Heroes: the Army


"...Great excitement occurred when one small Russian patrol sneaked down along the river bank and tried to set up a machine gun to stop the flow across. It was then that we learned that a small detachment of 55 Troopers were defending the escape route. They ambushed the Russians and knocked them off with hand grenades..."


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 John B. Tillson

  • Branch of Service: Army
  • Unit: 102nd FA Hqs.,
    102nd Infantry Division
  • Dates: 1942 - 1945
  • Location: European Theater
  • Rank: Capt., Bronze Star Medal
  • Birth Year: 1925
  • Entered Service: Paris, TX


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"Dearest Francis and All the Family"

10 May 1945 -- by John Tilson


     As a member of 102nd FA-HQ, I first reported to Camp Maxey late in 1942 as Aide to General Busbee. Later he promoted me to command his Headquarters Battery but I maintained a close relationship with the General until the war ended. This letter is part of my Memoirs of the war which I have collected and left for my sons and grandsons.

     The war in Europe is a thing of the past, the celebrations of the Great Day are over, the future remains an unknown puzzle, and the worst hangover of my life is beginning to let up, so I shall try to find words to describe the tremendous events of the past few days.

     To go back and attempt to get things in chronological order I must first tell of the last stages of actual combat as we have known them. When we finally closed on the Elbe River and were given the "Stand Fast" order we knew that for all intents and purposes the war had ended for us. It took a good deal of mopping up to secure the river line for the Armor had dashed through and many of the disorganized Kraut soldiers had hidden in the woods and many had hastily changed into civilian clothes. All hands were turned to the process of mopping up, and only two days ago one of the patrols picked up three German officers in full uniform.

     Gradually the pockets were reduced and our lives became more and more taken up with the matters of Military Government while the front line doggies started patrolling across the river in hopes of an immortal first meeting with the Russians. Occasional odd rounds of artillery fire were lobbed over to our side of the river, but the Kraut was too tired and too hard-pressed by the onrushing Russians. Then on the 5th or 6th came the surrender of the remainder of the German Armies to the 102nd Infantry Division. This was announced by SHEAF so you hope you have finally located us. With the surrender of this force they started a headlong retreat across the river into our PW cages. The roads from the river to the collecting points were jammed with dishevelled and tired Kraut soldiers all obviously relieved to escape the onrushing Russians. They were formed up and marched by battalions (about 1 ,000 men) by their own officers and at the tail of the column would be one disgruntied GI who was obviously irked that he must make the march with them.

     By the afternoon of the 7th the Russians had closed in with only one small pocket defending the crossing at Tangermunde. Nick and I went up on the afternoon of the 8th and sat in a house right on the river and watched the last dying struggle of the once great Wehrmacht. The Russians had closed in with the tanks and infantry and were attempting to prevent the remainder of the Krauts from getting across. It was one of those ridiculous situations of warfare. Those Germans were crossing to our lines under a white flag which we were bound to honor. We did not assist them in any way, but neither could we assist the Russians who were our allies.

     The bridge had been blown but it was possible to crawl across the remains of it. Looking out over the burning plain across the river we could see the Russian tanks firing at the bridge. We could see a mortar squad dropping rounds right next to the bridge. On the far side were a few remnants of the German Army and a motley crew of thousands of civilian refugees fleeing before the Russians for whom they had a mortal fear. Many tried to swim across and many of these failed to make it. Farmers with their families and all they owned piled on carts would arrive at the river and start loading their belongings on their backs to try to get across the bridge. Great excitement occurred when one small Russian patrol sneaked down along the river bank and tried to set up a machine gun to stop the flow across. It was then that we learned that a small detachment of 55 Troopers were defending the escape route. They ambushed the Russians and knocked them off with hand grenades. All this took place right across the river, which is only 75 yards wide -- it was less than 30 yards from where I sat with field glasses.

     The bridge was a bottleneck, of course, for they could only cross in a single file. They packed the far bank but there was the most amazing apathy I ever hope to see. There was no shoving, no panic -- they were just beat down and scared of the Russians. The mortars and tanks finally got the range of the bridge and started pumping rounds in. A round would explode right in the middle of the closely packed mob. No one would duck, there was no panic, and those that were hit dropped to be walked over as the lines closed up again. One farmer family just arrived on their wagon when a round landed right beside them. The man and little boy jumped off the seat and lifted the wounded person off the back. They laid the body on the grass, the boy started loading stuff on his back, and as mortars continued to crack all around them the farmer unhitched the horse, removed the harness, and turned him loose before he and his boy walked to the river - leaving the body laying beside the cart.

     Soon we saw a battery of Russian artillery going into position and they soon opened up. It became a little uncomfortable then, for we were right in line to receive any "overs". On about the third round they hit the bridge and it was knocked out, and as we were so close the windows of our house were getting knocked out so we left for home and a late supper. On the way we saw the thousands of Kraut soldiers marching to the cages. All discipline had broken down and they had to be herded along at the point of guns -- all they wanted to do was lie down and rest. Later that evening the Russians closed in. The SS Troopers fought to the end and amid the cheers of the Americans on this bank the Russians wiped out the last of these SS madmen. The next morning the red Hammer and Sickle flag flew on the bank opposite the Stars and Stripes.

     We knew, of course, that the war was to end at midnight on the 8th, but for us it was already over. The restriction on the use of lights on vehicles had already been lifted, and no celebration was planned. There was in store for some of us, however, one of the most memorable events of our lives, and our wildest dreams could not have produced a better celebrations of the end of this war in Europe. General Busbee and some of his Staff were to cross the river to be the guests of the Russian Division facing us. He invited me along, and regardless of his faults and the mistakes he may have made I shall always be grateful to him for taking me along on this trip. All we knew was that we were to meet the members of our Division Staff at Gen. Busbee's office at 1330 on the 8th in fulldress uniform. I'll try to describe everything as it happened after that, and only hope I can convey to you a small part of the whole experience.

     General Busbee, Lt. Col. Hannigan, the two aides, and myself (a captain) met at the office about 1320. Nick and I took a few photographs of the group, and we joked about the general who demanded the aides bring along a bottle of powdered milk to drink just before we met the Russians and their vodka. At 1330 an armored scout car, two sedans and a command car arrived. Gen. Fox, Lt. Chamblin (junior aide), Lt. Col. Allen, and Major Tauber were aboard from the Division Staff.

     It was an hour and a half ride to the point where we were to cross the river. I rode with Hannigan, Allen and Tauber in the second sedan discussing Russian uniforms and insignia of rank. At 1500 we arrived at the river to be met by Colonel Dwyer and some members of his staff. The little riverside town was pretty badly shot up, but we drove right to the river's edge where the bridge had been. A flag pole had been erected and the Stars and Stripes flew. Across the narrow river in the bright sunlight we could see the Russian delegation ready to greet us, and tied to the river bank was a small launch ready to take us across.

     There were 15 officers in all, and Gen. Fox called us together for a few words of warning. The Division Commander had been across the night before, and he had passed the word on to Gen. Fox. We were told that we carried a large responsibility for we were the first Americans these Russians had ever seen. We would find them eager to know us, admitting of our Army, and anxious to be friendly. Avoid political arguments, don't raise the Japanese question, but don't withhold any information about our organization or our equipment -- we have no secret weapons. Last came the warning about the Vodka -- you couldn't insult them by not drinking their toasts, no American can hold all that liquid gas they expect you to drink, but no one can afford to make a fool of himself. Somewhere in these contradictions we were told to find a solution.

     It took only a few moments to cross the river and the launch came alongside the remains of the bridge site. The motor roared to keep alongside in the current, but we could see the band playing in the background and as all the Russians were holding a salute we assumed it was a National Anthem and we too stood in the boat at salute. Three officers stood on the "dock" -- the senior one a rather short man with a real muscovite mustache he resembled Jerry Colonna. The other two officers were tall, rugged, light complexioned, and very handsome. When the band stopped we all filed off and in order of rank stepped forward, saluted, and were introduced to these three officers. With the band playing we walked back to the row of sedans waiting for us. They were all captured Kraut sedans and a motley lot, but all flying red banners. Two American officers sat in the back of each car, a Russian officer in the front, and a Russian driver.

     Bob King and I road in the same car with a Russian Major as escort. I introduced myself, we shook hands, he grinned and gave his name. Bob did the same and we started off. He was even more excited than we, I guess, for he would bounce around, grin at us, call our attention to certain things, and waved madly to all his friends to be sure they saw him riding with us. We drove across the open farmlands of the river bottom. Although we didn't see them at first we knew we were well guarded, and we saw a few guns well hidden guarding the road. At regular intervals on this otherwise destitute no-man's land a flowered arch was built with signs in Russian and American "HAIL TO PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT" "HAIL TO OUR GREAT LEADER, MARSHALL STALIN" "HAIL TO GENERAL EISENHOWER THE LEADER OF THE VICTORIOUS AMERICAN ALLIES"

     We passed through one small rural town -- the Elbe valley is full of them and they are best described as a mixture of "bricks, Krauts and manure" -- and we realized how complete the guard was. The town was fairly deserted, but every fifty yards stood lone Russian sentries with sub-machine guns at the "ready". They were fine looking men and boys, and everyone of them just bubbling with pride. Here we saw our first women soldiers -- they acted as MPs. White short boots, short dresses like kilts, blouses, white gloves, white cossack fur caps, and little yellow flags they wig-wag to signal you on and then really snap to and salute as each car passes. A few more deserted farms , a few more garlanded arches, and we entered the city of Burg where the reception was to be held.

     It's a good sized city and was not visibly shot up. More female MPs of whom the Major was very proud. Guards with machine guns lined the streets which were cleared of all other traffic. There were quite a few German civilians and the familiar white flags, but they were kept back off the streets. The sidewalks were lined with soldiers and officers, all of whom snapped to attention and saluted each sedan as it passed. They all craned their necks to see us and their eyes fairly popped out of their heads. We drove up into the city square and in front of the biggest hotel in town. On the steps stood more Russian officers, the whole front of the building was bedecked in Red bunting, and on each side of the steps was a Russian flag. On one side of the entrance was a huge portrait of Stalin and on the other side one of Roosevelt.

     Here again we filed in order of rank and were presented to the Division Commander and his staff. There were many photographers -- both American and Russian -- and the square was just bristling with more of the guards. We were then ushered into the hotel. The lobby was again lined with guards, and we were ushered into what was the tap room, I guess. Here were a flock of small round tables, and we were seated four at a table -- two Americans and two Russian officers. Russian cigarettes were passed, we shook hands, and tried to catch our breaths and get back to earth. Suddenly one of the most impressive men I have ever seen walked in. The Russian officers leaped to their feet, and Gen. Fox called all of us to attention.

     Gen. Busbee and General Fox presented themselves to the three star General of the Red Army. He was the Corps Commander. He was about five feet ten, stocky but trim, about forty five or fifty, and wore a magnificent dark blouse with a full row of magnificent ribbons and medals. I got a close look at some of the medals later and they were beautiful bejeweled affairs. With him was a tall, blond, six foot full Colonel who was his Chief of Staff. The Corps Commander turned to the crowd, said something in Russian, and sat with our two Generals. The interpreter repeated -- "Welcome, gentlemen, and please be seated."

     We were no sooner seated and again trying to catch our breaths and realize all that was going on when great double doors opened and there was a huge dining room with a T shaped table set for about 100. It was a magnificent sight indeed. On the wall above the head of the table were huge portraits of Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill. At each place was a card of welcome, and the walls were covered with signs of welcome and signs of tribute to Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Eisenhower and Truman and on one wall was a large portrait of Eisenhower. There were about 20 Americans and about 70 Russians. No effort was made to seat us by rank, but each American was placed between two Russians. The table was set so that each six persons had a complete set of all the dishes -- jellied fish, bread, crackers, fresh butter, smoked herring caviar, cheese, cold cuts, cigarettes, great vases of flowers, white table cloth and linen napkins. At each place were three glasses -- a small liqueur glass, a large champagne glass, and a large water goblet.

     Opposite me sat a full Colonel who commanded the Artillery. On the left a Cavalry Major and on my right an Infantry Lt. Col. I shall never forget the next few moments &emdash; there we were settled for a vast banquet, not one of them spoke a word of English and I'd forgotten the word for "Thank you" which I had practiced so hard. We all shook hands, sat down, and from then on there was never a moment's embarrassment or reserve on the part of any of us. The only thing I have ever seen comparable to that spontaneous comradeship has been with fellow Americans. I've met almost all the nationalities of the continent -- officially or otherwise -- but never has there been such common respect, trust, and understanding which was not hampered because it was mute.

     The Russians don't pass things -- that's why the table was set with a complete sets of everything for each group of six. With sign language they offered us everything and then pitched in. The Colonel across from me really made me shudder when he poured a full goblet of Vodka and downed it without further ado, then signaled me to "drink up". I gagged down a shot glass full just as the Corps Commander rose to deliver the initial toast. He stood and raised his glass and rattled it off while we snatched words like Stalin, Roosevelt, Americaniker, and Roosky from the speech. At the end the Russians cheered madly, and we figured he had made strong remarks flattering his guests -- we never dreamed how we too would yell in a few seconds when the interpreter had repeated those last words of the toast.

     It ran substantially like this: "It is my great honor on this most historic moment to propose a toast to our great leader, Marshall Stalin, and to pay homage to your great fallen leader, Roosevelt. This is a great moment in our lives and in the lives of our country as we meet to celebrate the meeting of our two great armies on the banks of the Elbe. Together we joined to crush Germany for all time, and we now DRINK TO THESE UNCONQUERABLE ARMIES WHICH WILL NOW JOIN FORCES TO DESTROY THE LAST REMAINING FASCIST STATE ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH". Before the first drink had been consumed those words were spoken by a three star general of the Red Army with full realization of their import. He added that all must drain their glasses. The colonel took my little shot glass away, filled my champagne glass with Vodka, and without even gagging I drained the damned thing -- the implications and possibilities of that toast were worth it.

     We sat down and resumed the meal. The colonel opened another bottle and filled my goblet and his. He drained his with relish and I thought I had better try it and hope to God it was wine. Just at Gen. Busbee rose to propose a toast I discovered to my horror it was straight Cognac -- a tumbler full and another "bottoms-up toast" just starting. I didn't have the vaguest idea what Gen. Busbee said for I was busy pouring cognac into a smaller glass with which to drink to the toast. We sat down to resume eating and drinking, and my friend the colonel now opened a bottle of Russian champagne. It was delicious champagne, and I managed to sip from the large glass and drink toasts with one of the smaller ones. There didn't seem to be any hope of staying sober, and every one of us dreaded the next drink for fear we would miss anything. Soldiers came in with accordions to play, some dancers put on a show, and quartet of soldiers sang some beautiful Russian songs.

     Soon one of the waitresses was called over and it was explained that she was one of the real heroes of the Russian Army. She had 180 dead Krauts to her credit. She wore one of the highest decorations. All the waitresses were members of the Russian Army. In the field they lay wire, operate communications, drive trucks, do all the medical aid work, and in garrison take care of the housework, entertain with songs and dances, and between courses removed aprons and danced with us. They were not too big, were very strong, but beautifully groomed, clean, and very feminine. One handsome big blond women with a lovely soprano voice sang several songs. She had volunteered to replace her husband in the Army when he was killed in action.

     The plates were then removed and soup was brought on with fresh biscuits, and the vodka, champagne and cognac continued. By this time the favorite toast of both Americans and Russians was "Japan, KAPUT". The Russians were all anxious to get at the job, and they all agree that together it shouldn't take us over three months. They have never forgiven the Japs for the stab in the back in 1904, but they feel sure strongly that so many Russians died in this war who could have been saved if the threat of Japan had not forced them to hold badly needed forces guarding their eastern frontier -- for that they will never forgive Japan. They are ready, willing, and God knows they are able, to join with us at once to defeat Japan as quickly as possible.

     After the soup came fried chicken and french fried potatoes, and then came the crowning gastronomical tribute of the evening -- vanilla ice cream. It sure tasted good, but by this time the vodka, champagne, and cognac had begun to take their toll and I only wish they had served the ice cream first. During all these courses the toasts continued and there was more entertainment and dancing. After the ice cream a large dance orchestra started playing polkas and we all danced until we were ready to collapse. Then we were ushered into a theatre where we saw a Russian movie. Couldn't understand it, of course, and I sneaked out for air about half way through it.

     When we returned from the movie the entire banquet table had been cleared, had fresh linen, and was completely reset with toast, smoked fish, caviar, cold cuts, more ice cream, and fresh glasses and more vodka!! At about 1230 midnight, nine hours after we had started, we were called back to the table, the final toasts were drunk, and we got into the sedans, to the river, across in the barge, and home. That outlines the highlights of the great feast. It all ran like clockwork, and someone must have stayed sober to manage it.

     I now want to go back, however, to relate some of the more interesting personal contacts and talks I had with the Russians, and some experiences others had. Early in the evening a young Major came over and asked if I was "Artillerist" and was delighted to learn that I was. He was obviously having the time of his life, and soon came back with an interpreter. He had written a message for me on the back of his card and presented it to me. He then said the Russian Artillery and the American Artillery were the greatest in the world. He was a young Russian artillery officer, I was a young American artillery officer, and on this great moment in our lives would I join him and his friends. I was delighted to get away from the colonel who was still pouring me drink after drink, but I'm afraid it was like going from the frying pan into the fire. I joined them and we had a wonderful time. They discovered I could speak a little German and so could they but they called the interpreter over to say we could not mar the great occasion by using the Germans language. We got along fine without it. I had brought along a box of some American cigarettes, some candy, some gum, etc. which all other Europeans had considered the greatest kind of gift.

     The Russians were flattered to get a gift, but I suddenly realized they valued it only for its token value. They're the only people I met in all of Europe who admire the Americans, feel a great comradeship for us, but don't envy us or begrudge us any of our great wealth or luxury. They are glad we like what we have, but the Russians are proud and satisfied with what they have and are envious or jealous of no mortal man. They are grateful for the equipment we gave by Lead-Lease, but don't go into ecstasies of thanks. The Russians figure it was only logical for us to send them guns with which they could shoot our common enemy. Their greatest gratitude follows this line of thinking -- they are grateful for the drubbing we have given Japan and thus kept her off Russia's back. They now want to show their gratitude in a practical manner -- help us annihilate the Japs.

     Soon my friends called the interpreter over again and stood me up among his friends. He made a little speech and the presented me with his pistol. He had said "My comrade, on this great occasion I beg you to accept my pistol which has killed many Germans, as a symbol of the friendship of our two great Republics and our own deep personal friendship for you. Mechanically, it's the poorest in my whole collection of Italian, Kraut and American pistols, but it means far more." Later I removed the insignia from my blouse and presented it to him. Much was made by the Russians of the point that we were members of the two Great Freedom-loving Republics of the World.

     Later I asked the major if he would like to meet General Busbee and he was delighted. I had discovered that he had the same name as the Corps Commander but still don't know just what the relationship is. While we were talking to General Busbee the Corps Commander joined us to tell us this major was one of the real heroes of the Red Army. One of the heroes of the division? asked Gen. Busbee. No replied the Russian General; he is one of the real great heroes of the Red Army. He had perfected a method of getting artillery pieces out in front of the infantry to knock out the dreaded and dreadful Tiger and King Tiger tanks. His task had been a long and risky one, and no one begrudged the obviously swell time he was having now that the war was over. We set off for the movies together but soon the major left with his friends who returned to say he had had enough to drink and was resting.

     The complete management and planning of the whole affair was marvelous, as I said before. One little thing was the diplomacy with which they handled the incidents arising from the tremendous amounts of liquor being consumed. No one got obstreperous and no one made a spectacle of himself. There were several cases of American officers who just couldn't hold any more, but the Russians called our interpreters aside and suggested that such an officer might like to rest. A room in the hotel upstairs was allotted the officer who was quietly ushered out of the banquet hall, and one of the Russian soldiers with machine guns was placed to guard each visiting officer. Any of the Russian officers who got too much to drink were also quietly ushered out without any unpleasantness or fuss.

     The Corps Commander made some interesting observations on the business of non-fraternization with the Germans. There is no problem involved for the Russians for they cannot overcome their consuming hatred for the Krauts to even consider fraternizing in any form. The General said he believed every soldier in his entire Corps had some personal score to settle with the Germans. When the Germans invaded Russia they captured as many people as possible for slave labor and preserved the land as much as possible. When they were driven back out of Russia they leveled every town and village and killed EVERY SINGLE RUSSIAN IN THEIR PATH! The seventy year old mother of the Corps Commander, for example, had been in her home when the Germans overran it. They wanted her house and literally threw her out in the dead of a winter night. The next morning she was found frozen to death in the fields. He said they often fought like mad men when they retook towns which had the homes of members of his unit, and every time they entered the town to find all the buildings leveled and their own families lying dead in the streets where thy had been machine gunned, hanged, or burned by the retreating Germans. "There is no danger of men like that ever fraternizing with any Germans", he concluded.

     In many ways these Russians were a simple folk, and in many more ways they are a great people. They don't complicate life with great theories or impossible ideals, and always take the most realistic and simplest approach to any problem. They consider themselves most like Americans than any other peoples. They honor our way of life and are glad we like it, but they are completely satisfied with their own way of life and expect us to honor it and be glad they like it. They envy no man and no race on the face of the earth. Their practical minds tell them that the Philippines are our problem, for example, and any solution we find is OK with them. On the other hand, they consider Poland in their sphere and expect us to honor any desires or decisions they make. I'm afraid our statements won't do that, however, and on that or a similar point our relations may eventually break.

     They are smart enough to look around and realize that Russia and the United States are the two most powerful nations on the face of this earth. It's only sensible, then, that the affairs of the world should be settled to satisfy our mutual interests. Russia and America are unquestionably alike in that they are both young and both feeling their oats ass the leaders of the world. I don't believe the Russians are imperialistic in the sense of acquiring and ruling other lands. They do, however, want certain things, such as a warm water port, security from aggression, and will never hesitate to mold the rest of the nations of Europe to their interests by pressure if necessary. The Russians are in the driver's seat and have every intention of doing the driving without backseat assistance from anyone. For years many peoples feared that the Russians planned a communist revolution in the world, and were going to force communism on other countries. Now we find ourselves on the brink of diplomatic disaster over the Russian-Polish question, and why? Because Britain and the United States insist on certain democratic principles applying to Poland and favor a government not satisfactory to the Russians. It sounded hollow indeed on the radio the next morning to hear newsmen say, "Mr. Eden and Mr. Stettinius cannot talk further with Mr. Molotov about the Polish question." That would make a great deal of contradictory sense to the Russians, however, why should America and Britain worry about Poland, they would ask? Poland is our problem and we'll settle it with no trouble or no help, and we in our turn will not worry a bit as to how America solves the Pan-American questions or how Britain solves the South African problems.

     I'm not qualified to really speak as I have on these very weighty diplomatic problems, but I strongly feel that our great diplomats and statesmen lost the perspective of the little men who, collectively, make up the great nations they represent. Russia hopes and is ready to share the world with the United States, but simultaneously you can bet she has an alternate plan if this coalition doesn't work out. She is a complete realist and an opportunist. When England and France would not really join to crush the Germans before they got started, Russia signed with Germany to buy time for the inevitable assault from the west. It paid off, for when she was attacked she was able to absorb the blow and eventually strike back. Germany was all she could handle at the time she signed with Japan. But she never forgave Japan. Hypocrite, I suppose, but it seems to have paid off. I feel a great deal more confident in my zealous convictions of the greatness of Russia and her people when I remember that men like Wendell Wilkie and Eric Johnston raved no less strongly albeit more eloquently after they had visited Russia.

     My memory of that meeting with the Russian officers and soldiers will last forever, I hope; and I hope the future will bring further less festive meetings. I don't understand Communism nor the real principles of the Soviet Union, and I have never seriously studied the Red Revolution, but I have met the plain Russian soldiers and have a deep conviction that any nation made up of people like that is a great nation indeed. America's greatest treasure right now and in the future will be the great impression the friendly, courageous, easygoing common citizens have made as soldiers in almost every country on earth. If the Russian people could meet and know the American people the world would shrink indeed and the problems of diplomacy would, I feel certain, wilt with the shrinking of the earth.

     I've tried to give you all the facts and outstanding events of this great trip. I've also tried the more difficult if not impossible task of describing in words the great moving feeling of comradeship and respect which we all felt for the Russians themselves. I've been too gaudy in my praise to make it really effective, I fear, but I hope it passes on to all of you, in part at least, the feelings we all have about these people and their country.


Love, John


----- John B. Tillson


(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.)


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United States Army, 102nd Infantry Division

102 Infantry Division

History of the 102nd Infantry Division

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    American Battle Monuments Commission: WWII Honor Roll

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    The above story, "Dearest Francis and all the family", by John B. Tillson, 102nd FA HQs, was originally published in the 102d Division "Ozark Notes", Vol. 54, No. 1, Jan/March 2002, pp. 4 - 10.

    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 March 2004.
    Story added to website on 30 March 2004.


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