Heroes: the Army
"...I was paddling behind an engineer, number 2 on the starboard side. There were overhead flares and criss-crossed machine-gun bullets coming at us. By the time we'd paddled to mid-stream, I'd already heard/seen a couple of guys in the middle and left side of the boat take bullet hits and slump down..."
Arthur J. Crawford III
- Branch of Service: Army
- Unit: Co. G., 407th Regiment,
102nd Infantry Division
- Dates: 1942 - 1945
- Location: European Theater
- Rank: PFC, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart
- Birth Year: 1925
- Entered Service: Bridgeport, CT
I Remember When
By Jim Crawford, 407 G
The following is a reprint of letters Jim sent home to his wife, Jean, in 1978 when he was revisiting his war-time areas.
Well, I can quit my job and come home now because I've accomplished what I came over here for: revisiting the old camping and stamping grounds. I had a very successful day yesterday, leaving Dusseldorf at 9:15 and heading west.
FIRST STOP was Uerdingen on the west bank of the Rhine just north of Krefeld: actually a cluster of stucco homes in a "development" just north of Uerdingen. (Uerdingen is where the ~ platoon occupied a two-family house for awhile. Every night 'Bed-check Charlie' would fly overhead and we would grudgingly trudge downstairs to the cellar. One night, with the whole platoon on the staircase, Charlie actually dropped a bomb that landed spang in the backyard behind us. When we'd untangled the fallen bodies from the cellar floor, Don Francis - who ~ had been leading &emdash; asked "How many fellas did I carry downstairs on my back."
The other river bank looked just like it did when the Jerries still occupied it, also. For a week, two other guys and I had to occupy a dugout on our bank from just after dark 'til just before dawn. Nothing...special happened except for being shelled occasionally. Still with just a barn door and couple of feet of dirt over you, the close ones made you nervous (no attempt at camouflage, I'm afraid). I recall that it was infuriating to be under a barrage and be able to overhear on the sound-power phone lines the jerks at the Company OP goofing off, instead of attending to the line.
THEN, driving from Krefeld to Muchen-Gladbach I kept getting lost. Road signs would say Munchen-Gladbach straight ahead. Great! Then the road would "T" with no signs at all. Besides, all the cities have grown so, and back then we had just hiked around them (no street fighting, a sniper once) or straight through them to catch up, so I wasn't going to recognize anything anyway. I had been curious how far we hiked (me wearing shoe-paks) one night from Rheydt to Viersen starting at2:00 am. This was after I had passed out the only time in my life at 7:00 pm from a bottle of schnapps.
Joe Widger and I had been assigned to 'secure' a platoon CP while the rest went on to high ground east of a row of houses. When some spent machine gun bullets came through an open window, one of us said to "pull the shade down" or else "close the window" and we continued to finish the bottle. Too late now to be court martialed, I hope.
After reaching Viersen, Lt. Jacobs asked me how I felt. I told him not too good even though I'd gotten a lot more sleep than the other guys. He said that if they were in worse shape than I looked, he'd better send a different platoon out on road-block duty.
NO MATTER, I ended up in the heart of Munchen-Gladbach at a Holiday Inn opposite the basilica and was only interested in finding out from the desk clerk how to find the autobahn west. In a relatively short time, I began to recognize real names and peeled off to Linnich where the serious action was for me, once. And here not a thing had changed except for a factory on the east bank just above the bridge where we paddled across. I could see the building where we had waited out the first 45 minutes of our river crossing barrage, stood on the spot where we launched our boats, etc.
I could recognize these sites because I had been taken there in daylight before the crossing in order to be a guide down to our Platoon's boats the morning of the attack. I can vouch for the moniker "Screaming Mimi-Alley" because we underwent a sustained attack while there - jumping from the street into an empty building and crouching on a staircase that led down to a basement full of water. The actual river is only about 80' wide with wide level grassy banks on each side leading up to the river-side dikes which have the usual amputated trees lining them. But from dike to dike is about 250' wide and that's how wide the river was then, because the Germans had dynamited the dams up in the mountains the night before we were supposed to attack - February 10th. We actually waited twelve more days before launching it.
I went down on to the grassy bank and sighted to the dike, and sure enough the water had been just about collar-bone deep. Also, on the far bank, there were diagonal ditches leading from conduits through the dike, placed there in order to drain the field on the far side. So it must have been one of those I stepped into when I was suddenly literally over my head while carrying about 50 lbs of metal: rifle (9.5 lbs.), cartridge belt with 4 BAR magazines of, maybe, 20 rounds each plus 6 clips of Ml ammo of 8 rounds each (10 lbs.); 2 bandoliers of 8 Ml clips (each 4 lbs.), 2 fragmentation grenades and 2 white phosphorus grenades (4 lbs.), two 60mm mortar- rounds (10 lbs.) and helmet (3 lbs.) I'm guessing conservatively -- but try swimming! I didn't.
I was paddling behind an engineer, number 2 on the starboard side. There were overhead flares and criss-crossed machine-gun bullets coming at us. By the time we'd paddled to mid-stream, I'd already heard/seen a couple of guys in the middle and left side of the boat take bullet hits and slump down. Then our boat got hung up on the branches of a flood-debris tree nearer to the far bank. One of the two engineers jumped overboard and tried to free us and, with plenty of flare light overhead, I could see him struggling with the tree branches. He said we were truly stuck but it was only shoulder deep. So I jumped over and started trudging for shore holding my Ml rifle over my head with both arms.
Next thing I knew, I'd stepped into a tremendous hole, which brought my arms down fast. The Ml receiver struck the front brim of my helmet and flitted it off. There I was over my head in at least 8 feet of water. So, instead of standing up, (the thought process was pretty quick) I dropped down onto my hands and knees and started crawling, still holding the Ml, and was pretty soon where I felt I could stand up again. Looking around, under brilliant flare-light, the first thing I saw was my helmet, bottom-up about 10 feet away, floating merrily down the stream. "My toilet paper!" (carefully folded under the webbing) I mentally yelled and went plunging after it, before resuming the remaining hike to shore. I think we'd been ordered to dump the mortar rounds upon reaching the far bank. I did, with pleasure. The funny thing is that I never thought it was more than 80' from dike to dike but that the tremendous down-stream current, until getting caught on an uprooted tree, was what made it seems so long to paddle.
MEANWHILE, crossing by car back over to the east bank, I drove upstream on a path alongside the railroad track, the track being raised to the same height as the dike. It was nearly a half mile from the dike, easily 600 yards and in between, at the same time, hip bone deep in flood water. Again I'd remembered it as only 100 yards wide. And when, in 1945, I'd crawled up onto the RR embankment, looking back, I saw for the first time the reflections of the .50 caliber machine-gun tracer bullets that had been firing over our heads towards the Germans the whole time. The reflections looked as though they were going to come right up my pants-legs and startled the daylights out of me for a second; and I hadn't even been aware of them up until then.
Lying there on the bank soaking wet and looking at the tracer reflections coming at me, I realized that it was time to take a leak. But my frozen fingers, maybe even with gloves on, couldn't cope with trying to unbutton the fly on my fatigue pants, underneath the fly of my olive drabs, underneath the BAR ammo belt webbing. So I said to hell with social amenities. Shortly later, when Sgt. Doyle asked for a volunteer to explore continuing the advance straight on into the water over the far side of the RR embankment, I realized that this might be my only chance to sort of rinse out, so I volunteered!
But I nearly went under again after groping 20 feet into the taller-than-me holes and finding myself up to my neck in water. I got permission to come back out and we instead had to traverse north along the RR track until we got to the road and could angle back to our assigned sector.
CONTINUING BY CAR to follow the route of the attack.... I drove between the woods from which we had emerged to take the hill at the top of which I lost my hearing from shell concussion. I'd always remembered the distance from woods to hilltop as being like 1/4 of a mile, whereas it was more like 1/ 2 mile. I've told the story about getting to the bottom of the hill, about 2/3 of the way, and seeing a boil of machine gun bullets traversing the mud toward me. I was so tired I could only shuffle away from them -- the traverse actually passed me but only kicked up mud against my legs. At the time I couldn't understand why I was so-o-o tired: but seeing the distance now, I can understand - plus the weight and the mud and jogging and firing the while. So the moral is that times flies when you're having fun.
There was a famous Mauldin Up Front cartoon at the time of the Battle of the Bulge where Willie asks Joe, or vice versa, "Does retreatin' blisters hurt as much as advancin' blisters?" And the correct answer is: advancing against enemy fire, blisters don't hurt at all, you'll never know they're there.
We went through the woods and intervening fields in marching-fire formation -- our 3rd squad shooting between the open ranks of the first two squads. I must have stumbled and fired too close to a guy in the front squad because he turned around and with an outraged snarl pointed his Ml at my navel. All I could do was point my Ml at his stomach and tell him, "You shoot me and I'll shoot you!" Cursing, he turned around and all was 'peaceful' again -- except I kept my finger off the trigger.
Upon reaching the high ground between Glimbach and Gevenich by afternoon of the crossing, we stopped and dug in for the second or third time, except that this time we had time to finish. We were, also, told to hold our fire while we watched every Jerry in Glimbach trudge along the skyline about 800 yards away, to Kofferen, the town we had to take the next day. Although I had just had my foxhole caved in by an '88, I still wondered why we couldn't make the Jerries take cover. After VE Day, somewhere in Thuringia, Lt. Col. John H. Wohner told us that that had been pretty stupid, but he didn't say whose idea it was. But on the whole, I thought it was a pretty good idea (at the time) since they were less likely to fire back. So was it the noncom's, the company-grade officers, or the fieldgrade officers? We never found out.
On the hilltop my foxhole buddy and I had just finished digging our foxhole when a 4-round '88 barrage came in. One shell caved in the side of our hole, pretty well stunning us both (and limiting my future left ear high-range hearing to minus middleC). "Don't! Don't! I remember saying. Recovering, I stuck my head out and looked toward the next hole over, about 30 yards away. My neighbor's head came up just then and we jointly pointed, counting, to the 4 shell-holes in a staggered line between our two holes. My buddy remained in a fetal position for the rest of the day and after dark I hand-led him back to the CP in Glimbach, returning to enjoy my now spacious foxhole. There was a big Panzer tank scare at one point that came to nothing.
The next morning we were to take off under a rolling barrage for Kofferen -- but first a last minute leak before leaving home. Unfortunately, the roiling-barrage began with short-round air-bursts right over our heads, one badly wounding Sgt. Doyle. [Francis B., T/Sgt., BSM] Diving back into (using real quick thinking) the dry end of my hole, I was immediately joined by a stranger who spent the rest of the barrage at the wet end cursing whoever had done it. Talk about being pissed-off!
REALLY, except for a row of six new houses where we entered the next town, Kofferen, there wasn't a single new building, nothing under 80 years old, in these little Rhineland farm villages.
While trying to do marching fire into Kofferen (after the short rounds lifted) I experienced a major draw-back to the Ml that I have often cited. By then, my cartridge belt was so full of mud and grit that it was impossible to clean the ball-ammunition adequately, though I had tried at first light to do so. Before long, the explosion of the cartridge in the chamber was jamming the grit between the casing and the chamber wall so that the spent cartridge would not eject. First I pulled on that miserable, little, curved bolt-handle until going through three layers of skin on my palm and, then after firing each round had to resort to setting the rifle-but on the ground and stamping on that f----g handle with the heel of my boot -- which were still shoe-paks, having missed out on the re-exchange before the crossing.
The Jerries fired from their 'community' trenches (with their heads below their weapons and hands) until we stood over them. Then is was all "Kamerad!" As we were lining them up we received an intense barrage, with victors and defeated diving willy-nilly into huge shell holes I'd guess were made by the river crossing barrages. I overheard one GI swearing at a Jerry to crawl on top of him, but I already had one or two guys on top of me so didn't care. After the barrage lifted, without orders the Jerries lined up again for us to continue to collect their wristwatches, etc.
I thought it would be more fun (safer) to volunteer to help another guy herd the bunch of prisoners back to Gevenich than to attack out of the other side of town. We'd gotten half-way there when the MPs took them off our hands, so the two of us rationalized that we should cut through Gevenich back to Glimback to the Company CP and get a ride back up to the front. Bum idea because the Jerries had the road into Gevenich zeroes in and at the edge of town we were straddled by a ranging barrage that came right down the road from behind us and on past the roadside ditch we dived into, while a jeep came roaring past us going all out. No hits! I never stopped to wonder if the ditch was mined 'til after.
On the way from Gevenich to Glimbach we were passed by an oncoming jeep carrying wounded. One of the sitting-up wounded was an AWOL/deserter on whom we'd had to keep a rotating 24-hour guard for three days before the river crossing. Bastard! I'd lost free time just so he could get a million-dollar wound and go home a hero! We got to Glimbach and the CP had left but the supply sergeant or someone gave us a ride to the farm house on the far side of Kofferen where the company had stopped to let another unit advance through .
I was put in a dug-out with two other guys where we took turns during the night listening to our sound-power phone. At first, for hours and hours, we couldn't get through to anyone until I hiked back to the farmhouse and brought out a signals guy who discovered that both phone wires were spliced onto the same trunk wire. The second night, one of us (probably me) fell asleep cradling the phone. We all woke up well after daylight to find ourselves surrounded by 155mm howitzers that had been dragged up and dug in with bulldozers, along with kitchen tent, mess line, etcetera. Finest rest I've ever had.
I DROVE UP TO FLOSSDORF which is prettily situated on the only bluff for miles along the river and has an attractive little 'park' down by and across the river. The town is only about 30 houses, with a half-dozen post-war ones with a view across the river. I walked across the small bridge to the park, now rebuilt, at the site where we were coming back from a night patrol, pulling on a rope from ruined abutment to abutment in an assault boat -- when we were brilliantly lit up by a German flare without a shot being fired!
FLOSSDORF STILL had its 80' high chimney belonging to a small brick kiln at the north end of town and the fields west of it were piled with sugar beets or covered with unharvested sugar beets just as on Nov. 30, 1944. Even though there were farmers in the fields harvesting the beets, I drove around the field on the tractor paths (easily 3/4 mile square) and the furrows were plowed (oriented) the same way as then so that, if I'd wanted to, I could have lain on my stomach and looked straight up a furrow to that damned chimney -- which I looked at most of the afternoon of Nov. 30, 1944 -- with pieces of sugar beet raining down on me after each shell explosion.
Actually, I had been trying to flatten myself in a furrow when I heard a Sherman tank behind me and looked back to see one coming straight up my furrow. Doing some quick belly squirming, I got out of its way and then crawled back to lie in the deeper depression formed by one of the tracks. Looking ahead, I could see that chimney growing right out of the track-rut. And half-way up the chimney was a little window that surely held a forward observer who was calling down the barrages on me personally!
On my re-visit, I looked carefully at the chimney and there was no such window and the chimney's outside diameter was under 2 feet. As everyone knows, another 100 yards and one tank was knocked out and the other four beat it back. Damn if my tank didn't come straight back down his own tracks -- forcing me to skidaddle aside again. Returning this time, the tread-mark was even deeper and that may be one reason why the shell that landed midway between me and Pfc Maas [Rowland, C.](only fifteen feet away) gave him mortal wounds and me only a scratch worth 5 points by VE-Day. I suspect the real reason is that the shell came in at a low angle over him and fell short of me, so that he got the back-blast from its crater while the forwardblast effectively went over me.
THE ONE-LINE RR track which we'd marched along from Ederen to launch the attack was still there. But even driving this way and that and going on foot, I couldn't find the gully overpass and gully itself. What I found was the gully alright but the overpass was just a large culvert that I can't reconcile with my recollections.
After getting stretcher bearers for Maas I then helped bring in a couple of more stretchers (we'd stop attacking and I didn't feel like lying around there, so it was something to do.) There were some ironies in this altruism. We were carrying one guy with a badly wounded thigh. Whenever a burst of machine gun bullets went by, the four of us would drop to the ground so fast he nearly bounced. He'd naturally moan and bitch at us and we'd be terribly sorry until the next time.
I decided to gold brick a little before going out in the field again. Back in the gully I decided to clean my rifle to kill time, and I couldn't see through the barrel. For a cleaning rod, I had to cut and peel a willow stalk with my trusty Sea Scout knife and then pushed out a barrel length core of mud that could have caused a serious blow-back if fired into.
After bringing in the next stretcher case it was dark, so I asked the doc to look at my wrist which had been pinged in the morning and was by now very swollen. He sent me back for an X-ray for fragments (negative), and I didn't rejoin the outfit in Flossdorf itself until the middle of December. Lying on a stretcher in the Clearing Hospital in Maastricht, I had never felt warmer, safer and guiltier. My luck held and I got to the General Hospital in Liege just after it was buzz-bombed and was reppled out just before they sent everyone would could walk into the Battle of the Bulge.
At Flossdorf, there were three Xmas fruitcakes waiting for me. I gave two away, ate the third, and nearly went back into the hospital with a ruptured appendix (a chronic, undiagnosed problem from my teens until an emergency appendectomy in 1951). I was carried down the street by two buddies to the battalion surgeon, who was in a cellar addressed through a trap door by a vertical 10' ladder. Since my buddies told him I was too weak to climb down and there was no rope to lower me by, he diagnosed me from the cellar, sent up two aspirin for me, and I was carried back to the platoon to recover.
THROUGH EDEREN I stopped and looked into the barnyard of the house where we'd spent the night before the Flossdorf attack. These houses typically have the second floor extending over the street passage way for the cattle and wagons. The wooden door within the big door was open. Looking in, I saw they'd paved over the center of the yard but in those days it was one big juicy compost heap; one guy went to cut across the corner of it and went in up to his hips. He had to pulled out by his buddies who were trying to keep their distance and hold their noses at the same time. The front of this building still had big shell fragment pock-marks, which was generally not the case.
THE THING that always tickled me about Lindern is that for all its tiny size it had a pedestrian underpass at the RR station that the 1st platoon had slept in. It was still there. I parked the car at the station, got out, and walked through the tunnel and back into the station house, drawing some curious stares from people who were buying tickets. At 100 yards away, the old road into town crosses the tracks via a fly-over type of bridge.
The road cutting diagonally out of town to Linnich is where I left a Bangalore torpedo (a 4' pipe filled with sticks of dynamite and double fused.) I had been supposed to shove it under the Jerries concertina wire to let the patrol attack through it, but they laid into us first -- with tracer bullets ricocheting off the iron hard ground all around me. I decided two's a crowd after one of our guys caught a rifle grenade or something big in his chest.
After taking Brachelen, a couple of weeks later, I was detailed with three other guys who had been on the same patrol to go pick him up the only other time I've revisited a battlefield. Regimental Graves Registration had refused to do it because there were lots of "Achtung Minen!" signs around. The body's arms and legs had been wired to pegs by the Jerries but we rolled it over by pulling on a rope from a distance and nothing happened. Because the explosion had caught him in the middle, we had to roll him over twice, top and then bottom, and never did get him centered on the stretcher. While carrying the stretcher back (rotating handle positions because of the off-center weight) I actually observed my very own Bangalore torpedo right where I'd left it.
The house where our 2nd platoon had spent a couple of weeks in the cellar was still there, but the intersection of three streets, where I remember watching three goats graze and duck like crazy at every distant overhead shell woosh, is now a highway connector; and the highway is where I left that torpedo -- just a dirt road then.
You remember that scar on my left thumb I told you I got whittling a notch in a plywood board to put up as a blackout board? At the time the battalion surgeon put four stitches in my thumb, saying he should evacuate me but that I'd probably be court martialed for a self-inflicted wound. The cut never truly healed and was subsequently made worse by digging into shell holes bare-handed whenever the shovel hit a shell fragment. Staphylococcus eventually set in and, just before reaching the Elbe, I was evacuated to Hannover and then flown (on a stretcher even) to a hospital outside of Paris. By then I was pretty near well, having sneaked out of the hospital in Hannover to go horseback riding in the adjacent park; one hack for one Hershey bar. I didn't get back to Co. G in Thuringia until the second week of June, having missed all the real fun.
WELL, IN BRACHELEN I found the same house, the same window, and damned if the glass wasn't busted and there was a plywood board behind it that looked as if it'd been there over 35 years &emdash; but I couldn't see the notch through the grime. A new road has cut through the east end of town and beyond it is a shamble of buildings whose exteriors haven't been retouched since the war, and they looked like they'd just been through a war then. I'd found a Nazi flag in one of them, plus the German helmet that's in the garage attic. This house is on the square where the following took place.
When our 2nd platoon, 407th, hiked back to Gereonsweiler one night, in anticipation of the Roer crossing, I was left behind to greet the British who were taking over. I stood alone in the main (but tiny) square for an hour or two when suddenly two 6x6 lorries drove up with their high-beams blazing right at me. I walked toward them waving my arms to dowse their lights when a head stuck out of the cab and asked "Is this the bloody front, mate?
I WENT to Geroensweiler where we'd spent several weeks before the Roer River crossing. I recognized it from the funny, square onion-dome church steeple. At the time, the steeple had tremendous holes in it along with most of the houses, but the houses were the same ones, no question about the 2nd platoon's side door and everything, plus the narrow winding street up to the church and down beyond it where I'd kept slipping on the ice while carrying a full tray of fragmentation grenades -- perfectly safe but unnerving to see them bouncing on the ice. Who knows why they were on a tray, about two dozen of them. Some sergeant just said to take them from this here place to that there place. Since most of Rhineland is dead-flat, this town had the most charm of any of them with a fifty foot rise in elevation
HEADING FROM GEREONSWEILER for Heerlen, Holland, I entered Baesweiler which was the first town we'd gone to upon arriving in Germany to replace the 29th Division. I recognized the house with the enormous attached barn so got out and walked behind it to view the spot under the apple trees where I'd lived in my first foxhole.
Two 29th Division guys had dug a hole 6' long, 2' wide and 3' deep with a door over 4' of one end. They'd also left the upper rim of their dugout lined with K-ration Cheese-and-Bacons! I thought this was wonderful until I got so I couldn't stand them either. The guy who wasn't sleeping crouched between the legs of the guy who was. Except they put three of us in it. The two guys who were sleeping had to lie on the same side like nested spoons. After two hours, guard change. The guy not getting up would roll to his other side and take the front position. And so it would go until daylight when we could take turns sneaking into the barn to sleep on the hay.
In order to stand up while on guard duty, instead of half squatting - half crouching to keep a lower profile, one day while the other two guys were off duty I put a bushel basket in the hole and filled it with dirt, using my entrenching tool. Then I found out that I could no way lift a basket full of dirt out. I was just about to shovel the dirt back into the newly deepened hole when what seemed like two or three barrages (actually my first barrage experience) of four shells each landed all around me. The basket was between me and the shelter under the roof, blocking it, so I couldn't get around it. When the barrage ended, I looked out from under the roof and noticed that the basket, still full of dirt, was on the ground outside the foxhole.
The barn was just the same except they'd removed the glass-brick shed from which I'd evicted the five swine, cleaned it out, filled it with hay, moved in sofa cushions, and spent my afternoons reading. It was a normally quiet sector for our baptism.
The shed was actually built into and under the side of the barn and could be entered from the barn by climbing over the interior wall. I'd calculated that the most effective way to get those enormous sows out of the shed would be to drop down in the far corner behind them with my broom in hand. For some tense minutes, I thought they were going to eviscerate me but fortunately I prevailed.
ONWARD TO HEERLEN (through Ubachover-Wurms (where I parked in the center of town and walked around for nearly an hour without recognizing a blessed thing.) It had been our Division rest center so I'd been there for two 3-day passes. On the second pass, the third day, I developed a boil on my neck and the doctors kept me for six more days -- what a treat. Now, I was looking for the Reuten's house. I'd met Cita at a USO dance and she invited me to her home where she, her mother, and her 11 younger brothers and sisters sat around the dining room table sewing, studying, chess playing, and what not, making American soldiers feel at home -- all innocent and nice. There was a guest book with pages and pages of G I's names.
Major Reuten was off somewhere in the free -- Dutch army or air force. Cita once took me into the fields to see the only tourist attraction, a 20' high ruin of a castle-keep from the 13th century, still mentioned in Netherlands guide books. Mrs. Reuten sent two younger siblings to keep us company and chaperon. When I realized they were following us at a 100 yard distance, I waved them to join us.
I FINALLY ASKED two local policemen in a van where the ruin was, because I knew I could orient myself from its quadrant and the center of town to get to the Reutens. They said that the only ruin was in the 'center of town' so I gave up, asked directions to the autobahn, and just as I was about to turn into the access road of the autobahn, there was the house! The parochial school was on the other corner, which is what I'd been on the look-out for, but all the grading for highway construction and big office buildings had separated it from the center.
I parked on the side street and a white-haired lady, who must have been Cita's aunt from the resemblance, turned into the path to the side door as I got out of the car. She looked at me curiously, German license plates and all, so I asked her if the Reutens still lived there. They did and she said she would get Mrs. Reuten, but she came back to say that Mrs. Reuten was not well. Then Mrs. Reuten came to the head of the stairs inside the door, walking awkwardly with a cane (a stroke had affected one leg, I'd say) but looking well. She had lost about 50 pounds since 1945.
She insisted she didn't have any daughter named 'Cita.' I've had twelve children" she said, "the oldest is Sheetah..." "That's it! I said. But actually it's a diminutive of Francisca, as in Franciscita. Well Cita lived a couple of streets away and could be sent for. But I just wished to pay my respects to Mrs. Reuten, and not disturb Cita, a hausfrau now in her 50's, along with me. I wanted her to relay my regards to Cita and not disturb them or her, but go on my way. After all Cita had written me in 1946 that she was getting married and couldn't continue to write me - about politics, religion, and economic recovery - while I wrote to her about communism, FDR, Russia and other things I disapproved of.
So I just wrote on a piece of paper 'A. James Crawford, 102nd lnf. Division' and left without going inside but with much expression of regard. They probably think I'm crazy, but I'm glad to know that they're the same as before.
Here is where the 102 Division recall part of the letter ended and Crawford went on the describe his sightseeing in Aachen to his wife, Jean.
----- Jim Crawford
(Editor's note: Attempts were made throughout the text of the following story to place full names to the men listed in the story. For the most part, this is an educated guess and some names may very well be mistaken in their identy. The names were all taken from the division history book: With The 102d Infantry Division Through Germany, edited by Major Allen H. Mick. Using the text as a guide, associations with specific units were the basis for the name identifications. We are not attempting in any to rewrite the story. Any corrections are gladly welcomed.)
12 January 2005.
A photo of Co. A., 2nd Platoon, 407th Regiment, 102nd Division. This image is on a page that is dedicated to Mr. Edward Marchelitis, Sr., by his daughter Carol. Most of the men in the photo taken on December 20, 1943 are identified on the back of the image.
To view the photo of Co. A., 2nd Platoon, 407th Regiment as well as other photos of Edward Marchelitis, click on the image above.
The family of Mr. Marchelitis is seeking information on his platoon.
A special Thank You is extended to the daughter of Edward Marchelitis, Sr., Carol Marchelitis Heppner.
Interested in some background information?
Check out the related links below...
United States Army, 102nd Infantry Division
History of the 102nd Infantry Division
Attack on Linnich, Flossdorf, Rurdorf - 29 Nov -- 4 Dec 1944
Gardelegen: April 13, 1945:
Massacre at the Isenschnibbe Barn
American Battle Monuments Commission: WWII Honor Roll
National World War II Memorial
The above story, "I Remember When", by Arthur J. "Jim" Crawford, 407th, G. Co., was originally published in the 102d Division "Ozark Notes", Vol. 50, No. 4, July/Sept. 1998, pp. 10 - 17.
The story is re-printed here on World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words with the kind permission of the 102d Infantry Division Association, Ms. Hope Emerich, Historian. Our sincerest THANKS for the 102d Infantry Division Association allowing us to share some of their stories.
We would also like to extend our sincere THANKS to Mr. Edward L. Souder, former historian of Co. F., 405th Regiment. His collection of stories of the "Kitchen Histories Project" series entitled, Those Damn Doggies in F, were responsible for bringing the stories of the men of the 102nd Division to the forefront.
Original Story submitted on 28 October 2003.
Story added to website on 4 November 2003.
September 5, 2002.
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