Heroes: the Army
"...two Jerries came out and surrendered. I put the two of them in front of me and my carbine and they led me through the mine field and back to the Roer..."
Fred O. Hunsdorfer
- Branch of Service: Army
- Unit: Co. C., 405th Regiment,
102nd Infantry Division
- Dates: 1942 - 1945
- Location: European Theater
- Rank: Sgt., Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart
- Birth Year: 1925
- Entered Service: Weehawken, NJ
Adventures with the German Language
by Fred Hunsdorfer, C-405
This article appeared in the Co. C, 405th newsletter put out by Bob Murrell.
In September 1935 as a high school freshman, I chose to study a language &emdash; German. A mistake! I was graded a "D" In the first year - and with my name-Hunsdorfer! I was tutored the next three years which included a repeat of the first years course.
I entered the Army in 1943 and was an ASTP student at Ball State in Muncie, Indiana in Heaven!. The program was closed down in March, 1944 and with 3,500 other men I wound up in the 102nd Infantry Division at Camp Swift, TX. What a change! Pure Hell - and with instructions on "How to clean a grease trap."
At Camp Swift, one Gl spoke German and tried to influence me and others to be sympathetic to Germany. He was "gone" one day.
While crossing to France on a 40 and 8 we were reminded not to speak. In October 1944, in a farm area (Baseweiler) north of Aachen, I was told by a lieutenant to go to a farm house and see if we could get pure (klar) water for C Company. The German farmer heard me out and then had his two grandchildren drink the "wasser." A few sticks of gum and two cigarettes later and we were friends and C Company got water.
Other times I spoke my fractured "Deutsch" to Jerries as they came through our lines to surrender. One soldat had his toilet articles kit with him! Then he asked me why the American "Luftwaff" was bombing Vienna! When I turned him over to an interrogator he shouted to me "Your German is frightful!"
After we crossed the Roer River on 2/23/45 we came across a small farm yard complex. Lots of our rifle fire smacked into the buildings. I got lucky and screamed at our GIs to stop firing for a minute. Then I shouted towards the house. "Deutsche soldaten, Raus. Hande hock and dein kopf!" Then two Jerries came out and surrendered. I put the two of them in front of me and my carbine and they led me through the mine field and back to the Roer.
They got very talkative and asked if we were Panzer troops. I replied sure and Panzer Grenadiers. (Small lies) I turned them over to two officers and returned to action.
I really was a M.G. guy.
----- Fred O. Hunsdorfer
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, "Adventures with the German Language", by Fred Hunsdorfer, 405th, Co. C., was originally published in the 102d Division "Ozark Notes", Vol. 52, No. 1, Oct/Dec., 1999, pp. 14.
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 5 October 2004.
Story added to website on 12 October 2004.
September 5, 2002.
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