BATTALION STOOD GUARD ON WHITE CLIFFS" by Phil Reilly
American Charles Vulyak Jr (right) was growing up he would often
ask his father to tell stories of his wartime experiences in and
sailed to Britain in `1944 with the US 127th AAA Gun Battalion,
and that summer the men took their position on the White Cliffs,
where they were engaged in the defence against bombardment from
across the Channel. For two months the battalion stood
guard on the cliffs, where four soldiers were killed and seven
were injured, before they were shipped out to France.
from Illinois, known as Chuck, remembers clearly how Charles Snr
used to talk about his time in Hellfire Corner. He said: "When I
was a boy I would ask him of his experiences but he would not
want to talk about it. But when I was older he would mention how
terrible the shelling was on the cliffs. While he was on guard
duty he would use high-powered military binoculars to scan the
Channel and the air for enemy movement and watch for flashes of
fire coming from the enemy's guns. Once he spotted the flashes,
he would then alert the Battalion of incoming shells. It took
the projectiles approximately 60 seconds before impacting
on the cliffs. On a very clear day and a quiet night he said he
could see the clock tower in Calais."
hellish conditions and the ever-present fear of being hit by
enemy bombs, Charles Snr was left with treasured memories of a
landscape he thought to be one of the most beautiful in the
world. Chuck, who went on to serve in the US Air Force, said:
"Considering all of the ugly faces of war around him, he told me
that the White Cliffs of Dover was the most beautiful area he
had ever seen in his young life. It was a very different vista
compared to the sights of his small steel-mill town in Ohio.
When off duty he would go and get something to eat and drink at
the Red Lion pub. he mentioned that the residents were very kind
and friendly to him and the rest of the GIs."
After moving on
to the continent Cpl Vulyak was injured by a shell, and he spent
the rest of the war in hospital in England.
Snr has since died, his son Chuck still keeps in touch with some
of his former comrades, and wanted to pass a message from them
to the people of Dover. He said: "My interest in my father's war
history is very important to me because of the great courage and
sacrifice shown by the battalion during dangerous and difficult
times. I am happy people in Dover are keeping up the proud
tradition. On behalf of my late father and his battalion, thank
you, Dover, for your kindness, friendship, and understanding
shown to them so long ago."
contacted the Dover War Memorial project after finding its
Virtual Memorial on the internet and has used it to help him
contact surviving veterans.
This article first appeared in the Dover
Express, p10, 4th September 2008
reproduced with permission
We Came to Serve
Chuck would love
to know more about the 127th AAA Battalion in which his father
served; if you have any further information, do please