|603rd Tank Destoyer's
6th Armored Division
|Right: This was the tank that Paul commanded during his service. This photo was taken during Paul's hospitalization after being wounded in September of 1945.|
| This page is dedicated to the 603rd Tank Destoyer Battalion,
6th Armored Division and to those who fought with my father, Paul Thiner, during his service to our country.
Many of these men may still be living and to those who are not, may they rest in peace.
|Top: Paul standing relaxed at Bastogne with his buddy Delmar Whiteman sitting in the jeep.
Bottom: Paul standing at the left, center Delmar Whiteman.
| World was II began for the U.S. on Sunday, Dec. 7th, 1941 when Japanese air bombers surprised Pearl Harbor killing 2,403 United States service men and wounding nearly 2000. Just four days later the U.S. declared war on Japan. By Dec.18th, 1941, 38 nations of the world were divided in a war the world would not soon forget. Exactly four months later, on April 18th, 1942 my father, Paul Thiner, joined the U.S. Army.
Paul's service began with basic training at Fort Ord, CA. After spending some time in the sunny part of CA he moved up into the Salinas mountains for more training. Paul was in several Army training camps before being shipped over seas, including three in TX, one in MS, two in CA, one in KA and one in NB, but most of this time was spent at Fort Hood. While at Fort Hood he helped in the testing of equipment for tanks. Among the equipment tested were automatic transmissions, and torsion bars that first came out on "Buicks" after the war.
On Easter Sunday, April 10th, 1944 Paul rode by train to New York Harbor where he boarded the Queen Mary. One of the fastest ships of her day, with a length of 1,200 feet from her bow to her stern. After six days of zigzagging across the Atlantic (to keep from being detected by enemy subs) with huge waves at times lifting their feet six inches off the bow, they finally dropped anchor near Glaskow, Scotland. After Scotland Paul went on to England where they helped prepare and unlaod 36 tanks for battle. The tanks were put aboard ships with winches used for crossing the English Channel. When they got near France later in July these tanks were transfered to landing barges.
The fighting at Utah Beach, beginning June 6th 1944, established a base for the allied invasion of Europe. Paul and the 6o3rd landed at Normandy about a month later. The fighting was still very close to the beach when they arrived and they could hear guns and tanks in the distance. Smoke signals that were used to alert allied bombers of their bombing targets were sometimes carried off-course by the wind and sometimes the bombers accidentally "took out some of our front line." After arriving at France their orders took them to the town of Brest in the beginning of August. Unable to cross the inlet into Brest, their mission was to draw fire from the enemy along the water, from the 12 inch German guns planted behind a wall of cement directly in front of them. This allowed the bombers to come in with the "big guns." 36 Battalions of field artillery were firing at Brest and the bombers came in about a half-mile apart in a circle dropping their bombs. The bombing went on for seven days and nights before they pulled out.
Paul soon advanced to Tank Commander. As Tank Commander, Paul stood in a ring of a 50 caliber machine gun at the top of the tank. "We loaded shells into the tank's gun as long as a man's arm, the noise at times was like thunder," added Paul. They tarveled 3,600 miles in nine months, over rough terrain, eating off the land.
On Sept. 26th, while standing a top the tank behind his gun, Paul was hit in the back of the head by a sniper. "Wrecked my helmet, and hit one of my buddies riding along the outside of the tank. it came out of no-where. I remember a hot feeling on the back of my head and then I realized that I'd been hit." The Staff Sgt. jumped into the Tank Commander position and after turning the tank around to head to a nearby Medic Station, they came around the corner only to met head-on with a German tank. Both tanks were so surprised that neither one fired.
Paul spent the next month in a hospital in England before returning to the Battle of the Bulge, at Bastogne. During this battle the Allied soldiers wore green strips on their uniforms to identify them, because the German soldiers were taking uniforms off of "our" dead soldiers. The weather was very cold and snowy but they managed to find the shelter of a cave and had pumkin pie made from spiced carrots. The next morning their tank slipped through about a half-mile opening in the German line without a shot ever being fired at them.
After the war the U.S. Army had to retreat about 20 miles back to give the Russian's the territory they had received in the Peace Agreement. Paul spent the next six months in Abensberg, Germany before going home. Paul received a Purple heart, Silver Star, European-African-Middle-Eastern Theater Medal, a Bronze Star from the French Gov. and a Good Conduct Medal for time served.