En veteranhistorie fra anden verdenskrig om livet i Long Range Desert Group

En veteranhistorie fra anden verdenskrig om livet i Long Range Desert Group

Denne artikel er et redigeret afskrift af SAS Veteran fra Anden Verdenskrig med Mike Sadler på Dan Snow’s Our Site, første gang sendt 21. maj 2016. Du kan lytte til hele afsnittet herunder eller til hele podcasten gratis på Acast.

Jeg arbejdede i Rhodesia i begyndelsen af ​​krigen og kom ind i hæren der. Jeg tog op til Somaliland som antitankskytter, inden jeg derefter blev sendt op til Nordafrika, til Suez, og endte med at grave skyttegrave omkring Mersa Matruh.

Alle sider i Anden Verdenskrig mente, at luftbombardement afgørende kunne påvirke det strategiske resultat af konflikten. Men virkede det hidtil usete angreb fra luften faktisk? Find ud af i denne dokumentarfilm med længde.

Se nu

Jeg fik et par dages ferie og tog til Kairo, hvor jeg mødte en masse Rhodesianere. De nævnte LRDG, Long Range Desert Group, som jeg aldrig havde hørt om.

Vi drak i forskellige barer, og de spurgte mig, om jeg ikke ville være med. De havde brug for en antitankskytte, som jeg tilfældigvis var dengang.

De fortalte mig om LRDG, en enhed for rekognoscering og efterretningstjeneste. Det lød spændende og interessant.

Så jeg formoder, at jeg meldte mig ind i LRDG i kraft af at drikke i de rigtige barer.

Folk har en tendens til at tænke på LRDG som forløberen til SAS, men det var det ikke rigtigt, for på det tidspunkt var SAS allerede ved at blive dannet, og jeg vidste ikke noget om det.

En LRDG -lastbil patruljerer i ørkenen i 1941.

Det blev dannet af David Stirling nede i kanalzonen, og LRDG -hovedkvarteret var dengang i Kufra, det sydlige Libyen.

På rejsen ned til Kufra var jeg så fascineret at se, at de måtte skyde stjernerne for at finde ud af, hvor vi var. Jeg sad ude med dem i løbet af natten for at se, hvad de lavede.

Og da vi kom til Kufra, var det første, de sagde, "Vil du være navigatør?". Og jeg tænkte: "Åh, ja".

Jeg kiggede aldrig ind i en anden antitankpistol efter det.

Jeg blev navigatør og lærte forretningen i to uger i Kufra og gik derefter ud på vores patrulje. Fra da af var jeg navigator i LRDG.

På det tidspunkt var LRDGs rolle for det meste rekognoscering, fordi ingen vidste noget om ørkenen.

I nogen tid troede man i Kairos hovedkvarter, at ørkenerne var mere eller mindre umulige, og at der derfor ikke var nogen mulig trussel fra italienerne i Libyen.

Paddy Mayne, SAS ’stjerneoperatør, nær Kabrit i 1942.


Special Operations Executive

Special Operations Executive blev dannet i 1940 og var en underjordisk hær, der førte en hemmelig krig i fjendtligt besat Europa og Asien. Dens agenter viste utroligt mod og opfindsomhed i deres guerillakrig. Ved at arbejde med modstandskræfter gav de et boost til moralen i de besatte samfund.

SOE-agenter med en Maquis-gruppe nær Savournon, Hautes-Alpe, august 1944

SOE-agenter med en Maquis-gruppe nær Savournon, Hautes-Alpe, august 1944


Heroes of Pearl Harbor: George Welch og Kenneth Taylor

Kenneth Taylor, en nyligt præget andenløjtnant i US Army Air Corps ’ 47th Pursuit Squadron, modtog sin første udstationering til Wheeler Army Airfield i Honolulu, Hawaii i april 1941. Hans kommandant, general Gordon Austin, valgte Taylor og en anden pilot, George Welch, som hans flyvebefalingsmænd kort efter de ankom til Hawaii. Sidst i november, blot en uge før det japanske angreb på Pearl Harbor, blev den 47. Pursuit Squadron midlertidigt flyttet til den ekstra flystrip på Haleiwa Field, der ligger omkring 11 miles fra Wheeler, til praksis med skydevåben.

Den 6. december 1941 var en lørdag. Taylor, en 21-årig fra Oklahoma, og den 23-årige Welch fra Wilmington, Delaware, tilbragte aftenen ved en dans, der blev afholdt i officerer ’-klubben på Wheeler Field. Efter dansen sluttede de to piloter sig til et pokerspil hele natten. Ifølge nogle beretninger var de to piloter endelig gået i søvn og blev vækket først omkring kl. 7:51, da japanske jagerfly og dykkerbombere angreb Wheeler. Andre kilder registrerer, at pokerspillet lige var ved at være slut, og de overvejede en morgensvømning.

Kenneth Taylor og George Welch. (Kredit: U.S. Air Force)

Under alle omstændigheder blev Welch og Taylor foruroliget over at høre lavtflyvende fly, eksplosioner og maskingeværild over dem. Efter at have opdaget, at to tredjedele af flyene ved hovedbaserne i Hickham og Wheeler Fields var blevet ødelagt eller beskadiget så hårdt, at de ikke var i stand til at flyve, sprang de i aktion. Uden ordre ringede Taylor til Haleiwa og befalede besætningen på jorden at forberede deres Curtiss P-40 Tomahawks til start. Imens løb Welch for at hente Taylor ’s nye Buick. Stadig iført deres smokingbukser fra aftenen før kørte de to piloter de 11 miles til Haleiwa og nåede hastigheder på 100 mph undervejs.

Ved landingsbanen hoppede Welch og Taylor ind i deres P-40'ere, som på det tidspunkt var blevet brændt, men ikke var fuldt bevæbnet. De tiltrak japansk ild umiddelbart efter start og stod næsten alene alene mod omkring 200 til 300 fjendtlige fly. Da de løb tør for ammunition, vendte de tilbage til Wheeler for at genindlæse. Da ledende officerer beordrede piloterne til at blive på jorden, fløj den anden bølge af japanske raiders ind og spredte mængden. Taylor og Welch tog fart igen, midt i en sværm af fjendtlige fly.

Selvom Welch ’s maskingeværer blev afbrudt, affyrede han sine .30 kaliber kanoner og ødelagde to japanske fly på den første sortie. På den anden, med sit fly stærkt beskadiget af skud, skød han yderligere to fjendtlige fly ned. En kugle gennemborede baldakinen i Taylor ’s fly, ramte hans arm og sendte granater i hans ben, men det lykkedes ham at skyde mindst to japanske fly ned og måske mere. (Han blev officielt krediteret med to drab, Welch med fire.)

Welch og Taylor under prisoverrækkelsen for deres Distinguished Service Cross -medaljer. (Kredit: U.S. Army Signal Corps samling)

Welch og Taylor var blandt kun fem luftvåbnets piloter, der formåede at få deres fly fra jorden og engagere japanerne den morgen. Det samlede amerikanske flytab i Pearl Harbor blev anslået til 188 fly ødelagt og 159 flere ødelagt, mens japanerne mistede kun 29 fly. Welch og Taylor modtog Distinguished Service Cross og blev de første til at blive tildelt denne udmærkelse i Anden Verdenskrig. Welch blev nomineret til Medal of Honor, militærets højeste pris, men blev efter sigende nægtet, fordi hans overordnede fastholdt, at han havde taget fart uden behørig tilladelse. For sine skader modtog Taylor det lilla hjerte.

Efter Pearl Harbor fløj George Welch næsten 350 missioner i Stillehavsteatret under Anden Verdenskrig og nedskydte yderligere 12 fly og vandt mange andre dekorationer. En kamp med malaria i 1943 satte en stopper for hans krigstidskarriere og landede ham på et hospital i Sydney, Australien (hvor han mødte sin kone). Efter krigen blev Welch testpilot for nordamerikansk luftfart. Ifølge nogle påstande blev han den første pilot til at bryde Mach-1-barrieren med en uautoriseret flyvning over Californiens ørken i 1947, flere uger før Chuck Yeager ’s berømte flyvning. Desværre blev Welch dræbt i 1954, mens han skubbede ud fra sit desintegrerende F-100 Super Saber jagerfly under en testflyvning.

Ken Taylor tog til det sydlige Stillehav efter Pearl Harbor, hvor han fløj ud af Guadalcanal og blev krediteret med at have nedfaldet et andet japansk fly. Men hans kampkarriere blev afkortet, efter at nogen faldt oven på ham i en skyttegrav under et luftangreb på basen og brækkede hans ben. Han blev kommandør i Alaska Air National Guard og steg til rangen som brigadegeneral over 27 års aktiv tjeneste. Ud over Distinguished Service Cross blev Taylor tildelt Legion of Merit, luftmedaljen og andre dekorationer. I sin postmilitære karriere arbejdede han som forsikringsgaranti. Taylor døde i Tucson, Arizona i 2006, 86 år gammel.


Cliff Booth, WWII -helten, der skulle have ændret historie

"Once Upon a Time. In Hollywood", Quentin Tarantinos episke hyldest 1969 Hollywood, er netop blevet udgivet på 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD og Digital. Det er allerede nomineret til fem Golden Globe -priser og vil få mindst så mange, når Oscar -nomineringer annonceres efter jul.

Leonardo DiCaprio spiller hovedrollen som Rick Dalton, en tidligere stjerne i tv -westerns, der kæmper for at forblive relevant i en industri i forandring. Brad Pitt støtter som Cliff Booth, Ricks stunt-dobbelt, driver og all-round assistent. De har været uadskillelige, siden Rick spillede hovedrollen i NBC -serien "Bounty Law".

I de mellemliggende år har Rick levet af hovedrollen i indkøbspris med lavt budget, karakteriseret ved billedet fra Anden Verdenskrig "The 14 Fists of McCluskey." Tarantino giver os en kort prøve, hvor Dalton (som Sgt. Mike Lewis) tager en gruppe nazistiske officerer med en flammekaster, mens han råber: "Var der nogen, der bestilte stegte surkål?"

Booth var en helt fra Anden Verdenskrig, og han er hjemsøgt af rygter om, at han slap med at dræbe sin kone i en ulykke, som filmen viser i flashback, men ikke rigtig afgør, om skyderiet faktisk var med vilje. Han er også fulgt op af historier om en hændelse, hvor han sparkede Bruce Lees røv på "Green Hornet" -sættet (i det mindste er det sådan Cliff husker den dag i flashback).

Cliff møder familien Charles Manson, mens Rick filmer en pilot til den (egentlige, ægte) CBS -tv -serie "Lancer". Han giver Manson -pigen Pussycat (Margaret Qualley, datter af Andi MacDowell) en tur tilbage til familieforeningen på Spahn Ranch og giver et indblik i den mørke side af æraen.

Quentin bygger op til et stort øjeblik, hvor han omskriver historiebogen på en måde, der er lige så skandaløs som Hitlers attentat i "Inglourious Basterds." Endnu engang er Brad Pitt i centrum for handlingen, når tingene bliver behårede, og denne gang leverer Cliff Booth knockout -slag og ændrer historiens gang.

Pitt er usædvanligt god som den slags "no talk, all action" WWII -veteran så elsket af Hollywood -film og fans af den største generation. Han har aldrig været bedre, og han ville være en film om sin første fungerende Oscar, hvis han ikke var oppe imod Joe Pescis lige store præstation i "The Irishman". Det kommer til at være tæt på, men de giver begge de bedste præstationer i deres respektive karriere i to af årets fineste film.

Tarantino soundtracks filmen med sange fra 1969, der appellerede til den seks-årige knægt, han var dengang. Du får meget Paul Revere & amp the Raiders -musik og intet af angiveligt seje artister som Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix eller The Doors. Som sædvanlig er musikken en af ​​de bedste dele af en Tarantino -film.

Hjemmevideo-udgivelsen indeholder fremragende featurettes bag kulisserne og en samling af filmens bedste musikdrevne scener, der kan afspilles som en enkelt afspilningsliste. De fysiske diske indeholder nogle slettede scener fra sættet med "Lancer" plus en utrolig reklame for filmens falske Old Chattanooga -øl, der er fortalt af Walton Goggins med en overdrevet sydlig accent, der er skandaløs selv efter hans standarder.

Tarantinos hårde fyre har aldrig været hårdere, og han har aldrig lavet en bedre film. Cliff Booth er en af ​​Quentins fineste karakterer nogensinde, og WWII-veteranen er den rigtige helt her.


Bøger om anden verdenskrig

Anden verdenskrig: Hvordan den første globale konflikt blev bekæmpet og vundet af Victor Davis Hanson. 720 sider (17. oktober 2017) Grundbøger. Prof. Hanson bringer sine talenter som militærhistoriker, analytiker og forfatter til at producere denne vigtige nye behandling af hele Anden Verdenskrigs omfang. Den enorme og ødelæggende konflikt sluttede i 1945, men påvirker stadig verden langt ind i det 21. århundrede. Forfatteren forklarer sin vision om anden verdenskrig på dette link.

U.S. Cavalry - Time of Transition, 1938-1944: Horses to Mechanization af Gary W. Palmer. 510 sider (29. marts 2013) Voyak Publications. Forfatteren blander officielle krigsrekorder med friske interviews, historier og sjældne fotos fra personlige og arkivsamlinger, og følger 106. Cavalry Group, en enhed i Illinois National Guard, da dens 1.500 personelle overgang fra heste til køretøjer og deltager i den skelsættende Louisiana -træning manøvrer fra 1940 41. Palmer afdækker også aktiviteterne bag kulisserne i krigsafdelingen, hærens generalstab og andre militære enheder, da de tester ildkraften i det traditionelle hestekavaleri mod de nye teknologier med tanke, jeeps og andre mekaniserede køretøjer.

Kompagnichef: Det klassiske infanterimemoir fra anden verdenskrig af Charles B. MacDonald. 288 sider (19. oktober 1999) Burford Books. Bogen blev oprindeligt udgivet i 1948 og er OCS -uddannet kaptajn MacDonalds daglige erfaring som kommandør for kompagni I og senere kompagni G, 23d infanteri, 2. infanteridivision fra september 1944 til slutningen af ​​krigen. Riffelvirksomheder som disse var hjertet i den amerikanske hær. Historien er ikke smuk og handler ikke om MacDonalds heroiske præstationer, den fejrer snarere den virkelige infanterist - rifleman, maskingeværet, messengeren, mortarman - hvad han gjorde og hvad han udholdt for at gøre det.


Tirsdag den 2. april 2013

Livet som soldat i anden verdenskrig

Livet som soldat under anden verdenskrig var ingen godbid. Det involverede flere krævende kedelige opgaver og konstant bevægelse. Boligerne var sparsomme. Soldater gravede eller brugte eksisterende kratere til at bygge en bunker og levede ud af bunkeren i flere måneder ad gangen. Bunkerne var ofte varme, ildelugtende og våde om sommeren og om vinteren var bunkerne kolde og fugtige. Bruserne var få og langt imellem. Maden var heller ikke femstjernet kvalitet. Som soldat spiste man endeløst på uendelige dåser mad, ofte dåser på kød og grøntsager - for det meste bønner med kiks. Soldater var heldige at blive fyldt op på grund af at skulle fordele maden jævnt blandt alle soldaterne.

Uniformer var ikke tilstrækkeligt egnede til vintermånederne, og mange soldater frøs ihjel. Ammunition og mad prioriterede tøjet, så mange måtte enten tilpasse eller improvisere med deres uniformer for at overleve. Mange, der blev indkaldt, tjente i 2 til 4 år, og hvis en soldat var en grundsoldat, kom soldaten ikke hjem, før den var helt slut. En soldats liv var ikke noget, der var genert for helvede. Dette er en af ​​grundene til, at veteranerne fra 2. verdenskrig er blandt de mest respekterede af alle veteraner.


Desert Island Discs med krigsveteran på 3.000. show

Tidligere Royal Navy testpilot Eric & quotWinkle & quot Brown vises på showet fredag ​​14. november.

Brown, 95, er Navy Fleet Air Arm 's mest dekorerede pilot og har rekorden for flest landinger med flydæk.

Han menes også at have fløjet flere flytyper end nogen anden.

Præsentator Kirsty Young, der har præsenteret Desert Island Discs siden 2006, beskrev Brown som & quotden perfekte castaway & quot for at fejre den 3.000 udgave.

& quotTalate til ham om hans bemærkelsesværdige, vove-djævle liv var som rørende historie. En charmerende og twinkly mand, & quot sagde hun.

Programmet blev første gang sendt den 29. januar 1942 og blev udtænkt og præsenteret af dramatiker og romanforfatter Roy Plomley, der hver uge bad en gæst om at vælge otte sange, en bog og luksusartikel til deres imaginære ophold på øen.

& Quotcastaways & quot inviteres derefter til at diskutere deres liv og årsager til deres valg.

Plomley præsenterede showet indtil 1985. Michael Parkinson overtog i to år og blev efterfulgt af Sue Lawley (1988-2006).

Showets gæster over 72 år har inkluderet Aung San Suu Kyi, Elton John, Nicole Kidman og Stephen Hawking.

Radio 4 -controller Gwyneth Williams sagde: & quotVi elsker alle Desert Island Discs - og den uforlignelige Kirsty. Det, der er spændende for mig, er at se denne Radio 4 -juvel i et program tage nyt liv i den digitale verden.

Lyttere - og ofte unge lyttere - opdager det og udforsker det rige arkiv, så det bringer Radio 4 til et nyt publikum, når folk lytter på forskellige måder. Her 's til de næste 3.000 udgaver. & Quot


The Star byder to veteranjournalister velkommen til personalet

To veteranjournalister har sluttet sig til Ventura County Star's personale.

Chris Bowman trådte ind som avisens administrerende redaktør den 15. marts. Han vil hjælpe med at føre tilsyn med den overordnede redaktion af redaktioner og arbejde med journalister om undersøgelseshistorier og dybdegående artikler.

Wes Woods II er den nye West County -reporter. Han vil dække Ventura, Ojai, Santa Paula, Fillmore og Piru.

Bowman, 66, har mere end 30 års erfaring med rapportering i dagblade, herunder 24 år som miljøreporter for Sacramento Bee.

Chris Bowman (Foto: BIDRAGT FOTO/CHRIS BOWMAN)

Han har tjent adskillige priser og hædersbevisninger, herunder at være den første amerikanske journalist udpeget af Harvard University til en miljø Nieman Fellow, som gav et års studie med eksperter på forskellige områder. Bowman var også en del af et Sacramento Bee -team, der vandt en Wallace Stegner -pris for miljødækning af det amerikanske vest og tilbragte fire måneder med at uddanne journalister i Zimbabwe som senator J. John Heinz III i international miljørapportering.

"Jeg har altid haft en public service -opringning," sagde Bowman, en, der går tilbage til hans dage som redaktør for hans Bay Area high school avis. Han blev myndig i Watergate -æraen og begyndte sin professionelle karriere kort tid efter, i slutningen af ​​1970'erne.

Bowmans tidlige liv involverede et dusin flytninger rundt i landet. Han blev født i Minnesota, men blev ikke længe. Hans far, en flådeflyver fra anden verdenskrig, fortsatte i luftfartsbranchen med at sælge små fly, primært Cessna -fly.

Et af disse træk, fra Cessnas hovedkvarter i Kansas til Billings, Montana, udløste en livslang kærlighed til fluefiskeri. Bowman, dengang 11, sagde, at han græd ved første øjekast af en klar ørredstrøm. Kvarterets børn lærte ham at binde sine egne fluer. Han hentede en bambusstang på et apotek.

Han havde taget et sikkert jagtkursus og var ved at få et haglgevær, da familien flyttede til Bay Area -samfundet i San Mateo. Denne ankomst til Californien, i en alder af 12 år, varede gennem hans gymnasieår og derover.

Som teenager tog Bowman billeder af olieudslippet fra Santa Barbara i 1969 fra sin fars Cessna.

Bowman opnåede en bachelorgrad i historie fra UC Davis og en kandidat i journalistik fra Columbia University og startede sin karriere som reporter for Press-Enterprise i Riverside i 1978. Han dækkede statsregering ved Hartford Courant i to år og arbejdede derefter på Bien fra 1985 til 2009, der ender som senior miljøreporter.

På det tidspunkt - midt i industrielle kramper, der skar stærkt i avispersonale under finanskrisen i 2008 og den store recession - skiftede han til taleskrivning, kommunikation og redigering.

"Faktum er, at jeg aldrig rigtig forlod journalistikken," sagde Bowman. "Journalistikken forlod mig, som den gjorde for andre journalister." Han var blandt de snesevis af Bee -medarbejdere, der blev afskediget "i ét slag" i 2009 på recessionens højdepunkt.

Han havde altid ledt efter en mulighed for at vende tilbage. Hans første kald blev ved med at ringe højere, sagde han, "især i de sidste fire år, da vi havde regeringsledere på højeste niveau mærket journalister" offentlig fjende nr. 1. "

Ventura County vil blive et nyt område for Bowman, selvom hans kone, Linda Ackley, en miljø- og vandadvokat, var reporter i begyndelsen af ​​1980'erne på Venturas KVEN, dengang en nyhedsstation.

"Jeg elsker bjergene. Hun elsker havet," sagde Bowman. "Her har vi begge, side om side."

Wesley Woods II (Foto: BIDRAGT FOTO/WESLEY WOODS II)

Woods, 44, West County reporter, startede mandag. Hans professionelle karriere startede med en praktikplads i Desert Sun i Palm Springs, nu Star's søsterpublikation, og inkluderer stints hos Press-Enterprise i Riverside, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin i Rancho Cucamonga, Los Angeles Daily News og Outlook Newspaper i La Cañada Flintridge.

Han har dækket offentlige instanser, infrastruktur og offentlig sikkerhed og vundet priser fra California News Publishers Association for undersøgende og dybdegående rapportering.

Woods har også stor erfaring som underholdningsreporter, herunder førende dækning af Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival for Inland Valley -papiret. Hans kærlighed til musik, især hip-hop, går tilbage til hans ungdom.

"I gymnasiet talte det virkelig til mig," sagde Woods om genren.

Indfødt i Coeur d'Alene, Idaho - der tilbragte hele sit unge liv i samme hus - sagde, at rockmusikken, der blev spillet i radioen, ikke gav genklang for ham. Hans passion for hip-hop bragte ham til Californien, da hans bedste ven opfordrede Woods til at slutte sig til ham på college-papiret, Cal State's Daily 49er.

Snoop (Dogg, rapperen) var fra Long Beach, mindede vennen ham om. Woods fik sin bachelorgrad på Long Beach -universitetet og udvidede ved at dække musikfestivaler sin smag til mange andre genrer.

Selvom hans byline måske er ny for læserne, har Woods en lang, stærk forbindelse til stjernen. Hans kone, Wendy Leung, dækkede tidligere uddannelse og Oxnard på stjernen i ni år, før hun for nylig forlod for at arbejde for Center for Biologisk Mangfoldighed.

Woods sagde, at han ser frem til at dække vest -amtet.

"Jeg er virkelig begejstret for det," sagde han.

Gretchen Wenner dækker de seneste nyheder til Ventura County Star. Nå hende på [email protected] eller 805-437-0270.

Lokal dækning er kun mulig med støtte fra vores læsere. Tilmeld dig i dag for et digitalt abonnement.


Kaptajn Arthur W. Wermuth

Arthur Wermuth lignede ikke en officer i den amerikanske hær. Den tidligere fodboldstjerne fra South Dakota, der havde et overskæg og Vandyke -skæg, udholdt sin kampdåb i den sidste uge af 1941 og ind i den første uge af 1942. Afgang fra Manila dagen efter jul med de 150 mand fra kompagni D, 57. infanteri (Filippinske spejdere), var han blevet beordret af oberst George Clark til at lægge sin lille styrke i linjerne på Northern Luzon og "Grav ind og hold !.

Over for Wermuths lille og generelt utrænede, men lige så bestemte styrke af filippinske spejdere var en hel division af japanere, der hurtigt pressede sydpå efter landing på den nordlige kyst af Luzon. Efter ti dages modstand havde kaptajn Wermuth ikke længere befalingsstyrke-kun 37 af hans soldater havde overlevet. De var sammen med andre enheder fra general Jonathan Wainwrights nordlige Luzon -styrke endelig blevet tvunget til at falde tilbage.

I mellemtiden justerede general Wainwright sine styrker syd for Calaguiman-floden, der flød fra næsten kilometer høje Mount Natib, der deler Bataan-halvøen, østpå i Manila-bugten. Floden var et definerende geografisk træk i det, der blev kendt som Abucay Line, en endelig defensiv position i bestræbelserne på at holde ud mod den japanske general Hommas fremrykning på østsiden af ​​Bataan, indtil lovede forstærkninger ankom. Straddling floden var den vigtige krydset barrio Kalaguiman.

Den 9. januar, da japanerne lancerede den første i en lang række voldsomme angreb mod Abucay -linjen, havde kompagni A i det 57. infanteri (filippinske spejdere) stillinger nær Kalaguiman, som var nord for Abucay -linjen og forsvarernes hovedstyrke. . De filippinske soldater og deres amerikanske officerer var kamptrætte og demoraliserede i lyset af fortsat og tilsyneladende forgæves modstand. For at styrke moralen blev kaptajn Wermuth, hvis kompagni D næsten var tilintetgjort, sendt for at slutte sig til dem. Tre dage tidligere havde Wermuth demonstreret sine uhyggelige kampevner ved at gå alene forbi tusinder af japanske tropper for at nå en forpost isoleret bag fjendens linjer. Det havde været begyndelsen på en utrolig række handlinger, der ville gøre den imponerende skikkelse af en mand, der gik i kamp med en Thompson-maskingevær slunget over hans skulder og to .45 kaliberpistoler hylsteret som en vestlig pistolskytter, en af de første amerikanske helte fra Anden Verdenskrig.

Den følgende nat havde det fortsatte angreb tvunget de filippinske spejdere længere mod syd, og japanerne var kommet ind og kontrollerede Kalaguiman. På de allieredes hovedkvarter blev det fastslået, at den eneste effektive måde at forsinke yderligere fremrykning var at ødelægge barrioen og derefter sprænge træbroen, som fjendtlige tropper fortsatte deres fremrykning sydpå. Kaptajn Wermuth meldte sig frivilligt til at udføre opgaven.

Wermuth gik ud før daggry og samlede to fem-gallon tromler benzin, og gled forbi infiltrerede fjendtlige snigskytter, dybt bag hvad der nu var fjendens linje, og ind i Kalaguiman. Med vinden blæst fra nord, krøb han hele vejen gennem byen, nu beboet af hundredvis af japanske soldater, de fleste af dem sov stille og roligt i hytterne hos lokale landsbyboere, som deres invasion havde fortrængt til de omkringliggende jungler. Bag ham, tilbage bag de venlige linjer, forberedte filippinske artillerister deres store kanoner til en større brandmission. Planen, der blev udarbejdet tidligere den morgen, var at begynde at beskyde byen fem minutter efter, at de første røgstumper fra Wermuths brand blev set. Forsinkelsen var al den tid, der ville blive tildelt Wermuth til at sprænge broen med en sækladning af TNT, han også bar, og bevirke sin flugt.

Wermuth krybede stille og roligt hele vejen gennem byen og nåede de nordlige grænser og gik derefter tilbage på sit trin og spredte sin benzin mod murene i stråtækte landsbyer, hvori mange fjender stadig sov på trods af, at klokken var næsten ti Den farlige opgave endelig gjort, slog han en tændstik og begyndte at gå mod den vigtige bro. Den efterfølgende brand varslede hele fjendens styrke, hvoraf mange strømmede ind i den hårdtpakkede snavs hovedgade i flammer og døde. Andre begyndte hurtigt at søge efter ubudne gæster. Krybende gennem en mørk gyde fandt Wermuth sin vej blokeret af tre fjendtlige soldater. Hidtil havde skyggerne skjult hans tilstedeværelse, men han vidste, at tiden var ved at løbe tør. Han indså også, at ethvert forsøg på at skyde dem ned ville afsløre hans placering og udsætte ham for øjeblikkelig og nådesløs skud. Han kiggede nervøst på sit ur, mens dyrebare sekunder tikkede væk. Med fire minutter tilbage begyndte han at hæve sin Thompson, da de tre japanere endelig flyttede væk. Krybende hurtigt gennem gyden brød han endelig ind i det klare solskin og begyndte et desperat zigzag -løb mod broen.

Kugler begyndte at sprøjte rundt om ham, en af ​​dem borede i Wermuths ben og tvang ham til at snuble kort. Ignorerede smerten, han løb videre, selvom de første runder af det, der nu måske ikke var så venlige artilleri, begyndte at regne ned over Kalaguiman. Heldigvis distraherede ildkraften fjenden nok til at give Wermuth den tid, han havde brug for til at plante sine anklager, sprænge broen og derefter forsigtigt kravle sig tilbage gennem de skjulte japanske snigskytter for at nå venlige linjer. Der fjernede læger en kugle af lille kaliber, der havde lagt sig i hans kalv, der knap nok manglede knogler, og kaptajn Wermuth fik sit første lilla hjerte.

For kaptajn Arthur Wermuth havde det været et risikabelt, men nødvendigt foretagende. Bag ham, ud over broens brændende ruiner og inde i Kalaguimans ulmende aske, lå mere end 300 japanske soldaters sorte kroppe.

Heroes of Bataan

Kampene langs Abucay -linjen den anden uge i januar var hårde, brutale og kritiske for bestræbelserne på at holde. Kaptajn Arthur Wermuths heroiske handlinger med at ødelægge broen ved Kalaguiman forsinkede kun midlertidigt det japanske fremskridt på den allieredes hovedlinje i modstand. Om natten og den følgende dag den 11.-12. Januar, ikke langt fra Kalaguiman, befandt andenløjtnant Arthur Sandy Nininger sig konfronteret med horder af fremrykkende fjendtlige soldater. Selvom Nininger blev tildelt kompagni A, 57. infanteri, havde Nininger under det korte pusterum fra kamp Wermuths handling knyttet sig til kompagni K i bestræbelserne på at genvinde positioner langs linjen, taget da japanerne infiltrerede et stokmark.

Om natten den 11. januar, efter en artilleri spærring, havde skatter af japanere angrebet linjen i en Banzai -ladning. Bølger af skrigende fjendtlige soldater strømmede ind i linjerne i lyset af intens ild, mænd fra den førende bølge kastede deres kroppe over pigtrådsspærringer for at skabe "broer", over hvilke følgende bølger kunne passere. Narcisco Salbadin bemandede et vandkølet maskingevær i et forsøg på at slå fjenden tilbage. Han dræbte snesevis af angribere, men hver gang en faldt, så det ud til, at to flere skyndte sig frem for at erstatte ham. Da hans maskingevær fastklemte, begyndte Salbadin at skyde med sin .45 pistol og dræbte fem. Hans tommelfinger blev afskåret, da en japansk soldat angreb ham med en bajonet, men trods tabet fastholdt han grebet, vred geværet fra angriberen og vendte det derefter for at ramme bajonetten i fjendens soldats bryst.

Da Banzai -anklagen endelig begyndte at vakle, vendte spejderne sig offensive for at smide fjenden tilbage og genvandt jorden, som japanerne nu hævder. Løjtnant Niningers efterfølgende Medal of Honor-citat afslører hans egen ualmindelige heltemod: "I de hånd-til-hånd-kampe, der fulgte, tvang løjtnant Nininger gentagne gange sin vej til og ind i den fjendtlige position. Selvom han blev udsat for kraftig fjendtlig ild, fortsatte han med at angribe. med riffel og håndgranater og det lykkedes at ødelægge flere fjendtlige grupper i rævehuller og fjendtlige snigskytter. Selvom han blev såret tre gange, fortsatte han sine angreb, indtil han blev dræbt efter at have skubbet alene langt inden for fjendens position. " I denne aktion blev andenløjtnant Nininger det første medlem af den amerikanske hær, der tjente æresmedaljen i anden verdenskrig. I sidste ende var det japanske fremskridt midlertidigt stoppet, men anklagen havde efterladt hundredvis af japanske snigskytter i live og skjult i træer og skyttegrave langs Abucay -linjen. Opgaven med at finde og ødelægge dem skulle tage dage med dødelige kampe.

For Arthur Wermuth betyder de fortsatte angreb ingen tid til at komme sig efter sine egne sår. Fem amerikanske marinesoldater, fordrevne fra deres egen enhed under kampen om Bataan, ankom til det 57. infanterihovedkvarter. Sergent Bill Eckstein beskrev sine mænd som på "løsrevet tjeneste med den amerikanske hær for at lære dem at kæmpe." Eckstein og hans kammerater blev hurtigt budt velkommen af ​​Wermuth, som spildte lidt tid på at sætte dem i aktion.

Den 15. januar indsatte kaptajn Wermuth det, der var tilbage af hans kompagni langs stokmarken, der grænsede op til venstre side af hovedvejen mellem Kalaguiman og Abucay. Han sendte derefter to patruljer for at begynde at brænde feltet, førte den ene patrulje selv og placerede den anden patrulje under ansvaret for marinesergent Eckstein.

Ecksteins patrulje nåede først midten af ​​feltet, en forhøjet lysning, og den fordrevne marine rejste sig op for at kigge videre. Pludselig slog fem runder ind i hans krop og sårede ham alvorligt. Marine privates Bill Brown and Al Sheldon crawled forward to their sergeant, amid a continuing hail of enemy fire. "Get out of here with the Sarge," Brown shouted, even as scores of Japanese raced, firing as they ran, at his exposed position in the clearing. While Sheldon dragged his sergeant to safety, Brown knelt and coolly snapped off deadly single-shots for five minutes, dropping Jap after Jap. Then his luck began to run out. More than 100 Japanese raced to the edge of the clearing, setting up a machine-gun to rake Brown's position. Repeatedly hit by enemy fire, Brown maintained his position, holding an entire Japanese company at bay until his sergeant had been removed to safety.

For his heroic actions to save the life of his sergeant, at the cost of his own life, Private First Class Robert Joseph Brown became the first of 31 U.S. Marines to be awarded the Army's Distinguished Service Cross in World War II

For extraordinary heroism in action in the vicinity of Abucay, Bataan, Philippine Islands, on 15 January 1942. While on legal leave from his proper unit, Private First Class Brown voluntarily joined a detail from the 57th Infantry which was charged with the mission of destroying an enemy position through which snipers were infiltrating into our lines. During the performance of this mission this intrepid soldier, observing that one of his companions had been severely wounded, and was unable to move, proceeded without orders in the face of enemy machine-gun fire at close range in an effort to evacuate the casualty. Silencing a hostile gun by a well-placed hand grenade, and inflicting several additional casualties on another enemy group which prevented his reaching the vicinity of the wounded man, Private First Class Brown had thereby disclosed his position to the enemy and was mortally wounded by the ensuing enemy fire.

For Captain Arthur Wermuth, watching that young Marine's valiant stand was at once both inspiring and heart-rending. Even when Private Brown was dead, the Japanese continued to vent their hatred by raking his body with machine-gun fire. Yelling above the fray, Wermuth shouted, "Jock, burn the field," and then to his men, "Shoot every little son-of-a-bitch who comes running out." By sunset, 207 dead Japanese lays in and around the cane field.

"Jock" was Sergeant Crispin Jacob, Captain Wermuth's closest friend. Described by Wermuth as "a huge black native from Zamboanga (a southern Philippine Island)," the half-Filipino/half-oriental giant would join his commander in exploits that would become legendary.

General Douglas MacArthur awarded Captain Wermuth the Distinguished Service for his actions in and around Kalaguiman during the week of 10 to 16 January 1942. On February 23, 1942, TIME magazine detailed Wermuth's exploits under the headline "One Man Blitz", describing one of Wermuth's missions:

"On one of his reconnaissance patrols Captain Wermuth, from a foxhole, spotted a long line of Japanese crossing a ridge. 'I worked them over with my Tommy gun,' he said, 'and got at least 30 like ducks in a Coney Island shooting gallery.' Attracted by the shooting, five Filipino Scouts rushed to the scene, helped Arthur Wermuth polish off '50 or 60' more of the enemy party."

By the time that story gave the American public one of its first LIVING heroes of the war, throughout the Philippines Captain Arthur Wermuth had become known as the One Man Army of Bataan. Among the Japanese, who now had placed a reward, dead or alive, on Arthur Wermuth or his band of 84 volunteer snipers, Wermuth was known by another nickname--Bataan ne Yurei.

The Ghost of Bataan

Sergeant Crispin Jock Jacob and Captain Arthur Wermuth

When the stories of Captain Arthur Wermuth began circulating back in the United States, they contained the information that the One Man Army of Bataan has "Absolutely accounted for at least 116 Japanese dead and an inestimable number of prisoners." Hearing this, Colonel Royal Page Davidson, Superintendent of Northwestern Military and Naval Academy at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, told Time magazine, "Is that all? He'll have to do better than that!" No doubt it was a comment made with both pride and expectation. Colonel Davidson knew Wermuth well as a young man, and Wermuth would in fact do better than that before he was done.

The son of a World War I veteran and prominent Chicago family that subsequently moved to a ranch in South Dakota, Arthur Wermuth grew up in that tough Old West fashion. During summers he worked the ranch, and the rest of the year attended classes at Northwestern, where he excelled at football, in at nothing else. In fact, Wermuth's poor grades and, perhaps even more his rough lifestyle, preempted his initial goal of attending West Point. Wermuth once told a friend that it was because of his "old-fashioned Dutch temper" and "because of these mitts (that) has gotten me into plenty of trouble" that he was forced to settle for an ROTC commission while attending classes at North Park University.

In 1940 Wermuth wrote to the War Department to request active duty and arrived in the Philippines in January 1941 to assist in training the Philippine Scouts. After Pearl Harbor was attacked he was quickly promoted to Captain. Thus began a month-long campaign that turned the former football star into the subject of one of the few stories in the first few months of World War II to spark the hopes of our nation. The public loved the legend, for all of America was desperate for any good news from the war zone and hungered for epochal heroes. Wermuth provided both, but it also made him one of Japan's most hated, and singled-out enemies.

Wermuth's actions on the Abucay line were just a beginning of a campaign that saw him develop and train a team of snipers that, turning guerrilla, began to wage war on the Japanese with the same jungle tactics they had honed themselves. Author Lowell Thomas noted in 1943, in one of the first books written about the heroes of World War II:

"His fame during the Bataan fighting was featured by his exploits behind the enemy lines, that being his favorite theater of action: deep in the rear of the enemy positions, where an American soldier would be least expected and where the Jap hunting would be the best. Wermuth had a weird knack of getting through, an uncanny skill typical of the tactics of guerilla warfare, skill in passing through enemy forces, creeping and shooting his way through when necessary. He had a genius for concealment and cover, and besides, he was thoroughly familiar with the terrain."

On one of Wermuth's solo missions deep behind enemy lines, while hidden in dense jungle, a Japanese patrol passed by with one member nearly stepping on him. Wermuth noted the patrol was headed towards the Allied lines--and his comrades and quickly stood in the darkness to join the enemy column. Hunching low, he followed along for miles in the dark jungle, even "Shushhhhing" the Japanese soldier ahead of him when the man stumbled and created too much noise. When the patrol neared the fortified positions of the Philippine Scouts, fearing he might be taken under fire by his own comrades, Wermuth intentionally stumbled into the soldier ahead of him, handing-off a live grenade before quickly melting back into the jungle. One enemy soldier died in the subsequent blast, the remainder died when their position was thus exposed to the Scouts who promptly opened fire. These, and countless missions like it, are what earned Wermuth the Japanese title, Ghost of Bataan.

More often than not, however, Wermuth's solo-missions were at the least carried out with his comrade, Jock. Every time the intrepid Captain headed behind the lines, Jock would plead his case and ultimately get permission to participate. In all too many cases, it was a fortunate decision by Wermuth, for again and again, Jock's innate jungle proved invaluable. Also, more than once, the Filipino giant who stood 6'4" and weighed in at 220, saved his Captain's life. Such was the case in what might well have been Wermuth's most famous escapade.

During the efforts to hold the line on Bataan, at one point it became obvious that the Japanese had located and tapped into the wires that provided communications between Allied units. Again when volunteers were needed, Jock and Wermuth set out to find the source of the deadly problem that provided the enemy with intimate knowledge of Allied strength, positions, and movement.

Daringly once again penetrating enemy-held jungle and muddy paddies, the two men searched in vain for the wiretap. Returning in disappointment to their own lines, Captain Wermuth found the tap by accident. While moving down an overgrown trail a hidden wire caught Wermuth's foot, tripping him and causing him to fall into an equally camouflaged ditch. He landed directly in the lap of an equally surprised Japanese soldier who was monitoring Allied transmissions through headphones.

Scrambling backward as quickly as he could, Wermuth drew his revolver in a fashion reminiscent of the gunfights of the old west, even as the Japanese soldier reached for his own. Wermuth won the draw and, his aim true, quickly killed his opponent.

The immediate threat dealt with, Wermuth was so fascinated by the Japanese equipment in the hidden position, he never saw the two other Japanese soldiers that crept up on him until they were almost ready to pounce on him. This time Wermuth's draw was too slow, and a Japanese bayonet pierced his arm, chipping bone and pinning him to the wall of the ditch. "Jock," he yelled, "Japanese. two more down here."

Crispin raced to his commander's aid but, finding the two Japanese soldiers in a virtual hand-to-hand struggle with Wermuth, hesitated to pull the trigger for fear of hitting his comrade. So Jock used the strength of his uncommon size to bludgeon one enemy with the butt of his rifle, then turned and shot the other. Wermuth was nearly passed out from the excruciating pain in his arm, but Jock removed the bayonet, freed the captain, and then carried him safely back to his own lines for treatment--and another Purple Heart. The problem of the enemy-tapped lines was solved, and shortly thereafter one of the cards that came packaged with war gum of the period immortalized that brief skirmish by Jock and Wermuth in a camouflaged ditch behind enemy lines.

Reverse of Wermuth Card

The reverse of Wermuth Card

Throughout February and March, Captain Wermuth, Jock, and other of Wermuth's highly trained guerilla fighters continued their heroic efforts to stall the enemy's advance. Despite the futility of that valiant campaign, their work put the enemy on edge and certainly slowed the inevitable collapse of the Bataan defense. Estimates were that at least 500 enemies were killed by the small team of snipers, and generally, it was concluded that the estimate was overly conservative.

Late in March Wermuth's snipers were assigned to recapture the vital heights of Mount Pucat. It was a near-suicide mission, and Wermuth called for volunteers. Virtually every member of his command who was still alive stepped forward.

While slowly working their way through the jungle, a hidden enemy soldier rushed Wermuth at the point of his bayonet. Wermuth slammed his huge fists into the Jap's face as the two of them fell to the ground in a life and death struggle. Pain surged through Wermuth's body when the struggling opponent slammed a knee into his groin, but Wermuth drew his own knife and killed his enemy. The patrol moved out again, killing sixty-five more invaders over the 36-hour trek to the mountain. Once the objective was reached, despite a valiant attempt, the attack failed. For more than half of Wermuth's men, it was indeed a suicide mission. This drastic depletion of his forces signaled what would soon be the end of Wermuth's unprecedented success on Bataan.

A few days later near Anayason Point, machine-gun fire from dug-in positions on the other side of a small stream held up the advance. Wermuth led his snipers across the stream, fully exposed to a withering fusillade of enemy bullets. While out in front and in the open, however, Wermuth had just jerked the ring from a grenade with his teeth and lobbed the orb when he was struck in the left breast by an enemy round. The bullet chipped a rib before passed through a long, once again sidelining the One Man Army--this time far more seriously.

Wermuth was carried to an aid station where the bullet was removed, but he languished in pain and was near death for days while hemorrhaging continued. Slowly he did begin to heal, though he was still a week and the hole in his chest was oozing puss ten days later when, against doctors' orders Captain Wermuth strapped his revolvers on his hips, slung his Thompson sub-machine gun over his shoulder, and returned to the field to join his men. What little remained of Wermuth's fighters were holding desperately to a bitterly contested piece of ground on Signal Hill between Mariveles and Bagac. Wermuth, despite his courage and determination, arrived with too little and far too late. He was still too weak to accomplish much, and on April 9 during the retreat down Trail Ten, behind Mount Sumat, the One Man Army of Bataan slipped in the wet grass, tumbled down the jagged mountain, and was rendered unconscious when his head hit a rock.

When Wermuth regained consciousness he found himself at Field Hospital Number 2, now in Japanese hands. The Ghost of Bataan had finally been captured.

Following torturous days in the infamous Bataan Death March, Captain Wermuth was held prisoner of the Japanese, who despite the fact that their most hated enemy was now under their control, feared the One Man Army. Elliott Junior Smelser, a fellow POW recalled in 1993 of his own captivity:

"The first year of my captivity I worked on building an airfield for the Japanese. Life was not bad because they were afraid of the Major in Charge. His name was Major Wermuth and the Japanese called him 'Wermuth the Lion'."

After spending time at Cabanatuan, Lipa, Bilibid, and then back to Cabanatuan, in December 1944, Major Arthur Wermuth joined 1,618 of his fellow prisoners aboard the unmarked Japanese prison ship Oryoku Maru, for a voyage to prison labor camps in Japan. On the night of December 14, American airplanes bombed the Oryoku Maru, little realizing more than 1,500 Allied prisoners were aboard. The Japanese beached the vessel, leaving the prisoners and only a few guards on board despite the fact that all of them knew Allied planes would return soon.

The American planes from the U.S.S. Hornet did indeed return the following morning, and, still unaware that the ship contained Allied prisoners, the pilots unleashed a torrent of bombs that killed 300 POWs. Following the attack, the Japanese guard, at last, allowed the prisoners to abandon ship and swim to shore. Many never made it. Those who did create the pattern of white spots seen on the water in this photograph that was taken from an American airplane from the Hornet shortly after the attack.

Major Wermuth was among the survivors of the first Hell Ship, swimming ashore at Olongapo. All the prisoners were quickly rounded up by their captors, and transported to San Fernando in boxcars. Two days after Christmas the Brazil Maru and Enoura Maru crammed more than 1,000 prisoners into their small and filthy holds. Brazil's most recent cargo had been horses, and the hold was still soiled with un-removed manure. Wermuth was among those that suffered hell in the belly of Enoura Maru, the hold of which was filled with dust and residue from its recent cargo of coal. On December 31 the two ships reached the Formosan harbor of Takao. The Japanese held up there to celebrate the New Year, leaving the prisoners cramped below with little food or water, and no medical treatment, though nearly all prisoners were sick and many had already died.

The Enoura Maru was still at Takao on January 9, 1945, when aircraft from the U.S.S. Hornet again attacked an unmarked Japanese ship, unaware that the bombs they dropped into the front hold immediately killed one half of the 500 Americans crammed into that space. Nearly every man who wasn't killed, including Major Wermuth, were wounded by flying shrapnel. It was friendly fire that netted Wermuth his fourth Purple Heart.

For three days the Japanese left the bodies of the American dead where they fell, littering a hold still crammed with wounded and bleeding American prisoners. Finally, on January 12, the dead were carried out and the surviving 890 prisoners were transferred to the Brazil Maru for the final leg of their journey to Japan. By the time the prisoners reached Moji, Japan, there were fewer than 500 survivors from among the 1,691 POWs who had boarded the Oryoku Maru less than a month before. Within three months, another 100 prisoners died of disease and/or wounds received on that tragic journey from prison camps in the Philippines to labor camps in Japan. Fewer than 400 survived the war.

Early in 1945, the U.S. Army changed the status of Major Wermuth from Prisoner of War to Killed in Action, believing the man who had become legendary as the One Man Army of Bataan three years earlier was now a casualty of Japanese brutality.

Five days after the Japanese surrendered, an American officer stood before a large group of sick, starving, and often still-wounded but now free prisoners. Slowly the names of soldiers long missing in action, or known to have been prisoners of war, were called out. Occasionally a feeble voice would answer "here!" Far more often, there was no response at all.

"Major Arthur Wermuth," an officer called out loudly, experience having already prepared him only for silence.

"Here!" came a weak voice from among the throng of prisoners. Arthur Wermuth, the Ghost of Bataan, stepped slowly forward.
His 103-pound body was thin, emaciated, and scarred by four combat wounds, as well as the emotional scars that could not
be seen, or understood by more than a few who had, like him endured so much. But Arthur Wermuth was still very alive.

Kilder: Hymoff, Ed, "The Ghost of Bataan", Argosy, December 1961 "One Man Blitz", Time Magazine, February 23, 1942 Smelser, Elliott Junior, "Excerpts from My Autobiography", Spoken at West Point in June 1993 Thomas, Lowell, These Men Shall Never Die, The John C. Winston Company, September 1943 Wermuth, Arthur W., Deposition on Prisoner of War Treatment, October 8, 1945 "Wonderful Lug", Time Magazine, March 16, 1942

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ALLE RETTIGHEDER FORBEHOLDES


This Is the Story of a U.S. Soldier Who Fought World War II in His Tank

From North Africa to Sicily to Normandy to the heart of Germany, bow gunner Irving Bromberg fought the war in a Sherman tank.

Private First Class Irving Bromberg saw a huge puff of smoke erupt from the German tank’s cannon muzzle as it headed straight for his M4 Sherman tank. The round streaked past and missed.

Bromberg sat next to the driver in the bow gunner’s seat manning a .30-caliber machine gun. His turret gunner fired the tank’s 75mm cannon, also missing, but the American cannon had an advantage: an automatic breech-loader. The spent shell quickly popped out of the breech and the loader shoved in another round. The gunner fired a second round before the German could reload. The second round blasted the enemy tank.

The Americans kept firing. The loader called for more shells, and Bromberg passed them up. The German tank stopped but it did not catch fire. Then its crew bolted out of its hatches. “Get them!” the gunner shouted to Bromberg, who squeezed his machine gun’s trigger and sprayed fire into the enemy, killing them. Bromberg’s tank sped off. The brief tank battle in the Tunisian desert in the spring of 1943 was Bromberg’s first.

Although Bromberg wore the triangular 2nd Armored Division shoulder patch, he was serving as a replacement with the 1st Armored Division, which had taken heavy casualties during the six-day Battle of Kasserine Pass in late February.

After the mauling, the division went back on the offensive, pushing the Germans east. So desperate was the division for replacements that Bromberg did not know the rest of his crew. “I didn’t even know where I was,” he admitted.

As the bow gunner, Bromberg often switched positions with the driver to give him a rest. When not in battle, Bromberg kept his head out of the hatch, but when ordered to “button up” he closed the hatch and peered through a periscope. “I remember it had pretty wide vision,” he recalled. “It was good.”

Besides the driver and the bow gunner, the Sherman also had a commander, gunner, and loader, all three of whom worked in the turret. Shells were kept in the turret, but during battle, Bromberg would pass up extra rounds stored behind him.

All five men were relatively close in the tank, but the noise generated by the engine, treads, and the battle outside required them to wear microphones and headsets to communicate. The cannon could be noisy, but it was actually the .30-caliber machine gun in the turret that bothered Bromberg the most. When fired by use of a foot pedal—often to help aim the cannon—the entire turret vibrated. “That was the most nerve wracking,” recalled Bromberg.

The main gun, the 75mm, sufficiently matched the German Army’s main battle tank, the Panzerkampfwagen IV, commonly known as the Panzer IV, which also mounted a 75. The tanks were almost equal in weight, height, and armor protection. It was the heavy Tiger tank, which made its first appearance in North Africa, and later the Panther, that would outclass the Sherman on the battlefield.

Nineteen-year-old Irving Bromberg from Columbus, Ohio, had joined the Army in April 1942, although he had tried to serve his country earlier. When he heard over the radio that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor, he went to his local post office to join the Marine Corps, only to be rejected for having flat feet. An officer encouraged him to join the Navy, but instead Bromberg eventually enlisted into the Army at nearby Fort Hayes.

Bromberg was sworn in at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana, and issued a uniform. He soon shipped out to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for three months of tank training.

He learned every position inside the light M3 Stuart tank and the larger M3 Lee and M4 Sherman. By the time the United States entered the war, the Stuart was already obsolete. With its thin armor and puny 37mm main gun, it would be relegated to the role of scout tank.

The Lee, a stopgap creation to fill the void while the Sherman was developed, housed its main gun, a 75mm, in a sponson built into the hull while the turret wielded a 37mm gun. Most Lees saw action with British and Russian forces.

The Sherman and its variants, with a turret-mounted 75mm gun, and later a 76mm cannon, would serve as America’s main battle tank throughout the war. Driving the three different tanks, Bromberg learned a skill not used in automobile driving: double clutching, quickly gearing down from fourth, third, second, and first gear before using the brake. After the war, it would prove a hard habit to break.

Bromberg joined the 2nd Armored Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and was assigned to the 2nd Platoon of Fox Company, 66th Armored Regiment of Combat Command A (the equivalent of an infantry regiment).

He soon befriended his fellow tankers. One night after some heavy drinking in a Fayetteville bar with one of his sergeants, he walked into the middle of the street and urinated. Military policemen spotted him and were preparing to take him to the local police station when his sergeant ran out shouting, “You can’t take him—I’m his sergeant!” So the MPs released Bromberg and arrested the sergeant.

Bromberg waited at the station for the sergeant’s release until the police threatened to arrest him. With no other options, he returned to Bragg. The sergeant eventually returned and said if they were going to reduce his rank he would ask for a court martial. Bromberg agreed to confess to the company commander that the whole thing was his fault.

“I was so scared,” Bromberg said of speaking to his captain, who asked him why he had to urinate in the street. Not knowing any other answer, Bromberg told him, “When you gotta go, you gotta go.” His words must have worked the sergeant kept his rank.

Their training complete, the tankers prepared to deploy overseas. Bromberg headed to New York, where he attended a speech by the 2nd Armored Division’s previous commander, who now commanded the American Army’s Western Task Force: Maj. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.

The speech was typical Patton, filled with instruction and inspiration and peppered with foul language. “Every other word was a profanity,” recalled Bromberg, but he was not surprised. “I was just a kid, but in the Army profanity doesn’t come as a shock.” Nor was he in awe of his commander. “At the time, his name wasn’t what it is today.”

Patton’s Western Task Force was slated to attack French Morocco, just one offensive of the three-pronged attack on Vichy French North Africa, Operation Torch. Elements of the 2nd Armored Division, commanded then by Maj. Gen. Ernest N. Harmon, would spearhead the attack on November 8, 1942, but Bromberg would not be part of it. He finally made it to Casablanca in December, a month after the successful assault and three-day battle against the French.

Bromberg found Morocco quiet. The fighting was going on more than a thousand miles away in Tunisia, but the Luftwaffe constantly reminded the Americans they were in a war zone. On Christmas Eve 1942, Bromberg and his comrades were watching a movie when German bombers raided their camp. Searchlights pierced the sky, joining together when they found a bomber. Then tracer fire shot skyward.

“It was like watching a football game,” recalled Bromberg. “You had to feel sorry for those guys.” He did not see bombs impact anywhere, but he and his buddies got a good laugh the next morning when Axis Sally, the female Nazi propagandist, reported over the radio that the Luftwaffe had destroyed the 2nd Armored Division.

Assigned to the 1st Armored Division after the Kasserine debacle, Bromberg worried how he would react to combat, but as his tank approached the line of departure he was too busy to think about it. He spent the day loading and firing his machine gun at anything that moved and passing rounds up to the loader. “It was after the day [was over] that I got shook up,” explained Bromberg.

It was not long after Bromberg’s baptism of fire that he and his crew faced off against the German tank. “It’s not like the movies where they’re going 25 miles an hour,” he said. “We were doing three or four miles an hour.” Bromberg first thought the enemy tank was American. The missed shot told him otherwise.

While the Germans were busy ejecting their shell casings with a hand crank, his Sherman’s automatic breech loader made the difference. “That saved us,” he recalled. Until then Bromberg had not liked the breech loader. “It always scared me because I thought I would get my hand caught in it.”

Although Bromberg had been assigned to the 1st Armored for only a week, he had learned how to fight on a mechanized battlefield. For sleep, he would crawl beneath the tank or sleep in the tank. One morning, his tank pulled off the front, and an exhausted Bromberg climbed out and immediately fell asleep on the ground. “When I got up, there were two dead Germans next to me.”


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