| The following was an e-mail sent to Sam Horward in late November 2001.
As to the actions in Holland....
Ok Sam, I'll be quoting allot or asking allot of questions from out of "Rendezvous With Destiny", RWD. This particular action took place at Eerde, Holland, D+7 while moving from Weibosch... 'Sand Dunes of Eerde'.
I was wanting to know if you could elaborate alittle on this for me?
"The 1st BN of the 501 moved in to Eerde are to take over it's defense on D+6... moving into position west of town. On th morning of D+7 the outpost platoon came rushing back with word that the town was to be attacked by 5 tanks and some 200 Infantry, coming from the Schijndel area... moving into the Sand dunes just in front of Company "C". Col. Johnson alerted the 2rd BN and sent 9 British tanks to aid 1st BN. When the tank observer and the forward observer from the 907th GFAB reported in Col. Kinnard told them to put all possible fire into the dunes. This they did. But when both hesitated to brave the 88's which were now converging on the area and to go up the Eerde church steeple to adjust fire, Lt. Harry Howard volunteered for the job. Later in the day another forward observer from the 907th GFAB, Lt. Gerald C. Taylor, did the same job from this same steeple."
Sam, are you familiar with this action? Could you elaborate alittle on this action?
This would of took place just before 1000 hrs D+7.
At a round 1000 hrs D+7, Col. Johnson and a British liaison officer were injured, and a few minutes later a truck load of ammo exploded killing or wounding Lt. Robert S. Schorsh, BN supply officer, as well as supply sergeants from the other companies of 1BN.
Do you know any details about this?
From then on, RWD goes on to explain about the actions of the day fighting in the Sand Dunes at Eerde... etc.
It also goes onto tell of the Road being cut again just around the positions of the 907th GFAB and "B" Battery went into defensive position while "A" Bat still fired in support of the 501.
The wire between the 501 and 907 was cut numerous times... (5 Times?)
On one of the trips out to repair a wire, Ssgt Ralphel E. Meyers, Pvt's Harmon Hunter, and Joseph H. McCoy found a keg of beer in the back of an abandoned British truck, removed the keg carefully from the truck they rolled it several hundred yards along the enemy flank to a place where it could be opened safely.
What were those guys thinking!! Hahaha I find that funny as Hell... sounds like something I'd do!! Hehehehe
I have to ask Sam, did these characters share the beer?!?!?!
Also on this day, the liaison plane of the 907 was shot down by German small arms fire.
I was wondering if you could tell me of your experiences of this action around Eerde?
To refresh your memory alittle of the town of Eerde, it's situated about 12 miles north of Eindhoven, 1/2 a miles east from the Willems canal and the river AA... with four bridges... two bridges on the railroad tracks running east to west just to the north of town, and the other two crossed to the town of Vechel to the south of Eerde on the road to Nijmegen. I've attached a scan from a map that is in RWD.
If you know any details about this action.... this could keep ya busy for a few minutes!
The following is taken from a cassette tape made by Sam Howard December 2001.
Editors notes are in [Blocks].
[After their first attempt to cross the Channel, and a few days delayed in England (FOG)... Sam's glider lands and he goes to sleep in a ditch. This is his continuing story.]
As to the names of those towns you've mentioned. I don't really remember, I'm sure I knew at the time.
But, I do recall on Day 2, I took ya through Day 1. On day 2 we moved into the outskirts of this little town, I'd have to guess this was that Vechel or whatever. And we set up round a farmhouse or something, right along side the road going to Nijmegen. And the British tanks were goin by. Of course we bein Americans, we couldn't understand why they would stop and go to have their tea, especially when the Germans were sittin up in the hills shootin 88's at em like those shooting galleries where they have the little ducks goin across and you would plunk at em!
I do remember there were apple trees and we had not had any apples for quit awhile... so, we were really chompin down on those babies.
Now that Highway that went by to Nijmegen is known as HELL'S HIGHWAY.
It's how to explain this thing so that someone could understand what you're talking about... You really didn't know from were we were exactly, were the enemy was. It wasn't like you had a line drawn as a front line and you were behind it. Because as you know your kinda surrounded from the word GO!
Now I want to explain to you alittle bit about Lt Blake. I think he was the Assistant Battery commander, I think that was his title. Blake was a guy that came up through the ranks. He was an EXCELLENT officer! He wasn't a very big guy in stature. But he was a good officer and he was good to the men.
|Anyway about that airplane you said was shot down that Piper Cub. I saw the thing flyin over... and he seemed offal low to the trees, there's a lotta trees there, these weren't open meadows right around us at this place kind of a wood sparse like thing. And this highway that we speak of was built up with real deep ditches on each side, maybe 10 or 12-15 feet deep on each side. As you probably know Southern Holland is very low and marshy and of course, you gotta have the mud... mud goes with war!
Anyway, I saw this plane dip down into these trees, but some ways off and some smoke goin up. So, I gotta a hold of Lt Blake, because he was someone you could talk to and I pointed it out to him and told him what I'd seen.
|Photo from "KILOGRAM"
|So we got together alittle group there, I think it was a guy named Toucksberry, and no dought Henry Keith, anyway 4 or 5 of us with Lt. Blake in the lead. We go down in the ditches and what not, make it over to this woods, and finally from the smoke and what not we carefully make our way up to this plane that had crashed. It was probably one of the most gruesome sites that I saw in the whole war, and I saw quit a few, these guys were in a plane that had come down head first through these trees. They were still buckled in their seats, the flames were actually melting... you could see the skin rolling and boiling into a liquid and rolling down their arms. It was really horrible thing but there was nothing we could do for either one as they were already gone. That was one episode that day.
Alittle later in the day a message came through that there was a group of enemy movin in on us from one of the flanks. So again, Blake get's a group together and we get a Bazooka and different things and take off to go look for em. I think it's interesting to know that in our supplies, we were issued a scarf like... a chartreuse flag we carried that in our helmet. The idea of it of course was you can see it in dim light. If you came back in and it was getting dusk, when your in that Airborne situation, some body's gonna shoot first and ask questions later. So the idea was to display this flag on the end of your gun or wave it in your hand or something so that any troops would know that you were friendly.
We took off on this mission to look for the enemy, I'm the last one on this line, and I've got all this bazooka ammunition.
Well their goin over fences and what have ya and that ammunition is quit heavy... so in order to keep up I chucked part of it.
I thought... I can't... Ill be out here alone if I don't because I can't keep up with em fast as they were goin.
We made it all around there we didn't make contact with any enemy or anything. We circled clear out and came back to the road and while we were there in the ditch, we made our way back up to HQ by comin up the ditch. Keith and I saw this trailer.
It was a German trailer, sort of an enclosed thing something like was of these U-Haul's and it was just settin in the road!!
And another funny thing happened while we were... well I think this happened later.
Anyway, we went back up to the camp and I told Blake, I say, ya know if we had a Jeep, Keith and I'd go down and get that trailer and we see what's in it!... Ya see there's allot of that Boyishness in us that Indian and Cowboy playin thing ya know.
So he gave a Jeep to ol' Keith and we went down there... and the damned bullets were flyin around! Keith backed up, I hooked that trailer up to it and we took off... but while we were there... [Sam chuckling ] and we're duckin these bullets and what have ya and wantin to get the hell out ther! [Sam chuckles again] here comes this guy... this Dutchmen ridin a bicycle right down that highway and the damned bullets pingin off the concrete and everything and he rode right through it and didn't seem to bother him at all... I... I don't know, hell he might have been pedalin for dear life for all I know!
But anyway, we drug that trailer back up there and of course they took it over. I found out later, I think by reading the book, the one you read, that "Rendezvous With Destiny" or something, it was full of German maps and plans and so forth... so I guess we did a good thing there ol' Keith and I.
|Photo from "KILOGRAM"
|Now to get on that other action you were speaking of.
Ya know the 501st had 3 battalions and each BN would have liason from our outfit, anyway the next day they were going to send me up to one of those liason posts, so I says, Ya I'll go"ya now Ol' Blake thought I gotta guy here who will bo anywhere I send him, and that's probably the same way I would like it today, but I went. This driver crove me up there, I don't know who it was now, but he got up there and I'm tellin you it was llike those sceans from around the World Trade Center or where those tornados go through or something... the trees were all split, houses blown n burnin you could hear bullets whistlin through and shells comin over. And he stop and said thats were you supposed to go and pointed up this lane at a little like Rail Road station a little place were the road went over the rail road. And said can't ya drive up there?
He said, No your better off if ya walk up there. I said OK so I walked up there, and I'm tellin ya it wasn't much fun with all the action that was goin on. But I got up there and I knew the guys that where there and I told em what I supposed to do and who I was supposed to meet and asst and they said well ya came to the wrong place! You belong over there! And they pointed across this field at this Chiurch and it had this steeple your refering to in your questions. So in between there, it was kind of a flat field with several windmills out there.
So I says, "What. I can cut across that field?" And they said, "No they'll shoot ya if ya cut across that field the can see ya. Ya gotta back down the road take a right and go up through town and down around to the church."
And I says, "OK."
So I start down that road and like I say, we're gettin shelled pretty heavy all around us , I'm down in the ditch along side the road, and I'm pretty scared I'm tellin ya! I look up and see this guy walkin down the road goin in the same direction I was goin and he's got a trench coat on and what have ya. It was a Chaplin. I thought, "Boy I better need that guy right now!"
So I came outta that ditch and I ask him if I could walk with him and said, "Certianly soldier". So I felt alittle better.
We got down to town and he split off his way and I was to go on through the main drag there. This wasn't a very big town, this probablly is that other town your asking in your questions. [Eerde]
But before I could get started, I mean they really lam basted us! There was shells goin off and there was this tank seatin there so I kinda got behind it.
I thought maybe I'll wait here and let it cool down a minute! Now remember I had never been up there before, I don't care how much training you had, it's not like the real thing when your up there when someone's tryin to kill ya! And you don't know which way to go and so forth.
So I'm along side that tank, behind it, then the shells would come over it, so I'd go around to the other side and then the lid opened on it, the top, and this ol boy stuck his head out, and I told him I says, "Hey fella this is my first day up here!
Which is the best side of this tank is the best to be on?" He said, "The Inside" and closed that door!!! [Sam laughing]
Anyway, it simmered down a bit and I went up though that town and there was wires down and... broken glass... and bricks. I walked on around to the front of that church and then walk over and was looking up at that steeple now along side that church was alittle side walk and on the right maybe 10 feet from the church was this little school house that was attached the this church. Now my guys were in that school house and I knew that from the guys over at the depot.
But I'm standin on that sidewalk lookin up at that steeple and I thought, "Boy they even shoot church's!" I say there was about 1/3 of that steeple gone. And I walked on and I didn't even get inside that school building which was probably about 25-30 feet away, then they hit the rest of that steeple and all those bricks fell down right where I had been standin! Boy I shot into that school and got under a desk!
The mess Seargeant was there.... I'll kinda break in here as say that in the Airborne, who ever could do the job and would do the job would go up to the front.
Anway, this Mess Sergeant was there, he was an ol Kentucky boy too.
He says, "Kentucky is that you?" That's what he used to call me all the time.
He says, "Where are ya?" I says, "Under a desk!"
He says, "Stay there until I tell ya to come out!" I says, "Gotch ya!"
|Sam with some of the local girls, Germany 1945
|Sam at Jefferson Barracks, MO.
|Experiences of Sam Howard
Headquarters & Service Battery 907th GFA
101st Airborne Division
|Photo from "HELL'S HIGHWAY"
|Page Created on March 29 2002
updated March 30 2002
|So I sat there and helped those guys, I really don't know how long I was there to tell ya the truth Gary. I do know that I went back to the HQ camp we had at the edge of town by that road. [Hell's Highway]