Preserving The Oral HistorIES of Combat Veterans


Mortimer Caplin | 7th Beach Battalion - Navy

5:29   |   The barrage balloons almost gave the Normandy armada a festive feel. That's what Mortimer Caplin thought as he approached Omaha Beach. It had not yet been cleared so his Beach Battalion had to circle in their landing craft. Once on shore, it was sporadic fire, desperate infantry and bodies all around.

More From Mortimer Caplin

Keywords   :     Mortimer Caplin    D-Day    Normandy    barrage balloon    German    Bill Nesbitt    prayer    Omaha Beach    Landing Ship Tank (LST)    Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel (LCVP)    beach    bodies    gravedigger

Videos ( 8 )
  • Mortimer Caplin  |  WWII  |  Office of Naval Intelligence  |  5:48

    Mortimer Caplin had deep roots in New York City but when he saw the University of Virginia campus, he decided on that school. After the undergraduate degree and law school, he returned to New York to practice law but before he left the school, Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke at his graduation. This inspired him to apply for a Navy commission.

  • Mortimer Caplin  |  WWII  |  7th Beach Battalion  |  4:07

    As a lawyer in the war effort, Mortimer Caplin was assigned to the Office of Naval Intelligence, but he asked for shipboard duty. Where they sent him was even more exciting, Beach Battalion. This was the unit that commanded the beach during amphibious landings. Intensive training followed for the tight knit group.

  • Mortimer Caplin  |  WWII  |  7th Beach Battalion  |  5:43

    Trained as a Beachmaster, Mortimer Caplin shipped out for England on the Queen Mary. His unit had a lot of specialized gear and he had to form a guard detachment to keep other units from walking away with it. After they got it all to the Southern English coast, they participated in the ill-fated Exercise Tiger out of Slapton Sands.

  • Mortimer Caplin  |  WWII  |  7th Beach Battalion  |  3:50

    The great invasion of Europe was on and Beachmaster Mortimer Caplin, while delivering a message to a neighboring base, got a sense of the enormity of the enterprise, the many different forces and personnel assembling and loading into ships on the coast of England. Back with his own unit, he found out that his landing craft assignment and attached Army engineer unit had all been changed.

  • Mortimer Caplin  |  WWII  |  7th Beach Battalion  |  4:10

    Beachmaster Mortimer Caplin landed a half mile from his intended sector of Omaha Beach. He took care of business where he was and then worked his way down there. His Beach Battalion company had many important jobs, clearing the beach of stuck boats, helping the wounded and communicating with the command structure. It was a well deserved glass of wine when he finally got to a French tavern.

  • Mortimer Caplin  |  WWII  |  7th Beach Battalion  |  5:14

    After the unbelievable enormity of D-Day, Beachmaster Mortimer Caplin expected to be shipped back to the United States to train other beach units for the Pacific. But he was told to report to the Commander of Amphibious Bases in the UK. They needed a lawyer and he just happened to be one. This turned out to be a lucky break.

  • Mortimer Caplin  |  WWII  |  7th Beach Battalion  |  5:33

    He was a Beachmaster on Omaha Beach and a Legal Officer in post war England and he was back in the United States making a name for himself in corporate and tax law. Mortimer Caplin had both Robert and Ted Kennedy in his classes at the University of Virginia and when their brother was elected President, he became the Commissioner of Internal Revenue.

  • Mortimer Caplin  |  WWII  |  7th Beach Battalion  |  2:34

    Looking back on his Navy career, Mortimer Caplin remembers two unusual incidents. The first was during his training when a deputy commander went ballistic over nothing. The second was the striking contrast between the reactions of a British family and a mess table full of Naval officers when the news of Franklin D. Roosevelt's death was released.

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