|A Company, 712th Tank Battalion, officers at Amberg, Germany. Back row,|
from left: Morse Johnson, Sam MacFarland; front row, from left, Bob
Hagerty, Ellsworth Howard, Howard Olsen, Jule Braatz
Bob Hagerty, on the left in the front, and Morse Johnson were both from Cincinnati, Hagerty from the Norwood section and Johnson from, I think it was called Far Hills. Both were sergeants in the horse cavalry, both received battlefield commissions, and both distinguished themselves in the battle for Oberwampach, as did Howard Olsen, third from the left in the front. When the 712th Tank Battalion was stationed as occupation troops in Amberg, Germany, after VE Day, Hagerty and Johnson often faced each other as opponents on a court-martial board; Johnson, a lawyer in civilian life, as the judge, and Hagerty as defense counsel.
Hagerty recalled one particular case involving an enlisted man named Everett Bays, who was court-martialed on three occasions. The first two were for minor offenses, stealing a jeep, things like that. But the third offense occurred while the battalion, already in Marseilles, was waiting to be shipped out for home. Bays got drunk and got into a fight with an officer from a different outfit and beat the officer pretty seriously.
Don Knapp, whom you may have seen interviewed on "Patton 360," remembered the fight for which Bays was court-martialed. At the battalion's 1993 reunion, Knapp recalled a conversation he had with Tony D'Arpino, who also was interviewed in Patton 360.
"D'Arpino said, 'You remember that night when we were going home, we were in this area," and he says, 'it was all muddy.'
"And I says, 'Yeah, and they had strips of wood to walk on.'
"He said, 'And Bays got drunk and he was an ex-prizefighter and he was slapping people around.'
"I said, 'You don't remember, Tony, but I was charge of quarters that night.' By that time I was a staff sergeant.
"And he said, 'No I don't.'
I said, 'Well, I picked up a log out of that walkway,' because he had hit one guy real hard and I walked in he was slapping somebody. And I said, 'Cut it out, Bays.' You know, appealing to his better nature.
"And he said, 'You shut your mouth or you're gonna get it, too.'
"And I've got a .45, but he had one too.
"I said, "You put that gun down.'
"And he said, 'What the hell are you gonna do about it?'
"I said, 'Why don't you put the gun down?' And I says, 'We'll settle it.' And I'm holding the thing in back of me, and I thought to myself, if he comes up close I'm gonna nail him, because I couldn't take him. That guy was a prizefighter. I was not about to go up against him without something. I wouldn't shoot him, but I had this big birch log in my hand in back of me and he didn't see it because he was half-bombed and I thought, I've been around drunks before and if he's up close he's gonna get you but he was kind of staggering, I thought, 'I'm gonna stay back and I'm gonna let him have it alongside the head.' I think somebody, they all jumped on him when I was talking to him. Bays. He was something else."
Luckily for Bays, the officer he injured shipped out for home the next morning, and all the court-martial board could do was take his deposition. Bays still was court-martialed, but got off with a slap on the wrist. As Hagerty recalled, the battalion commander, Col. Vladimir Kedrovsky, was so incensed over the outcome that he fired the whole court-martial board. The battalion, Bays included, shipped out the next day.
Ellsworth Howard, second from the left in the group picture, was the A Company executive officer until Clifford Merrill was wounded on July 13, and then he took over as company commander until August 18, 1944, when he was wounded at the Falaise Gap. He returned later in the war.
I never did a formal interview with Ellsworth, but did do a couple of brief interviews during battalion reunions. Following is an excerpt from the first edition of "Tanks for the Memories":
Ellsworth Howard: "You could only get a replacement tank if you lost one in battle, and the replacements were slow in coming through. We had a void of tanks for a long time.
So I started battle losing them on paper. And then the durn war ended before my tanks balanced out. I had four or five too many, and we had to turn them in at Nuremburg.
"We went to an ordnance place down there and turned the tanks in, and they wouldn’t take but just the number listed in the table of operations.
"I said, 'What am I gonna do with the rest of them?'
"'That’s not our problem.'
"So I found a field down there right close by, and parked those tanks, got out and left. A week or so later a guy named Marshall House called, and he said, 'Are you by any chance from Louisville?'
"I said, 'Why, I sure am.'
"And he said, 'Well, this is Marshall House.'
"I said, 'Why, I remember you, Marshall.' And we talked about old times.
"And then he said, 'What about these tanks down here?'
"I said, 'I can’t hear you. It must be a bad connection.'"
Here are some more photos:
Colonel George B. Randolph
|Colonel Randolph's body when he was killed during|
the Battle of the Bulge. This picture appeared
in the Saturday Evening post, although he was
identified only as a colonel.
|Dess Tibbitts in 1988|
|The Rev. Edmund Randolph Laine and Ed Forrest|
|The entry in Rev. Laine's diary for the day Ed was killed. The death is noted|
as a footnote, because it would be 13 days before the telegram arrived.
(More pictures to come)
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