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Side Articles

  Inserted throughout the book, and listed below, are sixteen "side articles," or diversions from the main narrative in the form of human interest material, historical sketches, or public relations press-copy.




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In a formal ceremony in the caserne in Aalen, Germany at noon on Friday, November 9, 1945, Major General Robert W. Grow cased the Division's standards and reported to Major General Withers A. Burress, commander of VI Corps, that the Division and its component units were inactivated effective 10 November 1945 in accordance with instructions contained in General Orders No. 652, Headquarters Seventh Army/Western Military District, dated 25 October 1945.

About one hundred men and officers participated in the solemn final ceremony conducted in a drizzling rain. The group included four officers from the original officer cadre of the Division: Lt. Col. Andrew Barr, Chief of Staff; Lt. Col. Jack A. Boulger, G-l; Lt. Col. Wesley A. Sweat, G-3; and Major Charles H. Kapes, Provost Marshal. The positions indicated were those held at the date of inactivation.

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COLOGNE: March 11, 1945 - The American flag went up over this battered city on the Rhine today. At a ceremony attended by officers and men of the First Army's crack VII Corps, the 3rd Armored, 104th and 8th Infantry Divisions, Major General J. Lawton Collins officially raised the Stars and Stripes on a flagstaff at Cologne's well-kept sportsplatz.

The General addressed representative officers and men of his assault corps. He reviewed the history of their combat actions from the victory at Cherbourg and the great defensive fight at Mortain, to the taking of Namur and Liege, the Siegfried crossings, the successful storming of Aachen, and now the swift drive to Cologne and the Rhine.

"At this time," the General said, "we pause to remember those men who gave their lives so that we might be here."

And the General continued to speak, but somehow you found yourself looking at his audience. Here were the spearhead tankers of Major General Maurice Rose's 3rd Armored Division, their faces carefully scrubbed and their uniforms clean for the occasion. They'd been powder burned and deaf with concussion not so long ago. And there were Major General Terry Allen's "Timberwolves," sitting at strained attention. They were the very Joes who had come bowling through this sportsplatz, shooting from the hip with M-l's and BAR'S. Beside them, wearing the golden arrow of the 8th Infantry, other soldiers who had taken a large part in the victory held their breaths to hear General Collins speak. Some of them still wore bandages. The nets were on their helmets. Their rifles were slung.

Overhead, a flight of P-47's wheeled in the grey sky. The always incredibly beautiful American flag fluttered higher - finally strained free in the wet wind of Germany.

The band struck up the Star Spangled Banner and there was a gust of sound as all of these fighting men rose to the salute. They saluted the flag and the band sang out, and then the band whispered to silence. And there was silence.

It was all over. The flag had been raised. The ceremony was done. The men who filed out of these stands would be forever proud to tell of the day General Collins raised the American flag in Cologne. Some of them might even forget a very important detail.

The flag was raised in Cologne because the men who attended this celebration came blasting down the plains of western Germany, in the sweat and the dust and the fear of battle, with the Thunderbolts overhead, the tanks and guns to left and right. They came shooting and they took this city and they held it. Then the men of the VII Corps, the 3rd Armored Division, the 104th Infantry Division, and the 8th Infantry Division, cleaned up and sat at attention to watch the official raising of the American flag on the Rhine.

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The shoulder patch insignia of the 3rd Armored Division has a distinct heraldic meaning and a proud history in its mixture of form, color, and symbols. The basic pattern is that of three interlaced torques, no one of which would be sufficient without the other two. Combined to form a single triangle, the device indicates integrity and esprit de corps.

The predominating colors of the armored force patch, yellow, red and blue, are those of the basic arms: Cavalry, Field Artillery, and Infantry - all of which are components of the present integrated armored command and progenitors of the present armored force. The super-imposed black symbols have a more modern meaning: the tank track for mobility and armor protection, the cannon for fire power, and the bolt of lightning to designate shock action.

The arabic numeral "3" is, of course, a division designation. The basic design and combination of colors are taken from the original insignia of World War I Tank Corps, plus that of various infantry-tank organizations; and the superimposed symbols from that of the old 7th Cavalry Brigade (Mechanized).

Most modern component of the 3rd Armored Division patch is the SPEARHEAD flash which was authorized by Major General Maurice Rose after his division had brilliantly led many of the First Army's drives in France, Belgium, and Germany during 1944 and 1945.

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The 3rd Armored Division, one of America's largest tank outfits, was designed and trained for all-out attack. It was the spearhead of the First Army's brilliant VII Corps from the St. Lo-Perriers breakthrough, in Normandy, to the Elbe River in central Germany. The 3rd was a workhorse unit and it saw heavy combat all the way. The division raced from the Seine to the Siegfried in 18 days, halting long enough to team up with the 1st Infantry Division and completely destroy a German corps at Mons, Belgium. First through the Westwall in force, and first to take a German town, the "Spearhead" enjoyed a brilliant reputation among men who knew the real front.

The 3rd Armored Division fought through the entire Ardennes struggle and, almost before the echoes of that bitter winter campaign were memories, was back in the Rhineland, driving for Cologne. Foremost in the sweep to isolate Germany's rich, industrial Ruhr, during the last phases of the war in the west, the 3rd was still fighting, still battering forward, when an army order halted its columns on the Elbe River. The "Spearhead" was fact as well as soubriquet. Its mission was twofold: first, to pierce enemy frontline defences, and second, to race amok, cutting the German supply and communications channels, the organization of reserve forces, and the very will to fight. How well the big steel striking force accomplished this task is stated in the day by day history of the western front. In action, the 3rd Armored Division usually hit the enemy with multiple spearhead columns. Two combat commands, "A" and "B", organized into task forces were committed on line, with a reserve group, actually a third combat command, held in abeyance slightly to the rear. Division Headquarters Forward Echelon travelled immediately behind the two primary battering rams, and elements of Trains, which included Supply, Maintenance, Medical, and Division Rear Echelon, moved in that order.

Actually, because of the nature of armored warfare, every man in the division saw something of action during the long drives. Supply trains were ambushed during their important trips back and forth over the roads of conquest; command post soldiers found themselves battling bypassed Nazi troops; and rear echelon maintenance men helped to round up prisoners of war.

Theoretically each of the spearheads were of the same basic composition. Due to a changing situation in action, this was not always the case, but deviation was the exception and not the rule.

Reconnaissance elements in light tanks and armored cars invariably rode the point of the attack until opposition was encountered. Tanks and infantry, always well supported by artillery, tank-destroyers, anti-aircraft units and engineers supplied the Sunday punch. Communications were maintained by signal men well to the front, and medical corps detachments also travelled with the probing spearheads in order to hasten evacuation of the wounded.

Driving immediately behind these forward elements was the command post, often within small arms range of the enemy; the heavy artillery, represented by attached 155mm self-propelled units; and the division reserve ready to go into action on call.

Division Trains were at the haft of the spearhead. Here were the administrators, the supply, maintenance and medical headquarters which catered to frontline elements.

In action, this entire phalanx of power was highly mobile and fluid of composition. Thus, reserve forces could be, and were, rushed into the line when it appeared that one of the primary combat commands was weakening, or needed a rest. Similarly, attached units - artillery, infantry, or air support - might be incorporated on short notice. The "Spearhead" at war was self-supporting, extremely fast, and packed an incredible wallop in fire power.

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DATED 21 MAY 1945:


TO: Brigadier General Doyle 0. Hickey
3rd Armored, Division, APO 253

Dear General Hickey:

With the relief of the 3rd Armored Division from the VII Corps, I wish to express again, in writing, to you and to the officers and men of your splendid division, my appreciation for the great contribution made by the 3rd Armored Division to the success of the VII Corps in its operations in Germany, particularly during the closing phases of the war.

Following the severe fighting in the Ardennes, in which the 3rd Armored had played a great part first in checking and then expelling von Rundstedt's forces from the "Bulge," the division was shifted back to its old battle ground, Stolberg, and prepared for the crossing of the Roer River. As soon as the 8th and 104th Infantry Divisions had established a bridgehead over the Roer, the 3rd Armored was placed in action on the morning of 26 February to spearhead the attack of the corps on Cologne.

With characteristic dash and vigor, the division broke through the initial resistance and raced eastward. In two days it had forced the difficult crossing of the Erft River and swung across the northern end of the formidable Vorgebirge, whose hill masses, pitted with a succession of open lignite mines and studded, with slag, heaps, made maneuver very difficult. The key road and communications center of Stommein was seized to sever the enemy forces in the northern part of the Cologne plain between the Erft and the Rhine. Pressing the attack to the northeast, elements of the division reached the Rhine River in the vicinity of Worringen on 4 March, and in an irresistible drive were the first troops to enter Cologne on 5 March. Within two days all enemy resistance within the division sector, both in the city and on the plain to the north, had been eliminated.

After a brief interlude along the west bank of the Rhine, the division moved across the river into the expanding Remagen Bridgehead, prepared to launch the last great offensive in the west. On 25 March, the division attacked east again through the 1st and 104th Infantry Divisions, brushing aside the initial resistance and pressing forward through the hilly and wooded area of the watershed between the Sieg and Wied Rivers. Although enemy resistance was sharp and unrelenting and the terrain continued to be difficult, the division seized Altenkirchen and quickly forced a crossing of the Dill River in the vicinity of Herborn, and then captured Marburg, cutting enemy communications in the Lahn River valley.

Then began one of the most important and dramatic maneuvers of the entire campaign in Europe, the envelopment of the vital Ruhr industrial area. Commencing on 29 March, the "Spearhead" Division in an unprecedented drive advanced ninety road miles to the north in one 24-hour period, the greatest advance by any division against opposition in the entire war. As it neared its objective, Paderborn, the division became heavily engaged and fought its way through fanatic resistance of enemy troops from the SS Panzer Replacement Training Center. Continuing onward, while repelling counter-attacks from all sides, the division captured Paderbom on 1 April.

On this same day, Task Force Kane advanced to the west and made contact with elements of the 2nd Armored Division at Lippstadt, thereby cutting off the enemy troops in the Ruhr. In eight days the division had made a spectacular advance of almost two hundred miles and had swung the hammer that forged more than half of the ring around the 300,000 enemy troops encircled in the Ruhr Pocket. The speed, dash, and daring of the commanders and men of all ranks made this operation a model military classic.

Unfortunately, we had a terrible price to pay for this victory in the death of one the greatest of all division commanders, your gallant leader, Major General Maurice Rose, who was killed in action 30 March at the head of one of his task forces near Paderborn.

The envelopment of the Ruhr spelled the doom of Germany, but some stiff fighting had to be done before a link-up could be made with the Russian forces advancing from the east. Crossing the Weser River in the vicinity of Odelsheim, on 5 April, the 3rd Armored Division resumed its relentless pursuit of the disintegrating German forces with another stirring enveloping maneuver, this time around the Harz Mountains. The key towns of Duderstadt, Nordhausen and Sangerhausen fell in rapid succession as the division drove to the northeast on Dessau. Despite stiffening resistance and enemy counter-attacks with fresh troops, Kothen was captured, and on 23 April the city of Dessau on the Elbe was cleared of the last German resistance west of the Mulde River.

It is with great regret that VII Corps bids adieu to its spearhead division. Since the days of the St. Lo-Marigny breakthrough, your division has led most of the great offensives of this corps in the pursuit across France and Belgium; at Mons, Namur, Liege, and through the Siegfried Line and into Germany; in the Ardennes Counteroffensive; in the drive from the Roer to the Rhine; and in the last great envelopments of the Ruhr and the Harz Mountains. The division's splendid performance in each operation is a lasting tribute to the leadership and devotion to duty of the officers and men of your command. The wonderful fighting spirit, the dash and daring of the "Spearhead" Division has carried all before it. The VII Corps is proud of the 3rd Armored Division and its great accomplishments. The entire staff and corps troops join me in wishing you all the very best of luck.

Sincerely yours,

Lieutenant General, U. S. Army

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[A Letter Receipt]

700 Broadway
Denver 3, Colorado
Phone: Tabor 5397

SEP 7 1945

Received of Colonel John A. Smith, Jr., and First Sergeant J.O. Atherton the sum of $30,000.00 representing the combined contributions of the officers and men of the Third Armored Division to the General Rose Memorial Hospital.

Ben M. Blumberg

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Up in the line of battle, where every man's soul was bared to the eye of his neighbor, the muddy Joes who made the world's headlines were fond of their medical aid men. It was a mutual liking, born of blood and flaming action across the face of battered Europe. When the first American paratroopers cascaded down dark skies to the fields of Normandy, the medics were with them. The tanks that blasted through that bitter line at Perriers-St. Lo, in the great breakthrough, carried armored infantry - and medics.

It was the same story in every campaign. Whenever the line flamed into crashing action, the soldiers of the red cross, without arms of any kind, advanced shoulder to shoulder with GI-Joes of America. If there's raw gallantry in the bayonet charge of infantry or the hell-for-leather dash of tanks, what can we say of these men who travelled into the same hell of fire and flying steel without protection of any kind saving the often disregarded red cross arm band and helmet marking? The 45th Armored Medical Battalion was part of the 3rd Armored Division. In addition, each line company of the armor, the infantry and the other arms and services, had medical sections of their own. Of these brave men, many were killed in action. Others were wounded, but not one shirked duty or failed to respond promptly in the awful clutch of mobile warfare. The Joes of the red cross dispensed life in the middle of death and destruction. It wasn't fashionable to make wise cracks about "pill-rollers" up where the slugs were flying. You blessed them instead.

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Re-print of "YANK" Magazine Article
December 3, 1944


By Sgt. Frank Woolner
Combat correspondent, 3AD HQ


Inside Germany - There was moonlight. The air was cold and fresh, and it reminded you of winter time at home. There was the same curved bowl of blue-green sky, the same stars winking frostily. The ground crunched pleasantly under your feet, and the apple trees which covered this little clearing might have been growing in old New England. You walked in memory at this moment, almost expecting to jump a woodcock in the half light. The clear cold was soothing after the raw weather, but it linked a bitter chain of circumstances which added up to the soldier's ever-present pang of loneliness.

This wasn't New England. On the horizon was a steady flickering, like heat lightning, only it was cold-white, and the thunder came jumping back in spasmodic crumps of sound. You looked more closely through the little orchard now, and you could see the backdrop of war. Tank destroyers crouched in the gloom, low-slung silhouettes with impossibly long guns jutting from their angular turrets. Even as you watched the big steel machines, they opened fire, first one and then another, in a succession of ear-splitting blasts. The rippling spout of white flame seemed to imprint itself on your eyes after it had been dissipated to drifting smoke. Your ears sang with the reverberations of the big 90mm guns; and the loneliness suddenly was gone - the present had reasserted itself.

This was Germany in the winter of 1944, and here was a platoon of a Tank Destroyer Battalion, attached to the 3rd Armored Division. There was a guy sitting here on the trunk of an apple tree which had been toppled by enemy fire. His name was Cpl. George Harland, and his home was in Housatonic, Massachusetts. George had evidently been lost in nostalgia, too, because he said, " Nice night for fox hunting, isn't it? "

And because you used to hunt foxes on nights like these, over the same choppy hills of New England, you slipped into a perfect understanding with this guy who was a gunner of a deadly war machine.

"Anything doing?" you asked, sitting down on the apple log.

"Not much. We're firing indirect and reaching out pretty far. That last serenade registered at nearly maximum range. There hasn't been much incoming mail. Got a few rounds from a Jerry railway gun last night, but I think the Thunderbolts got him."

Harland is an easy going Joe. His blue eyes are gentle and he speaks slowly, without using profanity. He doesn't talk about the scores of German vehicles he has blasted into rust-colored junk, or about the Mark-V that nearly left him at Fromental forever. Veterans don't boast about these things. They say mildly, "Nothing much doing," but if you sit around and bat the breeze, high adventure inadvertently creeps into the conversation. Steel and fire and death are the hallmarks of the armored forces, but the tankers and tank destroyers of our Army like to forget that. They'd rather talk about football back in '39, or what the Dodgers are doing-or how foxhounds might run a red fox on a night when moonlight etches run-down apple trees with silver. In a way this is as it should be. The tired guys who man our weapons are fighting for such privileges.

Here, beyond the Siegfried Line, these big tank destroyers were dropping shells up to maximum range from their reeking muzzles. In one twelve-hour period a platoon of the weapons had fired 480 rounds. They were M-36s equipped with a 90mm gun - four to a platoon, fast and maneuverable, each packing a wallop sufficient to sieve the heaviest tank in the world.

Jerry had reason to dislike these TDs. Led by a 27-year-old Lt. Colonel, Wilbur E. Showalter, of Kingman, Kansas, the battalion had harried Jerry across France and Belgium, wrecking his armor and self-propelled guns at ranges of anything from 25 yards to sight distance. They'd waylaid the panzers time and again, ambushed German motorized columns, played havoc with the enemy at countless load blocks from Perriers to Aachen. Now, when the American drive paused temporarily, to bring up supplies and to straighten the line before launching that all-out attack which would mean " Germany Kaput," these identical tank destroyers dropped back and supported the artillery as though they had been just waiting for this moment. It was hard on Jerry, but it wasn't news. Tank destroyers have always been a bitter pill for supermen to swallow.

This battalion came ashore in Normandy with the 3rd Armored Division, and went into action at St. Jean de Daye, France, in time to help smash a German counter-attack which was designed to reach the sea at Isigny. The 3rd became famous as an outfit that helped to spearhead the entire United States First Army forces from the breakthrough sector of Perriers-St. Lo to the Siegfried Line, making the most spectacular advance of the western campaign in an 18-day dash from the Seine to the German border. The Tank Destroyer Battalion was there in the dust and grime of that long attack. It shared the 3rd Armored Division's well-earned sobriquet: "The Spearhead."

A tank destroyer is a big vehicle. It looks like an underselling, angular tank, and it weighs 32 tons on the prowl. If you haven't studied your silhouettes, well, you might take it for a German panzerwagon. The gun is exceptionally long; and there, in fact, is the explanation of so much weight on a relatively thin-skinned vehicle - that wicked shooting iron and the counterbalance which allows smooth tracking.

The TD is not a tank. It has an open turret and a thin skin, in comparison to the hide of a Sherman or Mark-V. Fast, and extremely maneuverable, the M-36 can outslug any tank in the world, but in a duel with armor it would fare very badly. This sounds like a contradictory statement, but it isn't. While the heavy 90mm weapon of the TD will destroy anything on wheels or tracks, it must do so from a concealed position or suffer the consequences of a hit which would certainly pierce its inadequate armor. The motto of Tank-Destroyer Command is: " Seek-Strike-Destroy." Officers of this new branch of the Service add: "But never duel!"

TDs stalk their game like the black panther, which is their shoulder flash, and direct fire against enemy armor, which is the primary mission of these bulky looking but deceptively fast vehicles. They are, however, versatile, and may be used in other capacities.

Here in this little orchard, under a pale winter moon, the men who helped to bring the blitz back to Germany were practicing one of those secondary roles - that of indirect fire in support of field artillery. After the hectic, never-ending attack across France and Belgium, it was tame pursuit.

The billowing, acrid dust of France was in the nostrils of these men. Imprinted on their souls were the night marches and the slashing, triple-pronged attacks where tank and tank destroyer slugged it out at negligible range. They'd strewn the rust-colored carcasses of Hitler's panzer armies all along the road from Normandy to the Siegfried Line. They'd dueled with enemy armor in violation of every principle set down by tank destroyer command - because it was necessary, and because many things were done that way in order to further the rapid drive at all costs.

Naturally, there were casualties. One does not engage and defeat the Wehrmacht's elite without paying a price. They'd killed the enemy, and the enemy had struck back savagely even as he died. These campaign-toughened TD troopers remembered their dead. You can see that memory in the face of a seasoned soldier. It is in his mind, in his' tired eyes. You can easily note the transition in such a man from a relatively soft spirit of competition to quiet hate. A veteran knows no wave of sympathy as the bullet strikes home or the shell smashes a vehicle and its occupants to blood and tangled metal. It's kill or be killed. Death to the enemy, and elation as he falls.

There were things you couldn't forget. Like the dead in the ditches of Normandy, or the flaming action at Ranes and Fromental. Here, while British forces drove south to clamp shut the Argentan-Falaise pocket, 3rd Armored Division troops cut to the very center of the Nazi elite elements under von Kluge. The TDs fought gun to gun with heavily armored panzers. A Sergeant Commander named Juno met two of these wickedly efficient enemy vehicles at a bend in the road - smashed them both into smoking junk before they could lay on his thin-skinned destroyer. Then, when the wounded enemy soldiers cried for help, Juno left the safety of his destroyer to aid them. He was killed immediately in the explosion of burning ammunition.

It was the law of speed and hot steel in France. It was running vehicles beyond all the applied principles of maintenance, whipping them forward and praying' that they would hold up under the strain. They held. The engineering wizardry of Detroit made that hell-for-leather drive possible, and its very speed insured success. German forces were caught off balance and their storied organization disrupted completely. At Mons, in Belgium, an estimated 40,000 Wehrmacht troops were killed or made prisoner by the American 3rd Armored and 1st Infantry Divisions. One platoon of tank-destroyers, on road-block in that anoint city of battle, destroyed twenty German vehicles in a six-hour period. Sgt. Muriel F. Lehman, of Marissa, Ill., accounted for most of them, he and Sgt. Arthur Parnell, of Boston, Massachusetts, with their respective crews.

Mons may well have been the beginning of Germany's modern twilight of the gods. The thousands of troops killed and captured here had been counted upon to hold the Siegfried Line. They met the American "Spearhead" instead; part of them blundered into the tank destroyers of Lehman's platoon. There was a vicious battle in the narrow streets. Tank destroyer guns sent bolts of livid flame lashing into armored halftracks and dual purpose anti-aircraft guns. Cpl. Frank Karpinski of Scranton, Pa., leaned on his panoramic sight and destroyed two vehicles with one projectile. A column of flame, mushrooming out of the dark target, disclosed the German crewmen twisting and struggling in the fire like puppets on strings.

When dismounted German troops fired from a building nearby, Cpl. Jack Moriarity, of Arlington, Mass., set the place aflame with his 50 caliber gun. When the score was totted up it revealed the fact that Hitler had lost twenty armored vehicles, plus crews, and an undisclosed number of dismounted troops to one platoon of tank-destroyers. There were no TD casualties.

A German officer, wounded in the action, told Sgt. Lehman, "You Americans don't know how to fight. All you want to do is slaughter us."

"You're damned right," Lehman growled, "I learned the trade from your panzers in Normandy."

It was hard to become excited over indirect firing after the sort of action this group had been through. Although German artillery registered frequently on their positions, it wasn't hot, flashing action of the "Spearhead "in attack. Men ducked into their foxholes now, and cursed the artillery, but they came out again soon and laughed at the inaccuracy of the Jerry gunners. It wasn't like that at Fromental, in France.

There was no laughter at all in Fromental, but there was plenty of blood and sorrow. There was a little 2nd Lieutenant there, named Richard Ferchaud, from Baton Rouge, La. They remembered him all right. Because the tank destroyer men were all older than the little Lieutenant, they called him "Junior." After he led them in action they changed the name; it became "Little Blood and Guts." Ferchaud challenged a Mark-V at Fromental and lost a TD in the action. He lost part of, his jaw, too, and went to the rear gamely trying to persuade a medic to release him. He was all right, he said. The men say that he certainly was all right! The Mark-V is still at Fromental, incidentally; it is rusty and blackened, with a big ragged hole in its four-inch frontal armor.

There were lots of things like that. Men and events you'd never forget if you lived for the duration plus eternity. The " Spearhead!" burning towns in the summer darkness. Road blocks, and Jerries trailing back with their hands behind their heads. Dead Jerries, like green wax in Madame Tussaud's chamber of horrors. And our own dead. The big guy with the tattoo marking on his neck; it said " Cut on the dotted line." A sniper killed him at Liege. The men of his crew hunted down that sniper - a very unlucky superman.

The tank destroyers had come a long way since the surf of Normandy had baptized their Spinning wheels and tracks. New replacements laced the outfit together, but a majority of the old men remained. They were, you thought, all like Harland, more or less.

Harland still sat on the apple log, frowning when the whiplash concussion of the 90's interrupted his speech. He said again: "Nothing much doing," and added, "I wish we'd attack and get it over with."

His platoon had just finished winging 480 big 90mm shells on the way to disrupt German communication lines, but he didn't think that was very spectacular.

You walked away presently, through the little orchard of apple trees, back to the road and a waiting Jeep. Your-feet crunched deep in the frosty ground, and the moon was so bright that it cast a shadow before you. The big guns of war flickered and thundered, but it was mostly in the distance and, like George Harland, your thoughts again slipped into the groove of nostalgia. Perhaps he was right. It would be fine to get going - to get it over with and to go home.

What a night to run a pack of Walkers on a big dog fox.

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Re-print of "YANK" Magazine Article
September 22, 1944


By Sgt. Frank Woolner
Combat correspondent, 3AD HQ

Beyond the Siegfried Line in Germany - Here in the mud and wind of approaching autumn, in a town which is clamorous with the crump of enemy mortars and the sigh of our own shells passing overhead, elements of an elite American unit, the 3rd Armored "Spearhead" Division, were poised, waiting for the word which would send them slashing into greater Germany. In the new attack, tankers of this big striking force would have one regret: that S/Sgt. Lafayette G. Pool, lanky, one-time golden glove champion, from Sinton, Texas, could not be there to lead the assault.

In an armored division which earned the name "Spearhead" the hard way, battling through France and Belgium, Pool distinguished himself for all time. When he was wounded recently, his commanding officer, Lt. Colonel Walter B. Richardson, of Beaumont, Texas, said: "Pool is the tanker of tankers; he can never be replaced in this regiment." The Colonel had good reason to make such a statement.

During the great armored drives of the American First Army across Europe in the summer offensive of 1944, S/Sgt. Pool led his task force in 21 full scale attacks! He is definitely credited with 258 enemy vehicles destroyed, 250 German prisoners of war taken, and over 1,000 dead before the guns of his Sherman tank, IN THE MOOD.

On a windy hill in the Siegfried Line recently, Pool cheated death again, but in the action he was wounded and so sent back to convalesce. His record, however, stands. He is America's first ace of tankers. He is a soldier's soldier. I heard Pool's story from a man of the old crew, a man who had been there when the final shell struck his tank. In an anvil clash of sound, a pungent, dark explosion laced with sparks. Jerry finally broke up the team of American kids who had harried him across a continent. It was a lucky shot for Jerry.

We were sitting around in the wet darkness, batting the breeze as all GI's do in moments of relaxation, and listening to Jerry's mortar fire punch the ground. A thin spatter of rain beat on the tarp over our heads. It was doughboy weather, mean and muddy. The big medium tank crouched in the muck, its long 76mm gun peering around the corner, daring Jerry to come on.

This was a road block of the 3rd Armored Division. There was a screen of armored infantry out in front -- brave men in wet foxholes. The doughs were old hands at this game -- you couldn't see them and, excepting by accident, you couldn't hit them; they were too well dug in for that. But let Jerry attack and they'd be there all right, savoring the terrible exultation of the soldier who has suffered much and who hates the guts of his enemy.

The doughs were a first line of resistance. Road blocking tanks, like this one, were a second. An armored attack here would be suicide for the enemy. Jerry knew it. He kept his panzers in leash and waited nervously. He lashed out with mortar and artillery, but he kept his head down too. Normandy, France and Belgium had taught the Kraut a lesson. Guys from Fifth Avenue to the Loop and west to Sunset Boulevard had punched the arrogance off his face. The "Spearhead" had burned him and smashed him and ground him into the dust halfway across a continent. Now, like a condemned murderer. Jerry waited.

Our armor waited too, but it was a different kind of waiting; it was maintenance and supplies piling up. It was the collection of gasoline and ammunition -- all the stuff which would decide for all time whether Jerry was a superman and the Yanks, military idiots. Our armor waited like a boxer who impatiently flexes his muscles a moment before the bell.

There was one man on guard in the road-blocking tank: the rest of the crew sat around under the tarpaulin drinking hot Nescafe, and cursing each other amiably. It was dark, but you could see the guard in the turret, raincoat buttoned tight. He looked statue-like until he moved, slowly, like a mechanical man, to gaze carefully into the murky distance.

Cpl. Wilbert "Red" Richards, a pint-sized GI from Cumberland, Maryland, rubbed his eyes and wondered irritably "when the hell we're going to start moving."

Pfc. Bert Close, a thin, studious young man from Portland, Oregon, grinned and said: "Eisenhower's waiting for old Pool to get back. Can't spearhead without Pool."

We'd heard a lot about Pool. In the armored forces there aren't many aces because everything works as a team. It's infantry-tank-artillery-airplane, and everyone slugging shoulder to shoulder with the next guy.

"How about this guy. Pool?" we asked. "Was he finally killed ?"

"Killed!" shouted three voices in unison. "There ain't a Jerry shell in the world that could kill Pool or any of his crew. The best those squareheads could do was to wound him in the leg. He'll be back, and then God help the panzers!"

"What was he like?" we inquired.

The redhead, Richard, sat up and squinted his eyes. He passed a hand through his flaming red hair and scratched his scalp reflectively. "I was Pool's driver," he said, "and I guess I knew him as well as anybody in the regiment. He was a tall, skinny guy with a bent schnozzle. He got that in the golden gloves.

"Know what he used to call me? Baby! Imagine that! But he knew I could drive that old tank. He used to sit up there in the turret -- you could tell Pool anywhere by the way he sat up there, more out than in. He rode that tank like a Texas bronc. Well, he used to sit up there and give us orders through the intercom phone just as cool and calm as though the big show were a maneuver. All Pool wanted was to get out ahead of the other tanks so he could kill more Jerries.

"You know we had three tanks. Lost the first at La Forge, when a bazooka round hit us. The second got straddled with bombs at Fromentel. Pool just got to hating the Germans a little more, if that could be possible.

"Of course the crew's all broken up now. Pool went back with that leg wound, and so did Oller. Boggs' eyes were irritated by dust, and he's in a rest camp. That leaves Close and me. We don't get no rest at all, do we Bert?"

Faint skylight flickered on Close's glasses. He said, dryly: "Ten minutes after Red left Pool's tank he was driving another one up front. The Colonel said: "Richards, you want to go back?" That dope said: "No Sir, Give me and Close another tank to drive." The Colonel did just that. I was assistant driver -- what could I do?" You could see that Close hadn't wanted to do anything.

I think Pool would've gone back himself if the medics hadn't held him down," Richards chuckled. "He hated Germans, and he thought that he could lick 'em all. The guys used to draw straws to see who'd lead the spearhead. Pool would have none of that. He'd just say, "Ah'm leadin' this time," in his old Texas drawl -- and stand there, grinning, while we cussed him out.

"But we'd go along just the same. By God, I think we were more scared of Pool than of Jerry!"

"Remember," he turned to Close, forgetting us entirely in the way of men who have waded through hell together, "Remember the day ....."

So we just sat back in the wet darkness, with the rain on the tarp and the mortar fire for background, and listened.

When the division -- it was the "Bayou Blitz" then -- was activated at Camp Beauregard, Louisiana, back in 1941, Pool, a skinny kid from Texas, was right there in ranks. He came from the old 40th Armored Regiment, medium tanks, which was tamed for its cadres, and he was a rugged Joe. He was over six feet tall, wiry, with the sloping shoulders of a boxer and a twisted nose to remind him of the golden gloves. There was the beginnings of a legend about Pool even then. He'd won the sectional 165-pound crown at New Orleans, Louisiana, that year, but turned down an offer to go on to Chicago and the national final Golden Gloves tournament. The reason? Pool was a tanker first and a boxer second; his outfit had just been allotted a few of the latest medium tanks!

In action, as in the ring, Pool punched hard and accurately. He hated German theory and believed that he could beat the Wehrmacht, gun to gun, and man for man. He wanted the tough assignments. He asked for the dubious honor of leading those powerful armored attacks which knifed through the Nazi legions during our summer offensive.

Pool's crew was ideal for the task. Besides Richards and Close, there was Cpl. Willis Oller of Morrisonville, Illinois, gunner, and T/5 Del Boggs, of Lancaster, Ohio, the loader. Boggs fought with a special fury; he'd had a brother killed in the war. Oller, gunner of IN THE MOOD, is alleged to have seen all of Normandy, France, Belgium, and the Siegfried Line through the sights of his gun. He was very quick and alert. Richards recalled a night when the spearhead had driven deep into German lines from Origny, in France. It had become quite dark when the order finally came to halt and coil. Pool opened his mouth to say-" Driver, halt," but found himself looking at a big Jerry dual purpose AA gun in the gloom ahead. He said: "Gunner, fire!" And Oller, with his eye perpetually pressed into the sight, squarely holed the enemy weapon before its crew could recognize the American tank.

Night actions were commonplace to the crew of IN THE MOOD. At Colombrier, in France, Pool's leading tank almost collided with a Jerry Mark-V Panther, pride of the Wehrmacht. The Panther fired twice, and missed. Pool's single projectile tore the turret off the big German vehicle. Again, at Couptrain, the armored column reached its daily objective deep in the night. Besieged on all sides, unable to send help forward, Colonel Richardson listened to the radio report of the battle from Pool's vehicle. He heard the Sergeant say joyously: "I ain't got the heart to kill 'em ....." And then, over the airwaves came the mad rattle of the .30 caliber bow gun. And again the fighting Sergeant's voice "Watch them bastards run. Give it to 'em. Close!" Surrounded by dismounted enemy troops, Pool and his crew fought steadily until morning brought reinforcements.

The amazing score compiled by the Texas tanker and his gang is fully authenticated. At Namur, Belgium, they knocked out a record twenty-four-hour bag of one self-propelled sturmgeschutz gun and fifteen other enemy vehicles. It was great stuff for Pool. He was proving to himself, and to the world, that the American soldier is more than a match for Hitler's "supermen."

Again, at Dison, in Belgium, as the spearhead neared the great city of Liege, Pool distinguished himself. Acting as platoon leader, he characteristically decided to use one tank, his own, to clean out an annoying pocket of resistance on the left flank of the route they were travelling. After finding and destroying six armored infantry vehicles, Pool discovered that the head of his column had been fired upon by a German Panther tank. Hurriedly he gave orders to his driver to regain the column. Upon arriving at the scene of action he immediately observed the enemy tank, gave a single estimate of range to Oller. The gunner fired one armor-piercing projectile at 1,500 yards to destroy the Panther. The column went forward again. Pool at his accustomed place in the lead.

Although Lafe Pool lost two tanks to enemy action, he remained as nerveless as a mechanical man. The crew drew added confidence from his bearing under fire and as a result they worked beautifully together. From the day of the great breakthrough in Normandy, they had smashed the Wehrmacht before them, burned its vehicles, decimated its troops. These men seemed impervious to German shells. Twenty-one times they had led the irresistible drive of the American armor and remained unscathed in this most hazardous task of total war. Now, after crossing France and Belgium, smashing the famous outer fortifications of the Siegfried Line, and taking part in the action which resulted in the capture of the first Germon town to fall to U. S. forces, Pool and his crew turned their faces toward greater Germany and the last round.

The town was Munsterbusch, south of Aachen. Desperately, as the westwall crumbled into ruin, Panther tanks of the Reich came out to duel with Shermans of the 3rd Armored "Spearhead" Division.

Pool's tank, strangely enough, was working as flank guard of the task force that day. Watchers, including his Colonel, who also rode in a tank, saw the bright, lance-shaft of German tracer hit the turret of IN THE MOOD.

The big Sherman faltered. Inside, Pool said calmly, "Back up. Baby." And, as Richards backed the tank slowly, the second shell hit them well forward.

To Close, Oller, Boggs and Richards, there was only the space-filling, bell-sound of the hit, the acid stench of powder and the shower of sparks. They didn't know that Pool had been thrown clear, his leg bleeding profusely from a splinter wound. Richards continued to back the tank, carrying out his last order from the Sergeant.

Colonel Richardson saw the IN THE MOOD slowly reach a cut bank, tilt, and with the agonizing slowness of a nightmare, topple almost upside down.

At that moment Oller felt the hot blood on his legs and knew that he had been wounded. Richards, Boggs, and Close were unhurt. All four men crawled out of their tank. Medical aid men had already reached Pool, now two of them came forward to attend to Oller.

Pool cursed the Germans bitterly as the aid men bandaged his wound. As they placed him on a litter, he twisted suddenly and said: "Somebody take care of my tank."

Exit, for the time being, Lafe Pool, ace of American tankers. He thought he could beat Jerry. He did. He proved it so often that the record is an almost unbelievable document of total victory. In the arena of armored warfare, S/Sgt. Lafayette Pool, Golden Glover from Sinton, Texas, bowed out at a climactic moment. From the beaches of Normandy to the dragons teeth of the Siegfried Line, he had been the point of the "Spearhead."

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[author not identified]

That's what the doughboys and tankers of the 3rd Armored Division called them. Actually it was a term of endearment, because the men of the "Spearhead" knew and appreciated the worth of artillery liaison aircraft over the blazing front line.

It wasn't a spectacular job. The pilot sat up front and attended to the business of flying. Behind him, the observer, an experienced artilleryman, studied the ground and compared it with his 1/25,000 map. There was constant radio communication with Division Artillery, somewhere below and to the rear. Liaison pilots and observers were workmen. There was little glory attached to the service -- certainly none of the glitter and dash of pursuit or the Jove-like power of heavy bombardment. They didn't go home after completing a certain number of missions. Instead, they flew right out of one campaign and into another. Except for the complete adoration of ground forces, who had seen Cub observers direct withering counter-battery on enemy big guns, the reward was small.

Surveillance of scheduled shoots and the registration of counter-battery was the aerial observer's bread and butter, but quite often he was called upon to direct close support fire. In the bocage country of Normandy, where high ground was at a premium of blood, the Cubs were a God-send. Their appearance over the battle zone was a matter of vast satisfaction to Allied ground troops and a constant source of irritation to the enemy. German soldiers knew that the cost of poor camouflage discipline was always detection by the Cubs and a subsequent rain of American high explosives. There was nothing that Jerry could do about it; when he counter-attacked the American line, the flying observers brought down a barrage of hot steel.

When the Germans attempted to knock Fortresses and Liberators out of formation, ever-present Cubs put the finger on one flak position after another -- and "the finger" meant an immediate counter-battery. Sometimes the enemy was goaded to a boiling rage and then he sent over a flight of precious fighters to neutralize the irritation. A Luftwaffe pilot who bailed out of a smashed ME-109 over Hastenrath, Germany, admitted that his mission had been to strafe the landing strips of liaison aircraft. That day, seventeen enemy fighters were shot down by anti-aircraft while attempting to carry out like sorties.

There was plenty of danger in artillery flying. Flak and small arms was part of it; enemy planes were big poison. When a Focke-Wulf 190 popped out of the clouds or zoomed from the deck in a vicious attack, your Cub pilot might only rely on a minimum of evasive action to keep his dog-tags together. In comparison with a fighter, light plane speed was a joke. There was no armor plate to deflect machine-gun slugs and cannon fire, no high speed to elude attack.

Cub pilots were probably more respectful of their own artillery arching through the air on the way to enemy positions than they were of flak or Nazi fighters. Captain Francis P. Farrel, Division Air Officer, and a famous "Spearhead" pilot, was killed in action when his L-4 was destroyed by an American shell over Stolberg, Germany. Lt. Thomas Turner, a redheaded veteran of Africa and Sicily, as well as the western European campaign, barely escaped a like fate when a 105mm projectile passed completely through the stabilizer and rudder of his aircraft without detonating! These were the unfortunate accidents of war which were almost impossible to prevent under combat conditions.

There was no blemish of temperament about the little L-4 Cubs. They paced the attacking Spearheads day after day. Whenever the armor coiled, the small planes landed to refuel with regular gasoline before resuming aerial reconnaissance. The work was done from altitudes of 2,000 to 3,000 feet over the lines, but a low ceiling often forced the tiny machines much lower. Regardless of the weather, if there was any visibility at all, the Cubs went up.

Each artillery battalion of the "Spearhead" Division, along with the headquarters commanded by Colonel Frederic J. Brown, operated a pair of these small, but indispensable airplanes. They kept a constant vigil on the front line, and there was very little "incoming mail" when the " "Stukas" were flying.

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[Remembrance Poem]

by Alan Burr


God raise them high, that in the mold and clay,
As black and moldered sheaves, repose this while;
That were in life all-wild, high hued and gay,
Within their vein and stem; which now lie vile
In death. Maybe we the proper quittance, then -
Build we aloft some shape in stone: some pride,
To seat remembrance in the thoughts of men,
And honor these who poured out youth - who died.

There is no measure, no device of hand,
For us who live where sun can kiss our eyes;
Nor aught of any voice for all who stand
Beholden to these few; except that lies
Within the reaches of our hearts, unheard,
And will abide no name, nor any word.

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BRIGADIER GENERAL ALVAN C. GILLEM, JR., beloved first commander oi the 3rd Armored Division, came up through the ranks to become one of America's most notable Armored Force officers. He called the 3rd his "Always Dependable" division, and he helped instill, by word and deed, the fiercely proud esprit de corps which lingered with the new "Spearhead" long after he, General Gillem, had been promoted to higher command.

The 3rd Armored Division was led by another famous commander on the flaming western front of Europe, but among those of its troops who had come the whole long way, from activation at Camp Beauregard in 1941 to the road blocks of Dessau, Germany, in 1945, the memory of General Gillem, and his administration of a hard hitting young division in its early training, remained forever clear and brilliantly etched.

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MAJOR GENERAL LEROY H. WATSON, CG of the 3rd Armored Division throughout much of its formative training in the United States and in England, also led the command in Normandy before he was transferred to the 12th Army Group on August 6, 1944. General Watson was one of the original officer cadre of the 3rd, serving first as commanding officer of the 40th Armored Regiment. He was later given command of Combat Command "A", and became a Brigadier General at that time. In August, 1942, General Watson became CG of the 3rd Armored Division while it was training in the Mojave Desert. He became a Major General on September 9, 1942.

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[Battle of Mons]

By Sgt. Frank Woolner
Combat correspondent, 3AD HQ

"The army would be better off," said Pvt. Ed 'Father Dooligan' Dowling proudly, "if there were no non-coms or officers at all - like our crew." He gestured grandly about the circle; there were Pvt. Walter Stockowski, Pvt. Victor Doe, Pvt. Tom Escamilla, Pvt. 'Wee Willie' Willis, and T/5. Otto Reicharbt.

"What about T/5 Reicharbt?" the war correspondent asked.

"Do you call him a no-corn?" Dowling roared, "Him that is our driver and should by all rights be busted back to a civilian ?"

Otto chuckled at this sally. The war correspondent wanted to hear about an action at Mons.

"Say that the army let us down," Dowling exclaimed sadly. "Three times we asked for help, and three times did those scissorbills forget to send us help."


"So we had to kill off all the Krauts ourselves! Here was our little 57mm gun sitting in the valley on a road block. Here was a million Jerries trying to bust through our lines and get back to Hitler. First they sent an armored half-track . . . "

"The half-track wasn't the worst of it," 'Wee Willie' interrupted. "Just as we'd started a good argument about nothing in particular, Escamilla sings out 'More Jerries coming!' And we all got back to our guns."

"They came right over the skyline," Reicharbt said, "in single file as though they were on parade. That fooled us for a minute. I remember Doe saying, 'Those guys must be prisoners of war on the way back to the collecting point.'"

Dowling was puzzled. He put his glasses on the column. "Prisoners, me eye!" he yelled. "They're carrying machine guns!"

The 57mm gun went into immediate action, Stockowski and Doe pouring high explosive shells into the marching troops. 'Wee Willie' Willis flopped down behind his fifty, and 'Father Dooligan' zeroed the air-cooled .30 caliber machine gun.

"They were like a bunch of ducks," Dowling exclaimed. "The dumb bastards kept marching forward while we mowed them down. Finally they scattered and began to work us over with small arms. More troops came over the hill and we thought they'd That's when we sent back for help."

"There wasn't any help," Doe said, "The whole 'Spearhead' Division was up against the same situation. So we just kept pouring it into those Krauts. Willis burned up 600 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition and 'Father Dooligan' put 1300 through the .30. I don't think I'll tell you how many shells we used in the 57 - the supply officer would have kittens!"

"But you stopped the attack, didn't you?" the war correspondent said.

"Sure we stopped it," Dowling agreed. "We got a half-track and more than 250 Kraut troops."

"Without any help," 'Wee Willie' added.

"Without any help at all, at all," echoed 'Father Dooligan', and that turned out to be a good thing too - for had they sent us some goofy officer or non-com we'd all have been killed! But anyway," he chuckled, "tell em that the army let us down. And be sure to mention that there isn't a non-com in the crew. Get away Reicharbt, you model-T disgrace to our purity!"

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[author not identified]

-- and you came! Maybe you didn't want to but you did. Then it wasn't long before you weren't Mr. John Doe anymore, but Pvt. John Doe. One balmy day you had received that letter that starts: "Greetings" and you went down to take a physical - with your fingers crossed. It wasn't very tough. If you could SEE the "Doc" at five paces, and were WARM, then you were in, or at least on your way to an induction center.

What a send-off the gang gave you. Were they celebrating the fact that you were going or that they weren't? You wondered about it. Anyway you bid your best girl goodbye and boarded a bus headed for the great unknown.

On arriving at the "center" the first thing they made you do was strip down to one step past your unmentionables. Then you got a real physical. When those boys were through with you they knew your very thoughts for the last ten years and whether your great-grandmother had freckles or not.

You passed, and they led you outside with the others. One of those fellows in the brown suits lined you all up, made you wave your right arm and mumble, after him, a lot of words that ended with, "I do"! Then your troubles began in earnest.

You learned which was your right foot and that for some reason you were to always use it before you did the left one. You learned to wave your right arm at anybody who had any of that brass stuff on their shoulders, but not the guys with stripes on their arms.

They made you answer questions by the dozens to see if you had an I. Q. Whatever that is. Doctors appeared on the scene again and they put so many shots into your arms that you felt like a pincushion. It would be SOME bug that could live in you after all that stuff they pumped in.

You were a soldier now, so you must look the part. You were issued every item of clothing from undies to neckties and if they fit you they took 'em back. They hung like a tent, and there were forty-seven tags on each piece. As the weeks passed you worked and ate and slept. Worked, took ten-minute breaks, ate and slept. Then you saw the reason for the oversize clothes. They fit you now! Rather - you fit them. Unc was making a man of, you.

Life - army life - went on. Drill, K. P., guard duty and marching. You learned a lot of things. How to peel potatoes, how to shine shoes, and you learned how to make a bed that would have your mother green with envy. You worked and you dreamed. Dreamed of your girl, the next furlough, the duration over, and you dreamed of PFC stripes.

Weeks became months and you learned to beat - You take it from there, "You've had it!"

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[author not identified]

Remember ...

... the " City of Light"? You came in by way of the "Gare du Nord " and found yourself in the center of the most unusual city you had ever been in. You expected a lot in the way of fun and excitement here. You were not disappointed! Whether you came for wine, women, song or scenery, you got it in huge doses.

Remember "les Femmes"? Who could forget them! The shop girls, the girl you "just happened to meet" on the Metro, the one who showed you the way to the "Rainbow Club," and last (but not least) the "Zig-Zig" gals! After months in mud and battle you KNEW they were the most beautiful in the world.

One reason you came in was to get away from the army for a few days. Well. you didn't do it. It seemed like there were a million GI's in town. Especially around the Rainbow Red Cross Club that you made your headquarters.

There was the sidewalk cafe. Ten to a block. You sat there with your drink, rested your weary dogs and ogled the passing gals.

The gendarmes, who were dressed like a doorman at the Waldorf and who took twenty minutes to tell you the way to the next corner.

And the bicycles -- Seemed like everybody rode 'em! The stuff they could carry on one of the darned things. That bicycle-taxi was the deal though. You paid a small fortune to take your girl riding in one of them and got the thrill of your life. She had to hold on to something and you were nearest. Wheee!

Remember those long loaves of bread that everybody was taking somewhere. Boy, what a "hot dog" one would make!

That first cigarette butt you tossed away. How the people dove for it, and you almost had to quell a riot. You bought some "feelthy peekchures" (for a buddy of course) and ten to one you found out later that the top one wasn't so bad, but the rest- well, they were shots of statues or the like.

You went to the Folies-Bergeres (if you could get a ticket), to the "Lido" or Moulin Rouge. And there was always Pigalle, the Broadway of Paris. We called it "Pig-alley." That GI night club out there wasn't half bad, and a guy paid four bucks for his champagne instead of ten. And the floor show. One didn't get his money's worth because the gals "took it off" before a fellow had a chance to request it at the top of his lungs, like we do here in America.

Or maybe you were the literary type. You just came in to take in the culture. Well, there was plenty of that too. We all saw the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, with its grave of the Unknown Soldier, and Notre-Dame, and we all promenaded up the Champs Elysees - No! Not! The lady said that you pronounce it "Shawn-zay-lee-zay."

If you were interested in Art you had to hurry to take in even a small part of what there was to be seen. You saw the art galleries such as the "Rodin" and the "Louvre." Or you took trips to the studios of famous painters thru the Red Cross.

We saw the Conciergerie, Les Invalides, Place de l'Opera, le Madaline, Montmartre, the Pantheon. Place de la Concorde, Place Vendome, the Rue de la Paix. and the beautiful white Sacre Coeur on its hill top. Of course you remember them. They were all part of a"PARIS PASS"!

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