Sunday, August 16, 2015

British Paras WWII

     I received this beautiful British Parachute badge and pin from a friend who retired from a Para Airlanding Regiment in England. His grandfathers fought in Dunkirk, North Africa, Normandy, Arnhem/Market Garden, The Blitz n Coventry, and the advance into Germany in 1945. 
     These British Airborne wings and hatpin were courtesy of his Airlanding Regiment. 
     As a tribute to them and the honorable warrior Paras who came before them, I put together this small album of British Paras from several campaigns.
UTRINIQUE PARATUS! (Ready For Anything)

Modern British Parachute wings and badge

The British Army in Tunisia 1943: Sgt M Lewis of the 2nd Parachute Battalion examines a memorial to the 1st Parachute Brigade on the Nefza-Sedjenane road in the Tamara Valley, 14 October 1943.

1st Para Brigade; Churchill barracks, ITALY, 1943
~Photo courtesy of Brian Hope

4th Parachute Battalion mortar team in action, Italy 1944.

Paratroopers pose with Dutch civilians after landing near Arnhem, Sept 1944

An officer of the 1st Airborne Division loses his trousers after escaping Arnhem, and crossing the Rhine; Market Garden Campaign

British paratroopers march into captivity after being captured at Arnhem. (Airborne Assault, Imperial War Museum, Duxford)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Melton Helton 1911-1994, 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion 2nd Infantry Division in WWII

I've recently been put in contact with a friend's Dad; WWII Veteran Jesse 'Brown'.  
We were able to catch up on the phone and he told me several stories.  

Quick overview (more on him later): 

Jesse was in the 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion; 2nd Infantry Division in WWII- his combat started at the onset of the Battle of the Bulge at St. Vith, Belgium.   

~Discharged July 1946; reenlisted for Airborne, then OCS, commissioned 1949

~187th Regimental Combat Team in Korea 

~5th special forces Vietnam

Of the MANY questions I asked him (WHAT A CAREER!!! WHERE DOES ONE START!?)  I asked if he recalled
 any of his WWII buddies that he was especially fond of.  

He said there was a name by the name of Melton Helton of Crossville, TN.  Just a Private when Jesse first met him, but he was "more level-headed, practical, and competent than most of the officers!" 
I recently found a post-War of Melton Helton later in life on his farm in Crossville, TN.  

Today, Jesse emailed me a short story he wrote about his buddy Melton Helton: 

"During the Battle of the Bulge, January 1944, we were for a time in Hurtgen Forest.  Any competent commander would wish to provide security for his soldiers so we all took turns at guard duty which meant two of us were armed and keeping our eyes peeled.  
If you stood the watch with Slim (we assigned the name to Melton Helton), you got to hear how much he missed his wife and son.  Slim walked with a sort of rolling gait, not unlike someone with one leg shorter than the other.  We invented the story that Slim kept his garden above his root cellar so that when he wanted to harvest, he could simply cut a vegetable from its vine and it would roll down into the cellar.  He didn't have to carry it.  

That was also how he came to have a short leg, from having to walk around the mountain.
It was said that he learned to read and write after entering the Army.  Whether that is true, Slim always knew how to accomplish whatever we were assigned to do and many of us felt that it was better to be under his supervision than that of our non-commissioned officers.  Not surprisingly, Slim was one of the first of us to promoted."

Jesse 'Brown', August 11, 2015

(Jesse's surname has been changed to protect his privacy)

Saturday, August 1, 2015

"Fairness in this Merciless War" by 'Panzer Commander' Colonel Hans Von Luck; Tunisia '43

Hans Von Luck
(Photo colorized by Doug Banks)

"The Hurricanes must have seen my armored reconnaissance vehicles.  I figured we were in for a second attack.  Again, I sent off a radio message. 
          'Have been attacked by Hurricanes, flak and artillery platoon largely out of action.  Anticipate fresh attack, send Messerschmidts.''

The British bases must have been close behind the front.  After barely an hour, they were back again.  This time, is was the turn of our armored vehicles.  With dismay, I saw only a few yards away, how Hurricanes fired rockets, which went straight through our armor.  That was new to us.  
Panzer battalion; Spring '43, Tunisia
     The only one to remain in his vehicle, was my radio operator, who was sending off my messages.  Next to the vehicle, stood my intelligence officer, who passed on to the operator what I shouted across to him. 

     Then a machine-- I thought I recognized the Canadian emblem--approached for a low-flying attack on the armored radio station.  At 20 yards, I could clearly see the pilot's face under his flight helmet.  But instead of shooting, he signaled with his hand for the radio officer to clear off, and pulled his machine up into a great curve.
     'Get the operator out of the vehicle,' I shouted, 'and take cover, the pair of you.'
A pilot of No 417 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force climbing into the cockpit of his Supermarine Spitfire fighter at Goubrine, Tunisia '42-'43
     The machine had turned and now came at us out of the sun for the second time.  This time, he fired his rockets and hit the radio car, fortunately, without doing too much damage. 

     This attitude of the pilot, whether he was Canadian or British, became for me, the example of fairness in this merciless war.  I shall never forget the pilot's face or the gesture of his hand."

~~Colonel Hans Von Luck recounting a battle in Tunisia '43 in his memoir
pages 138-139

Purchase Panzer Commander HERE

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

#WWIIPOD Maori 28th Battalion January '45; Italy

"Men of 28th (Māori) Battalion marching north of Faenza, Italy, in January 1945. They are moving out of the line approximately 2 km from the enemy-held Castel Bolognese.

Having spent several years in the deserts of North Africa, many members of the 'Div' were not prepared for the cooler climate that greeted them when they arrived in Italy in late 1943."

'Māori Battalion in Italy, winter 1945', 

Monday, July 20, 2015

#WWIIPOD : Arnhem Survivors, September 1944

British paratroopers after successful evacuation from Oosterbeek Cauldron, Holland, September 26,1944

 Members of the 1st Airborne Division, mostly 1st Border, safe in the grounds of the Missionary College in Nijmegen, on Tuesday 26th September, after being successfully evacuated across the Rhine. 

Left to right, 
Back row: Privates Jack Cohen (Divisional HQ's Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry Defence Platoon), Poule (from Sheffield, unit unknown), Johnny Peters (No.14 Platoon, B Company, 1st Border, from Liverpool). 

Middle row: Lance-Corporal C. McInnes (23 Mortar Platoon, 1st Border), Private D. Doran (1st Border), unknown. 

Front row: Corporal Jim McDowell (23 Mortar Platoon, 1st Border), unknown, Private Danny Shaw (9th Field Company, RE), Lance-Corporal Thomas McKewan (No.18 Platoon, 10th Battalion), Private Patrick John (1st Border, KIA 11th October 1944), Private A. R. Morgan-Lewis (Royal Signals, 1st Airlanding Brigade), Trooper Jim Cooke (Recce Squadron), Lance-Corporal Ronny Lord (23 Mortar Platoon, 1st Border), WO Terry Armstrong, Lance-Corporal S. "Judy" Wright (Divisional HQ's Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry Defence Platoon). 

Copyright: IWM HU3722.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

#WWIIPOD: British Army: Long Range Desert Group After Successful Raid; Libya 1942

A posed group portrait of personnel from 'Y' Patrol returning to Kufra after a successful raiding sortie-- Libya, 1942

Back row (left to right): Trooper 'Tankie' Babb ( Tank Corps); Corporal Jack Harris (Somerset Yeomanry); Gunner James D Patch (RA); Sergeant Derek (Hutch) Hutchins (Somerset Yeomanry); Lance Corporal Arthur (Tich) Cave MM (Somerset Yeomanry); Lance Corporal Brian Springford (Somerset Yeomanry); Trooper Kenneth Tinckler (Cheshire Regiment); Craftsman Alf Tighe MM (REME); Trooper 'Jesus' Armstrong (?).

Front row (left to right): Private 'Darkie' Devine (Seaforths?); Private John 'Daisy' McKay (Seaforths) ; Trooper F Gordon 'Harry' Harrison (Yorkshire Hussars); Private William 'Jock' Fraser (Seaforths); Trooper L D 'Mickey' Coombs (Somerset Yeomanry?); Trooper Robert Davies (?Yeomanry); Trooper Donald (Bomski) Cashin (Cheshire Yeomanry).

Taken from the Imperial War Museum Files:  Imperial War Museum UK

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

PFC Avery Raymond Miller KIA January 29, 1945; BURMA

PFC Avery Raymond Miller
Avery Raymond MILLER'S
headstone at Arlington National
I recently met a local gentleman, Harv Miller, who told me a story of his Uncle Raymond Miller who was killed in Burma, January 29, 1945. 

Harv told me that Raymond, 19 years old, wrote a letter home saying he didn't think he was going to make it home. 

 Avery Raymond Miller (left) on his
farm in TN; 1940's

Raymond was Harv's youngest Uncle, so they were raised like siblings. Raymond's death affected him greatly, and he never heard the circumstances or saw photos or was able to find any information about his Uncle's death, other than being killed in action in Burma, and after several years, being interned at Arlington. I was able to retrieve several photos and the battle information of Raymond's death. All this I will pass on to Harv Miller. 

Raymond Miller was with Troop A, 124th Cavalry, 5332d Brigade, otherwise known as the legendary MARS TASK FORCE.
Mars Task Force CBI Patch

"The Mars Task Force was given the mission of clearing Northern Burma of Japanese forces and opening the Burma Road for truck traffic to China. In order to accomplish this mission, the force moved more than 200 miles by foot over the most hazardous terrain in Burma, over mountainous jungles, steep trails, swift streams and rivers on hot days and cold nights, in rain and mud, coupled with the ever fear of mite typhus. This was all done while being cut off completely from friendly forces and having to depend entirely upon air supply. The 124th established contact with the enemy on January 19, 1945, and fought continuously for 17 days. With the objective secure, an administrative bivouac was declared around February 15, 1945." -124th Cav. unit history

Avery Raymond Miller's Studio Army Portrait

PFC Avery Raymond Miller was KIA during this brutal and continual 17 days of fighting on January 29, 1945. He was 19 and a half. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetary.

b. June 22, 1925 d. January 29, 1945
RIP- Memorial Day 2015
My brother, Will, visited PFC Avery Raymond Miller's grave a few days after Memorial Day 2015, dressed his grave with flowers, and sent me this photo in A.R. Miller's memory.  

The POLETTE Brothers Killed in Action WWII- Memorial Day 2015

Many people know and have read about 1Lt Lloyd Polette's distinguished, albeit short career in the 508th PIR, 82nd Airborne. He earned the DSC for extraordinary heroism during the first two days of Operation Market Garden near Nijmegen, Holland. (The citation will be added to his photo.) He is so revered, that "today, the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg, NC has an annual competition called the Lt. Lloyd L. Polette Cup which is held to determine the brigade’s best lieutenant."

1Lt LLOYD L. POLETTE Jr. died of wounds during the Battle of the Bugle on January 29, 1945.
b. February 8, 1916, d. January 22, 1945; he was 28.

Charles POLETTE, circa 1939
What most people do not know, is that 1Lt Polette had a younger brother, 6 years his junior, who enlisted in the Army in 1942.

2Lt CHARLES E. POLETTE also died of wounds while serving with the US Army on Okinawa, May 30, 1945. Unfortunately, there is no more information surrounding 2Lt Charles Polette's death, and I will update this status when I find more. I was able to find one of two archived photographs of Charles Polette; none are military portraits. The photo provided is his high school graduation yearbook photo.

b. October 4, 1922, d. May 30, 1945; he was 22.

The brothers Polette are buried at Saint Joseph Cemetery, Shreveport, Caddo Parish, Louisiana, USA. RIP

- WWII Files Memorial Day 2015

Monday, May 25, 2015

Advance on WANA RIDGE, May 18, 1945; #WWIIPOD

Two Marines, Davis P. Hargraves with Thompson submachine gun and Gabriel Chavarria with BAR, of 2d Battalion, 1st Marines, advance on Wana Ridge on May 18, 1945. Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 123170

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Nhpum Ga Battle as told by Merril's Marauder ROY MATSUMOTO, 2nd Bn, 5307th Composite Unit~ The day before Easter, 1944

Roy Matsumoto post War
  "Around the first week of April, we'd been surrounded.  The trail was sealed.  In the meantime, we got our food and ammunition from airdrops.  The waterhole changed hands several times.  Finally we couldn't get any more water since they (the Japanese) occupied it.  Every day we were getting bursts from mortars and were under small-arms fire.  The Japanese would attack our position daily.  There was not a place to bury the dead.  Their stomachs were so swollen, juice and maggots would ooze out from the dead Japanese.  And the stench!
General Frank Merrill with Nisei interpreters (Roy Matsumoto at Left)  
     Something was going on in McLogan's sector, so I was sent there by Colonel McGee.  I couldn't figure out what was going on because there was too much noise.  I was ordered to go to this area where they were hearing noise like a theater letting out.  
     Nobody understood all these people talking, so I went out there.  I took my field jacket, pistol belt and carbine, and helmet off and left them there.  I went down there to find out what they were saying.  I crawled down the side (of the hill).  It was in the evening, total darkness.  I got to their position and listened.  I found out that the following morning at dawn, they were going to attack McLogan's sector.  I reported this to McLogan.  They thought they got us, but it turned out the other way.  When they attacked at dawn, they were charging and yelling and everything:  'Death to Americans!  Die! Banzai!'  They got no response because we were not there. (Laughs)
     They came further up the hill, and we opened up.  They tried to retreat, so I issued an order to countermand that order that said to charge.  I told them to "Charge!' in Japanese.  They they jumped into foxholes, which were booby-trapped.  Grenades go off and we're throwing hand grenades after that and firing.  The dead were scattered all over.  
Roy Matsumoto at Right; one of 14 Nisei Patriots in the 2,700 member Merrill's Marauders; one of only 200 to make it home

     There was a certain dialect from this area of Japan.  My folks came from Hiroshima so we had this Hiroshima dialect.  The people that were attacking came from the 18th Division.  I learned their dialect because twice a week when I was younger, I was a delivery boy.  I delivered groceries in the United States, but the people I delivered to came from the same prefect as the men from the 18th Division.  When they heard my voice in their dialect, they charged.  According to many of the men, I saved six hundred lives twice-- once at Walawbum and then at Nhpum Ga."

~excerpted from "INTO THE RISING SUN"
by Patrick K. O'Donnell
pgs.  102-103


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

#WWIIPOD- Men of 9 Commando, with a German prisoner, after their raid on the Garigliano Estuary defenses, Dec 1943

Men of 9 Commando, with a German prisoner, after their raid on the Garigliano Estuary defenses, Dec 1943

Source: photo gallery

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

#WWIIPOD- 4th Infantry Division in the Hurtgen Forest

This War-time photo and caption doesn't mention the cost in lives and WIA; sustaining casualties upwards around 150 per day. It is typical understated military-speak; but the dogfaces knew what "a hard day's work" really meant.


Monday, March 9, 2015

#WWIIPOD- 1st Marine Division Marines on the "Canal".. Guadacanal; 1942 (WWII Photo of the Day)

Marines take a bath in the Lunga River while a machine gunner pulls security during the Guadalcanal campaign, 1942. 

USMC Photo

Monday, February 23, 2015

The LOS BANOS RAID PART 1; February 23, 1945~~ 70 Year Anniversary~~ As told by K. Mishler and 1st Lt. John Ringler, B Co., 511th, 11th ABN

B Co./511th/11th Airborne suiting up for the Los Banos Raid February 23, 1945
     The Los Baños Raid was a feat of magnificent planning, training, execution, risk, and payoff.  It was a complex operation with the potential outcome of high casualties; even massacre.  This operation engaged US Rangers, US Airborne, and Filipino Guerilla fighters in a precision-timed "silent" operation.  With about 10,000 Japanese troops in the hills surrounding the Los Banos prison camp, the rescue of 2,000+ weakened and starving civilian internees was an operation that has since been taught at US military academies as an example of precision and tactical planning and excellence.  This success (ZERO internee casualties, 11 allied casualties, and about 80 Japanese killed) of this raid was overshadowed by the battle for Iwo Jima and the raising of the two American flags on Mt. Suribachi on the same day in February 1945.  
     The US and guerilla fighters only numbered about 2,000 and were rescuing 2,100+ prisoners.  They needed to sneak in across a lake, have one company of troopers jump to a minuscule jump zone, attack and silence all guards, and liberate and evacuate the camp in broad daylight; all while not alerting the attention of the nearby approximately 8-10K Japanese troops in the surrounding hills.  It was radio Silence the whole time, with a diversion "attack" nearby, potentially drawing the Japanese forces away from the camp.  Again, the chances for extreme losses and even massacre were very high.  All troops; guerillas, rangers, and Airborne had to be ready to execute their mission at EXACTLY the right times, and there was NO room for error, as one failure of each facet of the operation could spell high losses for the rest of the troopers.    
"B" Company of the 511th, 11th Airborne was picked to jump for the mission.  They had been in the Pacific since mid-1944 in New Guinea training for the Leyte landing.  After the fall's bloody and grueling Leyte campaign, the 511th had jumped at Tagaytay Ridge on February 4, 1945; working their way towards Manila.  By mid-February they were heavily engaged at the south side of Manila, fighting along the interlocking pillbox "Genko Line" for the Battle of Manila.  
     From this point on I will repost "The Los Banos Raid" written by 1st Lt. John M. Ringler of his experience commanding "B" Co. for the Los Banos Raid operation:  


by John M. Ringler

The Mission
The Company "B" mission was only one part of the over-all operation. I was in command of Company "B" since mid-January, 1945, which gave minimum time to become acquainted with all the personnel in a new unit in combat. We were pulled off the front line on 21 February, 1945 for the Los Banos mission on the 23rd of February.
Prior to this operation, it was the battalion commander who assigned the day's operation or mission to his company commanders. For this operation, Lt. Col. Edward H. Lahti, the Regimental Commander, arrived at my company CP, as we were fighting for Fort McKinley. He stated, "You will report to the Division Commanding General and I will take you there." A thousand things can race through your mind as to what I or the company did since our 3 Feb. 511th RCT jump on Tagaytay Ridge that the Div. CG is directing my presence. At this time, I had not heard anything about Los Banos. The Regt. CO stated that he didn't know why the CG wanted me.
Upon arrival at the Div CP, the G-2 and G-3 met Lt. Col. Lahti and myself. They directed us to Major General Swing's office, where I reported as directed. It was at this time that the CG informed me that "B" Company would jump on Los Banos to rescue the internees from the Japanese prison camp. He commented that we could take heavy losses of troops and internees if we were not successful. After discussing the major points of the operation, the CG asked if there were any questions. I had none at the time and was unaware that other units would have a major role in the operation. 
The Briefing

The CG then directed the G-2 and G-3 to provide a complete briefing on the information they had available to them. It was at this time that I was informed of the other elements that would make up the task force to accomplish the mission. As the air- borne commander, I was permitted to select my own drop zone from the photos that the G-2 and G-3 provided. They also provided a very detailed and complete intelligence summary on the enemy gun positions, diagrams of the camp facilities and a daily routine of activities of the Japanese guards. This information, which was very vital, was provided by Peter Miles, an American internee who escaped from the prison camp a few days earlier. After many hours of briefing and planning, I returned to my unit, which had already been relieved from the front line action. After discussions with the Ist Bn. CO Major Henry Burgess, he attached the Hq. Co. Light Machine Gun platoon, under the command of Lt. Walter Hettlinger, to "B" Company to provide extra manpower and fire power. The company only had a strength of 80 plus personnel prior to the reinforcement.
I was briefed that the Ist Bn., (minus "B" Company), with attached units, would travel by Amtrac across the lake (Laguna de Bay). The 88th Glider Infantry Regiment (minus its 2nd Bn) would establish the diversionary force to hold the enemy in their positions. The Filipino guerrilla force would outpost the outer edge of the prison camp to prevent any possible escape of the Japanese force. "B" Company, plus the LMG platoon, would revert to control of the 1st Bn. CO, upon their arrival at the camp. The Division Reconnaissance Platoon would complete all prior reconnaissance of the camp area and be in position to attack the enemy positions upon the opening of the first parachute at 0700. Lack of sufficient winds on the Laguna de Bay caused considerable problems for the Recon platoon in their water crossing, which delayed, but did not prevent, their movement to their objective areas.
My plan was to drop at a low altitude, and as close as possible outside the camp to surprise the Japanese garrison, and to avoid a concentration of enemy ground fire. The three rifle platoons would assemble on their own leaders and move directly to their objective areas to engage the enemy. The platoon leaders were briefed on their area of responsibility, and they in turn briefed their men. On the afternoon of 21 Feb., I assigned Lt. Roger Miller, with two enlisted men, to make a reconnaissance of the drop zone with the Recon Platoon and then return to the unit for debriefing and to jump with the company. 
The Jump
We spent the night of 22 Feb. at Nichols Field. There was no moon. The sky was clear in the predawn, as we put on full combat equipment, then our parachutes, and loaded with our crew served weapon bundles into nine C-47s, under the command of Major Don Anderson, 75th Troop Carrier Squadron. The short flight in tight formation was unopposed by Japanese fighter planes or antiaircraft fire. As we approached the drop zone, smoke was visible. I was jumpmaster of the lead aircraft. At dawn, 0700 hours, we jumped and all landed on the DZ without casualties.
Due to weather conditions, Lt. Miller and the men were not able to return for the jump. They rejoined the company at the drop zone. It was our own "B" Company men who released the smoke grenades as the planes approached the DZ. The Recon Platoon, although encountering difficulty, was able to arrive at their assigned target areas to engage the enemy gun positions. The enemy was initiany concentrating on the action from the Recon. Platoon, which permitted "B" Company to assemble and rapidly move into the prison camp.
After a rapid assembly, there was only minor enemy resistance, which was eliminated. Upon our arrival inside the camp, the internees were very jubilant and excited as to the events taking place. After a rapid survey of the situation, our company started to assemble the internees for a rapid movement out of the camp. With over two thousand individuals, this became a turbulent mass of human beings. Trying to control them and keeping them in one place was almost impossible. It was at this time that some yelled, "Enemy tanks." We had to react to the alert to defend against possible attack. The noise that the individual heard was the Amtracs headed to our positions. Another problem occurred. Many of the internees did not want to leave their huts, or were returning to retrieve items left behind. To overcome this problem, I had Lt. Hettlinger take a detail and torch all of the huts. The arrival of the Amtracs again caused mass confusion in trying to control the internees. 
The Liberation
After the first Amtracs were loaded with the disabled, along with women and children, we were able to assemble all the remaining internees into a walking column, and head for the Mayondon beach area. As our unit guarded the moving internee column, we heard distant firing, indicating the enemy was probably sending elements to engage our troops. The battalion commander was successful in his decisive action to evacuate all of the internees and troops via the lake; thereby, saving the possibility of receiving heavy casualties, if we had attempted to fight our way through the enemy lines, All troops and the 2,147 men, women, children internee prisoners, including a few U.S. Navy nurses POW, arrived safely near Mamatid village, the original embarkation point for the Amtracs on the shore of Laguna de Bay.
For this mission, I made a decision to jump at a much lower altitude than the normal 1,000 feet. This low altitude gave us less exposure to enemy fire and permitted a rapid assembly. Prior to this mission, each of the platoons had a Filipino lad with them for carrying ammunition, and they wanted to make the jump. After approving this request of the NCOs, they gave the three lads a quick course in proper parachute landing positions. I was not worried about them getting out of the C-47 aircraft, for I knew the NCOs would take care of it. If I had to make that decision other than during combat condition, I would not have given approval.
This operation was successful due to the efforts of all units that participated. Failure on any one unit's part could have meant serious loss of lives for the internees, the guerrilla force and our own troops. This entire operation was completed on verbal orders. The written orders came after completion of the mission.
One point of the operation that I have never understood is how could you have over two thousand persons in the target area and live fire coming in from four sides and yet not have a casualty within the camp. It is actions like this that makes us think of Who controls our destiny. 

Courtesy of "WINDS ALOFT" Quarterly publication of the 511th Parachute Infantry Association and

~~Written by K. Mishler with article by John Ringler  

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Combat Infantryman's Badge- as told by Paul Fussel in "The Boys' Crusade"


Combat Infantryman's Badge or CIB

"One evening on Long Island, James Jones climbed willingly up to the attic to locate a box of war stuff his son had asked to see.  As Willie Morris reports Jones saying while he sorted through the ribbons and their attachments,
2nd Lt. Paul Fussell, 45th ID
Paris, 1945
'This one here, it's the only one we wore when we shipped home.'  He pointed to the replica of a rifle on a field of blue with a silver wreath around it.  'It's the Combat Infantryman's Badge.'
     'Why,' asks the boy, 'why is that the only one you ever wore?'
     'Oh shit, I don't know.  It was a point of pride, you see-- better than all the rest.  It spoke for itself.  It really meant something.  It was an unbroken rule.  If you wore any of the others, the men would've laughed you out of town, or maybe whipped your ass.' 
R. Kotlowitz's memoir cover, 26th ID
The difference is empirical.  The badge was awarded for being in ultimate danger, the ribbons for what somebody said about your behavior-- meaningless and probably corrupt testimony, as most infantrymen knew, having seen their battalion staffs piling up unearned honors.  The CIB you earned without anyone "putting you in" for it.  You knew, and the company roster knew, without anyone's agreement of ass-kissing, what you'd been through to wear it.  It was private, almost secret, telling would-be melodramatists, "Don't ask."  The CIB is the only thing pinned onto Robert Kotlowitz's jacket in the photo accompanying his memoir.  The silence is eloquent, like the modest it betokens."  

--Paul Fussell, "The Boys' Crusade", pgs. 102-103

PURCHASE Paul Fussell's "The Boys' Crusade" HERE

*In 1947 the US government authorized that any infantryman earning the CIB in WWII was automatically eligible for a bronze star.*

Monday, January 19, 2015

"TANK DRIVE IN FRANCE" Sgt. Walter Peters; article recovered by OldMagazineArticles.Com

In doing a little digging into the 2nd Armored in Normandy while reading Mark Bando's "Breakout at Normandy" I found this magazine article with 3 tense, emotional, and very detailed photos. This article was published in YANK Magazine on Sept. 29, 1944 and written by Sgt. Walt Peters.

Most photos don't instantly bring tears to my eyes, and a feeling in my gutt of extreme emotion, but the second one here does. The determination and exertion is clear on their faces, as is the stress and exhaustion. .. Dogface if I've ever seen it.

Here are the last few paragraphs of the article; read the rest via the link BELOW

*Article found via: 

*Purchase Mark Bando's "Breakout at Normandy" HERE
or at your used bookshop of choice

Friday, January 16, 2015

'Flying Fortress Direct Hit' as told by American WWII correspondent Ernie Pyle, 1942, N. Africa

Ernie Pyle; Oran, Africa 1942
     "The airdromes were full of stories about freakish escapes from death, but the strangest story I heard was that of an airplane and its whole crew that disappeared in mid-air. 
     This was a veteran Flying Fortress crew.  Its members had been heroes on many missions over Europe.  They were leading a flight of three on their bombing run over a Tunisian port.  The two wing planes were flying close on either side, the pilots following the lead plane, and suddenly it disappeared right before their very eyes. 
     What happened was a matter of conjecture.  But it seemed very likely that an antiaircraft shell made a direct hit on the plane's bomb load, and that the whole plane blew to tiny bits instantly and just vanished.  Nothing was every seen except a little cloud of black smoke where the plane had been. Then the two other ships were flying alone.  One airman happened to be taking a picture at the very moment of the disappearance.  The film showed two planes and a puff of smoke between. 
     A direct hit setting off a plane's bomb load had never happened before in the American or British forces.  I think it must have happened to the Germans, however, for I remember a British artillery officer telling me two years ago of a high-flying German bomber disappearing in a flash while he was looking at it through field glasses. 
     Fellow fliers of the ill-fated American crew were naturally pretty blue over the accident.  But, as they said, when anything as freakish as that got you your number was just up regardless. And they went on with the war as usual."

-Ernie Pyle, "Here is Your War", p. 99

Purchase "Here is Your War" by Ernie Pyle HERE

#WWIIPOD- LAST POSITION- ARNHEM, September 20, 1944; "Colorised by Doug"

L/Cpl Paddy McGiven, Sapper Charles Grier and wounded Sapper Dick Robb all from B troop, 1 Para Squadron, Royal Engineers. This picture was taken at 1530hrs on Wednesday the 20th September 1944, in a builders yard near their last position held at the Van Limburg Stirum School in Arnhem.
Colorised by Doug:

#WWIIPOD Pfc. LAROCK, Germany October 8, 1944

Pfc. R. Larock of E. Co., 119th IR, 30th Infantry Division, relaxes after a day of fighting by playing piano in a wrecked German beer hall; Germany 8th October 1944. 
KIA on 10 October 1944 and was buried at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial in Hombourg, Belgium.
(Thanks to Nathan Tarr for posting this photo and info. onto WWII Pics site.)