RIP Charles Durning



  • He was one of the few to survive the Malmedy massacre and may have been the last one alive.



  • In his own words" I can’t count how many of my friends are in the cemetery at Normandy, the heroes are still there, the real heroes.

    [about arriving at Omaha Beach on D-Day] It’s hard to describe what we all went through that day, but those of us who were there will understand. We were frightened all the time. My sergeant said ‘are you scared, son?’ and I said ‘yes, I am’, and he said ‘that’s good, it’s good to be scared’, he said ‘we all are’. This guy in the boat, he turned to me and he threw up all over me, and I got seasick. He was scared. You’re not thinking about anything, you’re just thinking about you hope that shell that just went off isn’t going to hit this boat. Even the guys who had seen a lot of action before, and this was my first time, they were just as ashen as I was, and I was frightened to death. I was the second man off my barge and the first and third men got killed. First guy the ramp went down, the guy fell and I tried to leap over him and I stumbled and we both slipped into the water. We were supposed to be able to walk into shore but they didn’t bring us far enough. And I was in 60 feet of water with a 60 pound pack on, so I let it all go.

    [on reaching Omaha Beach after falling in the water] I came up and I didn’t have a helmet, a rifle, nothing. I hit the beach, the guys pulled me in who were already there, I’d lost everything; but they said ‘you’ll find plenty of them on the beach, rifles, helmets, that belong to nobody’. Nobody knew where we were supposed to go, there was nobody in charge, you were on your own. All around me people were being shot at, I saw bodies all over the place; but you didn’t know if they were alive or dead, they were just lying there.

    [about D-Day] We got behind this tank to protect ourselves; we’re holding our own when they called us over to them. I asked the sergeant ‘you want me to go first or you go first?’ He said ‘you go first, I’ll be right behind you’. I heard an explosion, and I turned around, and his torso was here, and his body was over there

    Was one of a few survivors to the infamous massacre of American POWs by German SS troops at Malmedy, Belgium, during World War II. The surrendering engineering battalion, captured behind enemy lines when the main American forces retreated, were gathered together and brought to a large field. As the German guards backed away from the prisoners, machine guns that were hidden in trucks opened fire on them. Approximately 88 US soldiers died, a good number of them by a single shot at close range through the head, indicating that those who survived the initial volley were subsequently executed. Only about 20 of the group of approximately 100 managed to escape the massacre and make their way to American lines. The incident was re-created in Battle of the Bulge (1965) starring Henry Fonda


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 '13 Moderator

    Thank you Raunchy. 
    Is always sad to hear of the death of a WW1 or WW2 vet,
    Charles Durning was one hell of a man and one I will remember fondly.


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