We're not lost, Sergeant, We're in … France


Anzio beachhead veterans reunion
3 April 2013, 23:29
Filed under: 36th, 3rd, 45th, Veterans | Tags:

Tonight, I sat down for dinner with a handful of veterans of the Anzio beachhead. I’ll be spending a few days with them and hearing, then passing on their stories. Meeting them is almost beyond words. Some of their stories have been bottled up for 69 years and it is a true honor to sit with them. Details to follow….



Program for 2013 Operation Dragoon Event

For information on the 2014 event, see our 6th Army Group website.

For the last few years, the Society of the 3rd Infantry Division, Outpost Europe, has hosted an Operation Dragoon commemoration and seminar. It’s always a fantastic event. We are honored that many veterans attend and provide their insights and remembrances. There will be a few veterans I’ve never met as well as others I will be overjoyed to see again. It’s truly an event not to be missed.

THIS EVENT IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Operation Dragoon – The “Forgotten D-Day”
The Allied Landings in Southern France and the Southern France Campaign
15 August 1944-14 September 1944

Outpost Europe, Society of the 3rd Infantry Division
The Army Historical Foundation
The Embassy of France to the United States

When: 8-11 August 2013 (Thursday-Sunday)

8 August: 1 to 3 PM – registration; 5 to 8 PM – historical seminar
9 August: 9 AM to 5 PM – historical seminars and veterans’ remembrances
10 August: 8:30 to 1200 AM – ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery; 5 to 9:30 PM – Banquet
11 August: 8:30 to 11 AM – historical seminars

Where: Sheraton National Hotel, 900 South Orme Street, Arlington, VA 22204

Who: Veterans of the 6th Army Group; 7th Army; 6th Corps; 3rd, 36th, and 45th Infantry Divisions; 1st Allied Airborne Task Force – 517th Parachute Infantry Regimental Combat Team (including Anti-Tank Company/442nd Infantry Regiment, 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion, 4463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, 550th Airborne Infantry Battalion, 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion, and the 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade (UK)); 1st Special Service Force; US Army Air Corps; US Navy, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine; the OSS; and veterans from the participant allied nations of France, Poland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Greece, and Canada who served in the supporting Air Forces and Navy; and their friends and families, as well as anyone interested in World War II history.

Why: To honor the veterans of the Forgotten D-Day, to preserve history, to educate the public, and to pass on the torch of their proud legacy.

Room Reservations: Price – $95 per night, one day prior to event and one day after. Reservations: 1-888-627-8210
Reservation Group Name: Operation Dragoon
Cut off date for reservations: Friday, 21 July 2013

Point of Contact: Monika Stoy, President, Outpost Europe, Society of the 3rd Infantry Division, timmoni15@yahoo.com, RSVP by 30 June 2013

REGISTRATION: Event registration – $30. Banquet – $40. (Free for Dragoon Vets)

Shuttle to/from airport provided by hotel, so no rental car required.

THIS EVENT IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC



Weekend Wanderings: Mid-December 2012

It’s been a while since I’d posted a Weekend Wanderings, so let me share some of the interesting things I’ve found of late:



Dahlquist: A first evaluation

In my continued research for our WWII seminars, I’d picked up a copy of Franz Steidl’s Lost Battalions, which details the encirclement of the 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment just prior to the Battle for the Colmar Pocket. Steidl explains the events leading up to the “losing” of the battalion, making sure that the reader gets a sense of the complexity of the fight of the 36th Infantry Division in the Vosges. He also provides information on a German battalion that was similarly “lost” in the same area, allowing us more insight by seeing both sides.

Steidl has extensively interviewed members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the storied Japanese-American unit that fought to relieve 1/141 when it was trapped, so his book provides excellent detail on their role. It also shaped his original view of General John E. Dahlquist. Many soldiers and historians felt that Dahlquist over-used the 442nd in that fight and some speculated that it was because they were Japanese.

In my initial view of Dahlquist, he seemed a pretty unremarkable man for someone who was awarded a 4th star in 1954. He’d served in the Army since the close of the First World War, attending and teaching in various Army schools. He even authored an Army manual on the machinegun before serving on theatre staff in 1942. Nonetheless, little stood out about him, except a photo of him chatting amiably with Goering after the 36th had captured him. Dahlquist generated quite the controversy with Goering. That photo didn’t look like a captor and his captive, but, rather, two equals conversing. When Goering had been brought to Dahlquist, the General had dismissed his translator, as he spoke fluent German, so perhaps it is what it looked like.

I’d read previously how decimated the 442nd had been in the Vosges and the animosity some of them held for the General. Steidl’s work does reveal how hard Dahlquist pushed them. They were most certainly over-used, but looking at the 36th’s fight, it seems that all of the organic battalions of the 36th were over-used.

The Division had been in the fight since 15 August 1944, without relief. At Montelimar, elements of the Division tried to stop the escape of two German Divisions and elements from every other unit fleeing southern France. The 36th suffered mightily in that fight, though it did inflict many casualties and capture many troops. As it fought north, the Germans took advantage of every piece of terrain, keeping the door open for others to retreat. When the 36th hit the Vosges Mountains, the fight transitioned from some kind of chase into a slugging match. The Germans felt their were fighting on their home ground and the Alsatian towns in the area have a distinctively German look and feel to them. Dahlquist began pleading with higher command for some kind of relief, but there was none.

Steidl recounts multiple instances of Dahlquist coming out to the front lines and one instance of him leading an individual platoon into combat. Personal bravery and a commitment to the fight were not qualities that Dahlquist lacked. His Division was stretched and he was being pushed by higher command to keep moving forward in spite of it.

More than once, Dahlquist seems to have over-extended his Division. At Montelimar, his regiments went in piecemeal, with the 143rd accidentally heading north instead of west to Montelimar, requiring them to loop back west. The Lost Battalion (1/141) pushed beyond the range of its supports. At Sigolsheim, he again had units cut off – they fought until they were forced to surrender. How much of these instances can be blamed on Dahlquist remains to be seen. Shortages of supplies and troops, coupled with aggressiveness, certainly contributed.

Looking at his post-war career, Dahlquist certainly must have impressed the right people and, in war time, that’s usually the sign of a darn good officer. For me, the book is still out on Dahlquist, but he’s far from the enigmatic cypher that I’d first imagined.



Program for 2012 Colmar Pocket Event (Revised 7 December)

Once again, Outpost Europe of the Society of the Third Infantry Division and the Embassy of France are hosting a Battle of the Colmar Pocket Commemoration and Seminar, on 6-9 December 2012 at the Sheraton National Hotel in Arlington Virginia. This event honors the veterans of the 6th Army Group, 1st French Army, XXIst US Corps, 3rd, 28th, 36th and 75th Infantry Divisions and the 12th Armored Division, including 9 Medal of Honor recipients (Charles P. Murray, Ellis Weicht, Bernard Bell, Keith L. Ware, Gus Kefort, Eli Whiteley, Russell Dunham, Forrest Peden, and Jose Valdez).

The Battle of the Colmar Pocket, Alsace, France – The “Other” Battle of the Bulge
December 1944 – February 1945

Outpost Europe, Society of the 3rd Infantry Division
The Embassy of France to the United States

When: 6-9 December 2012 (Thursday-Sunday)

6 December: 2 to 4 PM – Registration ($30); 5 to 8 PM – Reception and Seminar Session I
7 December: 8 AM to 9 AM – Seminar Session II; 9 AM to  3 PM Visit to Library of Congress and Veteran’s Oral History Project (break for lunch & dinner on your own); 6 PM to 8 PM Seminar Session III & Documentary Film Presentation
8 December: 10:15 AM to 12 AM – ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery: wreath laying at Tomb of the Unknowns, 3ID Monument, Audie Murphy gravesite; 12 AM to 4 PM Open time; 4 PM to 5 PM Cocktail Hour (no host); 6 PM Banquet ($35)
9 December: 9 AM to 11:30 AM – Seminar Session IV

Where: Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel, 900 South Orme Street, Arlington, VA 22204

Who: Veterans of the 3rd, 28th, 36th, and 75th Infantry Divisions; 12th Armored Division; XXIst US Corps; French Army Veterans; and their friends and families.

List of participating veterans will be included later this fall.

Why: To honor the veterans of the Colmar Pocket, to preserve history, to educate the public, and to pass on the torch of their proud legacy.

Room Reservations: Price – $89 per night, one day prior to event and one day after. Reservations: 1-888-627-8210
Reservation Group Name: Colmar Pocket
Shuttle to/from airport provided by hotel, so no rental car required.

Point of Contact: Monika Stoy, President, Outpost Europe, Society of the 3rd Infantry Division, timmoni15@yahoo.com, RSVP by 30 November 2012. If you wish to attend, please notify us, but do not wait for confirmation – simply register when you arrive.

REGISTRATION: Event registration – $30. Banquet – $35. (Free for Colmar Pocket Vets)

Scholars: If you are interested in submitting a paper or giving a presentation, contact Monika Stoy, by 30 September 2012.
Sponsors: If you are interested in sponsoring an event at the conference (the banquet, opening reception on Thursday or the cocktail hour on Saturday, for example) or advertising in the event brochure, contact Monika Stoy, timmoni15@yahoo.com, by 30 October 2012. We are still open to sponsorship, but appearance in printed materials may no longer be an option due to time constraints.

REVISIONS: Updated email for Monika.Updated to indicate on-site registration still open (no need to confirm attendance). Friday schedule changed to allow visit to Library of Congress, seminar session III moved from Friday afternoon to Friday evening, Arlington cemetery ceremonies on Saturday instead of Sunday, seminar session IV on Sunday instead of Saturday.



68 years ago
15 August 2012, 08:00
Filed under: 36th, 3rd, 45th, 509th, 517th, 551st, Operation Dragoon | Tags: , ,

On a foggy August morning, paratroopers dropped literally through the clouds and into France. The liberation of southern France had begun and the rapid back-pedaling of German forces was just days away. With bold and heroic efforts, American and British soldiers teamed up with not only French and colonial soldiers, but also ordinary French men and women to set about the freeing of their country from Fascism.

Operation Dragoon is often derided as some sort of ‘Champagne Campaign’, in which the only threat was of being hung over in the morning. Audie Murphy stormed well-defended beaches and never understood the impression. In some places and at some times, the Germans were in such a hurry to save their own hides that it was more of a chase than a battle, but all too often, the deeply hardened old veterans stood and fought. They knew how to use the terrain and how to make the Allies pay for every inch of ground. The veterans of the 3rd, 36th and 45th Infantry Divisions and among the paratroopers knew to expect nothing less.

It was a hard fight and one for which the French are grateful. Let us pause this morning and give thanks for what they did so long ago.



Understanding Battles: Can a tablet replace my books and maps?

As I prepared for my talk on the 36th Infantry Division at our Operation Dragoon seminar, I’ve had an opportunity to use my new tablet (a Motorola Xoom) to the utmost. It really is a “killer app” for a historian.

My friend, Eric Wittenberg, first wrote about his tentative use of his Nook early last year, then replaced it with an iPad in December. Despite being a software developer in my paid work, I was apprehensive. I love books and maps. The look and feel of each has always been special, and I felt no computer would be able replace them for me.

I tried Kindle, first as a PC app, then on my smartphone. Not the same as a ‘real’ book, but quick and easy. With a library of a few hundred books, I never ventured to read history via Kindle. I had too big of a physical book backlog to consider it.

Then, I needed more detail on the 36th in less than a week. So, I used Google books to buy “First to the Rhine”. I kept flipping pages to review maps, then realized that I could use Google maps on my tablet. Zoom, twist, slide zoom out, add the terrain overlay. I’m sold. I just hope I can figure out how to Bluetooth or connect to the projector with my tablet because it makes understanding the fight at Montelimar so much easier. Maybe this or maybe at the Colmar Pocket seminar in December. It is an amazing tool.

Update: I’ve got a 15-foot mini-HDMI to HDMI cable on order from Amazon so that I can hook to the projector we use at these conferences and to my TV at home for Netflix.




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