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Charles Richard Dorrier, Jr.

Charles Richard Dorrier, Jr., VMI photo, 1934

                         Name: Charles Richard Dorrier, Jr.

                         Branch of Service: U.S. Army

                         Unit: Field Artillery, 79th Infantry Division

                         Rank: Captain

                         Dates of Service:

                         Theater of Service: European-African-                          Middle Eastern

Dorrier Family Holds Scottsville Service Record
Scottsville News, 18 February 1943 (p.1):

Mr. and Mrs. Charles R. Dorrier with their four sons in the armed forces hold the Service record for Scottsville

Charles R. Dorrier, Jr., a graduate of Virginia Military Institute, is now a second lieutenant stationed at Camp Landing, Florida.

John Dorrier, also a graduate of Virginia Military Institute, is a second lieutenant at Camp Hood, Texas.

Gordon Dorrier, a graduate of William and Mary College, is a second lieutenant stationed in New York City.

James Lee Dorrier, a first lieutenant and also a graduate of Virginia Military Institute, is stationed at Camp Phillip, Kansas.

Excerpts From Letters to His Family from Captain C.R. Dorrier, Jr.
With U.S. First Army - Field Artillery
Somewhere in France, Summer 1944
Scottsville News, 18 February 1943 (p.1):

(This is the first in a series of Capt. Dorrier's letters home to his parents that were published in the Scottsville News in 1944-1945:)

Before this is posted we will be on the sunny shores of France. Yes, we are at present plying the waters of the English Channel. These landing boats are pretty rough riding, too -- about half of us are sick. Fortunately, I haven't been sick as yet.

I haven't had a chance to write for the last few days for obvious reasons. Naturally there were a thousand and one things to do before we started over. They are all done however and we are in good shape, ready for what will come.

June 18:
I'm somewhere in France and quite well, which is more than I can say for the Germans...

The French people seem very glad to see us. However, there are a few who are Nazi sympathizers and are somewhat hostile. There seem to be mostly girls who probably have fallen for some Nazi during the last four years and have believed their line of tripe. The country around here is very level and quite green and pretty. It never ceases to amaze me that there are people apparently living normal lives within shelling distance of the front lines.

We got our money changed to French currency just before coming over. The franc is worth about two cents now so it takes quite a lot of them to be worth much -- all in paper, too. The franc note is about the size of a playing card, the 100 franc note about like our dollar bill and the 500 franc note about 5-8 inches. That's all the denominations we have although there are others and coin as well I suppose. We certainly don't have much occasion to spend it.

June 20:
You probably know more about the progress of the war than I do, so won't go into that much. I saw the Commanding General this morning (Div. Com) and he seemed very well pleased with the Division's showing. We still have our shoulder patches on and the unit designation on our bumpers so don't suppose there is any harm in saying that we are doing a little skirmishing. Everybody you know is well and O.K. Some of them have been in some close spots however.

The French stand on the side of the road as we go by with pitchers of wine and give a glass to everybody who passes. They must have suffered quite a lot from the Germans and their homes (those in the towns) are completely wrecked and I do mean that - whole villages are nothing but rubble in some cases - caused by our fire as well as that of the Germans when it gets into our hands.

June 24:
I have time before dark to get off a few lines to you. This business is quite time consuming and even though we aren't busy all the time, we are usually waiting to do something or trying to get a little sleep. The hours are a trifle long, you know.

It's right pitiful to see the French farmers moving out of their homes - carrying what they can on their backs and then in about two days coming back again. Nearly all of them have a baby carriage although they don't all have babies. The carriage is pretty good for loading junk on.

You ought to see my foxhole for tonight. I found a ditch and put a piece of corrugated iron over it and piled dirt on that. He can throw all the shell fire he has as far as I'm concerned tonight.

June 26:
Well, as you know Cherbourg has fallen and the 79th was instrumental in its fall. We were in the middle supported by 9th and 4th Divisions. I don't know what the papers will say but our doughboys did a fine job - especially for their first fight. We have been resting today and checking over our equipment. What comes next, we don't know.

I took a bath this morning - the first in a couple of weeks. I found a can (5 gal.) and heated the water with a blow torch. Somewhat primitive but I felt lots better nevertheless. Think I'll knock off a little while and go cook up some chow....

Speaking of cooking, we haven't had our kitchens with us since we landed and have been making our own meals. We have small gasoline stoves and mostly heat stuff out of cans. The ration is pretty good although a little monotonous.

All of the boys you know are in good shape; as a matter of fact we've had nothing more than a few close calls as far as the officers in the outfit are concerned. The worst thing we have to contend with are snipers who get left behind the lines, knock off a few people and then give up. They don't accomplish much but sort of annoy us.

June 28:
The French people are streaming back to their homes now that the fighting is over around their section. Some of them don't have much to go back to but seem very happy nevertheless. No matter how poor they are, they all have wine and cider. As I've said before, they are very liberal with it, too. I haven't had much, however.

I was right amused to see in "Stars and Stripes" that the reason the Germans gave up Cherbourg was lack of ammunition when every pill box (and there were hundreds of them) had enough ammunition to fight at least six months. The fact is that a superior force with the guts to fight literally drove them out, like driving a rat out of a hole. The pill boxes were really complete with rations and everything a man could need. They even had day rooms with games, etc., and of course a lot of pictures of Hitler, etc. In a few cases when the fortifications surrendered, there were a few women present. They had been living the life of Riley for the past few years but that is over now.

To be continued....

Charles Richard Dorrier, Jr., was born on July 7, 1913, in Scottsville, Virginia; he was the son of Charles Richard Dorrier, Sr. (1885-1966), and Clara Lee (Pitts) Dorrier (1889-1968).  In 1934, Charles graduated from Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington, Virginia; see the photo of Charles from the 1934 VMI yearbook above.  Charles married Alice Eugenia West on September 3, 1938, in Salem, Virginia.  Charles passed away on October 22, 1985, in Old Hickory, Davidson County, Tennessee; he is buried at the Scottsville Cemetery in Scottsville, Virginia.

Charles Richard Dorrier, Jr., Gravestone, Scottsville Cemetery

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