I want offer a few words of thanks to Sam McGowan for his story and contribution to WWII History. I have been a subscriber to WWII History and I enjoy the stories very much. I especially enjoyed Mr. McGowan’s story and history of the C-47 entitled “Tale of the Biscuit Bomber” (Ordnance, July 2010 issue). I was very interested in the story and adventures of the bomber.
Perhaps my memory originated in the year 1944 when a few of us WACs stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, at the time, heard another WAC come into out barracks and ask if any of us wanted a trip to Florida in a plane. It was a Sunday afternoon and none of us was on duty, so we thought, “Why not?”
A pilot stationed at Lawson Field (in Benning) had to fly and put in air time. Was it legal? At the time, who cared? This would be my very first flight in an airplace—a C-47.
When we got to Lawson Field we were equipped with helmets and parachutes that we were told to sit on. The trip was to Carrabelle, Florida. I think it was a place where the paratroopers practiced. We all sat on our parachutes in the bucket seats. We were a group of about six or seven. Some were very nervous and I think I actually saw one face turn green as she threw up into a helmet. Then one WAC requested to use the bathroom. Well, the fellow on board kept a straight face as he pointed to a section to go to and we all laughed as she came out holding a bottle! We landed and spent a nice day on the beach.
Ever since that event I became interested in the C-47, so it was very enjoyable to read how many events the C-47 participated in.
Keep up with the stories of World War II. After I read the many stories I pass my copies on to other vets.
Florence D. Miles
I was reading through your January 2010 magazine and come across the writeup and pictures of captured weapons. This brought back some memories of when I was with Company G, 18th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Division. At some point we were pulled out of the line for R&R. Upon returning my squad leader asked me to report to regiment and then division. It turned out to be quite a few of us. When we got back to division, they took us out to a large open area. In the center was a bunch of cars and a few buses. We were given panzerfausts and took turns firing this weapon at the vehicles.
After it was over they gave us one to carry back to company. So from then on I slept and ate with this thing along with my M-1. Some time after that, with the war winding down and not any action to use it, I was able to turn it back in. I don’t know about the others that received one, if they used it. I sure did not. The weapon was not all that heavy. I had to make a rope sling to carry mine.
William L Sasman
German Deaths at Dachau
I always enjoy reading WWII History magazine. I would like to bring to the readers’ attention that there are some mistakes in the article “A Fighting Foot Soldier of the 45th” (Profiles) in the June/July 2010 issue. The photograph at the beginning of the article is incorrectly captioned. It was taken by T/4 Arland B. Musser of the 163rd Signal Photographic Company, U.S. 7th Army on April 29, 1945. All the Americans in the photo are identified. Colonel Howard A. Buechner, a medical officer in the 45th, wrote in his 1986 book The Hour of the Avenger that there was another machine gun located to the right but out of camera range.
He was a witness to the execution of the German POWs in the photo as was the author of Surrender of the Dachau Concentration Camp 29 April 1945, Colonel John H. Linden. There are approximately 60 Waffen SS soldiers in the photo taken in the Dachau coal yard. Seventeen had just been killed, numerous others were wounded, and some played dead when the shooting started.
The number of 17 dead came from Lt. Col. Sparks. Colonel Buechner wrote it was 12. There is a photo of the dead after the wounded and remaining survivors were removed but it’s hard to count exactly. Just as the true number of German POWs killed in the Dachau coal yard incident will never be known, the total number of Germans killed by American soldiers at Dachau is unknown. The estimate is from 122 to over 520.
Most of the Germans who surrendered at Dachau were Waffen SS soldiers, wounded Germans convalescing at the camp hospital and their families. Most of the regular guards, the camp administrators, their familes, and the Camp Commandant, Martin G. Weiss, fled Dachau on April 28, the day before the Americans arrived. On April 27 Victor Maurer of the International Red Cross came to camp with his team, bringing food and supplies for the camp prisoners. I am not aware if Mr. Maurer witnessed any of the killings of the Waffen SS soldiers or their officers.
The article mistakenly states that Lt. Col. Sparks was sent back Stateside because of his threat to kill Brig. Gen. Henning Linden. Colonel Buechner writes in his book that Lt. Col. Sparks, 1st Lt. Jack Bushyhead, and himself were investigated and brought up on court martial charges for the execution of the German soldiers at Dachau. The article is correct that General George S. Patton, now the appointed military governor of Bavaria (which includes Dachau), destroyed the papers and evidence he had. He dismissed the court martial.
I, and I believe, many readers would like to read an article that details the true story of the executions of the German POWs at Dachau.
It’s a part of the war seldom discussed.
Edwin J. Sims
Note: Opinions expressed in “Dispatches” do not represent those of the writers, editors, or staff of WWII History or Sovereign Media.