The Remembrances of:
Lt. 4th Platoon (weapons)
K Co 290th 75th Infantry Division
I've been asked a number of questions about the action of the 3rd Bn. 290 Inf. 75th Div. on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, 1944. Since I'm not a very good typist and I don't like to write long letters, I thought this would probably be the best way to just give some of my remembrances and thoughts on tape and hope that somebody can make some use of it.
I delayed sending these remembrances until I actually got a copy of "A Blood-Dimmed Tide" which our branch library got from the Seattle public library a few days ago. I read the pertinent pages about the 517th Parachute Regiment and then skimmed through some of the rest of the book. I want to categorically say the same thing that I said over the phone and in letters to various other people, that I did not see anything whatsoever of Lt. Col. Boyle or Howze or any of the people in the 517th that said they had something to do with our attack on La Roumiere hill. I never saw them, I had never heard of them until Paul Ellis sent me "The Paratroopers Odyssey" by La Chausee. I think they must have been in a different war or on a different hill or at a different time because there are a number of discrepancies. We certainly did not have the casualties that they claim. There was no snow on the ground on Christmas Day as they said in one of their reports. In fact, the snow didn't start falling on us until four or five days later. So I don't know where they were, but I certainly never saw any of them. I have no trouble at all agreeing with the account by Lt. Paul Ellis, Co. K, or by Capt. Carlton Nelson, C.O. Co. M, or Lt. Elmer Denis, HO Co. 3rd Bn, or the little bit that I recorded from a letter from Lt. Art Hawkins, Co. I. I don't agree completely with what Woody Woodruff, Co. K, from Vancouver, Washington, said -- I didn't see much of him either. He was back with the mortar squads and I was up on the line of departure with the machine guns and First Sgt. Ehni (Co. K) and the others, so I didn't see what Woodruff was supposed to have been doing most of that time either. Anyway, I'd like to proceed with my remembrances.
I'm going to start with the fact that we set up defensive positions on the L'Ourthe River a few days before Christmas Eve Day 1944 and I don't remember exactly where the spot was, but we sat there for about two days. Then when we received word that we were going to be attacking an area near Hotton and Soy, a couple of us officers -- I don't remember whether it was Lt. Andy Robble (C.O. Co. K) and somebody else, I know I was along -- got a jeep (and I was not driving). We drove around through that area and tried to reconnoiter the best we could. We never did see the eventual hill of La Roumiere that we ended up attacking, but we got a little feel for the region anyway. While we were driving down one of the dirt roads, a German plane came flying very low right down the road at us and then we stopped the jeep suddenly and dove head first over the side into the ditch and the plane went on. Nobody was hit. I don't believe we were strafed at all. At least the jeep wasn't hit anyway. So we got back into the jeep and continued on and we ended up in Hotton. The same time various units of the 3rd Armd. Div. were withdrawing back through Hotton. The only reason I went into an aid station was because I split the end of one of my fingers diving into the ditch. It was not from a bullet. It was just from landing on a rock or something. It was bleeding and kind of sore and swelling up, so I went to an aid station in Hotton. Some medic sprinkled a bunch of Sulfa powder on my finger and bandaged it up and took my name, address, and unit. Evidently, somehow I got called a casualty from that. I never considered it anything at all.
We got back to our group and Co. K then pulled out I guess a little before dusk that day 24 Dec. It was getting rather dark and we were walking around on top of some hill and suddenly we were greeted with a lot of machine gun fire right over our heads. We all hit the dirt and wondered what was going on. We pulled back a little bit and went down through a little valley and wooded draw, and pulled up to what eventually ended up being our line of departure. The first person I saw get hit and killed was my 4th Platoon medic, a fellow by the name of Pfc. T. G. Womble. Evidently he was hit way back in the draw. It must have been by a German 88 shell that went right through his head, made a great big hole and he was killed instantly. So he was the first casualty of the 4th Platoon and maybe even the first casualty for Co K, I don't remember that the line of departure was a road at all, I just remember that it was sort of a little cut and we had a bank a few feet high that we could crouch down behind, stay out of the direct line of machine gun fire, and it ran all the way across our front. There was, I found out later, a little road about 30-40 yards out in front of us, which was not more than two car tracks all across the field and that might have been the Soy-Werpin road. It at least went in the direction of Werpin anyway.
We'd gotten orders to attack the top of the hill just a little before midnight. I never did see the top of the hill because it was pitch black and I wished to heck we'd had maps, something like the maps I've seen since. We didn't have the slightest idea how many yards it was from where we were up to the top of the hill. I sent the mortar squads back down in behind us a ways, and we had to guess the range at three, four, five hundred yards. I don't even remember what range we guessed at now. Attack was set up for about eleven or twelve o'clock midnight. I thought it was awful foolish attacking something you couldn't even see in the pitch black because we were being raked by a lot of burp gun fire, but that seemed to be the way our C.O. wanted it. I set up -- when I say "I," I mean the squad leaders -- set up our machine guns up on the line of departure, one nearly at each end of the company front so that they could rake across the cleared field in case our attack was unsuccessful and the Germans counter-attacked back down across the field; we wanted to have a good field of fire on them. I stayed up on the line of departure with the machine gun with Sgt. Ehni so that I could have some idea of what was going on. We fired some mortar rounds at what we thought was probably the top of the hill, just before the attack and for a little while after the attack started. Then, of course, we had to stop because we didn't want to be hitting any of our own fellows out there. So we just waited, wondering what was happening. I should say L Co was on our left and I don't remember any other groups being there except K and L Co initially. After it started getting light, we were still taking machine gun fire most of the early morning. Then it was obvious that our attack was unsuccessful and guys starting filtering back slowly and crawling back down the field. Paul Ellis came charging down from the little draw or little valley to our right and he was just screaming, yelling, and cussing bloody murder. I saw he'd been hit in the leg and of course he was madder than heck because a number of our guys got killed. I didn't know what happened to Lt. "Dutch" Myer Plat. Co. K) or at least I don't remember seeing "Dutch" or Lt. Andy Robble (C.O. Co. K) during the attack. I understood later that they had been wounded and sent back to the aid station with Paul. Somebody told me that Lt. Stan Heavner (3rd Plat. Co. K) had been killed, so that meant that I was the only commissioned officer left in the company and had to sort of pretend I was company commander for a while. So I stayed up on the line of departure with Sgt. Ehni. A little while later during a lull in the fighting, I heard a yell from out in front of us, maybe 30 yards out, somebody was crying for a medic. I figured this guy ought to be rescued, whoever he was, so I grabbed the stretcher that was there and hollered for some other person, "anyone else come on with me." Someone came with me and I don't remember even who it was now, but some kind soul came with me. We zigzagged out front to this little road that went across our front and sure enough a soldier was lying in that little ditch which I guess was about a two lane cow path or a small road protected by about a two foot bluff and we put him on the stretcher and it ended up being a fellow that I knew as 'Buddy,' an officer (2nd Lt.) from L Co. He had sort of a round face, black curly hair, and was a smiley guy all the time. I liked him, but I don't remember his full name. We put him on the stretcher, and we had to walk back more slowly and in a straight line back so we didn't bounce him off. I was fully expecting that all three of us would get killed being out in the open like that in a perfect line of fire, but just as soon as we jumped over our little embankment down into the protection of this little gulch we were in, all kinds of bursts of machine gun fire came right over our heads where we'd jumped down. I think this was the Germans way of letting us know that they could have shot us at any time and that they were just being nice and letting us live while we picked up one of our own wounded. I did see Buddy, but not to talk to him, later on in a hospital in England, when I was just passing through. I was carried by his bed as I was being moved from one hospital to another on a stretcher. I said hello to him, but I don't think he has any idea that I had anything to do with getting him out of there. I always wondered who the other fellow was who helped me carry him.
Orders came sometime Christmas, afternoon, I don't remember how or by whom they came. I Co came up to join us -- maybe others, but I specifically remember I Co. We were to have another coordinated attack on the top of the hill and this time following a much longer artillery shelling of the Germans' position. I think if we'd had that in the first place, our original attack might have been successful. So I had to pretend I was company commander and ran out abreast with our remaining riflemen in the main line of the attack. We zigzagged all the way across the clear field up to the top of the hill. I happened to run right by Lt. North from L Co, who was dead, sort of in a grotesque position lying out there in the field. I assumed he got picked up by somebody later. I saw one or two other fellows who were moaning for help from medics. I hope they got their help, but we had to run on to the top of the hill because we were getting fired on too. I used only one fragmentation grenade at the top of the hill -- threw it into a thicket. I carried two -- one in each lapel of my overcoat. The thicket looked sort of artificial, like somebody had been pulling branches and things in around them to hide them. I don't think there was anybody there, but I was afraid to take a chance. Nobody was hurt. There was no yelling and nobody dead that I could see, so I went on. I lifted one Luger pistol out of the holster of one of the dead Germans in one of the machine gun nests at the top of the hill, and a sheet of paper which had a pep talk on it, typed out in German, signed Hitler. The last line was 'Onward to Antwerp and victory will be ours." Our hill was finally secure and the second time we made the attack we were successful.
I was ordered to Ny (all of the survivors and stragglers in Co K) back down to spend the night in a barn. Ny is a small town about two miles from the hill we took. I think we only had about fifty or fifty-something men out of our company left of nearly 200 to begin with. That doesn't mean they were all killed or wounded. They were straggling in for the next day or two from different directions because they had gotten lost and separated. I Co. dug in at the top of the hill at the edge of the woods facing the next clearing occupied by Germans, and started digging defensive positions while we spent that one night down in the barn in Ny. The next day we went up to the top of La Roumiere again and took over the holes ourselves and replaced I Co. We improved the foxholes. We stayed there for four, five, six days -- I don't know exactly how long it was -- and each day we just continued digging deeper and putting more branches across the top and pretty soon the foxholes ended up being like bunkers. We were getting shelled a lot. A number of people were killed with the shelling. The nicest thing was to have one of our little American spotter planes -- L4's or L5's, or whatever they are -- flying over the top because then all the artillery stopped and we could get out and walk around and exercise a bit and do our duty and eat and this kind of stuff. A bunch of anti- tank mines were brought up within a day or so after we were there and a couple of the other fellows and I went out in the clearing about 50 yards and placed them zigzag across our whole company front in case the Germans brought any of their tanks across the field. I didn't know if it would do any good, but it might have. It must have been just a couple days after we'd been there that we did that because there was still no snow at that time. Snow came very soon after that. Lt. Col. Gleszer (C.O. 3rd Bn.) came part way up to our area and several of us met with him and talked over the situation -- who was where and what might happen, etc. I don't remember the details anymore, but I remember him coming up there. He was the only higher officer in the battalion or regiment that I remember seeing. One day when there was a lull in the fighting, I walked down a little trail to the right, just a few hundred yards, maybe 600-700-800 yards, and ended up in the little town of Werpin. I didn't even know there was a town down there. I didn't see anybody, so I just turned around and came back. I was just trying to find out who was on our right flank. I didn't see anybody, but I hoped our flank was secure. Then the snow started to fall. I suppose we got a couple of hot meals. I didn't know where any of our jeeps or kitchens were, but some hot meals did come up. However, most of the time we had C rations, that is hash and baked beans, etc. and K rations with graham crackers and chocolate bars. We had some hot meals, but not very many -- at least enough to keep us going. Then the orders came down from somebody that we were to gather and attack on down the road that came right next to us, through Beffe. The road would have eventually led on to La Roche. There was no opposition at first. We marched through Beffe -- that is in a column of twos, one column on one side of the road single file, another column on the other side of the road single file, close to the fronts of the buildings -- and our jeep drove down the middle of the street. Suddenly all kinds of shells started coming. I think we took a few casualties there, but not very many. We all suddenly zoomed right into the empty store fronts and house fronts and yards and hid behind everything that we could or in any ditch. There wasn't too much damage except our jeep got shot full of holes and looked like Limburger cheese, so I guess it stopped right there and after that I don't know what happened to it again. We went down through the middle of a couple patches of woods a little ways past Beffe and spent one night in one patch of woods, then moved a little farther and spent another night in another patch of woods, with defensive positions set up, but we weren't attacking anybody that I can remember. Then we were pulled out and relieved and asked to go through a little patch of woods which had been by-passed and so we went through that in sort of a long, drawn-out single flank to see if there were any Germans in there that we had by-passed. We didn't flush any out, so I guess no one was there.
After a short rest, we hiked through Vielsalm and on to spend the night in Burtonville. We had been told there were some Germans in Burtonville, but they didn't think there were too many. However, there were all kinds of them there! We set up a CP in the basement of the first house in the corner of the town that we took; this was about midnight and we started to have a house to house fight -- throw in the concussion grenades and shout "Raus mit sie" and out would come a bunch of Germans with their hands up every time. We took a lot of prisoners. Its a little disconcerting to have a prisoner come out with his hands up, one hand holding a burp gun, the other hand holding one of those white grenades. He walks right up to you, holding those up in the air and you've got your one hand training a gun on him, you reach up with the other hand and carefully take their machine gun and throw it away, and then reach out and take his grenade and toss it over across the street somewhere. None of those that I tossed ever went off. I guess they landed in soft snow. Maybe some farmer hit them with his plow some other time. I hope not. We took a lot of prisoners, but I don't know what ever happened to them. The Germans had a heavy motorized weapon in the town, either a tank or some kind of weapon carrier, and we heard it churning around and it would go "Boom!" and a great big hole would be blown in the house right beside us. A couple of bazooka men went out and tried to guess at the range of the tank and fire off a few bazooka rounds, but I don't think we hit anything at all.
I was injured -- I'd say a couple hours past midnight, maybe two a.m. on Jan. 18, 1945 -- with a mortar shell. I was peering around a house to see what was going on. I just sank to the ground like Joe Louis hit me in the pit of my stomach with his fist. I think the blast was about three or four feet in front of me. I sank to the ground, slowly stood up, threw the Luger away and tried using my rifle as a cane, with both shoes filled up with warm blood. My left leg -- the knee would go left or right or front or back and was just like a wet wash rag and I sort of hobbled back through a hedge to a little church where I had sent a couple soldiers into its steeple to act as look-outs. I called to them and they came down and picked me up. I put my arms over their shoulders and they dragged me back to the command post in the basement of this house where we first came into the town. I had my Sulfa tablets and a shot of morphine and dressing on my wounds and a tourniquet around both legs, which were bleeding badly.
Later a jeep forded the small stream and crossed into Burtonville to bring up ammunition and wire and so forth. My stretcher was strapped onto the back of the jeep and I went back to battalion and got a tetanus shot. I remember seeing and hearing Lt. Col. Gleszer's (C.O. 3rd Bn) voice there. Then I went back to regiment and then to an evacuation hospital in Liege, which looked like it had been a school made into a hospital. I was there a few days, had surgery, had the wounds cleaned and a cast put on one leg. I had a very painful train trip to Paris where I had another surgery, wounds cleaned again and a larger cast was put on. Then I went to the airport in Paris. We sat in the fog for a week because no planes could fly to England. Then we flew to England, saw Buddy in the hospital, and then went to a hospital in Salisbury where I had three more surgeries and almost bled to death a couple of times. After the wounds stopped bleeding and the pain had pretty much gone away, we went by train to Glasgow, where after a few days they put us on the ship, Aquitania, which sailed alone across the ocean to Staten Island, N.Y. and unloaded us there. It was sort of disconcerting to be in a hundred pound plaster cast, having the boat maneuver back and forth to try to avoid submarines and hear them dropping depth charges, knowing that if anything happened you're sure to sink.
While at Halloran Hospital on Staten Island, the war in Europe ended (V.E. Day) which made us all real happy. Then I took a train to a hospital in Vancouver, Washington, had four more surgeries there on my legs and then after a number of months there we went to Madigan Hospital at Ft. Lewis, WA, where I had another surgery and eventually got out with a disability retirement after two years in army hospitals. I have really tried my best to forget the war, to forget my hospital stay in the army, so its a little hard to bring all this stuff back again. I think a lot of my fuzziness about who was where and exactly how things happened has to do with having so much pain, so many surgeries with general anesthesia and lots of morphine shots; and I even had alcohol I.V.'s as pain killers because they didn't want to give me so much morphine that I'd become dependent on it. Some of it is coming back to me now for the first time, but I can't give you many specifics, i.e., I could not draw our positions on the map exactly. The map that Paul had sent me seems plausible. Just L Co and K Co at first, and then being reinforced by I Co on Christmas Day, but exactly what our route was, except coming up through the draw to the line of departure and back down to this barn in Ny and then the top of the hill at La Roumiere, the field that we attacked and the road that we went onto at Beffe and eventually to Burtonville is about all I can remember. I hope this helps a little bit in trying to reconstruct this stuff. I'm just sorry that I just can't remember it more definitely.
In 1958 when my wife, Mollie, and I and kids were in a car, we drove right up on La Roumiere hill and got out and walked all around the original attack area on Christmas Day; I was surprised at how much it looked just exactly like I remembered it. We also drove through Beffe and ended up in Burtonville and we parked right at the house where I was injured on January 18. It looked exactly like it was the day I was hit. There were canteens and helmets and all sorts of military brick-a-brac in the house. The windows were still all broken. There were marks of machine gun bullets and everything all over the house. It just looked exactly like it did the day I was wounded. I'm sure its all fixed now, but it was sure eerie to see that it looked just as I had remembered it.
I purposefully selected only a sixty minute tape so that I could fill one side in thirty minutes. I really didn't want to talk much more than that, so I hope this suffices for as much as I can remember anyway. If I think of any real jewels or real important things before I get this tape in the mail, I'll put it on the other side. If I do, I'll let you know. Other than that, I think this is just about all I can remember with any degree of clarity. I hope it does somebody some good. Its been nice chatting with you even if I'm only looking at a small box here.
I'm going to add that I find it very difficult to remember stuff in detail with all of my pain and dozen surgeries and general anesthetics and morphine and all that stuff. I sort of have a numb attitude and remembrances of all these things and so its rather difficult to reach in and pull it out with any degree of accuracy. I really tried to put the war and my hospital experiences and all those things as far as I can behind me and its rather difficult to (as I said before) pull it up and start thinking about it now. What I mean is that with every step I take I have some degree -of pain in my knee and lower back, some days better, some days worse. So with that constant reminder, I just don't need any other. That's why the sooner I can put the war and the attack and the hospital and all that behind me, the better I think about it all. I'm not just trying to leave you in the lurch, but its just not something that has been very important to me. Maybe this is the end here now. Good night.
While I was trying to go to sleep last night, I kept thinking about what I had said on the tape earlier and all kinds of other things kept coming to mind, so I thought I'd put a few minutes (maybe 10-15) on the other side, talking about specific instances that I thought of. Not really important things -- they had no effect on the war effort, they have nothing to do with the attack on Christmas Day. In fact I don't think I've even told my family all of these things. My thoughts are running now, so while they are, here's a few more things. I've got about eight more things I want to mention very briefly.
1. I didn't ever see my sleeping bag at any time after we left the L'Ourthe River position and attacked on Christmas Eve up until I was injured. I don't know where they were or where they were kept. I would have loved to have had one along with me. On Christmas Day I think the first thing I threw away was my gas mask, but I did save that little plastic cover and carried that in my pocket because I curled up and got in that thing a couple of times to try to keep warm and protected a little bit from the elements. The only way you could ever sleep without a sleeping bag when it was below freezing was just to dig your hole a little deeper until you got plenty warm from digging, lie down real quick and you went to sleep immediately because you're so darn tired. You slept until you woke up freezing cold, your teeth chattering, and then started digging again and repeated the whole process several times over during the night and that way you got your sleep.
2. Somehow I got a hold of a yo-yo -- I don't remember how I got it or where I found it, up on the top of La Roumiere hill. I got kind of a kick out of walking around up there when the guys were in their holes, throwing the yo-yo down and out and doing all kinds of silly things with it. There were even a couple of times while we were being shelled and I think it was a little bit of a morale raiser for the fellows because they got kind of a laugh from it. Right now, thinking about it, I think it was awful stupid to have done that, but I sort of had the feeling of invulnerability or invincibility or something like that.
3. This shows how naive I was about native American Indians. I don't remember whether we had a native American Indian in our company all the time or whether one came up in replacement at some time, but when we were in that first patch of woods that night after we went through Beffe, I didn't know where anybody was on our front or our sides, so I decided I'd send out a small patrol of three guys. They could reconnoiter and see if there were any Germans out there or what the heck might be going on. I asked one of the Indians if he would want to lead the patrol. I asked him, "Have you had any experience path finding in the woods, and could lead this patrol?" He said, "Heck, no, I've hardly ever seen a tree. I came from New York City, New York." So there went my chance of having a Tonto in the company to whom I could ask questions and he could look at the ground and tell me "They went that way, Kimosabe."
4. I can understand very well how soldiers can be missing in action and we never know what happened to them, because I'm very sad every time I think about an instance that we had, again up on the top of La Roumiere hill. We had some replacements who had come up just as it was just beginning to get dark. Normally we buddied up the replacements in a hole with one of the veterans so they could learn from them when to duck down and what the shells sounded like. So we put the new people out in their holes and Sgt. Ehni figured that he would get their names and serial numbers the next morning. However, we underwent a very severe shelling. that night and there was a direct hit on -- I don't remember whether it was one hole or two holes. The guys in the holes got completely blown to smithereens, the hole just sort of collapsed on top of them and we couldn't find their dog tags or a large enough piece of the fellows to even know who they were. We just had to say that a certain number were dead, but we didn't know who they were. I always felt sorry about that.
5. Two fellows, again up on the top of La Roumiere hill following rather intense shellings, actually shot themselves on purpose. One shot a hole through his hand. The other one shot a hole through his foot and of course we had to send them back down to the aid station. I was told that they would eventually be court marshaled for taking that method of getting out of the action. I never did know whether they were actually court marshaled or whatever really happened.
6. I want to give some special praise to the Platoon and Squad Sergeants from Company K and really all of the fellows who helped out while I was the only commissioned officer in the group. Everything seemed to run rather smoothly and I didn't have to pay much attention to the individual platoons anymore, because everyone carried out his responsibility. We probably didn't have more than one hundred men at one time, even after our replacements came up. We were really a short company. The weapons platoon completely ran itself very well after I had to leave it.
7. Another lieutenant joined the company just shortly before we went to Burtonville. I don't remember what his name was -- I didn't see him very long, but I liked him and we got along well. But at least when I was injured and got sent back, there was still one commissioned officer with the company.
8. This is about the last thing I think I want to say. I don't want to appear to be asking for sympathy or to put too much blood and guts in this, but this is a little bit of what I was thinking about last night and part of why I'm trying to put the war and my hospitalization out of my mind as much as I can. I was very glad that my blood was the commonest type of blood one has, type 0, Rh positive. The fellow in charge of transfusions back at the hospital in England told me if I hadn't had the most common type of blood -- or blood that essentially mixed with tomato juice -- I wouldn't be around here to talk to anybody today. What necessitated my main trouble was the fact that when I was in the hospital in Paris, the doctor, when he cleaned the puncture wound in my high left thigh, packed it with powdered Sulfa and then put a cast on. I was supposed to go to England and have it opened up within a matter of just a few days and the wound drained again and then taken care of. However, when we got to the airport, the weather socked in with fog, and I lay there on a cot along with about a hundred other injured fellows on cots in a great big hanger for at least a week, waiting for the weather to clear so that we could fly over to England. Finally the weather did clear and we went over there, spent one night at this hospital in England where I saw Buddy, and then was taken to a hospital near Salisbury where after a day or two they started their bunch of surgeries on my leg. I'm told all this afterwards, that when the doctor pulled out the Sulfa powder plug that they'd put in, blood squirted all over him and about ten feet out all over the room with every beat of my heart. What had happened was that an abscess had developed deep in my thigh and the abscess had eaten through the walls of both the femoral artery and the femoral vein, so that when it could bleed out the hole, it just became a gusher. They immediately put a tourniquet on the leg and started working on things. They called numerous medics around there in a hurry, and I was given blood transfusions through both arms -- warm, flowing right directly out of the other person into me. They had people with the correct blood type, type 0, but there was no time for cross matching or any more serious checking of bloods to see whether they would be tolerated or not. When I came to, up in the ward, later on that evening, I was happy to see that I had both my legs. I was lying there in bed getting ready to go to sleep, just getting close to lights out time, and I sort of felt everything was all warm and wet down on the bed on the mattress where I was lying. I put my hand down and low and behold I had about two inches of blood all over the mattress. I was just lying in a deep well of it. I immediately grabbed my left thigh, squeezed it as tight as I could with my fingers and called the nurse. She came and put a tourniquet on me and off I went down to surgery again for the second time that day. This time when I woke up back in the same ward, in a different bed position, there was the nicest little Florence Nightingale sitting there with a pen flashlight reading a book. I was all screened off from the other fellows. I woke up and she looked awful nice being there, having someone else looking after me. What had happened the first time is they had tried to repair and sew together the femoral artery and hoped that it would hold. But it didn't hold. They both ruptured and broke again and if that had happened while I was asleep rather than while I was awake, again I wouldn't be here to talk to you. Evidently they were afraid that it might happen again, so they ligated it, actually tied it off so that I couldn't use it anymore. What little blood supply my leg was getting was from secondary circulation going down my leg. My leg felt real funny. I looked down and the nurse told me my left leg was packed completely in ice, sitting in a little apparatus and had ice bags all around it to try to slow down the metabolism as close to zero as possible, so the leg would have a chance to recover and the secondary circulation would have a chance to grow and the vessels being elastic could somewhat increase in size and could take over from the main artery and from the main vein. Likewise, my right leg felt rather strange because it was sitting in a little vessel too and the nurse kept coming in every hour or two and pouring hot saline solution over the dressing that's on the middle on my lower right foreleg. Here I had my right leg that was hot and a left leg that was so cold I could hardly feel it, but I guess overall I averaged out alright. It sure was a strange feeling. I could not move or roll on either side. I could hardly lift myself on the bed pan or do any of that stuff. It was kind of a lousy predicament to be in. I continued to get a blood transfusion each day up on the ward (which was a little quonset hut) from this fellow who'd told me about my blood mixing well with tomato juice, and about a day or so after the last one, my temperature shot up to 105 and they whipped me down again into surgery. They thought that maybe there was an abscess in the wound that they had missed. So I was put to sleep again, and they opened it up the incision, and in fact made it an inch longer on each end looking for some abscess which they did not find. They sewed me all up again, wondering what the fever was from. The next day after that, my eyeballs turned yellow, my skin turned yellow and I came down with a pretty good case of Jaundice. I guess its call Hemolytic Jaundice or Serum Jaundice or something like that. When I recovered from that my temperature went down and there was no infection and finally the wounds stopped draining and healed up and I came back to the states as I mentioned before. The only thing that I'm left with is that the blood banks will no longer take my blood because I'd had this Jaundice. Unfortunately I had donated blood two or three times to the Seattle blood bank when they did not ask me that question, whether I'd ever had any kind of Jaundice and I'd even forgotten I'd had it. The third or fourth time I went down to donate blood, they asked me that question and I answered yes. I remembered that I did have Jaundice following this blood transfusion and they said sorry, we can't use your red blood cells anymore. So I hope that the couple of times that I did donate blood for somebody to use, that person didn't have any real problems. I think that's about enough of these extra episodes, so I'll call it quits and make a couple copies of this tape and get it off in the mail as soon as I can. Bye, y'all.
Hammarlund, Edwin Roy. Born August 24, 1922 in Seattle, WA. Joined C.M.T.C. in Field Artillery for one month at Fort Lewis, WA summer of 1940. Enlisted is E.R.C. (Advanced R.O.T.C) U.S. Army May 21, 1942 at U.of W. Called to active duty in April 1943 for basic training at Camp MCQuaide, CA in Coast Artillery. Assigned to AST-ERC at Univ. of Washington from September 1943 to April 1944 which permitted graduation with a B.S. in Pharmacy 1944. Ordered to the Infantry School at Ft. Benning, GA April 1944 as an Officer Candidate. Commissioned 2nd Lt. Infantry July 18, 1944, Serial No. 0554317.
Assigned to 75th Division at Camp Breckinridge, KY and reported about July 28, 1944. Assigned as the 4th Platoon (weapons) leader in Company K, 290th Inf. Regiment. Assisted in running an 81 mm mortar training problem for all the heavy mortar platoons in the 75th Division. Following a schooling, was assigned as flame thrower officer for Co. K and prepared some demonstrations of attacking pillboxes.
The 75th Division was ordered to P.O.E. at Camp Shanks, NY on October 15, 1944. Sailed aboard the S.S. Brazil in a convoy bound for Swansea, South Wales. Trained at Porthcawl and nearby vicinity for about a month. Crossed the channel to Le Havre, France in early Dec. 1944. 290th Inf. Regt. Dec. 24-25, 1944 on a hill near Hotton, Belgium. Remained with Co. K through Beffe and Vielsalm until severely injured January 18, 1945 at Burtonville, Belgium. Wounds were treated at Liege, Paris, near Salisbury, England, on hospital ship (Aquitania) to New York, Barnes General Hospital, Vancouver, WA. and, finally, at Madigan General Hospital, Ft. Lewis, WA. Unknowingly promoted to 1st Lt. about M-arch 1945. Received disability retirement from US Army as Capt. January 26, 1947 and transferred to Honorary Reserves.
Awarded Combat Infantry Badge, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and ETO Ribbon with two stars (should only have been one)
Received M.S. Degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry in 1949 and PhD in 1951. Taught at Washington State University for nine years and at the University of Washington for 30 years before retirement.
Seattle, WA 98177
My 75th Division Dad
Copyright 2001, J. R. Puckett
Email: J. R. Puckett