Restored Burlington Northern Depot & WWII Memorial
Military related issues, on the War and Home Fronts, 1941 thru 1960
Montgomery County, Iowa, Citizen-Soldiers,
Killed in Action during the Korean War,
25 JUN 1950 – armistice 27 JUL 1952
Korean War Project
"Bodies of some 400 Korean civilians lie in and around trenches in Taejon's prison
yard during the Korean War in SEP 1950. The victims were bound and slain by
retreating Communist forces before the 24th U.S. Division troops recaptured the
city SEP 28. Witnesses said that the prisoners were forced to dig their own trench
graves before the slaughter. Looking on, at left, is Gordon Gammack, war
correspondent of the Des Moines Register and Tribune (AP Photo/James Pringle)."
Korean War: 1950
US Army Center for Military History (281 pp, .pdf)
Korean War: 1951 – 1953
US Army Center for Military History (328 pp, .pdf)
A Korean War Chronology
by Anthony J. Sobieski
The True Glory, Academy award-winning video from WWII, on the Allies
winning the European Western Front Theatre of War (1:20 hours).
Pulitzer Prize-winning An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943
by Rick Atkinson, excerpts of which centers on Robert Moore and his men
from Montgomery County, Iowa. Follow the soldiers from their drilling
in the Villisca, Iowa, town square, to landing on the Algiers beaches,
U.S. infantry and armor withdrawal at Faïd Pass, heavy casualties
on Hill 609, and ultimately
capturing the Axis troops in Tunisia.
Click to read 10 pp + 4 maps about Major Moore & North Africa Campaign
DOD video “The Big Picture”, part 1 of 2 - destruction of the French Fleet in Oran,
Algeria, to Field Marshal Montgomery engaged in the bitter battle for El Alamein.
DOD video “The Big Picture”, part 2 of 2 – after El Alamein, the Afrika Korps
and Italian forces battle the British Eighth Army, the
Free French, the
American 1st Army, of which the 168th Infantry Regiment and the 34th
Red Bull Infantry Division were components, plus other Allied forces.
They fought on thru Sened Station, Faïd & Kasserine Passes, Sbeitla,
Fonduk el Aouareb, Hill 609, and finally the Axis surrender in Tunis.
After-action Battle of Sidi bou Zid report on the North Africa Tunisia Campaign,
in which soldiers from Montgomery County, Iowa, as part of the 168th Infantry
Regiment, 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, participated. Extract of which follows:
"Time of attack: 0730 hours [01 FEB 1943]. At this juncture about 50 German
dive bombers suddenly appeared and started raining bombs down on the troops.
No anti-aircraft artillery was available! Only the 30 and 50 caliber machine guns
mounted on half-tracks and tanks, all of which went into action, as well as many
of the rifles of the Infantry. The desert was soon littered with burning tanks
and half-tracks. Several planes plummeted to earth in flames and many white
parachutes dotted the sky as some were able to jump before going down.
After dropping their bomb loads, the Germans withdrew."
“The enemy attacked at 0630 hours [14 FEB 1943] with two divisions of Panzers,
the 10th and the 21st. The German Group Commander of the Panzer Divisions
was General Schmidt. The enemy first hit DJ. Lessouda [ Djebel Lessouda (644 m) –
a bold butte with excellent observation over the wide stretches of plain which
encircle it ] with two battalions of tanks, one from the north and one from the east.
The heavy north westerly wind had been blowing all night, during which the
tanks moved up in the face of the wind without their noise being detected.
Patrols had been ordered out every night by higher authority, in spite of the fact
that there was but a restricted sector to patrol in the front. It was obvious to
anyone that the enemy could locate the patrols and grab them at any time that they
might wish to do so. One patrol stationed near FAÏD PASS on Saturday night was
never heard of afterwards. Outside of one or two patrols to capture prisoners,
it appeared that the patrols were unnecessary. Quite often most of them were
killed, as the Germans would lie in wait for the patrols after the first couple of nights.
Coming from the north and the east the two forces of German tanks closed on
DJ. LESSOUDA. Through his field glasses Colonel Drake counted eighty-three
German tanks in front of DJ. LESSOUDA. At daylight there were flashes of gun
fire from the two German forces direct on the position. This almost instant action
destroyed all seven of the American tanks with Lt Colonel Waters. There were
a few pieces of armored artillery which were knocked out at the same time.
One company of infantry out on the desert dug-in in front of DJ. LESSOUDA
was immediately overrun. What became of the infantry in those holes was
never known, though two or three men from that company said that the men
could be seen lying in the fox holes and the enemy tanks would put a track
in the fox hole, turn around on them and crush the soldier into the ground.
The remainder of the battalion was back in the hills just outside of
DJ. LESSOUDA and later, under [ Major Robert R. Moore, commander
of the 2nd Battalion,168th Infantry Regiment ] Major Moore, about
half of them got through to the American lines.”
Read after-action reports, in their entirety, covering
bivouac at El Biar, Algeria, Battle of Sened Station, actions at Djebels,
Lessouda, Ksaira, and Garet Hadid, to POW camps in Germany and Poland.
Colonel Thomas D. Drake, 02 APR
An after-action report on the Italian Campaign:
"Company "F" [of the 168th Infantry Regiment] reached the crest
of hill 1168 at first light [24 SEP 1944]. A dense fog has settled
on the mountain-top. Captain Frank M. Cockett, Company Commander,
ordered the 1st Platoon to out-post the Company position...Before the
Platoon had time to organize a position...the enemy had set up a
machine gun and opened fire, forcing the Platoon to withdraw a short
distance and dig in. No position was secure on the hill that day.
With the limited visibility, the enemy could infiltrate through the thick
undergrowth to within a few feet of a position before being detected.
One German walked within ten feet of a position before he was
observed and fired upon. The enemy persisted in his attempts
to infiltrate the Company's position throughout the day.
A prisoner reported that the men of his group wanted to surrender
but after that their officer had threatened to shoot anyone of them
who made the attempt.
Whatever the truth of this report, the Germans continued to run
toward the Company's position with their hands up, some with
the hope of being captured, and others only to drop and fire."
after-action reports in
History of the 168th
Infantry Regiment (from 01 SEP 1944 to 30 SEP 1944).
Kasserine Pass Battle, 30 JAN 1943 – 22 FEB 1943, in which
more than 200 U.S. tanks were destroyed, nearly 4,000
American troops captured, and 10,000 Allied casualties
compared to Axis 2,000. The 168th Infantry Regiment was
engaged in key facets of the battle and the soldiers from South-
west Iowa suffered accordingly as dead, wounded, and POWs.
Overview of the Kasserine Pass Battle (25 minute audio)
WWII photos of Tunisia terrain, from To Bizerte with the
II Corps 23 April – 13 May 1943, first published 1943,
one of a series of War Department studies showing
“…the part they and their comrades played in achievements
which do honor to the record of the United States Army.”
US Army Center for Military History compilation of operational
reports, (Allied and Axis), unit histories, personal accounts,
maps, ordnance, doctrine and lessons learned:
https://history.army.mil/books/Staff-Rides/kasserine/Vol-I-Part_1.pdf (187 pp)
https://history.army.mil/books/Staff-Rides/kasserine/Vol-I-Part_2.pdf (168 pp)
https://history.army.mil/books/Staff-Rides/kasserine/Vol-II-Part_1.pdf (187 pp)
https://history.army.mil/books/Staff-Rides/kasserine/Vol-II-Part_2.pdf (131 pp)
https://history.army.mil/books/Staff-Rides/kasserine/Vol-II-Part_3.pdf (167 pp)
https://history.army.mil/books/Staff-Rides/kasserine/Vol-II-Part_4.pdf (180 pp)
The Nazi “88” Made Believers,
by Chaplain (Major) Harry P. Abbott, USA, 1946, excerpt:
Servicemen and Servicewomen…Many of you have
traveled through the inky darkness of night with no light of
any kind, not knowing what the next movement had in store
for you, as has the writer.
Many of you have seen your buddies go to their untimely end
in making the supreme sacrifice; many of you have spent
sleepless nights moving up to the front; many of you have
lived a part of your lives in foreign lands and have dodged
bombs and bullets and German “88s” as has the writer; many
of you have lived gone without the luxury of a good meal,
and have lived on C-rations and K-rations for weeks and even
months; many of you have had to sleep in muddy open fields,
in puptents, or live in tanks or planes; many of you have
traveled over the country-side of hostile nations, always
pressing on, and when going the wrong way your hearts
were made heavy, such as were ours at Kasserine and
at other places; many of you have gone to almost the
breaking point and have reached the stage where you
felt that it didn’t matter; and yet now we are returning
to all the things that we dreamed of while were overseas.”
Read the book in its entirety here
The M2A1 105mm howitzer (US Army training film, 20 minutes) –
the most commonly utilized US Army field artillery piece
during WWII. Depending upon shell, maximum range 14km.
American Forces in Action series of War
studies, first published during WWII or soon thereafter:
The 168th Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division,
5th Army, in the hand-to-hand battle for Mount
Pantano, Molise, Italy, in 1943 –
“A terrain where only the brave would go”
(31 pp .pdf).
Gene Hoskinson’s mementos from across Europe
during World War II, as a combat soldier (1 p, .pdf)
War II in colorized
Technical Sergeant ELVIN L. MORITZ, “the soldier’s soldier”,
Company F, 168th Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division.
Follow his combat experiences from Operation Torch, the landing
in North Africa, to Sened Station, Faïd and Kasserine Passes,
Fondouk el Aouareb, and Hill 609 in Tunisia, then on to
Salerno, Anzio, Cassino, the Nazi defensive
Caesar C Line,
and on to the north of Rome. (36 pages, .pdf)
Listen to Iowans and watch videos about their:
WWII stories from the war front and home front, courtesy of
Iowa Public TV. Segments about the 168th Infantry Regiment
and 34th Red Bull Infantry Division begin at 8:00
Extensive resources on WWII Allied and Axis aircraft, tanks
and land vehicles, artillery. Plus propaganda & censorship,
critical battles, military equipment production, London Blitz.
An advertisement from a German periodical during WWII:
“Everything should go well for all!
Yes, things should be even better!
Everyone should be able to work without worrying.
All should be able to afford to travel, to fill
their homes with beautiful things, and to fulfill
their heart’s desires, both large and small.
That is what Germany wants!
For itself and for all the countries in Europe of good will.
Together, we will work to secure and raise the standard of living!
That is what Germany is fighting for.
And only a German victory will realize the
goal of a European economic community.
Dujardin: For years Germany’s largest brandy distillery”
WWII history of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, from
Ireland to Algiers, thru Tunisia, and the costly Italian Campaign:
Excerpts and notes (19 pp .pdf) from James Bacque’s Other Losses,
wherein he writes about deaths which Axis soldiers incurred in
Allied Western Front prison camps during the final weeks of
the Third Reich (JAN 1933 – MAY 1945), and afterward.
Plains Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, located
at the Council Bluffs, IA, airport. Visit the Museum and Hanger
containing 1,200 Allied and Axis artifacts from WWII.
"[The 4th Infantry Division] having pulled back for a rest period
after the Hurtgen Forest's death factory, he [Private Gail F. Parker
of Red Oak and Villisca, Iowa] suddenly found himself in the
middle of another chaotic firefight and yet another deadly battle.
This time, though, the Germans were throwing everything they
had into a forward assault to break the American front line."
Read about Parker's experiences from enlistment at
Camp Dodge thru the Occupation of Germany. (16 pp, .pdf)
including oral history audiobooks:
“Red Oak waits – waits for its youth to come back” (LIFE Magazine, 13 SEP 1943):
“The town of Red Oak, Iowa, seat of Montgomery county, sits comfortably on one of the
Missouri’s tributaries – the East Nishnabotna. It is one of those larger, softer reproductions
of a New England village that the pioneers left behind them all across the continent… In
Red Oak today there are only older
people and children.
When the war came the young men enlisted. They did not wait to be drafted. They distressed
the urban intellectuals by their seeming unconcern with war aims and idealogies. But idealogies
do not need to carry brand labels or be formidably unintelligible. These boys had a system of
beliefs – not simple indeed, but very old and deep-lying, which require them to fight, as their
fathers and grandfathers did, as soon as it becomes clear to them that trouble is rolling down
Their war aims are to stamp out that trouble, to see for themselves Berlin and Tokyo as captured
capitals – and then come home…Meanwhile Red Oak waits – waits for its youth to come back.
‘Return to normalcy’ is not a suspect phrase there. It means simply when the young men and
women are home again, and the stores that the draft and the shortages have closed reopen, and
the children go to bed in their parents’ new small houses, and early evening is a bustle of shopping
and young laughter.
Evenings are quiet now. The grandparents’ tend to drift to the green near the courthouse.
It is a pleasant place for talk or a game of checkers, in summer. And big in the center, much
bigger than the plaque which lists the dead of 1917-18, stands the boards that give the names
of the Red Oak men in the
service. The dead are marked plainly, but every father
in Red Oak can tell you too just who has been wounded or taken prisoner.”
WWII TODAY – follow the war as it happened,
01 SEP 1939 thru 02 SEP 1945, updated DAILY (website)
U.S. Marines carrying a deceased comrade, JUN 1944,
Saipan, Mariana Islands
World War II & the American Home Front (198 pp .pdf), A National Historic Landmarks
Theme Study, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, OCT 2007, pp 76-77:
“Despite nearly unanimous support for the war effort, government leaders worried that public
willingness to sacrifice might lag in a long war. In 1942 President Roosevelt established the
Office of War Information (OWI), which took charge of domestic propaganda and worked
with Hollywood filmmakers and New York copywriters to sell the war at home…The messages
were simplistic…A description of a small town in Iowa, written  shortly after the war
…reflects one of those myths: ‘the home town we dreamed of overseas; rich and contented,
“Homecoming”, one of the most enduring images from World War II, symbolized
the hopes of a generation whose men fought in that war. Read about the war hero
General Robert Ross Moore and the family in that
“An American Story – The Life and Times of a Midlands Family –
From WWII to Vietnam,The Life of Our Nation Reflected in 4 Iowans” (27 pp, .pdf)
Home Movie of The Homecoming surfaces sixty-five years after the
Pulitzer-Prize winning photo (.pdf, 7 pages)
Read about a reunion of soldiers in
Company M, 168th Infantry Regiment, (3 pp, .pdf)
and their WWII experiences in North Africa and Italy.
Tunisian Victory video (1:20 hours) – American and British landings
at Casablanca, Algiers, Oran, to the Tunisian Eastern Dorsales,
Faïd and Kasserine Passes, Mareth Line, Hill 609, ending in Tunis.
M3 (Lee 1) medium tank, 75mm in sponson; additionally, 4x30 caliber,
1x37mm. 40 km/hour, crew of 7. First delivered to US Army 24 APR 1941.
From Pulitzer Prize-winning No Ordinary Time (1), pp 436-7: “It had been
a long struggle for the Allies, longer than expected. After the first flush of victory
in French North Africa, the Allied drive on Tunis had come up against the fierce
resistance of reinforced German forces under the leadership of the great ‘Desert Fox’,
German General Erwin Rommel. On February 20, at Kasserine Pass, inexperienced
American forces had encountered their first blitzkrieg attack by German tanks,
artillery, and dive-bombers.
Though the Americans fought bravely, they were outmaneuvered by the seasoned
German troops: their defense of the pass was ill-conceived, their tanks were
under-armed, their equipment was inferior, their training for the removal of mines
was inadequate, and their air-ground communication were faulty.
The Germans broke through the pass, destroyed a large cache of weapons, and took
thousands of American prisoners. Two weeks after the battle of Kasserine Pass, a
telegram addressed to Mrs.
Mae Stifle on Corning Street arrived at the Western Union
Station in the small town of Red Oak, Iowa, population six thousand. ‘The Secretary
of War desires me to express his deep regret that your son Daniel Stifle…is missing
in action.’ Fifteen minutes later, a second telegram arrived, telling Mrs. Stifle that
her second son, Frank, was also missing in action. A few minutes later, Mrs.
Stifle’s daughter, Marie, received word that she had lost her husband, Daniel Wolfe.
The Gillespies on
Second Street had lost two boys – Charles,
Frank twenty. Duane Dodd and his cousins, the two Halbert boys, were missing.
The families gathered in the lobby of the Hotel Johnson, next door to the Western Union
Station, and tried to make sense of what was happening. Someone recalled seeing
something in the papers about a difficult engagement at a place called Kasserine Pass,
but it would take weeks for the people of this small town to come to understand that
their entire National Guard unit had been destroyed in a single battle.
Red Oak had suffered a disproportionate loss, greater than any other town in the
United States. Only two years earlier, the members of Company M had marched
side by side through the streets on their way to war; now their names were listed
side by side on the official casualty list.
Red Oak, Iowa, was the ‘hometown we dreamed of overseas,’ one serviceman wrote
after the war, ‘rich and contented, with chicken and blueberry pies on Sundays, for
whose sake, some said, we were fighting the war.’ Looking up main street, one could
see the newly painted store fronts of J. C. Penney and Montgomery Ward, the sandstone
structure of the Hudson
State Park [ rather, perhaps
Houghton State Bank, NW corner
of 3rd and Coolbaugh Streets ], and across the way, the Green Parrot, an ice-cream
of young people. On the road
into Red Oak was the Grand Theater,
where farmers from surrounding towns brought their children on Saturdays
for a double feature. Everyone in this small town knew someone on the list.
By March, the Americans had recovered from their reversal at Kasserine Pass and
were pushing forward aggressively. By April, with General Patton in command,
American troops has finally joined up with General Montgomery’s Eighth Army,
having started two thousand miles apart. The Axis forces were driven eastward and
trapped in the Tunisian tip, where they surrendered. Nearly a quarter-million Germans
were taken prisoner. The Allied victory in
Africa was complete.”
(1) By Doris Kearns Goodwin,
Copyright 1994. Published by
Simon & Schuster, New York, New York, USA.
Used by permission of Beth Laski & Associates. All rights reserved.
Map of Crossing of the Volturno River,
Italy, by the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division,
including the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions
of the 168th Infantry Regiment, 5th Army.
Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive ! – preserving the
of America’s “Greatest Generation”
doomed aircraft over Germany, on 10 FEB 1945, and
in the leg by small arms fire from the ground as descending.
A portion of his interview follows:
“I was taken prisoner by SS troopers who forced me to walk
on my injured [bleeding heavily] leg to a village about two
and a half miles away. Had I at any point come across with
the information they sought I’m sure they wouldn’t have
gone to the trouble of taking me prisoner.
Before we got to the village I sat down and refused to walk
further, so they held a confab and sent for transportation
to carry me the rest of the way. There was a German first
aid station in the village, but they merely took a look at my
wounds and replaced the bandages I myself had put on.
The SS officers proceeded to question me for several hours,
then stripped me of all my clothing, wrapped me in a blanket
and took me about 16 kilometers by horse and wagon to a
point somewhere west of the Rhine. We arrived at a German
evacuation hospital, where there were about 300 wounded
Germans and where they left me for a day and night with
no medical attention.
Then we started on another trip further into Germany, to
the finest hospital one could ask for anywhere – large,
modern and shining. Here at last, I thought, was a
chance to have my wounds dressed.
Instead, they tossed me into a small room in the attic of the
three-storey hospital along with nine other American Infantry
boys, two of whom were to die during my three days there.
There were four legs left among those nine men in that room,
their stumps were raw and uncared for.
We lay on filthy straw mats, lice-covered and nauseous from
the indescribable stench that hung over the room. The daily
diet consisted of coffee and a piece of black bread in the
morning and at night a small cereal bowl of potato soup.
SS men came in periodically to question me further;
how they could endure entering the room is beyond me.
The cruel deaths which those fellows were left to face,
amid supposedly civilised surroundings where all
medical facilities were at hand, is a testimonial to
German brutality that will never be forgotten by
those of us who lived to relate the facts.
After three days of futile questioning the Germans put
me in an ambulance and drove me across the Rhine to
a waiting train, the carriages of which were painted
white with red crosses and which, I found out later,
were loaded with ammunition for the Russian front.
I was laid in a carriage, with a foot-deep layer of horse
horse manure and straw as a mattress. Inside with me
they put a Polish pilot who spoke very little English
and for six days we lay there with no water to drink
and just two or three sandwiches during the whole trip.
The train was stopped several times by American
planes but they were fooled by the red crosses and
it wasn’t strafed.”
From War’s Long Shadow, 69 Months of the Second
World War, anthology of 50 contributors.
ed Charlotte Popescu, Cavalier Paperbacks, 2002.
Registry (work in progress) of U.S. Service Veterans:
AN EPITATH FOR THE AMERICAN DEAD
by Yvor Winters, November 1944
Who should dare to write their praise
Do so in the plainest phrase.
Few names last, where many lie;
Even names of battles die.
These will stand for many more:
Wake, Bataan, Corregidor,
Attu, and the Coral Sea,
Africa, and Sicily;
Callahan, who ran his ship
To the very cannon’s lip.
Men, devoid of name and hour,
With direction gathered power;
Stripped of selfhood, each must be
Our hostage to Eternity.
North Africa American Cemetery in Tunisia honors
more than 6,000 Americans who died in World War II
The Restored Burlington Northern Depot
& WWII Memorial Museum