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212th Field Artillery Home Page

A History
of the
212th AFA in WWII:
Personal Notes

My parents both served in the Army in Europe during World War II: my mother was a First Lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps (ANC), assigned to the 202nd General Hospital in France; my father was a First Lieutenant in charge of the communications section, Headquarters Battery, of the 212th Armored Field Artillery battalion, 6th Armored Division.

When the web started to take off a few years ago, I had already been in computers for 20 years, and it didn't take long before I typed "6th Armored Division" and "Army Nurse Corps" in my web browser just to see if anything would pop up from the available search engines.

I was surprised to see that there was an organization called the "Sixth Armored Division Assoc", and a call to Ed Reed in Kentucky revealed that there was also an active 212th FA organization in my home state. (There wasn't much listed for women veterans at the time, but that's changing.)

That was the beginning of several contacts with the veterans who knew my parents when they were 20 years younger than I am today.

My parents met and were married at Camp Cooke, California, where the 6th Armored was training prior to being shipped overseas. My mother was a nurse at the Station Hospital. They had known each other for two weeks when they got married.

A few days after their wedding in January of '44, the Sixth Armored Division left California for Europe via New York. My mother's general hospital unit went to Europe the following November. I believe they saw each other no more than one or two times, briefly, over the course of the next two years.


Paris, June 1945. On leave.
Married for 18 months and together less than two weeks.

Suddenly, the war was over, and they were thrown back together.

Without going into a lot of details, the marriage did not last; just long enough to produce my brother in 1947 and me in 1953.

Getting married after two weeks was probably the most spontaneous and risky thing either of them had done up to that point in their lives. It's easy to guess their thoughts: we're both going to take part in a world war, and we both may die, let's go for it. My mother was a romantic, and my father was a pragmatist; they got married.

Whomever they thought they were when they married in January 1944, they were probably different people by the time they finally started their life together in January 1946. My mother had cared for of hundreds or thousands of wounded soldiers, and my father had gone through five campaigns, including the Battle of the Bulge, earning the Bronze and Silver stars in the process.

I have no way of knowing what kind of stress those experiences must put on a marriage. However, I believe they aggravated a relationship that would have had major problems even in the best of circumstances.

When my father died in January of '72 from cirrhosis, I had seen him maybe a half-dozen times in the previous 10 years, and the encounters were usually not pleasant. I didn't think much of him, and he didn't think much of me, and my long-haired anti-Vietnam stance didn't help things any.

My mother died in 1994 and is interred in Arlington National Cemetery. She had married a second time late in life, and for her last 15 years had finally achieved the kind of life she thought she was starting in 1946.

Their experiences, decisions, and actions not only affected their own lives, they affected the lives of my brother and me, and indirectly, even the lives of our spouses and our children. My 40's have brought a certain amount of introspection and reflection, and I wanted to better understand the forces that had touched three generations of my family (four, if you count our grandparents who watched their kids go to war).

Researching their wartime experiences hasn't explained everything about their adult lives, but it has certainly put some things in context.

Last summer it occured to me that the little hardbound History of the 212th AFA that had somehow survived the family turmoil would make a worthwhile web site, and that the information contained in that book could now be made available to others interested in researching World War II, and to anybody looking for information about these specific Third Army units.

The Sixth Armored Division has often been overlooked in the histories about the European Theater of Operation, and I, like many others, have been frustrated trying to find information about the Division's World War II exploits. Politics and the press operated much the same way 50 years ago as they do now, and often a few units garnered the lion's share of the publicity. While other divisions and other generals wined and dined Stars & Stripes reporters and war correspondents, the Super Sixth just went and did its job, spectacularly.

As new histories get written, the same sources get used for material, and the imbalance of coverage is self-perpetuating.

Even Eisenhower's Crusade in Europe has index entries for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 7th Armored Divisions, leaving out specific mention of the Sixth. Ike apparently forgot the role that the Super Sixth played in contributing to his success.

Sixth Armored personnel often show up in photographs or in newsreel footage, arm patches clearly visible, and yet the accompanying text or narration praises other units with no mention of the Super Sixth. Several of the scenes in the movie "Patton" were based on Super Sixth activities, but you would never know it.

6th Armored MPs in Bastogne

Typical coverage: The MP's patch is clearly 6th Armored
in the original photo, but no mention of the division is made.
Photo: Imperial War Museum, London.

So, part of my motivation in creating this web site has been to get the Super Sixth some of the recognition it deserves. Maybe other descendants of division veterans will now have a little easier time finding information about the unit their father or grandfather served with.

I had been doing web sites both at work and in my spare time, and with the help of Charles Wohlers who had helped me teach a series of web seminars for the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, I had the text and pictures scanned and began the job of converting everything into HTML.

The result is this web site. I hope you find the information here useful and interesting. If you are a 6th Armored veteran or a family member looking for information about the Division and the whereabouts of its members, I encourage you to contact the Association at the address listed elsewhere on this web site.

Bruce Frederick

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This page is maintained by Bruce Frederick, EMAIL .
Updated September 14, 1997
April 15, 1997 invisible gif