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Remembering World War II
Norman Joseph Gaudette
Name: Norman Joseph Gaudette Rank: Private Service Number: 31321913 Service: 398th Anti-Aircraft Artillery AW SP Battalion, (Automatic Weapons, Self Propelled) 14th Armored Division, US Army Awards: Purple Heart Date of Birth: July 2, 1910 Place of Birth: Havelock, Digby Co., NS Date of Enlistment: April 21, 1943 Age at Enlistment: 32 Place of Enlistment: Portland, Maine Address at Enlistment: Southport, Lincoln Co., Maine Marital Status: Married Occupation: Manager Date of Death: November 11, 1944 Age: 34 Cemetery: Epinal American Cemetery, France Grave: Section B, Row 18, Grave 11 Norman Joseph Gaudette was the son of Henry Joseph Gaudette (1884 or 85-1961) and Mary Violet (Robicheau) Gaudette (1891-1951). His father was also both born in Havelock, NS. His mother was born in Weymouth, Digby Co., NS. He had seven siblings including 4 sisters Lucy Mary (1909- 1976), Rita M (1912-1958), Dorothy Eunice (1923-1989), and Louise Ann (1927-2003), and 3 brothers Paul Joseph (1918-1986), Edward Thomas (1919-2012), and Francis Henry (1922-2005). Norman married Grace Faustina Ellingwood (1916-1965) of Rhode Island on November 10, 1938, in Southport, Lincoln Co., Maine. They lived in Southport into the 1940’s. Norman enlisted in the US Army on April 21, 1943, in Portland, Maine. Just as Norman did, his brother Edward Thomas (1919-2012) served with the US Army (Service No. 31117507) during the Second World War. He enlisted July 6, 1942. His brother Francis Henry Gaudette (January 31, 1922 – December 1, 2005) served with the US Coast Guard in WWII. He enlisted October 13, 1942, and was discharged March 8, 1946. Norman was assigned to the 398th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion, a self-propelled artillery unit. Their purpose was to protect tank battalions from air attack. Their armored vehicles included 2 main armored vehicles, the M16 Multiple Gun Motor Carriage (MGMC), also known as the M16 half-track, equipped with four .50 caliber (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns in an M45 Quadmount, and the M15A1 half-track, officially designated M15 Combination Gun Motor Carriage (CGMC), a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun on a half-track chassis. It was equipped with one M1 37 mm (1.5 inch) automatic gun and two air-cooled heavy machine guns. On April 11, 1944, the Battalion was moved to Camp Shanks, New York. After 23 days at Camp Shanks, the unit was given shipping priority for the upcoming transfer to Europe. Transferred to Camp Edwards, in western Cape Code in Barnstable Co., Mass., the men were given furlough. Returning from their leave, the men heard the news of D-Day and the Normandy Landings. They became restless - the feeling was ‘to go over and get it over with’. On June 9, 1944, the 398th departed Camp Edwards for Camp Miles Standish in Taunton, Mass. 11 days later the unit entrained for the Port of Boston. They departed for the UK on the HMS Aquitania, the 4th largest liner at the time, on June 22nd with 8000 soldiers aboard. Seven days later, they docked at Firth on Clyde, Scotland, on June 29, 1944, and proceeded by train to Blackshaw Moor, in Staffordshire, England. As the American soldiers crossed the English countryside by train, they poked their heads out of the “tiny little” train cars – to be met by the English people, from their home windows and streets, with their hands in the air signalling their Churchill ‘V’ for Victory’s. After Blackshaw Moor for the night, they moved on to Blanford, a market town in Dorset, and then on to a marshalling area before reaching Southampton, England. Norman’s battalion boarded their landing craft and Liberty ships on July 28th at Southampton, and landed at Utah beach on the afternoon of July 29, 1944. The 14th Armored Division, to which the 398th would later be attached, landed on Omaha Beach the next day on July 30, 1944. From Utah Beach on the Cotentin (or Cherbourg) Peninsula, they proceeded to Sortosville. Their vehicle’s tracks crawled through the dusty roads of Normandy made narrow from all the rubble. Brick dust was part of their daily diet as they passed through Carentan, Montebourg, Volognes, Bricquebec, and Periers. They saw how Normandy had suffered unbelievable destruction, with many of the French people homeless. On July 25, 1944, the Allies brock through at St. Lo, and the war left Normandy. From Periers Norman’s Battalion proceeded to Coutances, Granville and Avranches. Upon reaching Avranches the 398th learned that they were part of Patton’s new Third Army. Throughout their time in Normandy and into Brittany, the soldiers of the battalion had to contend with enemy snipers and counterfire from German artillery. In late September 1944, some of the 389th had the opportunity to see Bing Crosby perform, possibly near Vézelise, France on September 24th. The 398th was camped in Charmes from September 19 to 26, 1944. From there it was onward to Luneville, and Thiebaumenil, France. At Luneville the 398th was transferred from Patton’s 3rd Army to the 7th Army. On November 11, 1944, the 398th was hit by heavy German artillery fire at Marainville (Marainville-sur- Madon), in the Department of Vosges, France. Private Norman Joseph Gaudette was Killed in Action November 11, 1944, was awarded the Purple Heart, and was interred at the Epinal American Cemetery in Section B, Row 18, Grave 11.
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