Monday, October 21, 2013

More from the Hospitality Room

Bill Doyle

   In 1993 I returned from the Orlando reunion of the 712th Tank Battalion with a dozen tapes of interviews. Some of the material was used in my first book, "Tanks for the Memories," which I self-published in 1994.
   Most of the interviews were recorded in the hospitality room.
   Bill Doyle was a member of D Company, which had 17 1/2 ton light tanks.

Bill Doyle

   I'm 75. My fiftieth anniversary is coming up in February.
   Our job in D Company was to just go out there and find out where in the hell they were, to sneak up, then get the hell out and let the big guys go after them, because our little tanks, they only had little 37-millimeters, and they bounced off of them Tigers like it was kids shooting marbles, you know, you'd hit one marble and the other one would bounce, it's gone. You'd do no damage.
   Paul Wanamacher over there, he was in an area that was overrun with Germans [Mairy ... see "Destruction of the 106th Panzer Brigade]. We were all around the same neighborhood. They could see us shooting at the Germans. I guess we were where we weren't supposed to be. Some broke through the lines, and you could see our 37-millimeters didn't mean nothin', it was just like swatting a fly.
   None of them (the light tanks) got lost. It was just, there was an observation point up there and he called for artillery in the same place, so that helped us out a hell of a lot.
   That gentleman coming around the corner there [one of Col. Vladimir Kedrovsky's sons ... Kedrovsky was the battalion's third and final commanding officer], his father, you couldn't meet a finer man. He never asked you to do anything that he wouldn't do himself, that's the kind of guy he was. I don't know if I can put it in much better words. He was never too busy that you couldn't talk to him.
Carl and Tim Kay, sons of Col. Vlad Kay (formerly Vladimir Kedrovsky) at the 1993 reunion.
    We were reconaissance. We'd just go out, get a mission, if it was too rough, we'd just back up, get out of the way and let the big guys take care of them.
   He either shoots at you or you see them first and you run. But before you run, before you do anything else, you're always on the radio talking to whoever's behind you.
   After that deal there (at Dillingen), a bunch of us got the Bronze Star. Every time the kids would say something to me about it, "Oh, I hit a lieutenant." I said, "I punched a lieutenant in the mouth and got away with it." I never spoke to them about it or told them what happened, until they cornered me. Then I had to tell them about the river crossing, going up and getting the guys [wounded] and bringing them back. But to name names, the names are forgotten.

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