[Twelfth Armored Division, Scrapbook 6] Page: 139 of 220
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The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
Finally, with the Bulge quieted, we were ordered north as a part of
the Third US Army to cross the Rhine at Worms..At night we crept
along, straining to see a few feet beyond our vehicles in the total
blackout. The.movement was secret, with General Patton preparing to
uproot every vestige of the Nazi and Wehrmacht stronghold. In early
morning the next.day we crossed the river, proceeding through many
small towns and villages, including Erbach where I personally tore
from the wall a large swastika banner in Gauleiter Headquarters.
The Division moved on, clearing or skirting such towns as Heilbron,
Halle, Wurzburg, Ober and Unter-Finnigen, Ebersbach, Neckersulm,
Heidelberg, Altdorf, Lauingen, Dischingen, Allen, Landsberg, Wei1-
heim, Holzkirchen, and many others...too many to mention, for we
moved in haste to force the Germans into the mountains.
Taken in Germany, Ma\
1945 by Jack Stout, sh
some members of the
niuicsacu au icaii ,uuu emauaucu, ncmeu ueau uuui» my aruunu,
in domino fashion and spreading from the burned shacks to the rail
transport cars on a siding adjacent to this concentration camp. A
mere 12 were yet alive; they had hidden inside the slop and dung
barrels the night before. They had heard our fires in the distance.
Their SS guards had departed, knowing that the Americans were not
far away. I had seen this cowardice before, when the SS political
troops left in our path several young defending Wehrmacht infantry-
men for our taking near Neustadt. I went to.the nearest farm.house
and ordered the family to care for the twelve remaining starved,
skeletal-like bodies. They had fear of typhus, and I said to them,
"Typhus, hell! You take care of these men, boil their clothes and 1
bathe them - then feed them, but let them eat sparingly at first."
Leaving them to the German family, I knew that the rear echelon
would move in to care for them further.
Just north of Murnau, in column with the 493d AFA Battalion, and
behind the command half-track of General Ennis and his executive,
LTC Lardin, our jeep was sandwiched between an ambulance van a»*
■ and a recon vehicle behind us. A jeep approached us from General
Ennis' forward position; I was handed a message: "Stephens, go
forward and see what is going on to our front." We got out of the
column and moved toward Murnau. A few seconds after passing the
lead vehicle, we heard a rat-tat-tat of shots that sounded as if I
from behind and overhead. In almost an instant we saw someone fall |
in the ditch on the left side of the road. As we approached this
point, we saw lying in the ditch the black uniformed body of an
Another 100 yards to our front were drab-dressed soldiers, seem-
ing at the point of riot, exiting from a broad-barred gate. On
arriving, they cleared the path for our entry into the compound.
They huddled around our jeep, almost.turning it over. I got out
of the jeep and Rudy Ley parked the vehicle near the wall inside
the gate. After Rudy joined me, we started toward the caserne
building to our left and almost immediately faced an approaching
entourage. The gentleman in the center who apparently led the
group displayed a broad smile as he neared us. When we came face-
to face, the mustached man, still smiling, reached and grasped
my hand. By this time I had recognized the center peak of his
cap; he was a Polish officer. As he shook my hand, he spoke in
his native tongue; he spoke no English. But his Captain-inter-
preter, at his side, translated: "Captain, you are the first
American officer with whom I have had the pleasure of shaking
hands." He then, through his interpreter, said some few words
that shocked my memory.
It had been five and one-half years since I heard the voices of
Thomas, Carter, and Kaltenborn announcing the capitulation of
Warsaw. The Time magazine article was also recalled - how the
surrender of Warsaw took place, and how a single Polish General
had defied the Germans, holding out until the very last blood
was to be shed. Was it a miracle of adventure? This I cannot
answer. Was it a predestined experience, a coincidental fact
that sometime long-past had been put out of mind, not to be
thought of again? I don't know.
I met General Juliusz Rommel in that Polish Officers' Prisoner
of War Camp, in Murnau bei Staffel See, on 29 April 1945, both
as comrade-in-arms, and as liberator. When the daily roll was
called that afternoon, I was surprised to know that I was a par-
ticipant in the liberation of more than 2300 Polish officers and
Officers of Horse. Had it not been for the young Captain-inter-
preter, who assisted General.Rdmmel in unraveling the whole of
the Polish story, I might never have understood the miseries they
underwent while in captivity. Fortunately, the; Polish Captain had
attended Penn State College and spoke English very well. He helped
to make General Rommel's 5%-year struggle complete. I was handed
complete documentation of the activities of torture and murder in
which the SS guards were the perpetrators.
Enclosed is a photograph that shows a part of the story. You are at
liberty to use it if you wish. Credit the Army Signal Corps for the
picture is an official photo. As to the written part of this story,
use what you wish, but refer to the fact.that I retain the copy-
right on the written material. What I have submitted will be ex-
panded in the future in.a book-length novel now in process. That is
the prime reason for giving notice of copyright.
The photograph: Left front: Capt Stephens, MGO/CCA; Right front:
General Juliusz Rdmmel, Polish Army (highest ranking officer of the
Polish Army held captive by the Germans throughout the WW II); in
the center (without cap): Captain-interpreter(name lost in files);
Right at shoulder of General Rdmmel: General(name in file but not
availableJChief of Polish Army Intelligence; Left(with smiling face)
unknown; Left(with Polish cap looking over)Captain Stanislav Butner,
Polish Intelligence Staff Officer; a fine portrait artist in civil
life. Others not identified. The man to the left, above my right
shoulder with overseas cap, is either Belgian, French, or British,
an Air Force officer. There were several other officers from allied
Doesn't this look familiar?
Snow and an Army truck in
Austria, 1945. John D. Harris,
a member of Isom's 3614th Trie
Rgmt. stands by the truck.
Somewhere in France in the
Spring of 1945.
Joe Doaks of the 82nd on a
German Knock Out Anti Aircraft
Jack Stout sometimes called
Jo Docks and John C. Lee of
Headquarters 119th members
Toncik and Fonjemie.
From the days of "yesteryear" are these men of the 92nd, in this picture taken in England
before departing for the Continent. Standing I to r are Clem D. Logan, Reuben Lorenz, John
W. Kerstetter (KIA), George D. Davenport, Jack A. Taylor and Chas E. Markowitz. Seated I to r,«
William A Rail, William R. Davis, Edwin B. Groner, Loyal L. Conrad, George H Gray, Herb Berlin
and Arthur M. Rifenbury.
JAMES DARWIN STEPHENS*' /
(Formerly Capt G-5 Section
attached CCA Jig 12th AD,
2 Feb 1945 to 10 Sep 45)
All has been offreuff memory; parts are spotty and need greater
exactness and development.
Members of the 82nd shown
here are Thomas Finley, (Deacon)
Dismond and "Wild Bill1 Heston
also known as "Sylvester".
A short break during the
ride across France for these two
A-714 men. Wilbur Duxburg is
on the right.
On the road for the ride thru
France to the Rhine are these
tanks of the 714th.
j EaKl. CRD! jING the
£5Y DF THE ■
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United States. Army. 12th Armored Division. [Twelfth Armored Division, Scrapbook 6], book, Date Unknown; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth639084/m1/139/?q=Concentration: accessed September 26, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting The 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum.