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Lt. Col. Paul H. Maurer
Chaplain, Div. Headquarters, 3AD, WWII
Delivered at the first annual 3AD Association Reunion in 1948
& published in 3AD Association Newsletter - August, 1967


Shelley said that the poets "Learn in suffering what they teach in song." Had I the gift of composition I would translate the suffering of the 3rd Armored Division and put it to music. The world would possess a symphonic masterpiece indeed. That contribution would serve as an eternal inspiration to posterity. In that "Spearhead" Symphony I would capture and put on paper the cadent pianissimo of the Louisiana birth of history's greatest armored unit. In swaddling clothes of the thin-skinned and untried armor, this youngster romped through the Southland's spongy swamps, grew into adolescence with the hot music of the desert on its lips, saw the purple twilight melt into the star-studded night and in moon-drenched sand dreamt of manhood. The clickety clack of wheels on twin bands of steel carried this robust young giant to Camp Pickett, thence to Indiantown Gap, on to Camp Kilmer, New York's sky line and the Atlantic. (CONTINIED below the following two photos and caption)

  PHOTOS ABOVE: In top photo, Chaplain Maurer presides at Villiers Fossard, Normandy, at first burial of 3AD soldiers in July, 1944, and, in lower photo, on April 2, 1945, near Ittenbach, Germany, for the burial of 3AD Commander, Maj. Gen. Maurice Rose.

(Continued): Fear of the unknown and mysterious deep failed to still the song within his ironclad heart -- a song in which one caught the echoes of Crusader's airs, hymns of Pilgrim and Pioneer, chanting paens of praise as they blazed a path from East to West, a prayer in their hearts, a gun in their hands.

The swish-swash of waves through fair weather and fog brought the Division to England. Comparative peace prevailed. Dance orchestras at Red Lynch, War-minster, Wincanton, Sutton Veny, Fonthill Bishop, were unsuccessful in silencing the martial strains which insistently challenged his every day with reveille and closed it with taps. Salisbury's dismal plains, frosty, starflecked and chill, ushered in an English spring replete with all the uncomfortable damp and soggy trappings.

Restlessness and a burning desire to engage the foe in mortal combat finds the 3rd Armored lying on LSTs and LCTs for three days and three nights as the worst storm in twenty years strikes and lashes the Channel. The tempo of that gale is as nothing compared to the force with which this unit will sweep through France and Belgium in a few days.

Now to capture the music of high courage as the Third hits the Normandy Beach, then the singing of the birds in the apple orchards of the Calvados punctuated by guns fired in anger at the enemy beyond St. Lo. Recall that whirring din from out of the blue as three thousand planes unload their lethal cargoes and the ground boils. Villers-Possard and the 3rd Armored reaches man's estate! St. Jean de Daye, Mortain, Purple Heart Hill -- prayers beside little crosses and stars of David at La Cambe, Marigny, Gorron -- "I Am The Resurrection And The Life. . .," "Sh' Ma Yisreayl . . .," "Requiescant in Pace. . .," hallowed harmonies of Protestant, Jew and Catholic, joined in the requiem of death from whose graves a living, vibrant and impassioned chorus emanates. (Take up that refrain and with reverent hands touch your instruments and play that refrain again and again.)

But we must be away into the struggle at Ranes, Fremontel, Falaise-Argentan, Corbeil and the Seine, on and on this mighty symphony of Heroism rises and swells as it sweeps relentlessly forward. Tanks at Chateau Thierry, sacred soil, tanks at the Marne, tanks at Soissons, tanks, tanks blasting enemy armor into a blackened and charred debacle at Mons, tanks at Charleroi, tanks at Namur, tanks at Liege and reaching a crescendo chord of triumph as they lunge with mighty thud against and through and over and beyond the steel and iron of the Siegfried Line after a wild, swift, cyclonic drive unparalleled in military history. No, I have not forgotten the sound of those droplets of blood, drip, drip, drip, from a mangled stump of an arm or that brave smile. I have not forgotten the long lines of singing wires of the Signalmen; Engineers bridging stream after stream in total darkness; the sound of motors in the night; long supply columns; the protechnics of the Ack Ack; the chatter of typewriters in the hands of clerks, destined to play their part in this vast score; the crunching bull-dozers chewing hedgerows; Artilleriests feeding the hungry maw of the big guns; Airmen in their tiny craft; the skilled hands of our Medics; the muddy, slugging guts of our doughboys; the hurried heartbeats of men in foxholes -- tortuous, numbed hours -- the stench of death, decay, desolation and destruction; the pensive stare of a young child with a wounded doll in her arms; the clippety-clop of wooden shoes. I haven't forgotten the clanging discords, the utterly demonical glee of the SS, Pride of Prussian Panzerdom, their whipped arrogance in our PW cages, where Herren Volk melodies were forever stilled in defeat.

Through it all we hear the overtones of a grim loneliness, heart-breaking agony, bleeding experience, indomitable courage, an unrelenting uncompromising, unswerving devotion to the Spearhead Division and the fortitude of trusting faith in our officers -- General Rose, conducting this mighty symphony, a baton, not red with blood, but a baton crowned with an eagle and pointing to the stars.

"And after this tumultous surge of war's music, the closing bars would bring the soft, clear, ringing chime of a church bell, calling the Third to worship in the holy hush of a sanctuary, far removed from the sounds of warfare. Then the comfort and peace of hearth and home, a maiden's prayer, a father's hand clasp, the devotion of a loyal wife, a mother's tender lullaby and a babe wrapped in sleep -- home is the tanker from the wars.

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