Saturday, May 23, 2020

Buddy's War # 60- A Mother's Relief


Back on VE Day, Beula wrote,
The war is over and O God just think of the mothers that their boys won’t be coming home.
Today the underlying thought came out:

    •    Wednesday, May 23, 1945

Got up at 9:00. Went to the store and cleaned. Got a letter from Buddy that he wrote on VE Day. So now I feel better.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman
In the time between VE Day on May 8 and today, Beula spent some time with Ruth in Bethlehem, saw some movies, went out to eat, and seemed to be busier than usual. Yet for those 15 days she had no doubt been holding her thoughts, prayers, and fears deep inside. She never commented on it in the diary. The dread and anxiety must have been overwhelming, as it may have been throughout the whole time Buddy was overseas. We do learn how to live with such anxieties. Or perhaps in the past years, she had found a way to live without thinking about it. On May 22 she received a letter from Buddy, but it was written before VE Day.

Today, she could feel better. What a relief!



But with all the elation and relief, some sense of the dread must have remained. The war was not over. Germany had surrendered; Japan fought on. Did they know that a massive invasion, far greater than D-Day was being planned? Were they all just living in the uncertainty of what troops would be transported to the Pacific for an invasion of Japan?

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Buddy's War #58- The Last Offensive



[Note: It has been over a month since I last posted on the movement of the 10th Armored Division/80th Medical Battalion. A whole bunch of different things happened, like the pandemic and related consequences. I apologize for that. In this post, I will do a summary of the month of April which saw a great deal of movement for Buddy’s Company C. I will not be posting each day’s movement as you will see below. The month will end with them in place for the end of the war. Next week I will do some more reviewing as we come to the end of the war in Europe. There will be more to come.]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The month of April was the “last offensive.” The epilogue to the section on this campaign in “Hyperwar” says it well:
The only basic matter to be decided by the last offensive was not whether the Germans would be reduced to total defeat, but when. Given the stranglehold and almost mystic fascination that Hitler and his coterie exercised over the German people and the incredible loyalty of German military commanders to a regime that long had been discredited, perhaps it was inevitable that the end would come only when the nation was prostrate, almost every square inch of territory under the control of the victors. In those circumstances, whether the invaders insisted on unconditional surrender or came shouting mercy and forgiveness probably would have had little effect on the outcome.

Map indicating all locations in April 1945 for Company C,
80th Armored Medical Battalion of 10th Armored Division


     •    Wednesday, April 4, 1945
Got up at 10-.  It is cold so I did not do anything. Wrote to Ruth and Buddy. Received a box from Ruth- 2 shirts and 2 tea towels.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman

    ✓    Company C Morning Reports
    ✓    1 - 16 April 1945


This period of April was the last major offensive of the war for the 10th Armored Division. It appears to have been one of the more difficult of the battles the 10th had faced. A report issued a few years after the war noted that some of the difficulties may have been caused by moor planning and lack of clear communications. I am not a big fan of George Patton, but his reputation and drive make me wonder if this would have been as difficult a mission if the 10th Armored had still been with Patton and the Third Army.  In any case, the greater difficulty faced by Company C can be seen in the lists of casualties in the Morning Reports for April 6-10.

    ✓    6 April 1945
Marvin Tews T5 and Simon Smith Pfc — Missing in Action
Tews was a surgical tech, like Buddy,  and Smith was an aid man. I did some digging on the Internet and found that both these soldiers ended up as prisoners of war. They both were liberated and repatriated. Tews (26), from Minnesota,  in October 1945 and Smith (23), from Michigan, in July 1945. They both lived into their mid-80s.


    ✓    8 April 1945
Noble Long Sgt. and Emmett Gilberts Cpl — Killed in Action
The Morning Report gave no duty listing for either of these soldiers. They were the first, and only, killed in action from Company C during the war.
Joseph Vendittelli T4 —  Slightly wounded in action. Lacerating wound, forehead. Not Hospitalized
    ✓    9 April 1945
- Joseph Vendittelli T4 — wounded in action. Penetrating wound, right foot, burns about face. Trfd to evacuation hospital
- George Tennant Pfc — Penetrating wound hand and arms. Trfd to hospital unknown
- William Cash Pvt — Penetrating wound arm. Trfd to hospital unknown
- Carl Kopp 1st Lt — Slight gunshot wound face and left thumb. Not hospitalized
    ✓    10 April 1945
Robert Gilbert Pfc and John Lower Pfc — Missing in Action
Gilbert, like Marvin Tews and Buddy, was a surgical tech. It appears that Lower was an ambulance driver. 
I don’t know the story, but both returned to duty seven days later on 17 April.

     •    Thursday, April 12, 1945
Got up at 10-. Got ready for club. We had a nice time but Ruth called at 6 o’clock and said President Roosevelt had died at 4.30. It was an awful shock.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman



     •    Friday, April 20, 1945
Got up at 10-. Cleaned upstairs. Cleaned the kitchen. Wrote to Ruth. It is raining tonight. 9 o’clock and father is not home yet.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman

As it drove into Bavaria, the division overran one of the many subcamps of Dachau concentration camp in the Landsberg area on 27 April 1945, earning it recognition as a liberating unit. (Link)
As April ended they were in place for VE Day a little more than a week later. Perhaps the final indication of the reason they had been fighting was discovered on 27 April when portions of the 10th Armored liberated one of the many subcamps of Dachau. (Still looking for more information at this point.) Again, the epilogue to the Last Offensive section of Hyperwar says it best.
 As the last offensive came to an end, few if any who fought in it could have entertained any doubts as to the right of their cause--they had seen at Buchenwald, Belsen, Dachau, and at a dozen other places, including little Ohrdruf, what awful tyranny man can practice on his fellow man. To erase those cruel monuments to evil was reason enough for it all, from bloody OMAHA Beach to that bridgehead to nowhere over the Elbe. (Link)
     •    Sunday, April 29, 1945
Got up at 10-. Got dinner. Mrs. S. came in for a while. Wrote to Buddy.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman


Sunday, April 12, 2020

Testing God?

Listening to the "pastors" who have insisted that God will keep them safe in the pandemic- I was struck by how much it sounded like the temptation of Jesus that we always hear way back at the beginning of Lent.

Satan: Go ahead, Jesus, jump from the highest point of the Temple. God will protect you. Isn't that what scriptures say?
Somehow I do not believe that God would want any of us to put ourselves in harm's way in order to test or prove the existence or love of God.
  • Does that mean that I should handle poisonous snakes since God will protect me? 
  • Does that mean if I want to stay warm when I go outside in the cold without a coat that God will keep me warm? 
  • Does that mean I should go stand in the middle of the train tracks convinced that God will stop the train in time since God has promised to protect me?
  • Does that mean that if I give the virus to someone else, I am not responsible if they get sick, since after all God promised?
Jesus: It also says in scripture that we should not test the Lord, our God.
The Coronavirus is that train coming down the tracks. It is the poisonous snake. It is the frigid winter air that can kill you. It may not be as easy to see or hear, but we have been told how to stay safe.

Just do it, okay? God gave us minds and wisdom and knowledge to use, not to set aside.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

R.I.P. John Prine

I never got to see him in person. But his music is among the greatest. Thanks to a remarkable songwriter. He told us what he would do today in a song. Enjoy. Laugh and cry as you watch.


Saturday, April 04, 2020

Buddy's War #57- At the End of March


    ▪    80th Armored Medical Battalion
    ▪    After Action Report: March 1945

Clearing Station Report

Personnel Casualties:
Killed: 0
Wounded: 1 officer, 2 enlisted men
Missing: 2 enlisted men
Reinforcements received: 1 officer, 34 enlisted men

And, as usual, what might be needed to make things better. This reflected the change that occurred in March when the 10th moved right out of Third Army territory into the Seventh Army,
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On March 12 I posted a quote from the book Battalion Surgeon by the late Dr. William McConahey from Mayo Clinic. Captain McConahey was part of an infantry battalion surgeon medical corps from D-Day through the end of the war. I also discovered a lengthy interview from 2003 with McConahey online as part of the Library of Congress’s stories from the Veterans History Project. Here are some excerpts that helped me find out a little more about the situation Buddy was facing on a daily basis. This was life on the front lines of the war:
Well, they call you a battalion surgeon. I did no surgery, really. I was simply trying to save lives. They bring in the wounded to the Aid Station, first thing is to stop bleeding. And then give lots of morphine for pain. We used a lot of that, sometimes intravenously. And set fractures, and cleaned out the wounds, which were mess. Often they were filled full of dirt and debris and grass and torn uniforms. Cleaned them out good. Now we had no antibiotics in the days, except we had some sulfa powder. No penicillin. They had it back on base, in the hospital behind us, but we didn't have any. We'd sprinkle some sulfa in on the wound and put on a sterile dressing and pack it wide open and send them on back. We also gave tremendous amounts of blood plasma. We had no whole blood, but these were, we had cases of one bottle of sterile water packed under pressure and a bottle of blood plasma powder packed under vacuum. See, this was blood plasma with no red cells, but just dried protein part of the blood which gave the body and brought them back out of shock. They put these two bottles together with double ended needle and stuck the water bottle into the plasma bottle and in about 30 seconds you had a bottle of blood plasma. We put it intravenously and we gave that by the bucket full. We have hundreds and hundreds of those things in the Aid Station. And that would get them out of shock in a hurry and that's what saved lives time and again, was the blood plasma we had.

I had 32 men in my medical Aid Station and one officer, assistant battalion surgeon with me, another captain. Then these 32 enlisted men. Of those, 12 were company aid men. These guys lived up on the front lines with the company. [The aid men] would lie in the foxholes with the rifleman and they'd say "medic" and they'd run to the aid of the wounded and they would put on a doggone as good dressings I ever saw, lying on their bellies and the bullets going over their heads. How they did it, I don't know. Did quite a job. And then they would let us know in the Aid Station if there was some wounded up on the front line with walkie talkie radio we had. So I'd send up a litter squad, four men on a jeep, and a jeep driver, and he would take them as far as he could forward, then they would walk across the fields until they found the wounded man was. See, no helicopters then. So they'd put them on a litter, haul them back to the Aid Station and bring them back to me and we'd take care of them. So we had these twelve men on the front lines, eight litter bearers, two jeep drivers, and ten technicians to help me in the Aid Station. They would help clean wounds out, give plasma, all the rest, helped me a great deal in the Aid Station. That's what we had in our group.
Question: Now, how far were you from the actual fighting, in the Aid Station?
We'd try to find a house to get into, or a shed, or something, because you couldn't work out in the cold. … So we got as close as we could to the front lines so we weren't under actual fire. Maybe about a quarter a mile behind the front line, something like that. And then we would go to work and they would bring the wounded into us on the Aid Station there. And once they were in good shape, we put them in the ambulance and send them back to the Collecting Company, the next group behind us, which is about five miles back. And then they would look them over. If they were okay then, back to the Cleaning Company, ten miles to the rear, and that was almost a small hospital, with a couple of surgeons. They could do emergency surgery if they had to at that time.

[Note: This would explain why the location for Company C was almost always given at a distance behind the front. It is also important to remember that all of these were part of the company. I have no way of knowing at this point where Buddy was assigned. As a “surgical tech” I would guess it would have been in the Collecting or Clearing Company, but I am not sure.]

If they weren't badly wounded, they stayed in the Clearing Company for maybe a week or so, if they were back in good condition, send them back to the front. If they weren't, they would go on back then to an evacuation hospital or a field hospital, something behind maybe 30-40 miles to the rear and be taken care of there. And then, if even more badly wounded, they'd take them on back to England. And they might be there for a couple months, get them fixed up, then ship them back to the front, go back to duty. If they were badly hurt, send them on back home, sometimes, then too after that. 

[Note: Next comes the question perhaps most often asked of medics- did you carry a gun?]
Oh no.
Question: Or did your men carry guns? You had no protection, then, really.
No, we didn't carry guns because the Germans had signed what they called the Geneva Convention, in which they said they would not try to shoot at Aid people. So we all knew that and we had red crosses painted on our helmets on all the four sides. We had red crosses on our arms. Our jeeps carried red cross flags. I know that my life was saved many times by Germans not shooting at us. We didn't carry any weapons and they knew that. And often they had me in their sight, they wouldn't fire. It happened, I know, several times. I had been fired at, [?] one man took a shot at me and missed me by about four inches. That happened now and then, but usually they did not shoot at us. So we were safer to be without arms than to be carrying them.

[We] all were marked this way. Well, one time I just briefly mentioned this. I went behind lines by mistake one time. I was trying to find the Aid Station after I had gone back to check with the Collecting Company. I was coming back in the jeep and I missed a turn-off. I went back behind German lines by two miles, didn't know it. I came around a corner and down the road the German had a tank gun, pointing right at us, ready to fire the thing, the first tank or trunk that turned the corner. They didn't shoot. They saw the Red Cross flag on the jeep... they didn't shoot because we were medics... [and] all around us and the sides of us were little German soldiers digging foxholes, the guns right beside them. They looked up and wondered what was going on. Well, the driver jammed the jeep in reverse, went back up and around the corner and out of there, but they could have killed us, captured us, but they didn't, because they saw we were medical corps people.(Link)

As March ended, the 80th Medical and the 10th Armored were in the midst of their final month of combat. VE Day was less than 40 days away. Their movement over the next few weeks will get them in their final position, but also remind them of the ghastly evils that were everywhere to be found in this horrific war.


    •    Saturday, March 31, 1945
Got up at 9.30.  Went to the butcher shop. Baked. Had a letter from Buddy and Ruth. It was cool tonight.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Buddy's War #56- To the Rhine


    ✓    Company C Morning Reports
    ✓    16 March 1945

Departed Trier 1015. Traveled 10.9 miles via motor convoy to Lampaden, Germany. Supporting CCB.  Arrived 1145. Set up clearing station and billeted troops. Weather fair. (MR)
Combat commands of the 10th Armored Division began passing through infantry of the 80th and 94th Divisions before daylight on 16 March. Although the Germans of General Hahm's LXXXII Corps during the night had formed a new crust of resistance sufficient to deny genuine armored exploitation for another twenty-four hours, no doubt remained among either American or German commanders as the day ended that a deep armored thrust was in the offing. (Hyperwar)

    ✓    17 March 1945

Left Lampaden 1630. Traveled approximately 8 miles via motor convoy to Kell, Germany. Arrived 1730. Set up clearing station and billeted troops. (MR)
Early on 17 March, the 10th Armored Division drove eight miles and seized a bridge intact over the little Prims River, last water obstacle short of the Nahe. (Hyperwar)

    ✓    18 March 1945

Left Kell 1115. Traveled 12 miles via motor convoy to Otzenhausen, Germany. Arrived 1400. Set up clearing station and billeted troops. (MR)
    ✓    19 March 1945
Left Otzenhausen 1440, Traveled 12 miles via motor convoy yo Wolfersweiler, Germany. Arrived 1540. Set up clearing station and billeted troops. Weather clear. (MR)

As worked out in detail by Patch and Patton, the two armies split the area between the Nahe River and the Rhine almost equally, with a new boundary running just north of Kaiserslautern and reaching the Rhine south of Worms. Patton nevertheless intended to take Kaiserslautern himself and then turn one infantry and one armored division southeast, deeper into Patch's zone, to link with the Seventh Army's VI Corps along the Rhine. Thereby he hoped to trap any Germans who might remain in front of the Seventh Army in the West Wall. That accomplished, Patton "would clear out of [Patch's] area."51 The plan presumed, of course, that the Seventh Army at that point would still be involved in the West Wall, but in any event, Patch apparently accepted the agreement with the same good grace earlier accorded the Supreme Commander's proposal.
It took another day before the effects generated by the heat began to show up on headquarters situation maps, but by 19 March a graphic representation of the Third Army's gains looked, in the words of Patton's colleague, General Hodges of the First Army, "like an intestinal tract."53 With the added weight of the 12th Armored Division (Maj. Gen. Roderick R. Allen), General Walker's XX Corps made the more spectacular gains. By midnight of the 19th, the 12th Armored was across the upper reaches of the Nahe and had gone on to jump a little tributary of the Nahe, more than twenty-three miles from the armor's line of departure of the day before. The 10th Armored Division stood no more than six miles from Kaiserslautern. (Hyperwar)


    •    Monday, March 19, 1945

Got up at 10.30. It is raining.Changed the beds. Had a letter from Buddy. He is in Germany. Wrote to Ruth and Dora.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman

    ✓    20 March 1945
Left Wolfersweiler 1125. Traveled 23 miles via motor convoy to Reichenbachsteegen, Germany. Arrived 1453, Set up clearing station and billeted troops. (MR)
    ✓    21 March 1945
Left Reichenbachsteegen 0845. Traveled 17 miles via motor convoy to Schopp, Germany. Arrived 1320. Set up clearing station. Billeted troops. Supporting CCB. (MR)

There were 152 admissions in the three companies of the 80th Medical Battalion on the 21st; there will be another 205 ton the 22nd as this drive south continues. Hence Company C will remain at Schopp for an extra day. They have traveled 83 miles in these six days.

[The] 10th Armored Division [was turned] south and southeast into the Pfaelzer Forest. By nightfall of 20 March, two of the 10th Armored's columns stood only a few hundred yards from the main highway through the forest, one almost at the city of Pirmasens on the western edge, the other not far from the eastern edge. A third was nearing Neustadt, farther north beyond the fringe of the forest. The 12th Armored meanwhile was approaching the Rhine near Ludwigshafen. Not only were the withdrawal routes through the Pfaelzer Forest about to be compromised but a swift strike down the Rhine plain from Neustadt and Ludwigshafen against the last escape sites for crossing the Rhine appeared in the offing. 

In desperation the Luftwaffe during 20 March sent approximately 300 planes of various types, including jet-propelled Messerschmitt 262's, to attack the Third Army's columns, but to little avail. Casualties on the American side were minor. Antiaircraft units, getting a rare opportunity to do the job for which they were trained, shot down twenty-five German planes. Pilots of the XIX Tactical Air Command claimed another eight.

In the face of the 10th Armored Division's drive, the word to the westernmost units of the XC Corps to begin falling back went out late on the 20th, and when the 42d Division, in the mountains on the left wing of the VI Corps, launched a full-scale assault against the West Wall late the next day, the attack struck a vacuum. Soon after dawn the next morning, 22 March, a regiment of the 42d cut the secondary highway through the Pfaelzer Forest. A column of the 10th Armored had moved astride the main highway through the woods and emerged on the Rhine flatlands at Landau. Any Germans who got out of the forest would have to do so by threading a way off the roads individually or in small groups. 

By nightfall of 22 March, the Germans west of the Rhine could measure the time left to them in hours. (Hyperwar)
(Note on this map: I have tried to give the scope of what was happening during this week with Patton racing to cross the Rhine before Montgomery. As such he utilized the 10th Armored to block the southern escape route. In so doing, as described in the text, he moved the 10th and its units out of the Third Army territory, crossing them into the Seventh Army of General Patch. Hence all the different places listed in this map with the movement of Buddy's Company C shown in blue as usual.)

By March 23, the Third Army engineers were ready, and Patton, desperate to cross the great river before Monty, decided that his men should make a feint at Mainz and cross at once at Oppenheim. By daylight on the 23rd, six battalions were over the river for a loss of only 28 men killed and wounded, while other infantry and engineer units had crossed just to the north, at Nierstein, without opposition. Patton telephoned Bradley: “Brad, don’t tell anyone but I’m across … there are so few Krauts around there they don’t know it yet. So don’t make any announcement. We’ll keep it secret until we see how it goes.”
However, the Germans soon became aware of the crossings and after heavy Luftwaffe raids on the Third Army pontoon bridges during the day, Patton called Bradley again that evening: “For God’s sake tell the world we’re across … I want the world to know Third Army made it before Monty.” 
In fact, the world already knew. At Bradley’s headquarters that morning, Patton’s representative had announced that the Third Army had crossed the Rhine at 10 pm on March 22, “without benefit of aerial bombing, ground smoke, artillery preparation and airborne assistance.” Clearly, this was a dig at Montgomery, who was using all these assets at that very moment to assist his crossing of the same river. (Warfare Network)

    ✓    23 March 1945

Clearing Section left Schopp 0900. Traveled 12 miles. Arrived Rodalben, Germany at 1000. Opened clearing station 1100. C.P. and remainder of company left Schopp at 1620. Traveled 32 miles via motor convoy to Annweiler, Germany. Arrived 2030. Set up clearing station and billeted troops. (MR)

They have now traveled a total of 115 miles in 8 days. They still have a week to go in the month.

It appears that, as a result of the coordinated efforts between Third and Seventh Armies, the 10th got to the right place at the right time. Now they will be attached to General Patch’s XXI Corps, 7th Army for the rest of the war. Patton has utilized them well on his own personal race to the Rhine. Now they move to other things.

    •    Friday, March 23, 1945
Got up at 10. Gee, but I feel bad. Cleaned some. Father washed the windows.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman



Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Tuning Slide 5.32- Music in a Time of Pandemic

Weekly Reflections on Life and Music

This will be our reply to violence:
to make music more intensely,
more beautifully,
more devotedly than ever before.
— Leonard Bernstein

I have used this quote by Bernstein before. It was originally written after the death of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. It was a time of uncertainty and chaos, fear and grief. As I sat down to write today, already late in posting this week’s Tuning Slide, I realized that I cannot write what I had intended to write about- the interaction of sound and rhythm in music. I will get back to that, I promise. But first I had to clear my mind of all the things running around in there in the midst of the current time of uncertainty and pandemic and fear.

These are times like none other we have seen in many years. Perhaps the closest we can come to it in the last fifty years is September 11, 2001. Suddenly things were different. It felt like the world of order and sanity was under attack. These things that are this disruptive of life as we have known it don’t happen often, but they are gut-wrenching when they do.

This afternoon I did a simple shopping trip. We are on our way back home to Minnesota from Alabama, our time cut sort by the exponential growth of the virus worldwide and the cultural and societal changes that are coming along. It may be that we will never again see the world as we did just a few short weeks ago. Churches, schools, gyms, concerts, band rehearsals, coffee shops, movie theaters, fast-food restaurants are all different today. As I drove through the small Missouri city where we are staying this evening, I saw the impact with some empty parking lots and empty shelves in Walmart. And not just the hand-sanitizer and toilet paper. Food aisles are empty, too. Over the counter medication shelves are less than fully stocked.

Then I see again that amazing story from Italy where they have been in lockdown for a number of days. The streets are empty across that country. But there’s this trumpet player standing on his balcony or the neighbors singing with each other. Music becomes a source of strength for those as they shared their time and talent, even in the midst of the chaos and uncertainty.

Take time to listen to music these next weeks. Extend that listening into the months after that. Turn this time of fear and chaos into a time when the depths of our humanity can be touched with hope and peace. Those of us who play in musical groups, it doesn’t matter what the style or genre, start thinking about what and how you can make a difference when the curfews come down and the lock-downs open up. Listen and research and practice. Take time away from the daily chaos of the news and retreat into music or reading or meditating or taking a walk if you can. Find the music in your own heart and enhance it.

We may not know where all this will lead; We can know that if we follow the music of the heart and soul- each of our individual hearts and souls- we will find the sound and the harmony, the rhythm and the style that can bring greater hope to the world. Those of us who are musicians have a wondrous gift to share. May we take this time to discover how to expand it for the good of ourselves, our families and friends, and wherever we may go.

I guess I needed to talk about this- to adjust my personal tuning slide, to remind myself of why I am doing this and how important it is to me. Now I’m going to listen to some music, read a while, and do it again tomorrow. I’ll be back next week with the Sound and the Rhythm.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Buddy's War #55- A Brief Respite and More Background


    •    Friday, March 16
Got up at 11. Did not feel so good. Wrote to Buddy.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman
75 years ago today, the 10th Armored/80th Medical finished a four-day break in the city of Trier. In the two weeks prior to the break they had, as pointed out in earlier posts, cleared the Saar-Moselle Triangle, captured Trier, crossed the Moselle and did some clearing up toward Wittlich and Bullay. According to Nichols in Impact, they took the opportunity to do some sightseeing in Trier, the oldest city in Germany of the old Roman Coliseum and other ancient remains.

The Tenth was about to go on a long trip. In the next six days, they will travel 83 miles and then over 100 more by the end of the month. In these movements, the 80th Armored Medical Battalion will change its organizational movement to match the original plans set out in the manual for Armored Medical Battalions. No doubt this aided in the work of the clearing station of the company. With the more rapid movement of armored units as compared to infantry units, they needed to make sure the patients in the clearing station were moved appropriately. To do that Company C would often move in two sections as we will see from here through the end of the war.


As shown in this screenshot of the 1944 Armored Medical Units Field Manual flexibility and mobility were essential. As will happen for the rest of March and all of April this will be the story of the 80th as the 10th Armored’s organic medical battalion. The battalion medical companies were referred to as “second echelon” treatment, i.e. not front line treatment. The Field Manual describes them this way.
    ✓    24. MEDICAL COMPANY. For details of organization, see T/O 8-77. The armored medical battalion includes three medical companies organized and equipped to be self- contained. The primary function of the medical company is to assure prompt and continuous evacuation of forward medical units, and to render medical care to casualties evacuated. Each medical company consists of a headquarters, a collecting platoon, and a clearing platoon.
In reading through the daily Morning Reports for Company C, my Dad’s company, there has not been any indication of three sections as listed above. I am sure there must have been some breakdown, especially considering there was a surgical team since my Dad’s duty was surgical tech. Whenever they would move, the Morning Report would almost always indicate that the “clearing station” was set up and then the troops billeted.

    ✓    Collecting platoon
(1) This platoon consists of a platoon headquarters and two identical collecting sections. The platoon headquarters is equipped with a radio-liaison vehicle included in the group medical net (FM). It is capable of contacting all division medical units within range,
(2) This vehicle formally operates forward from the clearing platoon, contacting the aid stations and controlling and directing the ambulances of the medical company to battalion aid stations and casualty collecting points in the forward areas.
(3) Ambulances of the collecting sections operate forward from the clearing station to evacuate battalion aid stations and casualty collecting points established by the medical detachments.
Sidenote: there is a good memoir of a radio technician, Wire As a Weapon: Observations of a lineman with the 150th Armored Signal company laying wire from 10th Armored Division Headquarters to the forward units in 1944-45. (If you Google it, you will get lots of articles about the weapon a garrote wire for killing.) 

    ✓    Clearing Platoon
Functions and operation. ( a ) This platoon is the nucleus of second echelon medical service in combat. The clearing station does not attempt surgical procedures better performed by specialized units of supporting medical elements. Its primary purpose is to perform emergency surgery, including amputation, to combat shock, to administer blood and plasma transfusions, tetanus toxoid, apply splints, and check dressings.
The clearing stations employed mobile surgical trucks. According to the Army Medical Department History:
“Mobile Surgical Trucks” were truck-mounted ‘mobile’ operating rooms designed for temporary expansion of busy and overcrowded Hospitals! These units provided additional and self-sustained two-table operating rooms which could be utilized for all types of surgery. No additional burden was put on the Hospital, since the truck possessed its own autoclaves, surgical instruments, lighting, gloves, dressings, and linen. It must be noted that the Truck itself was only a means of transportation, while the ‘special’ Tent (carried in the trailer, together with the necessary power supply) provided with the Truck acted as the actual operating room.
The Truck, 2 ½-Ton, 6 x 6, GMC, CCKW-352 (short wheelbase); 353 type (long wheelbase), aka “deuce-and-a-half” the US Army’s workhorse, was one of the best vehicles suited for this purpose. manufactured by the General Motors Truck and Coach Division of the Yellow Truck and Coach Manufacturing Company


Illustration of a Surgical Truck and Tent, as introduced by the 47th Armored Medical Battalion.


One of the two Mobile Surgical Trucks of C Company, 78th Armd Med Bn, 8th Armd Div, ready to accept casualties. Wounded German PWs on litters are waiting for treatment.


Partial display of basic equipment of two Mobile Surgical Trucks, set up in the appropriate Tent

Again, from the Field Manual:
Each surgical unit contains an operating table with operating lights, cabinets for supplies, instruments and sterile dressings, hot water heater with boiler, a supply of cold water, a sterilizing unit and facilities for ventilation and heating. Electric power is furnished by a gasoline-operated generator. Each surgical unit includes a specially constructed blackout tent to provide additional space for the treatment of casualties. One surgical unit has in addition the necessary items of equipment to treat gas casualties. In the event of an enemy gas attack, this unit operates for the emergency treatment of systemic symptoms incident to toxic gases and the emergency treatment of chemical burns. It is equipped to perform essential decontamination of personnel and equipment. (Field Manual)
As I mentioned above, part of the reason we will see in the coming weeks for the splitting of the clearing station into platoons or sections (both words are used to describe them in the morning reports) is for the efficiency of collecting and clearing the wounded. The Field Manual makes sure this is covered.

    ✓    EVACUATION OF CLEARING STATION BY SUPPORTING MEDICAL ECHELON.
An essential for the proper functioning of the clearing station is the ability to move on short notice. This capability is dependent upon whether the accumulated casualties are being promptly and continuously cleared from the clearing station by corps or army medical units. Constant liaison by the supporting medical unit is necessary to insure prompt evacuation of the clearing station. Liaison is established and maintained by the supporting medical unit charged with the evacuation of the medical company. (Field Manual)
One other note during this brief break from the war from reading the Morning Reports:

When someone either joins the company or is transferred to another company, in most instances they indicate their race.  Race is almost always listed as “W”. This one was different:

    ✓    Company C Morning Report
    ✓    13 March 1945
Manygoats, Raymond Pvt. Reasgd and jd 13 Mar 45 from… HQ 53rd Reinforcement BN, 17th Reinforcement depot. MOS 303. Semi-skilled. Race Amer Indian. (MR)
MOS 303 was the duty code for "hospital orderly."

And on the homefront:

75 years Ago Today
March 16, 1945:
President Roosevelt said at a news conference that as a matter of decency, Americans would have to tighten their belts so food could be shipped to war-ravaged countries to keep people from starving. (Link)


Friday, March 13, 2020

Finding Peace in a Pandemic


The spread of this disease can be prevented by personal behaviors.

So said an Alabama State Health Department spokesman this morning. That statement is true on many levels. Not the least of those is the mental health and attitude we bring to the situation. I heard this as I was just finishing making a list that I called Finding Peace in a Pandemic.

·      Do what’s right. Always!
·      Don’t take undue risks.
·      Think about others and how we all impact each other.
·      Keep informed, but don’t obsess.
·      Turn off the constant news chatter for at least several hours at a time.
·      Take a walk outside or read a good book.
·      Keep in touch with family and friends.
·      Trust God and let go- whatever that means to you.
·      Take care of yourself and your family.
·      Keep engaged, or get reengaged with hobbies.
·      It is not the end of the world.
·      Meditate on the beauty of the world even when it feels dark.
·      There is light out there- and within you.
·      Maintain your spiritual, emotional, and physical balance.
·      Be wise, not rash.
·      Don’t judge- we all cope in our own ways.
·      Don’t deny what you’re feeling. Talk about it but don’t obsess on it.
·      If you can’t do something about the situation, don’t try to.
·      Practice and live peace and mindfulness in all that you do as much as you can and let the rest just be there.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Buddy's War #54- Beyond Trier


    •    Thursday March 8
Got up at 10. Felt bad so I am not doing anything. Received a letter from Ruth. Wrote to  her. It is a spring day.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman
The 10th Armored and Company C of the 80th Medical Battalion remained at Trier from 2 March through 15 March. It was a clean-up time around and northeast of Trier. Originally, Nichols tells us, the plan was that the 10th just clear the Saar-Moselle Triangle. Their efficiency and speed achieving that goal led to the capture of Trier as well. That then was to be the end of the mission until the actions of Col. Richardson’s Task Force captured the Romer Bridge. Again the combat operation was extended to crossing the Moselle and heading north to Wittlich.


8 March 1945- After capturing Trier two Tiger forces crossed the Moselle and were within six miles of Wittlich, 20 miles north of Trier.

10 March 1945- Task Force Cherry entered the city and kept moving another 12 miles toward Bullay to seize the bridge there. They were not to be successful as the Germans had already destroyed it.

12 March 1945- The mission ended and TF Cherry rejoined the rest of the 10th in Trier.

At the same time, CC B and CC R drove the Germans back just a few miles north of Trier at Ehrang. Unfortunately, work on repairing the bridgehead at Ehrang was slowed allowing the Germans to mount a specific attack on the infantry battalion and the battalion’s captain was killed among heavy casualties. A Task Force of CC R managed to cross the river and pushed the Germans from the hills on the high ground overlooking the town of Schweich.

Schweich was declared an “open city”. The Germans, according to Nichols, told the Division in a message that the town was
“undefended and sheltered 3,000 wounded Germans.” But when Task Force Chamberlain entered Schweich, they fond a devastating array of 88s, [88mm German anti-tank and anti-aircraft gun, perhaps the best overall and most feared of the German arsenal] mined streets, and instead of 3,000 wounded- they found but two German casualties. Nettled by the big lie, the tankers quickly seized Schweich. Shortly afterward, the acerbic Germans rained a steady stream of shells into that “open city”… resulting in heavy Tiger casualties there as the bombardment took its toll.
11 March- after two days of fighting the TF had neutralized the German threat and they returned to Trier.

By March 12 the Division was back together in Trier. They were resting in preparation for the move toward the Rhine.

Co C was assigned in support of CC B during this time. Looking at the battalion’s end of March After Action Report, the capture of Trier and the move toward Ehrang and Wittlich are reflected in the admissions to the three clearing stations. Between 1 March and 9 March over 1,300 admissions are listed, an average of 145/day. The numbers drop beginning on 10 march with less than half that- 615 admissions, 56/day- through 20 March.

    •    Sunday March 12
Got up at 10. Changed the beds. Washed some. It is a rainy day.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman
Reflections
In following my dad, Buddy, through the war I have also read a number of books by others who were in similar situations in World War II. One was the book Battalion Surgeon by the late Dr. William McConahey from Mayo Clinic. Captain McConahey was part of an infantry battalion surgeon medical corps from D-Day through the end of the war. I will be quoting him again later, but this particular quote from the preface of his book struck me at this point.
My horizon was quite limited. The war fought in division, corps, and army headquarters, where personal danger and discomfort were slight, was one of maps and lines and pins and shifting troops here and there- more like a fascinating game of chess. But the war I saw was one of mud and discomfort and suffering and death and terror and destruction.
I have the advantage of books and the Internet to put these stories in some semblance of order. As I read I can find out what happened when and in what order. Even in Nichols’ somewhat over-hyped prose, it all sounds clear and directed. I also know the end of the story. Through it all, though, I keep looking for ways to describe what my dad was going through. This quote does it as well as any. I am sure that the “mud and discomfort and suffering and death and terror and destruction” McConahey describes were real for Dad. Perhaps the transformation in him that war must exact on one’s soul, was why he may have been “Buddy” to his mother, but he was no longer simply a mother’s son.

We are now just shy of 8 weeks until the end of the war in Europe. There is still more of the chaos and destruction to come.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Tuning Slide 5.31- The "Greats" of Making Music

Weekly Reflections on Life and Music

There are three characteristics of a great trumpet player:
1. Every time you play you have a great- not a good- sound.
2. You have great- not good- rhythm.
3. You have great- not good- ears to hear the sound.
— Bob Baca, Shell Lake Trumpet Workshop

n my music study a few months ago I came across an Internet post: 5 Music Theory Concepts Every Musician Should Know. The post had the following five concepts:

1 - Form
You can’t talk about the arrangement of a song without a solid understanding of form and the vocabulary to complement this understanding. I… You won’t get far as a working musician without a solid grip of form and its accompanying terminology.

2 - Functional Harmony
Knowledge of functional harmony will absolutely be the one thing that helps you learn material the fastest. Being aware of chord tendencies will help you predict what the next chord in a song will be, and will help you hone in on mistakes when one player isn’t in sync with everyone else.

3 - Consistent Rhythm
There is nothing more annoying than being saddled with a musician who is always pushing or pulling at the tempo. … It’s all well and good to be able to play in 7/8, but if you don’t have a solid internal clock while you’re doing it, nobody will care.

4 - Ear Training
Being able to hear a musical line, internalize what you think the notes are, then repeat it on your instrument is key to being a successful musician.

5 - Reading and Literacy
Can you be a musician without learning to read music? Sure, it’s possible. Will you be an even better musician if you do learn how to read music? Yes, it’s absolute.

I was reminded at that moment of the Three Greats from the above Shell Lake Trumpet Workshop quote: Sound, rhythm, ear.

◆ Sound
Music is organized sound.
— Edgard Varese
Sound is at the heart of music. Sound is things like tone, harmony, mood, loudness. I have worked hard over the past few years at getting a better sound. For me that meant not being “flat” or “dull” in my music. It included playing with “energy” so the music feels “alive.”

◆ Rhythm
Music is given to us with the sole purpose of establishing an order in things, including, and particularly, the coordination between man and time.
— Igor Stravinsky
Now we are talking about the “beat” and the “tempo.” We have “melody” added along with the feel of the “movement” of the music, the “groove” and the “swing.” One quote I found said that music is arithmetic- we “count.”

◆ Ear/Listening
It's easy to get next to music theory, especially between your peers and music classes and so forth. You just pay attention. I had a good ear, so I realized that printed music was just about reminding you what to play.
— Quincy Jones
When we have worked on our musical “ear”, we can begin to know what it is that the music is doing without sole reliance on printed music. Listening I think makes “sight-reading” easier since we can look at a piece of previously unseen music and know what it might sound like. But it is also the ability to play with others, “blending” the different parts into a complete whole.

◆ All Together
All well and good. Now I had three things that had their own individual areas. But music is not found in three independent boxes; music is the combining of all these and more into the complete music. To be a “great” musician, Mr. Baca was telling us, you have to have all three of those and they need to work together. They are in a relationship. You can’t be “great” with any of them alone.



So I put together this visual for myself and played around with it for a while. Instead of putting each of the three separately, I put them in a “relationship.” As I did some brainstorming (or “mind-mapping” as it is called) is put those other boxes in-between the three different “greats” to show what they had in common- the box between “sound” and “rhythm”; the box between “rhythm” and “ear” and the box between “ear” and “sound.” They all merge into what we call “music.”

I do not pretend that this is either exhaustive or even scientific. It is my idea of what I have been working within these three areas over the years. Again, it is to show that what we call music is a lot of different things that come together. What I plan to do, then, is to take a week on each of the three relationships. First I will explore the things that make up the duo of Sound and rhythm, then sound and ear, and then ear and rhythm. Finally, I will bring them all together into music. Again, not exhaustive, but rather a starting point for myself and hopefully for you to do some thinking, planning, practicing, and discovering what music is for you. The goal is to be a better musician and, I think, to be reminded that it is a very poor experience of reality to put everything into separate boxes and keep them from interacting.

I am sure I will miss some things in this series. It is what I have discovered. Each of us will look at music from a different perspective and see different relationships. That is more than just okay- that is what making music together is all about. Think about it in the next week and I will take on sound and rhythm next week.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Buddy's War #53- Capturing Trier


    •    Thursday, March 1, 1945
Got up at 10. Did not do anything. Went to club. Was awful tired when I came home. Received 3 letters from Buddy.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman
On Wednesday, 28 February the assault on Trier has begun by the 10th Armored CC B. After capturing the hill east of the city they raced down the hill from the northeast. This night blitz, including the dismantling of a roadblock, was accomplished in  the quiet of darkness enabling the Tigers to maintain an element of surprise.

  • March 1 (INS News report by Larry Newman)
Rampaging tank and infantry fighters of the U.S. Third Army’s 10th Armored Division crashed into the historic German city of Trier from three directions and swept ahead to cut off hundreds of Wehrmacht soldiers northeast of Saarburg.
By 0400 CC B was inside Trier. The entire northeast section of the city was deserted and by 0730 the northern section of the city was in the Allied hands.

The massive history available online The US Army in World War II, European Theater of Operations, has a section on The Last Offensive by Charles B. MacDonald. Here is part of the description of the taking of Trier.
In late afternoon, [of March 1] as both CCA's task force and CCB continued to run into trouble on the fringes of the city from pillboxes and 88-mm. antiaircraft pieces, Colonel Roberts, CCB's commander, ordered the commander of the 20th Armored Infantry Battalion, Lt. Col. Jack J. Richardson, to enter Trier along a secondary road between the other two attacking forces. Richardson was to head straight for the city's two Moselle bridges.

    The night was clear, the moon full, and visibility excellent as Task Force Richardson in early evening started toward Trier. Entering the city before midnight, the task force encountered a German company with four antitank guns, but the surprised Germans surrendered without firing. One of the prisoners revealed that he had been detailed as a runner to notify a demolition team at one of the bridges when the Americans arrived.

    Splitting his force, Richardson sent half toward each of the bridges. The northern team found its bridge blown, but the team moving to the ancient Kaiserbruecke, which had stood since the Roman occupation of Trier in the earliest days of the Christian era, reported its bridge intact. Rushing to the bridge himself in a tank, Colonel Richardson found his men under small arms fire from the far bank. Directing .50-caliber machine gun fire from his tank onto the far end of the bridge, Richardson ordered a platoon of infantry and a platoon of tanks to dash across. As the infantrymen complied, a German major and five men ran toward the bridge from the far side with detonating caps and an exploder.

    They were too late.

    It mattered not whether the delay in blowing the bridge was attributable to concern for the historic monument or to the fact that the German officer was drunk. What mattered was that the 10th Armored Division had a bridge across the Moselle.

[Sidenote: In Impact! Nichols adds to the story by reporting that the German major, in order to hide his failure, led the Tigers to seventeen other German officers who were revealing in another house. Hence the comment in the history report on what caused the delay in the blowing up of the bridge.]

    By the morning of March 2, contingents of Combat Commands A and B had swept into all parts of the city, and the prisoner bag increased as sleepy-eyed Germans awoke to find American tanks all about them. Task Force Richardson alone took 800 prisoners.

The Army Newspaper Stars and Stripes told the story of the capture of the Bridge this way:
A Nazi hero, who sat in a barroom while forces smashed toward the bridge he was to protect, fiddled just long enough with his glass to enable the Tenth Armored “Tiger” Division to capture intact the strategically located Romer Bridge… Before the drunken officer could give the order to blow the bridge… the Tenth had taken it— and him.
According to the 80th Medical Battalion’s end of the month After Action Report, well over 350 were admitted to the battalion’s clearing stations in those two days. Company C was following in support of CC B.

March 2: Division HQ is moved into Trier. They occupy one of the more modern buildings that had been the SS HQ.

    ✓    Company C Morning Report
    ✓    3 March 1945
Left Beurig 1425. Traveled 16 miles via motor convoy to Trier, Germany. Arrived 1615. Established clearing station and billeted troops. Roads rough. (MR)
    •    Saturday, March 3, 1945
Got up at 11. Did not do much. Wrote to Ruth. Had a cold or something. Could not talk.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman
Trier was a city rich in history as the oldest city in Germany. It's capture was, Nichols says, "one of the most successful and spectacular battles of the war."
The Tenth Armored's combat performance in this operation was eminently successful. Detailed planning, high morale, and fighting ability all contributed to the significant victory in the Saar-Moselle Triangle and in the capture of Trier.  ... 
 In a signed statement at Nurnberg later German Field Marshals Goering and Jodl declared that the capture of Trier ranked with the Normandy invasion and the speedy crossing of the Rhine as one of the three most important phases of the war. (Nichols)

    •    Tuesday, March 6, 1945
Got up at 10. I guess I feel better. Had a letter from Buddy and Dora. Wrote to Buddy, Ruth, and Dora.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman
7 March 1945: Patton comes to visit the 10th Armored HQ in Trier. To everyone’s apparent surprise, he brings along Eisenhower himself!

Nichols tells us that prior to this visit rumors had been circulating that Eisenhower had sent a directive to Patton that he should not enter Trier:
 Bypass Trier to the south… it will take four divisions to capture it.
Patton then immediately radioed Eisenhower to let him know he had just taken it with one armored division, adding:
What the hell do you want me to do… give it back to the bastards?
Nichols reports this as a “rumor” but relates it with all appropriate quotation marks and ellipses. So I asked myself, “Was it true?” It very well could have been since Patton really wanted to be the first to cross the Rhine- not Montgomery as was the official plan. He pushed and directed the Third Army and took advantage of every opportunity.- capturing Trier was one of those opportunities.

History Warfare Network reports that
By March 1, Patton’s troops had captured Prüm and Bitburg; Trier fell a day later. Ike’s headquarters had estimated that it would take four divisions to capture the former Roman provincial capital of Trier, but Patton was able to send a message saying, “Have taken Trier with two divisions. Do you want me to give it back?”
I would guess there may be more than a little bit of truth in the rumor. In addition, March 1 was supposed to be the day Patton released the 10th Armored from his Third Army. Needless to say, it didn’t happen. It well could be another example of Patton’s ability to circumvent official directives or convince them to be changed.

Another quote from Rick Atkinson (Guns at Last Light) about Patton:
Battlefield carnage always inflamed Patton’s imagination, and the Saar-Palatinate proved particularly vivifying. In Trier, for instance, twenty air raids and Third Army onslaughts had reduced the city to 730,000 cubic yards of rubble. “The desolation is frozen, as if the moment of combustion was suddenly arrested, and the air had lost its power to hold atoms together,” wrote Private First Class Lincoln Kirstein, who would soon found the New York City Ballet. “Hardly a whole thing is left.” The entrance to the old Roman amphitheater still stood and that, coupled with his nightly readings from Caesar’s Gallic Wars, sufficed for Patton to inform his diary in mid-March that he “could smell the sweat of the legions.” It was all there for him: gladiators grappling with wild beasts; legionnaires and centurions “marching down that same road” now carrying his own legions; Caesar himself mulling how best to bound across the Rhine.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Tuning Slide 5.30- Beyond Mediocre

Weekly Reflections on Life and Music

If any of you have a desire to be mediocre,
you will probably find that you have already achieved your ambition.
― Hugh B. Brown

Fortunately, many people do not set out in their lives to become the most mediocre person that they can be. So the above quote lacks some reality. I have to admit though that I have met people who are completely satisfied with where they are at the moment and are making no plans to do anything about it. I guess that such individuals would qualify for planning for mediocrity. I guess it all depends on what amount of work you decide to put into it. The less you do, the more mediocre you become.

Another quote from the book Catch-22 is perhaps a better or a more realistic one.

Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity,
and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them.
― Joseph Heller

Mediocre can be defined as:    
  • being of only ordinary or moderate quality; neither good nor bad; barely adequate. (Link)
Blah. Boring. So-so.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many of us who can be good to great at everything, which means that in some things we do we will be, by definition, mediocre. I know how to swim, but I am poor at it, I’m a mediocre swimmer. I know how to play the guitar, but, at best, I am mediocre. But that does not mean that I have to be mediocre at everything I so or in all areas of my life. Some of this also changes with age. I used to have better eyesight than I do now; today it is mediocre.

On the blog of Music Think Tank, I found a good tongue-in-cheek set of “tips for the typical musician". The author is talking to those who want to get into the music business and many of his tips are business-related. I went through and picked out some of them that might fit most of us. He introduces them this way:

For those of us who embrace shades of mediocrity, here are some tips for becoming a typical musician. (Link)

◆ Practice
⁃ Practice one hour a day. However, feel free to skip practice if there is something more interesting going on.
⁃ Play the same piece over and over again. Never try to deconstruct the music and figure out how and why it works.
⁃ Convince yourself that taking music lessons is out of the question since all your favorite musicians were self-taught.
⁃ Use only tabs and chord charts to learn new songs. Never try to figure it out by ear, it’s simply too frustrating.

◆ Gigs
⁃ Allow your instruments to decay to the ultimate state of disrepair. Only replace broken parts after you have repeatedly cut out during several shows.
⁃ Never listen to fellow musicians on stage. Stay entirely focused on yourself.

◆ Personal
⁃ If you play with others, vaguely explain why you’re the most valuable member of the group and thus most group rules shouldn’t apply to you.
⁃ Get jealous of all fellow musicians who find their way to success before you do. Make sure to complain to anyone that will listen about how much they suck.
⁃ Convince yourself that if you just keep hanging on, another few months, or another year, you will make it. Never stop to take a critical look at your music or live show to see where you are going wrong, or how it can be improved.
⁃ Close your mind to other genres of music because, quite frankly, it sucks.
⁃ Always do the bare minimum required.

I would add one more to the personal- Know that you are the least valuable member of the group and have nothing new or important to offer. Like the quote at the top, if you do that you will turn that into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In any case, the author, Mike Venti, ends the article by getting to his obvious point.

◆ Recognizing this type of destructive behavior is one of the first steps to getting rid of it. Never settle on being typical. Only by being atypical will you command the attention you truly deserve.

A couple of examples from my own journey come to mind. First is that changing my practice routine and mindset really did make a difference in my playing. I was a mediocre trumpet player for years- even when I was good at what I was doing. I remained mediocre in that I never got better. I had no plan, no direction, no idea in any way to change what I was doing. Until I got some direction- and challenge- nothing was about to change. I even remember after one Sunday morning worship when I had played a duet with the organ, I was grateful that I hadn’t made as many mistakes as usual- and I didn’t know why I was so good at making mistakes.

Another was not taking as good a care of my trumpet as I knew I should. Once in a while, I would take it in for a chemical cleaning, but anything more on my part, well, not so much. At one of the Shell Lake Trumpet Workshops, I remember one of the instructors taking the tuning slide out and looking down the lead pipe. I don’t remember the exact words he used to describe it, but they were basically that I would never get a good (i.e. Non-mediocre) sound out of that horn. I cleaned it that evening and have tried to remain better at that. If I don’t take care of my instrument, how can I expect it to play well?

One other step toward mediocrity is to expect it to happen overnight, or at least within a reasonable time, say three weeks to a month. I am now well into the sixth year of this renewed and revitalized trumpet journey. It was only at the end of five years that Mr. Baca basically said, now you’re ready to work on some new stuff. In fairness, Bob, that isn’t what you said. It is what I heard because I knew something had changed in my playing and I was at a different level. Originally it was when I heard myself playing on a video six or so years ago, that I realized how mediocre my playing was. Hearing that I was ready for something new to work on last summer was reaffirming what I had felt- I was making progress. Maybe I wasn’t typically mediocre anymore.

Buddy's War #52- A Busy Week


    ✓    Company C Morning Report
    ✓    25 February 1945

Left Perl Germany at 1520. Traveled 9 miles via motor convoy to Kollesleuken, Germany. Set up Clearing station. Closed bivouac area 1620. (MR)


▪    25 February: Press Communique
The Tenth Armored completely cleared the Saar-Moselle Triangle in four days of slashing attacks, thus setting the stage for a new offensive east of the Saar.
It appears that Company C remained west of the Saar until the next day, no doubt due to casualties and evacuation of patients.

    •    Monday 26 February
Got up at 10.30. Mrs. B fixed my hair. Gee I am afraid we are going to have a flood.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman
    ✓    Company C Morning Report
    ✓    26 February 1945

Left Kollesleuken 1620. Traveled 6 miles via motor convoy to Serrig, Germany. Crossed Saar River 1745. Arrived 1800. Set up clearing station and billeted troops. 117 casualties treated and evacuated. (MR)
This is one of the few times that any casualty numbers are given in the Morning Report. I wonder if that was a way of noting that Company C had that number of evacuations on the same day as a company movement. The way it is written would seem to indicate that the evacuations occurred at Serrig after having arrived at 6:00 pm. In cross-referencing with the monthly After Action Report, the whole battalion reports 130 evacuations that day. It is possible that Company C moved when it did because its clearing station was needed. This would also be indicated by the apparent movement past Beurig where they will return the next day.

    ▪    27 February 1945
The 94th Infantry and its engineers had constructed heavy duty pontoon bridges at Saarburg. This gave one continuous bridgehead from Ockfen to Taben. (See map below)

According to Province’s timelines in Patton’s Third Army, all three of the Division’s Combat Commands were active during this period. By the 27th the 10th will be just 6 miles south  of Trier and by the 28th, within a mile.

    ✓    Company C Morning Report
    ✓    27 February 1945

Departed Serrig at 1350. Traveled 3 miles to Beurig, Germany. Set up clearing station and billeted troops. (MR)
27 February- CC B was located on the heights overlooking Trier from the east. Their covering action appears to have been a life saver for many. Part of what CC B managed to do was, through the initiative of Colonel Roberts, "locate and make passable a cut-off that help speed up the attack." Originally the downhill route had to "navigate a sharp left turn and go uphill- all in the face of withering anti-tank fire…. Tiger vehicles, wrecked and burning, were mute testimony to enemy marksmanship." The cutoff with a sudden turn ended up fooling the Germans who were expecting the Division to continue on toward the Rhine. (Nichols)

  
  ▪    28 February: Press Communique
Tonight the Tenth Armored “Tiger” Division stands on the threshold of Trier- leading elements at a late hour were less than two miles from the city- with four task forces moving steadily along the high ground overlooking this important communications and supply center. Behind the imminent nature of Trier lies a story of bold tactical operation. Eight days ago the division was given the sole mission of clearing the Saar-Moselle Triangle- a mission that was accomplished in two days, catching the Germans so completely by surprise that orders were suddenly issued for the Tenth Armored to cross the Saar…  
Tonight… the entire division is now moving up the southern approaches within striking distance of Trier.
    •    Wednesday, February 28
Got up at 10. Went to the store. Received 3 letters from Buddy of Jan 27 and 28 and Feb 2. The ice went out of the river.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman
~~~~~~~~~
End of the Month
While there are a few more days before Trier is captured, I will pause here to give a quick glance at the end of this month in 1945.

After over a month of waiting, February thrust the full 10th Armored/80th Medical back into war. The 80th Armored Medical Battalion’s end of the month After Action Report shows the change that occurred in battle at the end of February. From 1 February to 22 February the battalion’s clearing stations had 715 admissions with approximately a 40% return to duty. (This is only an approximation.) The last six days of the month saw 1019 admissions with only a 3% return to duty. As would be expected the largest number  of admissions were seen on the 27th and 28th of the month as the Tigers headed toward Trier after clearing the Saar-Moselle Triangle. Hence my comment above on the day Company C arrived at Serrig.

Of the troops of the 80th, three enlisted men were listed as wounded. I am not sure whether any of these were from Company C. The Morning Reports are a little bit unclear and might indicate one such battle casualty. There were no deaths. During the month the 80th received 19 reinforcements- one officer and eighteen enlisted men. Company C reports they received at least 11 of those reinforcements with 9 coming from the 94th Medical Gas Treatment Battalion. This was the battalion that ran the Army Air/Rail Medical Evacuation Holding Unit which was located near Thionville. My guess is that as the Bulge ended, the Allies held more territory, and the war became a more mobile action the ability to evacuate more quickly ended the need for this type of a holding unit.

The recommendations made in the AAR included a call for a “practical system of collecting bodies from the Division clearing stations.” An automated every other day collection by graves registration was suggested. There were 11 deaths in the clearing stations in February. That number would double in March.

Rick Atkinson in The Guns at Last Light, the third in his monumental trilogy of the Second World War, gives us the background of why this concern may have been raised.
As fresh reserves came forward, legions of dead men were removed to the rear. Each field army developed assembly lines to handle five hundred bodies a day; … Innovative techniques allowed fingerprints to be lifted from bodies long buried and for hidden laundry marks to be extracted from shredded uniforms… Reuniting a dead man and his name was the last great service that could be rendered a comrade gone west.
Interestingly one source connected with the Department of Defense says that currently there are about 73,000 still “missing in action” from World War II. That is about 19% of the over 400,000 killed in action. Another source, also using official DoD statistics, lists the number at 10,000 or 2.5% although that may not include those officially listed as “missing in action”, only those as unidentified. There are, for example, no unidentified soldiers from Vietnam and 150,000 from the Civil War in this source. But whether it is 73,000 or 10,000 the loss of life represented in just those numbers is staggering!

Each life is personal. It is hard to think in such large numbers. That “last great service” of Graves Registration can be overlooked in he great scheme of battles fought and wars waged, but to each family whose family member was identified, it allowed closure. Large numbers can numb us to the true nature of war deaths. It is only those we knew personally, or can identify with that bring him the nature of such conflict. That is as staggering for each person as it is in the overall numbers.

General Patton
The 10th was under the direction of the Third Army and therefore the controversial and very famous General Patton. He was either loved or hated! I remember my aunt, Buddy’s sister, speaking in almost reverent tones when she mentioned his name, even twenty years after the end of the war. Stephen Ambrose in Citizen Soldiers: The U.S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany Jun 7, 1994-May 7, 1945 gives a picture of Patton’s almost monomaniacal approach using as an example this period of the Saar-Moselle Triangle and the attack on Trier.
THROUGH February, Patton attacked, whatever the conditions. He was at his zenith. His energy, his drive, his sense of history, his concentration on details while never losing sight of the larger picture combined to make him the preeminent American army commander of the war. …

Patton's worst enemy was the weather and what it did to the roads. The nightly freezes, the daily thaws, and the heavy traffic combined to make them impassable. Patton at one point in early February was forced to turn to packhorses to supply the front line. Still he said attack.

On February 26 elements of Third Army captured Bitburg. Patton entered the town from the south while the fighting was still going on at the northern edge of town. About this time Patton was spending six hours a day in an open jeep inspecting, urging, prodding, demanding. …

History was very much on his mind. In the evenings he was reading Caesar's Gallic Wars. He was especially interested in Trier, at the apex of the Saar Moselle triangle, on his northern flank. The historic city of the Treveri, according to Caesar, had contained the best cavalry in Gaul. Patton wanted Trier. He inveigled the 10th Armoured out of Bradley and sent it to take the city.
We come to the end of February, the re-initiation to battle for the Tigers of the Tenth Armored. They are on the edge of taking Trier and then moving across Germany to cross the Rhine. A great deal will happen in the next 60 days.