Heroes: the Army
"...around the 3rd of March, we captured three German 88s. The firing pins had been removed. The Jerries were expecting us. Down in an underground cache was plenty of ammunition..."
Edwin R. Merritt
- Branch of Service: Army
- Unit: Co. B., 405th Regiment,
102nd Infantry Division
- Dates: 1942-1945
- Location: European Theater
- Rank: PFC, Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal
- Birth Year: 1925
- Entered Service: Medford, Mass.
Enemy Weapons -- Friendly Fire
by Ed Merritt, 405-B
Between 23, Feb. and when I was wounded and unable to go on, around the 3rd of March, we captured three German 88s. The firing pins had been removed. The Jerries were expecting us. Down in an underground cache was plenty of ammunition. The hole where the firing pin went was about 1 1/4 inches round.
I figured most of us could hit that hole from 20 to 30 feet, a safe distance away, with out M1s.
I suggested we turn those 88s 180 degrees, put shells in and shoot through the firing pin hole. The reaction to this was, by most of the fellows, that I had lost my marbles.
A couple of guys helped me crank the middle gun around and put a round in it. I usually hit what I aim at. From the prone position, I was successful. BAR-ROOOOM!
Immediately everyone was either turning a gun around or getting some ammo from the underground cache. In fifteen minutes, we had all three firing. We didn't know what, if anything, we were hitting but hey, was it fun? YOU BET!!!
About ten minutes and a lot of rounds later, we got word that our own people were being fired on from somewhere in our area. The rear echelon did not want to fire back because they knew we were in that location. They asked if we could try and find those guns and attempt to silence them.
Needless to say, we were able to silence those guns immediately. I'm still wondering if the Germans anticipated our actions and turned these guns around or had our people occupied the area after the Germans had left.
----- Ed Merritt
(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.)
Interested in some background information?
Check out the related links below...
United States Army, 102nd Infantry Division
102 Infantry Division
History of the 102nd Infantry Division
Attack on Linnich, Flossdorf, Rurdorf - 29 Nov -- 4 Dec 1944
Gardelegen War Crime
Gardelegen: April 13, 1945:
Massacre at the Isenschnibbe Barn
American Battle Monuments Commission: WWII Honor Roll
National World War II Memorial
The above story, "Enemy Weapons - Friendly Fire", by Ed Merritt, 405th, Co. B., was originally published in the 102d Division "Ozark Notes", Vol. 54, No. 2, Jan/March 2002, pp. 16.
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 16 November 2003.
September 5, 2002.
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