D-Day Survivor's Memoir Continues

Published 3:30 pm Thursday, July 4, 2013

Eunice and William Mottley, featured in the Farmville Herald's 2013 Wedding Guide in a story about their wartime marriage, have added another item to William's memoir as a D-Day survivor during World War II.

In 2005, when he was almost 90 years old, William Mottley published a memoir of his World War II experiences, A Narrow Strip of World War II: D-Day to the Rhine River.

In 2009, the Herald reported a follow-up to Mottley's account of the landing at Omaha Beach. Mottley had received several emails from a man in France who claimed to have found his dog tag.

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A neighbor and interpreter, Odette Cook, explained, “The man's name is Philippe Vimond, and he lives at St. Lo,” she related in the 2009 Herald feature. “His passion is to find artifacts of World War II. Things can still be found over there on the farms and along hedgerows.”

Vimond, Mrs. Cook discovered, had another passion – to return the artifacts he finds to the families of the men who fought for France during the war.

On May 22 of that year, just in time for Memorial Day, a package from France containing the WWII dog tag was delivered to Mottley in Burkeville.

Just recently, Eunice and William, now 92 and 97, respectively, left the home he built for the family in 1945 and moved into a retirement home in Richmond. They were surprised that William's WWII experiences followed them there.

“Bill is having trouble walking,” Eunice explained. “When we went to the elevator on Saturday morning he hit the button and then fell. He didn't break any bones, but he had a big gash on his thumb.”

While examining the injury the doctor found a piece of metal in William's thumb.

“The doctor was able to remove it,” Eunice reported. “He told us it was a piece of shrapnel from World War II.”

The Mottleys, celebrating their 68th wedding anniversary that day, took the experience in stride.

“We feel like this is where we need to be now,” Eunice concluded. “And we sold two books – one to the emergency room doctor and one to the EMT on the rescue squad.”