Heroes: the Army
"...I was just pulling the radio trailer up in front of the place when the Jerries cut loose with some 88s. S/Sgt George Dean, who was riding with me, made one leap and disappeared..."
- Branch of Service: Army
- Unit: 548 AAA Btry. B., 102nd Infantry Division
- Dates: 1942-1945
- Location: European Theater
- Rank: PFC
- Birth Year: 1925
- Entered Service: Unstated
by Marvin Francisco, 548 AAA Btry. B
A little while before Christmas day, 1944, Baker Battery moved from Beggendorf to Gereonsweiler, Germany. The houses were all built adjoining one another -- the house on the street, stone fenced-in barn yard, then another house, etc. We had picked out the location of our CP in what was left of a house with a basement, if you could call it a basement. It was more like a fruit cellar.
I was just pulling the radio trailer up in front of the place when the Jerries cut loose with some 88s. S/Sgt George Dean, who was riding with me, made one leap and disappeared. I dropped down on the sandbagged floor of the weapons carrier about the same time that a shell landed with a "plop." It was a dud! There was about a foot and a half of mud in the roads at that time which caused the "plop" instead of a "boom". There was about a six-foot bank along the road facing the Jerries which helped the situation. When things quieted down, S/Sgt Dean popped his head up about 15 feet away. I guess you can move when you have to.
After getting set up in the CP, things were pretty calm until 1:00 am when the Jerries started shelling us again with 88s. This lasted an hour or so. Now, with the good Lord with us, all eight of us in the CP got into that little fruit cellar. We catnapped the rest of the night lying prone stacked like cordwood. We made a joke of it. When we wanted to turn over, we would say "shift" and we would all turn over. We started smelling gasoline but thought someone at the motor pool, who had set up next door to us, had spilled some.
After daylight we found out the reason for the odor. The motor pool crew which usually slept in the back of the maintenance truck, for some reason, decided to sleep inside. It was a good thing, as one of the 88s hit the edge of the roof and peppered everything in the truck. Not only was the motor pool mechanic's nice "Limey" leather jacket and new combat boots (newly issued to front line troops) ruined, but also 185 gallons of gasoline stored in five gallon cans in a double row rack around the truck box. Every can was punctured but did not ignite. Had a fire started, we would have been a good target for the Jerries to shoot at.
The mechanic was fit to be tied. He took his rifle and was going out to avenge the loss of his new boots and the English jacket he had traded for, but we talked him out of it.
----- James Lockshin
(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, "Gas Attack", by Marvin Francisco, 548th AAA Btry. B., was originally published in the 102d Division "Ozark Notes", Vol. 57, No. 3, April/June 2005, 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 27 June 2005.
Story added to website on 27 June 2005.
September 5, 2002.
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Updated on 17 February 2012...1351:05 CST