Heroes: the Army
"...As I rounded a corner all hell broke loose. I had gotten myself in the middle of a fire fight between our riflemen and the enemy. Tracers were going both ways as well as shell dropping in the street. I ran for the nearest building. As I crossed the threshold there was a rifleman kneeling in the doorway..."
George M. Rohrer
- Branch of Service: Army
- Unit: Co. M., 406th Regiment,
102nd Infantry Division
- Dates: 1942 - 1945
- Location: European Theater
- Rank: PFC
- Birth Year: 1925
- Entered Service: Akron, OH
Memories of 406-M CO.
by George Rohrer
We had been on line for several weeks with not a lot happening. An occasional patrol, leaflets coming with pictures of a fat man sitting on a bed with a nude women and with the caption " This is what is happening to your girls and wives." Other leaflets read "Welcome to the OZARKS. We intend to give you the same reception that we gave the OLD HICKORY 30th DIVISION." That was the division that we had just relieved. At night they played the latest American songs, especially those they thought would make us homesick.
We got a nightly visit from "Bed Check Charlie", their small reconnaissance plane, and a nightly dose of propaganda from their loudspeakers. Although I wasn't and I believe most of us were not in the least bothered by this, we could not help being amazed at the German intelligence about our supposedly "secret move to the line".
Also there was a reminder of a truckload of dead 30th men out in front of our position and the burned out tanks as far as the eye could see reminded us that indeed there was a war going on.
But a lot of 102s were going through basements looking to "liberate" a bottle or two although Division put out an order forbidding us to do this. I remember going into a basement and catching one of our officers guzzling down an open bottle of wine. His reply to me - quote "George, I was just tasting this to make sure it was not poisoned, but lets just not tell anyone. OK?" Unfortunately this great man was killed in our first attack.
Another amazing thing was in our town of Alsbock there were civilians. And they came out one hour each day.
We got orders to move to another position, I believe under the 2nd Armored command and the runners were housed in a barn with the rest of the livestock. Several days later the first attack took place and what a change! I soon learned about the soldier's first enemy - FEAR. I ran a message to my company and there was chaos. Every man had thrown away everything but the bare necessities. Overcoats were cut to thigh length so a soldier could run. The attack area had been first pounded by artillery and then the air force dropped 300 and 500 pound bombs.
The first and second battalion made the assault with our third in reserve, but because of heavy losses the third was committed early. M Co. lost a platoon leader and many were wounded from tree bursts in the first 20 minutes. That evening the runners moved up and reported to Battalion Headquarters. Already our battalion had a new commander as Major Woodson Scott fell down a darkened stairway and broke his ankle. Of course I did not know the picture as a PFC can only relate from experiences and what he's told. Our first order to the runners, and I quote "Go find your companies and report back.
Now it was pitch black so I ran to where the buildings were burning as it was the only light available. As I rounded a corner all hell broke loose. I had gotten myself in the middle of a fire fight between our riflemen and the enemy. Tracers were going both ways as well as shell dropping in the street. I ran for the nearest building. As I crossed the threshold there was a rifleman kneeling in the doorway. I asked him were M Co. was. His reply stated that he did not know where his company was either, but there were some GIs in the cellar.
The GIs in the cellar were sitting in the dark and were also lost. About an hour later it became quiet so I ventured toward the burning buildings when suddenly a German soldier staggered toward me simultaneously waving a white flag and beating his hands on his helmet. He was yelling "Americanish artillery Boom, Boom". He was dressed in a spit and polished German uniform and huge amounts of white hair streamed from his head to his shoulders coupled with a white beard that flowed down his chest. If that uniform had only been red! My first reaction was "My God, I've captured Santa Claus!"
Turns out he was a Pole and was forced to fight for the Germans, or not eat, or be shot. By the way, I did not find M Company 'til the next day.
----- George Rohrer
(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, "Momories of 406-M Co.", by George Rohrer, Co. M., 406th, was originally published in the 102d Division "Ozark Notes", Vol. 53, No. 3, April/June, 2001, pp. 16-17.
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 25 March 2005.
Story added to website on 25 March 2005.
September 5, 2002.
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