You'd never imagine a war could be so confusing! I never knew
where I was. Perhaps that's not too unusual for a corporal, especially
a tank gunner who spends most of his combat time confined to
activities buttoned-up inside. But it didn't get better when
I was outside.
Coming up the beach at "Omaha" it was pretty simple
to tell -- we were here, they were there. When we came to the
hedgerows it all changed. It was like playing checkers blindfolded
when everybody had the next move. When we stopped fighting at
night the first thing you did was try and see through the rows
on either side to see if you were bedding down next to Adolph's
Finest. We didn't look straight ahead. We just assumed who was
After the ''Breakthrough'' at St. Lo and "Closing the Gap"
at Falaise, we began that wild-eyed ride across France. You wouldn't
believe that part! One night I was riding with the "B-trains"
when we came to a German roadblock. Some confused officer (you'll
detect a certain bias here) had us pull off into a convenient
field and bivouac. It was close to daylight when we heard tanks.
Man, that can wake you up fast! Thank God (you'll notice a certain
bias here too) they were ours, coming deployed across a field
... from behind us! I had to choke down every bit of my morning
K-ration. Then we heard more noises. This time it was three German
vehicles coming toward us down the road that our tanks had just
paralleled. We managed to shoot up all three and capture a few
prisoners. Then we promptly moved back the way we had come --
with the confused officer leading the way!
About 30 kilometers east of Paris we stopped and were dismounted,
sitting in the shade, when a buddy said, "Did you just see
a German soldier run across the road down there?!" I wasn't
going to say anything, but since he saw it too, I knew it wasn't
my active imagination again. We ran down the road into the woods
-- cooks, K.P.s, mail clerks, and tankless tankers. Eventually
we killed one German and captured another. I think it was a K-ration
lunch I couldn't eat that day.
When we came to Mons, Belgium, it looked like the confusion might
finally be over. They were in town, and we were all around it.
However, that night, the ones we hadn't captured during the day
came up to surrender from three directions! You can still sleep
cramped up in a tank with a nervous stomach, but it takes a little
Our crew missed a few days around Huy, Belgium. We had to
replace a motor. We caught up in time, though, to be among the
first few tanks into Germany. That day we kept moving until we
came to a road junction. Some officer (you'll detect my bias
again) had us pull off into another convenient field. It runs
in my mind that this is not recommended where the enemy has artillery
in range. We were out stretching our legs when we heard it coming.
I got under the tank. In spite of the noise I could hear my tank
commander yelling, "Get inside, we're moving out!"
I think I said something like, "You keep moving. I'll keep
Later that day we took a little German town. The Germans weren't
happy to part with it. They were also dug in and waiting for
us. We got out of the line of direct fire by getting behind a
house on the flank. Some movement in the woods on the hill in
front of us prompted us to call to command. We were reassured
that they were friendly troops from one of our supporting divisions.
I ran up the tank's telescope about the same time my tank commander
spotted them in his binoculars. We made a second call back to
Battalion to request "that support troops stop wearing German
uniforms" or words to that effect. Oh, acid indigestion!
We gave them back their town and claimed it again later.
My final exposure to combat was during the Bulge. A second
wound in January sent me all the way back to England. However,
when I left, things were still in their usual overwhelming state
At one of our annual reunions my wife listened to all the
"How-we-won-the-war" saga's and remarked to Colonel
W.B. Lovelady, who commanded the 2d Battalion, 33d Armored Regiment
during the war, "After hearing all those stories, I wonder
how we won?"
The colonel's answer was, "We overwhelmed them."
Now isn't that just like a colonel. He got his answer all disoriented.
He forgot about the part about how we finally conquered confusion
and then overwelmed them.