Monday, May 25, 2015

39. Memorial Day 2015

Dedicated to the gallant and victorious men and women who participated in the Battle of the Bulge, World War II, 16 December 1944 through 25 January 1945 in Belgium and Luxembourg. The greatest battle ever fought by the United States Army. Presented by the veterans of the Battle of the Bulge on 16 December 1986.

[Sidenote: A number of posts on Facebook this year have noted that Memorial Day is not Veteran's Day- that Memorial Day is to remember those who died in (or as the result of) the wars. I appreciate that distinction.]

Saturday, May 23, 2015

38. Feeling Better At Home

May 23, 1945
The Entry in My Grandmother's Diary for the Day

Got a letter from Buddy that he wrote on VE Day.
So now I feel better.

Take this comment as a follow up to the one she wrote on VE Day:
O God just think of the mothers that their boys won’t be coming home
and realize that for the previous 15 days, over two weeks, she had no doubt been holding her thoughts, prayers and fears deep inside. She never commented on it in the diary. The dread and anxiety must have been overwhelming. Or perhaps in the past nearly nine months she had found a way to live without thinking about it. Perhaps that is why the daily entries in the diary are often just the mundane.

Today, she could feel better. What a relief!

But with all the elation and relief, the dread must have remained. The war was not over. Germany had surrendered; Japan fought on. Did they know that a massive invasion, far greater than D-Day was being planned? Were they all just living in the uncertainty of what  troops would be transported to the Pacific for an invasion of Japan?

What we do know is that for the next several months the Tigers would remain in Austria, relaxing, waiting, wondering, and being an occupation force, albeit a friendly one.

Obviously I am not sure this was in the letter, but it, along with the other two I posted on VE Day could very well have been there.

Friday, May 8, 2015

37. VE Day

May 8, 1945
The entry in my grandmother's diary for the day:
Tuesday- This is V.E. Day. The war is over and O God just think of the mothers that their boys won’t be coming home.
From Nichols:
General Paul Newgarden's careful pre-battle training paid huge dividends and General Morris' leadership propelled the Division through every battle with distinction. The price paid for victory was dear. Tigers' losses were heavy, Almost 5,000 were killed or wounded. The Tigers' combat achievements are a matter of record. More that 56,000 enemy were taken prisoner and 650 towns and cities were captured. More important, the Tigers played a key role in many of the war's greatest battles. The epic stand at Bastogne [note: only recently receiving the credit] will never be forgotten nor will the spectacular successes in the Saar-Moselle Triangle be overlooked by military historians. The capture of Trier was most important in the U. S. Third Army's effort to pierce the vaunted West Wall. And finally, every step of the way from Cherbourg to the Brenner Pass, a distance of 600 miles, was made possible by the Tigers' courage, initiative, and persistence. They has met and defeated the enemy's best. Hitler's earlier boast that American soldiers would never stand and fight must have provided slim comfort to the Nazi commanders who, one by one, capitulated in late April of 1945.

Two postcards sent by my father to his family back in Pennsylvania of the Garmisch-Partenkirche area where they ended the war.

Monday, May 4, 2015

36. The Last Kilometer

1 May 1945
VE Day for the Tigers

From Nichols:
At Ulm, they had turned south once more and, attacking into the rugged Alps on two parallel routes, [the Tigers] had reached Mittenwald on one route and had captured Imst in Austria after crossing the border at Fussen on the other when the war ended.

Prior to April 30, a final Tenth Armored Division Field Order was issued which called for the capture of Innsbruck, Austria. However, the Germans had already blown out great chunk of the road…. [T]he Innsbruck Field Order had to be abandoned…. So intent were the Tigers in grinding out the last mile, that they even tried to roll their tanks over the railroad tracks. The going was extremely difficult, however, as the steel rails did not match the width of the tank tracks…. The last kilometer was now a matter of record anyway. The big fight was over. And Garmisch-Partenkirchen, in the opinion of the Armoraiders, was a fine place to end the war on this, the last day of April of 1945. The final major battle operation of the Tiger Division consumed seven weeks. This period was marked with continuous combat, sleepless days and nights, sizzling speed, strained nerves, rain, snow, mud, and cold. But at last, the ordeal was over.

Elsewhere in the European Theater:
April 29: Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun exchange wedding vows in Adolf Hitler's underground Berlin bunker.

General Vietinghoff, the German commander of Axis forces in Italy, signs documents surrendering to the Allies.

April 30: The newly wed Hitlers commit suicide in the Berlin bunker. Joseph and Magda Goebbels follow suit, murdering their six children before taking their own lives.

Soviet Union forces capture the Reichstag.

May 1: Admiral Karl Dönitz, Adolf Hitler's handpicked successor, establishes a government in Flensburg to control Nazi Germany following Adolf Hitler's suicide.

May 2: Some 490,000 German soldiers in Italy lay down their weapons, honoring the terms of the unconditional surrender signed by Vietinghoff three days earlier.

May 3: Red Army units link up throughout Berlin as German resistance ends, completing the capture of the capital of the Third Reich.

Hamburg, Germany, and Innsbruck, Austria, fall to the Allies.

May 4: German troops surrender en masse throughout northern Germany and the Netherlands.

May 5: German and Allied officials meet in Reims, France, to reach agreement on the terms of Germany's capitulation.

The German army lays down its weapons throughout Bavaria.

U.S. forces liberate French and Austrian officials -- including premiers Reynaud, Daladier, Blum, and Schuschnigg -- from captivity in Austria.

Friday, May 1, 2015

35. End of April Report

After Action Report
80th Medical Battalion
10th Armored Division
1 April – 30 April 1945

There were 31 officers and 364 enlisted men, four less than in March. During the month three enlisted men of the battalion were killed, two officers and four enlisted men were wounded and four were reported missing. Twenty-one reinforcements were assigned to the battalion.

At all three clearing stations of the battalion in April 1945 there were:

2267 admissions (nearly 600 less than March)
153 were returned to duty
19 died in the stations
1987 were transferred and
9 remained in station on 31 March

These numbers were lower than March, indicative of the overwhelming force of the Tigers in the movements of April and the decreasing efficiency of the German troops. More than half of the admissions for the month occurred by the 12th. Captain Loomis commented that the figures are the sum total “of those of the clearing stations and include personnel of units attached or supporting the division and enemy personnel cleared through division medical installations as well as 10th Armored Division personnel.

It was reported that providing both expendable and non-expendable supplies was adequate during the period. In addition, medical evacuation channels functioned efficiently during the period.

(1) That medical personnel supporting combat troops not be assigned to screen and process enemy hospital installations, but that this chore be given to a static unit.
(2) That the replacement of medical officers and medical administrative officers be expedited in the case of units actively engaged in combat.

Fredrick D. Loomis
Captain, MAC.,
Battalion S-3