Heroes: the Army
"...Bullets were ricocheting off the buildings and the wall. I squirmed down into the manure. Then tanks advanced with their eighty-eight millimeter shells slamming into the surrounding buildings. I huddled down farther into the manure..."
David G. Parshall
- Branch of Service: Army
- Unit: Co. I., 405th Regiment,
102nd Infantry Division
- Dates: 1942 - 1945
- Location: European Theater
- Rank: PFC
- Birth Year: 1925
- Entered Service: Pontiac, MI
Defending the Pile
by Dave Parshall, 405-I
After crossing the Roer River at the demolished river town of Rohrdorf, 405 I Company advanced to the little village of Boslar. This was hardly more than a group of farm buildings &emdash; farmhouses, barns and sheds. A German counterattack was expected any moment and we foot soldiers were immediately assigned defensive positions. My friend and I had the great luck to be assigned a magnificent manure pile to defend.
The manure was contained behind a stone parapet about a foot high. I was very reluctant to get down behind the wall because it meant getting down into the manure. So I took a position on top of the manure and waited.
Almost immediately the counterattack started with small arms and machine gun fire. Bullets were ricocheting off the buildings and the wall. I squirmed down into the manure. Then tanks advanced with their eighty-eight millimeter shells slamming into the surrounding buildings. I huddled down farther into the manure. Soon, someone in our headquarters command decided to bring in our own artillery on us, to counter the counterattack. A great barrage of shells landed all around us. I immersed myself into the friendly and beautiful manure. It shielded me from flying shrapnel, and I felt safe and warm there. I was suddenly grateful for the position.
The heavy fire from our guns caught the Germans in the open and broke up the counterattack. The Germans began to withdraw. We spent the remainder of the night defending the manure pile and the next day continued the advance.
I was well aware of my odorous condition from the manure but I probably smelled little worse than the rest of the squad, who had been living in their clothes for weeks.
Years later I met the other defender of the pile and when we compared experiences we had a good laugh about defending a manure pile.
----- Dave Parshall
(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, "Defending the Pile", by Dave Parshall, Co.I., 405th, was originally published in the 102d Division "Ozark Notes", Vol. 53, No. 4, July/Sept. 2001, pp. 8-9.
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 26 November 2003.
September 5, 2002.
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