Many thanks to Teri Montgomery, George S. Morris' s daughter
I was in the 175th INF 29th Div. The beach was secure by sometime late in the afternoon. When we landed, the LST could not make it all the way to the beach. We had to wade in the water some distance. I was lucky that I hadnít been with the soldiers that fought and took the beach, because when we reached it there were bodies covering the sand. It was impossible to walk without touching a German or an American body. No one was crying or asking for help. They were all dead. I am writing this 50 years later and I donít like to write about the war, but I need to write about the miracles that I remember during the war in Europe.
There were lots of things I donít remember about the battles or the names of the cities we went through. The 29th Div trained 20 months in England before we landed in France. I knew a lot of our soldiers would be killed there. I was in the machine gun section and was told during training that the average life of a machine gunner in combat was three minutes. I then knew I didnít have much of a chance of getting out alive.
After we had gotten a few hundred yards off the beach, our Sergeant told us that if we had anything with us that we didnít need, to get rid of it instantly. I donít recall what I left behind, some cigarettes Iím sure. I was thinking more about how I was going to get through the long war that was in front of us. I knew there was a power stronger than any army in the world and that was God. So I prayed and asked him to save me and see me safely through the war and he did just that.
It was late in the
evening when we left this place. Everything was quiet. The
Germans had been pushed back a distance. I didnít know what it would
be like after dark. We moved very slow and stopped a lot. Everyone
scared. I will never forget my first Sergeant; he was in charge of
the Company. He had been in the army for a long time and was a tough
soldier, until that night. He cried like a baby and I felt sorry
for him. I donít remember just what happened to him.
| I want
to write about June 12 and put six days of the war behind me. We
were crossing a field near the river that looked like there may have been
some kind of row crop. When they cultivated the crop it had left
a little ridge in between that left a little valley. There was a
fire from an enemy machine gun across the field and pinned us down.
I got in the valley of the rows flat on my stomach. I could feel
the air from the bullets so I thought I had better dig down a little further
into the ground. So I started to dig with my hands and moved up a
ways. Someone had went around behind the gun and knocked it out.
A little later we crossed a small river. I donít remember the name
of the river, but it was only four feet deep with a steep and slippery
bank. Most of the men had already crossed the river. When I
got to the other side there was more machine gun fire down the river.
I was carrying a machine gun and tried twice to get up the bank, but both
ties I slid back down. On the third time when I reached the top my
Sergeant took hold of the barrel and helped me up. We moved across
a field and into the woods. It was late in the evening so we stayed
all night there. It was quiet most of the night. Some time
after dark I laid down on the ground to rest and maybe take a little nap.
I was wet and cold and I went to sleep. I woke up some time later
with a burning and stinging feeling in my left leg. I pulled up my
pant leg and discovered that I had been wounded by a bullet. I walked
a little ways where the medics were located. They dressed the wound
and asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital and I told them that I didnít
need to go. I didnít know where I got shot, probably when we were
pinned down in the cornfield. I didnít feel anything. I was
tired from wading in the water as fast as I could. The next day I
was told to go to the company command post where the Captain awarded me
the Purple Heart. It was a miracle that no one was killed crossing
the river. I thank God for that.
It was warm and sometimes hot during the day. It didnít take long for our clothes to dry after crossing a river or a rain. The fields were surrounded with hedgerows and was almost impossible to get over or through them. We never knew what was on the other side. I can remember a place in a larger field. I was standing and to the right of me a few hundred feet away there was a large barn with some large trees surrounding it. I could hear tanks firing. At the time I didnít know what they were shooting at. A few minutes later I heard my Sergeant say that two of the tanks were shooting at a third tank they had mistaken for a German tank. They had tried to call the third tank but they didnít return their call. Their radio wasnít working. The two tanks fired on the third and blew it to pieces. It smoked and burned for a long time. It was sad that the men were killed by some of their own. In the same location something else happened a lot worse than the tank incident. Just a few minutes later I heard our field artillery guns firing that were located some distance to our rear. It wasnít long until I heard the shells coming toward us. I thought they were going over us to where the Germans were like they had done many times before. The artillery barrage started to come down on us and since there was no place to go we had to just stand there and take it. I though it would never stop. One soldier was standing about fifteen feet from me. A shell hit him directly and he was blown to pieces. I stood there like I had a coat of armor around me and I didnít get any pieces of the shrapnel. I was very lucky.
No one liked to go to war and fight but we needed to so we could save this great place where we live today. I want to tell about the pocket size testament that was given to me before we left England. President Roosevelt wanted everyone to have one. I carried mine in my shirt pocket. One day I took it out to read and I noticed a hole in the front cover. It went through a couple of pages and made a dent as far as the 64th page. My little Testament stopped a piece of shrapnel from going into my chest. This is one of my God sent miracles. Everywhere I went I took the little Bible with me. I read it many times and still have it today.
I want to tell about another miracle. We were walking down what looked like a farm road. We had some tanks with us. I was walking near the rear of the tank. Ahead about three feet, the tank rolled over some kind of land mine and there was a big explosion and all of the track was blown off in front of me. That was a close call and a great miracle. No one was hurt at this time as to my knowledge. Our tanks were a lot of help and played a big part in the war. I didnít like to be real close to them after this happened. They made a lot of noise.
I want to tell a few things about the second time I got wounded, near the city of St. Lo, July 15, 1944. This was a Saturday, late in the day, near sundown. I had already dug my foxhole. Everything was quiet and we were just standing there talking when I heard a German artillery gun start firing one or two times. I knew if it was coming our way it would be there in a few seconds. I was a few feet from my foxhole and didnít have time to get there so I fell to my stomach. One shell was set to go off before it hit the ground. One piece of the shell came down and went into my back. I could feel the warm blood coming down my side. I got up and told my sergeant that I was wounded. He walked with me over to a wire fence and told me to follow it to the aid station. I walked as fast as I could. It was dark when I got there. The Medics dressed my wound and gave me something for the pain. I stayed at this place for a short time. I got on some kind of vehicle with other wounded soldiers and went back a ways to a field hospital and stayed the rest of the night. The next day I was put on a plane and flown to England to a hospital. I wonít ever forget how sick I got flying across the English Channel. I was looking down at the water and ships. I donít know how long we were in the air, maybe an hour or less. I was glad to get to the hospital and get into a nice clean bed where it was peaceful. One week later the doctor came in and looked at my wound. He told me he needed to remove the shrapnel. I donít know shy he waited so long. He didnít give me anything for pain. He just reached in with some tweezers and pulled it out. The flesh had already started growing around the shrapnel. I thought I was going to pass out. I had more pain when he removed it than when it had went in. While I was there, I had a long rest and gave a pint of blood. I received my second Purple Heart. I stayed ninety days in the hospital. I thought maybe by a small chance that I might get to stay there in England for some kind of duty. I would liked to have stayed there, it was nice and peaceful. I guess I was just dreaming.
I went back across
the English Channel to France with some more soldiers. We went all
through France by trucks. As we were going near Paris, there were
lots of people waving. We went on through Holland and into Belgium.
We went through many cities that were destroyed. I didnít know if
I would go back to my old company or not. When we arrived at our
destination, a few of the soldiers were still there that I had been with.
There were also many faces that I had not seen before. This was the
last of October. The weather was starting to get cool. At this
time we were located in Belgium near the German border. We stayed
at this location for a few days. My company was in a rest area.
I wasnít very happy to be back on the front lines. I guess I would
have to make the best of it and trust in God and pray for more miracles.
|At some time
during the first of November, after we had moved across the border into
Germany, we were walking down a road near a small town that had already
been captured by some of our Division. When we got inside the town
I heard planes overhead. These planes were German Fighter planes.
They were flying around getting ready to dive down and turn their machine
guns on us. I got inside a door opening and watched them. It
looked like there may have been four of five planes. They never had
a chance to shoot us with their guns. Our fighter planes had arrived
just in time and they started firing at them and they were firing at our
planes. I stayed in the door and watched most of it. Some of
the shells and pieces of the planes fell in the street near me. I
thank God for another miracle. All of the German planes were shot
down. I want to tell about another time three weeks later in another
town. The name of the town was Bourheim. We stayed there four
days. It had rained a lot. We were there for Thanksgiving.
Some one told us that we might get a hot Thanksgiving dinner brought to
us. I couldnít believe it. It was pouring down rain and we
had soldiers all around the town and the Germans were trying to take it
back. We got our dinner sometime that night. At this location
there was a large haystack and a big hole inside where the cattle had eaten
it away. We got inside the haystack and ate our turkey and dressing
and all the trimmings. This was the first hot meal weíd had in a
long time. It would have been nice to have been able to stay there
in the haystack for the rest of the night. It was nice and dry.
We had to move a few hundred feet and set up our guns and guard a road
that was going into town. We didnít have to dig any foxholes because
there were trenches four feet deep at this location.
All the units around
the town were short of men. The next day we moved to the river and
crossed to the other side. A few days later we went to a rest area
and stayed for several days. I went to the 29th Inf Division NCO
School the week of December 3rd through the 8th of the year 1944.
I am writing about another miracle that happened sometime in November.
We were going across some fields and there were some tanks near us and
lots of firing. One of my comrades got shot in the leg. He
was bleeding a lot. There was not a medic there to help him so I
put a tourniquet above the wound to help stop the bleeding. It helped
a little. I did not know what else to do but pray. I asked
God to stop the firing of the guns that were near this place. It
did soon stop. There were two tanks near this place. I ran
as fast as I could to the tanks. One of the operators was standing
part of the way out of the turret. I told him I needed some help
to take the wounded soldier to the aid station, which was about a quarter
of a mile down the road. They were located in a small village.
We put the soldier on the tank and they took him to the aid station.
I walked to the aid station and arrived there about the same time that
the tank did. I went in to get some help to get the soldier off the
tank and into the aid station. I donít know if he lived or died.
It was late in the evening, near dark so I stayed there for a while. My company had moved to the field across from where I was. I did not know how I would find them in the dark. Some time later, my Captain came back for some supplies. I went back with him to a small village where they were located. When we arrived, the sergeant said that one of the machine gunners opened fire on a German tank. The tank fired back and killed the soldier. If I had not stopped to help the wounded soldier, I would have probably been with him.
At the end of December 1994, the weather was cold with some snow and ice. I remember Christmas Eve, some candy, cookies, and some other things to eat were sent to us. We were located in and around a small town a few miles from the Battle of the Bulge. We were there to guard the town and the river. We went inside to eat our Christmas treats. We had to take turns since someone had to be on guard at all times. This was a very quiet place except for a few shells that fell near the building where we were having our treats. Later that night, we would go out to find a place for an outpost about a quarter of a mile out of town. Two soldiers were with me and we went to a railroad track that was built on top of a levy. We came to a place where there was a large hole under the track facing a small river. We ran a wire over the top of the snow for our phone. I would call and report anything we saw or heard. We could see pretty well that night. The moon was shining bright on the snow. It was another quiet night except for the weird music that was playing on the other side of the river. It was impossible to sleep that night. It was just too cold. It was a long night. The next morning we were relieved and went back to the small town. Christmas Day was almost silent and blue cold all day. We stayed in this small town for a few days.
The Battle of the Bulge
started on December 16th and lasted for one month. That is where
my brother, L.B. Morris, was captured and sent to a prison camp.
He told me that there were 2300 that started the cold walk several miles
to the prison camp. Not very many made the trip, about 400-500.
If one got sick or just plain tired and stopped to rest on the roadside,
they would either shoot them or leave them to die in the bitter cold.
They had to walk several miles to the camp. My brotherís feet had
frozen and frost bitten due to the snow that made his feet wet. He
told me how they treated them at this camp. They did not have a lot
of food to eat. He talked about the soup that they fed them.
He called it grass soup because it looked like grass and water had been
boiled. He said sometimes they would get packages from the American
Red Cross but did not get all that was sent to them. I guess the
Germans got hungry too. After about 5 months in the prison the English
Army freed them. At this time, the war was near the end. L.B.
had problems with him feet for the rest of his life.
| I want to write about
one of my great friends. He had been in the war for about 5 months.
He came to a point where he thought he could not make it any longer.
His morale was as low as it could be. He told me that evening, just
before it got dark, that we were not going to make it through the war.
He said there was one thing we could do and might have a chance.
He did not want to run from all the bad things that were going on and wasnít
thinking about hiding in a cave or hole. I asked him what we could
do and he told me in a few words. He asked me if I would shoot him
in the leg and that he would do the same for me. We would be sent
to the hospital if we would do that. I told him that I would not
do anything like that. I would trust God to see me through the rest
of the war. I read some verses from my little testament and told
him about my experiences back at the beach June 6. I told him that
I was saved there and he could be too. I canít remember what the
rest of the night was like. The next morning we moved from this place
and went across a field. My friend was some distance to the rear
from me. I heard a loud explosion. He had stepped on a land
mine and was blown to pieces. I walked back there thinking I might
find his dog tags but found nothing. I had walked by the mine and
had missed it by a few inches. This was a miracle for me that I missed
the mine. He was a great soldier and served his country with great
honor. I have thought of him many times. I did not have bad
thoughts about him for what he wanted to do. I had many friends that
died in this war. Some that I had been with since basic training.
They were great soldiers. I can remember two of my comrades that
went crazy and got out of their foxholes and went straight toward the front
lines. I would talk to them and try to get them to turn around and
come back. I donít know what happened to them. They may have
I am not going to write about anymore of the bad things that happened in this long, big war that lasted for months. We crossed the Rhine Valley and the Rhine River and went through many large cities that were knocked down to small pieces. I can recall walking near some large bombs that never exploded. We went through some woods where there were some large trees and they all looked like they had been struck by lightning. I want to write about some good things I remember. The war was almost over and all of the cold winter was over. Spring was nice and warm. We were moving across hills and valleys. Most of the land was for farming and grazing cattle. We came to a house with a lot of other buildings. It was a good-looking place. We stopped and an elderly German man came out to talk to us. There was one soldier that was with us that could speak German. It wasnít long before a young girl came out. She may have been about 12 years old. She was his granddaughter. We spent maybe 2-3 days there. We were treated real good and went inside their home many times to hear the young girl play the piano and sing. They never did say what had happened to the rest of their family. I am sure there were many good Germans that did not agree with the leaders that wanted this long war that killed so many people. When we left this place, we were reorganized and were engaged in several large forests in the vicinity of the city of Klotze. On April 22nd, we went through the wood and checked to see if there were many Germans hiding there. All of the 175th Inf went through, each was ten feet from the other. It seemed like there was more wildlife than anything else. There were lots of deer.
On the first of August, I
got a two-week vacation and went to the French Riviera. I had a great
time on the warm beaches. While I was there, the war in Japan ended.
I knew it wouldnít be long until I would be going back to the good old
United States. I can remember when I was a little boy; I would read
about the Civil War and World War I. I never realized that some day
I would be in a war that was just as bad. I could write a lot more
about the war that I was in but it is time to close. It has been
a long time. I give God all the credit for surviving this war.
Most of all I want to thank God for seeing me safely through the war and
letting me live fifty years longer.
George S. Morris, november 3, 1994