.
Now, to the 'Enlisting Time' - the watch is a a simple Bulova an 8AH movement with a date code of 1938. This watch was with Joesph all the time of WW2 from 1942 to 1946 and is still worn every day, to this day, a reminder of those dark days.
It was a present from his Mum and Dad on which they inscribed - 'Joesph C. Hartmann - 6613020 his service number'.
I thought first some pictures of Joesph's ship HMS Capetown and a landing craft off Omaha.
The watch - a 1938 Bulova survived WWII and runs still to-day!
Finally, I hope some of you may take time to listen to a brief part of Joesph Hartmann video interview on the Museum’s Facebook page:
Enlisting Time Interview | Facebook
Thanks for reading - Enlisting Time - The man and not the watch
NAWCC- “Images are the property of the National Watch & Clock Museum, Library & Archives and may not be reproduced without permission.”
Joesph C Hartmann - WW2 Naval Veteran.
D - day June 6, 1944 - http://www.army.mil/d-day/
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