G. Hudson Wirth: 18 Yr Old Replacement
Table of Contents
S/Sgt Hubert Grimes, Trains Recon
This excerpt from the Denman family history picks up as Roy joins the Super Sixth, and follows his time with the Division through his wounding and evacuation.
This was the site of initial D-Day landings of the previous June 6th, and signs of that battle were everywhere. Time has dimmed my memory somewhat, but I do recall some things, like the breakwater of old sunken ships off shore. The barrage balloons floating overhead to ward off fighter aircraft, wrecked and burned out tanks and other equipment. The cliffs, and the new soldiers graves on the hill to our left. Also visible, were a number of German "pillboxes" and gun emplacements that were taken by our troops on D-Day.
As soon as we were ashore, we formed into marching columns and proceeded up the cliff and down a dirt road. I don't remember how far, nor how long we marched, but we finally came to a military field depot of some kind. Here, we got rid of some of our excess equipment and were issued brand new rifles. They came right out of the crates and were all covered with cosmoline, to protect them from moisture in shipment.
We were not provided any means for removing the cosmoline, but were told to clean them in whatever way we could. It was here, I think, that we first put into practice what was called "field expedience", we used to call it "make do" on the farm. Our platoon found an old iron barrel somewhere, filled it with water and built a roaring fire under it. When it was boiling, we simply melted the cosmoline from our rifles.
Next, we marched out to a make-shift rifle range to zero in our weapons. The Germans had used it before us and probably built it, as this place also was a temporary POW camp. We were not supposed to talk to the prisoners, but some of us did until the guards ran us away. I remember one prisoner had been a prisoner of war in the first world war. He could speak good English and had lived in the United States for a while before the war. He was very friendly and seemed to think that we were fighting on the wrong side in the war.
We did not stay here long and were soon on trucks again, headed up the famous Red Ball Highway, a gravel road that was the main supply route for the American Army in France. We passed through areas, villages, and towns that were scenes of great destruction. Two towns in particular, St. Lo and Vire I remember, were completely destroyed. Not a single building was left standing. The French people all seemed to be standing along the roadways, everywhere, waving flags and cheering us on.
When we stopped for anything, there would be people asking for cigarettes, food, chewing gum, clothing, or almost anything. They seemed to be in great need of everything and it was not uncommon to see respectable looking people digging in garbage piles for food. Some people had cider, cognac or calvados to sell or trade.
It is futile to wish I had a better memory, but after 40 plus years, what can one expect, other than a poor remembrance of many things that happened so long ago. Back to the trucks again, I don't recall how long it took us, but we finally arrived at Le Mans, where we were put on board a freight train, about 40 or 50 men to a car, with our equipment. The car I was in was an ordinary coal car and had two or three inches of coal dust on the floor. Most of us simply laid our packs on the floor ancl sat on them. Nothing could keep the coal dust down, and we were all d6vered from head to toe before we got very far. The car just ahead of ours was a similar vehicle, except it had a white powdery material in it. Those men riding in it were as white as we were black when we arrived at our destination. It would not be difficult, at this point, to make some kind of funny remark about early-day integration, but I won't say anything.
Our train carried us through many towns and industrial cities, most of which were bombed and burned to rubble. It was hard to believe such destruction. Our route took us around Paris, but close enough that we had a pretty good view of the Eiffel Tower. We also lumbered through a series of long tunnels on this route. It was necessary to use our gas masks in the tunnels, because of the thick coal smoke from the steam engine. I can't remember where we got off the train, but the final leg of our journey was made on trucks.
The trucks took us to the vicinity of Nancy. A funny thing happened on our truck. At least I thought it was funny, but the "victim" probably didn't see the humor. We were told by our officers that, because we were so close to the enemy lines, the trucks would have to keep moving and would not stop for any reason whatever. Well, it was inevitable that something would happen in that kind of situation. One of our men got sick with a bad case of the "Gl's" (diarrhea) and had to heed the call of nature in a hurry. His steel helmet filled the emergency and was thrown overboard. But this was not enough, so he borrowed helmet after helmet from the other men, until he got it under control. I think we did have some shells fall pretty close on this leg of the trip, but of course in fairness to this soldier, I must say that the shelling didn't cause his problem.
Soon, we were at Nancy and it was like a beehive. Our convoy went right into town, passing under or around a large arch. I suppose it must have been another Arc de Triomphe, similar to the one in Paris. Outside the city, we unloaded in a large field that had been converted into a military camp, with a cluster of large army tents. In and around this area were various kinds of small signs, nailed to stakes that were driven in the ground, all for the benefit of the Gl's.
I remember one that stated that all men of the 3rd Army would observe military courtesy, even in combat zones, by order of General George S. Patton, 3rd Army Commander. Of course, being really a civilian at heart, I thought this was absurd and could envision soldiers in combat, jumping up to salute and being shot down by the enemy. Being now older and, I hope, a little wiser, I can see the necessity of discipline in an army. Without discipline, there is no army, only a mob.
At this place, we were assigned to various units, some men going to the 80th Division, some to the 35th, others to the 4th and 7th Armored Divisions, and still others (including myself) to the 6th Armored Division. As each man heard his name called, he would respond and give his MOS number (military occupational specialty number) and would then be assigned to his unit. My MOS number was 745 (Rifleman) and I was a bit surprised to be put in an armored division, since I had not been trained with armor. I soon learned that armored divisions also had Infantry Battalions in them that were called Armored Infantry.
My unit was the 9th Armored Infantry Battalion, Co. A and, I think, 3rd platoon, 1 st squad. It was about the last week in September when I was assigned to my unit. We spent part of a night in a former French Army Barracks. Those of us going to the 6th Armored Division were picked up by our unit a little after midnight. The few hours in the French Army Barracks was the only time I slept in a building (except once in a barn) while I was in France, until I was wounded.
The replacement system was such that men from all parts of the country were inadvertently mixed and mingled when being shipped overseas, and for this reason, only one man from my Camp Roberts Company ended up with me in the 6th Armored Division. He was Pvt. Charles C. Coogle, and even so, we were put in different battalions, he in the 50th Armored Infantry, and me in the 9th. Charlie and I were both wounded and both survived the war, but we never saw each other again. We did correspond for a while in the late 1970's and early 1980's, but sadly, Charlie passed away in March, 1987 in Pompano Beach, Florida, where he lived after retirement. He was 76. Because of the high casualty rate in the infantry, my combat experience was rather short and, for many years after the war, I was resentful of having been knocked out of the fighting so soon. A strange attitude by today's standards, but true.
As mentioned before, forty years is a long time to remember anything, and I certainly can not by any stretch of the imagination, remember everything that happened while I was with Company A. I will try to record what I can, partly from memory and part from official records, etc. Generally, I remember the pouring rains, our wet clothes drying on our backs, the endless mud and cold weather, and no place to sleep at night, even if the enemy left us alone.
Quite often, we slept wherever we happened to be when night fell; in the woods or any place we could find cover and/or concealment. I became quite expert at digging "foxholes" and would dig one every time we stopped moving long enough for me to get out my shovel. Infantrymen come to do this almost instinctively, because it is safer to be in a hole or ditch when the bullets and shrapnel are "whizzing" around. Sometimes, we used foxholes the enemy had dug, even if they were half full of water. This may seem to the reader like a poor choice of cover, but believe me, when shells are bursting close around you, any kind of hole will do. Men have been known to jump into latrine slit trenches to protect themselves from bursting shells or bombs.
Artillery fire was, for me, by far the most dreaded kind of weaponry. I have been shot at with rifles and machine guns, and have walked gingerly across mine fields, but nothing I have ever seen will compare with the sheer terror of a sustained artillery barrage. The earth trembles and comes apart and the very air and space convulse in violence as the screaming missiles seek out their target. I knew one man in my company, who went stark raving mad after surviving an artillery attack and had to be hospitalized.
Of course, an infantry soldier must contend with many kinds of weapons and death is never far away. I can remember several times walking alone. knowing that land mines were almost certainly in the area, and expecting to be fired on at any moment. A most uncomfortable feeling to say the least.
Late one evening my squad and I were moving along slowly in our half-track we sometimes rode instead of walking. Suddenly, a German 88 mm cannon began firing at us. The first round fell a little short, the second round went a little over, and the third on fell right alongside our right front wheel. The half inch and quarter inch armor on our half-truck protected us from the flying shrapnel, but our vehicle was knocked out and the water cans, machine gun ammunition and other things hanging on the outside, were riddled and torn to bits. We lost no time climbing out to find cover. I ran back down the muddy road to an old foxhole I had seen a moment before. It had plenty of mud and water in it, but I didn't hesitate and jumped right in. After the shooting had stopped, my squad doubled up with the men in some of the other half-tracks, and proceeded on to wherever we were going. I couldn't see the German gun, but guess our CO called one of our big guns in on him.
Anyway, we had no more trouble with him. Another time, we entered a large patch of woods, walking this time. The fighting was light and the Germans retreated ahead of us out the other side and down a valley to the right. When we came out of the woods behind the Germans, we were ordered to dig in on the hill overlooking the valley down which the enemy had gone. Another American Infantry Unit came right down the valley behind the Germans. We stayed in our dug-in position until dark, but not without trouble. Artillery or mortars came down on us several times and a sniper hidden in the woods behind us kept pinging away at us for a long time. I don't know if he ran out of ammunition or if someone got him. Anyway, he was a poor shot and didn't hit anyone that I knew of. In this little story of my war service, the emphasis has been on what we received from the enemy, because it was rugged and hard to live with. Be assured that we gave him worse than he gave us and kept him retreating and giving up ground. He would be the one to tell rough we were on him.
Early on the morning of October 8th, 1944, a Sunday, the Sixth Armored Division launched a concerted attack with the 80th Infantry Division on the left and the 35th Infantry Division on the right. In the history of the Sixth Armored Division, this is known as the Seille Valley attack. Also participating in this attack were a number of P-47's from the XIX Tactical Air Command. Before we went in, I saw the air attack from a distance and saw one of our fighters shot down by German Anti-aircraft fire. It was sad to see him dive to the ground trailing black smoke. But, I was spared the sight of the impact as he fell behind the trees or a hill.
The day before the attack, each company was given a short briefing on what their part would be and the objective. Company A was to first take a little town named ARRAYE-ET-HAN, with some help from our tanks, and then grab a second little town named AJONCOURT. We were allowed to take as much ammunition as we wanted to carry, also K rations.
I was always afraid of running out of ammunition, so besides the ten clips in my belt, I crisscrossed a couple of bandoliers over my shoulders, plus a couple of grenades. Some men would not carry grenades, for fear that a bullet or shell fragment would set them off. Also fastened to my belt were the usual canteen of water, first aid kit and bayonet. I think my shovel was attached to the light pack I was carrying on my back. As it was cold, I wore at least two layers of clothing, two pairs of socks, regular army shoes and canvass leggings. Combat boots came out later in the war and had not yet been issued to us. Of course I had my M-1 rifle and steel helmet. I also had a gas mask, but stowed it in the half-track with some of my other things. We watched closely the prisoners we took. If they were not carrying gas masks, we didn't carry ours.
My squad moved out from Armaucourt with the rest of Company A in a low heavy fog. It was about 6:30 AM and my teeth were chattering uncontrollably and not altogether from the cold. I was scared to death. However, as the action warmed up, the chattering stopped, but fear remained with me. So I put my fear aside and did my duty in spite of it. Sometimes volunteering for more dangerous action, "to prove that I was not afraid'. I would have been ashamed for anyone to know how afraid I was. Such was my attitude.
As we approached ARRAYE-ET-HAN from behind a hill, some of our tanks took positions on the rear slope and began firing into the town. First one tank, then another, would crawl up to a point where the gun would clear the hilltop. Fire at a target, back out of sight and another tank, a little farther down the line, would roll up and do the same thing. On and on until the CO thought the town was softened up enough.
When the tanks stopped firing, we, the armored infantry, left our half-tracks behind the hill and went toward the town in spread out formation. As we crossed a sugar beet field, we came upon an underground bunker which was flush with the surface and so well camouflaged, I almost fell into the narrow entrance. A few Germans were inside. A Sergeant tried to get them to surrender, but they refused. We then fired into the bunker, then entered to make sure of no further resistance.
I was one of those who entered the bunker and "captured" a brand new automatic pistol and belt, but lost it two nights later when I was wounded. As we came near the first buildings, about thirty or forty Germans came out with their hands up.
They were motioned toward our rear and one of our squad leaders kicked each prisoner in the rear that ran past him and yelled at him to run faster. One young, red headed prisoner didn't seem to move fast enough for him, so he put about five rounds into his mid-section with his carbine. The prisoner didn't make a sound as he crumpled to the ground, dead. I felt pretty bad about that, but could do nothing.
I was only a private and this squad leader was a Sgt. and, after all, the prisoner was the enemy. At one building, my squad leader, Sgt. Dibble (he was not the above mentioned squad leader), asked for a volunteer to go into the building with him. He and I entered the building through a large hole our tanks had blown in it. We found no Germans there, but as we came out into the street on the other side, the roof was engulfed with flames. The other men then joined us in the street.
Someone threw a grenade into a cellar window of another building and another group of twenty or thirty German soldiers came out and surrendered. Some of us held our rifles pointed at them while others disarmed them. After the prisoners were turned over to a detail to be escorted to the rear, we proceeded down the street past a church with a tall bell tower. A short distance beyond the church, we again encountered small arms fire and an occasional mortar round.
We took cover in the cemetery, near the church, and began to return the fire. The cemetery had a thick stone fence or wall around it and afforded pretty good protection from rifle and machine gun fire, but the mortar shells came right over the top. I don't recall how long the cemetery fight lasted, but don't remember that we advanced any farther. After a time, the Germans withdrew and the town was ours. We did not pursue them any farther at the time. heard that they crossed the river and blew up the bridge behind them, but don't know for certain if this was true.
We were subsequently relieved and moved on to help capture another small town or village. About all I can remember about this action is that I helped destroy an enemy cannon that had been abandoned just before we over ran them. I dropped an incendiary grenade down the barrel, then ran like crazy. We went through this place pretty fast and had only a few mortar shells fired at us.
I can't remember what we did after this, but nightfall found us back in our half-tracks looking for a place to hide it, so we could get some badly needed sleep. We pulled into a secluded place with woods on three sides and started digging in when some of our tanks came roaring in close to us for the same purpose. A tank draws artillery fire like honey draws bees, and it wasn't long before we started getting it. I guess they were 88's. They eventually quieted down and I was able to finish my "foxhole".
I usually dug mine very narrow, about four feet deep and long enough that two men could sit in it, as we sometimes buddied up for better protection. Nobody had sleeping bags when I was with Company A, so I just spread my blankets alongside my foxhole and crawled in between them with my shelter half on top to keep out the rain. Well, that night, as also the next two nights, the rain just poured down and ran into my blankets, getting me sopping wet. In addition to this, I was in and out of my foxhole several times because of harassing fire by the German 88's.
By morning, everything, including me, were a muddy mess. This seemed to be the "normal" way of life for the infantry, but of course, I didn't stay with the outfit long enough to find out if it ever got any better. The following day, October 9th, we maneuvered around quite a bit, receiving a lot of artillery and mortar fire. Later in the day, we did some fighting on foot in a large patch of woods known as 'Trapps Woods", in the Letricourt area. We drove the Germans out and occupied the hill beyond. At this place, we came under fire from enemy tanks until our CO called in our artillery on them. After dark we were ordered to move out of our position. I think we were being relieved, as on the way down we passed through another infantry unit which seemed to be moving into our old position.
This was without doubt, the darkest night I had ever seen. If you held your hand twelve inches in front of your face, you could not see it, except by the flash of a big gun or the explosion of a shell. In order to avoid being separated and lost, we were ordered to maintain a column of three and each man keep a grasp on the belt of the man ahead of him. I don't know how the men leading the column were able to find their way. It would be suicide to use a light. As we passed through this other infantry unit, we learned that a few minutes before, one of their men had been run over by one of their own tanks in his foxhole. He was crushed to death.
I had no idea which direction we were going, but it seemed to me we were moving in a wide arc to the left. The rain was coming down in torrents and the fields and dirt roads had been "churned up" by tanks and other vehicles. As you might imagine, the mud was from ankle deep to knee deep. Even hip deep in places and so slippery that it was a major task to walk in it at all. It must have been about 10:00 PM when the Germans opened up on us with a heavy barrage of 105 mm artillery. The very first shell exploded just a few yards ahead of me in the center of our column - a direct hit. Amidst the uproar and confusion that followed, I heard a weak cry for help, three times, then no more. For what seemed like a lifetime, pandemonium reigned with the noise of many exploding shells, mixed with the hurried sound of many feet splashing through the mud, trying to disperse and find cover from the awful hell were in. Copies of "Action Against the Enemy Reports" for 9th Armored Infantry Battalion, obtained from the National Archives in Washington D. C., has a short comment about that action:
When he didn't return in an hour or two, the other man also went looking for help. I never saw either of them again and have no idea what happened to them. I certainly am grateful for what they did for me and pray that they somehow survived the war. At the coming of dawn, the rain slackened. think it even stopped for awhile. I was grateful for daylight and kept an alert eye out for any source of help. About mid-morning, a Medic found me and attempted to bandage my wounds, but found that they were so large and extensive that he didn't have enough bandages to cover even half of them. When he split my shredded pants leg to get at the wounds, I saw that most of the muscle in my left calf was gone. A slab of muscle about three inches wide, an inch thick, and nearly a foot long had been ripped from my leg. knew that my thigh was also ripped open and my hip and lower back felt like a tank had driven into it and parked there. The Medic had no more bandages and decided not to disturb the other wounds. He gave me a shot of morphine and left me, promising to send litter bearers to take me out. About an hour later, an infantry patrol came by and asked if there was anything they could do. I told them about the Medic, that he was sending litter bearers to pick me up, so they wished me luck and went on their way. During all this time, the Germans had not forgotten me and, from time to time, would send over a few rounds, sometimes in fairly heavy concentrations. There was a large tree about fifty yards from me. Laying on my back in the trench, I could see the upper branches. This tree took a "plastering" many times that day, in which limbs and bark were ripped from it until it was almost bare. In the course of the day, many shells fell near my trench and one dud nearly caved it in on me. If it had exploded, I probably would not be here.
As the day wore on, I became progressively weaker from loss of blood. My hopes waned as it became increasingly evident that no help was coming. In the afternoon, I began to hear the sound of vehicles on the long hill to my right. Pulling myself into a sifting position, I could see the heads and shoulders of men as they sat in trucks, moving slowly just over the crest of the hill. I waved franticly at them, but got no response, they were quite a long way off. Finally, a vehicle stopped with the men in it as before. I waved again, this time swinging my field jacket in an arc around my head. To my joyful surprise, they waved back, but my hopes fell again when they moved on in a moment. After that, I became convinced that I would not be rescued. I pulled myself out of the trench and began crawling in the direction of the hill, where I had seen the men a short time before. Pulling myself along mostly with my arms, since both legs were almost useless, I managed (with a supreme effort) to crawl about a hundred feet. I encountered a barb wire fence with the strands so close together that I could not get through. could not even stand up, much less climb over the fence. To make matters worse, the Germans started shelling again. Since my trench provided more protection from flying shell fragments than the flat ground, I crawled back and rolled into it again. In that, my last bloody trench, I lay there without much hope and promised God that if he would spare me, I would serve him the rest of my life. Well, I have made some effort to do that over the years since then, but fear that I have fallen far short of the promise. Laying on my back with my field jacket over my upper body for warmth, I began to slip toward unconsciousness and back again. Darkness came again and with it, came the rain. Several hours passed and suddenly, I heard men's voices. They were speaking English, so I knew they were not the enemy. Soon, they were at my trench, three of them. I must have been the happiest man in the world at that moment.
They had a shelter half, to use as a stretcher, and had come to take me out. One of them explained that they had seen me waving my field jacket in the afternoon, but they had waited for darkness because of the frequent shelling. By this time, I was so weak I could barley lift my head and my voice was scarcely more than a whisper. They were lifting me out of the trench when the Germans fired about three rounds that landed very close. They all dived into the trench on top of me. When the firing stopped, they hurriedly put me on the shelter half and started toward the hill.
At the barb wire fence, one man held the bottom strand up as high as he could while the other men pulled me under it on the shelter half. When we reached the top of the hill, a short distance beyond was some sort of a command post, belonging to some unit of the 80th Infantry Division. The men who rescued me were members of that gallant outfit. There is no way that I can repay those men for saving my life. I have often wondered if they made it through the war. I hope and pray that they did. I firmly believe I would have died that night from shock and loss of blood, had they not rescued me. At this "command post", I was immediately strapped to a stretcher and fastened to a rack on a jeep. Then driven to the 80th Division clearing station, where their wounded were collected and taken to hospitals. After being placed in an Army ambulance with three or four other wounded men, the first thing I wanted was a drink of water. Loss of much blood makes one very thirsty. Someone handed me a canteen ahd I gulped down the water, but then got sick and threw it up. After a long, bumpy ride with no headlights, for fear of being fired on by the enemy, we finally arrived at the 12th Evacuation Hospital in Nancy. I was admitted to a tent portion of them hospital. Here, I was given a transfusion of plasma and soon went to surgery. Just before going under the anesthetic, I feebly asked the surgeon to save the shrapnel for me, for a souvenir.
He saved the two largest pieces, which I found at my bedside when I awoke. One piece was removed from my right knee joint and the other from my left lower back. This fragment had ripped up the full length of my left leg, then continued through my buttock before coming to rest in my lower back. Both pieces are large and jagaed and did a great deal of damage. I still have them. My right knee joint was shattered, leaving me with limited flexibility and chronic pain. A few small fragments are still imbedded in my knee. My medical records show that I was given two blood transfusions in addition to the plasma, but I don't remember it. I awoke the next morning in a great deal of pain, both from my wounds and cramps in my stomach. I also had a bad nose bleed. I was in pretty bad shape and began having nightmares.
I stayed at this hospital about a week and each night, a German reconnaissance plane came snooping around and was chased away by our antiaircraft guns there. I don't know why they were never able to shoot him down. The hospital personnel called him "Bedcheck Charlie", and he would appear about the same time every night. On the 17th of October, a number of other wounded men, and myself, were taken by ambulances to Toul, France, where we waited on stretchers in a large Army tent, in what appeared to be a cow pastures and flown to England. We were supposed to be picked up by C-47 planes If the planes didn't show up, we would be put on a train for Paris.
We waited several hours and were about to be taken to the train, when the planes came in. They were fitted to carry 20 stretcher patients each and a couple of nurses. Those of us in the poorest condition went on the first plane and we flew through a pretty bad storm to Swindon, England. Here, I was admitted to the U. S. Army 154th General Hospital and given another blood transfusion the following day.
I had a reaction to this transfusion and, five days later, was given another transfusion, this time without a reaction. My medical records show that, from the time I was brought to the hospital, I was treated with a variety of medication, including Penicillin and Sulfadiazine. For the constant pain, a variety of pain killing drugs were given alternately. They were probably given this way to prevent addiction. I can not forget the awful excruciating pain, high fevers, sweats and chills. I also remember the great kindness and attentive care given by the Army Doctors, Nurses and other hospital personnel. They deserve a lot more credit than they ever got. On October 28, a group of officers came to my bedside to present me the Purple Heart. I was surprised and had never seen one before. It struck me as rather strange that I should get a medal for being shot down by the enemy, but I guess there are other ways of looking at it. On the second of November, another blood transfusion was given and on the third, more surgery on my legs. On the 15th, I began vomiting and had much pain in my abdomen. My appendix was removed, after tests indicated that was the problem. On the 16th, another blood transfusion was given. It being evident that extensive treatment was necessary, I was transferred to the U. S. Army lllth General Hospital on the 21st of November. I believe this hospital was in the same general area, near Swindon, England.
I forgot to mention that I was put in a body cast before I left France, from armpits to ankles. After each operation, a new cast would be put on. I stayed in a body cast about a month, then a long leg cast on mv right leg after that for many months. Here, at the 111th General Hospital, my left leg wounds began to heal, but my right knee became badly infected and developed osteomyelitis and supperative arthritis. As if that wasn't bad enough, about the 12th of December, I developed pleurisy in my right lung. I remember it as being very painful and difficult to breathe. Also, because I was obliged to lay on my back for the first couple of months, I developed a bedsore on my tail bone and had to lay on a donut shaped inflated ring. My hair began to come out in handfuls, because of the high fevers I suppose, and the tough skin on the soles of my feet cracked open and peeled off in quarter inch thick chunks. I lost so much weight that my joints looked knobby. The pain in my infected knee became so intense that I could hardly endure it. A lot of morphine and other pain relievers was given to me, as needed.
Certainly, I was grateful for having escaped death on the battlefield, but at this point, I was quite miserable and in pretty bad shape, and for that matter, could still die from my wounds. However, I was improved enough by Christmas day (1944), that I was able to eat a delicious turkey dinner, which was served by the officers as an additional treat. I remember there was a radio speaker in our ward, from which we heard news broadcasts, including the BBC dictation speed news, armed forces music programs, etc. When the Battle of the Bulge developed, I was afraid that the Germans were going to win the war and that even we in England would be overrun.
But more than that, I had not heard from my brother Frank in a long time and was fearful that he would be killed in that- battle. As it turned out, Frank had been wounded on December 6th and also missed the bulge. Another disturbing item of news on the radio was the nightly bombing of various English towns by the German V-1 and V-2 rockets, sometimes only a few miles away. One thing that more than anything else made my misery bearable, was letters from the folks back home. I am forever grateful to my dear mother, Mrs. Rosie E. Denman, my wife to be, Anna P. Bufford (Denman), and the various other relatives and friends who kept a constant flow of mail (and gifts at Christmas time) coming to me. Of course, the circumstance of war made the mail irregular and uncertain. There would be times when no mail would come for weeks, then other times, I would get a bundle of it at one time. Then, I would spend days just reading and rereading it and my hope was renewed.
In late December, 1944, a board of Medical Officers examined me and my medical records and decided that I was unfit for further military duty in the ETO, because of the severity of my knee wound. About a month later, I was put on board an American Troopship, the "John Ericcson", with a number of other wounded men, for the long but happy voyage back home...
G. Hudson Wirth: 18 Yr Old Replacement
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S/Sgt Hubert Grimes, Trains Recon
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