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Contributions From Our Readers

 By Terry D. Janes

 

After the recent article on the Our River Crossing, John Moran (Thanks John!) sent the following:

 

"Thanks for sending me the article.  I read it with great interest, as it reminded me of my first real commitment to battle.  We were in the hedgerow country, and our squad was the lead element along with five tanks.  We were leaving a forested area on to an open field with partially shock grain.  The first tank crossed the dirt road and was knocked out with one shot.  It was also my first exposure to their 88mm.  It explodes, and then you hear the gunfire.  The Tigers were hidden in a forest about 2,000 yards away.  The three other tanks were knocked out in a similar manner, seeming to be looking for the hidden guns.  The fifth tank was right alongside of me, about five feet to my right with an impenetrable hedgerow to my left.  He also seemed to be jockeying back and forth trying to locate the gun.  Again, it was hit, blowing the tank commander out of the turret, landing about twenty feet away with most of his clothes blown off.  During this time, the other tank's ammunition was exploding, blowing large chunks of tank through the air like a freight train.  Needless to say, we pulled back from that area.  Later that morning, our regimental colonel, along with our captain led us back through that same field until the colonel's head was blown off when they got about half-way through the field.  They opened up with heavy machine-gun fire, and we retreated with fairly heavy losses.  As an infantryman, we learned to have a love-hate relationship with tanks.  We loved them when they were in the lead, knocking out tanks and machinegun nests, but hated them when they drew heavy artillery fire.  One of the reasons I enjoy your contact and the articles, is that for the past four years, at their request, I have been writing about my life for my children.  I've gotten through my army years, but every now and then I'll compile some story about a certain time or incident which I have entitled "Musings".  They enjoy learning about me and I enjoy writing.  You've helped a lot."

 

What John doesn't realize is, that his story is about the tragic incident at Argentan, France, and that tank platoon he describes is none other than my uncle's Third Platoon, Company B, 702nd Tank Battalion.  The platoon was commanded by Lt. (Later Col.) Wm. B. "Bull" Miller, and Platoon Sergeant was my own Uncle, Staff Sergeant Frank L. "Pappy" Ream.  The first tank hit was Miller's.  The tank that did not get hit and was next to John, was my uncle's tank, "This Is It!".

 

In a second email, and on a different topic, John writes (Thanks again John!):

 

Thanks for the email of the additional things you've added.  The article about the infantry's version of the Bloody Moselle was like transporting me in time back to where I fought.  I was in the 318th Regiment, 1st Battalion, A Company.  I relived all the stories of trying to take the hill [Toulon], racing out through company lines and then getting called back because our sister regiment was in trouble, the tank battle the platoon of tanks got into just before we got back, attacking the hill [Genevieve Hill] from the other side, finally taking the hill, and later on October 8th when we pushed off to straighten the lines was the morning I was first wounded.  The thing I didn't see, or at least I didn't recognize was after taking the hill, we pushed off, walked till evening, and took a little town with very little resistance.  After getting bedded down in this warm barn, hearing tanks coming in the other side of the town, and having to get out of town in total blackness of a moonless night and walk all night back to the hill we had left that morning.  It was that night I learned that a person can fall asleep while walking as I did that night.  We got back to the hill and all dropped with exhaustion.  I relived the whole thing in just scanning the article.  Thanks again now, and for your previous help.

 

 

 

 

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