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Told by Walter L. Marlowe

Discussion in 'Walter L. Marlowe' started by Jim, Jun 26, 2007.

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  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Let me first start by thanking Walter for sending me by email his personal story of the days leading up to and including D-Day thru to the VE Day. What you read here is the words of Walter L. Marlowe commander of the 1st platoon of “E” Company of the 502nd Parachute Infantry; Army Serial Number was O1295745 who has kindly given me his permission to add his emails to war44.com

    Walter L. Marlowe commander of the 1st platoon of “E” Company​


    [​IMG]

    Thank you Walter for your kind permission allowing me to add your story.

    Please note this thread will stay closed, please feel free to open new threads for replies.

    Email #1

    On June 6, 1944 I commanded the 1st platoon of E Company of the 502nd
    Parachute Infantry. Our objective was Exit no. 4 Utah Beach and if Possible the St. Marcouf Battery.

    Walter L. Marlowe

    PS I am now 85 yrs old.
     
  2. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Email #2

    Dear Jim:

    I will start with the short form. I enlisted in the Army just out of High School in San Antonio,TX. The Army agreed that I would serve 1 year on active duty then go into the reserve for 5 years.( Nov.20,1940) I selected Ft. Benning,Ga to do my training. After training based on my marksmanship score I was chosen to be an enlisted instructor for new 2nd. Lieutenants taking the Basic Infantry course. After about 6 months of that work I was promoted to Staff Sergeant In May of 1942 I was informed by my Commanding Officer that I had been selected for OCS. I graduated OCS on October 1942 and commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant of Infantry on October 8, 1942. I was accepted for Parachute training at Benning and began ten days after my Commission was given. Upon graduation from Jump School I was assigned to the 502 Parachute Infantry.
    They were at Ft. Bragg, NC and had just become a part of the brand new 101st Airborne Division. I was assigned to "E" Company and Capt. Jim Hatch was its Commander. After unit training from Nov, 1942 to July 1943 we were sent to the UK near the City of Reading. The 2nd battalion was quartered near the Welford Air Field in a converted stable with the House as HQ and quarters for the Battalion Commander and Staff.

    Will continue soon,

    As Ever,

    Walter L. Marlowe
    (Airborne all the Way)
     
  3. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Email #3

    After we got to England we trained near Stonehenge and at the assault training centres at Slapton Sands and Ilfracombe on the Irish Seashore. During this period with a Captain of our Regiment we were detailed to go to Jedburgh in Scotland to train people we did not know for several weeks. We completed that duty and a few weeks back with my unit I was informed that I would return to the USA by air to form up one the company of replacements. They explained that I was on the promotion list for 1943 and as a First Lt. could command one of the companies. All other officers would be Second Lts out of The Parachute School. I flew home in a B17 that had completed its 25 mission in Europe and was being replaced by newer aircraft. We stopped for fuel in Iceland and Newfoundland. I was in the USA until late March. We were loaded on a British Transport Named “The Athlone Castle” She was a very fast ship and she had until the war started carried the Royal Mail between England and Capetown, South Africa. I was told that her top speed was about 40 land miles per hour. We made it from New York to Liverpool in six and one half days.
    After delivering the unit to Division HQ I returned to Welford to join My company in training. This was in April 1944.

    As Ever,

    Walter L. Marlowe
     
  4. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Email #4

    We had several practice link up exercise with the 4th Infantry Division who would be the shipboard Division landing on Utah Beach. One of these practices called Operation Tiger was held at Slapton Sands. The Royal Navy was providing security and most of the 22nd Infantry Regiment made up the seaborne forces. We were taken the so called drop zone and disbursed as if we had arrived by aircraft. We began on time and just as we were moving in on the beach area we were halted and were told the exercise had been cancelled. Nearly a half century we found out that German E Boats had got among the LST and other landing craft and sunk some of them. The whole thing classified and the soldiers that died were buried in a special cemetery and all of the medical officers and people who knew what happened were sworn to secrecy.

    The next time we practiced we met the 8th Infantry Regiment and they were the actual "D" Day unit we met up with.

    We finished our enhance training on May 20, 1944 and were placed on 24 Hour notice for active operations. On June 2nd we were take to the Welford Airfield and quartered in aircraft Hangers. We were then briefed on Operation Neptune and were told that we could leave our assembly area because we were Bigoted. All letters were impounded although we did not know this. D Day was scheduled for Monday June 5, 1944. That morning the wind was gusting to 25 miles per hour and the severe showers in our area. At 16:00 hours we were ordered to stand down.

    To Be continued,

    As Ever,

    Walter L. Marlowe
     
  5. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Email #5

    Continuing After the postponement on June 4 we had to be notified be 13:00 Hours on June 5 that the invasion was on. Command and staff was assembled at 12:00 hours in operation center for briefing. The Col. reviewed our mission and that we would follow our June 4 timeline. The rain had stopped and the wind speed was less that 10 MPH. I brought my platoon in to look at the model map of our drop zone and our objective. Lt. Zimmer and his group of Airborne Engineers (20 total) were also briefed. They were tasked with disabling the Costal Battery after we captured it. WE then proceeded to draw our chutes and go to the Airfield where the rest of our equipment was.

    About 17: 00 hours we had chow and began to put on some of our gear. Underneath our Jump Suit we all wore OD wool shirt and trousers. We were all required put on our Mae West life jacket first then the rest of our equipment. It may be of some interest that the weapons I was carrying were a Thompson Submachine Gun model M1. I had three 30 round magazine and three 20 round magazine for the Thompson and a Colt Model 1911A1 with three 7 round magazines. For first Aid purposes I carried three first aid kits and two morphine needle. I also carried a SCR 536 Radio. It was very small about the size of a carton of cigarettes.

    About 18:30 hour there was a big stir and I saw General Ike talking to 1st Lt. Wallace Stroble commander of our 2nd Platoon with cardboard sign that his aircraft was chalked No.23. Each troop commander of an aircraft had their plane number on a piece of cardboard hanging around his neck. In about 20 minutes we completed putting on all our gear. At about 22:30 we all began boarding our aircraft. Engine start began about 20 minutes later, and at 22:50 our plane began to taxi to the runway. We were airborne a few minutes later and formed up in a V of 9 planes wide. You might wonder how we had light to this but we were on Double British Summertime. Our flight path was Southwest toward the South coast between Plymouth and Southampton. When we crossed the coast line all navigation and interior lights were turned off and our aircraft dropped to lower altitude.


    AS Ever,

    Walter L. Marlowe
     
  6. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Email #6


    I believe that I left off that we had crossed the Southern Coastline of England and dropped to a lower flying altitude. The aircraft then took a southeast course toward a check point called Hoboken. I was later told that this was a naval vessel that had been doing this for about 2 months. When our aircraft passed over the beacon we then turned to fly down the water between Brittany and Normandy. After about twenty minutes on this course we then made a sharp left turn that would allow us to cross the Normandy Peninsula by the back door. We increased our landfall altitude to about 1500 ft. At that time I stood up and had each of my men hook their static lines to the metal cable running down the middle of the plane. The pilot had turned on the red light that warned us that we were approaching our drop zone. We entered some clouds and our three plane formation got separated from the other six planes. When the green light came on we began jumping. Landing in the dark was no fun but the moon would not rise until about 2:30 local time or in military time 02:30. Our operational order stated that we were to land four and one half hours before nautical twilight, that last phrase was the Navy's its meaning was dawn or dusk.

    We were equipped with a cricket to challenge with one click was answered by two clicks. I began to roll up my stick by moving in the direction of the flight. The first person I encountered was Sgt. Morris one of my squad leaders and at the end of the hedgerow three other men and one was my RTO. It was apparent that we had not dropped on our DZ. By using a map and flashlight hidden under a raincape we located ourselves on the map, we were about two kilometres NW of our drop zone. Lt. Zimmer showed up with eleven of his men so we decided to proceed cross country toward the gun battery.

    As Ever,

    Walter L. Marlowe jm/WLM


    *Walter has just had surgery on his right wrist so is not able to type just yet so his Granddaughter Ms Jacquelyn Marlowe has kindly offered to do this for him until Walter is fit enough to do this once again.
    So our Thanks goes out to Jacquelyn .. :thumb:
     
  7. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Email #7

    After assembly of 1st Platoon and Lt. Zimmers Engineers we marched by compass toward the battery at St. Marcouf. Our plans gave four and one half hours in the area. The Naval bombardment was to start one half hour later and we had to clear the area. We arrived at the concrete positions of the gun battery to find that no guns were there. Lt. Zimmers people booby trapped the pill boxes. We then proceeded down the rail spur and found the guns of flat cars with several box cars of ammunition. WE killed the guards and disabled the guns by opening the breech and throwing a thermite grenade up the barrel and closing the breach. The thermite welded the breech shut making the guns useless. Lt. Zimmer and his people wired up the box cars of ammunition with TNT blocks and primer cord. Then multiple time fuses we connected to go at 10:00 hour’s local time. We then started toward Exit 4 and made contact with Company G that had been dropped closer. So we then secured the village of Ste. Marcouf. The naval gunfire started on time but the Fourth Division landed at Exit 1 which was the responsibility of the First Battalion of the502nd. What happened there is described in many books but I believe that Stephen Ambrose book on "D Day " is the most readable.

    As Ever,

    Walter L. Marlowe
     
  8. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Email #8

    After arriving at Exit 4 at Utah beach we stayed there the rest of "D" day and when a unit from the 4th Infantry Division arrived just before sundown we decided to move to St. Martin de Varreville. This was our rally point after the 4th Division was ashore. June 7 I reported to our battalion Commander and his Exec Major Alan Ginder. Maj Ginder was told to tie with the flank of "E" company. We were tasked with protecting the North Flank of the Utah landing area. The 4th sent a recon in force toward Montbourge and we loaned them a couple of Scouts to show them the trails that were not on their maps. On the 8th we were told to move to Hiesville and into Division reserve. We received word when we got to Hiesville to start work on a planned attack down Route N13 toward Carentan. Carentan at the time was held by the German 6th Parachute Regiment. We needed Carentan so we could tie Omaha and Utah beaches together.

    As Ever,

    Walter L. Marlowe
     
  9. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Email #9

    After two days on the North Flank of Utah Beach we were sent to Heisville to prepare an operation to connect Omaha and Utah beaches. To do this we first had to secure the town of Carentan. The approach to Carentan from the North was difficult as much of the land was swampy and what was available was open offering very little cover. The attack on the town was assigned to the 502, the 2nd Battalion was assigned the task of securing the line of departure for the 3rd Battalion. The plan was to assault the town proper with the 3rd Battalion with fire support from the US Cruiser Quincy and 4 US Destroyers. This half hour bombardment was to soften up the built up areas held by the German 6th Parachute Infantry Regiment. We were promised air interdiction on the St. Lo highway to prevent supplying or reinforcements for the Germans. We jumped at 07:00 and by 22:00 hours had secured the line of departure and control of the bridges.

    That night we had officers call to review the plans for the main attack to start at 07:00 hours the next morning. We were tasked with following the 3rd but we were to clear the seaward side of the town. We were promised that we would have fire support from the US destroyers off shore.

    As Ever,

    Walter L. Marlowe
     
  10. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Email #10

    Hello Jim:

    Continuing on Carentan the attack was preceded by the naval shelling as planned. The third battalion led Lt. Col. Cole jumped off and made good progress at first the Germans laid down a huge volume of small arms fire. The third had to resort to short rushes as the volume was so great. We then started our attack toward the port side of Carentan. This force caused the Germans to divide their small arms fire. This helped the third to advance to the edge of town. Then for about two hours everything turned to sniping and counter sniping. At about noon or just after Col. Cole decided to make a bayonet assault on the central part of the city. The assault was successful and the Germans withdrew to the Carentan - St. Lo highway and set up a roadblock. We did not know at the time but they were waiting on help from The 17th SS Panzer Grenadier Division. The air fighter bombers caught the 17th on the road from St Lo and halted them short of the town. We then attacked the roadblock, after securing it the 327 Glider Infantry Regiment came up and we secured the position. This anchor was our meeting place for the 30th Infantry Division to complete the link up of Omaha and Utah Beaches.

    As Ever,


    Walter Marlowe
     
  11. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Email #11

    To continue the Normandy part of the story after the junctions of Omaha and Utah Beaches. I believe that we turned over our critical position to the 30th Infantry Division and moved in a reserve position. At this time they brought over the VIII Corp HQ and were transferred to their command. We were then tasked with securing the Southern flank of the Corp while they enlarged the cross Normandy corridor to the Bay of Biscay. We did very active small unit patrols and kept the enemy from mounting any attack on the drive and capture of Cherbourg.
    When Cherbourg was secured we were assembled near there as a safeguard garrison and on July 4, we had review for General Bradley and Field Marshall Montgomery.
    On July 11 my regiment moved by truck to Utah Beach and took LSTs back to England and reoccupied our training grounds.

    As Ever.

    Walter
     
  12. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Email #12

    To continue on my travels thru WWII when we returned to the Salisbury Plain area we received our new replacement officers and men to make up for our Normandy Losses. It took about a month to get them to conform to our Operational tempo and methods.

    The division had a review and was presented medals awarded for service and events in Normandy. I was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor, Purple Heart for small wound in left arm, and the Commendation Medal, the latter is similar of the British Mentioned in Dispatch award. After the review my Commander called me in and told me that I would be temporary command of "C" Company and would move to their quartering area. "C" company's commander had not yet recovered and was still in hospital. I was to train the company up to operational standards. My Sergeant helped me move my kit down to 1st Battalion Area and we began our duties as Company Commander.

    AS Ever,

    Walter
     
  13. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    On July 28, 1944 I was notified by the Adjutant that I would be transferred to the 1st Battalion to take charge of Charlie or "C" Company. Her commander was still in hospital and Col. Cassiday want an experience officer to train up the company so that it would be ready for operations in 30 days. Among the replace was four(4) new 2nd Lts fresh from the US and jump school. I understood why Col Cassiday was concerned. Things started off OK but some of the Lts. objected the rigorous training. I had to explain in a forceful manner that combat was not like training. They got the message after formed them up in a four man fire team and kept them up two night running. The rest of the replacements were distributed the combat squads and their sergeant took care of matters. Then on July 28 we had a battalion field problems and they passed and we were marked for combat duty. We did a standby plan for a jump in Belgium This operation did not take place due to the rapid advance of the US First Army and the British Second Army. We stood down and began another two week training cycle. We did not know at the time but September would be very different.

    Will Continue Later,

    As Ever,

    Walter
     
  14. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Email #14

    After we finish training and work up were told to be operational ready on Sept.1.
    On Sept 10 we were on notice for immediate briefing. On Sept.10 we went a briefing at Membury and were introduced to Market-Garden to begin Sunday September 17.

    The outline of the plan was laid before us and that the division would have a daylight drop with all three regiments jumping at once. Our regiment was assigned two(2) objectives. The first Battalion would take and defend the crossing of the Drommel River Bridges. The third battalion was assigned a secondary bridge across the Whilamena Canal at the town of Best. Col. Cole designated H Company as the attacking unit with the other companies as back up. The second battalion was the division reserve and had to guard division HQ.

    We began drafting our field order and the experienced line officers had to do staff work. My exec. had to get the company ready. I would rejoin the company on Thursday. Final draft of field order was printed on Thursday. When I got the company they were working on plane assignment. I made sure that we added door bundles with additional ammo.

    We were told that we would board planes at 10:00 hours Sunday September 17. Our course was east across the channel then turn North in France and fly across Belgium into southern Netherland. We would overfly the British XXX Corp at the Albert Canal in Belgium. At this time we would be 15 minutes to our drob zone.

    The take off Sunday morning was on the Money and our column of aircraft followed the course in the Plan. We were only two (2) late over the drop zone it went off as a large field exercise with some sporadic antiaircraft fire. We did not loose and aircraft on the way in. We assembled the company and marched the 2.5 kilometres to St. Odenroode and secured the bridges. Co. C was assigned a sector to control the road east town. The Co. told that when the gliders landed were would get two (2) antitank guns.

    When finish up our fighting positions we note six(6) P 47s of the IX Air force flying top cover and they were on call to the 1st. Battalion. We they began to wait and fidget.

    Will continue later this.

    As Ever,

    Walter
     
  15. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    We were briefed on the flight in on Saturday Morning September 16 The troop Carrier command pilots were also present. We were told that we would use or D Day airfields. Since I was now in the 1st Battalion I would depart from Greenham Common. We were to be aboard aircraft by 09:30 September 17. Takeoff was scheduled for 10:00 hours Sept.17. The formation would be nine aircraft in v of v, our course was due east across Belgium and a North turn when we had gone east so that a North turn would take us over the XXX Corp position on the Muse-Escault Canal. We then went back to our commands and briefed them on the operation. Equipment was inspected and late that afternoon the transport arrived and were loaded. We had dinner with commanders eating with the men. We then tried to sleep so we could be up early the next morning. Sunday sept.17 was bright and clear with just a touch of fall. After boarding aircraft engine start was 10:15 hours and we began taxing for take off. After taking off we assembled over the community of Handcock before flying toward the channel. We crossed the channel to Belgium and could see the rescue boat in the channel. We continued across Belgium and turned North toward Holland. Our drop zone was about a mile and half west of St. Odenroode. The 1st Battalion was tasked with taking and holding the bridges across the Drommel River. As were crossed the Albert Canal we could see XXX Corp laid out below us their artillery would start firing as soon as we passed. When got over Holland we stated receiving flak most was 20mm and 40mm but fragment hit the outside of our planes like heavy rain. I look out the door with my jumpmaster and we could see St. Odenroode and the Drommel River. I stood the men up checked equipment and prepare to jump.

    The jump went as planned and as soon as we ere on the ground we assembled our hand carts and loaded ammo and land mined on them and began to march toward St.Odenrood to secure the bridges. When we got there A Company had secured the bridges as planned. I took C Company to a small group of buildings east of town and prepared a defensive position at about 16:00 hours I heard fighter planes overhead. There were (6)six P-47 Thunderbolts overhead, a beautiful sight, at 20:00 hrs we were blessed with 2 antitank 57mm guns. The gliders had landed. At dark we pulled back to night fighting positions. We left a listing post with sound power telephone for communication.

    No enemy activity on the dark of the 17th. We laid mines and improved our position overnight with half resting while the other half worked and stood guard.


    As Ever,

    Walt.
     
  16. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Email #16

    To continue my story. The evening and night of September 17 went by without any major attacks. We were glad to see the sunrise on the morning of the 18th. Our resupply was due at 10:30 hrs and we were to get a lot of our heavy equipment by glider and a group of B 24s were scheduled to drop a major amount of supplies in our drop zone. At 0:800 I recd a message from Battalion that the resupply would be late as they had fog in England. We also realized that XXX Corp would not arrive on the 18th as the Bridge at Son had not been replaced. The third Battalion had made contact with Household Cavalry (Recon Unit of Guards Armd.Div) on the highway between Best and Eindhoven late on the 17th. Since they were light troops they retired to Eindhoven for the dark period. About noon we were told that XXX Corp would be up to the canal bridge by dark. The afternoon were were told that the resupply operation was on and they would be over the drop zone at about 15:30 hrs local. My outpost on the road from Germany reported motor scouting unit observed 3 KM east of St. Odenroode. I alerted the antitank guns and sent the balance of my 3rd Platoon up to the farm house position. I talked with Battalion CP and they promised that they would get me some Air Cover. In about a half hour four (4) P-47 appeared overhead my FO talked to them on the radio. At 15:20 I heard our machine gun open up and the enemy replied. My exec came and took over the CP while I went up to the outpost position to have a look. The enemy started fire if as attacking and our aircraft attacked them and they with drew to cover to East. We heard the resupply aircraft at 15:40 and the glider came in first then the B 24s came over. We estimated that about 90% of the glider made it so we now had our glider infantry regiment and nearly all of our artillery. The supply drop was less successful but we got enough that we sure we could hold until the Son bridge was restored.

    After the probing by the enemy recon units after the air showed up they didn’t come back. We were tasked to start patrolling the main road on the 20th so that XXX Corp could move fast. We were told that the Bailey Bridge would be in place by the afternoon of September 20. Two or three small German units probed our defences on the night of the 18th. We knew that the 19th would be long day so half would rest while half would stand watch. I noticed my men had a lot fresh tomatoes. They explained they had traded cigarettes for them from the nearby farms. I questioned them about the people at the farms they assured me that they were locals. There were more hostile contact on the night of 18th, but no attacks. I also was told about the third and Second Battalions attack on Best.

    It was a large and violent actions but I did not know at the time how large. General Taylor was most concerned about holding the road for XXX Corp to get North. I made plans to patrol north on the main road beginning on the 20th. I called in my 2nd platoon leader and showed him the plan and also promised to try and get him a pair of armoured cars.

    Will continue later.

    As Ever,

    Walter
     
  17. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Email #17

    The morning of the 21st of September was clear and crisp. I was informed that the main body of the Guards Armd. Div. would be our area at 10:00 hours and that they would leave behind any armoured fighting vehicles that had mechanical problems. We would also get our last aerial resupply from England at 1200 hours. All of our supply would come overland after the 21 of Sept. We were shorted our combat rations in our resupply. Gen Horrocks XXX Corp was able to get us some British Combat rations. The pineapple and canned cocoa were a godsend. We were also able to get some from local sources.

    After 12:00 hrs I was told that we were attached a Firefly Tank from the Guards Armd Div. The tank was left behind because its transmission was faulty. However its main gun and machine guns were OK. In the Indian fight for control of the highway these would priceless. The commander of the tank was a Sgt. from Ulster, everyone called Him Paddy. He was a great addition to our fighting on the road.

    I got a message from Battalion that a German attack had been made at Son Bridge. About a company of PSK Mark 4 tanks and Three (3) half tracks had hit the bridge that the 501st was protecting and they were driven off by our fighter bombers by 16:00 hours. Traffic continued to move northward on the highway.

    The 2nd Platoon was moved about a Mile north on the highway to turn back a German attack on the road. I also ask that the tank go with them. I was told that a very intense fire fight took place. We had three wounded and one fatality. We were able to open the road for traffic at 17:00 hours. The supply column drove all night to the north.

    On the morning of the 22nd I moved the rest my company to a new position North of St. Odenroode. My old position was taken over by the 501st. Their position had been taken over by British 43 Infantry Division of the XXX Corp. The trains of the Guards Armoured Division passed through our section of the road headed for Nimejiegan.

    When I signed my morning report which was made up at midnight each day I noted that We had had three(3) KIA and (11) eleven WIA on the 22nd, this reduced my company strength, If this kept up my fighting strength would be reduced. We were told that we would be in Holland in three weeks. I told Col. Cassiday that we would be OK until Sept.28. He assured me that we would be relieved by then.


    As Ever,

    Walter
     
  18. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Email #18

    To continue on Holland and Market-Garden On September 23 we moved to Grave and relieved a Battalion of the 505th. We were protecting the large bridge at Grave. We were warned that there might be some of the British airborne making their way south and had missed our road blocks. All my men were cautioned about the possibility of Allied Troops in the Area. Late that afternoon we were called HQ and told that the Field Marshall has asked General Eisenhower for us until the Canadians cleared the Scheldt Estuary.

    This was unexpected as airborne troops are not by nature long drawn out combat style. We were trained to very aggressive and to inflict maximum pain on the enemy. It was if you took a sprinter and asked him to run a mile. He could but not well. I did not tell my men as it was not yet a done deal. I did begin to do logistical planning to accumulate vehicles and supplies. The US Army sent the division (2) two quartermaster truck companies Our regiment got platoon of these and my company got pair of trucks. We put our portable kitchen in one and used the other one get supplies from US Depots in Luxembourg.

    On the night of the 24th we had several people from British Airborne come into our area. We were able to pass their names on to XXX Corp. We fed them a hot meal and had them rest a schoolhouse we were using. They were very grateful. We were not allowed to talk to them about operations and they were picked up by XX Corp on the morning of the 25th.

    The way they ate appeared that they had been without food for some time. Their Leftenant took our name and address and promised to write.

    Guarding a road and bridge was demanding and all we had to help us were two (2) Armoured Cars. Thank god for them. My men were not trained for this kind of work but they adapted. I know that seems boring and it was but it was much better than active combat.

    As Ever,
    Walter L. Marlowe
     
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