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US Army

3rd Armored Division Memories


3rd Armored Division Memories
I was a member of the 3rd Armored "Spearhead" Division.  The Division got its nickname because it was the spearhead of the Allied Armies across the European Continent.  The Division was under the command of Major General Maurice Rose, who was killed in action in Paderborn, Germany, while leading his men.  The Division spearheaded all the way from Villers Fossard and St. Lo in France in June of 1944 to Dessau and the Elbe River in Germany in April, 1945.  The Division helped close the Falaize Gap in France and the Ruhr Pocket in Germany. (It was not any of General Patton's divisions or any part of his Third Army, as has been mistakenly reported by some historians.)
The 3rd Armored Division was the first Allied unit to enter Germany, the first to breach the Siegfried Line, and the first to capture a German town (Roetgen).  The Spearhead Division was the pride of 7th Corps Commander Lieutenant General Joseph L. "Lightning Joe" Collins, and the U.S. First Army, at first under the command of Lieutenant General Omar N. Bradley, and later under Lieutenant General Courtney H. Hodges.  I mention this, because nobody seems to know that it was the U.S. First Army that spearheaded across Europe.  Nobody seems to ever have heard the names of Maurice Rose, or Courtney H. Hodges. Everybody seems to think General George Patton and the Third Army won the war. It's time that people knew about a heroic and creditable 3rd Armored Division, and about General Maurice Rose.  I recommend reading Andy Rooney's book entitled "My War."
I was the division photographer of Division Headquarters, Forward Echelon, during our participation in the Battle of the Bulge, and also during the whole liberation of the European Continent.  My work was published in the two editions of the book entitled "Spearhead in the West," which is the history of the 3rd Armored Division.  One edition was printed in Germany in 1946 during our occupation there just after the war ended.  The other edition was an updated version in 1992.  My work is also in the book "Death Traps" by Belton Y. Cooper.
Going from the serious now to the lighter side, I'll tell you something a little humorous as well as newsworthy and a personal memory of the Bulge.  Our division had a CP (Command Post) bivouac at the insane asylum at Lierneux, Belgium, in January, 1945.  In refreshing my memory of an incident there, I remember walking through a long dark and dank tunnel on the way to our kitchen truck to get chow.  And after chow, we had to walk back through the tunnel.  All through the tunnel were individual mental patients scattered about who looked at us as if we were strange creatures from the planet Mars.  It gave us the feeling that they were in great fear of us, and perhaps suspecting that we would torture them.  Our bivouac at the asylum at Lierneux was also the place where Corporal George Stettinfeld and I had mixed a batch of home-made ice cream that we made with snow in George's GI helmet.  Lemon flavored ice cream with the synthetic lemon powder (which we called "sympathetic" lemon powder) from our K-rations.  After we ate it, George remembered that he had previously washed his feet in that very same helmet.
I also remember a couple of other incidents in Hebronval, Belgium.  When our CP bivouacked there, it was very cold, cold, cold.  It must have been 30 degrees below zero.  I had my fingers frost-bitten while taking pictures because I couldn't operate the cameras with gloves on. (Now, to this day, whenever the temperature gets below 60 degrees, my fingers get numb.)  I also had to carry the cameras underneath my overcoat and combat jacket to keep the camera shutters from freezing.  There were not too many buildings around where we could sleep without freezing to death.  I found one outbuilding.  It was a small wooden barn about 10 feet square and about 15 feet high.  Actually, it was a cow shed.  In this very small cow shed was a stall with a bull in it.  The bull was NOT very happy either, with a stranger coming in there.  So I didn't stay in there too long.  I decided to walk around the outside of the shed to look for any other possible place to sleep for the night.
Marvin Mischnick in France, 1944
When I got to the other side of the cow shed, I saw a closed wooden door up about 10 feet off the ground.  After piling up a few things to stand on to reach the door, I opened the door to have a look inside.  It was the storage room for hay for the bull in the stall below.  I climbed in there and bedded down for the night.  It happened to be directly above the unpleasant bull.  I didn't think the bull got too much sleep that night, because he knew I was present right up above him, and it made him nervous.  Of course, I was a little nervous too with him being about two feet below me.  I also kept worrying about how many rats or mice would be crawling over me in that hay pile.  But one good thing came from that cold, cold night.  The heat from the bull manure (proper civilian name for it) kept rising up to where I was sleeping and kept me as warm as toast, while it was 30 below zero outside.  And that's no bull.
Source: Battle of the Bulge May 2001


Division photographer

of G-2 Section

3rd Armored Division


Battle of the Bulge