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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Bedford Boys

Not far from Lynchburg and home to some of our contributors is Bedford Virginia, home of the D Day Memorial.

From the Bedford Boy's Story
In 1944, other men from Company A had been part of another war, making up a small part of the Allied forces that stormed Omaha beach in Normandy, France. Of 35 Bedford soldiers who went ashore during the first wave, 19 died during the first 15 minutes of the invasion, and two more died later that day. For a city that had a population of only 3,200, it was a shocking loss, and considered by some historians to be the greatest per capita D-Day loss for any American community.

They willing sacrificed their lives so others could be freed from Nazi oppression, and enjoy the liberty they have today.

From Publishers Weekly (The book the "Bedford Boys" can be purchased here also)

Initially, 103 of them left the small town of Bedford, Va.-now the site of the national D-Day memorial-when the local National Guard was called up in 1940; 34 were still with the company on D-Day. Of these, 19 died in a matter of minutes and three more perished in the Normandy campaign. Men lost ranged from the company commander, Captain Taylor N. Fellers, from a wealthy Bedford family, to Frank Draper Jr., a fine athlete and soldier from the wrong side of the tracks. Long-time National Guardsman John Wilkes died as the company's top sergeant, while Earl Parker left behind a daughter he never saw. Both Holback brothers and Ray Stevens died, while Ray's twin Roy Stevens was one of the handful of survivors.”

photo by bob


At 7:34 AM, Blogger Melissa O. Markham said...

Bob, good article, but I think your last quote is incorrect. Did that come from a write up on the Bedford Boys?

Here is a link to an article that tells where the inspiration for Saving Private Ryan came from.

At 7:39 AM, Blogger B O B said...

Hi Melissa, you are right the majority of the inspiration for Saving Private Ryan came from the story of the Sullivan brothers.

I did read however that the book "The Bedford Boys" was also a favorite of Spielburg when he decided on the movie.

At 7:45 AM, Blogger B O B said...

Hi Melissa, I adjusted the post to reflect your observation.

At 7:51 AM, Blogger Melissa O. Markham said...

The story of what happened in Bedford may have been part of the inspiration. But the book itself was published in 2003, 5 years after the movie was made.

Sorry to be so cantankerous this morning;)

At 8:01 AM, Blogger B O B said...

Hi Melissa, again you are correct. I miss read this passage:

Nineteen boys from one small American town — Bedford, Virginia — died in the first minutes of D-Day. In the new book "The Bedford Boys," Alex Kershaw tells the story that inspired the movie "Saving Private Ryan." This is an engaging excerpt.

From: D Day I adjusted the post again lol.

At 8:19 AM, Blogger Melissa O. Markham said...

An easy passage to misread, Bob! Looks like the publisher was trying to draw in some extra buyers using the Saving Private Ryan movie title!

I just want to add that I am awestruck by the sacrifice made by Bedford. I cannot begin to imagine how horrifying it was for so many to be killed at one time.

At 9:19 PM, Blogger tluke said...

I need to interview someone about watching propaganda films during WWII. The interview can be done via email. If anyone can help me with this please email me at


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