Carroll Daily Times Herald

Carroll, IA

25 Apr 1945




Miles Explores German Trenches

By Frank Miles

In the Field with the First Army (IDPA) -- Harold Denny, the battle-bitten New York Times correspondent who was born in Des Moines was the first scribe I met upon arriving in a shell-shattered, bomb-blasted area in Germany. He took me to noon chow, where I was recognized by Capt. Ulrich Groth, Palmer, a chaplain who once preached in Lutheran churches at Boyd and Fredericka.

I jeeped 300 miles from Paris into Germany then passed through the debris of what was once the city of Aachen, then was on the Adolph Hitler autobahn. On a roadhouse sign near a rubbled town I read:
"Give me me five years and you'll not recognize Germany again -- Adolph Hitler."

After chow we explored German trenches, which had been abandoned a few days earlier. Pictures of mothers, wives and sweethearts were among the personal article scattered about where jerry bodies had lain. There were seven holes in one helmet and a piece of steel had pierced a notebook, which had been a diary.

Earlier that day I saw seven trucks each carrying 40-50 German prisoners, bound for the American rear. They didn't act as if they were too unhappy over their plights but their comrades still in the lines were fighting stubbornly and American ambulances, moving slowly toward hospitals, reflected the toll they were taking.

In Paris I received information about a number of Iowans in the Fifth army in North Italy.

Second Lieutenant John Decker, Mason City, and Tech. Sgt. Maurice C. Werling, Tipton, have been awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action.

The bronze star for meritorious service in combat was awarded to Major Jacob R. Magnani, Mason City, Captain Steven J. Manchester, Fort Dodge; Staff Sgt. Melbourne D. Taeger, Burlington; Archibald L. Reynolds, Council Bluffs, and Pfc. Charles C. Coyle, Osceola.

The bronze star for heroic achievement in action went to Second Lieutenant William G. McGuire, Cedar Rapids, and Sgt. LeRoy W. King, Muscatine.

The bronze star for meritorious service in direct support of combat operations was pinned on Staff Sgt. Floyd L. Brandsgard, Humbolt; and Cpl. Richard C. Welch, Fort Dodge.

Arthur R. Osborne, Austin, Tex., who attended Coe College at Cedar Rapids, has been promoted from captain to major in the chaplain corps. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. P.W. Osborne, reside at Marion.

John S. Whyte, Jr., Goldfield, and Phillip J. Phelps, Harlan, were promoted from second lieutenant to first lieutenant, and Cecil O. Sturgeon, Des Moines, from sergeant to second lieutenant. Cpl. Welch was in 34th corps.

Lieutenant McGuire and Sgt. Taeger in the 85th division and the others in the 34th.

Sgt. James Newman, Clear Lake, a former Notre Dame university student, recently was promoted from private to corporal to his present rating in a few weeks in recognition of his work at First Army public relations section.

I went from London to Paris by train to the English coast, crossed the channel on a ship without getting seasick, and traveled from Dieppe, scene of the first American attack on the Germans in France in this war, to the French capital on a train slower than that one through Arkansas about which a book was written.

Paris was "different" with blackout rigid on the city's famed night life.

In the Field with the First Army -- Three war correspondents - Harry Denny of the New York Times, Tom Yarbrough of the Associated Press and I - were in a jeep a quarter of a mile from a German town, where we intended to check a rumor that nazi enlisted men had revolted and locked up their officer before it was captured by American troops.

"Let's ask those soldiers if they know anything about it," Denny suggested, indicating some GIs near a brick house and barn at the roadside.

The driver swung our vehicle toward a driveway between the two structures. Just as it reached the corners a Jerry shell exploded on the highway about where we should have been had we continued our course. The three of us and our driver jumped out and hugged walls. About 20 uniformed Americans, including a lieutenant colonel and a captain scurried in to the stable for protection of a brick wall and tile roof.

Fragments from two of the shells struck the house top, hurling up debris. While the bombardment was its height a radio jeep whizzed into the driveway. As it halted the four occupants hit the ground and raced for shelter. The driver was T/4 Ernest Swails, Riverside.

"See you back home I hope soon," he said with a wave as we parted.

We cancelled the rest of our journey and headed for press camp.

Earlier in the afternoon we crossed the Erft river and an adjoining canal on the first bridges laid over them by American engineers with infantry and tank support. After parking our jeep we walked Jerry-ward toward a ridge. Several screaming whistles with nazi accent there impelled Denny, Yarbrough and a major to crouch low and me to run into a dugout in a low cliff.

Down a road back of us three jeep loads of soldiers got behind tanks stationed in position to meet a possible enemy counter attack.

Lt. Col. Leo Heough, Chariton, was at a division headquarters we visited. He had been strafed by a Jerry plane en route to the place. We had heard ack ack guns firing at the marauder.

I met Maj. Ira Holton, Cedar Rapids, traffic control officer of the First army headquarters,. He started as a private in the army in 1941 and had been overseas since February 1944. Only 25 years of age, he holds a BA degree from the University of Iowa and took a year of law before entering the service.

While looking at him, I ran into Pfc. Edwn Argabright, Coin, who belongs to an MP company in which six feet was the minimum height.

Lt. Col. Mathew W. Kane, Des Moines, is a crack task force commander of an armored division, I learned after arriving in this area.

Staff Sgt. Donal E. Rouse, Cartersville, of the First army, has the distinction of leading a contact patrol in Germany, Belgium and Holland on a three-hour jaunt one night.

Staff Sgt. Wallace F. Schmidt, Preston, and Pfc. Darold W. Tackett, Sidney, have each won a bronze star. Schmidt got it for driving a jeep out under heavy fire, loading three pinned American doughboys and one Jerry into it and returning them and himself safely. Tackett was decorated for meritorious service as a bodyguard for Maj. Gen William G. Weaver, of the Eighth division.

Source: Carroll Daily Times Herald, April 25, 1945

Return to News Index