Students share WWII D-Day lesson with Post 54 vets

Sun, 05/12/2019 - 8:15am

Wiscasset Middle High School students shared their knowledge of D-Day Friday afternoon with six veterans, all members of the Bradford-Sortwell-Wright Post 54 of the American Legion.

D-Day, the most famous battle of World War II, was when the combined Allied armies of the United States, United Kingdom and Canada stormed the Normandy beaches of German-occupied France. The battle’s 75th anniversary is June 6.

English teacher Michelle Fraser said the program was part of her ninth grade’s reading curriculum. She required her students to read six texts on the battle.

“They really responded to the subject matter so much that it evolved into a hands-on project,” she told the Wiscasset Newspaper. Among the facts the students learned was many of the soldiers on both sides of the battle weren’t much older than themselves.

“That made an impression on them along with the bravery demonstrated during the fighting,” she said.

One student noted the platoon leaders were among the first soldiers to lose their lives when the Allies stormed the beaches; others had to step up and assume command.

Among the quotes students shared from the battle was this one from an American private, the only survivor in his launch boat: “(The) ramp went down and our captain was the first man off, and they just riddled him.”

The exercise included students writing an essay based on what they’d read attempting to put themselves in the shoes of the D-Day participants. Several students also built dioramas depicting the battle.

Fraser reached out to Assistant Principal Warren Cossette about inviting members of the American Legion in Wiscasset to attend. William Cossette, Warren’s father, serves as Post Commander of Post 54.

Commander Cossette said the past year has been particularly hard for Post 54. “We lost what I’m quite certain were our last two Wiscasset World War II veterans, George Jones and Roy Farmer,” he said. Farmer was a 74-year member of Post 54.

Cossette was grateful the high school invited Post 54 to attend the program and hear the students. He said it was important for young people to remember the many sacrifices men and women made during WWII.

Other Post 54 Legionnaires attending were John Kennedy, Cliff Hendricks, Wally Pitcher and Neil Page.

D-Day facts:

-The battle centered around five beaches that were code-named "Utah," "Omaha," "Gold," "Juno," and "Sword."

-D-Day was among the largest amphibious assaults in military history.

-Over 425,000 Allied and German troops were killed, wounded or went missing during the D-Day, also known as the Battle of Normandy.