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Combat History of Company C, 778th Tank
5 Sept 1944. The simple statement on the
morning report said "Departed this station for overseas assignment,
destination unknown via ship 0140 hours."
On the night of 15 Sept. 1944 Co C, aboard
the troopship Monticello, drew into the harbor at Cherbourg. The following day,
we disembarked and were driven to our Battalion bivouac area, S.E. Valognes,
France. We stayed here until the 28th when we moved to a new bivouac near La
Croix Morain, France.
October was a quiet month. We lived in pup
tents and it rained like hell most of the time. Recreation consisted of trips to
nearby Briquebec, and frequent trips to see movies that never did materialize.
The exception was "Three Girls and a Sailor", which everyone saw at
least three times. Rumors were rife and we knew our time wasn't far off.
6 Nov -- We left at 1000 hours and the
destination was Metz, it was still in German hands. We made 67 miles that day
and camped at Villedieu. The next day we made 69 miles and stayed at La Ferte
Mace. On the 8th, we went 69 miles again and bivouaced at La Ferte Vidame. The
9th was a big day, for it took us through the heart of Paris (didn't stop for
blown boggies), to a place just the other side of it called Clichy Sur Bois, we
had traveled 97 miles that day. We took it a little easier the next day and went
only 38 miles to La Ferte S-J. On the 11th of November, we went 68 miles further
and stopped at Epine, and now we were getting close. The 12th we went on radio
silence and entered the Third Army Zone and camped at Briey after a trip of 84
miles. When we got here, we dumped the heavy load of tracks we had carried all
the way across France and changed them. We knew that battle was imminent. They
attached us to the 95th Infantry Division and we moved to an assembly area at
Rombas, just north of Metz and a few miles from the front.
On the 14th of Nov. Co. C was attached to
2nd Bn. 377th Inf. Rgt. (95th) and at dusk we moved through the little village
of Cite D'Hagond and assembled in a tunnel in the factory district, prepared to
attack at 1000 the following morning.
15th Nov — We got away a little late.
The first platoon lost two tanks to mines on the railroad tracks. The second
platoon came around the corner of the slag pile and proceeded to get stuck.
S/Sgt. Rhodes did manage to get a section around to take care of a strong point
in the rear. He captured about 100 prisoners, broke his arm on the recoil of the
75 and won himself a D.S.C. The third platoon shook loose around the slag pile
and took off with the doughs of the 2nd Bn. From then on out, it was pretty much
of a mad scramble and it was hard to discern one platoon from the other. By
afternoon, the whole company was together again and had advanced 2 1/2 miles
from our jump - off to the town of Woippy, a suburb of Metz.
During the next five days, while attached
to the 2nd Bn of the 377th, the company engaged in probably the most violent
fighting in its history. It was a vicious house to house affair right up to the
Moselle River and then across it into the streets of Metz. It was here that we
had our first fatality in the company — Bob Warfel was killed by gunfire in
the streets of Metz. On 21 Nov. Lt. Smith and Di Pietro were both wounded, the
former was a serious injury of the head when his tank took a direct hit from a
mortar shell. Crowell J. Smith won himself the title of a "one man tank
crew" and a D.S.C. by fighting in it all alone, firing all the weapons, and
finally driving it to safety after being nearly surrounded by the enemy.
The 23rd of Nov. was Thanksgiving Day and we had a break in a little place
called Vignuelles, just a stones throw from Fort Plapperville, where the Krauts
were still holding out. We had a turkey dinner, rested and received some
replacements: Lts. Bray and Mackson and Pvts. Esposito and Whited. We then moved
into a factory in Metz, put floatation wedgies on our tracks and shortly
thereafter, took off to catch the 95th who had gone on ahead of us.
On the 25th of Nov. we pulled into a
little assembly area of Glatingy, east of Metz. On the 26th during a blackout
approach march to the city of Mommersitroff, Capt., Chas. W. Larimer, who was in
command of Co. C, was stricken with acute appendicitis and was replaced by Lt.
Savage. That night we also received another man, Karl W. Brown.
On the morning of 27 Nov. we were attached
to the 2nd Bn, 378th Inf. and started on an attack that turned out to be a road
march. We made about 6 miles until Kraut artillery finally forced us to hole up
in Remering. During the next two days, we again ran into tough going in the
vicinity of the towns of Berwiler and Merten, France. Craney's tank was hit by
A.T. fire, injuring Ralph Gordon and "Bull" Durham, and in their place
we got Danielewicz and Jansen.
It wasn't tank country, (it never is where
the infantry fights) and the ground was soft. On hill 376, just east of
Berwiller, there was a big anti-tank ditch that gave us plenty of trouble and it
was nip and tuck for three days. We lost another good man here, up by a lonely
farm house. His name was Marion J. Richardson and he was killed by mortar fire
while hauling food to an infantry outpost. We got him a Silver Star but it isn't
much fun getting one like that. In the meantime, at Merten, a mile or two to the
south, Bill Bray was having his troubles too. His platoon was with the 1st Bn.
of the 378th and on an end run from Merten to Bistern, the first platoon had
three of the five tanks knocked out. The Good Lord must have been with them, for
there were no casualties. Ewald had his 75 shot off, Royer's caught fire and
Strzelinski's took five hits. It was a long walk back for the boys.
On the 1st of Dec., the engineers finally
put a bridge up across the tank trap and we crossed the border from France to
Germany. The company went down the hill into Alt Forweiler and then swung into
Felsberg. You could see down into the city of Saarlautern and across the Saar
River into the menacing little villages on the opposite slope that made up the
formidable Siegfried Line. Tragedy met us again going into Alt Forweiler as Joe
Sumrak's tank was hit by an 88. Bill Hottenstein, the driver, was killed
instantly and Ed Fennel, the bow gunner, died later in the hospital. Here the
2nd and 3rd platoons were subjected to the worst artillery barrage they ever
On the 3rd of Dec. we sent the 2nd and 3rd
platoons on with the 3rd Bn. of the 378th and kept the rest back because they
had only two tanks left. It was a tough day with road blocks galore to attend to
but we fought our way into Lisdorf on the banks of the Saar, just south of
Saarlautern. We had no casualties but Harvey Tull, the sparkplug of the 2nd
platoon, lost his tank to a mine, abandoning it and then went back after his
pipe. While the 2nd Bn. of the 378th was making plans for the river crossing
into Ensdorf, Germany, we were pulled back to Alt Forweiler for much needed
maintenance. The rest didn't hurt either.
On the 7th we got Ed Feuge and on the 9th
we got Schroeder and lost Kleiner. Also, Stritt made Ist Lt., and Chico made
T/4. On the 10th of Dec. we sent the second platoon across the river on the only
open bridge to relieve the Assault Gun platoon which was fighting with the
The fighting was very tough in this place,
called Saarlouis-Roden, because it was studded with pillboxes and houses that
weren't houses, but Pillboxes that looked like houses. It was a strong point in
the Siegfried defences and no place for tanks, but they asked for them and they
got them. "Junior" Mackson got concussion in the fighting there and
was taken out, so we pulled out the whole second platoon and put in the first
platoon, which had been refitted. The remainder of the company was still in Alt
"Runstedt Starts a Stew"
On the 15th of Dec, we had two platoons
in the fighting at the bridgehead and moved our company C.P. into Saarlautern
itself. Then we got word that the 5th Infantry Div. was to relieve the 95th and
that we were going to be relieved by the 735th Tank Bn. That was the day that a
Kraut named Von Runstedt started a big stew up north, so the 735th took off like
a bird and we stayed where we were although there was a hell of a big 1raffic
jam right out in front of the Krauts and everybody but us got away from it.
However, it was good thing we got out of our nice little apartments in
Saarlautern when we did. We moved to Uberherrn on the 17th and when one of us
went back to Saarlautern on the 18th, there weren't any apartments left.
The company as well as the Battalion, was
fortunate in having the assignment we had during the Battle of the Bulge We had
comfortable quarters and good food and electric lights (sometimes), and at a
time like that there wasn't much more that one could ask for. We even had
occasional movies. It was cold and it snowed a lot and we celebrated Christmas
and New Years there. In the C.P. all we did was watch the map and see Von
Runstedt's bulge go out and then see it go in again. The whole day was spent
waiting for the Stars and Stripes and mail from home. On the night of the 14th,
we watched the Air Corps bomb the hell out of Saarbrucken. All was quiet on our
section of the western front during the month of January. Moat made 1st Lt. on
the 20th and on the 21st, we got a lot of replacements including Frank Fazekas,
Waiter Fazer, Bill Finley, Bill Hansen, Roy Meacham, Bob Mentzer, Arthur Miller,
John Poorte and Chas. Watson. Doc Savage made captain on the 26th. Occasionally
we sent a platoon across the river to Fraulautern or Saarlouis-Roden to support
one of the infantry regiments in a limited attack. We received a few alerts on
possible counterattacks and a few ME 109s came over and gave us quite a show.
Other than that, the month passed uneventfully.
Around the last part of January, the 26th
Infantry Div. replaced the 95th in the Saarlautern bridgehead and we stayed on
with the 26th.
15 Feb we moved the 1st platoon
permanently to Saarlautern. They had their own C.P. and would cross the bridge
every morning and return in the evening. John T. Richards and "Buck"
Carruthers did the cooking and stayed with them. They were attached to the 328th
Inf. Regt. at the time. On the 15th, disaster struck again in Saarlouis-Roden.
The crew of C-3, was in a house and it took a direct hit from a large calibre
shell. Fred McComas was killed instantly and Fazer, Ahrendt and Arthur Miller
were cut up pretty badly. Sgt. Margarita and S/Sgt. Thompson, who were also
there, were unhurt.
On the 17th of Feb, the whole company
moved from Uberherrn to "downtown" Saarlautern and the C.P. was in a
residential section of the town, across from a park where we kept our tanks at
night. The guard house was a German automobile with flat tires, parked in the
middle of the street. The C.P. itself was a four story place but the top of two
of them were blown away. The Krauts weren't even choosy as to where they threw
their ammunition in those days and more than once John Porubski had to fish
shrapnel out of the mashed potatoes. The C.P. wasn't the safest place in the
world but it was heaven to what the men had to put up with across the river.
Every morning the three platoons would
leave before dawn and move into positions with the respective battalions they
were supporting. The 1st and 2nd platoons had their own C P. in Saarlouis-Roden
and the 3rd platoon had a C.P. in Fraulautern. It wasn't long before the whole
gang got to know the ground very well. Each house on the map was numbered and
you had to be careful because they changed ownership occasionally. Booby traps
and heavy mortar concentrations were very much in vogue in those days and
Saarlautern was the most bitterly contested battlefield on the whole front after
the Battle of the Bulge. On the 18th, Jim Semradek got himself and crew into a
hot fight with the Krauts at a range of 20 yards. The tank got bazooka-ed, Jim
got his helmet blown off and his cheek grazed by a sniper bullet but they
continued fighting. Harold Duffy managed to get the tank out of an extremely
tough spot by driving with his hatch open because a hit on the tank had made it
impossible to close. Jim got a D.S.C. and Duff a Silver Star.
The rest of the Battalion left us shortly
thereafter to go up north to support the 94th Inf. Div. and we were left all
alone. It soon developed into a routine job — to work in the morning and home
at night, 7 days a week. I wonder if any of us will ever forget the experiments
with the demolition "Snake"? Or that long open stretch after you
crossed the bridge? We continued to support the 328th Inf. On the 20th of Feb,
we got another officer, Lt. Thomas Abernathy, who was wounded fighting with
"B" Co. On the 25th, we got more reinforcements Ralph Kuru, Robert
Luther, Joe Literati, and Arvid l arson. On the 27th, the 328th moved out and
the 101st Inf. Regt. moved in to replace them, but we stayed on the job. On the
night of the 28th, Stephens and Craney had a mission of demolishing an annoying
pillbox in a very touchy section of Fraulautern. Craney knocked it out OK but he
hit a mess of mines doing it. Craney, Joe O'Neill and Crain, were injured. The
following night, Stritt, Moat, Jodis, Grady, Sanford, Wiese and Grace went up to
get the tank. They had a hot time of it but couldn't make it and for all we know
the tanks are still there to this day.
Crowell Smith was lucky enough to get a
furlough to the States on the rotation plan on 1 March. Noah T. Loden, who left
us quite often, left us permanently on 4 March with trench foot. On the 7th, the
26th Inf. Div. left the Saarlautern area to take their place alongside the 94th
Inf. Div. in the bitter fighting in the Saar-Moselle Triangle. They were
replaced by the 65th Inf. Div. and we found ourselves attached to the 260th Inf.
Regt. They still had the chalk numbers on their helmets when they came to the
We stayed with the 65th until the 11th of
March when we were ordered to join the rest of the Battalion up north with the
94th. We were scheduled to join at Tawern, Germany, some 50 miles to the north.
The night was black and we didn't want to leave the bridgehead area until after
dark because it would not be wise to let the Krauts know we were leaving. We got
out O.K. and the march though black and cold went well. We had to go very slow
because of the darkness and the drivers eyes smarted painfully. Harvey Tull came
up at a halt and asked if he could get some coffee made for the next halt.
Harvey never lived to see the next halt. His tank turned over near the little
town of Kirf, within view of the dragon’s teeth of the Siegiried Line. Harvey
Tull will never be forgotten. Jim Royle and George Schlossberg were injured
slightly in the tank but Jim Cawley and Pete Alessi were uninjured. We were a
sad and weary crew when we pulled into Tawern at 6 the next morning.
We thought we were going to get a rest and
time to work on the tanks but big things were cooking all along the front and
the 4th Armored Div. was running wild just north of us on the other side of the
Moselle. At noon we got an order to move to the town of Wiltingen, eight miles
to the east across the Saar. So, off we went again, this time passing through
thousands of prisoners on their way back from the cages.
We had a few days at Wiltingen to get
ready and we got Luther Denham back from injuries received at Metz. On the 14th,
we moved out and were attached to the 301st Inf. Regt. of the 94th Inf. Div. We
went through the town of Pelligen and got a good look at the battlefield which
the rest of the Battalion had been fighting over while we were at Saarlautern.
Parked on the road, just outside of town of Lampaden, we awaited orders and
finally got them at noon — attack with the infantry against the 5th SS
Mountain Division, a tough outfit. Joe Wichowski's tank, the point tank, bogged
down, and Swank went off the shoulder of the road and threw a track due to the
poor direction of a certain party in the turret. C-4 got a direct hit and part
of the crew had the misfortune of being on the outside of it instead of inside.
John Grady got a slug in the belly (through his binoculars too) and Les McAndrew
got it in the leg. We finally did get across the creek however, and stopped for
the night in a castle called Burg Heid. All the tanks, T.D.s and AA vehicles
piled into the courtyard and the Krauts could have murdered us that night, but
they were running the other way.
The next morning we attacked the little
village of Heddert, sitting all by itself out in the open and surrounded on both
sides by thick woods. No one who was with us that time will ever forget that
night because they spent it in the dense woods on each side of the town and the
gas and ammo supply was quite a problem. It was complicated by the fact that the
Krauts were only a hundred or so yards away. They checked out again, however,
before dawn as they knew our attack was gaining strength. We lost Pete Marx that
night with a leg injury. At dawn the next day, we started again and went into
the town of Shilingen, which we found abandoned. By afternoon we pushed on to
Kell and in our two day attack had advanced 8 miles. There was quite a fire
fight at Kell and "Junior" Mackson fell off his tank, wrenched his
shoulder and we lost him for good. Late in the afternoon, we got into town.
There was a machine gun nest or two outside of town and we had orders to clean
it up. So, we sent out Stritt, Wichowski, Cuccio and Semradek. They cleaned it
up all right, but Wichowski got a direct hit through the turret and Frank
Fazekas, a lad we had only two months, was killed instantly. Wichowski and Matt
Hudak were injured slightly. It was the third tank Joe had lost and the one just
hit, had been newly drawn that morning. That night we drew some more
reinforcements — Pegher, Mibistein, Williams, Chapel and Warner.
"The Rat Race had Started"
The morning of 17 March was a happy one
for us. We awoke to hear the tanks of the 10th Armored Division roaring through.
We had finally cleared the road net they needed. The whole front was collapsing.
The 4th and 11th Armored Divisions had crossed the Moselle and had gotten behind
the Krauts. They were on the run. The rat race had started. Later that day, they
attached us to the 376th Inf. and all three platoons of the company went in
different directions supporting different Bns of the 376th. By the 18th, the 1st
platoon had gone to Berglangenbach, the 3rd platoon to Achtelsbach and 2nd
platoon to Fohren-Linden. The company C.P. was in Brucken. Advances of the
various platoons ranged from 15 to 28 miles and included the important road
center of Birkenfield.
On the 19th we got to Heimbach where we
were told that we were relieved from attachment to the 94th Inf. and attached to
the 26th Inf. again. So, we did an about face and marched back over the ground
we had fought over all the way to Pellingen and then south to Aussen, a 60 mile
jaunt. But we still hadn't caught up with the 26th yet because they had been
doing a little traveling too. The Battalion was together again and we managed to
get a little work done, but the next day we were off again, this time to
Derrenbach, 28 miles to the east.
21 March is another day we shouldn't
forget. They attached us to the 3rd Bn, 328th Inf. We got set for a long push or
"Armored Thrust" as the newspapers called it, into enemy territory.
The hot poop was that the Krauts were on the run and that we shouldn't have too
much trouble. The objective for that day — ONE DAY was to reach the Rhine
River —a mere 80 miles away. We took off early with Jim Semradek as point and
Bill Stephens supporting. By noon we had gone 30 miles without opposition. We
slowed up a little in the afternoon but by nightfall, we had reached the town of
Neustadt, 15 miles from the Rhine. The third platoon especially Steve and
Semradek, got into a hot fight for a while. The 10th Armored reached the Rhine
about the same time we did, from a different direction. That was our best day of
combat — 64 miles — no casualties.
On the 22nd we reverted to Battalion
control. Big things were in the air. The 5th Inf. Div. had crossed the Rhine and
the 3rd Armored was getting set to break out of the Remagen Bridgehead. We left
Neustadt and after a 50 mile march, assembled at Gau Odersheim. Moat got into an
argument with the M.G. because our billets didn't have bathtubs. We had three
nice days there to rest up and get the tanks in shape again. S/Sgt. Rhodes
joined us there. He had been chasing us for a long time, since he was injured at
All hell was breaking loose now and we
were ready to go. The 5th Inf. Div. bridgehead was expanded and they had shoved
the 4th Armored across. Now we were ready to go with the 26th. At midnight of
the 25th of March, we crossed the Rhine River into Germany proper. The first
stop was at Erfelden and the next day we moved to the very large city of
Darmstadt. To say that the billets we had there were nice, would be putting it
The next day they attached us to the 3rd
Bn. of the 104th Inf. Regt. We marched with them for 35 miles to the Mainz
River, where the 4th Armored had seized a railroad bridge and forced a small
bridgehead just a thousand yards south of the very unhospitable town of
Ashafenberg. With the 3rd Bn. of the 104th, the C.P. was set up in Obernau, on
the east bank of the Mainz, and we outposted the town. We were already 47 miles
beyond the Rhine. On the 27th, the zone of the bridgehead changed to 7th Army
and we were relieved by the 45th Inf. Div. and moved north to Stockstadt,
Germany. Here we had the good fortune to run across a very large stock of
champagne and cognac in a warehouse. We certainly got our share and it came in
They cooked up a big deal for us on 28
March. We were to furnish a platoon of tanks to go as part of a small task force
about 80 miles behind the enemy lines. We drew straws for it and Stritt won (or
lost depending on the way you look at it), and with him were to go, Longo, Pete
Yarashewich, Matt laros, loe Literati, Semradek, Margarita, Duffy, Sheehan, J.
R. Bell, Royer, Bryant, Mc Kee, Mentzer, Karl Brown, Bill Stephens, Belford,
Pastorino, Broussard, Warner, Wichowski, Cawley, Keller, Denham and Bill
Schroeder. The task force platoon, and later the whole company, reported to
Babenhausen on the 29th all set for action. At the last minute, they called off
the big deal (Thank God) and each platoon was attached to a Battalion of the
104th. The Division objective was Fulda, a large town some 80 miles to the north
We started out on 30 March, two days
before Easter and recrossed the Mainz River east of Hanau, at the little town of
Kahl. That night we moved 12 miles further to Langdensbold. The 26th Division
was mopping up behind the 11th Armored, which was going great guns, although
their 42nd Tank Bn had a rough session at Gelnhausen and so did Lt. Stritt's 3rd
platoon, when it got there. Lt. Abernathy had replaced Lt Mackson when the
latter was injured back at Kell and had taken over the 2nd platoon. While the
104th was in Division reserve. it had the mission of protecting the right flank
of the Division in the attack and this flank incidentally, was also the right
flank of the Third Army. The 7th Army's 71st Division was on our right and we
had to wait until they came up and sometimes proved embarrassing because we had
to go like hell to catch up with the two forward regiments. On March 31st we
were rolling right along behind the 11th Armored and the newspapers at home were
showing maps with big black arrows going across them showing our progress. We
rode all day through dense woods and late in the afternoon came out into a
clearing where there was a town called Wittegenborn, We holed up there over
night with the company C.P. and the platoons were a few miles ahead.
The next day was Easter Sunday and it was
a bright sunny morning but the woods all around us were very dark and although
we didn't know it, there were a lot of Krauts in them. When we pulled out that
morning, a medical Battalion moved in behind us and the enemy closed in on them
and did quite a bit of damage. It was quite a while before the deal got
straightened out. That morning, the platoons fanned out along the main road to
Fulda, which was still about 20 miles in front of them. The company C.P. moved
22 miles that day to Breitenbach. The 1st platoon took Sulchern and the 3rd
platoon took Steinau and Flieden. In Flieden, Joe Wichowski lost his third tank.
Joe and his crew were in the house cooking supper and the tank was parked out in
the street when a Kraut assault gun pulled up on a ridge about 2000 yards away
and put five rounds through it, setting it afire. They got a new tank the next
day. (Moral: Don't cook supper in your tank.)
"The Last Laps"
On April 3rd we pulled into Fulda and
by now everybody was wondering when it was going to end. The Russians were going
well now and we knew that the finish couldn't be far off. The first platoon was
sent to the 26th Div. headquarters as "Palace Guard", and had quite an
easy life of it.
From here on the story gets a little foggy
for the simple reason that the three platoons operated many miles apart and all
of them were moving very swiftly. The air corps laid waste to the fleeing Nazis
along the road and each road looked like the other. You could ride for miles
without seeing a single human being (living) and going through a town, you would
not see a soul on the streets. Soon you would begin looking for familiar signs;
empty K-ration boxes, and the black telephonic wire strung along the road. When
you started running into red telephone wire, it was time to turn around—you
were on the wrong road and it wasn't healthy.
On April 5th the company C.P. moved from
Fulda to Humofershausen, some 26 miles to the east, and on the 7th to Kuhndorf.
It appeared now that daily moves would be in order and that our objective would
be Czechoslovakia. On the 8th still in Division reserve with the 104th, we went
to Dillstadt. Lt. Smith wounded at Metz in the second day of combat, reioined us
and took over the third platoon at Meiningen and Lt. Strittmatter came back to
company C.P. to do some billeting.
Bill Bray had his Palace Guard set up very
nicely at Suhl and by this time, everyone in the company was sporting a nice
shiny Luger, Walther or Mauser and a half dozen German rifles and shotguns. On
the 9th, we all moved to Schleusingen and the 2nd and 3rd platoons were a little
to the south. That was the day the ME 109s and FW 100s came over and strafed the
3rd platoon and Lt. Smith shot at them with his pistol. (No hits.)
On the 12th we went 16 miles to the
southeast to Schwartzenbrun and on the 13th, 20 more miles to Neukenroth after
going through a large town of Sonneberg where more guns were picked up. The next
day, we hit some wild and desolate country. Uniatowski threw a track, and he,
Rhodes and crew fixed it utilizing a team of horses. We were nearing the big
super highway that ran from Nurnberg to Leipzig and Berlin. Just on the other
side of it was Munchberg, and on the other side of that was Czechoslovakia. We
were all set to go when there was another change in orders; We weren't to go to
Czecho after all. We were to swing south and into Austria.
On 17 April we reverted to Battalion
control and got all the platoons together at the town of Wustenbitz. We even got
the duffel bags out, hoping to get a change of clothing for the first time in
almost a month. The next day we were off again, this time with the 101st Inf.
Regt. The first and third platoons moved across the autobahn, east of Munchberg
and having quite a scrap of it, when they changed our direction again due south.
All three platoons went to the town of Gefrees, and deployed to their respective
battalions from there. The second platoon was with the 1st Bn, the 3rd platoon
was with the 3rd Bn. and the 1st platoon was unattached at that time. On the
19th, the C.P. and 1st platoon went to Kirchenpingarten, the second platoon went
to Leindas and the third went to Warmensteinach. On the 20th, we stopped at
Unter-Brook and Paul Craney joined us having recovered from the wound he
received when he hit the mine at Saarlautern. We got a day's rest at Unter-Brook
and then on the 22nd moved to Grafenwhor, a large town that was beat to hell. We
saw road signs that pointed to Pilsen and no one could figure out why they were
still fighting. The next day it was Wernberg and the next day it was Bruck, then
Wilting and we were getting close to the Danube which showed very wide on our
maps. We wondered if we were going to make a crossing or not.
They changed our course again and swung us
to the east so that we were now following the border of Czechoslovakia. We were
averaging about 10 to 20 miles a day now and we knew it couldn't be long. On the
26th of April, we went to Hunterdorf and on the 27th it was Schwartzbach, where
we stayed for two days. The 3rd platoon now had the Palace Guard job. The attack
was east along the north bank of the Danube and we got quite a bit of fire from
the Krauts across the River, as the enemy still held that territory. All the
bridges were blown. They finally cleared the way into Deggendorf on the Danube
and we got in there on the 29th.
About the 24th, we had sent Stritt back to
Uberherrn to check on some missing equipment. He found it and also Wallace D.
Moore, who was guarding it. He had erroneously been reported as AWOL way back in
March. Stritt brought Moore back on the 3rd of May, the day we crossed the
border into Austria. We were staying at a little farm house near Haunersdorf.
That day, we got reinforcements who had been chasing us for a long time:
blielsen, Boggs, Boyle, Gene Brown, Ducioume, Karabian, Laslo and Corey. We took
off on the 4th and went 28 miles to Hothirchen, Austria and there wasn't much
gun fire any more.
On 5 May we were in Aigen. On the 6th of
May, the 1st platoon and company headquarters crossed the Austrian border into
Czechoslovakia and stopped in a town called Glockelberg. The 2nd platoon took
the right fork in the road at Aigen and headed for Unter-Mouldau aiso across the
border, where they dickered with Nazi Officers for the surrender of the 11th
Panzer Division. The third platoon was in Aigen with Division Hqs. On the 7th,
the 1st and 2nd platoons came to company control, we in turn reverted to
Battalion control. Everybody knew it was over. On the 8th we were sure of it. It
felt funny and nobody could believe it. We still blacked out the windows and
kept a heavy guard. We would have liked to celebrate, if we' had something to
celebrate with and some place to celebrate, but we had to leave that to the
folks at home. Then we found out that we were pretty tired.
There have been a lot of names left out
of this narrative. We didn't mention guys like Lloyd Arrington, Gil Broussard,
Alden Davis, Tom Feheley, "Pop" Fowler, Matt Jaros, John Riley,
Charlie Roode, Joe Rose, Thaddeus Scurry, Don Searcy, Howard Sheehan, Frank
Surovik, Joe Wise, or Claude Worthington. We didn't mention Nichols who drove a
peep through hell and high water, never complained about it and never took a day
off. There was Claude Sanford who did the same with the maintenance peep. We
didn't mention Dougherty, Turner, Eddy You, Paul Miller, and Paul Hull who
worked so hard regardless of conditions. We didn't mention "Chick"
Podbesek who kept things going smoothly whether you realized it or not, or
Climan, who among other things, helped write this book. We didn't mention
drivers like Blackwell, Delcambre, Sam Longo, Jim Royle, "Big" Hank
Swank, George Belford, "Chief' Clark, Ralph Fitzgerald, "Tiny"
Keller, Roscoe McKee, and Bill Finley who did their jobs as well as anyone could
do them. Wc didn't mention "Tony" Bosco, who had an important job and
handled it well, and Lonzy Seymour, who sometimes tried to be in two places at
the same time and darn near did it. There was John Cuccio and Erik Bielke, as
good Tank Commanders as you could find anywhere. And last of all the gunners,
the men who did the shooting and BROTHER, could they shoot — we mean guys
like, Bill Bryant, Jim Cawley, Howard Crain, Ely Dragon, Mason Andrews, Robert
Eddy, Carl Groeper, Matt Hudak, Dan Kensel, Tom Lorigan, Al Murrell, Davis
Pastorino, and Pete Yarashewich There were also Allan Smith, Wilbur Farvour,
Charlie Leneave, Raymond Uster, Walt Wickert, William Obradovich, Charles Drahe,
Ernest Benett Joe Affelt, Pete Olszowy, Don Bell, Robert Boxwell, Bernie Powe,
and Carmen Vertullo.
Back to "Our History"
The names of some of the men may have been
omitted but it was not intentional. Every one of you did your job and did it
fearlessly and did it well. If you hadn't, we would no doubt still be fighting.
What we have done may be forgotten by some but it will never be forgotten by the
members of Company "C".