Edgar Valderrama – 5th Infantry Division, 11th Infantry Regiment, Company C
Entering the City
We were a scraggly, dusty, sorry looking line of Dogfaces dragging ourselves single file into the first German city I had seen since ‘joining’ the Fifth Infantry Division as a replacement. The city had been rendered an impressive pile of ruins by merciless bombardment.
Nevertheless, industrious German civilians had cleared the streets of obstacles, giving the city the clean tidy look of normality if you didn’t notice that the buildings were all piles of rubble.

As we approached a slanting heap that had once beena a large apartment house I noticed several young people digging amidst the sticks and stones. Curiously I asked: “Looking for firewood?” “No,” one of them answered, “we are looking for our “Vater.” (not “water” but “FATHER.”) I saw no point in continuing the conversation.

Champagne Guard
By the time the last one of us had dropped his rifle and slid comfortably unto the floor of the basement in the house that had been chosen for Co. Headquarters, one of the talented treasure finders among us (I suspect he had been a burglar in ‘real life’) had discovered and recovered a respectable stash of high quality German champagne. (A worthy rival to the best French product) In fact, he had quickly discovered a champagne factory and brought us a respectable part of its store for our enjoyment.

Enjoy it we did. I had phone guard the second night we were there. Two hours of it. There being no clear and present danger in the now quiet city; and a sense of responsibility never having been very noticeable among my qualities, I found a most enjoyable way to while away the hours. Though my sense of danger was nonexistent, and my ‘duty’ gene lost in the shuffle, my ability to time my sleep was perfect, and I exploited it to the maximum. Upon beginning my two hours of “duty,” I opened one of two bottles of bubbly delight I had brought to the phone guard table and downed a delicious tumblerful of tasty frothiness. As the comfortable sense of satisfaction permeated my organism, I carefully placed my forearm on the fine mahogany table and dropped my head on my arm in a comfortable position. My obligation was to call from Company Headquarters to Battalion Headquarters every half hour as proof we were still there. This I did faithfully by setting my internal clock to wake me at the proper time. I would wake and call Battalion with impeccable timing, then leisurely enjoy the satisfaction provided by a tall glass of champagne and then replace my head on my arm for the next interval. The ritual was repeated every half hour till it was time to wake my replacement and drop the onerous duty onto his shoulders. My instinct was so flawlessly tuned that the two hours and the two bottles ended simultaneously in perfect synchrony so as to wake the next man due to free me from this demanding task.
This genuine hillbilly (there were lots of them) claimed to be a member of the notorious Hatfield vs. McCoy legend, but we had strong doubts, as he was one sorry individual. He would even avoid the strain of carrying water in his canteen by mooching it from us.
I doubt the rest of the guys were following my example; as they had probably figured out the bottle per hour of guard duty routine on their own. What I do know is that Hatfield also took to the idea but that instead of pulling it off he brought about our downfall.

Hatfield took over guard duty at midnight and was to wake his replacement at two. ALL of us, including Hatfield slept well that night, but it was the last rest we had till Germany collapsed. Battalion noticed our absolute silence; Hatfield having entered into sound, blissful, lasting sleep as soon as he had finished his first glass of champagne. No jangling of the bell by Battalion was able to rouse him or us so they finally felt obliged to report our disappearance to Regimental Headquarters.

The Colonel
A Colonel came personally to investigate around six AM. He strode unchallenged into our basement fort greeted only by the soft rumbling buzz of peacefully sleeping soldiers. Hatfield was sound asleep, head down before his two unfinished bottles. The rest of us were strewn about as comfortable as possible.

To rouse a mighty Colonel so early in the morning is bound to have unpleasant consequences for the responsible lower life forms. I will leave you to imagine the “wrath of Kahn” and only note that our pleasant but short Frankfurt stay ended abruptly; the whole company being held accountable and immediately returned to the front lines.

Now Hatfield had to carry his own water or go without.

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2 thoughts to “Guestblog WWII Veteran: Dogfaces in Frankfurt am Main

  • Thomas A Holland

    My Dad, 1SG Thomas A Holland E/2/11/5th Div told me that story also.
    He and other 1SGs “liberated” some of the champagne, got rolling drunk and decided to sleep it off in a bombed out building. In the middle of the night he woke up and needed to “relief” himself, but was still hung over. He opened a door and started to walk outside. The only problem was he was on an upper floor with no room on the other side of the door. He was hanging by the door until it swung back to safety.

  • Paul Cassavechia, M.A.

    Keep your attention on the international newswires. A living, long forgotten U.S. Army WWII hero will likely soon be awarded by U.S.A. the Congressional Medal of Honor for miraculous deeds that occurred over 75 years ago . One day in 1944 his company sustained 93 casualties and the company commander was killed. This man on three separate occasions that day made single-handed rampages against strong German forces that saved the remnants of his unit and allowed it to complete all objectives. He was unscathed. An example is when he charged 300 yds. toward the firing 75mm cannon and tank mounted machine guns of a Mark IV Panzer. Result-tank lost. Several Euro nations may also decorate him in Wash. D.C. You are being given advanced notice of this historic event by the only person able to do this; I nominated him for the medal. Paul J. Cassavechia, M.A. Baltimore


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