daveshoup2MD wrote: ↑
01 Apr 2021 19:27
Thank you for the background. COI and oral history are always challenges.
Yep. That's why whenever we did interviews we tried to do it as a group, because the group was generally comfortable calling out one of their members if they started telling war stories.
Of course, my Dad could have been telling war stories, except that he never did, he barely talked about the war at all. That instance in 1976 when he talked about Rehlingen, was the second time he talked about it. The first was in early spring 1969, when we went to Rehlingen and he talked about the annoying German pillbox they couldn't silence even though they indulged in a couple of "mad minutes" on it when they fired all sixteen .50 calibers at where they thought it was. We found the pillbox when we crossed the rebuilt Saar bridge, nestled in a stand of undergrowth and trees. The entire face was pock-marked with little craters. My Dad's sole remark was, "well, I guess we were hitting it, but it didn't do any good." The main issue with the German pillbox was it was the one that had viability on the Battery A "bath house" and the Germans would fire on any movement they saw, interupting the GI's ablutions.
The next time he talked about the war was when he took my two older boys and me to Normandy. We followed as closely as possible the route of his Battery, including as part of TF Weaver. The things he recalled were:
1. The stench that hit them while anchored off UTAH. A combination of rotting meat, human feces, and burnt cotton candy, the last caused by the extensive use by Engineers of COMP-C, which was a nitro-starch. It also explained why he never wanted us to get cotton candy at the fair.
2. The fields looked very similar to his recollection, except they were larger (many of the hedgerows in Normandy are being consolidated into larger fields) and there were no dead cows in them.
3. The telephone poles hadn't changed.
4. The incident of their first night ashore, when everyone was exhausted, so didn't bother to dig in, only to have a 90mm battery in the next field open up on a German raider in the middle of the night...that was the last night that they didn't dig in.
5. Watching Graves Registration loading German corpses into the back of a 2 1/2 ton truck by placing them on a shelter half with a guy at each corner and then, heave-ho, toss it in. One of the corpses broke into two while they were doing this, raining bits everywhere.
6. Driving down into a valley east of Ducey on the way to Mayenne he suddenly remembered the place...they were buzzed by a formation of FW 190 flying at extremely low level that went by so fast they never had a chance to engage.
7. On the road north from Le Mans on 17 August they were also buzzed, this time by a P-38, which ignored their recognition panels and strafed the column of the 343d FA they were attached to. When it came in for a second pass they opened fire on it and shot it down, recovering the dog tags of the pilot, who was killed. Four men were killed and two injured in the 343d from the strafing. Most accounts say the pilot "crashed" on his second pass and do not mention the cause of the crash.