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3_7_I_Recon

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  1. 3_7_I_Recon

    WWII Music and Songs

    WWII Music and Songs - Music and Memories WWII SONGS, I wrote a story about 10 years ago about my favorite songs of WWII. It’s a little too long to post, so I will just mention a few highlights. 1. King of Siam In Infantry OCS, during the final weeks, my floor of the barracks had been winnowed down through washouts, from about 30 men to about 15. It looked as though we were going to “make it†and our enthusiasm knew no bounds! One of the survivors had a radio which he played in the morning as we were getting ready for the first formation. They always played “King of Siam†and we would all join in on the chorus: “Oh I’m the king of Siam, yes I am! Oh yes I am! Oh yes I am! For I’m the King of Siam, yes I am! And we all thought we were. Figuratively, at least. We might have been less exuberant if we had known that 50% of us would not survive the War! 2. I’ve Got Sixpence We sang this loudly while marching in cadence to and from our training area each day. “I’ve got sixpence, Jolly, Jolly sixpence. I’ve got sixpence to last me all my life. I’ve got sixpence to spend. And sixpence to lend, And sixpence to send home to my wife, poor wife, No cares have I to grieve me, No pretty little girls to deceive me. Oh HAPPY IS THE DAY WHEN THE ARMY GETS ITS PAY And we go rolling, rolling home.†Our song leader was always Jack Everett, a Rutgers ROTC classmate and a born leader. Jack was later KIA in France when he stood up to accept the surrender of a group of Krauts carrying a white flag. A concealed Kraut shot him dead. 3. Paper Doll “I’d like to buy a paper doll that I could call my own, A doll that other fellows could not steal†My first assignment was to the 13th Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg. It was a cadre only, with fillers to come over the next year to undergo unit training before going overseas. That being the case, my fiancee and I married and found a room on a nearby cotton farm. Along with my fellow company officers, we would go to a nearby road house in the evening to dance to the juke box music of “Paper Dollâ€. Those were some of the happiest days of my life. The division did stay at Fort Bragg for a year of training and then never saw combat. But after only 8 weeks of marriage, I was sent to Anzio as an infantry replacement 2nd Lt. and didn’t come home for 2 years. I can’t remember the rest of the words to the song, but years later when I wrote this story, my wife read it and then sat down with paper and pencil and wrote these words from memory. “Paper Doll - I’m gonna buy a paper doll, that I can call my own. A doll that other fellows cannot steal, and then those flirty, flirty guys with their flirty, flirty eyes will have to flirt with dollies that are real. When I come home at night she will be waiting, she’ll be the truest doll in all this world. I’d rather have a paper doll to call my own, than have a fickle-minded real live girl.†4. The fourth song is “Lili Marleneâ€, a sentimental ballad sung by the German Africa Corps in North Africa and then brought to Sicily and Italy where the American 5th and British 8th Armies adopted it as their own. “Underneath the lamp post, by the barracks gate, Standing all alone every night you’ll see her wait. She waits for a boy who marched away, And tho’ he’s gone, she hears him say; Oh promise you’ll be true Fare thee well Lili Marlene, Til I return to you, Fare thee well Lili Marlene†5. The fifth song is “She wore a yellow ribbonâ€. “Around her neck, she wore a yellow ribbon, She wore it in the springtime and in the month of May, - Hey, Hey! She wore it for her lover who was far, far away. Far away, far away, She wore it for her lover who was far, far away.†Have you had enough? I have and I am going to bed. Russ Cloer - 3_7_I_Recon
  2. 3_7_I_Recon

    Need advice on CIB

    Marion, I am running out of stories so I was looking at some old posts on the CIB subject from last October, which I had read before, but to which I didn't feel it was proper to make a smart ass reply. But for lack of anything better to say, I now have to say this: I was aware that having earned the CIB long ago, I was now entitled to another OLC to my bronze star medal. But after looking at my shadow box, I see that my bronze star medal already has 3 bronze OLCs on its ribbon and there is no room for a fourth. Rather than try to solve that problem, I decided to forget it! Russ Cloer
  3. 3_7_I_Recon

    Anzio

    Marion, Re: Vehicle markings. Memory tells me that the unit to which the vehicle was assigned appeared in stencilled white letters on the OD background, on the left side of the front and rear bumpers. For example 3-7-I (Third Division, 7th Inf Regiment). On the right side of the bumper appeared the Company to which it belonged and the sequential vehicle number assigned by that unit. (B-4). (Company B, #4 vehicle) If I remember correctly, the eight or more digit number stencilled on the side of the hood, was the vehicle serial number number. Also, the driver's name was usually stencilled on the driver's side just behind to entrance. (Ex. PFC Norman Steele). Each driver had his own vehicle and was responsible for its maintenance and replacement of fluids. The work might be done by Motor Pool personnel, but the driver was responsible to see to it that it was done as scheduled. Russ Cloer
  4. 3_7_I_Recon

    Anzio

    PFC Norman Steele - (Operator, Truck, 1/4 ton, General Purpose) Of all the men and officers I knew during my WWII army service, I can still remember the names of many and the faces of quite a few. But there are only a handful with whom I was sufficiently close to remember the details of the adventures we shared. One of these is PFC Norman Steele, my jeep driver. I’m sure his skills and courage saved my life on more than one occasion. In February 1944, I was a replacement 2nd Lieutenant assigned to the 7th Infantry Regiment on the Anzio Beachhead in Italy. My job was platoon leader of the I & R Platoon (Intelligence and Reconnaissance). I would be assuming command from Sgt. Claude Bond (pseudonym), a regular Army 1st sergeant who had held the job since my predecessor, platoon leader Lt. John Banks, had been KIA while leading a patrol across the Volturno River. At my first meeting with Sgt. Bond, at night in one of the shell battered stone houses of the regimental forward CP near Conca, he described the platoon organization, personnel and equipment. He told me the platoon was assigned four jeeps, but these were kept back at Service Company to avoid attracting artillery fire on the forward Command Post. He told me that his own jeep driver was PFC Steele and he recommended that I use PFC Perrault, neither of whom I yet knew. There were two other drivers, one of whom later deserted in the Vosges Mountains of France and the other, a battle fatigue victim, who accidentally shot and killed himself in Germany. Although I had very limited Army experience at that point, I sized up Sgt. Bond quickly and was determined to start things off on the right foot. I told him there would be no personal jeep drivers in my platoon. If PFC Steele had been driving him, then Steele was obviously the platoon leader’s driver' and since I was now the platoon leader, Steele would be my driver. It turned out to be one of the best moves I ever made! I met Steele for the first time a few nights later when it was his turn to bring up the nighttime rations, ammo and water in his jeep and trailer. I never saw him in daylight until about three months later when we broke out of the Beachhead and it became possible to use the roads again which heretofore were subject to pinpoint artillery fire during daylight hours. Steele was rather short and a little stocky. I don’t remember ever seeing him without his helmet and the steel pot became part of his face in my memory. He was a skillful yet careful driver, totally focused on the job at hand. His night vision and sense of direction were uncanny. We traveled countless miles on unpaved roads, many of which had surely been mined by the retreating enemy. He had either x-ray vision or a lot of luck, because we never triggered one. You only do that once. Our relationship was not formal, but neither was it one of familiarity. He called me “Lootenant,†never “sir,†and I called him Steele. We never talked about home or friends or made small talk. He was my driver for about a year and a half and I don’t even know where he was from. Our conversation was limited to the business at hand. He held up his end and I held up mine. We respected each other for that and we saw no need to discuss it. He seemed to resist any intrusion into the enlisted man/officer relationship and maybe I did too. That’s the way we had both been trained and army training translates into action without conscious thought. I remember our jeep being caught in the open in broad daylight by a German tank during the Anzio Breakout. The tank was so well concealed that we couldn’t see it, but the burst of its first shell on the unpaved road 20 yards in front of us was terrifying. As our jeep skidded to a stop on my order, Steele and I bailed out and took cover in the shallow drainage ditches on opposite sides of the road. Several more 88 mm shells came screaming in and then the fire stopped. Again, on my signal, we made a dash back to the jeep and Steele got us out of there safely with wheels spinning. On another occasion, in France, we were reconnoitering a dirt road one night, that ran around the enemy’s flank. We found the road ended at a farm about two or three miles ahead. On the way in, we noticed that the trees bordering the road had been heavily notched so that they could be dropped across the road with very little additional effort. On the way back out, one of the trees was down and lay across the road blocking our escape. While I covered the woods with our 50 caliber machine gun, Steele pulled a length of chain out of his tool compartment, chained the tree trunk to the front bumper of the jeep and pulled it far enough off the road to get by. Was it an ambush foiled by the threat of the machine gun? Or did the wind blow the weakened tree down? We will never know. On a similar recon, this time also after dark, we saw no one going in. But coming back out, there was a huge American truck blocking the narrow dirt road. Steele stopped the jeep and we walked ahead, four of us, and found that another unit was moving in behind us and their truck had struck a mine. The right front wheel, fender and hood had been blown away. The road was mined and we had somehow missed the mine or mines on the way in. Where there is one mine, there are usually more nearby. Yet, Steele volunteered to drive the jeep around the truck on the narrow shoulder of the dirt road while the rest of us took cover behind the truck. Brave man! We had many other close calls when we were spotted by the enemy and became the target of accurate tank or artillery fire. Steele’s nerve and driving skills were largely responsible for our escape in each case. And he had other attributes. I have described in another anecdote how Steele solved the problem of broken glass in the windshield of our jeep while we were briefly off the line near Naples. Under cover of darkness, he swapped windshields with a U. S. Navy jeep, parked unattended in the city. Next morning, I saw him in the motor pool painting out the words U. S. Navy on the metal portion under the glass. And I have described the night we crossed the Rhine River and a flat trajectory 88mm enemy shell from across the river hit and destroyed the amphibious tank which was following closely behind us. With the amphibs destroyed, we were ordered to lead 4 conventual Shermans north to Worms in total darkness, where a pontoon bridge was near completion. We crossed the river and led them south to Sandhofen where armored support was badly needed. And how he drove the lead jeep on our June 4, 1944 nighttime patrol into Rome, our mission to see if the Krauts had pulled out as rumored. Rome is an enormous city with dark winding streets and we expected to be ambushed at every corner. I was lost, but after accomplishing our mission, Steele found the way back in complete darkness without difficulty. Steele’s courage and driving skills played a large role in my survival. In one of the many French villages we freed in Southern France, civilians lined the road cheering us. Young women climbed aboard to hug and kiss us. Older women offered us bottles of wine. And the old men stood at attention in the rear and saluted, wearing their old WWI uniforms and medals. One pretty young lady approached our jeep on the driver's side and gave Steele a big hug and kiss. She then leaned forward across his lap to give me a kiss in the front passenger seat. But before we made contact, she suddenly withdrew and backed away into the crowd. "What was that all about?" I asked Steele? He gave me a silly grin and said, "I squeezed her titty!" And yet, the Army caste system, kept us from becoming good friends. In fact, when we were on Occupation Duty in Germany after the War and people were being rotated back to the States by a point system, I never even knew Steele was leaving until a new driver suddenly appeared and Steele was already gone. I never saw him again. In recent years, I have tried unsuccessfully to locate him through the Internet It’s said that you can’t go back, and maybe it’s better that way. But one of my strongest recollections of life as a 2nd Lt., Infantry is the terrible loneliness. Russ Cloer
  5. 3_7_I_Recon

    ANY questions?

    OK Guys, I"m running out of gas! I just went through the list of stories I have posted and I find I have already posted just about all the good WWII stories worth posting. Any suggestions on a subject I might know about would be welcomed! As you probably know, I participated in 6 WWII Campaigns, from Anzio to Berchtesgaden, plus 6 months of German occupation duty, all with the 7th Inf. Reg't, 3rd Inf Div. I like this Forum and any suggestions on subject will be welcomed. Russ Cloer
  6. The Bridge at Maxonchamp The Champagne Campaign was drawing to a close. Our advance slowed and casualties mounted sharply. I was 2nd Lt. Platoon leader of the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon in 7th Inf. Regimental Hq. Co. 1st Lt. Stone was executive officer of Hq. Co. With high casualty rates and an inadequate supply of replacements, Lt . Stone was reassigned to Company K as a rifle platoon leader and I became Hq. Co Exec “in addition to my other duties.†The next major obstacle was the Moselle River. It was not particularly wide, but the banks were lined with stone walls about 12 feet high. It promised to be a costly crossing.. There was a narrow bridge still standing, but it was sure to be fiercely defended and blown before we could cross it. As luck would have it, it was in Lt. Stone’s zone of advance. Three men were lost in the first attempt to take the bridge. Sensing Stone’s reluctance, his Company Commander, 1st Lt. Lauderdale, asked for volunteers to join him in an attempt to cross,. Tech Sgt Leonard Jones, Stone’s platoon sergeant and four others volunteered. They lost two more men to heavy MG fire, but Lt. Lauderdale, Sgt. Jones and two others made it and dug in on the far side. Lt. Lauderdale called back for Lt. Stone to bring the rest of his platoon over while he maintained a base of fire on the enemy positions. Stone refused! Lt. Lauderdale then sent the sergeant back to bring the platoon across and to tell Stone that he was under arrest. Sergeant Jones rallied the men and led them across the bridge. In the battle to expand the bridgehead, Sgt Jones was killed by a burst of enemy machine gun fire. Two weeks later, Lt. Lauderdale was KIA in another action. Both were awarded Silver Stars. (posthumously) It took several weeks to form a court-martial board and Lt. Stone remained under tent arrest at the rear CP. He sent word asking me to appear as a character witness at his court martial and I went back to see him. He was not at all contrite! Actually he was rather cocky. His attitude did not sit well with me. At the court-martial, Stone’s defense was that the order he refused to obey was not a legal order. It demanded conduct above and beyond the call of duty as evidenced by the Silver Star citations given to Lt. Lauderdale and the platoon Sgt. Jones. In fact, the order was suicidal, he maintained as evidenced by the death of those two men. For the Army to accept that argument was to invite a debate on the legality of every order, something not likely to happen. The prosecution’s case was weakened somewhat by the fact that the two key witnesses were dead. And the Division was not anxious to have this officer’s misconduct besmirch its reputation. A plea bargain was offered. Being critically short of junior officers, the court offered to drop the charges if Stern would accept a rifle platoon in a different battalion. He agreed! Next morning, when Stone was supposed to go forward to his new assignment, he refused to go!! The court martial board had been disbanded and no one wanted to start up the whole procedure a second time, so Stone dropped out of sight and I never learned where he was sent. I assume he was given some disagreeable rear echelon job like laundry officer or supervising a crew of GI stevedores on the docks. I can’t help but wonder what I would have done, had I been in Lt. Stone’s position, which could easily have happened had he been chosen to remain in Headquarters Company and I had been sent to K company. I believe I would have followed orders, in which case I would now be lying in Sgt Jones’ grave. There is a strange sequel to this story. About 2 years after the War ended, I was sent by my employer to coordinate a joint project at Lockheed’s Burbank plant. While walking between buildings, I noticed a familiar figure walking on a divergent path. It had to be Stone! Same height, same chunky build, same cocky walk, same black curly hair, And Stone was from California! I was curious to know where he went after leaving the Regiment and I considered calling out to him. But then I felt a wave of revulsion and I turned away. Russ Cloer - 3_7_I_Recon
  7. 3_7_I_Recon

    Berchtesgaden - The Eagles Nest

    Thank you Marion for adding the "true" story of Berchtesgaden and the Berghof. I was there along with J3rdInf, even though we didn't know each other then. I have several pics I took that day, but the problem of posting them here is just too much for me. One of my vivid memories is sitting on the hillside above the Berghof during the early evening of May 4 with my buddy Lt. C. K. Seifarth, (now deceased). A messinger from 7th Inf Hq. came up to us to tell me that the French were looting the town of Berchtesgaden and Col Heintges wanted an officer to go in and put a stop to it. I said nothing, but my mind was churning. After 6 campaigns with the 7th, (Anzio to "Berchtesgaden"), the thought of going into that town and getting shot by a drunken French soldier, to die on the last day of the War, was more than I could take calmly. Seif spoke first, "I'll go," he said. He did, and a couple of hours later, after reporting back to the Col Heintges, he returned and sat down beside me to fill me in. Soldiers of the French Armored Division, were parking their half-tracks across the roads, then looting and throwing their booty out the windows of the civilian homes. When they came out, they would sort through the loot and throw what they wanted to keep onto the half track. "Seif" was not so foolish as to try to stop them. Russ Cloer - 3_7_I_Recon
  8. 3_7_I_Recon

    Statement of Charges

    Statement of Charges. An amusing incident, at least to me, was the Statement of Charges against Lt. Nathan White, a Regimental Staff Liaison Officer. White was older than the rest of us and had been a school teacher in civilian life in the state of Maine. He was a rather prissy individual and some thought him strange because he looked ridiculous in his circular stainless steel GI eyeglasses coupled with a large handlebar mustache, which he kept meticulously trimmed and waxed with the ends curled up. He was the junior officer on the Regimental Staff and the butt of jokes on those few occasions when jokes were acceptable. In addition to being a liaison officer, he became the Regimental Historian and edited the History of the Seventh Infantry in WWII. During one of the training exercises for D Day Southern France, Lt. White was assigned as “loading officer†for a group of LCT.s taking aboard thirty-five ton Sherman tanks. The first LCT pulled up to the dock, bow first, and lowered its ramp onto the concrete at a twenty-degree angle. There was no convenient bollard to tie up to, so the Navy crew applied forward thrust to hold the LCT against the dock. Lt. White, in charge of loading, waved the first tank forward. When the tracks were half on the ramp and half on the dock, the climb proved too steep and the tank’s engine stalled. The driver restarted, shifted to a lower gear, raced the engine and let out the clutch. The thirty-five ton tank leaped forward, and with the rubber padded steel tracks gripping the concrete dock rather than the slick metal ramp, the tank pushed the LCT away from the dock, continued on, and sank in fifteen feet of water! Fortunately, all hatches were open and the tank crew members bobbed to the surface like so many corks. The next day, Lt. White was served with a “Statement of Charges,†an Army form used to enforce the regulation which held a soldier personally responsible for the cost of any piece of government property lost, damaged or destroyed as a result of the soldier’s negligence or wilful neglect. The form read as follows: “Lt. White is held responsible, as loading officer, for the loss of one (1) Sherman tank due to his negligence during a loading exercise in the Bay of Naples, Italy. The tank is valued at $75,000. Lt White is hereby held liable for repayment of this sum to the government of the United States. Toward this end, 80% of all pay and allowances due or to become due will be withheld from said officer’s monthly pay until such time as this debt is satisfied.†Lt. White didn’t have to be a mathematical genius to figure out that eighty percent of $150 is $120 per month or $1440 per year and it would therefore take him 52 years to pay off this debt. Of course, he knew about Statements of Charges, but they were never used in combat. Soldiers routinely threw away government property; gas masks, ponchos, camouflage capes, mess kits, ammunition, leggings, helmet liners and none had ever been hit with a statement of charges in combat. But we weren’t in combat now! We were training in a rear area and high ranking sticklers for regulations routinely enforced chicken-shit rules in rear areas. Besides, this document was signed by the Regimental CO, a West Point full Colonel, a no-nonsense leader, fair but not known to make jokes or even to smile. The story spread rapidly while Lt. White worried himself sick. After allowing a few days for the story to complete its rounds, the Colonel told White it was only a joke and the entire regiment had a morale boosting laugh at Lt. White’s expense! The butt of the joke was a member of the Regimental Staff, not a front line soldier, and he was an officer besides, which made the joke all the more enjoyable for the dogfaces. And the Colonel came out of it with recognition that he was a regular guy, a human being after all. The affair had a salutary effect on morale just when it was needed most, on the eve of a very dangerous amphibious assault landing. Russ Cloer - 3_7_I_Recon
  9. 3_7_I_Recon

    My dad's DOG TAGS!

    My dog tags are in my "decorations shadow box" still on the fine link chain I wore around my neck throughout my WWII service. Russ Cloer - 3_7_I_Recon
  10. Infantry OCS - Ft. Benning Georgia, 1943 On June 15, 1943, I reported for active duty at Infantry OCS (Officer Candidate School) at Fort Benning, Georgia. After four years of Infantry ROTC at Rutgers University, the Army reneged on its agreement to commission us 2nd Lieutenants upon graduation. As one of several alternatives, we were offered the “opportunity†to volunteer for induction in the ERC and attend OCS with the rank of corporal. If we successfully completed the course, we would be commissioned 2nd Lieutenants at that time. If not, we would be sent to an IRTC, (Infantry Replacement Training Center) as a corporal. When we arrived at the Columbus station, there was a sergeant waiting for us with a 2 ½ ton truck and we were taken to Fort Benning where we were assigned to the 15th Company, 3rd Student Training Regiment of the Infantry School, OCS Class 298. There were two hundred Officer Candidates (our official rank and title) in the class, all but a few already in enlisted uniform through the ERC option. With very few exceptions, they were ROTC graduates from the University of Oklahoma, University of Washington, Rutgers University and Syracuse University. The remaining few had been selected for OCS from the Army’s enlisted ranks. We were formed into four platoons of fifty men each, one platoon to each of four two-story barracks. Everything was done alphabetically. I was the twenty-fifth man on the first floor of the first barracks, with “Knobby†Chandler, a Rutgers classmate, in the bunk on my left and the front wall of the barracks on my right. We were each assigned a steel cot and mattress and a plywood foot locker at the foot of the cot. There were rifle racks running down the center aisle and there was a latrine with a substantial number of toilets, sinks and showers at the other end. The orderly room was in a separate building on one end of the row of barracks and the mess hall and supply room at the other. At our first formation, we were told that half of us could expect to graduate at the end of the thirteen-week program. The rest would “wash out†and be sent to Infantry Replacement Training Centers with the rank of corporals. If we needed any motivation to do well in OCS, that was more than sufficient incentive to keep us alert and on the ball. Each platoon had a T.O. (Tactical Officer), an active duty 1st or 2nd Lieutenant who was responsible for the training of his platoon and the selection of those who would be commissioned. In other words, he was God for the duration of our stay! My T.O. was 1st Lieutenant Talbot. He wore sun tans and a pith style helmet with an Infantry School Insignia front and center which read “Follow Me,†the motto of the Infantry School. All of our training was conducted by a cadre of Army personnel assigned to the Infantry School for that purpose. At that time, there was a two hundred man OCS class starting and finishing every day, so the cadre that was conducting each training drill just repeated it each day for the next class. On our second day, we were given a series of written tests, one of which was an I.Q. test. A score of at least 110 (100 is the population average) was required to remain in OCS. They didn’t tell us our scores, but I found out many years later that I had scored 142. We were issued three sets of sun tans (shirt, trousers, belt, and cap - summer uniform), two pairs of ankle high Army boots, several pair of socks and sets of underwear, a pair of canvas leggings, a fiberglass helmet liner, a web belt, a canteen, a mess kit, a compass, a rifle and two army blankets. We rarely wore the sun tans because our normal duty uniform was a pair of dark green twill coveralls, worn over our underwear with the boots, leggings, web belt and helmet liner. We each had three sets of sun tans which we had to order and pay for. When we came in from the field, we were sweat soaked and jour coveralls went right into the laundry which the Army provided free of charge. For the first three days I had to wear my civilian clothes while I waited for the coveralls to arrive. We ate three meals a day, usually in the mess hall on steel trays, but sometimes in the field, especially at lunch time. The Army didn’t use the word lunch. The three meals were called breakfast, dinner and supper and the field rations were labeled accordingly. The meals were OK, nothing fancy, but better than that to which I was accustomed on my $5.50 cafeteria weekly meal ticket at college. I was introduced to grits, black eyed peas and bug juice, southern delicacies which I avoid to this day. I don’t remember our hours, but our first formation was early in the morning and we went to bed early at night, usually in a state of exhaustion. We had no duties other than those related to our training. There was no KP, no latrine duty, no guard duty. These functions were performed by enlisted personnel assigned to the Infantry School for that purpose. Every available minute was utilized for training. We did have to keep the area around our bunk clean and orderly, mopping it every morning. On a typical day, we would arise, visit the latrine to wash up, then don our coveralls and fall in at our first formation. When dismissed, we would head for the mess hall for breakfast. We would then fall in again and either march or be trucked to the day’s training area, depending on its distance from our company area. No time was wasted on long marches. When we were trucked, two hundred men were loaded into the back of a large moving van which had four equally spaced narrow benches running the length of the truck bed. We straddled the benches facing to the rear and we invariably sang marching songs en route. ( “Working on the Railroad,†“Yellow Ribbon,†“I’ve Got Sixpence,†and others). We did get plenty of exercise. We had frequent sessions of calisthenics followed by running a tough obstacle course against theclock. We fired all Infantry weapons on their respective ranges, the rifle, carbine, BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle), light machine gun, heavy machine gun, 45 caliber pistol, mortar and 37mm antitank gun. We sat in bleachers in the broiling Georgia July sun to watch demonstrations of tank tactics, antiaircraft fire, and the use of artillery, barbed wire, and flame throwers. We had classroom work on map reading, military courtesy, mines, leadership, aircraft recognition and small unit tactics. We learned to assemble and disassemble our weapons rapidly. We ran the uphill bayonet course against straw dummies and the blazing Georgia sun. And we ran small unit tactical problems with each of us being given command and being judged on our actions by our T.O. We had night problems finding our way through a wooded area in total darkness using only the compass. Other problems including assaulting an enemy position, crawling under barbed wire with live machine gun fire over our heads crossing a river under simulated enemy fire and others too numerous to remember. When we returned to the company area at the end of the day, our coveralls were soaked with sweat and we were exhausted. But our pride required that we march in in good order usually singing “I’ve Got Sixpence†or something similar in time with the march cadence. After dismissal, we would head for the showers. But I would try to squeeze in a quick trip to the nearby PX (Post Exchange) to grab a nickel bottle of ice cold Mission orange soda. Nothing ever tasted so good! After supper, we would usually have more classroom work or a study hall. In the brief intervals in between, we shined our boots, cleaned our rifles, sent out our laundry or wrote a letter. Our performance was never graded and we never knew where we stood. Our T.O. took notes but never told us what they were. The motivation to succeed was unimaginable as was the shame of failure. To graduate, to be commissioned and to wear those gold bars were objectives which assumed great importance. There was no such thing as a reprimand or a punishment tour. If you screwed up, you were out! And the way in which the culling took place kept the pressure on at an inconceivable level. At each morning formation on the company street, the last announcement before leaving for the training area would be, “Candidates Brown and Smith report to the orderly room. Platoon dismissed.†When we returned to the company area at the end of the day, there was nothing but a bare space on the barracks floor where Brown’s and Smith’s cots and foot lockers had been that morning. I remember several of the field problems which illustrate how such determinations were made. We were on a simulated patrol to attack a Japanese supply dump. The candidate selected as platoon leader for the exercise led us down a ravine about twenty feet deep so as to remain unobserved. Suddenly, two machine guns in dugouts in the side of the ravine began firing live ammunition just over our heads. The sound was terrifying as the tracer bullets cris-crossed above us and tore up the opposite banks. We all hit the dirt, but there was no place to go. The T.O. said to the designated platoon leader, “Your men are being slaughtered! What are you going to do!†There was nothing he could do and it was so real that the platoon leader sat and began to cry! I know that sounds incredible, but you had to be there and feel the constant pressure and extreme motivation in order to understand it. Needless to say, the designated platoon leader was called to the orderly room next morning and we never saw him again. On another occasion, I was the platoon leader. As we advanced in a skirmish line across a grassy field, a machine gun began to fire over our heads from a copse of woods about 150 yards ahead. We all hit the ground in grass and weeds about three feet deep. I called out, “Squad leaders, assemble on me!†And then, “I will lead 1st squad into those woods on our left. Squads 2, 3 and 4 will maintain a base of fire on the machine gun. I will lead 1st squad to a point opposite the copse and we will flank the machine gun. Cease fire when you see us cross the open ground between the woods and the copse. Move out!†With the first squad, I crawled through the grass and weeds so as to remain unobserved until we had entered the woods on our left. When under cover, we stood up and moved rapidly forward through the woods. When opposite the copse, we formed a skirmish line and dashed across the open ground and into the copse. We then closed on the machine gun and killed it with simulated fire. The T.O.’s only comment to me was, “The machine gun is knocked out. You lost three men crossing the open ground.†I assumed I had done OK. Another time, we were firing the 60mm mortar on the range. The target was a four foot by eight foot wooden 2x4 frame covered with orange canvas on a ridge line between a quarter and half mile away. The mortar is not a very accurate weapon. Its value comes in its large bursting radius and the ability to adjust the range and direction after each round based on where the last one landed. I estimated the range at 450 yards and the first round was on its way. We sweated out the fifteen-second wait while the round was in flight watching intently for the location of the impact burst. There was none! I thought the round might have been a dud and waited a little longer. From the valley beyond the target, a thin trail of smoke finally arose at an angle, because of the breeze. A terrible estimate of the range! But without missing a beat, I ordered, “Down 150, left 50, fire when ready.†With a loud thump, the second round was on its way. At precisely fifteen seconds, the target disappeared in smoke, fire and debris. When the smoke cleared, there was no trace of the target. Direct hit! A very lucky one in a hundred shot! We were divided up into groups of four men for a night problem. We were dropped off at the edge of some woods, given a compass bearing and told to find our way to a parallel road some three miles away. We were told there were enemy patrols in the woods and to proceed accordingly. There were numbered stakes along the parallel road and our performance was judged on how close we came to the proper stake and how long it took us to get there. It was pitch black in the woods and we kept falling into ravines which threaded their way through the pitch black woods, but we finally reached the parallel road and reported the number of the stake nearest the point from which we exited.. Was it the right stake? We were never told! One of the Candidates in our barracks was Sergeant Adams. He was one of the very few non-college men in the class. He was a farmer who had worked his way up to sergeant in the Regular Army and then applied for Officer Candidate School. He was a first class soldier and would probably make a good Infantry Officer, but a scholar he was not! We liked him and were determined to help him get his commission. Every night we would tutor him on the homework assignments to be sure he passed the classroom tests. He needed no help on field problems. I am happy to say that he got his commission. I wonder whether he survived the War. Our only free time was Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday. Some of the guys would put on their sun tans and go into the town of Columbus. We were required to wear an OCS patch sewed to the pocket of our shirt. I reasoned that that would be sufficient provocation for a drunken soldier to pick a fight and I might be tossed out of OCS. I never went into Columbus. There was no time to get lonesome during the week, but weekends were very lonely. I did a lot of letter writing on weekends. There was a Post Theater where we could see a movie on Saturday or Sunday night. The best show I ever saw was put on by Bob Waterfield, the professional football quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams, and actress Jane Russell. They weren’t on the screen. They were seated directly in front of me! They had just been married and Waterfield was in Infantry OCS. When I left for overseas, I heard that Waterfield had been discharged because of an old football injury and was back playing football for the Rams. There was never any hazing or what the GIS called “chickenshit.†We were much too busy for that and what we were doing was a very serious business. The one thing we hated though, was what we called the “Fxxx Your Buddy Sheet.†Twice during the thirteen-week program, we were required to rank in order of officer suitability, the twenty-five or so men in our section, (floor of the barracks) with a sentence after each of the first five and the last five explaining our rationale. There could be no hedging, because someone had to be first and someone had to be last. And showing favoritism didn’t pay because we were each rated by the T.O. on our ability to effectively evaluate the others. As we came down to the last week or two, our morale soared. We were going to make it! Finally the big day came, September 20, 1943, and 140 of the original 200 men swore the oath and pinned on their gold bars. Twenty-one of the thirty-one starters from Rutgers were commissioned 2nd Lieutenants, Infantry. Eleven of the twenty-one would soon be killed in action. Although I have no statistics on the others, it is reasonable to assume that more than seventy of the 140 graduates of OCS class 298 gave their lives for their country. A 50% KIA rate seemed to be the norm for Infantry OCS. And with an overall average of 3 ½ wounded for every one killed, very, very few escaped unscathed. Had we known these statistics, our youthful enthusiasm would have been under considerable pressure. One hundred and forty fine, intelligent, educated young men with dreams of glory were about to learn the cruel reality of War. And another OCS class would be graduating tomorrow and another the day after tomorrow and another the day after that. Russ Cloer - 3_7_I_Recon
  11. 3_7_I_Recon

    A Young Life Wasted

    A Young Life Wasted - PFC Warren McManus (DOI) Of all the deaths suffered by my platoon and company, the one that distressed me most was that of PFC Warren McManus, known to his buddies as Mac. Because his death was so unnecessary, so wasteful and so untimely. Mac was one of four jeep drivers in the reconnaissance platoon when I arrived as a replacement officer on the Anzio Beachhead in Italy and was in the same job when he died in Germany on April 22, 1945, only 16 days before the War ended. He couldn’t have been more than 18 or 19 years old and he looked even younger. He was of slight build, with blonde hair, blue eyes, and an innocent baby face. One might think that driving a jeep is not a particularly dangerous job and in many cases they would be right. But driving a recon platoon jeep is another story. On the Anzio Beachhead, to drive in daylight was to court disaster. The enemy had perfect observation from the Alban Hills surrounding us and any activity, on the dusty unpaved roads, brought immediate accurate shellfire. At night, Mac drove anti-parachute patrols on roads that were constantly shelled by enemy interdictory fire to disrupt supplies being brought forward after dark. In France and Germany, he drove on roads that no friendly forces had traveled. The enemy made extensive use of antitank mines and to run over one in a jeep meant instant death. In the hope of some protection, the floor and fire walls were lined with sand bags. I suspect that gave us more peace of mind, little though it was, than any real protection. And recon patrols drew enemy fire: from small arms, mortars, antitank guns and artillery. Mac’s nerves were shot when I arrived and only got worse over the next fourteen months. I tried periodically to persuade the medical officer to have him evacuated. But to do so would invite others to try the same escape and so it just wasn’t done. Mac was of limited usefulness as a result and I tried to assign him the least dangerous jobs The other three drivers, knowing his condition, did not seem to resent this preferential treatment. Although one of my four drivers who was able to mask the effects of stress, later deserted , was court-martialed and sent to prison. The driver’s weapon was the 30 caliber M1 carbine. The safe and proper way to carry it was with a full fifteen cartridge magazine, but uncocked and with no round in the chamber. To fire it, you had only to pull back the slide, release it and press the trigger. There was also a mechanical trigger lock as a further precaution. Mac was carrying his carbine with a round in the chamber, cocked and the safety in the firing position. In apparent preparation for possible enemy attack, he had placed it between the two front seats where he could reach and fire it instantly. He delivered the package to the Division CP in the rear and apparently stopped on the way back to take off his field jacket which he folded neatly and put between the two front seats with the carbine lying on top, butt forward, muzzle pointing to the rear. When he got back, he turned off the ignition, reached for his field jacket and pulled it toward him. The carbine on top slid forward, the heavy butt sliding down the right side of the transmission hump swinging the muzzle toward his chest. As the carbine fell, one of the short (4 wheel drive) transmission stalks (with the knob missing) entered the trigger guard causing the weapon to pivot even more. The stalk then hit the trigger, the carbine fired and the bullet hit Mac in the chest. He screamed, leaped out of the jeep and started to run! It took three men to stop him and carry him into the Aid Station, screaming and fighting with blood pouring from his chest. A medic gave him a shot of morphine, he was loaded into an ambulance, taken to the nearest field hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival. After 14 months in combat, he died with only sixteen days to go. It was a stupid and unnecessary accident caused in large part by his agitated mental state. No one in his right mind carried a loaded weapon, safety off, that needs only ounces of pressure on the trigger to kill, in such circumstances. He was reported as “Died of Injuries†not “Killed in Actionâ€. Because of the timing, his parents may well have been notified of his death after the War was over. Mac was only one of more than 8,000 men who died in the 3rd Division in WWII, Of all these deaths, I know of no other that was so wasteful, unnecessary, and untimely. Russ Cloer - 3_7_I_Recon
  12. 3_7_I_Recon

    A Bill Mauldin drawing

    Thanks Joe, for posting the cartoon. I have three books of Mauldin's WWII cartoons, but this one is my favorite. It's a side of War you don't hear much about. The rations were nourishing, but they were cold, relatively tasteless and worst of all, monotonous, as I'm sure you remember. (Day after day, week after week and month after month). And to drink, we had a canteen of luke warm (body temperature) water! And try to refill your canteen from a 5 gallone can of water with a 3 or 4 inch diameter spout! Bill Mauldin had a good understanding of the infantryman's lot and his cartoons struck home then and still do! Russ Cloer - 3_7_I_Recon
  13. SomeRelevantQuotations: “Old soldiers dream of old battles because, with the sliding of years, memory of terror fades and what remains is the fond recollection of intensified life, of moments so electric, so bursting that everything after is thin porridge.†Lawrence Sanders “Some men go skimming over the years of existence to sink gently into a placid grave, ignorant of life to the last, without ever having been made to see all it may contain of perfidy, of violence, and of terror. Joseph Conrad “I answered the call as I heard it" Nelson Bryant “There is no greater feeling of exhilaration for a young man than to be shot at - to no result.†Winston Churchill “The whole affair has the strong odor of Gallipoli - and we have the same coach on the bench.†(About the Anzio Beachhead. Reference is to Winston Churchill) “There are not enough Huns anywhere to drive us off this beach.†Lt. Gen. John Lucas “It was an introduction to adult life marked by outrunning death every day. It was the most selfless work I ever did. The experience was dreadful, sobering and maturing, but when you survived it, it was elevating.†Unknown “As a result of my wartime experiences, I have always felt that I was living on time which I’d been given. What all of us have come to realize is that that really was the climax of our lives.†Unknown “There is no loneliness to equal that of an Infantry soldier in a foreign country in wartime, separated from his home and loved ones by a continent and an ocean, with no hope of returning soon, if ever.†Russell W.Cloer
  14. 3_7_I_Recon

    Comment-allez-vous?

    Comment-allez-vous? Upon entering high school in the 1930s, we had to choose one of 3 curricula, College, General, or Commercial. For financial reasons, college seemed out of the question then, so I took the General course, like the majority of others. It offered quite an assortment of electives. (I remember taking two years of bookkeeping, typing and shop, among others). My grades were good and after two years, a guidance counseller took me aside to point out that unless I elected more college entrance required subjects (including a foreign language), I would be unable to enter college, if and when the opportunity arose. I took her advice, despite my reservations, and took 2 years of French and more math. I graduated first in my high school class and won a competitive full tuition scholarship to Rutgers University. Room and board, I paid through part- time and summer jobs. When I graduated in May1943, (having been an ROTC student), I was sent to Infantry OCS and commissioned 2nd Lt. Inf. on Sept. 20, 1943. I was then shipped out as an Infantry 2nd LT. and assigned to the 3rd Inf Div, 7th Inf Reg't, in January 1944. I spent about 3 months on the Anzio Beachhead and the road to Rome, after which we trained briefly for the amphibeous assault landing in Southern France. D day was August 15, 1944 at Cavalaire-sur-mer. We fought our way north and then east to enter Germany on March 15, 1944 We fought for 7 months in France and my ability to speak fluent French was a valuable and pleasurable asset which I had thought I would never use! The French people welcomed us with open arms, not to mention champagne and other goodies such as the company of grateful young ladies. We called it the Champagne Campaign. Enemy resistance stiffened as we approached their homeland, but the Champagne Campain (and being able to speak fluent French), brighten my memories. Russ Cloer - 3_7_I_Recon
  15. 3_7_I_Recon

    The "whole 'notlher story"

    The real whole ‘nother story’ When I came home after 2 years overseas in WWII, we were pressured at the separation center to sign on for 5 years in the Reserve. The reward was an immediate promotion of one grade in rank, in my case from 1st Lt. to Captain. I went for it.! I wanted to wear those “railroad tracks†on my shoulders during my 30 day terminal leave! In 1946, as a civilian, I went to work as an engineer for an aircraft engine manufacturer. One of my assignments was to make frequent trips to Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio, to exchange information and to avoid unnecessary duplication of testing by Air Force engineers . On one of those trips, the thought occurred to me, “Why do I want to be in the Infantry Reserve when my engineering experience would be of greater value to the Air Force?†I applied for a transfer from the Infantry Reserve to the Air Force reserve. It was approved and my MOS was changed from “Infantry Unit Commander - 1542†to “Air Force Design and Development Officer - 7050â€. A few years later, the Korean War began and “Infantry Unit Commanders†were recalled to active duty by the thousands, many of whom I knew. But the Air Force didn’t need any more “Design and Development Officers†and I was not recalled. My wife, my 3 young children and I were very happy about that! Russ Cloer - 3_7_I_Recon
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