Mt. Pleasant News

Mt. Pleasant, IA

20 Feb 1945




Shell Burst Near Iowans On Italian Front

By Frank Miles

With the Fifth Army in Italy – (IDPA) – My driver parked a jeep near the ruins of a once beautiful church, being used as a supply dump in a war wrecked town.

“Quiet here now,” informed a sergeant friend, “but day before yesterday the Jerries threw in 17 shells in 20 minutes. Hit this building again and put about a hundred shrapnel holes in the tent outside. By the way, Pvt. Ronald Watson, of Davenport, whom you met here once, just got a purple heart. He and I were up on the road walking. We had to go opposite direction and when we parted he offered me a cigarette. I didn’t smoke then but thanked him anyhow as I started on my way. Two minutes later there was a burst close and piece of steel hit him in the hand. He’s back on duty, though, and will soon be all okay. Sorry he’s not here to see you again.”

The sergeant left and I started chinning with two officers.


What was left of the church walls rocked.

“Jerry air burst, guess they’re after us again,” grinned one of the officers grimly.

We resumed out conversation.

Another burst – louder and more violent than the first one.

“Jerry shell that time – must have hit in the field out here,” the officer said.

We agreed it was too close for comfort.

“They target on a position with air burst, which spray metal, because they can tell from the smoke about where they explode, then they follow with shells,” the officer explained.

“Did you draw this?” joked a sergeant joining us as another shell made things shake.

The jerries were still shelling the area when we jeeped away. The next stop was at another shell shattered structure in which the famous 91st reconnaissance squadron was billeted. A kitchen truck was near one side.

“Iowa man in there – our cook – and a good one, too.” Said one of a group of soldiers, pointing to it after I had let them know where I was from.

The cook was T-4 Elmer Eichelberger, Palmer.

Whi-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-am! , just as we shook hands.

Two shells tore into a snowy hillside close by two minutes later.

“If we want to get back to Iowa we’d better get out of here,” I remarked trying to sound nonchalant.

“I’d say,” rejoined the personable Hawkeye,” but don’t see how I could leave now.”

More bursts.

“Quiet here today until you came,” Eichelberger smiled.

Source: Mount Pleasant News, February 20, 1945

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