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Walt's Daughter

Larry Babine - on the road to Velletri

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The following photo is one of the images featured in the intro of my documentary. I always loved the photo because it expressed so much. Says it all doesn't it?

 

The only thing I ever knew about it; it was a 36th Engineer. That is until this week. I received some correspondence from Larry Babine, whom I met at the Seahorses Reunion last year.

 

Well it turns out THAT photo is Larry, and I found out the whole story behind it. So once again, after many moons, I can put a face and name to an image.

 

His letter also brought up memories of my dad, for as you know, he was injured by a mortar shell on his motorcycle during the breakout from Anzio.

 

Here is the doc he sent me via email...

 

Refreshed Memory

 

Having just received pictures of 36th Engineers via e-mail, has brought back memories of a rugged period from May 21 to June 6, 1944.

 

On May 21 I was part of a platoon size battle patrol on Anzio. With no reason why, we were sent out in broad daylight [a no no] to go as far as possible into enemy lines. We went about one mile without any contact until suddenly we discovered we were let into a trap. All Hell broke loose and the man with me [i’ve lost his name, I only remember he was Polish] was instantly cut down by a machine pistol. What happened next is a blur. I ended up in the roadside ditch and the German vanished.

 

For the next half hour [i’m only guessing] I was under fire from an 88 gun that kept hitting the road bank. When I nearly reached the point of panic, the firing suddenly stopped and I was wrapped in a white mist. My first thought was that I had been painlessly killed and that I was wrapped in the arms of God. Gradually I realized I was still alive and in one piece. Then followed a strange series of events when I got distinct orders to move NOW. As soon as got settled in a shell hole I would once again get the order to move. In this way the Germans were never able to pin point me with their mortar.

 

It was while I was resting [getting my breath] in one of those shell holes that I saw our Lt. Fallon hurrying back along the road to our lines and his head was covered with blood. I never saw him again until our Rgmt. reunion 60 years later. After a long time – no idea how long – I finally made it back to our lines and I can remember being speechless, probably deaf too.

 

On the night of May 22 – 23 I was once more on the battle patrol and was out front at the start of the massive artillery bombardment that shook the entire Anzio Beachhead. New infantry was coming ashore for the breakout but I saw none of it.

 

The day after the breakout we loaded on trucks and headed in the direction of Valletri where we entered into a fierce three day battle to close the road from the south to the retreating Germans. During this three day battle I saw three men killed within a few feet of me [one was torn to pieces but was taken away screaming] Later I was standing against the wall of a stone farmhouse with two GI’s when a German mortar shell landed in the courtyard and shrapnel hit the two men who were three feet from me.

 

My memory is pretty sketchy about the details but I remember chewing dusty grape leaves for water. I remember two German machine gunners trying to surrender after running out of ammo and being shot in the back [own officers]. It was a time of sheer chaos no one was sure where the enemy was and for a time we were in the crossfire of more than two machineguns. The enclosed photo shows how I felt after three days without sleep or food.

 

I must have bounced back after a close encounter with PTSD and a trip to the medics, a morphine shot and a night’s sleep. The next day after loading up for the run to Rome we were caught in a traffic jam. That’s when I learned not everyone was anxious to catch up to the enemy. Our Major with some help went forward to check on the traffic jam only to find that a British AA outfit had parked on the road whilst they made 5 o’clock tea. With a little help from us the equipment was pushed off the road. They could not understand why we were in such a hurry. It’s been a good laugh for many years.

post-2-1208342930_thumb.jpg

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Thanks Marion and Larry for sharing that story of the picture.

It helps me understand some of the stuff Dad would never talk about from the war.

I knew he was part of the Anzio invasion but he just never talked of it.

 

Again thanks Larry for such a great story. :armata_PDT_37:

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I am so glad he shared it with us too, for it gives us yet another glimpse from our father's eyes. I plan on using the story in the documentary too. Thank you Larry!

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Thanks so much to Larry for sharing his moving story and picture and for his great service to our country.

I knew my Dad was at Anzio, but not much else. Though even as a child, I knew it must've been a VERY bad place - just by the look on my father's face when he said "Anzio".

We didn't know the half of it. It was a very bad place indeed.

 

Thank you again Larry for - as Marion said: "giving us yet another glimpse through our father's eyes".

 

Mary Ann

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Not much I can add other than to say the picture is great but when you can couple it to the story behind it. . .

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I originally found Larry's picture on ebay several years ago. The guy that was selling it normally sels Nazi memoribilia and since his picture that he called "36th Engineer on the road to Villetri "was not watermarked, I downloaded it to my collection and shared it with my Dad. We were bothemotionally struck by the picture and Dad actually opened up and talked to me about the taking of Villetri. That was the first I had heard of the 442nd.

Sometime later in 2005 I sent the picture to Marion. i have been trying to contact my brother because I think he bought the original picture.Here is another picture from the same guy on ebay. I couldnt remember if I had posted it but I think it's another good one.I cannot remember the writeup but I think it said something about 36th Engineers disableing bombs near Anzio.

 

PhotoItalyEODCombatEngineer.jpg

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I'd be curious to know if it WAS the original photo, since it is readily available through books, and other sites for download, in other words public domain. I hope it was THE original because it would irk me to no end if he was selling something which is available for free through other sources. :pdt33:

 

This was taken in Anzio and it is two members of the 36th disarming the building.

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One of the places you can find the photo is in the book I have called, The Corps of Engineers - The War Against Germany - Authors: Alfred M. Beck; Abe Bortz; Charles W. Lynch; Lidia Mayo; And Ralph F. Weld - Publisher: Department of the Army, pg 196. The specific information states:

 

36th Engineer Combat Regiment Troops Remove German Charges from buildings in Anzio

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