Harry Adler Z"L
Harry Adler was in Buchenwald Concentration Camp on April 12, 1945, one day after its capture.
Entered Military Service April 2, 1943
Basic training in the "Medical Corps" at Camp Breckenridge, Kentucky
Assigned to a "Mash" unit at the Desert Training Center, near Yuma Arizona in the Summer of 1943. Trained in the desert area on maneuvers. The unit was slated for a move to the Far East.
Transferred to Headquarters V Corps, late Fall of 1943
By troop ship to England with the main body of the Corps on Jan 19, 1944. Advanced Echelon had been in England since Nov. 1942 planning the invasion of France at Taunton Castle. The Corps Headquarters was reunited in a staging area near Cardiff, Wales.
Landed on Omaha Beach, France on June 9 (D +3) 1944 - In Paris August 26, 1944 - In Bastogne, Belgium September 11, 1944 - In Monschau, Germany February 27, 1945 - in Weissensee (near the town of Weimar) April 12, 1945 and in Pilsen,
Czechoslovakia May 8, 1945 (at the end of hostilities). The Corps Headquarter moved a total of 39 times from the time it landed in Normandy to the end of the fighting in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia.
Transferred to Military Government Detachment at Berchtesgaden, October 2, 1945 Discharged at Fort Dix, NJ on November 14, 1945 - A Sargent.
Participated in the following campaigns: Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes Belgium, Rhineland and Central Europe.
Croix de Guerre 1944 with Palm by the Belgium Government.
The Bronze Star for Meritorious Service - 18 May 1945
Trained as a medical orderly, but did not stay in the medical corps long enough to put training to use.
Activities in the Corps Headquarters were varied, but primarily he served as a driver and interpreter to Colonel Maroney, the head of the Civil Affairs section in France and Military Governor for our sector in Germany. Harry's work with the Colonel was done mostly very close to the front lines.
I was still 19 years old when I was inducted into the US Army as an infantry man. It seems that I was to become cannon fodder! I really did not, at the time, consider this a problem. As a matter of fact, the idea of fighting the Germans in combat (I really had no idea as to how one went about doing this) was something I longed for. This was my opportunity for "getting even".
I will attempt to organize the various periods of my military service into segments. I am relying on the veracity of files, documents and military orders etc. which I have on hand. The tale of my activities will therefore be accurate and truthful. Many soldiers have a tendency to embroider their military exploits. I had my share of adventures but they will be told with a minimum of heroics.
The Induction: I received my "invitation" to report for duty by the President of the United States together with an order to report for duty at Fort Dix in Jew Jersey. The Army conveniently arranged for a train to take you there from Penn station in NYC. The scenes pictured in Newsreels at the time showing Gls parting from the embrace of their families and girlfriends were quite accurate. There was a mob at the station and I joined the scene together with my Parents for a tearful adieu.
Once the train pulled away from the station, I took a good look at my comrades in arms. Most of them were my age - 19 to 20. All were Americans, not refugees like myself and all of them were taller than my 5'4. I felt the "esprit de corps" most enlisted men experience when they go off to war. I could only guess at what adventures lay ahead for me, about how bloody this war was really going to be and what kind of solder I was to become. But all of that fear and apprehension was left behind in the youthful exuberance of the moment.
Fort Dix had become a huge induction camp. Over 10.000 people were processed in one day and it was perhaps the largest center on the east coast. Our arriving group was soon broken up and separated into their various classifications. All of this was done quite mechanically by people holding lists with names on clip boards. Names were called out and were told to report here and there by following the signs which were all clearly marked. (Note: I am writing this in 1994, almost 50 years later, at a time when computers shape our lives. In retrospect, I am amazed at how well we functioned without them and how millions of men were directed to move here and there and even into battle with manual records!).
The new recruit can best be described as bewildered! The Army takes advantage of this state of confusion by mechanically processing the poor slob. You are tagged in one line, shown through a door to pick up your uniforms then through another for linens and blankets and shoes which are too big. You are then submitted to a series of indignities by lining up in the nude for "short arm" inspection and a series of injections which make you all the more feverish and confused. Some of these activities are conducted in the middle of the night! Some loud mouth with stripes wakes you up and tells you to get up for one thing or the other. And, when you think that you have finally been processed, the Army hits you with its most powerful mindless activity: KP (Kitchen Police). Pulling KP meant that you were taken asleep or at least somnolent to this huge kitchen to handle and wash equally huge kettles and pots, peel mountains of potatoes and do all the things which make a military kitchen function. Actually, this is the first introduction to soldiering without complaining. A certain numbness will eventually set in, making you function without complaining. This process is being repeated again and again. Just when you think you have earned the right to relax on your made up bunk in the barracks, some cretin yells "Fall Out" for inspection in the yard and you are given an assignment such as KP or Guard Duty or Police duty. To police an area means to clean it up in military "lingo". A prime example of this idiotic ritual is to line up a group of soldiers in a row and have them pick up all debris (such as cigarette butts) in their path.
The induction center of Ft. Dix remains in my mind as a cold, dank and unpleasant base. Besides which, we were constantly yelled at as if we had some kind of hearing defect. The shrill whistle was blown louder than necessary and was always a foreboding for an imminent affront to your self-respect. Your immediate superiors were sadistic morons who enjoyed their jobs and seemed devoid of human kindness. Several weeks went by in oblivion. Finally, we received orders for assignment to our various units for basic training. I was to be shipped to Camp Breckenridge in Kentucky for training as a medical orderly. The fact that I spoke three languages did not impress anybody. I was really meant to roll bandages.
There was one redeeming factor to the weeks which had just passed: the first pass before reporting for your new assignment. We all had the opportunity to come home for inspection by the folks. We were mostly slimmer, shiny and resplendent in our uniforms (which by that time had been adjusted somewhat to fit) and somehow, we felt taller and perhaps proud of having survived the first few weeks in the army. Mom and Dad hovered over me and Mom offered the finest home cooked meals. Even a couple of girls came sniffling around from the neighborhood. This pass however was very short, I believe it was no longer than 5 days, after which I was to report again to my favorite Pennsylvania train station for my new assignment.
Basic Training: Camp Breckenbridge was a rather new facility in the heart of Kentucky. We were away from the hustle and bustle of Ft. Dix and we were about to embark on a new adventure. We were to be trained in our specialty, mine being that of a "Medic". I was now a part of the Medical Corps. Basic training consisted of making you a soldier, accepting orders and carrying them out and at the same time putting you through school to learn about medicine. This was to be more than just a first aid course but rather a very intense study of the human body. If we were called upon to join a field hospital, our role would be that of a scrub nurse. In the infantry, in the front line, our job would be one of administering first aid on the battle field. I must say that I received an excellent medical education during my basic training. The other aspect of my training was the pits. It was a more refined "chicken shit" than the Ft. Dix drag, but in the same vain. It was more orderly however. You knew in advance what duty you were going to pull and when. They did not wake you up in the middle of the night, except when you were on guard duty when you did a 24-hour stint during which you "guarded" for two hours and were off for two during the entire period. Life was more regulated. A determined effort was made to get you into shape. We did the usual calisthenics, pushups, 10 mile walks and crawled on the ground with our gear while machine guns were shooting real bullets over our bodies. All of this was to toughen us up for the "real thing". I admit that at the end of some 4 months, I was in good shape physically and emotionally. The real thing did happen in the form of a transfer to a "Mash" unit (a forward medical hospital which was to become so popular with the TV series in the 80's) in the Desert Training Center, headquartered in Yuma, Arizona.
Desert Training: Getting to Yuma, Arizona in the summer of 1943 was not very exciting. It gets even duller when you cross the Mississippi river by train and you gradually see civilization disappear. When you get to Arizona, it is almost gone! I remember the train taking on water at one of the desert oasis. It was a desolate spot reminiscent of my days in the Sahara Desert. I was hoping that our new accommodations would be somewhat better than the barracks at Oued Zem! While the headquarters for the Desert Training Center were in Yuma (then nothing but a village), the Mash unit was located in the desert itself in the vicinity of Needles, Arizona. There were no barracks. The Unit was a mobile first aid and operating hospital in tents. I was to spend the next several months sleeping in a pup tent.
There was good reason for having the unit training in the desert. There were constant maneuvers going on in the vicinity by units trained in various other branches of the service such as infantry, tanks and artillery, all participating in mock battles for experience. The Mash unit was busy patching up those who got in harm’s way when they did not dig the fox hole deep enough to permit a tank to roll over them or when a solder busted his hand loading the breach of an artillery piece. Once in a while, an appendix had to be removed and there was a lot of bone setting. Again, I trained as a nurse and saw my share of gore, drew blood and gave shots. They did not let us off the hook with the exercise program however. We walked and walked in that dusty and hot desert for miles with gas masks! When we returned from our marches and took off our uniforms, we could stand them up as they were all caked up from the salt which poured out of our bodies. We took salt pills to replace the loss of course. I shall never forget these marches with field packs (weighing close to 20 lbs.) meant to toughen us up. Rumors had it that our unit was slated to be shipped to the Pacific.
Summers in Arizona are the pits in the desert. It does cool off at night a little however. This is not the case in the towns. I had occasion to take a three-day pass and hitched a ride into Phoenix. That town in 1943 had a population of some 100.000 people. Air conditioning did not exist. Water coolers were just coming in but they were primitive and you spent the nights sweltering in bed with wet sheets hung in the windows! It did not cool down very much at night. I remember that Indian School Road was uptown then and there was hardly a mention of Scottsdale. I wish I had taken pictures during that period of time. I knew how to handle a camera. There was plenty of 620 black and white film available. Why, why?? Perhaps it was too heavy to carry and it took forever to develop?? What treasures these would be now (50 years later). I was not impressed with Arizona, neither the desert nor its capital did anything for me and had I been told them that I would spend 30+ years in Phoenix, starting in 1964, I would have not believed it. Not this hell hole!
I did have some respite from the desert training. I volunteered for detached duty (away from your unit) with a mobile truck which was making reading glasses for the troupes in the vicinity. The army did provide spectacles for its soldiers. I had found out that the truck was air cooled and spent much of its time in California (San Bernardino) which was its home base. Why not? For 6 weeks, I lived it up in a cushy job, away from the marches, learning how to fit and adjust spectacles. I did not learn how to use the instruments to make the lenses. That was relegated to a specialist who knew how to do these things. I was nothing but a fitter and adjuster, but, I was cool!
Upon my return from Detached Duty, I got a call from Joseph Finer, a second cousin on my Mother's side. He was a private in the headquarters of the 29th Division acting as an interpreter to the Civil Affairs Section of the Division. He had received my address from my Mother in New York. Evidently, there was a need for an interpreter in his section and he suggested to his superiors that I be transferred to his unit, a proposition I readily accepted. I would have accepted anything to get out of the desert.
Transferring an enlisted man from one unit to another is not a simple matter. The application bounces from one headquarters to another up and down the various echelons of command and the application can be held up anywhere along the way. Sure enough, as the transfer request meandered through the 5th Corps Headquarters, on the way down to the 29th Division, it got bottle necked by Colonel Maroney at the Civil Affairs Section of the Headquarters who had priority over the lower echelon. He felt that he had more use for my talents than the 29th Division and ordered me to report to him effective immediately! So much for Finer's request. I wrote him a letter thanking him for his efforts on my behalf. I found out that the Mash unit was ordered to the Pacific shortly after my transfer.
To report to the Corps Headquarters, I had to take the train back to the East Coast and I felt on more familiar grounds until I got to this awful place, somewhere in Maine (I don't remember the name of the town) which was the Headquarters’ staging area for the trip over the ocean. I reported to the Corps sometime in late fall. My discharge papers say that I embarked for overseas duty on January 19, 1944 and arrived at my ETO (European Theater of Operations) on January 29th, 1944. The crossing took 10 days! We arrived at a place called Taunton where we joined the advance echelon of the unit. They were busy planning the invasion of the continent and we joined them in that effort.
WAR IN ENGLAND AND THE CONTINENT
Taunton in England was a peaceful village in 1944. We were billeted with the rest of the Headquarters in an old castle (I understand that after the war, this castle was converted to a very fancy hotel) where we all got busy putting the final touches on Operation Overlord which was the code name for the Invasion of France. We were cleared for security as we were handling top secret documents. As a result of this classification, we were isolated from the local population and passes were hard to come by. I was rather anxious to visit with my family in London (Uncle Emil - Dad's brother, and his children) and above all, I wanted to see my brother Paul, who by this time had been called to serve in the RAF (Royal Air Force) and was a navigator.
I had not returned to England since I was in Prep School there. If the reader will remember I spent almost a year in Slough at Tower House College in 1937. It had been six years since I had seen Paul who had remained in England while we were trapped in France.
We finally connected and I managed to get a pass to meet with him in a town called Reading, near London for our first visit in all these years. Paul looked well in his blue RAF uniform. He told me that he was flying "the Hump" somewhere in Burma. This was some kind of relief operation for the British forces in Burma and he still needs to tell me more about that when I remember to ask him. Also, while I was on the pass, I had occasion to see the family in London which was in the midst of the "Blitz" with bombs falling all over the place, but I must say that my family had adapted well and had developed British pragmatism which was characteristic of most Londoners during that time. The reunion with Paul and the family was most pleasant but unfortunately too brief. I had urgent business back in Taunton.
How to describe a Corps' function - I would have to draw a sketch for the reader to understand the army's hierarchy and that would be boring. Suffice it to say that a Corps has jurisdiction over several Divisions, who in turn direct several Regiments down to Platoon level and the ordinary Infantry man. The Corps has auxiliary forces at its disposal such as the Corps of Engineers, Artillery, Tanks etc...
Besides having military responsibility for a certain sector of the battle line, the Corps also assumes responsibility for the civilian population which would be located in its path in the area and that is where WE come into the picture. The Corps Headquarters includes a special section called CIVIL AFFAIRS or simply called (G-5) which is in charge of beginning the transition from battle conditions to civilian take over after the troops leave the area. Our job in G-5 was to assess the damage in the towns in our sector where the battle took place and become the liaison between the military and the local population. More about this later, but now I would like to introduce the G-5 Section.
We were a smallest section of the 5th Corps HQ. Our immediate CO was Colonel Thomas J. Moroney (West Point graduate in the class of Eisenhower) from Dallas TX; Lt. Colonel Robert W. Pharr (from Tennessee); Captain John J. Cavanaugh (from NYC) son of rich Cavanaugh Hat Co. chairman and a Yale graduate. The enlisted men were T.Sgt. Fedele G. Genito (from the Bronx NY) a capable administrator, Staff Sgt. Wm F. Allan (an idiot from Alabama), Corp. John J. Schwaller (can't remember whence he came), yours truly Private First Class from NYC and finally there was my favorite Private John J. O'Donnell from Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).
Our jobs were quite specific, at least among the enlisted men. Genito was the G-5 Section head clerk. Allan was a very mechanical person in charge of analyzing aerial photographs which were transmitted to us from intelligence about the conditions of the various towns in our sector. Schwaller was in charge of the section's vehicles (all of 4, one 1/2 truck with equipment, one command car and two jeeps). Adler was the Colonel's chauffeur and the interpreter for the group and finally O'Donnell was an additional driver.
We spent the best part of the next six months working on the mechanics of Operation Overlord. The Corps was assigned to land in Normandy on Omaha Beach on the Easy Red sector of the landing area with two divisions and a whole bunch of support from auxiliary groups (Engineers, Tanks, Communications etc..). Our Civil Affairs group (G-5) had to take a good look at the various towns in the path of that sector and arrange for special detachments of troops (in the rear echelons) to be available when these towns were occupied by our troops. Evidently, we were keeping the detachments aware of all intelligence reports we received about these towns either from aerial reconnaissance or the spy network of the French intelligence on the continent. Some of these detachments were large; as much as 25/30 trained troops as in the case of the town of St. Lo as an example, even larger in the case of Caen (both towns were in our battle path). Yours truly had his hands full interpreting intelligence information for the section and developed a good rapport with the Colonel with whom I was in daily contact.
Getting on the beach was not our concern. This was handled by the people in charge of the landing in connection with a whole bunch of auxiliary troops from infantry to artillery and air operations to naval forces. In this day of computers, it is difficult for me to understand how such a large movement of hundreds of thousands of soldiers and equipment on small ships could have been coordinated with pencils and paper!! I have some of the landing schedules in my documents and I am amazed at the details they contain. Anyway, we did get on our way and our G-5 section was detached from the main Headquarters to be one of the first to get on to the beach. We piled our equipment into our four vehicles and drove to the preset embarkation site (I believe it was Plymouth). Before we got on board the vessel, we had to waterproof our vehicles so that we would able to drive on the beaches from the pontoon ships in the shallow water of the tides. This meant that our exhaust pipes had to be elongated with long tubes taped to the upper parts of the vehicles above our heads and other precautions had to be taken to keep the vehicles running in shallow waters, or almost submerged without stalling. I found out from the loading schedule that the Colonel and I with our jeep would be the first to get off our craft on to the beach and I made sure to be prepared.
The advanced echelon (meaning close to the front lines) of the Headquarters and our section including our equipment were loaded onto a fairly large ship resembling a ferry boat at our port of embarkation. We started to load on June 1, 1944 and remained in the harbor until June 4th early morning when the ship joined a very large convoy of ships in the channel for the crossing. The sea was rough and the sky threatening. I knew that the date for the invasion was set for June 6th and I thought that we were on schedule. I did not know that the whole thing was nearly called off due to inclement weather. Early in the morning of June 6, the noise became deafening on the top deck. The German installations just behind the beach were being pounded by shells from American naval vessels and by overhead small bombers. We could see the beach and the explosions although we were still miles away. We knew that the invasion was on. On June 8th, the pontoon boats came alongside the ship and the men and equipment was unloaded into these relatively small crafts. It took a little bit of doing since the sea was still rough and there we sat overnight while the noise from the artillery and bombers overhead was incredible.
Our pontoon landed us on Easy Red beach on June 9th (that is what the record shows). This means that we went on land on D+3 (D standing for D day). The fighting on the beach had already subsided and our troops had created a bridgehead which permitted other forces to land. So, we landed without fear of being shot at or being pounded by the German artillery located in the hills in back the shore line. These positions had been silenced by massive shelling, bombing finally by the assault of infantry. The pontoon boat lowered its landing ramps which were two relatively narrow strips on which we were to engage the front wheels of our vehicles to drive into the shallow water. I was driving the front car. The Colonel was sitting next to me and the jeep started off well enough. I drove slowly down the ramps, but just as we were getting to the water, there was a wave which rocked the boat slightly, enough to cause the jeep 's front wheels to swerve off the ramps. We just hung there for a while, unable to proceed and holding back the vehicles in our rear until 4 large seamen came along from the beach and lifted the front of the jeep back on the tracks, permitting us to proceed into the water and on to the land. The Colonel was unhappy and gave me a dirty look. What an undignified way to arrive on the continent!!
The beach was a mess with equipment strewn all over the place. A Beach master with a bull horn was attempting to create paths for the vehicles coming off the boats to proceed to the interior. The site for the Headquarters was soon found. The roads were just being identified with signs for direction and we proceeded to a large meadow just off the little village of La Mine, about 3 miles inland. I was on "terra firma" in France in one piece without having fired one shot from the carbine (rifle) which remained my constant companion all through the campaign in Europe.
THE BEACH HEAD
I think that this heading is appropriate because we remained in the area for the longest time as I remember. It was important for supplies to get on shore and to secure the territory of the beach head. After the invasion, the Germans retreated to an area called the Falaise Gap and our boys were in hot pursuit. When we eventually broke out of the beach head, we caught the Germans in a pincer movement in what came to be called the Falaise Gap battle. We took thousands of prisoners. Hitler insisted, just as he did in Russia, that his troops never surrender, even again impossible odds. This encirclement of his troops in the Falaise area was the first major victory of the First Army and our Fifth Corps was in the heat of things. While all this was going on, our headquarters remained fixed near the beach. The area was lovely with prairie like places surrounded by rows of hedges. These hedges delineated property lines. The headquarters was located in a cow pasture. The equipment and the general quarters were inside large tents. The troops slept in the pasture in their little pup tents. These tents were about 5 feet long and 4 feet wide at the base and they stood about three feet tall at the top (if you put them up properly). Some of us elected to sleep alone, others shared their tents for no other reason but to avoid putting up two tents! During the day, we worked in the large office tents and at night we retreated to our little camp boudoirs in the cow pasture.
These little pup tents named so because you would not want your pet dog sleeping in them, were most uncomfortable. You had to squat and creep into them on all fours. O'Donnell and I elected to share one tent. His. John was infantry! He had all the necessary paraphernalia to be self-sufficient in war. He had acquired a "nom de guerre" at the Headquarters. It seems that when he first reported, he arrived in full military regalia, back pack on and rifle with fixed bayonet, ready to go to do battle. This apparition created quite a stir and he was promptly named Beachhead. A one-man army! John was 6'2 and I was 5.4. Not only were we physically different, but we were different in all respects, including our religious beliefs. Yet we took a "shine" to each other from the start. He accepted his nickname of Beachhead gracefully and he is the person who gave me my term of endearment. I was to be called "Moose" because of my pronounced nose. John's fatigues were stenciled with the name of Beachhead while mine were labeled with the word Moose. I was to keep that name for the balance of the time I was overseas.
John had put up the tent properly. Not even a storm would blow it down and we neatly laid down our sleeping bag next to one another. There was precious little room since we had to store both of our "gear" as they say in the military. It had to be under the tent in case of rain. Upon reflection today I marvel at how well we slept then on the bare ground in our sleeping bags in that little tent considering where we were and why we were there in the first place. It must have been the innocence of youth. Anyway, we slept head to toe. I fitted rather well in the tent, but John's feet stuck out on the other side and this caused trouble in the mornings. As mentioned, we were bivouacked in a cow pasture and we could see the cows at the other end of the pasture, doing whatever cows do. When we woke up on the first morning, the cows were all over the place among the tents licking all feet and heads that were sticking out. John woke up to a wet tongue licking the bottom of his feet! What a sensation. It seems that the cows love salt and since our bodies secrete it, the cows wanted it. John said that it felt good! I had a similar experience a couple of days later when I neglected to secure the flap of the tent and my head was exposed. I was wakened by this hot breath and large spongy thing all over my face. It did not feel very safe, smooth or inviting. After a few days of this morning problem, I was told to locate the peasants who owned the cows and to find a solution. I found them in a small farm house, partly demolished by bombing and shelling of the coast line, still shook up. They were happy to hear an American soldier speaking French like a native and before long they brought out a bottle of Calvados (apple brandy - a Normandy specialty) and I had to tell them all about me and what we were doing and how the war was going. After several swigs of that Calvados, we all became very articulate and talkative! They said that they were saving the stuff for just such an occasion. They found another bottle of that Calvados and gave it to me. Anyway, I explained my mission. What to do about the cows!! They came upon a simple solution. They would erect a fence to stop the cows from wandering in our area. John wanted to know what took me so long and I explained the negotiations to him in detail. He was not so much interested in these as he was in the Calvados! Coming from an Irish background, he had a special calling for alcohol.
My connection with the neighbors and especially my introduction of the Calvados made me a celebrity overnight. The boys were parched for a drink and the apple brandy was just the ticket! After duty hours, the boys insisted on meeting more of these French farmers in the neighborhood and I was immediately elected to be the mouthpiece for my thirsty friends (of all ranks). This was the first cultural exchange! More exchanges of this nature were to take place but I must relate how our section was introduced to Camembert.
A lieutenant by the name of Baron J. DeWaldner was attached to our outfit to serve as a liaison officer from the Free French Forces (the DeGaulle Army). DeWaldner had served in the Free French Forces for some time in England and had a fair command of English. The French had many liaison officers attached to our troops for obvious intelligence reasons and I must say, they made themselves useful, not only in communicating with the French civilians, but also with the military connection between the American and the French Forces. DeWaldner told me in French, when he came on board that he had not been on French soil in 2 years and how he had longed to return. He was a true Frenchman of nobility stock with refined manners, perhaps a little on the effeminate side. We got along famously because we felt comfortable with the language and many times had the opportunity to make snide remarks about our immediate superiors without being understood by them. The incident with the Camembert came about when I introduced DeWalner to some of our French neighbors who were absolutely delighted to see him. He knew all about the Calvados and he only drank the best and the oldest vintage since he was a maven. His was more interested in the cheeses of the region of which there were a number since Normandy as a dairy area and he knew that the peasants in the area were making good homemade cheeses. When we inquired about the Camembert in the area, one of our neighbors took us to their cheese pantry and there we saw see many round, flat cheeses (about the size of large pizzas) laying on straw mats on shelves. These were meant to ripen to the proper consistency. DeWaldner went crazy. He poked some of the Camemberts and picked three large cheeses for which he paid in military script (which the peasants could redeem for Francs). The cheeses were wrapped in news paper and he took them to his tent along with a local bottle of red wine and a baguette (French Bread stick). We had a wonderful time and consumed half of one of the Camemberts in short order. DeWalner decided that the cheeses needed to ripen for another couple of days, meaning that the centers should be softer and begin to ooze a little. He knew his cheeses!
Suddenly the time came for us to move the headquarters to a new location. We went into action, all of us and broke down our tents, readied our equipment, loaded up the vehicles (a couple of Jeeps, a command car and a Van). I drove the command car and the Colonel sat next to me. In back of us sat Lt. Colonel Pharr, Captain Cavanaugh and finally DeWaldner who was supposed to sit in the rear seats, came puffing along with his duffel bag in one hand while he was balancing two cheeses on their straw mats in the other, like a waiter carrying a tray! He apologized for being late. The Colonel gave a non-descript grunt, as if to say what can you expect from that crazy Frenchman and we took off in a convoy of vehicles leading to our new location. It must have been the wind blowing in the direction of the Colonel which gave away the cheeses. He turned around and exclaimed "What the Hell stinks like that?” There was no immediate answer and we drove on. But the smell of the Camemberts was still in the air. The colonel mumbling under his breath told me to pull up on the side of the road. He got out and started to the back of the vehicle where DeWaldner had neatly put down his cheeses. DeWalner started with "Mon colonel… these are Camemberts, the pride of French cheese making..." Maroney, a non-culinary person from Texas told the lieutenant where to put his cheeses, namely in the ditch nearby close to where I was sitting, an order which DeWalner had to reluctantly execute but not without turning to me and muttering under his breath in French: "C'est un vrai paysan" (he is a real peasant).
I shall spare the reader the tale of the many moves of the headquarters as our front advanced into the heart of France in the direction of Paris. We acquitted ourselves rather well as we moved forward with the front lines. Our troops captured many small towns and some larger ones like Caen which was the site for our first Civil Affair s detachment. We had the detachment (some 12 people, most linguists, as I remember) flown into the area a few days before the town fell and during that period, they were fed the latest intelligence information we had received concerning the condition of the town physically; who was the Mayor; the names Collaborators with the Germans and a host of general information which would prove useful when our troops left and the French civilians would take over.
In our drive from the beachhead towards Paris, I witnessed some savage fighting. The Germans had regrouped and were putting up stiff resistance after their disastrous Falaise Gap loss. The Colonel and I were in the front lines very often and saw much gore. The raw front is a terrible sight. You get to see both people and animals hurt and dying from the debris of the shelling, disabled tanks on fire, some with soldiers still inside. The Colonel had this need for being "up there" to determine the course of the battle line; to estimate the time it would take to reach the towns which were in our path and to evaluate the intelligence information which we were feeding back to our detachments concerning these towns.
We were up at the front often when it was fluid (moving forward) but we stayed put when the battle field shifted to another sector. When we were "in the field" as the Colonel liked to call it, we were up early and came back to headquarters late to brief the staff and make plans for the next day. When there was little activity on the front in our area, we stayed at headquarters and attended to the many details required to function efficiently. The Colonel was called to general staff meetings very often and was made aware of any changes in the battle lines. This information affected our plans and many times we were called to completely revamp our own agendas. We constantly had meetings; many called in the middle of the night and it was my job to gather the staff to those meetings. It was simple to roust the enlisted men. They bitched and cussed but did their thing. It was more difficult to gather the officers which consisted of two: Major Pharr and Captain Cavanaugh. Pharr was an idiot who really lived and loved the army. He had been in some 10 years, if memory serves me correctly and he was a "spit and polish" person who would not dream of coming to a meeting at 10:00PM without being in proper uniform, pressed pants and all. His function was to be second in command. Maroney promised me many times that he would not give him that satisfaction. So, it took Pharr the better part of a half hour to get his act together. I had another problem with Cavanaugh whose function nobody ever knew. Maroney thought that he should be in charge of the mechanics of the outfit, that is making sure that the intelligence information was properly channeled to the various units, oversee the enlisted staff and work as an executive, sort of…. Well, Captain John J. Cavanaugh Ill (the third) had different ideas. He was the son of an extremely wealthy family of hat makers, a graduate of Yale university who could recite the poetry of Shelley and Keats when he was drunk! He swaggered and staggered though the war in that state and did next to nothing positive during the time he served in our section. We had to cover up for him often. Most of the work was done by our very able Master Sargent Fidele D. Genito, an Italian from Brooklyn, NY who was an excellent organizer and take charge person. So, this one late evening, I was told that the Colonel wanted to meet with us at 11:00 in the office tent. I made my usual rounds about 9:30 to advise everybody about the meeting. I shook Cavanaugh to wake him. He groaned and muttered something in his hammock (he had rigged this thing between two trees) and promptly went back to sleep. I had to shake him again and this time, he opened up his glazed eyes. I said to him: "Captain, the Colonel want to meet with the staff at 11:00 this evening". In a pasty voice he asked me for the time which I gave him. The man just swung there and said "It is unchristian to wake a person in the middle of the night" and that I should go away! I continued to arouse him, got him up, buttoned his shirt and zipped up his trousers while he was falling on me. After he started to stagger, he tripped over the guide wires of his tent next to the hammock and I had to pick him up again. It must have been around 10:30 by the time we got near the office. I was holding him tight when he started to sing out loud in the middle of the night: "How are you going to keep them out on the farm after they've see Paris...!” In this condition, John J. Cavanaugh Ill, Captain US Army, presented himself to his commanding officer, gave a snappy salute, burped and collapsed in the nearest chair. I never knew how Maroney dealt with this incident. There were others very much alike. The man was a lush. He was most pleasant with a couple of drinks under his belt, but a downright bore when he was sober. Maroney put up with him until we got to Germany and then had him transferred. He told me later that he did not want that person to represent our section when we crossed the border and we become an occupying military unit! After the war, I had occasion to visit with John J. at his office at the Knox Hat Corp in New York City. He received me cordially in his fancy bureau. He did not offer me a drink and told me that he was on the wagon. We reminisced briefly about our wartime experiences which he claimed were a most dismal part of his life, worse than selling hats! We never saw each other again.
As we were approaching Paris, we moved our quarters very frequently. The Germans were in retreat. All of a sudden, we found ourselves in front of Paris. We were told to stop, hold up our advance and to make room for the Free French 2nd Armored Division under General Leclerc to move ahead of our troops. They would be the unit given the honor to "capture" Paris. We did not know that Paris had been declared an open city by the Germans who were hastily withdrawing towards the Rhine river to create another line of defense.
The G-5 section of the Corps was given the job of finding this General Leclerc in this state of confusion. The Colonel and I located the Headquarters of the Division, but the General was no place to be found. We did find our old friend DeWaldner who had left us shortly after the invasion and was now a captain. A search was organized for the wayward General who was supposed to be "in the field". The Colonel was pushing to "find that bloody frog". We finally located him in a local pub having a great old time, somewhat inebriated from too much red wine. Maroney got out his orders and asked me to translate these to "Mon General". He was tall and skinny and he got up from his chair like a snake, put on his funny round hat with this visor that resembles a Gendarme's headgear, bowed ceremoniously to the Colonel, saluted him, embraced him, kissed Maroney on both cheeks and then sauntered his tall frame out of the door.
Leclerc did function rather well. He rounded up his entire division and filtered its armored carriers through our lines to arrive as the conquering hero into Paris. This French division was to be the only sizable military group in Paris and they made themselves comfortable in the Bois de Boulogne.
AUGUST IN PARIS
Our 5th Corps Headquarters for tactical reasons (mainly because we were in the area) became the liaison between the French forces and the US A army. However, we took a step back and gave them "Front Billing". Whatever French unit DeGaulle could muster was promptly dispatched to Paris. DeGaulle himself arrived at the scene on August 26th and the day later, he took that triumphal march from the Place de L'Etoile down the Champs Elysees that we all saw in the Newsreels when Paris was liberated. Many of our Corps people were in that march, including yours truly.
That march was hastily organized and was also dangerous. I remember distinctly that there were snipers (collaborators) who were still shooting from the roof tops. The area had not been properly secured. DeGaulle insisted that we march and that the cameras record his victorious steps down that glorious avenue. He felt that this would rally the French nation. He was a real showman. He was very tall, taller than LeClerc and he marched in the front of this very large procession in royal fashion. DeGaulle was always surrounded by a crowd. Most of the officers in his retinue spoke English. My services were relegated to the lower echelons and therefore I never got to speak to him directly. As a matter of fact, now that I think about it, our role changed as soon as DeGaulle marched into Paris and assumed responsibility for the civil administration of the entire country. It was as if we were no longer needed. We had done our job, thank you very much, now move along and chase those German fellows who were retreating towards the Ardennes mountains.
Paris was a mess. The Germans had left in a rush just a few days before. The decision to declare the city open rather than burn it to the ground (Hitler's wish) had been taken just a week before and it took that time to clear out. There were sporadic shootings going on, even some looting from the shops whose owners were considered collaborators and which were well stocked. Some of the Parisians took the law into their own hands and beat and killed some of the people suspected of working with the Germans. Some of these same collaborators took to the roof tops and shot at the people below and the French Partisans called "Le Maquis" were roaming the streets in vehicles with horns blaring. In short, it was dangerous to walk the streets! It took about four days to secure the neighborhoods. DeGaulle's procession down the Champs Elysees did a lot to calm things down and permitted the people to go into the streets without fear.
As soon as the shooting stopped, there was an outpouring on the part of the Parisians. Both the Free French forces and the American troops (some of whom were just convoying through the town) where literally besieged by the grateful population. Men were running about with foaming uncorked bottles of champagne. Women threw themselves at the soldiers unashamedly with hugs and kisses. It was pandemonium.
The reveling continued for about a week and I shall never forget it. I was right in the middle of a moment of joy such as I would never experience again!
The Carp's job had been done. The DeGaulle forces not only took over the military protection of the city, but began the tedious job of organizing the civil affairs of the various sections of Paris. We were being phased out. The entire American front facing the Germans was remapped and we were to move on to the North East. Our G-5 section still had some function in the city however. Maroney and our general staff was in meetings with the French. I was still called in here and there and our old friend DeWaldner, who popped up again (he was later to join the DeGaulle circle) was also interpreting and doing a much valuable service.
Maroney let our section loose for four days!! We were quartered in a fancy hotel previously occupied by the Germans on the Rue de Rivoli and our room faced the Opera, head on. The accommodations were luxurious and we lost no time. We showered, shaved and put on our cleanest uniforms and went about joining the fun. I knew the town well and O'Donnell, Genito and I set out to paint it! We did such a job that for a period of 48 hours, I remember literally nothing. We all got so drunk in this small house of ill repute where we had been invited in by a most friendly madam that I cannot, for any certainty say what we did. I don't remember getting back to our hotel for our last two nights in town. Our money was still in our pockets but we paid for our moment of dissipation; our hangover was severe!
It occurs to me at this point that I have to relate the coining of a phrase which was to be the byword of many of our Gls during this period. The boys had a communication problem with the language, but not with sex and they urged me to come up with some terminology that would go to the heart of the matter. "Hey, Moose how do you say to the lady: do you want to ...?” I needed a little more elegant phraseology that would be brief and to the point and I translated it with the now well-known question that the boys threw at the ladies, sometimes with gratifying results: "Voulez vous coucher avec moi?” Now, I don't claim authorship or originality here because it is simply a nice translation, but when I heard the question asked time and time again by our boys after the liberation of Paris, I thought the translation contributed immeasurably to the fraternization process but not necessarily to the boy's health. There were many instances of venereal disease.
I spent the last couple of days in town locating some old friends. Particularly Mrs. Litwack and her boys. The house was standing but there was no trace of them. An old flame of mine by the name of Selly Rudzin was around. She and her family had survived in a small town in southern France, hidden and under assumed names. Selly had just returned to Paris and was shocked to see me again, especially as an American soldier. She was just engaged to a good friend of the family, an older man who was in hiding with them and who had helped them during the most difficult period. I was to meet Lucien, one of the Litwack boys and Selly several times in 1960 when I had occasion to do business in Europe, but that is another story to be told in later chapters.
My brief stay in Paris will be remembered as a moment of euphoria. In spite of my 48 hour black out, it was a joyous event. I had this feeling that the war was going to end very soon. I was involved in the making of things and people, and I had met many important persons. DeWaldner, by the way became an important person in the DeGaulle political entourage. I met him again in the '60s when he lived in a very fancy apartment overlooking the Rond Point Des Champs Elysees and his only concern was his horse which was running that week-end at the Long Champs racetrack!
It was time to move on and be a soldier in the field again. The French had their capital back and they were well on the way to securing the entire country. We still had some fighting to do. The Germans were not finished, by any means and the war raged on for another eight months. It took a major effort on the part of the Americans, the British and the Russians to bring Hitler to suicide.
THE ARDENNES - THE RHINE LAND - CENTRAL EUROPE
My discharge papers specifically record that I participated in the following campaigns in the European Theater of Operations: Normandy, Northern France and the three other campaigns listed on the heading above. I have already related my experiences in Normandy and I have covered the Northern France drive into Paris. The narration may be getting tedious and so I hope to end the story of my military career with this one chapter.
The north-east movement of the First Army, of which the Corps was an integral part towards the Ardennes mountains (heavily forested) began quietly enough. After our short pause in Paris, I see on the map that progress was rapid and we encountered little resistance until we got to the Belgium border. The Ardennes forests straddle the frontier of France and Belgium. This was the site of Hitler's last gamble. The battle of the Bulge. Some of you may have seen movies recreating the last effort on the part of the German army to cut the Allied forces in two with an arrow-like drive from the Belgium frontier towards the Atlantic coast. Had this drive succeeded, it would have been a major blow to the Allies, but in retrospect, not fatal by any means. We were too well entrenched with sufficient equipment and troops to eventually cut the German narrow path in half. It was during that cold winter, while the guns were blazing that the US Army decided to make me a United States Citizen!
I remember it was already dusk one evening sometimes in January 1945 when I was called to the General's tent. Waiting for me was a little fellow in civilian clothes who really looked out of place and seemed rather nervous. He explained that he was with the Department of Justice which had just set up offices in Paris and that it was his job to naturalize soldiers serving in the field who were not citizens. Since his list showed that I was the only person at the Corps headquarters who answered that description, he wanted to get on with it. "Are you Harry Adler?” When I replied in the affirmative, he wasted no time to have me take the oath of allegiance in front of several witnesses who were in the tent at that time. He was rather anxious to be out of the battle zone and get back to his Paris office. My naturalization was made in record time. It did not take more than five minutes and that guy what "out of there”! The Certificate of Naturalization came later, while we were still in the field. It is dated March 17, 1945 and it says that I "was admitted a citizen of the United States at Paris, France".
The "Battle of the Bulge" started in the Ardennes forests in the dead of winter of 1944/45. The cold was bitter and the snow piled high. The tanks and the German troops hit us all at once with everything they had. Evidently, the German army had prepared this thrust well in advance, preparing it perhaps even before the fall of Paris. It was Rommel, I believe who said that the invasion must be stopped at the beaches. Failing this, the battle for fortress Europe must be fought on French soil. Once in Germany, the battle would be lost. Hitler was evidently following this strategy. Our intelligence should have been faulted for not sensing such large movement of troops on the part of the enemy. Be it as it may, our Corps front which consisted of three divisions facing the Germans was pierced suddenly in a whirlwind attack which caught us unaware. The weather was cloudy and gray. Reconnaissance from the air was poor and the enemy determined and well supplied with an abundance of heavy tanks. But it was a desperate attempt which fizzled out when these ran out of gas, literally. The battle of the Bulge, as it was called ended with the fall of Bastogne, a city which the Germans besieged and which we eventually liberated. The involvement of our G-5 Section was minimal. We were spectators. The Corps' General staff however, with their command of three infantry divisions was totally engrossed. Our section provided support by helping to post the military situation maps in the operations tent. Our function as Civil Affairs was ended in France and we were preparing to assume our role as Military Occupation of Germany just when the battle of the Bulge began.
Things did get a little heated a couple of times during the German assault and there were moments when we were on full alert to move the Headquarters in retreat to a safer area. Riffles were suddenly cleaned, ammunition checked, battle gear was at the ready and full infantry status declared. All pencil pushers and intelligence personnel were prepared to fight. I had not fired a shot since we invaded Normandy and my carbine all of a sudden became a close companion. Fortunately, I did not have to use that pea shooter as the German thrust just collapsed. We took a lot of prisoners, put a lot of German military hardware out of commission and continued our advances into Germany.
We crossed the Rhine on the Remagen bridge into the German Rhine land. This railroad bridge had not been blown up by the Germans in their haste to deploy on the east side of the Rhine river. General Patton (3rd. Army) who was spearheading the eastward drive with his tanks simply took advantage of this German oversight and crossed it. He immediately set about to build pontoons across and our troops funneled into Germany en masse over the river into its industrial heart.
As mentioned before, our Civil Affairs status changed immediately into Military Government functions. Instead of helping the French to resume their civilian authority, we became the occupying government and the various Military Government units we dispatched to the front were considerably larger and more sophisticated as they contained personnel trained in intelligence, engineering, attorneys etc... ready to enforce the new rule of law and order in the various towns we overran.
We moved the Headquarters frequently. The German resistance was sporadic and we took full advantage of their confusion so we advanced rapidly and our own military sector changed often. One incident is very important to relate here. It took place on April 12, 1945 when our Headquarters had just been set up at Weissensee, near the town of Weimar, the seat of the last German democratic parliament, hence its name: The Weimar Republic. Hitler's Third Reich was created on its ashes. Shortly after the tents were up intelligence called us to advise that they were getting reports about a stockade of prisoners some 20 miles down the road - not Germans - packed into a camp and that the Germans had committed terrible atrocities in that location. The message was not clear and lacked any details but it was enough for the Colonel and I to get into our jeep (although the map showed that it was not in our sector) to investigate the situation first hand. We followed the route that was given to us and drove no more than 15 miles to a stockade surrounded with barbed and electrified wire and lookout turrets located about every 200 feet. The large wooden front gate was swung open on its large hinges to allow for a lot of trucks, bulldozers and ambulance traffic in and out of the area. As we got closer to the entrance we noticed a lot of people dressed in rags, some wearing stripped suits pushing all along the barbed wires. I managed to get the jeep through the front gate and in the confusion tried to locate an American officer who could perhaps tell us what it is we were witnessing here. We suddenly saw a familiar face, a captain who turned out to be a doctor in the Medical Group attached to our Corps who had been directed to help here. We were told that we had arrived at a Concentration Camp called Buchenwald.
The Captain was preoccupied with pressing business and he could only give as a very brief description of the situation. Evidently, these poor people were prisoners, mostly Jews, survivors of what he called terrible atrocities perpetrated by the German SS. Many of them had just arrived from similar camps in the East in forced marches during which many had just died. There was, he said, several very large piles of naked dead bodies in the middle of the camp which had to be disposed of to prevent a health catastrophe here. He invited us to join him. We walked but a short distance and indeed in front of my eyes I saw a large pile of naked human flesh; dead bodies heaped one on top of the other to a height of perhaps 6 feet. They were men, skinny flesh and bones mostly on their backs with their genitals showing; with wide cavernous open eyes staring at me! The Colonel and I had already seen scenes of battles and we were hardened to the sight of dead corpses, both German and American soldiers who had died in the field as we advanced the front lines. We had also seen lots of dead animals caught in the cross fire laying on their backs with their feet up in the air in a frozen stance. But, nothing had prepared us for what we saw in front of our eyes. What carnage was this? Who were these people? Why had they treated so? Then, we noticed the stench and the flies buzzing around. Our Captain left us to instruct a soldier with a bulldozer which had just arrived. He directed that a trench be dug deep along the pile of bodies and then I noticed Military Police bringing up some German men in civilian clothes from the surrounding local town. The Captain told us that there was no time to waste and that the dead bodies had to be buried in the trench, with lime poured over them and that much of the work was to be done by the German civilians some of who he suspected were soldiers who defected from their units and had changed into civilian clothes. The MP’s kept bringing in more Germans. I was told later that the Mayor of a small town in the area came with one of the details that were rounded up. When he was allowed to go home and he and his wife hung themselves.
There had been no military defense of the camp. Our units simply drove up to the gate in their tanks and in their trucks to find the place unguarded. The German guards had left during the night of April 10. This was April 12th. A date I shall remember.
We turned to the prisoners who gathered around us. They were a sad lot. They were dirty and smelly and looked as if they had not washed in months. Their heads were shaved and their cheeks sunken in. Their eyes reminded me of the cadavers in the pile of naked bodies. In Yiddish, they begged for food. Our small ration of chocolate bars was soon gone and when the Colonel offered a cigarette to one of the men, he took it and I lighted it for him. He promptly chocked on the cigarette and he told me that he had not smoked in 3 years! The Colonel was not an emotional man. This time, he did not hide his tears. I was totally spent and wanted to get back to our unit. What I saw was incomprehensible and I did not know what to do and how to help. In my mind, I formulated the idea that perhaps I could ask the Colonel to get some time off after we returned to our quarters and that I could come back here to help in whatever capacity. When we were about to take our leave, the prisoners wanted to see what else we had in our bags. When they saw that there was no more to be had, they walked away to nowhere in particular. I did not see any of the prisoners going out of the gate to leave. Although they had been told that they were free to go they were too weak and too dazed to attempt to go anywhere.
The drive back to the quarters was made mostly in silence but as we arrived, the Colonel asked that he be dropped off at the General's tent. He wanted to give a report of what he had seen to his superiors. He seemed small and bent over as if he were carrying a big burden. His West Point military gait was gone! My plans to return to Buchenwald were soon dashed the next morning when we were told that we were to move on. The Germans had left an opening in their lines just in front of us that permitted us to drive further east.
I am trying to remember my own feelings at the time I first saw Buchenwald. This story is written 50 years after its liberation and I can't help but thinking that I hurt more today than I was when I was a soldier 20 years of age. I was a kid, in a war overwhelmed by events which I did not understand. After more concentration and forced labor camps were discovered in Germany and Poland and more information came out about the treatment of Jews in these camps, a more cohesive picture emerged. But, it took many years after the war for history to put the proper perspective on the Nazis' attempt at genocide which became known as the Holocaust. Now that there is much more evidence and documentation as to the events of the time, I am more horrified at the age of 71 than I was at 20 when I actually saw all the desolation.
We pushed on…. The next much anticipated event was the meeting of the Russians at the Elbe river. Again, the front was fluid and we had to be careful that we did not shoot at each other. German resistance however ceased almost completely in the sector where the two armies were to come together and although the Colonel and I were not present at the first meeting, we had the opportunity to get together with that strange lot of folks in their mustard uniforms on April 27th, about three days after the original encounter at a party which was hosted on the Russian side of the river. The Colonel and a group of our superior officers had been invited for a visit. They took me along thinking that perhaps I could be of help with the language. Well, although I did not speak Russian, I still remembered a few words from the period I spent as a "pensionnaire" with Mrs. Littwak in Paris, and I managed to make both sides rather comfortable. Everybody got even more comfortable with the help of Vodka which was flowing copiously! We actually did not say anything of any consequence to each other except to exchange greetings and much clapping on each other's back sides! Thankfully, I was not the designated driver and I don't remember who drove the command car back to our quarters. I suspect it was Major Pharr who had indicated some disdain for that motley group of soldiers and was probably quite sober.
I shall not go into the details of the last few weeks of the fighting except to say that we participated in the fall of Leipzig where the corps become the commanding military force for the town. We had to deal with thousands of German prisoners, some of whom were high military personnel and I was involved in the actual interrogation of one German general whose name escapes me now. This was a very busy time for us. But the fighting was coming to an end and we now had to deal with the civilian reconstruction of everyday life in the battered city. Food was in short supply and the German population was beginning to come to grips with the enormity of their losses both in personnel and in the actual devastation of their country.
We did such a good job in Leipzig that we were instructed to drive our group into the town of Pilsen, Czechoslovakia. We were there not more than a couple of days when the war ended at May 8, 1945. It is of interest to the reader that large parts of the area that we fought for in eastern Germany which included Leipzig, was soon turned over to Russian troops as part of the agreement between Stalin and Roosevelt. Pilsen in Czechoslovakia fared no better. For all intents and purposes, the job of the 5th Corps had come to an end.
We remained in limbo for a period of about a month. On June 16, 1945 I received orders transferring me to the European Civil Affairs Division. I was ordered to report to the Military Government Detachment H-311 in Berchtesgaden! So, there I was visiting Hitler's lair. Looking over the Bavarian mountains from that very large window which had become famous from the many pictures we saw of Hitler at Berchtesgaden before the war. The place was literally blown to bits. It seems that the site was destroyed to avoid it becoming an object of curiosity in the future. Our job at the Detachment was simply to oversee the civilian reorganization of the rather small town. Boredom was setting in when on October 2, 1945 (my 21st. birthday) I received orders to return home. I was discharged on the 14th of November 1945 at Fort Dix, New Jersey, from the same camp where I was inducted into the US Army.
After my discharge, I was advised that I had been awarded the Bronze Star Medal by the United States Government for " meritorious service in connection with military operations against an armed enemy from May 5, 1944 to May 8, 1945 in England, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany ...by his continued meritorious service, he contributed immeasurably to the successful manner in which the V Corps G-5 functions were accomplished…. His service reflects great credit upon himself... "
The last communication I received from the Corps was a letter dated 29 Nov. 1945 from Capt. Percy telling me that I was to receive a copy of the Carp's history on which a lot of my military tale is based. The Corps was at Fort Jackson, S.C. about to be disbanded.
On April 9, 1947, almost two years after the war's end, I received a letter from the Adjutant General of the War Department advising me that I had received the Croix de Guerre with Palms from the Belgian government.
So ended my military career!