82nd Airborne Division Blog

Captain George Simonds, 508th PIR

Captain George Simonds - 508 PIR

Captain George Simonds - 508th PIR

Memorial Day – 2010

While at Oak Hill Cemetery in San Jose today, I visited Captain George Simonds grave (508th Parachute Infantry Regiment). He died in Normandy attacking Hill 95 in 1944. My grandfather, Mark Alexander, felt partially responsible for his death as he was supposed to lead that attack, but was badly wounded the night before when artillery hit the tree he was under. He had done a lot of reconnaissance and felt he had a better attack plan that would have been less costly in lives.

Alexander visited Simonds’s grave throughout the rest of his life.

Note: Captain Simonds’s parents were both named Gale. Simonds’s name is at the bottom of the stone.

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3 Responses to “Captain George Simonds, 508th PIR”

  1. I just had lunch with Captain Chet Graham today. He was put in command of the 2nd Battalion 508 after Mark Alexander was hit and given a new attack order. Graham preferred Alexander’s attack order, but was overruled.

    The complete story of the attack is in the book Jump Commander. However, some of the following is new information.

    Mark Alexander had told Graham the attack plan for the next morning, then sent him to the regimental headquarters for the official orders. It was about a mile away and Graham walked because no jeeps were available. By the time he got to HQ, Alexander was already down and the colonel put Graham in charge with a different attack plan. Graham did as ordered and the attack started later that morning.

    Simonds was the battalion S-3 (Plans and Operations). He and Graham flipped a coin to see who would stay with E Company (attacking from the battalion center) and F Company (attacking from the battalion right). Graham went with F and Simmonds with E. They split and were only about 75 yards apart when Graham was told that Simonds had been killed. Graham went back and sure enough, a shell had killed Simonds and three other men. It looked like a rake had gone across his back. The radio operator, a sergeant, had been completely cut in half by the blast. As Graham said, “His legs were over here and his top half was over there.”

    I listened to the story and then Graham looked me in the eye and said, “How do you deal with that?” I had no answer.

    Captain Graham is 92 years old. He remembers the war as if it were yesterday.

  2. [...] never knew Captain Simmons (one of the senior 2nd Battalion officers who was killed early in the attack) and hardly knew any [...]

  3. I don’t know who left the last comment, but it seems that wordpress cut it off. Too bad. I would like to see the rest of it.

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