The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Columns

July 12, 2014

Don McAllister: Learning history from one who lived it

Every day starts a new story. We’ve interviewed outstanding gentlemen like Duke Paugh, T.C. Baker, or Commander Morton and drove off saying “That’s what I want to be when I grow up.”

A woman could easily say that about PFC Margot Myers, who served in the English Army in World War II.

Margot had just turned 90 a few days before our interview and she carries it very well. Despite her proper English decorum, she kept the interview lively with her delightful stories and sense of humor.

The tales of her service painted a picture of her part of the vast preparations for D-Day. Margot served in the map-making operations. This was vital information for our commanders on the ground and could mean the difference between planning a victorious assault or walking into a deadly one. These maps would have been prepared from information gathered at great risk from the French Resistance, flyovers from unarmed photo planes, and frogmen sneaking up on the beaches at night to measure the natural and man-made elements that would oppose our landings.

Margot’s closest approach to direct combat was when she found a mouse nesting in one of her map drawers. I asked if it was a German mouse.

Her overall story painted the great mural of a world gone from civility to the mad horror of war. We heard about it. She lived it.

Margot’s mother was a talented singer. Her father, a brilliant engineer and builder, built housing subdivisions and later bomb shelters and the marvelous Mulberry harbor system that we floated over to pour supplies into France.

Margot spoke of going to boarding school. In the movies, boarding school has a negative connotation. This one sounded like fun, with personally involved teachers. I thought of the more pleasant parts of "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" when I heard her speak of it.

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