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James Parrish
Co H, 32nd Armored Regiment, 3AD, WWII
Published in 3AD Association Newsletter - September, 1992


I was gunner on a tank commanded by Sgt. Frank Rogowicz (whom we called "Rogy") in Lt. Yale Simons' platoon in "H" Company, 32nd AR, part of "Task Force Richardson." We started the drive on Paderborn well back in the column which was being led by 83rd Recon. During the day we were sent off the main route, clearing out villages on our flanks. We captured a few prisoners, but had met little resistance.

Late in the afternoon we reached Brilon which was the largest town we had passed through. We halted outside a large warehouse and factory. The infantrymen who had been riding our tank went inside and returned with large bundles of women's stockings. That was what the factory manufactured. We took turns going over and helping ourselves to the large bundles of stockings. These bundles were as large as stacks of newspapers. We stored the loot inside and outside of the tank.

Our platoon was next sent to clear a village. We had bedded down for the night when we received orders to move out and rejoin the main column. When we rejoined the command we halted and slept where we were in column on the road. The next morning we moved out early and hadn't gone far when the column halted. "H" Company was ordered to bypass all vehicles and come to the head of the column. When we arrived we found that Recon had lost a couple of vehicles, and we were ordered to take over the lead.

Our Platoon had the point, and "Rogy's" tank was in the lead. We began to enter a built-up area with houses about 10/15 yards apart. The infantry started clearing the houses, which were occupied with "Krauts." When the infantry encountered resistance we would put a round of H.E. into the houses.

I remember that a Medic armed with a German "Luger" would lead the attack on each house and when it was cleared he would return to again mount the front of our tank to ride to the next house. Finally, he ran up to a house well ahead of the rest of the infantry. There he was met by a burst of fire that spun him around like a top. When we asked why he had been doing this, we were told that his best friend had been killed and that he wanted revenge.

As we proceeded, the road turned and the houses were now closer together. We also started to get bazooka fire, and we were pouring fire into each house. 76mm and .30 caliber from our machine guns. We continued on the road and came to open ground. The road went down a hill and to a small bridge over a stream. To our front was a towering ridge with a road that ran along its base. There was a built-up area to the left of the bridge. To the right of the ridge there was a church, and there were three tall brick houses well up the ridge. We had gone about 20 yds. down the hill when bullets began rattling off our tank like hail. Several infantrymen were hit by this fire. As was also wounded, our platoon commander Lt. Simons (who had been dismounted with the infantry). The wounded took cover between our tank and a high bank to the left of the road.

I spotted "Krauts" on top of the ridge, and took them under fire. While searching for targets I came to the three houses at the end of the ridge. A "Tiger" tank appeared at the corner of one of the houses with its 88mm gun pointed right at us. As if by the numbers, another and then another German tank appeared by each of the houses. I told "Rogy" to take a look at the houses on the ridge. He observed the houses carefully as machine gun fire was still hitting our tank. I said "What are we going to do?" I knew they were out of our range and with only their heavily armored fronts exposed. "Rogy" replied, "It's up to the Lord." We were at the mercy of these German tanks as we couldn't move because of the wounded who were sheltered behind us. Then as suddenly and as magically as they appeared, the "Tigers" backed off one by one and were gone.

At this time our artillery began to pound the ridge and the enemy machine gun fire ceased. This allowed evacuation of the wounded, and we were ordered to resume the attack.

The plan was for Lt. Miklos' Platoon of "H" Company to move down the road and cross the bridge to occupy the town which was called Kirchborchen. This he did with infantry following behind each of his tanks. There was a stone Quarry at the base of the ridge and the attacking force regrouped there before continuing up the road, which split and curved up the ridge with the towering houses on top. We spent the night where we were. The next morning we were ordered to take our tank along with that of Sgt. Nick Skorich and report to Lt. Miklos on top of the ridge. When we reached Lt. Miklos' position, we found that he had lost two tanks to Bazooka fire during the night. Our orders were to go 30 yds. beyond the last house to open ground. We did this with "Rogy's" tank on the road and Skorich's tank on a little elevation a few yards to the right. Heavy undergrowth and a thickly wooded area were to the left of the road. Across the open ground to our front there were houses in the distance.

While we were sitting there, two explosions erupted on either side of our tank. Smoke rising from the woods to our left gave away the enemy's position. Turning our turret, we opened up with .30 caliber machine gun fire. This machine gun fire chopped down many of the bushes, and seemed to clear the enemy out of the undergrowth. However, it was then that a German (apparently an officer from the braided cap he wore) began to stalk us with a Bazooka. He dodged from cover to cover with his Bazooka on his shoulder, and would only appear for second or two and then disappear again. We could not get a clear shot at him.

Suddenly, there was another explosion to our rear, and Skorich's tank was hit in the side. We were ordered to back up to the houses. As we did, we could see that Skorich was laying beside his tank waving his arms. "Rogy" said, "Cover me. I'm going to get him." Dismounting, he called to Lt. Miklos, "Help me get him." Lt. Miklos joined "Rogy," and taking a stretcher from a nearby doorway they crawled down a small ditch beside the road. Reaching Skorich, they put him on the stretcher and crept back to our position. "Rogy" came back to the tank and told us that Skorich's leg was hanging by only a few strands of flesh and that he would probably lose it.

Everything was quiet now, as both our tanks had been firing down the road and into the woods. "Rogy" took a look out of the turret hatch and we heard a "ping" and he fell backwards bleeding from his eye. Calling on the radio for medics, we were told that he would have to go back on his own if he could walk. That's what he did after we had bandaged him up.

I took command of our tank. I moved our loader, McCoy, to gunner, and the bow gunner, "Pop" Merritt, to loader. Thus, with myself as commander and Porter our driver, we continued with a four man crew for the rest of the battle.

Bazooka fire was coming in from all angles now. From the high ground the Germans were trying to fire over the houses and hit us on the road. Skorich's tank, already hit once and now abandoned by its crew, was hit again. This time it burst into flames. We heard another explosion behind us, and looking back down the hill we saw two "Tiger" tanks as they flew by one of our tanks at the bridge. They knocked it out, and left it burning with its entire crew trapped inside. These German tanks then went down the road towards the Church. There was a lot of firing, and we heard over the radio that our TD's had knocked out both of the "Tigers."

"H" Company was involved in clearing the rest of the town of Kirchborchen. This included the business section, where we lost a few more tanks in the process. We remained where we were until the next morning. Then we were told to move down the road to the edge of town. This we did, and met the infantry, who were already there. We went to the last house and took up a position there. As soon as we had taken up this position, immediately another Task Force came down the road. Passing us very rapidly, they soon disappeared over a hill in the distance.

Looking around our new position, I found a mass grave dug by the Germans. I was able to count nine bodies that they hadn't had time to cover up. Later we were ordered to move to the part of the town near the Church. There we passed a cemetery in which the German dead had been laid out in long rows. They lay in many long rows that stretched the entire length of the cemetery. These were the bodies of the men we had been fighting, that had been collected from the town. We had been up against the cadets and instructors from the SS Panzer Officers Training Center at Paderborn. They were mostly young and fanatical Nazi's. We had taken a few prisoners, but most of them had been wiped out. As we passed these bodies with their green SS uniforms splattered with blood, I felt no sorrow or pity for these members of the so-called "Master Race."

Continuing on past the cemetery we came to the houses on the ridge where the three German "Tiger" tanks had been. There I remembered "Rogy's" words: "It's up to the Lord." Indeed it had been up to the Lord. I now believe that the reason that those German tanks had withdrawn so suddenly, was that they had been ordered to go after bigger game. These were the tanks that attacked the column that General Rose was following. They probably were the very tanks that captured and killed the General when they cut the column he was travelling with. I only know that for some reason we were spared and he was lost shortly after that. It had been up to the Lord.

Shortly after the war I received a telephone call at my home in Detroit, Michigan. It was from Nick Skorich. He was on leave from Percy Jones VA Hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan. There he had been fitted with an artificial leg. We got together and looked up another local member of "H" Co., Paul Sweda, and our old platoon commander, Lt. Yale Simons. (Then a well-known car dealer in Detroit.) We had a fine reunion all of our own. Skorich had lost his leg below the knee. ("Rogy" lost his eye.) In talking over our experiences at Kirchborchen, we all agreed that those three "Tigers" had ignored us because they had gotten information about the other column, and they wanted to cut it off.

After the fighting at Kirchborchen, which took place between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, 1945, "H" Co. went the rest of the war with only nine tanks. We were reinforced by the assault gun platoon from Headquarters Company. We used the bundles of stockings from Brilon to finance trips while on leave. (Sorry about your share "Rogy".) We never saw those infantrymen again, so we had their stockings too. I became good friends with Lt. Miklos, who left us at Sangerhausen to join the U.S. First Army Hqs. as an interpreter. He was of Slavic descent and spoke Russian fluently.

The men of "H" Co. were very close to one another after having been together for four years. I lost many good friends that I will never forget, and who should not be forgotten by their country.

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