John C. Primerano

JOHNBANNER johnID John Primerano was a boy of 16 years when he was told (in a cinema)that America was attacked by Japan at Pearl Harbor From that moment on he wanted to serve in the army, but had to wait until he had reached the statutory age. On 06 july 1943 he enlisted and began his training as a parachutist. John was assigned to the communications section,where he was added to HQ/501. johnc1 John ended up in a special unit whose task it was to made the aerial photographs and information that came from Normandy to translate into the famous sand tables. John had his hand in the modelling of these tables that many life saved in Normandy, since they were well prepared and had good insight into the area where they fought. John had access to places where even senior officers such as colonels and generals were not allowed to come. For these young men was it something special that they knew more than their own commanders. John was still just private. On the night of 5 to June 6, 1944 John could not go to Normandy . The team which he had worked was too much aware of details, so they had to stay in England. The command was afraid that if these men in the hands of the Germans would fall the whole operation might endanger. John began to actively fight on 17 September 1944. The men were divided among the HQ of regular battalions, because many in the Normandy campaign HQ staff were killed at crasches. John was transferred to the 1st Battalion of Lt Col Kinnard, who had their landing near Veghel. Since the pathfinders, which would mark the drop zone, were shot down over Belgium , became the serial of course, and the men were dropped near the Castle van Kameren (Heeswijk). It was John’s 13th jump and also his worst ever. John landed on his tailbone and lost consciousness. His parachute was right on top of him, so none of the men around him noticed him. After a while, John came in and saw that everyone was already gone. When he arrived at a farm he was received by the residents and put on a chair so he could recover. He was given milk which he felt a little better (twenty years ago, John found the farmer’s wife, Tonia, and visited her each year until her death. Tonia has become 100 years). John has often fought behind the enemy lines, because they were responsible for the communication between the outposts and the various headquarters. He recalls that one evening he was restoring a line along the railway route direction Schijndel. On the other side of the track they enter an another communication section, they were Germans. John and his mates turned and walked quietly back towards Eerde, the germans did the same in the direction of Schijndel. There was no shot fired. John is proud that he has no need to kill. The only victim that he has created is a cow. During one of his nightly repairs he heard a noise on the other side of a hedge. He threw a grenade and he got away . A day later it proved to be a cow that had broken loose. According to John many front soldiers had little respect for the men of HQ. This earned him respect when he climbed in open field into a pole to do a cable repair. Everyone around him said he was suicidal. John remembers the sound of the bullets that flew close to his head, but his job was done in record time. In Bastogne John was responsible for the communication cables between HQ and the various Battalions and Companies. He was there every time like the cables were cut by sabotage or bombing. So John has spent many hours in the Bois Jaques. His switchboard, where he was responsible for, was in the seminary, behind a wooden door on the south side, where now the roundabout of the Rue Gustave Delperdange located. John was also witnessed the explosion of the mine truck in the courtyard of the seminary, where his best friend Walter Craley lost his life.

Craley
Pvt Walter Craley, 501st PIR Demolitions

John had a special experience in the church of Bastogne . During one of the shelling of the town John sought refuge in the church. When he entered the church it was completely silent. suddenly came through a hole in the roof sunlight, so he got a very warm feeling. Suddenly he heard a voice behind him say: “You’re gonna be all right”. After the 501 Bastogne, John served in the Elsas and southern germany. John visits the Netherlands and Belgium every year. He has lost his heart in Eerde and is a welcome guest at the memorial and brings every year a visit to the students of class 8 of the Petrus and Paulus school which adopted the Geronimo Monument at Eerde .

HQ/501PIR preparing for their jump into Holland on September 17th 1944.
HQ/501PIR preparing for their jump into Holland on September 17th 1944.
The wire section of HQ/501.this photo was taken on a farm at the Bergweg in Eerde.
The wire section of HQ/501.this photo was taken on a farm at the Bergweg in Eerde.

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