Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Following the 10th Armored (23): March Ends

This is part of a series following my father's 10th Armored Division in World War II seventy years ago. He was a medic with the 80th Medical Battalion assigned to the 10th Armored, part of Patton’s Third Army.

After Action Report
80th Medical Battalion
10th Armored Division
1 March - 31 March 1945

There were 32 officers and 367 enlisted men. During the month none of the battalion was killed and three were wounded while one was reported missing. Thirty-five reinforcements were assigned.

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

2741 admissions
355 were returned to duty
23 died in the stations
2381 were transferred and
5 remained in station on 31 March

These numbers were significantly higher than February. Since we don't have After Action Reports for December and January, the months of the Battle of the Bulge, we can't compare to that period, but the high activity in March including the final capture of Trier, clearing the Wittlich corridor and the Race to the Rhine caused significant more activity on certain days. Overall, they had over 1300 admissions from 1 March to 9 March (145/day)and 357 on 21 - 22 March. These 11 days accounted for more than 60% of all admissions for the month.

Than an Army Ambulance Company be attached to each Armored Division to insure constant, continuous and efficient third echelon evacuation at all times. An Armored Division such as this one can expect to be transferred between Corps of an Army and between Armies such as we have been during the past six months. Each such transfer has resulted in a confused third echelon evacuation system for several days after the transfer.

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

This recommendation, of course, was based on the several changes between the Third and Seventh Armies by the 10th Armored Division as well as working with other corps within the Armies. That old problem of the "fog of war" is one that is hard to overcome. In the heat of action and quickly changing situations, the ability to be efficient is obviously seriously impacted.

For me, as a lifelong civilian, that is part of what we seldom see in the movies or on TV. I keep referring back to last year's excellent WW 2 Movie, Fury, which was set in these late months of World War II with an Armored Division like the Tigers. The other great WW 2 movies such as Saving Private Ryan, The Longest Day, The Guns of Navarone and Clint Eastwood's two-parter, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima also do a very good job of showing the agony and horrors of war. But with my Dad's involvement with the 10th Armored, Fury had an immediate reality for these days for me.

While April would have its share of fighting, as we will see, on 31 March 1945 there were only 45 days left on the official days of World War II. There were six-months behind them and now, just a little less than six-months left until the Tigers would return home. But that is, as I have said before, our hindsight. I would assume the daily grind of war, the wear and tear of facing casualties, attacks and counter-attacks along with the uncertainties of what was going on beyond them had exacted a toll.

Lent Picture A Day (43): Peace

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Comedian With a Heart

We just finished listening to Martin Short's moving memoir, I Must Say: My Life As a Humble Comedy Legend, on our trip home. I am glad, first of all, that we did the audio book version with Short himself doing the reading. That way we got the "real deal" of Short's characters and own way of presenting his story.

Two things stand out in my mind about the book. First, it gives a down-to-earth view of celebrities that we see often- Tom Hanks, Steve Martin, Paul Shaffer, Bill Murray, Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn and Short himself. As Short tells his story and these friends of his show up, we find that they are just every-day people in their own world. While they may be in a whole different culture than most of us, within their culture and relationships they do the same things as we do. They sit on balconies and look at the ocean, on the porch of a cabin and watch the water on the lake. They go to the doctors and have fun times together. They call each other up on the phone and go shopping.

They also have the pains of life that we all have. Which is the second outstanding element of Short's memoir- he lays bear the pain of his life. His brother's sudden death while Short was a teenager, the death of his mother, the father who was like so many other fathers of the 50s and 60s and finally, the death of his wife of 36 years in 2010. His reflections on these events go deep into the ins and outs of being human and coping with life. They speak of the heart- and to the heart. He doesn't sugar-coat them not give glib answers. You can tell that through a lifetime of deaths in his life, he has wrestled with what the meanings are- for him.

As we were driving listening to the last sections of the book about his wife's death, my wife and I found ourselves crying. He doesn't play the emotions, he simply tells the story and his reactions. We could not stay dry-eyed. Short is of our generation, of course, and we are soon to celebrate 43 years together. The deep loss of the death of a spouse is not something to avoid. As Short presents it, when it happens, it will hurt, deeply and forever, but these difficult times are difficult because we have had a good life together.

While not one to regularly listen to audio books, I highly recommend this one instead of just reading it. You will get Martin Short at his best and most human.

Lent Picture A Day (42): Call

Monday, March 30, 2015

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Friday, March 27, 2015

Following the 10th Armored (22): The Race to the Rhine

This is part of a series following my father's 10th Armored Division in World War II seventy years ago. He was a medic with the 80th Medical Battalion assigned to the 10th Armored, part of Patton’s Third Army.

12 March - 16 March 1945
As mentioned last post, after their work in late February and early March the 10th Armored Division Tigers took a well-deserved rest. Centered in the ancient and once beautiful city of Trier they had the opportunity to see the ancient Roman remains. That came to an end on the 16th when they were sent to be part of the race to the Rhine. As Nichols reports it, the area between the Saar and Rhine Rivers was the Palatinate, Germany's only remaining sizable holdings west of the Rhine. In that region were the two powerful enemy armies of about 100,000 men. To get to the Rhine, Nichols says,
the tigers were to be called upon to deal with an endless series of enemy pillboxes, barbed wire, anti-tank ditches, dragons' teeth, roadblocks and, toughest of all, well-trained German troops.
16 March 1945
CC A led the attack, followed about half an hour later by CC B. By dark that night they had made about a 20 km spearhead. Their objective was St. Wendel.

17 March - 18 March
Both combat commands struck out in a coordinated attack utilizing searchlights to light up the battleground. It was slow going but by dusk on 18 March they were on the outskirts of the objective.

19 March - 20 March
The Germans were driven out of St. Wendel and two of the Task Forces never even stopped. They raced another 20 miles east. By  the 20th it was fast becoming a rout. Next stop would be Kaiserlautern, a major industrial city of about 100,000. To get there, they raced down part of the famed autobahn. They were racing the 80th Infantry Division. The Tigers were there first, but credit was given to the 80th who had done the "dirty work" of mopping up.

After racing through Kaiserlautern CC A continued east toward the Rhine; CC B headed south some 20 miles to sever enemy escape routes.

21 March - 22 March
CC B moved steadily toward its objectives and captured the town of Landau on the 22nd.

23 March
From Nichols:
Forty-eight hours after the capture of Landau, the giant trap set by the Tenth was closed. Against light resistance they streaked out of Landau to set up radio contact with the Fifth French Armored Division. Contact was then made with the Seventh Army…. All during the Tenth’s lightning drive across the Palatinate, the missions of the Division were constantly being changed and each succeeding objective took the Tigers further south. Within gunshot of the Rhine, we found ourselves completely out of the United States Third Army boundary and in the Seventh Army Area.

It is rumored at the time that General Patch of the Sixth Armored Division had wired Patton: Congratulations on completely surrounding the entire United States Seventh Army.” The Tigers were then assigned to the Seventh Army! They were not to return to the Third Army again until the occupation of Southern Bavaria three months later. They were given a brief four-day respite to wait the call to roll across the Rhine. Later in the month, they would spearhead the Seventh Army’s drive all the way to the Bavarian and Austrian Alps.

Lent Picture A Day (38): Meditate

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Introverted Packer Fans- Be Warned

It happens every time.

Whenever I wear my Packer hat anywhere outside of the Upper Midwest, someone will come up to me and start talking. Usually starting with

"Go Pack! Go!"
So- as a warning to any introverts- don't expect to be unnoticed when wearing any Packer gear away from home territory. (It's actually fun!)

What I do when I am away is wear my Twins hat when I want to be introverted! Nobody but other Twins fans comment. Even then, it's kind of an introverted little nod.

Lent Picture A Day (37): Seek

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Too Easily Distracted...

... But that's part of the fun!

We have been snowbirds for the past 7 weeks, but alas, the trip is over. The realities of March in Minnesota (talk about March Madness!) have settled in. It has been one of the finest winters for us. Doing nothing, reading, sleeping late and/or taking naps, producing 16 videos and taking a gazillion pictures. Ah, the life.

If it hadn't been for the daily Lenten posts, I would have been far behind in my daily discipline of my blogging. While I may not be officially diagnosed with ADD, I certainly show all the symptoms. (Look- a parasailer. My, maybe I should go walk on the... Wait a minute, I need to get the shells... Oh- it's time for Better Call Saul...)

I realize that this is one of the advantages of partial retirement and I will agree that if I were 100% retired back home, I would probably eventually go a little (more) bonkers. But then again...

The biggest problem was that I last any of the standard discipline I had worked so "hard" at developing last fall. The work on my writings has taken a back seat to many of those parenthetical things above. I have gone to the library at least once a week and did some writing, I played in a local community band and I had a great experience at a recovery convention. I remember reading somewhere (wait for it- here comes my justification) that there are times when you need to take a vacation from your writing when there is something you need to work through. I know that has been part of what is happening.

As I have been researching and writing on my Dad's 10th Armored/80th Medical history from these months at the end of World War 2, I have also been coming to some new insights on my Dad, his family and how it all has impacted me. As one of those introspective (not introverted), intuitive, feeling types, these are important times for me. I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to experience and introspect on these things recently. As I settle back into my daily routines at home, they will do me well.

But the distractions will still get in the way- which for me is good.

Lent Picture A Day (36): Truth

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Monday, March 23, 2015

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Friday, March 20, 2015

Can You Feel It?

The time is 5:46 pm, Central time.
Spring has arrived.

Earlier this week we spent some time at Weeks Bay, AL, Reserve looking for signs of spring.

They were everywhere.

Here they are in a video. Keep the faith... spring is on its way.

Lent Picture A Day (31): Place

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Following the 10th Armored (21): More Quick and Efficient Work

This is part of a series following my father's 10th Armored Division in World War II seventy years ago. He was a medic with the 80th Medical Battalion assigned to the 10th Armored, part of Patton’s Third Army.

Originally, the battle plan for the 10th was limited to the Saar-Moselle Triangle. They were so efficient and quick, however that they went on to capture Trier. But again, thanks to their work at capturing the Romer Bridge the 10th’s combat was extended, driving to Wittlich, about 25 miles north of Trier.

8 March 1945
After crossing the bridge, they were now within six miles of their objective.

10 March 1945
Tiger combat units sealed off the eastern approach to Wittlich and TF Cherry’s tanks fought their way into the city. They then barreled an additional 10 miles to capture a bridge at Bullay, but were thwarted as the Germans had already destroyed the bridge. They did encounter and defeat a 50 vehicle enemy convoy near the Mosel River.

12 March 1945
The mission was ended. TF Cherry rejoined the remainder of the Division at Trier. These swift battle movements are what had previously earned the Tigers the name “Ghost Division.”

In this period the Tigers sealed off a 44-mile pocket on the west bank of the Moselle, now with its name changed to the Mosel.


10 March - 11 March 1945
While TF Cherry was on its way to Wittlich, Combat Command B where my Dad’s medical company was assigned, and the Reserve Command stayed closer to Trier. They drove the Germans across the Kyle River, a Mosel tributary, three miles north of Trier at Ehrang and headed toward Schweich.

When TF Chamberlain entered the city on March 10, all was quiet. The Germans had declared that Schweich was now an “open city.” The German message, according to Nichols, was that the town was “undefended and sheltered 3,000 wounded Germans.” It was a trick. Instead they found a powerful array of artillery, mined streets and just two German casualties.

Shortly after the TF seized the city the Germans “rained a steady stream of shells into the ‘open city’ resulting in heavy Tiger casualties." Then, after two days of fighting, the Germans were circled and neutralized. The TF returned to Trier on March 11.

In eight days, four task forces had spearheaded some forty miles over terrain completely unfavorable to armored operations. By March 12 were all back in Trier, Germany’s oldest city.

12 March – 16 March 1945
The reunited Tenth was given a much-earned four-day rest in Trier. They did sightseeing of the ancient Roman ruins and prepared for what would come next- the Race to the Rhine.

Lent Picture A Day (29): Believe

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lent Picture A Day (28): Endure

St. Patrick's Day

A celebration of St. Patrick for St. Patrick's Day.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Lent Picture A Day (25): Search

Hey, Kids- Do You Know What Time It Is?

Well, this post is scheduled to post at 9:27 CDT. If you have any nerd-genes in your makeup, you already know what that means.

It's a once in a lifetime- or at least once in a century moment.

At the moment of posting it is

3/14/15 9:27


Did you miss it already? That's why I'm scheduling this to post on time. That way I can be sure it gets here at the right time.

Actually, in some parts of the world (probably many) this is a waste of their time reading it. When you post the date as day/month/year, there will never be a Pi Day since there are only 12 months. There is no 3/14/15. Or for that matter, 31/4/15 is also a non-existent day.

I know,

now I am being irrational.

Friday, March 13, 2015