(Photograph courtesy of Shelly Wilcutt)
Adrian Hoskins’ Medals and Badges
Jennings Howard Hoskins was born in 1898 and his brother Eugene Hoskins 1901. Jennings went by his middle name Howard. Howard married in 1919 at age 21 with Ruth Hall, age 19 (born 1900). Eugene Hoskins married in 1923 at age 22 with Ethel
Simmons, age 20 (born 1903).
Howard and Ruth Hoskins became on May 6, 1925 the proud parents of Adrian Burr Hoskins. He was born in Auburn, Logan County, Kentucky.
Kathy Wilcutt Hathcock (Adrian was her mother's first cousin) remembers "Uncle Howard as a small man in stature but a huge sense of humor and loved life. Adrain Burr was a little bit on the heavy side as a kid and most of the pictures we have of him as a child, he usually has a dog with him." His grandfather on his dad's side name was Nicholas.
In the 1930 Logan County Census the families of Eugene and Howard Hoskins are listed beside one another on the Auburn/Gasper Road. This would be in the vicinity of the village of Bucksville in north Logan County.
Shirley Engler Sowell said
"my parents were good friends of his (Adrian's) parents. I never knew Adrian as I was born after the War.
I remember a picture of him in his army uniform his parents kept in there living room. I remember looking at it as a young girl and thinking how handsome he was. He (Adrian) was raised on a farm of about 100 acres."
Howard, Ruth and Pvt. Adrian Burr Hoskins
Adrian’s father, Howard, was a Deacon in the Baptist Church in Auburn for many years, commuting from Bucksville. The Pastor of the Church often went home with the Hoskins family on Sunday for the noon meal.
Marie Foley, a person helping me to find more information about Adrian Hoskins, spoke with a man named Glen Tinsley regarding Adrian B. Hoskins on Monday October 10, 2005. Glen, formally of Bucksville, says that the Hoskins lived near Bucksville, Logan County. He knew them well.
Adrian B. Hoskins was an only child, and he was not married. Adrian went to school in Bucksville and went on to high school at Chandlers Chapel. Glen Tinsley was in the same class as Adrian and remembers Adrian’s last day at school before going into the service. Glen remembers that there was an American flag placed on Adrian’s seat at school. After completing 3 years High School. Apparently Adrian loved the service, from accounts that he sent home.
Glenn also said that Adrian was on a glider, going in over enemy territory, when he got killed, but probably this information is wrong if you look at the date he was reported as Missing in Action (and later Killed in Action).
On October 26, 1943, Adrian enlisted in Evansville, Indiana, at age 18. He enlisted for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law.
Adrian Hoskins' Dog Tag
(Picture Courtesy of Rick Demas)
Adrian first went to a camp for processing. After reporting to his local draft boards in response to a Selective Service notification, men were usually given orders to report to the Army’s reception center. The average reception center was often located inside a sprawling installation. The recruit might be there four days or four weeks, depending on how long it took to process him and decide where to send him. The average stay was nine days. Recruits were evaluated mentally and physically so that they could be assigned to a particular branch of service, or even utterly rejected.
By the arrival, the recruits found themselves in a virtual sea of uniforms. They lined up in their civilian clothes, a single overnight bag at their feet, and listened alternately to the jeering of other soldiers and the barking of sergeants. Even as in World War I the boot camp was overcrowded. But with the advent of WW II, the older barracks buildings were filled with dozens of new ones. Men stayed an average of nine days, before being assigned to a particular unit and shipped out to another camp for six weeks of basic training and any additional specialized instruction. They were tested for mental aptitude and physical condition, received a uniform, and got their first taste of the Army. Then, they were marched back to the train station with orders to report to places.
The first procedure was for the men to drop their trousers for an examination of the genitals. The purpose was to determine whether soldiers had contracted venereal disease, and it was repeated regularly, especially whenever a soldier reported to a new post. Next, the men were subjected to a lecture on sexual morality. The men were advised that sex would weaken them and make them easy prey for the enemy. Later in the war, the lecture was replaced by graphic films on the subject of sexually transmitted diseases.
Next, the recruit received his cloths and boots. Inductees were sometimes issued entire WW I uniforms. As a followup to what the recruit heard at the induction office, he now had to listen to a reading of the complete articles, which covered military crimes. Also was some instruction given on military courtesy, as example how and when to salute, as well as some close-order drill, but not to the degree that both would be covered in basic training.
Then came the shots. The legendary injections that men referred to as “the hook”. Generally, these were the first of a series that would haunt a soldier throughout reception and basic, and they started with smallpox and typhoid inoculations. During this same period, the Army General Classification Test (AGCT) was given. A soldier who may have indicated a particular skill, like sharpshooting, would be given a special aptitude test in addition, but, by and large, the AGCT was the most important and was given to everyone. The classic version consisted of 150 multiple-choice questions that had to be completed in 40 minutes. There were three types of questions, embracing block counting, synonym matching, and simple arithmetic. “Liza had 15 books. She bought 2 more and gave 7 to her friends. How many did she have left?” The tests were machine-graded and the scores were used to place or classify the new soldier, which was the main function of such a center. A GI generally got his Army assignment on the basis of what he had done as a civilian. The 15-minute interview with the classification specialist (CS) was as important, sometimes, as an AGCT score. The CS recorded the inductee’s work history, education, and training, as well as the sports he played, his hobbies and his talents. These attributes were considered in the light of the Army’s needs, and the assignment was made.
The real purpose of reception centers (beyond classifying the recruit) was to begin the processes of adaptation and acceptance of the Army lifestyle. The Army liked their men young, since adaptation was easier for younger men. At least a third of the population lived in homes that lacked central heat and running water. The Army barracks offered both. The Army offered three square meals a day, shelter and clothing.
The reception centers were only way stations. Every day, men were shipped in and out, bound for one of the 242 (by 1945) training camps where they would learn the real aspects of soldiering. They never knew where they were send to. They all then made the short or long haul to another Camp or Fort. For all intents and purposes, they were in the Army now and didn’t ask questions. In a few short weeks, they would learned to follow orders.
A Greetings from Camp Claiborne Card
Troops arriving at Camp Claiborne
Adrian went probably to Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, for basic training and his Glider training at the begining of November 1943. The camp was established in 1940 as a U. S. Army infantry training center. A total of approximately 500,000 troops was trained during the period of 1940 to 1945. Training at the camp included the use of small arms, mortars, anti-tank rockets, artillery, and grenades. Late in July 1943, the heavy equipment arrived that would turn the regiment into the 325th Motorized Infantry Regiment. This suddenly changed when the Chief of Staff, General Marshall had decided that the 82nd Division would be an excellent division to use as a base for his proposed Airborne force. General Omar Bradley, because of his excellent work in training the 82nd Division, was to be transferred to the 28th Division which was having a great deal of trouble in meeting its training objectives. General Matthew Ridgway, the 82nd Assistant Division Commander, would become its Commander.
Hutment at Camp Claiborne
The 325th Glider Infantry Regiment was now formed and given the task of arriving into battle by glider. Parachutes could, and often did, wind up scattered for miles on a drop zone. The same held true for equipment and supplies. The glider was the answer to all these problems. As long as a glider stayed in one piece, the items inside it would too. The troops could be put into a glider and land as a coherent fighting unit. Near the end of World War II, Camp Claiborne also housed German prisoners of war (POWs). The camp was closed at the end of the war, and the majority of the land was transferred to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to become part of the Kisatchie National Forest. In addition to this land, a small portion of the former facility was transferred to private owners and Fort Polk.
Left: Patch of the 82nd Airborne
Right: ID of the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment
Morning Exercise at Camp Claiborne
During the time of its introduction to the gliders, the Regiment lost its Commander. Colonel Easley was promoted to Brigadier General and went to the 96th Division. He was replaced by Colonel Harry Lewis who would guide Adrian’s Regiment through its glider training and on to overseas combat.
Glider Patch for Cap
Left: Adrian B. Hoskins' Medals and badges from the front
Right: Adrian B. Hoskins' Medals and badges from the back
(Pictures Courtesy of Rick Demas)
Then after basic and glider training Adrian headed for Camp Shanks, NY. Camp Shanks was also know as “Last Stop U.S.A.”. From there he disembarked probably late December 1944 for ETO (European Theater of Operations). The troops leaving from Piermont Pier crossed the Atlantic on ships. The North Atlantic was a really roughin that time. It was wintertime, with 45-foot waves. Nearly everyone was seasick, including some sailors. All the way across the Atlantic the smell at ship was that bad.
Camp Shanks NY, also know as “Last Stop U.S.A.”
Probably Adrian sailed to Northern Ireland. The men arrived two weeks later probably at Belfast, a bleak port town. Then boarded quaint trains which carried the Airborne men westward to probably Cronmore. Every station had Bovril signs. They were quartered in Nissen huts previously occupied by English troops. The climate was very foggy and the days very short, the sun rose 10.00 hours and set about 16.00 hours.
The Irish were very friendly people. Everything was very cheap there, one could have real eggs, ham, bacon, tea, muffins and even taxicabs for a few pittance. Then the prices raised in no time as the Irish realized the Americans had a lot of money to spend.
Next the troops, among them Adrian, left to England. In England 6-man tents had been erected for the men at Wollaton Park, a suburb of Nottingham, Robin Hood’s old hangout. The Park was turned into a camp for the 82nd Airborne Division shortly before D-day where over 2,000 Paratroopers and Glidertroopers were billeted. The American army built what is now King’s Mill hospital and took over buildings in the surrounding district. The park was later turned over to house German and Italian prisoners of war. The prisoners were usually put to work on the land, whether on farms or digging trenches for the Home Guard.
Wollaton Park, Nottingham
At Wollaton Park in Nottingham, there was a brick wall about seven feet high around the park. It was a nice place, with hundreds of deer and a big lake. Adrian and the other Glidertroopers were in an area also enclosed by barbed wire. Probably to keep the women out (or the men in). There were lots of girls, mostly nice girls – some college girls – waiting outside the Park gate all day. They were there waiting for the troopers to go on leave or to get a pass. Also the older women in the Nottingham area were enthralled. Their husbands had been sent to far away places years ago. The locals were polite and respectful despite the troopers acting like clowns. They would sit quietly nursing a beer while the Americans tossed the pounds around spilling the warm sourish beer on ourselves. A lot of veterans speak very fondly about their days in Nottingham.
Adrian also went with a few Enlisted Mans Passes signed by the Commanding Officer Colonel Harry L. Lewis to Nottingham City and London. Adrian went with a Enlisted Mans Pass to Nottingham City on April 23, 1944 from 9.00 hours untill April 27, 1944, 21.50 hours.
Left: Adrian B. Hoskins' Enlisted Man's Temporary Pass from the front
Right: Adrian B. Hoskins' Enlisted Man's Temporary Pass from the back
(Pictures Courtesy of Rick Demas)
Then the men left from Nottingham, the populace waved to them aware that this was for real. The 325th GIR had been sealed in at Camp Williams a few days before the Invasion of Europe. It was a marshalling area with an airfield 15 Miles northeast of Exeter. The airfield was called Uppottery, taking it’s name from the nearby Devonshire village. The men were enclosed in a guarded and fenced area sleeping on cots in a large hanger with their weapons, ammo and equipment underneath. There was nothing else to do but check equipment, gab, and gamble, study the sand tables, and write letters home. The soldiers all got issued French invasion money and a cloth map. They got served excellent food by a Quartermaster outfit and watched sentimental movies every night.
After the lunch of June 5th toward the evening the men watched the Paratroopers loading up, it took the planes some time to form. The paratroopers were members of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, of the 101st Airborne Division. The Airfield is the same as can be seen in the movie “Band of Brothers”. After the 506th had taken off the men went to bed and tried to have some sleep, which was pretty hard because they knew the C-47 planes they just saw leaving were the ones that would soon be pulling their gliders.
The paratroopers of the 506th had been dropped and were meeting though German resistance. Then the order came to commit the 325th. The planes had returned, and were checked over and cleared to tow the 325th in. Adrian’s Company G would depart in Britisch Horsa’s.
Before the invasion of Normandy, it was feared that the glider forces could face 50%-70% losses before even getting into combat, due to crash landings and the German defenses especially designed to stop the glider landings. It was felt by some that these men were simply being sacrificed for no gain. General Eisenhower insisted that the glider assault take place.
Operation Neptune was the name of the initial Airborne Operation for the invasion of Normandy. The 82nd Airborne was assigned the task of destroying vital German supply bridges and capture causeways leading inland across the flooded areas behind the Normandy beaches where seaborne forces would land to gain control of roads and communications.
Already in the late evening of June 6, 1944, the 82nd Airbrone’s glider troops began to arrive Normandy. Mission Keokuk brought in 32 Horsa gliders from Aldermaston airfield at 2100, seven minutes ahead of schedule. Mission Elmira involved 176 Waco and Horsa gliders arriving in two serials.
At 2.30 hours the men of Company G were awaked and given a quick breakfast. Half an hour later they returned to thier tents and hastily secured thier equipment. Then the men were formed in their platoons and marched to the airfield and the gliders they were to ride in. The march took some time, so conversations started about riding in “Flying Coffins”, “Tow Targets” or “FLAK Hacks” as the gliders were often called by the men.
Inside a Glider
As the C-47’s started with their warming up, Adrian and the others were ordered to load the glider. Everyone was assigned to a seat. The 325th was Airborne at 6.30 hours. It took some time before the planes got into formation and headed to France. The gliders were mostly escorted by P-38’s and British Spitfires. The German Luftwaffe never attemped to attack the armada. Beneath the men saw all over ships in every direction as far as they could see.
The final two glider landings were scheduled in Missions Galveston and Hackensack bringing in Adrian’s 325th Glider Infantry Regiment. Mission Galveston would arrive in two serials of 50 gliders each and while the first would have something of a disastrous landing, the second would fair slightly better, but less than 50% of their equipment would be recoverable. Mission Hackensack, the last to arrive, would bring in the remaining 1,300 glidermen of the 325th GIR and their equipment. Also arriving in two serials, the gliders would begin landing on the 7th at 0900.
After the gliders passed the coast and the pilots saw a good place to land for the gliders they cut loose the Horsa’s and the landed, but the fields was slightly slanted. Problems for the landing were hedgerows, flooded fields and fields sown with mines attached to poles driven into the ground compounded the airborne assault. After the planes braked the men unlocked their seat belts and left the planes. Only 37 men out of Company G (in total 128 men) were accounted for.
Gliders landing in Normandy
Despite heavy anti-aircraft fire, both serials were reached their destinations relatively unscathed with 58 gliders in the first serial landing within five miles of their allotted landing zone and 50 of the second serial landing within a mile of their target. The actual initial losses in crash landings and other causes were only 10-15%, and the glider forces proved crucial to the success of the invasion at sector Utah Beach. Despite the apparent destruction on the ground, the operation was a great success with most of the troops and nearly all their equipment getting delivered to the battlefield. Almost 90% of the 325th GIR’s men were assembled within a few hours.
After the landing the company was ordered to assemble and pass through Chef du Pont. The Company G men made no contact with the Germans for they had landed in the forward lines of the 4th Division. They had received little resistance on Utah Beach. The men from Company G were told to put the bayonets on their weapons for the night attack. That night most of the men found no German resistance.
On the June 8, 1944, more Company G men had joined the company and tried to get some rest. At 23.00 hour Adrian and the rest of the company were ordered to move out at midnight and move north, closer to the town of Fresville.
The La Fiere Bridgehead, 9 June 1944
(click on map to enlarge)
The day after (June 9) they were ordered at 4.00 hour to attack together with the rest of the Third Battalion Le Ham. The third Battalion of the 325th GIR (Adrian’s Battalion) moved toward the Merderet and approached the railway crossing when the order for the attack came down the column of marching men. It passed from man to man so that no one would misunderstand the nature of the assignment: They were to attack across the Causeway, and once started, they were to keep moving. Company G, Adrian’s Company, being first in the column, would lead the assault, followed by Companies E and F. After that, in the formation, came the heavy machine guns, the 81 mm mortars (6 of them) and the other elements of Headquarters Company. The column came to an exposed space at the railroad crossover, but the men all double-timed through there and the Battalion made it without anyone being hurt.
While the order was still being relayed to the rearward files, the preparatory barrage fire opened, and the artillery and other supporting weapons continued their pounding of the western bank as the column moved downgrade along the winding road which led to the River. It was a preparation loosely coordinated in part, yet fully satisfying in its over-all effect. Along the river bank, Captain R. D. Rae and his badly-punished group of men from the 507th Regiment had been having some hours of extra anxiety. Rae had been told early that morning that there should be an attempt to force the Causeway by storm and that either his Company (reinforced) or a battalion from 325th Regiment would draw the assignment; it was a question whether the 325th column would arrive in time from Chef du Pont. They sweated it out through the early hours, knowing that if the other force was not on hand by 1000 hours, they would have to jump-off. Periodically, Rae got reports of the upcoming column’s progress; it began to look hopeful. At 1030, Rae heard the barrage open and he knew that the 325th’s men were moving in to attack. He had already deployed his own men in firing position close to the water’s edge, with the greater part of them disposed to the left of the bridge and along a small rise of ground to right of it. This was according to General Gavin’s instructions; Gavin had also sent word to Rae to keep heads-up when the attempt was made to force the Causeway, and if 325th’s attack seemed to waver, he was to charge forward with his own group, and take over the assault. Now as the Division’s light guns and the 155s of the 345th FA Battalion, 90th Division began to speak from the ground between La Fiere and St. Mere Eglise, the roar and rattle above the swamp of the Merderet mounted rapidly. They were joined by the artillery pieces and machine guns of Company A, 746th Tank Battalion, which after coming cautiously forward under cover of the artillery attack had put its tanks into hull defilade among the farm buildings on the rising ground just above Rae’s fire line. Tile action was hardly begun before the German artillery replied. Shellfire shook the ridge at La Fiere and crashed among the buildings next the river. It seemed to be coming from directly across the swamp and about 1000 yards away. But the precise location of the guns was unknown to the American force and there was no effective counterbattery fire; the American artillery continued to concentrate its attack against the built-up area along the opposite shore. From these same buildings came a small arms fire of such intensity that it “beat like hail” against the American side of the river, threatening anyone who tried to approach the bridge. Rae’s men had already joined this action; every rifle and machine gun was bearing on the likely-looking targets on the far shore. Yet there was no apparent lessening of the volume and deadliness of the German fire.
Adrian’s Company G, 325th, had kept on moving toward the bridge, hearing, yet not feeling, this blast. Until the last 200 yards or so, the road came at the bridge from an angle; the road embankments were high and sufficiently protecting. And the Company had something else to worry about. For the attack across the Causeway, the column had been promised an adequate covering fire of smoke. The men figured that would be pretty important, since they would be charging right into the teeth of the enemy. So they had looked anxiously for the smoke; they had seen a few smoke shells fall, then nothing more. The opposite bank was perfectly clear. The men felt pretty let down about it.
The Company turned the last bend and the road straightened out to the bridge. Instantly machine gun fire swept over them from beyond the Merderet and the men jumped for cover into the ditches on both sides of the road. Captain Sauls saw his men go down, but he figured that for the moment it was useless to get them on their feet again; the stretch of road between him and the bridge was simply a slot of fire and he was sure that if he tried to take his men that way, the attack would crumple before reaching the Causeway. Neither he nor his men had to strain their imaginations to glimpse the danger; in among them in the ditches and along the embankments were about 20 dead from 507th—most of them victims of the artillery. Sauls’ men, looking forward, could see German mortar and artillery fire beating around the bridge.
Sauls wondered if there wasn’t a side road leading into the bridge; he talked to a couple of 507th officers; they could tell him only that they had been taking a beating on this ground for two days and that there were a “hell of a lot of Germans” on the other side of the Merderet. Leaving his company in the ditches, he made a wide reconnaissance around to the left. It took him over about the same ground where Captain Schwartzwalder’s men had gone on D-Day and he found the side road which twisted through the cluster of high-walled farm buildings nearest the river. Captain Rea’s men were deployed over this portion of the shore; so many of their dead were strewn over the road that Sauls had to ask the help of a 507th sergeant in moving some of the bodies so that he could get forward to where the side road turned into the Causeway and so complete his reconnaissance. The road seemed suited to his purpose; it approached the bridge at almost a right angle; the ground was flat and the road would have been under full observation from the far shore had it not been that a shoulder-high stone wall screened it during the last 40 yards. The cover was almost perfect; at one point a German shell had breached the wall for about seven yards and this meant that every man would have an instant of exposure in moving up to the last assembly point. One of the enemy machine guns seemed to be playing its fire around this breach but Sauls decided that the risk was worth taking. He ordered Adrian’s Company G to follow the way he had come. Most of the Company made it without too much difficulty, bounding one man at a time past the gap in the wall. Once past it, the men packed in tight together, hugging the stone wall, so that the first two platoons were compressed into a single line of men not more than 55 yards long. There they waited, crouched over. The American artillery fire continued: the guns were supposed to hold on the opposing shore until the last minute and the fire was then to roll on back as the infantry charged the Causeway. The German artillery was falling just short of the wall; it didn’t bother Sauls’ men but it landed with unusual consistency along the narrow strip of river bank where Rae’s men were deployed. German small arms fire—quite a lot of it—was beating against the wall and bouncing off into the farm buildings beyond the Company. Major Arthur W. Gardner, who had just taken over the Battalion a few minutes before, came forward to see whether Sauls’ men were ready. They were—but they were still fretting about the smoke and wondering whether it would come.
Five minutes to go! By now the aim and concentration of the German fire against the wall were such that the men were certain they had been spotted. S Sgt. Wilfred L. Ericsson was at the head of the column and just behind him was Lt Donald B. Wanson; it would be their job to lead out. Sauls, who was up with them, looked forward and saw the ruined tank and the burned vehicles which had blocked the Causeway and made it necessary for the American infantry to advance without armor; he also noted a number of American mines scattered about near the tank. Then he looked back over his Company. To his eye, the men seemed calm. He winked at a few of the leaders and they winked back at him. One man said: “Let’s get on over to the other side of the river. There are probably some good looking mademoiselles waiting for us”. Some of the others laughed. Sauls raised his hand and gave them a signal as each minute ticked by. At last he held up one finger. And then it came 1045. Sauls held one-half minute extra because the leaders of the column still had seen no smoke. Then he yelled: “Go!”
Infantry crossing through the water
The men had been instructed that as they bounded forward in single file and crossed the 10-yard space between the end of the wall and the beginning of the bridge, they were to peel off right and left and continue running forward in parallel columns on both sides of the road. The order of advance was Second Platoon, First Platoon, Weapons Platoon and Headquarters Platoon. As he shouted the order, Sauls ran forward and became first man leading off on the left. Wason swung over to the right and Ericsson made the mistake of trailing right behind him, followed by his entire squad. Wason yelled back over his shoulder for Ericsson to swing over to the other side; after that, the line alternated evenly. Instantly, as the leaders bounded into the open, they felt fire all around them: it seemed as if it was coming at them from front and from both flanks. The distance to be traversed in the open was 500 yards and Sauls had told them all that their one best chance was to try to take it on the dead run without stopping. He, Mason and Ericsson kept going. Ericsson’s squad trailed along; so did one BAR man from the Second Squad. German mortar shells were falling all along the Causeway as they made their run and it seemed to the running men as if the enemy bullet fire was beating the air all around them. But they ran straight up instead of stooping because they could go faster that way and at the same time, save their wind. For the time being, speed was what saved them. Officers and men said unanimously that safety lay in speed alone and that most of the casualties occurred among men who stopped and tried to find cover as they were crossing the Causeway. Of this first group, all reached the far bank winded, but otherwise unhurt. The American artillery was still shelling the river line and when Sauls reached the end of the Causeway, the shells were falling only 25-50 yards beyond him: it was a danger but it was also a relief and the men were glad to see it holding there. Not even stopping to collect his men, Ericsson continued his run down the trail leading out leftward from the bridge. The men swung in behind him and Ericsson yelled to the BAR man to come up even with him. Sauls stayed at the intersection of the road and the trail; he wanted to make sure that the men would deploy to the left, following Ericsson. Until now he hadn’t looked back to see how many men were following him but he felt that his first duty was to insure the best possible distribution of those who came along. When he first glanced back it seemed to Sauls that the advance of the Battalion was already withering and he sensed that something had gone wrong on the other side of the Merderet. For some reason, his men weren’t coming on. The Causeway curved sharply at about the halfway point and this curve and the tree foliage bordering both sides of the road made it impossible for him to look back and see how the advance was faring. In fact, the trouble was much farther back than that. At the moment of jump-off, there were still a few men of Company G who hadn’t closed up beyond the breach in the protecting wall; there hadn’t been enough room for them. As the leading squads displaced forward and started for the Causeway these men prepared to move past the breach. The first one, Pvt. Melvin L. Johnson, was shot through the head by a machine gun bullet as he bounded past the gap; he dropped dead, and his body, falling across the roadway, shocked and stopped the remaining men of the company and the entire Battalion behind them. They stayed there inert for some time—possibly 10 minutes—solely as a result of this one bullet. In that interval no one seemed capable of action or decision. Impulse was again restored to the command when Lt. Frank E. Amino got up, yelled: “Let’s go on and kill the sons of bitches!” and bounded past the breach. Most of the men then followed him. But the extra wait had taken the fight out of some of the others and they never got going. In the meantime, Sauls’ handful of men on the west bank had been making the best of their rather desperate situation. One hour earlier, when Lt. Col. Charles A. Carrell, the Battalion commander, had given Sauls the attack order, he had told him that he would be attacking the position of a reinforced regiment. Lewis relieved Carrell before he could execute the charge. One of its consequences, however, is reflected in the subsequent action. The Battalion went virtually uncommanded throughout the day. During the crises, those companies were held together almost wholly through the action of the company officers. Now, as Sauls looked about Ericsson, he was aware that scarcely 30 men had come on with him to close against the Germans and that most of these had already disappeared into the fields and among the hedgerows as they proceeded to their assignment.
Lt. Wason had gone straight on up the main road with about eight men following him, at a distance. During his dash across the Causeway he had seen an enemy machine gun firing straight down the road toward the bridge; he wanted that gun. The time soon came when getting it meant a straight dash across an open space toward the German emplacement; he told the other men he would try it alone. The action ended in a dead heat: Wason’s grenade knocked the gun out just as one of the German gunners shot Wason dead. Sauls’ runner, Pfc. Frank Thurston, had gone on with Wason’s party and witnessing his death, had seen another machine gun firing from farther up the road. He returned to Sauls and said: “Sir, I know where there is a machine gun nest; can I go get it?” Sauls told him to go ahead. He went on up to a position near the first road intersection, lay down behind a hedge and shot the enemy crew one at a time with his M-1. He returned to Sauls laughing out loud. ”I got the bastards,” he said.
Back along the Causeway, things wore going least happily for the middle third of the Company. It would have been tough enough in any case. Weighted as they were, the weapons men couldn’t get away to the same running start as the riflemen. The interlocking bands of fire with which the German machine guns had the Causeway covered from us and down the Merderet seemed double the threat to this more ponderous element; the men proceeded slowly, a bound at a time, looking vainly for dirt cover on the almost barren shoulders of the Causeway embankments. And some, falling victim to the stopping habit, decided to go no farther. They lay there fully exposed and vulnerable until the German fire found them; their bodies, dead or wounded, made it difficult for all others to come along behind them. This was the beginning of the choke-up and of immobility, the longer the fight proceeded, the more deadly the passage became. Then in the middle of Company G’s threading of the Causeway, the first American tank tried to come across. The American mines which Sauls had seen scattered near the ruined enemy tank had not been removed by Company G; the Company had been given no instruction on that point. In trying to get around the disabled tank, the Sherman tank exploded one of the mines. The explosion didn’t hurt anyone in the Sherman but it wounded seven men from the weapons platoon. S Sgt. George F. Myers, section leader of the mortars, was struck above the eye by a mine fragment and almost blinded. He jumped up and urged the other men on, though by the time he reached the end of the Causeway he was bleeding so badly that the others made him turn back. Already there were 20 to 30 casualties—the dead and the wounded—strung out along the Causeway. Some of the wounded had crawled down into the shallow drainage ditches which ran along the embankments. These gutters within a short time were completely choked with the wounded and malingerers; thereby was eliminated the only partial cover along the Causeway.
Battle at Chef-Du-Pont
(click on picture to enlarge)
In those minutes the operation hung by a few slender threads. The movement along the Causeway had lost its initial momentum; stagnation was rapidly changing to paralysis; any partial block resulted in yet greater numbers of men jamming the available road space; as there had been no diminishing of the Germans mortar and bullet fire against the Causeway, these traffic blocks enlarged the target; in consequence, casualties mounted rapidly; this burden, in turn, compounded the difficulty of restoring motion to the column. The sight of a few wounded on the road made other men hesitate and stop. Once a few men had stopped, it was no longer possible for those who followed to make the Causeway on the run. That became the very heart of the problem; the rapidly-growing impasse at this narrow defile so gravely threatened the objectives of operation that before long every able-bodied and willing officer from the Division Commander on down was wrestling with it—trying to get the wounded back, trying to urge the faint-hearted to go forward, trying to clear the road again.
But the efforts of the little band of men who had reached the west bank of the Merderet to bring some relief to those who followed weren’t wholly fruitless. They were too few in number to overwhelm immediately any important number of the German fire positions, but step by step they were winning ground.
In turning down the first trail leading leftward along the river bank, Sgt. Ericsson had motioned to his BAR man, Pfc. James D. Kittle, to take position at the nigh corner of the first field on the right and make ready to fire. Ericsson and the others ran on down the trail: he figured that he and his men would grenade the Germans from out of the fire positions behind the hedgerow running parallel to the trail and that as the Germans fell back through the field, Kittle could mow them down. It worked almost that way, though right at the beginning two Germans popped out from behind the hedgerow with their helmets rattling and their hands up. Ericsson thumbed them back toward the Causeway and they went obediently, without guard. The Americans went on a few more yards and then threw grenades over the hedges. The Germans responded in kind; Ericsson and his men went flat; it seemed to them as the German grenades exploded that the concussion was extremely slight and could not do them much harm. Another dozen Germans came from behind the hedge, hands raised: they, too, were motioned back toward the Causeway—and went. These things built confidence in Ericsson’s men. There were more grenadings and more surrenders. In short order, the exodus from the field became general and all resistance ceased in that small area. Others of Sauls’ men had proceeded in the same way against the hedgerow positions along the main road. Some additional power, which was begetting a large number of surrenders, had come with the belated arrival of Lt. Amino and his platoon, who had been held up by the incident at the wall. Sauls sent about two and one-half squads along in the direction Wason had gone, thus establishing the right flank of Company G. They set up a fire position along the main road so as to cover the fields toward the southwest and they also placed some of their automatic weapons so as to counter the fire coming from the buildings to right of the road, around the church.
One of Amino’s men, T Sgt. John P. Kneale, worked his way up to the first fork in the main road. He stood there waving his arms and yelling back at the other men: “Come on! Come on! We’ve got the goddamn bastards on the run”. Sniper fire kicked up the dirt all around him; he paid no heed and he kept on yelling; the men moved on up and past him. To Sauls, Kneale’s stand was the “prettiest sight of the day” and one of the most effective individual actions. But he knew that in his exposed position, Kneale was already pushing his luck and asking for a bullet. His own nerves became taut from this exhibition and he finally ran forward the necessary distance and gave Kneale a personal order to take cover.
Ericsson and his men made a temporary withdrawal after proceeding about 100 yards down the trail; they had just about exhausted their ammunition supply, and Ericsson figured he needed a few more men. He got just about back to the main road when a bullet hit him in the back and eliminated him from the action.
From the beginning, the assignment of Adrian’s Company G had been to clear that part of the enemy front which lay to the left of the main road. Ericsson, Wason and Kneale had all made passes at this assignment, but had been limited by the strength at hand. The elimination of Ericsson coincided with a realization by Sauls that enough men from the Company were now at hand to systematically mop-up the leftward sector. He sent Lt. Amino and some of his men down the trail where Ericsson had been with instructions to clear the fields between the trail and the Merderet marsh and then swing gradually to the rightward. Another group which had followed Sgt. Kneale to the fork in the road was to continue following him down the left turning. This would put Amino’s group and Kneale’s group on courses at first running roughly parallel but gradually converging. As they proceeded, they were to put under fire the hedgerow-bordered fields lying between them and destroy any enemy forces positioned there. Each force was to use its fire in such way as to provide a release for the other.
This simple maneuver was the beginning of order. Back along the Causeway the situation was still fully desperate. Fire beat upon the roadway from both sides and front. The paving and the embankments were becoming littered with the dead and the wounded; such was the congestion that the forces still trying to come across had to move at slow pace. At times they were wholly stopped by the choke of bodies.
View over the Chef-du-Pont Area
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A few of the German prisoners were trying to get to the east bank but, most of them were being killed by their own or by American fire while trying to move against the current. The men of the Battalion said unanimously that they killed the prisoners as they tried to work back across the Causeway. Sgt. Ericsson, looking the scene over, had decided that it was better to lie in a ditch with a hole in his back than attempt that passage. He flopped down near the head of the Causeway and waited for things to change. A friend, 1st Sgt. Harry B. Ready who had just come over the Causeway found him there. That was several hours later. Ericsson had grown stiff and weakened from his wound and could barely move. But he motioned to his own tommy gun as the newcomer went past. “Take that with you,” he said, “you won’t need a carbine over here”.
Once it had crossed the Causeway, Company E’s immediate mission was to deploy to the right of the main road and clear up the area along the river bank to the north and around the church. Thus between the deployments of Adrian’s Companie G and Company E, it was expected to clear up the German fire positions in the immediate foreground and free the Causeway from harassment by everything save the German artillery. Company E was to go forward right on the heels of Adrian’s Company G, First Platoon taking the lead.
The platoon commander, Lt. Richard B. Johnson, took off in advance of his men and arrived on the west bank about the same time as Lt. Amino’s group. He had intended to take a quick reconnaissance of the ground and make ready to send the men along as they got across the Causeway. So as Amino’s men carried on toward their deployment, he closed in on the hedgerow bounding the churchyard and worked his way along it slowly, trying to see some sign of the Germans through the gaps in the row: it was an unprofitable business; the area was being pretty well churned up by mortar fire and small arms fire; he could see where bullets were clipping twigs and branches from the apple trees, but for the moment, he saw no sign of a live enemy.
The first of his men were about 10 minutes in reaching him and during this time he had left very much alone since Company G’s men disappeared into the hedges on the other side of the road as rapidly as they reached the west bank. There had been a slight delay when T Sgt. Henry W. Howell led the platoon almost as far forward as the bridge and then found that his road was blocked by Company G stragglers. As Howell had been given no instructions about passing through any part of Company G, he puzzled over it for a few moments, somewhat in doubt as to whether the general advance had been halted. Then the Battalion S-3 Captain James G. Fogle, told him to take First Platoon through the block and continue on across the Causeway. During the delay, a mortar shell landed along the embankment, just a few yards from the head of the Company. The shell exploded upward and several shards struck Captain Charles F. Murphy’s face; several other men had been wounded; Murphy bled pretty badly, but he didn’t stop to get first aid; partly because of the bleeding, he decided to make the Causeway passage as rapidly as he could, instead of using his personal force from the rear to jockey along the less willing elements; the latter task fell to his Executive Officer, Lt. Bruce H. Booker.
Howell and his group picked their way along like men doing a bending race in slow motion. It was no longer possible for the riflemen to run the distance or even to walk fast; stragglers and some prisoners were moving back toward them, mingled with a few American wounded; other wounded were crawling along the embankments; a few dead were scattered along the pavement. Some of the able-bodied, drained of their courage upon finding themselves wholly exposed and under intense fire during the Causeway passage, tried to find cover behind the dead bodies, there being none better available. So doing, they enlarged the cluster and worsened the congestion. Too, the machine gun and mortar people were fighting their way across and taking it slowly; willy-nilly, and despite the clear intentions of the commanders, the Causeway was becoming a general fire line. Howell noticed that the leader of his own machine gun squad, Sgt. Larry S. Wilson, proceeded by advancing his gun not more than 40 yards at a time, so that in all he must have set up and fired 10 or more times during the passage. It was the same with the other weapons men, though among the riflemen, the movement was slow or rapid, smooth or jerky, almost wholly according to the example set by each squad or small group leader. If the leader moved ahead at a collected pace, it was still possible to get a platoon ahead almost as a body; but if a squad leader lost heart and fell away from the platoon, his men usually fell by the wayside with him.
Lt. Booker, whose task it was to prod Company E forward, had a chance to ponder these things. He at first worked his way up to the head of the Company column and reached the end of the Causeway about even with Sgt. Howell’s men. Aware that a large portion of the Company was lagging, he went on back as far as the Bridge and then began a personal sweep forward, looking for Company E men, but working on Sauls’ men, also. Halfway across on his second trip, he was hit through the calves of both legs by shell fragments; it string-haltered him temporarily and he sat down on the edge of the embankment to wait for a medic to come along and bandage him up. Sitting there bleeding and unable to walk, he continued to wave back to the men strung out along the Causeway to the rear of him, shouting at them: “Get on up there, Godamn it! That’s where the fight is!” Men heard him, got up and moved along. Still, he continued to exhort them. Before he could get his wounds dressed, he saw a group of Company E men beating it back along the Causeway, trying to escape the battle. Shouting and laughing, he pulled his pistol and fired a quick half dozen rounds just over their heads. They turned back toward the fight. The incident, however, by no means closed Booker’s record for the day. He was simply waiting for his legs to cool off. Once bandaged, he was ready to go again and the drive which he had undertaken on behalf of the Company was extended to include the entire force. No other officer played a stronger part in persuading numbers of men to pick up and join the battle.
D-day along the Merderet
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Sgt. Howell kept his appointment with Lt. Johnson. He had lost some stragglers back along the embankments and a few of his men had been hit and removed from the action. But most members of the platoon were either with or close behind him when he reported at the hedgerow covering the churchyard. A few men ran on toward the orchard. Howell stopped to talk with Johnson on further details of the deployment. Then machine gun fire coming from up the road toward Le Motey cut them both down, Howell getting it in the arm and chest and Johnson being wounded in the shoulder. Both men were evacuated back over the Causeway. S Sgt. Frank C. Studant took over the platoon; a few minutes later he was KIA. The fire continued to bear from the west on the ground where the platoon was advancing and there was a considerable, though scattering, rifle fire mixed with the steady whine of the German automatic weapons. The American crossfire had unnerved the Germans and they were begging for a chance to quit when Murphy’s men arrived; the skirmishers going forward saw them bobbing up and down in their foxholes and yelling: '”Kamerad!” About 30 Germans were captured right around the church.
Some men stated later that they were willing enough, but that the Causeway seemed to drain them of all bodily vitality. Though it was not a day of high temperatures, the heat seemed terrible. Once the movement had become a slow march, the passage was more exhausting than when the leaders had been able to run for it. The first files had had only to face the fire: for those who followed, there was the extra ordeal of having to run the gantlet of their own dead and wounded. The able-bodied stopped to give first aid to the wounded; the wounded stopped to tilt a canteen to the lips of the dying. And wherever they stopped, the fire continued to beat about them.
Perhaps 35 to 40 minutes had passed while the first two companies were reaching the state of deployment. It had come time for Captain James M. Harney to lead Company F forward toward the bridge. Yet without Harney’s knowing it, a slight change in plan was already taking effect on his side of the Merderet which was to alter the nature of Company F’s employment and modify its role in the battle. When the Company reached the bridge, Harney noted that except for the one Sherman which had had the encounter with the mine field, the American tanks were still in a hull down position among the east shore farm buildings which were closest to the Causeway. They were firing on Le Motey, the range being about 1700 yards. Harney clearly saw this fire.
The difficulty of the command position had been from the beginning that it was almost impossible to arrive at a clean estimate of situation or to improve the estimate as things moved along. No information was coming back. The sounds of battle on the far side of the river were sufficiently irregular that it was all but impossible to tell whether the 325th was making headway or had suffered another repulse. Almost nothing could be seen of the fighting; the Americans had in fact lost themselves to view among the ditches and hedgerows. Except for an occasional puff of smoke or cloud of dust, the opposite shore seemed normal and motionless. The one positive sign of American success—the German prisoners—had not yet appeared east of the Merderet. The majority had been killed trying to get across the Causeway. How the fight fared along that thoroughfare, those who watched from the east bank could get no clear idea. The choke there tended to make them believe that the issue up front was turning against the 325th; they were not at all sure that there had been any penetrations of the enemy front. The foliage of the poplar trees along the embankments, the curve in the Causeway and the dust and smoke all made it difficult to follow any part of the detail of the action. What few manifestations they saw of the battle made it look as if there had been a recoil and having no exact information as to the kind of misfortune which was besetting the column, they mistook the immobilization of the rearward force for signs of a tactical reversal up front.
General James Gavin
What the higher commanders could not well realize was that the Causeway block was now thickening at an especially rapid rate because the forward position was not developing swiftly enough to permit the absorption even of the relatively few men who were making it to the other side. A situation which seemed to be failing for lack of men was in danger of becoming more greatly confused because momentarily the narrow fighting front had become congested with men. There was a quickly-reached limit to the numbers who could move forward along the ditches and hedgerows without presenting too solid a target to the enemy. Yet of these pressures and responses, an observer on the east bank could scarcely judge. It was a situation in which the local commander had to proceed by guess and by God. At daylight, General Ridgway had committed the task to General Gavin (who had been Task Force commander along the Merderet from the beginning) and had told him that he was to use all means available in the vicinity of La Fiere to cross the bridge and establish the bridgehead. Having completed his artillery arrangements by 0930, Gavin gave further consideration to the nature of his infantry operation. Two points appeared to him to be critical and he discussed both of them at some length with Lt. Col. Maloney of 507th. He knew that he couldn’t risk the chance that 325th’s attack would fail because it went unsupported; so he directed that a reinforced company from 507th should stand by in instant readiness to pick up the charge if the glider battalion wavered. The assignment fell, as already recounted, to Captain Rae’s company. However, Gavin had the offsetting fear that the 507th group, being within sight of the action, might be so carried away by the spectacle of the attack that it would cross the river without proper orders; since he considered that the retention of the position on the east bank would remain of utmost importance until a bridgehead had been made solid on the west bank, he directed that Rae should not lead his men forward until he (Gavin) had given the signal. Maloney was to remain near Gavin at a point about 100 yards east of the bridge where he would await the signal and he would then relay it to Rae.
Having given these instructions, Gavin watched the unfolding of his operation for the better part of an hour, trying to determine where the balance lay. He noticed that the first few men moved swiftly and seemed to get through unscathed; the conviction was strong in him that the more the movement slowed down the greater became the chance that he would suffer a complete reverse. The engineer detail went forward to remove the knocked out German tank which was partially blocking the Causeway. The obstacle did not appear so serious at first inasmuch as there seemed to be enough room for the American tanks to squeeze through. Then the movement of the American armor made its faltering start and the first tank hit the mine as it started across the bridge.
By this time, Gavin had become acutely concerned about the appearance of buckling in his rearward elements. They were crowding up toward the east end of the bridge and the movement forward seemed to lack regularity and order. Gavin didn’t know how things were faring across the river or whether a lodgment had been made. But as he saw it, the feeling of uncertainty had become predominant among the elements of the 325th which had yet to make the crossing.
He gave the order that Captain Rae’s company was to cross the river and try to sweep all stragglers along with them.
But the order from Gavin to Rae did not pass through Maloney. Gavin was standing in the Company position when he made up his mind. He said to Rae: “All right, go ahead! You’ve got to go”. Rae took this order as meaning that the 325th charge had.
Between 80 and 100 men of the 507th received the order, followed Rae out of the position and started across the Causeway. They emerged into a “hail of bullets” as they moved up to and over the bridge; artillery shells were exploding liberally along the embankments. The worst block to their immediate progress was next the damaged American tank where the 325th stragglers had knotted up, instinctively trying to take advantage of the protection of the metal. There was so little free space that Rae’s men would have to elbow their way through.
A few yards further Rae and the leaders of the paratroopers of the 507th stepped out as rapidly as they could, feeling that the speed of the advance was the principal safety factor, and convinced that if their own group once completely lost initial momentum, there would be no chance to restore motion to the men bunched up along the Causeway. But the situation did not clear up instantly; though some glider men joined the column and thereby gradually increased its numbers, quite a few of Rae’s men fell by the wayside. So while the main body kept moving forward as rapidly as the situation permitted, Orwin and a few of the other leaders broke back from the column and worked as “beaters”, encouraging the standstills to get on up and join Rae’s band.
When they had gone more than half the distance to the west shore, Rae’s men saw prisoners coming back, hands lifted. But it made no impression on Rae: he failed to read it as a sign that elements of the 325th had succeeded in closing with the enemy.
On reaching the west end of the Causeway, the paratroopers of the 507th drew rifle fire from Germans along the edge of the swamp to the south of the road; they had apparently been missed by Adrian’s Company G. These Germans were visible. Some of Rae’s men paused in the road and returned the fire from a standing position, without cover. The exchange continued until the Germans were beaten off.
GI's Hiding behind a dead Cow
Colonel Lewis, the Regimental Commander, stood at the head of the Causeway urging the men forward. The crippled American tank was going again and an attempt was being made to hitch it to the wrecked German vehicles so that it could clear the Causeway. It was meeting with some success, but the other American tanks had not put in an appearance, and Lewis was annoyed: he believed if he could get the tanks going, they would sweep the infantry along. He ran on up the hill to see what was causing the delay. Before ever reaching the tanks, he ran into General Ridgway and asked him to use his influence to get the armor forward.
Ridgway first made a reconnaissance and what he saw at the Causeway convinced him that the block was still sufficient to endanger the advance of the armor. He didn’t stop to give an order; he stepped out onto the fire-swept Causeway to see what he could do to clear the wreckage out of the way. For the moment he was a man intent on one thing—using his own hands to repair the situation as quickly as possible. Without realizing it, Gavin was complementing Ridgway’s effort: he had gone on back to the tanks, checked up on their ammunition supply and discovered they were just about out. He did what was needed to get them ready for operations across the Merderet. Adrian’s Colonel, Colonel Lewis, in the meantime had returned to the bridge to resume his task of getting the infantry moving.
Lt. Lee C. Travelstead’s men were all heavily burdened. Encumbered as they were with the heavy machine guns and mortars and the ammunition loads, they had no chance to make either a fight or a run of the passage. It was just a slow, arduous march in which they were fully vulnerable to the enemy fire; by this time mortar shelling was the worst danger; the machine gun fire from the flanks had tapered off considerably, due to the efforts of Companies E and G. “Keep your heads, keep your equipment and keep moving,” Travelstead told them. That was what they did; they never stopped to fire, although enroute they passed a number of light machine gun and mortar crews which were still banging away at the enemy positions up and down the marsh line.
The Shermans came down from the hill and started across the Causeway in the wake of Heavy Weapons Company, firing along both flanks against the marsh line as they proceeded. The hour was about 1200. Most of the wounded had been cleared over to the embankments and the infantry stragglers who remained automatically gave way, or joined the movement forward, as the armor came slowly on. The tanks made the run unscathed though in the meantime they had been overtaken by the CP group, bringing up the rear of Adrian’s Third Battalion. In the beginning, Captain Lewis S. Mentli (later KIA) saw his opportunity and as the CP group came onto the Causeway, he and his officers worked through the last patches of stragglers, urging them to get underway and finish the march while they had a chance to use the protection of the armor. When this last clean-up gained such momentum that it bid fair to carry itself, Mentli and his own group stepped out and got ahead of the armor.
So far Adrian’s Third Battalion of the 325th Regiment had been largely leaderless and its several components had moved tactically on their own initiative, once they reached the western shore. Too, Rae’s company, suddenly precipitated into the action, was acting in an independent role. Each small band took up a sector and then proceeded to deal with its local situation in detail. It was surprising, in view of the general circumstances, how quickly an orderly pattern began to develop from these diverse operations.
It happened that way largely because junior officers, in the emergency, were capable of fast thinking on their feet. Having made his decision to continue down the main road with Company F, Captain Harney saw a knot of men from Adrian’s Company G—three cooks and a radio operator—standing at the road fork, doing nothing; he added them to his force and was glad later that he did it, for the cooks fought with “unusual courage” throughout the afternoon. The Company then continued on along the road, spraying the hedgerows with automatic fire as they moved along and grenading the edges of the fields where there were likely to be fire positions. Rae had been coming along behind and as the two groups got on up to the crossroads, thus coming into ground which had not been swept by any of the earlier-arriving companies, Rae asked Harney how he had better employ his men. Harney told him: “Take all of the men now moving along on the left side of the road, pass down the trail leading to your left and make contact with Company G’s right flank. After making contact, move forward to the high ground and take up a defensive position”. Lt. White and his group of 18 men from Company E, taking the same road, had arrived at the same intersection. Harney told him to take his party out along the road leading to the right and try to make contact with the First Battalion which was presumed to be still pinned by German fire in the area where Colonel Timmes’ party had been held inactive. That done, White was to clear the high ground to his front and take up a defensive position. As Harney figured it, the movement thus outlined was certain to leave some enemy groups on his rear, but he felt that he could save time and round out the general position with least loss by “squeezing” these Germans between his own skirmishers and the advancing lines of Companies E and G.
Infantryman firing his M1
In Adrian’s Company G’s sector—the area immediately west of the Merderet and south of the main road—the action had moved along moderately well, though Captain Sauls was worried by the knowledge that his ammunition was running low and that his communications were bad; in fact the skirmishers were keeping abreast of their situation by grapevine alone, word of what was happening being passed back from man to man. The Company had progressed about 200 yards along the road which forked to the left by the time the tanks had crossed the Causeway. The main body was still without word, however, as to how Lt. Amino’s party was faring when Captain Sauls got an order by runner from Colonel Lewis to report back to him; Lewis had heard nothing from the Battalion Commander (it is to be remembered that he had made a change in the Battalion command just as the Merderet crossing started) and he was worried that the situation might be slipping out of hand. Sauls met Lewis at the head of the Causeway. Lewis was sitting on a low stone wall talking to General Ridgway about the advisability of setting up a CP in the orchard next the church. While they were discussing whether the situation was safe enough for it, Pfc. Kenneth Lynn came out of the orchard herding 25 prisoners which he had captured within 100 feet of the spot where the two commanders were talking and which Company E had overlooked in its sweep to the right. Lewis told Sauls how and where he wanted the Battalion position established (toward which consummation Harney and Rae had already taken steps without waiting for Lewis) and he added that if the Battalion Commander couldn’t be found, Sauls was to take over. Sauls noticed that Sgt. Irwin had set up his 81 mm mortars close to the main road at the base of the area over which Lt. Amino was proceeding. He then started back to rejoin Sgt. Kneale and the advanced element of the Company.
That group had come in check during Sauls’ absence because of strong machine gun fire coming from positions farther along the road. Kneale, finding that the other men were reluctant to go forward, left them and worked out alone to a point 50-70 yards in advance of the group. There he was joined by two of Rae’s officers coming in from his right front. (It is a curious fact that these officers though apparently of the party sent to make contact with Company G, after making the physical contact seem to have become so engrossed in Company G’s fight that they did not send Rae word of the contact.). Sauls got back to Major Moore and told him that unless Company G, Adrian among them, got ammunition, it would have to pull back. While he was reporting, Knutson came by on one more trip, his jeep and trailer loaded with ammunition. Sauls sent him on up to the group. When Knutson got there, the Company G was again engaged. Knutson asked: “What are you firing at?” Goodson said: “Antitank gun.” Knutson asked: “How far away?” and Goodson replied: “One hundred yards.” The trailer was dropped and the men turned it upside down to do a quick unloading. The jeep, backing away meanwhile, made its turn-around almost in the same motion, hooked on to the empty trailer and was on its way before the enemy had fired a round. It seemed a miracle to the men that the jeep got out. The mortars began to fire again and in a few minutes the AT gun went silent. The men went forward. Coming to a trail leading rightward, they advanced along it for about 300 yards; they found no enemy and so they came back to the main road.
A few yards short of the bridge, the G Company group was again stopped by machine gun fire. On order from Goodson, Pfc. Leonard Reel circled the hedgerows on a wide sweep to the flank, then moved back toward the road so that he came out finally in rear of the enemy position: in 10 minutes he was back with 30 prisoners formed in column of threes.
The group then turned left into a field and waited for Lt. Amino to come up from the left flank. It was about 1500 hours. Within a few minutes Amino saw their smoke signal and joined them. His own excursion had been relatively uneventful. The Company then moved back out the trail running to rightward of the road, searching for the flank of the force in the center.
The juncture was made and Company G distributed itself along the hedges abounding the trail.
Two Soldiers moving along a Brickwall
While Adrian’s Company G had been rounding out its mission, the forces under Harney and Rae which had been maneuvering in the vicinity of Le Motey had met a temporary setback because of circumstances which were quite beyond anyone’s calculation. General Gavin had figured that the village itself was the most likely rallying ground for the Germans; under the cover of the buildings reenforcements from Amfreyville or farther west might effect their assembly and launch the expected counter-attack against the not-yet-fused groups which were gradually consolidating the bridgehead. The artillery had been ordered to move its fire back to Le Motey and then to hold there for a period, thus interdicting the principal roads leading into the Causeway. But as has already been explained, Harney, not finding ground in which to deploy his troops in the foreground of operation, went straight down the main road instead of mopping-up behind the other companies. Rae’s group followed in behind him, and additional troops, including Travelstead’s party and ten more men from Rae’s company, were strung out for another 300 yards to the rear. This meant that although they had no apprehension of it, they were moving into their own artillery fire. Of this, the artillery of course knew nothing, and the lack of radio communication between the infantry and the guns broadened the danger.
The front of the column was moving into Le Motey when the fire came down. Being among the buildings, the group suffered only a few wounded from the first salvo. But Rae immediately pulled his men back from the village and then went looking for a tank to see if he could get a radio message flashed to the artillery. He ran into Adrian’s Colonel Lewis and General Ridgway engaged in conversation near the church and was told to set up his group in the vicinity of the church as a general reserve. Travelstead, before submitting to his wounds and quitting the battle, sent three different runners to the artillery. Harney tried runners, a tank radio and orange smoke also, but all were equally unavailing. A curtain of their own artillery fire continued to bar the way to the high ground which the infantry coveted.
Harney redressed his line along the first convenient hedgerow short of the area beaten by the American gunfire and for the next 30 or 40 minutes he tried to make things as snug as possible. One of Travelstead’s gunners—Sgt. Harold J. Lowe—was still with him, anchoring the right flank. Rae had pulled back, taking not only the 21 paratroopers who had been in Le Motey, but most of the paratroopers who had worked leftward from the main road (and had still not reported contact with Company G.) This widened the already considerable gap on the left and lessened the chance that he would join flanks with Adrian’s Company G. Too, some 15 or 20 minutes after the artillery fire had interrupted the advance, Lt. White had decided that he didn’t belong forward and had withdrawn his 18 men to the area where Company E was employed, just westward of the marsh. That stripped Harney of support on both sides. There were other disturbing changes in the situation. Company F was now drawing considerable small arms fire from the Le Motey buildings and Herney’s mortars were doing their best to cope with it. So far, there had been no demonstration by the German infantry, but it seemed to Harney that his position and numbers were such that he was simply inviting an attack. He counted noses: There were 50 men from Company F, 16 from Headquarters (mainly heavy weapons men), 12 from Company G and perhaps a half dozen paratroopers; the latter were off on the left. Most of the force was sound though a few of the wounded had remained in line. Harney went on back to the churchyard and told Major Gardner that he had better get Company E forward to support Company F’s left if he expected the ground to be held.
When he returned to the fire line, it seemed to him from the way the German fire was building up that their infantry must be flooding back into the buildings at Le Motey; American artillery fire was still falling on the ground just short of the village. Harney continued to wait for Company E, and in the meantime, with the hope that he could find Company G’s flank and lean on their strength, he sent out a six-man patrol under Lt. Archie B. Noel to reconnoiter the fields and hedgerows to the left. The patrol moved only a short distance—perhaps 100 to 150 yards. Then it was ambushed from among houses which had previously been cleared by RAa’s men; it was nearly a complete job; two men were killed and two wounded. But a disaster was averted by Pfc. Henry L. Henderson who sprinted across the road in the face of enemy rifle and machine gun fire, picked up a BAR which had dropped from the dead hand of Pfc. Joseph W. Woodbury and poured a covering fire to the front so that Noel could get back and warn the Company that the Germans were coming around their flank. About one platoon of Germans were already well launched on this maneuver which would have put them on Company F’s rear. All of this time, the fire against the Company from front and right flank had increased in volume.
Soldier firing his weapon
With neither sensing the other’s presence, Companies E and F swung around each other like the outer edges of the same half of a revolving door. Harney did not know that Murphy was coming forward well over on his left; Murphy did not know that Harney was falling back well over on his right. Because of the intervening hedgerows, neither saw anything of the other’s men. Because it seemed a more favorable line of approach, Murphy’s men went forward along a hedgerow which ran perpendicular to what would have been the extreme left flank of the company position. Without incident, they got up to the hedgerow line immediately east of the sunken road which led into Le Motey, and along that line, they began to feed off to the right. Seeing nothing of Company F in that direction, Murphy sent a patrol rightward to look for the friendly flank. Harney was at that moment taking up his new position, two hedgerows to Murphy’s right rear.
Perhaps two minutes went by. The line had just finished extending to the right. Then from that same flank a heavy and direct enfilade fire—automatic fire, coming out of the orchard—hit into the top and sides of the embankment which was supposed to be covering Murphy’s men. Two or three guns were raking the position from slightly higher ground not more than one hedgerow distant. Murphy’s men were in a ditch and the superior position of the Germans made it impossible for them to raise their heads to fire. Then several rounds of smoke fell between Company E and the German position; the Americans took it as a sign that a counter-attack was coming.
Murphy shouted an order. What he said, no member of the Company heard clearly. But the leaders of the Second Platoon who were nearest him took it that he intended for them to move back one hedgerow to a position which was on slightly higher ground and not directly in line with the enemy fire. They were just guessing at it but it seemed like the best thing to do. So they made their exit via the left flank and went to the new position promptly and in an orderly manner. But what was said and what came of it were completely misread by the First Platoon over on the right. They thought the left flank had cracked and the thought panicked them. They got up and ran for the main road, heading toward the Causeway; their leaders went with, or after, them.
Adrian’s Company G, which had completed its work under Goodson and Amino and had then moved rightward looking for the nearest friendly flank, had come just far enough along the trail to see these things as they happened. Concluding that the contact had been made, the Company halted and Sgt. Malak set up his three 60 mm mortars. As Company E broke back from the forward hedgerow, German artillery and small arms fire found the Company G area. Malak began working his mortars, at first centering on the orchard, then traversing the fire along one line at 200 yards range so as to cover the front of both companies. It was his feeling that his mortars, fired in battery, kept the enemy from coming on.
But the counter fire from Malak’s battery couldn’t check the running men. T Sgt. Leonard Slater of Harney’s outfit was moving along the road, going back to get some heavy machine guns, when he saw the Company E men—about 25 or 30 of them—coming toward him at a run. He realized instantly that unless something was done to stop the rout, it might sweep the whole front. Coming up the road was a paratroop lieutenant. Slater yelled at him: “For God’s sake stop them if you can!” They had already run past three fields and were passing the hedgerow beyond Harney’s line when this happened: Harney’s men had seen, but had held their ground. Sgt. John M. Harrison of Headquarters Company, who was with the 81 mm mortars near the road, saw them go by. One man yelled: “They’re counter-attacking and we’re getting out.” But as Harrison started to follow them out, intending to look for a hand or two who could help him move the mortars back, he saw the paratroop lieutenant standing squarely in their road and brandishing his pistol. “You’ll keep your goddamn asses right where they are.” He shouted so loudly that Harrison could hear him above the sounds of battle. “Some of my men are up there and none of you men are going to pull out.” The group came to a halt and looked around uncertainly. None of them tried to argue. Harrison tried to go by and the lieutenant at first checked him, then let him proceed, so that he could arrange to get the mortars out in case the panic showed signs of spreading. “But these riflemen will stay right here!” the lieutenant said. Lt. White quite gradually got his men in hand and the paratrooper relinquished control. Moving on the inside of the hedgerows, however, a few of them got all the way back to the Causeway. Somewhat more than an hour later White got his group back on line and tied in with the force under Murphy. The front was now fairly well knit between Companies G and E, though Harney, on the right, remained displaced several fields to the rear.
Throughout the next hour the Germans continued to pound the Third Battalion’s forward lines. But the German infantry did not advance and there was no material change in the American situation except that Harney worried because he was not covered on the right flank, moved 16 men across the main road and put them behind a hedgerow on the other side so that he would have additional fire power and observation. Rae’s patrol got to Timmes’ group without difficulty and confirmed what it had already suspected—that Timmes was no longer in need of help. The forcing of the Causeway appeared to have removed the pressure from this area quite automatically and it is conceivable that the troops which had been keeping Timmes’ men and the First Battalion of glider infantry immobilized had been drawn off to strengthen resistance in the center of the bridgehead around Le Motey. Quite suddenly the situation cleared for the men in the orchard; by the time the patrol got there, they could have walked out of the position. Now, however, there was no longer any need for Timmes’ people to move. The bridgehead had to be extended in that direction and Timmes was on the right ground to take over the right flank. He and his men stayed in place.
Just after 1800, the Germans made their die-away effort. Steady mortar fire began to hit into the hedgerows where Companies E and F were positioned, with most of the heat failing on Harney’s men.
From the CP near the church, the sounds of the German attack seemed near and impressive. Colonel Lewis had collapsed from sheer exhaustion and his Executive, Colonel Sitler, had taken over the command. Sitler looked out toward the road and saw a few infantrymen moving toward the Causeway; they said there was another counter-attack and the enemy was driving a wedge into the American lines. Was Sitler set about collecting scratch local reserves from among his Headquarters personnel and the engineer detachment, he heard a tank rumbling back toward the Merderet. Sitler kept at his task. A few minutes later he heard what he thought was another tank go by. But he had no chance to inquire into cue circumstances. Had he done so, he would have learned that it was the same tank and that it was running an ammunition shuttle to the Battalion. Instead, he gathered the impression that the armor was pulling out under pressure from the Germans and he felt that the effect would be fully demoralizing to the men on the fire line. He called Division and told them that his situation was rapidly worsening and that he wanted them to send whatever help was available. Thus while the battle line situation began to brighten after a few minutes the Headquarters impression of it darkened steadily through the next hour.
Oddly enough, in the brief interval ensuing between the onset of this last attack and his own physical collapse, Colonel Lewis had taken the final steps essential to the filling-in and reorganization of his own line. He went to Captain Rae and told him that he was being counter-attacked on both flanks and that he needed more man-power on the fire line. Rae asked that Lewis be specific as to where he should put his men. Lewis replied: “I can’t tell you in detail. I haven’t time. Go up and find a hole in the line and plug it.” So Rae moved westward from the church until he came to the third unimproved road; there he built up a line running northward from the main road. Harney’s men on the right flank were just about 50 yards to the front of this position into which Rae deployed about 80 men. The ground did not seem to be under any special pressure at the time, though the enemy was giving it steady mortar fire and there were quite a few machine pistols popping away beyond the hedgerows. Rae’s men in the reserve line saw nothing of the opposing infantry.
Soldiers in reserve watching the Line
Adrian’s Company G’s role in the repulse had been limited to aiding with mortar fire. Along Company E’s front the pressure was also relatively light, the effort of the Germans being directed evidently against that portion of the front where the line was thinnest and most retarded. But the Germans never really found Harney’s open flank. Only a few got that far and they didn’t return to their comrades.
After the arrival of Sitler’s disquieting message, General Gavin got up to the bridgehead as fast as he could. He wanted to know what had gone wrong and he moved right up to the frontline foxholes to find out. A brief reconnaissance reassured him; he could feel that the whole situation was clearing and that the hour was ripe for offensive action.
After Harney’s men took Le Motey the night was relatively quiet there. The position—which was in effect an outpost beyond the bridgehead—was not attacked. However, the Causeway and the rear area of the bridgehead were shelled through out the night.
At 0200 on 10 June, Colonel Sitler got word that he was to provide guides to escort the 357th Infantry, 90th Division, which would come through 325th’s position shortly before dawn. At 0400 the Second Battalion of 357th started across the Causeway and within the hour the relief was well underway. In this manner was completed the initial mission of 82nd Airborne Division. The Merderet barrier had been finally surmounted and the bridgehead to west of it was the springboard to the further pursuit and destruction of the German Armies in the West.
“The Forcing of the Merderet Causeway at La Fiere, France” (9 June 1944)
”These facts were developed at a battalion critique in Leicester, England, on 2-3 August, 1944, with all surviving officers and NCOs present. In the narrative, the witnesses are self-identifying.”
Historical Manuscripts Collection 8-3.1 BB 4
Center of Military History, U.S. Army
Soldiers walking by KIA German Soldiers
The Airborne and Glider troops continued their ferocious fight as infantrymen for 31-33 days after landing at Normandy. The Airborne troopers were moved back to England aboard Troop landing ships (LSTs), arriving in Southampton, where they were met by brass bands and cheering crowds crying “God bless you Yanks.” Trains took them to their old billets, in the same towns they had left just five weeks earlier, where they received ten days rest and relaxation before resuming training and taking on replacements. The price of the Normandy Campaign was expensive; of the 12,000 82nd Airborne Division dropped of glided into Normandy, 5,245 were killed, wounded, captured or missing. They had cost the Germans dearly by inflicting many more casualties and destroying a large amount of needed equipment. But most important, the 82nd Airborne had choked off reinforcements for the Germans defending the French Coast. Instead, the All Americans’ presence provoked panic and prevented 35,000 to 40,000 German troops from rushing to the sea where they were hardly needed.
During the war the Glidermen of the 325th were part of the 82nd Airborne Division, but unlike the Paratrooper units of the division, they did not receive the $50 extra “Jump Pay” bonus a month. This slight was remedied after the Normandy invasion when the higher-ups realized that arriving by glider was indeed as dangerous as, in fact perhaps even more dangerous, than parachuting behind enemy lines! But before that, to protest this situation this song was created:
One Day I answered the popular call
And got in the Army to be on the ball.
An infantry outfit, foot-soldiers and all,
Is where they put me to train.
They gave me basics at Camp Clairborne,
There I was happy and never forlorn,
Till they split us up and made us Airborne,
But the pay was exactly the same!
Once I was happy but now I'm Airborne,
Riding in gliders all tattered and torn.
The pilots are daring, all caution they scorn,
And the pay is exactly the same!
Once I was Infantry, now I'm a dope,
Riding in gliders attached to a rope.
Safety in landing is only a hope,
And the pay is exactly the same!
We fly through the air in our flying caboose,
Its actions are graceful just like a fat goose.
We hike on the pavement till our joints have come loose,
And the pay is exactly the same!
We fight in fatigues, no fancy jump suits,
No bright leather jackets, no polished jump boots.
We crash-land by glider without parachutes,
And the pay is exactly the same!
We glide through the air with "Jennie" the jeep,
Held on our laps unable to leap.
If she breaks loose our widows will weep,
And the pay is exactly the same!
We glide through the air in a tactical state,
Jumping is useless, it always too late.
No chute for the soldier who rides in a crate,
And the pay is exactly the same!
We work in Headquarters we sit on a chair,
We figure our tactics and take to the air,
We fly over "Jerry" and drop in his hair,
And the pay is exactly the same!
We hike and we sweat, and we load and we lash,
We tie it down well, just in case of a crash,
We take off and land, and climb out in a flash,
And the pay is exactly the same!
We glide through the air with the greatest of ease,
We do a good job and we try hard to please.
The Finanace Department we pester and tease,
But the pay is exactly the same!
As soldiers of the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment swooped down to Normandy, other elements of the 82nd Airborne Division were in the process of capturing the town of St. Mere Eglise on an Airborne Operation behind enemy lines. It was for the success of their effort that the soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division were awarded the red and green braided French Fourregerre.
Company G after 31 consecutive days of combat, without any replacement, it was finally relieved. There was an officer and 5 enlisted men left. The 325 Glider Infantry Regiment was awarded The Presidential Unit Citation for this Operation.
DUC for the 325th GIR's Actions in Normandy
The troops went to a tent camp in Leicester (near Wollaton), there they stayed untill their next glide into occupied Holland. Word was that a black quartermaster outfit was in the area “entertaining” the local girls, now the invasion troops almost all left England. Furloughs in order, many went to London. The men had a great time running wild after their stressful fighting in Normandy. When the pubs called “time” they’d stock up on beer. The M.P.’s stayed clear of the men.
In September, the 325th GIR was informed that it was going to make a glider landing in Holland, code named, Market Garden. The commander was General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander in the invasion of Europe during World War II. The operation was an airborne attack deep in the Germans rear areas to be launched in mid-September 1944 (Market) in conjunction with a ground attack by the British Second Army (Garden).
The airborne attack was designed to lay a carpet of airborne troops along a narrow corridor extending approximately eighty miles into Holland from Eindhoven northward to Arnhem. The airborne troops were to secure bridges across a number of canals as well as across three major water barriers-the Maas, the Waal (the main downstream branch of the Rhine), and the Neder Rijn (Lower Rhine) Rivers. Through this corridor were to pass British ground troops in a push beyond Arnhem to the IJsselmeer (Zuider Zee). The principal objective of the operation was to get Allied troops across the Rhine. Three main advantages were expected to accrue: cutting the land exit of those Germans remaining in western Holland; outflanking the German’s frontier defenses, the West Wall or Siegfried Line; and positioning British ground forces for a subsequent drive into Germany along the North German plain.
Glider Infantry preparing for the Attack
September 17, 1944, Market Garden started. Delayed a week by bad weather, the 325th GIR landed September 23. Company’s G takeoff was normal. Soon they flew over the North Sea. The noise inside the cloth covered CG-4a glider was deafening. There weren’t many windows in the glider, just a few small round ones. The troops all sat along each side of the glider and as the C-47 airplane towed them near enemy territory, they got heavily attacked by German FLAK. The gliders were also under attack by some German Fighter planes, but Allied Fighter planes made it the Germans almost impossible to attack the gliders.
Gliderplanes landing in the Field
Soon, the company was out of range of the enemy’s shore defenses and it was time to be concerned about landing. G Company’s LZ (landing Zone) was LZ O, near Nijmegen, Holland. Gliderborne assaults, however, were not without their risks. Gliders and their tow planes were slow, fat targets. They had no armor to protect the men inside. Landing in a glider was also an adventure and little more than a controlled crash. Even if the pilot had the time and altitude to select a good spot to land, conditions on the ground of which he might be totally ignorant could wreck a landing. Ditches, wire, fences, tree stumps or a host of other possible ailments could flip, twist, or gut an unfortunate glider. They were deployed to hold a line located behind a row of houses at the edge of the town of Groesbeek, near the Kiekberg woods (near the Reichwald Forest).
On September 24 the 325th relieved the 2/505th PIR in position along the Maas-Waal Canal. They were to protect the Heumen Lock Bridge. We teamed up by twos and dug in watching the line night and day. Several patrols were sent out nightly. One patrol located Germans and the next day G Company engaged them in heavy fighting. In the G Company’s sector were many dead bodies from both, American and German, sides lying around in a small draw. Rifle and machine gun fire was particularly heavy while it lasted, but the enemy finally retreated toward evening.
Map of Airborne Assault in Holland
(Click on picture to enlarge)
Between September 27th and 30th the 325th was involved in the Battle for Kiekberg Forest (woods). The area was full of steep hills and valleys. G Company was ordered to clean out a contingency of Germans who were well entrenched on a densely wooded hillside. Three quarters of the way up the hill the enemy was dug in and camouflaged so effectively as to be nearly invisible. Adrian probably fought on the right flank advancing up the slope until Adrian’s unit was within 20 feet of the German foxholes. The Germans were hard to spot, unless a black helmet came out of the ground for couple of seconds. The mortar fire was particularly devastating since many of the rounds exploded in the trees, showering shrapnel over a wide area. The damages demanded a temporary halt and was mutually agreed upon. Word was received that G Comapny’s Company Command Post had been hit and wiped out.
By September 30, 1944, half of the forest had been cleared. However, the men were ordered to retreat. The Dutch underground had informed General Gavin, Adrian’s general, that a main attack would occur that night. The night was pure hell. The 325th held their ground against the German 190th “Hammer” Division. Somewhere during that battle Adrian died, at age 19, after exactly one week of fighting in Holland.
Pvt. Adrian B. Hoskins reported as Missing in Action from 30 September 1944 on. Adrian's Parents were notified about their son's MIA status on October 24, 1944.
Adrian's Missing in Action Form, Company G, 325 GIR, 82nd Airborne
(Picture Courtesy of Rick Demas)
Adrian's Battle Casualty Report, notice he is still reported as MIA
(Picture Courtesy of Rick Demas)
On October 2, the 325th attacked the Mook plains until they reached the hamlet at Katerbosch. The fog that had concealed the men was lifting and they were in the open without cover. Heavy losses ensued. The men dug in and were in the area for several days. Eventually the men ended up at Wylerbaan Road northeast of Groesbeek. Here they rotated from the front line to reserve. During this time the men had to put up with the fog, rain, mud, mortar, and artillery attacks.
Glider Infantry on the Move
Adrian’s glider attack turned the tide of battle and earned the Regiment the Distinguished Unit Citation and the Dutch Lanyard.
Private Adrian B. Hoskins, 19 year old son of Mr. and Mrs. Howard Hoskins, Auburn Route 2, who was previously reported missing in action the 30 of September, 1944 in Holland, has now been reported killed on that date. He was a member of the pleasant Hill Baptist Church.
In loving memory of our daring son, Adrian B. Hoskins, who gave his life for his country, Sept. 30th, 1944.
We always sit and think of you
And of the way you died,
And that you never said goodbye
Before you closed your eyes
The blow was hard, the shock severe;
We never thought death so near
And only those who have lost can tell,
The pain of parting witout farewell.
Sadly missed by Mother & Dad.
After the war ended in Europe Pvt. Adrian Hoskins was reported as Killed in Action. "The individual named in this Report of death is held by the War Department to have been in a Missing in Action status from 30 Sep 1944 untill such absence was terminated on 8 June 1945 when evidence considered sufficient to establish the fact of death was received by the Secretary of War from a Commander in the European Area."
Adrian Hoskins' Report of Death, Notice that his status is now KIA
(Picture Courtesy of Rick Demas)
Adrian Hoskins' KIA Form
(Picture Courtesy of Rick Demas)
The Report of Burial shows that Pvt. Adrian Hoskins died in the Vicinity of Groesbeek, Holland. His cause of death is "GSW in back", I have no idea what GSW means, maybe a Gun Shot Wound?? Pvt. Hoskins was previously buried in an isolated grave located at 749514 Holland, no idea where that is??. His grave was located by canadian G.R.S, again no idea where G.R.S. stands for?. Pvt. Hoskins was buried August 29, 1945, at 1100 Hours.
Adrian Hoskins' Report of Burial
(Picture Courtesy of Rick Demas)
Adrian Hoskins' Corrections and Additions to Report of Burial
(Picture Courtesy of Rick Demas)
Pvt. Hoskins was reburied at the Military Cemetery in Margraten in 1948. He was burried in his uniform with his body in advanced decomposition, skull L/humerus fractured. The flag was sent to Adrian's Parents on January 31, 1949. the final letter to Adrian's parents was sent on April 5, 1949, more then 4 years after their son's death.
Adrian Hoskins' Disinterment Directive Form
(Picture Courtesy of Rick Demas)
Letter to Adrian Hoskins' parents to in form them about their only Son's Burial
(Picture Courtesy of Rick Demas)
In Holland the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment lost 217 men, among them Pvt. Adrian B. Hoskins.
Rick Demas next to Adrian B. Hoskins' Grave
(Picture Courtesy of Rick Demas)
The first mention of Adrian in newspapers was on the November 2, 1944 News-Democrat (the Russellville, Ky paper) in the Auburn Notes: "Mr. and Mrs. Howard Hoskins have received word that their son, Adrian Burr Hoskins, is missing in action in Holland."
Kathy Wilcutt Hathcock remembers: "Uncle Howard and Aunt Ruth were two wonderful people who never quite got over losing their only son. I remember my mother (Adrian was her mother's first cousin) and her sister, Winona, telling stories about Adrian Burr's young life and when this tragedy first happened they always hoped he would come "marching home again". Adrain Burr, my mother, Betty Jean, and her sister, Winona were all first cousins and Adrain Burr was the only first cousin my mother had, so when he didn't come home they were pretty devastated by it all."
She also said "Mama has his suitcase or his bag that was sent home to his parents and she has the flag also, which has only 48 stars on it."
also said: "Howard also was in correspondence with someone in The Netherlands for many years, apparently this person (or persons) attended to Adrian’s grave."
Adrian Hoskins' Inventory Forms
(Pictures Courtesy of Rick Demas)
Letter to Adrian Hoskins' Parents to inform them about their KIA Son's Property
(Picture Courtesy of Rick Demas)
The Inventory form shows that Pvt. Hoskins carried 1 identification bracelet, one Presidential Unit Citation, 160 French Francs, 10 Belgium Francs (I am wondering why Adrian had Belgium Francs with him, as far as I know he never fought in Belgium?), 7 Pounds, $31.70, 1 set Collar Insignias, 1 Prayer Book, Misc. Souvenir Money, 1 pair Sun Glasses and a penknife. A few of these items were sent to Adrian's parents.
Shirley Engler Sowell remembers "Adrian was an only child and his parents grieved for him until the day they died. I thought it so sad he died so young and never had a chance to love a girl. When his dad decided to retire & move to Russellville, my father bought the farm. I was 12 years old when we moved onto the farm. I found a box of shells in the attic of the house. I showed them to his father one day. I had guessed Adrian had collected them as a boy. There was a small river called the Gasper River that bordered the farm. His father agreed they were Adrian's and asked me to keep them. He said it would only upset his mother to see them again."
There is a dirt road off Route 2, near Bucksville called Hoskins Road. It is unclear if there is a connection to Adrian or his family. In Russellville Howard and Ruth both lived till the end of their lives. They are both buried in Maple Grove Cemetery in Russellville, Logan County, Kentucky. Ruth died in 1983 and Howard died in 1984.
Pvt. Adrian Hoskins' Grave
(Pictures Courtesy of Rick Demas)
In 2004, I adopted Pvt. Hoskins’ grave.
In 2001, a friend and I went with my brother's school trip to the Military Cemetery in Margraten, and heard that it was possible to adopt the graves. After the guide showed and told us some things about the cemetery, we asked who was the person to contact to adopt a grave, and he gave us the address. When we came home, we immediately took out our ballpoints and started to write. A few days later, we received the grave which we applied for. We received the adoption certificate, some addresses to write to, and a note that we were too young to adopt a grave but, for us, he had made an exception. I wrote a letter to the three addresses I received and, after a year, had gotten useful information from only one. The others said that they could not give any information because there was a privacy law, enacted in 1974, that made my request impossible. In the information I received were some handwritten letters from the parents, and papers from the Pfc. Hass’ Army file. With the information I received, I started an Internet search on my 2003 Christmas vacation. Most people could not help me. A few others started to help me in my search, and I very appreciate the help of people like David Steely, the Division Manager, and Maureen Jakubisyn, a daughter of a 102nd Infantry Division soldier. Thanks to them, I got a major breakthrough in my research. After that, in 2004, I volunteered for two more graves—if possible, from Airborne soldiers, because I like their role in the war very much. That was the grave of Cpl. Fernan and Pvt. Hoskins. Around Christmas 2004 I requested a fourth grave, and that was Alfred Corgan's. I officially adopted the grave in 2005.
Rick Demas next to Adrian B. Hoskins' Grave
(Picture Courtesy of Rick Demas)
Pvt. Adrian B. Hoskins’ final resting place is, together with 8.301 Brothers in Arms, the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten, Plot G Row 1 Grave 20.
Roll of Honor
Company G, 325th GIR,
82nd Airborne Division
(click on picture for the Roll of Honor)
A man named Gary Lisco was looking in 2004 for Adrian, so probably he knew Adrian. If anyone knows Gary Lisco or other sources that can provide me with info on Pvt. Hoskins please contact me, at firstname.lastname@example.org