Heroes: the Army
"...We followed our artillery closely with Lieut. Abate [Albert F.] leading on my left. Enemy shells caused casualties and bullets were whistling around my head. We were pinned down on the edge of town alongside a hedge row..."
Elwin E. Miller
- Branch of Service: Army
- Unit: Co. K., 406th Regiment,
102nd Infantry Division
- Dates: 1942 - 1945
- Location: European Theater
- Rank: T/Sgt., Silver Star Medal, Purple Heart
- Birth Year: 1925
- Entered Service: Oakland, CA
From the Diary of Elwin Miller 406-K
If you have attended a reunion in the past five or so years you may have seen Elwin Miller's helmet as part of the historian's display. The helmet has a hole in the front and an exit hole in the back. Elwin Miller was wearing it when an enemy machine gun bullet entered the helmet and passed between the metal shell and the liner The historian has had so many questions about this helmet and how its wearer made out that he wrote to Elwin Miller. This excerpt from Edwin Miller's diary is the reply.
Friday, Nov. 17,1944
Wakened at 6 AM with everything covered with frost. Piled blankets and was issued one day's C rations. When it got light, heated breakfast with rocket propelling charge tubes from German bazooka shells. Get one letter and 4 V-mails from Dot.
Close barrage got Macaluso [Charles J.] in the legs and slightly injured Spiekerman [Elvis E.]. After this DeValk [Robert G.], Kaul [Calvin E.] and I dug in. We were alerted a couple of times to repel counter attack at front but they were later cancelled. Was issued more ammo after heating C rations for lunch, then pulled out for the front. There was heavy rain and the fields were very muddy. Upon reaching Waurichen we waited in a barn until dark. Sgt. Johnson [Richard E.] accidently shot himself in the arm - a pretty bad wound. Joe Lane [Joseph O.] was put in charge of the squad.
Moved to the town of lmmendorf and dug in on the far side with DeValk. Turned in rolls here. We were pulled out suddenly around 1:30 AM. Sgt. Jenkins [Thomas O.] and Vete [Arthur] were killed by a mine in the field just before we left. Frazel [Roy B.] and Toombs [Kenneth L.] were seriously hurt. We moved through town and dug in on the other side with the outfit already there. Parten [Jeff P.] fell in a ditch with his bazooka on the way there. There is a haystack burning.
Saturday, Nov. 18, 1944
Sgt. Huffman [Roy D.]was killed last night making contact with another unit. Kaul [Calvin E.] and I are in the same fox hole with no top on it. The Germans shelled the hell out of us all night. Shortly after daylight about 16 Germans attacked. We killed most of them and pinned down the rest. Germans in a pill box on our left surrendered to one of our tanks which then continued to town in front and sprayed machine gun fire. We got water and one day's C Rations.
Right after eating we pulled back into town, dropped our overcoats, gas masks and rations and marched through town to start our first attack against the town of Apweiler. While we were waiting in a field an enemy shell killed Suski [Frank]. We crossed the field at 2:15 PM through a tank ditch and into the open. We followed our artillery closely with Lieut. Abate [Albert F.] leading on my left. Enemy shells caused casualties and bullets were whistling around my head. We were pinned down on the edge of town alongside a hedge row. I fired at puffs of smoke from a rifleman who seemed to be firing at me. I believed I got him and later found him dead. We entered town and I captured my first prisoner. We cleaned out the town roughly and then dug in on the far side with Blood [Cuddebech R.]. There were a few more prisoners here. I alternated guard duty with Blood.
Sunday, Nov. 19,1944
Before dawn the Germans counter-attacked in force. I was awakened by Blood who heard the shooting. As he got out of the hole a flare went up and he was shot through the chest. We fired hand grenades, anti-tank grenades and over a hundred rounds of 30 caliber ammo. Our line beat off the attack and then artillery and mortars opened up. An enemy machine gun clipped me alongside of the head during the attack. It bled a lot so I bandaged it and took sulfa pills. It didn't hurt much but scared me at first. After daylight our planes bombed and strafed enemy positions and some prisoners were taken then.
Our casualties were heavy and Lane [Joseph O.] was put in charge of the platoon. He gave me the squad and then sent me to the aid station. A medic rebandaged my head and then sent me to the battalion aid station for a check up by an officer. Enemy shells here killed a GI and wounded others. The Captain sent me to 48th Clearing Company and I went part way in a jeep and the rest in an ambulance. Here I was given a tetanus shot and more sulfa tablets. My hair was shaved and the wound dressed again. Doc gave me a shot of brandy.
I left Palenburg in an ambulance to go to the 105th evacuation hospital in Maastricht. I got a penicillin shot here; then the wound was frozen for the operation. Doc cleaned it out and put four stitches in. I had a D ration bar in the ward and then supper of spaghetti, string beans, pudding, cheese and coffee. Put on pajamas and soon had another shot of penicillin and more tablets. I was given a pack of cigarettes. I was awakened at 10 PM for another shot and more tablets.
Monday, November 21,1944
Had shots and tablets at 2 AM and 6 AM. There were hot cakes and coffee for breakfast. Another shot and a tablet at 10 AM. Received 12 cigarettes. We had stew for lunch and then I took a bath in a tub. I borrowed scissors from a nurse to cut my toe nails. Another shot and tablets at 2 PM. I was then transferred to the 298th general hospital in Liege leaving at 4:30 pm and arriving after dark. I heard buzz bombs landing close. Had stew for supper. There was a light rain falling most of the day.
Tuesday, Nov 21, 1944
I was awakened at 4 AM for a shot. Breakfast consisted of cereal and creamed sausage. It is raining this morning. Another shot at 8 AM. I'm out of cigarettes but another patient gave me a pack. There was spaghetti for lunch and then another shot. Right after lunch a buzz bomb landed so close it shook the hospital. I wrote two V-mail letters to Dot. I had another shot at 4 PM. There was stew and spaghetti for supper. A Red Cross girl gave us each a pack of cigarettes and two sticks of gum. More buzz bombs landed nearby in the evening.
Elwin Miller returned to his unit following this episode and his is one of the sketches done by Yank artist Howard Brodie when he was with the 406th as they approached the Roer.
----- Elwin Miller
(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, "From the Diary of Elwin Miller 406-K", by Erwin Miller, 406th, Co.K, was originally published in the 102d Division "Ozark Notes", Vol. 50, No. 2, January/March 1998, pp. 12 - 13.
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 5 November 2003.
September 5, 2002.
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