WWII, Harry was in the U.S. Army's 86th Infantry Division, the "Blackhawk
Division," in the European Theater of Operation (ETO). He had been a heavy
machine gun operator, but had recently been transferred to communications.
This particular day they ask for volunteers
to transport communications gear to the front lines by jeep. Harry and
two other guys volunteered, the Captain offered Harry a 1911, .45 automatic
handgun, as his weapon of choice, Harry, being an "old" infantry type,
chose instead, an M-1 Garand, 30.06, rifle with eighty rounds of ammo--that
choice saved his life.
They were driving through Germany's "Black
Forest" when they came upon a bomb crater in the middle of the single lane
dirt road, as they slowed for the crater they were hit by a machine gun
burst from a MG-42. Immediately Harry's two fellow solders were killed
outright, and as Harry dove over the side of the Jeep, he was hit in the
Lying under the Jeep he took cover as best
he could, meanwhile the Jeep was being torn apart by machine gun fire,
the blown out tires causing the Jeep to settle down over him.
It isn't clear how he got his hands on his
M-1, Garand and a single bandoleer of ammo, but he did, and was able to
hold off that MG-42 crew for the next thirty minutes, while trying to stanch
the bleeding from his thigh wound.
After about thirty minutes, he was relieved
by a machine gun mounted Jeep, that took out the machine gun nest.
Harry spent the next six or more, weeks in
an ARMY hospital in France. There he was robbed of just about everything
he owned, including his watch, by the Red Cross employees who were there
to "help" the GIs.
Harry was later awarded the Silver Star medal,
for "Conspicuous Gallantry in Action," and the Purple Heart Medal, along
with the Bronze Star Medal.
Among the 86th Infantry Division's fifteen
thousand men, there were only seven Silver Star Medals awarded.
P.S. I've heard from people who have been
under fire from an MG-42, with its fifteen hundred rounds per minutes firing
rate, and they describe it as "Hell on Earth," "...the most freighting
sound they've ever heard!"
The fact that Harry survived such a devastating
onslaught, was a true case of defying the odds, if ever there was one!!
P.P.S. We didn't hear of Harry's wounding
until about five weeks after the fact. Meanwhile our mother had a dream
about Harry being wounded and her conversation with his nurse, and the
nurse saying, "...not to worry, he was doing OK, and that the worst was
When we received the telegram, Mom instantly
recalled her dream, and later calculated that the dream was very close
to the date he had been shot. She also said the "message" that he was doing
well, helped her cope.
Mom only told us the story of her dream,
some fifty years later.