Heroes: the Army
"...Just then two big shells came in up the street killing Cheek and Tunis of Headquarters Co. and almost getting Navarre who was standing in the doorway with his head out of the cellar telling us we better get downstairs..."
Fred C. Sutton
- Branch of Service: Army
- Unit: Med. Det., 405th Regiment,
102nd Infantry Division
- Dates: 1942 - 1945
- Location: European Theater
- Rank: PFC, Bronze Star Medal
- Birth Year: 1925
- Entered Service: Minerva, OH
The Attack on Beeck:
by Fred Sutton, 405th Med. Det. (written in 1946)
Part #3 of 3 Parts:
(continued from last issue)
1st Btn Medic litter bearer for the 405th
(Story written in 1946)
(They are in a Jerry dougout, with a wounded man and two shell shocked officers.)
It was getting dark so Leo, the other fellows and I got lined up. First, the two lieutenants, with two fellows beside them to help them if they went off completely or something. We were shelled for about 15 minutes straight and then I told them to take off and not to stop for anything.
Leo and I dragged the wounded man down the hill to the road. He asked me if we had got a wounded buddy of his and I lied, saying "yes". I didn't know him and he might have been rescued or maybe not. Leo praised me for staying behind to help him and the fellows. We didn't see the rest of the fellows until we got back to the dugout except Rod, who stopped about halfway back, walked with us and carried some of the equipment. Rod was a good Joe to remain with us and help. This type of men were the heroes who did a little extra to help others, forgetting themselves.
We met Farni at the dugout and put the wounded on a litter and got him across the stream into the dugout with Lt. White of the 3rd Btn. Mac came out and asked if there were any more that we knew of and for us to go back to the aid station and get some relief.
I led what was left of Charley Co., Sgt. Hammac, Jessie George and for or five others. We returned across the beet patch, over the hill along the path that Krout and I had hauled wounded out yesterday . Sgt. Hammac remarked that he had a notion to turn in his stripes because the responsibilities of a noncom were heavy here. If he would mess up some of the fellows would be killed. I agreed with him.
The others started to lag behind and asked us to slowdown, so I took some of their rifles and told them that we had better keep moving since the night artillery were starting to come on the lines a thousand yards ahead. We plugged on. I was relatively fresh compared to them as they had been out there three days without sleep and I'd had about three hours of rest back at the shack. They had endured constant shelling which was reported to be as heavy as the first few days of D-Day. This campaign had as heavy casualties as the Normandy campaign. We went past the old windmill, stopped at the water dump and all the fellows gulped down a lot of water and filled their canteens. I told Rodrigues that Immendorf was just on the other side of a clump of trees, so they left, thanking me for helping them. I was glad that I had been able to help these infantrymen who had been through hell and back. When he had been wounded, Titlebaum had said that he was very glad to see the medics come. Others of the wounded had said the same thing.
I was quite fatigued and plodded down the road to the aid station. I learned from some communications men that the aid station had moved out and the 407th was replacing us. I asked where they had gone and he directed me to Apweiler. I slowly plodded through the mud, knee deep, falling on my face twice, toward Apweiler. I first thought that it was Immendorf but I had gone to the left of Immendorf.
I found a group of engineers eating chow with messkits in the semi-moonlight. I laughed to myself. It would have been a distinct pleasure to eat out of a messkit. I inquired my way to Immendorf and was directed down through the village. At the far side of the village I came to a crossroads.
I noticed a light behind a poor blackout in a house nearby and pushed the blanket aside and stumbled in. I asked a captain where Immendorf was. He said down the road to the left. I thanked him and went out. I sat on the doorstep and took a short rest, not caring whether I returned or not. I soon got up and started for Immendorf, passing a crucifix that had been standing for a long time.
I continued plodding on down the road which was now level and open. To my right I could see the flares on the lines going up and lighting the area before fading out. I met two linemen fixing telephone wire along the road. They said Immendorf was thenext town down over the hill. In the faint moonlight I could see the ever prominent church steeple of Immendorf ahead of me. There were some planes overhead and artillery was booming occasionally -- all else was quiet. I though just a few hours ago I had been where men were dying and being mutilated. Now I was safe and it was a relief to be out of the mess.
I gained some hope that I might live through the war. The thought also came to my mind that I could get lost on purpose and hole up somewhere. I didn't want to go back up front and get killed. However, I went on slowly and came into the town we had left two days ago. I recalled talking to Frank and the fellows of F Co. and wondered how they fared. Near the place that I had seen Ballin and Zietz bring in a casualty two days ago, a jeep stopped and picked me up. The driver had the Charley Co. boys that I had brought back to the water dump. They wondered where Charley Co. was and I said they could spend the night at the aid station and find the company in the morning. I gave them some K-rations and they slept on the floor upstairs.
I went over to the aid station and found plenty of business. Soon they brought in the fellow that I had helped drag back to the dugout where the lieutenants were. Casualties poured in all night. I went out to the kitchen and Currier gave me a drink of hot cocoa which he was keeping warm for the fellows as they came in. Lt. Rapp came up to me, grabbed my arm and said he was sure glad to see me and that the others were all right as far as he knew. Chaplain Hill and Pike were there, trying to comfort the wounded. The ambulances were coming in all the time and going out with more wounded. Mac said that I was the last of the litter bearers to get back in.
I returned to the kitchen and sat down. Leo remarked to the fellows that I had done a good job. I answered that we all had done our part, and that the aid men had the worst job with the companies. Harry came in, noting that I had gotten back OK and said that Barricelli, Held, and Wilty had also. A little while later I went over to the cellar of the adjoining house, went downstairs and awakened John Campbello had gotten lost from A Co. when I squeezed in beside him into my sleeping bag. I tried to go to sleep but I was so emotionally tense that I couldn't sleep for awhile.
When we awakened the next morning we found that Leo had been evacuated for trench foot and that Currier had gone back for battle fatigue. We made a fire in the stove in the back room and Moe of D Co. and I tried to dry our wet clothes. Lt. Rapp came over with a pair of heavy wool socks for me as I had burned mine while trying to dry them. Schmidt brought me a pair of boots which I desperately could have used the last three days, but I told him I didn't want them now.
Just then two big shells came in up the street killing Cheek and Tunis of Headquarters Co. and almost getting Navarre who was standing in the doorway with his head out of the cellar telling us we better get downstairs. Moe remarked casually that they wouldn't get us. Then another big one in and Yount ducked in the doorway shaking like a leaf. Hammac thanked us for letting them stay there and he and his group went to find the Co. A. A few more wounded came in and Moe said that Englemen went back with battle fatigue. We ate a few K rations and tried to relax. Then in the late afternoon we packed the aid station to move out for the rear.
About 4 pm Hammac, Jacobsky and several other fellows of C. Co. brought in Jessie George who had gone crazy from drink We tried to get him to lay on the floor and Harry hit him on the jaw and stunned him a little. He soon woke up and kept sobbing and struggling, yelling "I can take it. I'll show those Jerries. Give me a gun, I'll show those Jerries." Hammac tried to soothe him by telling him about Portland, OR. Then Capt. Gray brought in some sodium amytal and gave him a shot. He was very strong and it took six fellows to hold him down until the drug took affect. Harry accompanied him to the ambulance and he told us later that Jessie woke up and hit Harry, who hit him again and knocked him out.
They brought up the first news bulletin for the Regiment. The "Up Front News" made up by Capt. Schwabacher. It stated that the present battle was the worst since Normandy and that the battle for Leyte was progressing. We left just after dark in the ambulance. Fuller asked me how I could whistle at a time like this. Moe swore and said that we had to keep a little of our sanity, I had been whistling unconsciously and it just occurred to me then that I hadn't done that for several days. We felt so good to be out of the war for a little while.
We located in Palenburg, first where regimental aid had been two weeks ago and then Lt. Hirst of A Co. chased us out to a place across the street. We fixed up two stoves and went to sleep in the cold because the stoves wouldn't work. I slept on a sofa out in the hallway. Just before we went to sleep A Co. came in across the street. The fellows were feeling good because it was such a relief to get out of the lines. Leonard was on guard at Co. HQ. He told me that he had heard a rumor that the Americans had attacked the Paramoshiri Islands. We lived on rumors. The companies had lost heavily from both wounded and trench foot.
We got up the next morning and ate a good cooked breakfast of french toast. Then we sat around the feeble kitchen fire and talked to a German boy of 13 who spoke English which he had learned in high school. He said he didn't like Hitler and would have to join the Hitler Youth next year. We couldn't tell whether he was telling the truth or not.
We received some mail that afternoon. I got a package and we ate it all in a few minutes. Padilla was evacuated with ear trouble and Fuller returned to the Regt. with Capt. Krush . I delivered a package to Carlin, at A Co. and we got our duffle bags. I threw a lot of stuff out and packed a lot of items that I needed. We took a shower at Heerlen, Holland. Tried to find a show that night but was disappointed.
A part of the 327 Hospital and the 48th General Hospital were in Palenburg. I slept on the sofa in the lobby and it was cold.
The next morning we packed again, understanding that we were going on a defensive position and moved up this time to the edge of Geronsweiler to the right of Beeck. That evening we stayed with the truck in the house at the crossroads. Some outfit of corps artillery were using it for an CP. Harry, a few litter bearers including Krout and Schmidt and the others settled down in a house a few hundred yards back of us. While we were waiting for Capt. Gray we told the artillery lieutenant and several other fellows about some of the experiences we had just been through. They wondered how we made it and could not comprehend it to the extent we did.
This was a hot corner and every few minutes shells came in, hitting the house. We assembled and turned to the left and went into Geronsweiler, passing the 3rd Btn. Aid Station, and got to a school house where we were to set up.
Division. We parked the vehicle in a driveway and ran across to the school house and down into the cellar. We were assigned two rooms -- one on the right where we slept and one on the left where the technicians slept and worked. It was quiet around our place most of the day and when the 84th men moved out after dark we settled down and got some sleep. However, our building was shelled that night a couple of times and the next room was caved in to some extent. We were frightened and now it was dangerous to be outside; if one ventured out at all they ran to whereever they were going.
We did not go out much the first day or two, just ate those ten-in-one sandwiches Schmidt and Homer fixed and brought over on plates to us. We received mail once or twice. I got a couple from home. Utiey, from Hdqs on the other side of the cellar came over and told us the latest. After listening to this Tennessean we learned to like him and appreciate his enlightenment about everything. John Campbell had accidently got it in the leg from one of our grenades which had exploded in his foxhole. I went over and talked with him, asking if he wanted anything. The next morning they got him on an ambulance and ran him back. The ambulance drivers said that the corner was still hot. It was on the main section of road leading to and from the front. We were only one block from the church, another hot place and the Jerries had hit it and our place also. It rained a few days and then we had several nice days. It was better for the men to have dry weather. We attacked on the third day.
Joe Duehr, a Dog Co. aid man, was hit in the left calf by a sniper while crawling out to a wounded man. He crawled into the aid station, losing a lot of blood on the way For the attack, Harry and Snookie and several of the fellows as litter bearers went out just before dinner, going up past the church and the graveyard. They couldn't get to the wounded because of the machine gun fire and the Jerry tanks. They all came back except Krout who waited until dark to do anything.
The fourth day we were there Brewer was sent to Co. C to help Salas, Barricelli went to Baker Co. to help Garman. Three replacements came up, too. The evening before the attack, Arthur, Chambers and I were sent out in the jeep to get a casualty from C. Co. just at dusk. Artie was excited and turned left at the church and so had to turn around. Upon returning to the corner by the church, he was stuck behind a tank which was letting a wounded man off at the aid station. He had a bad leg wound and I helped a fellow take him off and into the house so we could get by. Artie yelled for me so I ran for the jeep and we took off past the church and graveyard and out onto the flat field. We looked for C. Co. and I finally found Salas who said he knew nothing of a casualty.
Chambers and I ran down a trench to the left and found a man in a dugout 300 yards from the road. He had been hit in the back by shrapnel. We got him out and then TDs were moving up towards us and a fellow ran out to guide them around us. The vision of a tank driver is very limited and he couldn't see the man in the trench at all.
We put the man on a litter and with two men from C, Co. went towards the jeep. When we got to the jeep we were panting. Arther had picked up two walking wounded, so we put the litter wounded on the litter racks and I rode on the hood with him to steady him. I told Artie to step on it since it was time for the usual shelling at dusk.
Just as we got to the cemetery more TDs were coming from town and blocked the road. They stopped; so I yelled for them to pull over to let us past. They slowly moved over and just as we passed the edge of the trees the Jerries threw in about 20 shells along the road. A Baker Co. jeep coming from town blocked our path because the driver had jumped into the ditch. I yelled for Chambers to help me take the man down and run for the nearest house 200 yards away. He got the walking wounded out; then started to help me.
Just then Artie yelled at the Baker driver to move his jeep and trailer over. He did. We got the fellows on again and took off. Artie was so scared he took the corner at the church at about forty. I almost fell off because the litter came unhooked.
I had to fight to keep my balance and the litter on. We all sweated that short ride to get out of the shelling area. Some of the TDs were lit, I think.
When we reached the schoolhouse we yelled for help. I wasn't fully coherent. I had to get hold of myself and figure how to get this man out of there. We feared more shelling on the schoolhouse itself. Sgt. Burns of HQ and two other men from the aid station came out and got the wounded. As soon as Arthur got to the steps to the basement he started to cry vehemently. We tried to soothe him and he finally cried himself to sleep. I had trouble getting to sleep that night.
After getting the new password from me, Sgt. Schmidt took off for the field and found a Jerry sniper in a hole along the road and brought him in. He had been hit in the head. They found a signal outfit on him made of reflector glass which was used to send messages back to the Jerries. He was only 17 years old, an SS man and a Hitler Youth. He was taken back for questioning and from then on things were quiet around the aid station, maybe because of him.
A shell had hit the church and knocked the steeple to pieces and set a house on fire which burned for a day or two. A day or two later we went out with the jeep and left it by a small apple orchard. Three of us, guided by two infantrymen went up the road that led to Lindern and came to a cabbage patch where we got a sergeant with stomach cramps. McKenna and his I & R platoon were trying to locate gunfire across the Roer River. We were sending plenty of artillery over to them. The Jerries tried to retreat from the river bank as the 406th took Linnich completely.
We took our casualty back and slept until Harry awakened us by telling us that Lt. McKenna had ordered us out. He had received a report that there were casualties at Baker Co. He wanted the jeep to go into town but Harry said he couldn't have it.
McKenna told Henry he could be court-martialed for disobeying an officer but Henry said he had orders from Capt. Gray to use the jeep for casualties and he wouldn't budge until he received orders from Capt. Gray. McKenna got a call from Baker (about 500 yards up the road ) asking about a litter. Henry told us to go out some distance and see if we could find anyone and if not, to return. When we found Baker Co. we also found the wounded had already been evacuated.
I found Leonard and all his fellows were plodding along through the mud. I offered to carry someone's gun and belt, but he refused so I fell back to the rear to help stragglers. One man went flat on his face at the church corner and I helped him up and offered to take his gun but he declined.
You can't help but have the deepest admiration and respect for those fellows who wouldn't quit. Something that a person cannot realize until one experiences it himself is this deep comradeship that men can have for one another, forgetting themselves and trying to help the other fellow when in danger and when wounded. The infantrymen praised the medics, saying we would go and rescue men while they could stay in their holes. I said "yes", that the aid men, with the infantry, did have the most dangerous job in the medics.
While our position was sometimes tough, it was not as dangerous as the infantrymen.
----- Fred Sutton
(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, "The Attack on Beech", by Fred Sutton, 405th, Med. Det., was originally published in the 102d Division "Ozark Notes",
Part #1:Vol. 51, No. 4, July / Sept., 1999, pp. 10 - 13.
Part #2:Vol. 52, No. 1, Oct./ Dec., 1999, pp. 7 - 10.
Part #3:Vol. 52, No. 2, Jan./ March, 2000, pp. 8 - 11.
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 20 October 2004.
Story added to website on 21 October 2004.
September 5, 2002.
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