David.Gettman May 28th, 2008
I was with the 2nd Cavalry, Commanding Troop “E”, and later the 2nd Squadron as senior captain, and finally for a month I had the Regiment, less the 1st Squadron which remained in Coblenz, Germany (I think) on Army of Occupation duty after the Regiment returned to the US. I was at Fort Ethan Allen from November 1917 to May 1918, then went over to France on the good ship Caserta (an Italian boat which had been a horse transport until they cleaned out the manure and built three tier bunks out of odds and ends of lumber) which was our home for the two weeks it took to cross.
They tried to feed us Jack Rabbits, but some of the men made a midnight raid and threw them overboard. They stank to high heaven as they had come across the Pacific through the Panama Canal to New York from Australia on a cooler ship that wasn’t too efficient, not a refrigerator ship by any stretch of the imagination.
We finally landed at Brest and were promptly picked on as Military Police as we were the first Regular Army unit to land. For about two or three weeks we stayed down in the dock area and then built and moved to our new camp just out of town on the way to Pontanezen Barracks. We stayed there doing troop escort and Military Police duty until about mid-October then made a 40 and 8 ride up to San’ Dizier and then hiked and caught rides up to Dombasle, located about 15 or 20 miles from Verdun. Continue Reading »
David.Gettman May 13th, 2008
A WW2 Remembrance of an Old 2nd US Cav Trooper, 1941-1945, A Personal Account
I was “asked” to join the US Army in Jan of 1941. Got an extension until July of ’41 as I had some wheat out. I was inducted at Ft. Leavenworth, KS. and then sent to Ft. Riley, to serve with the 2nd Cav.
Was in several troops along the way and finally ended up in Machine Gun Troop. And for those of you who didn’t have horses in the Cav, we did and they got treated better than we did. But we did love those horses. Shortly after Dec 7, 1941 we boarded a train with the horses to guard the border in Arizona. And this was quite an experience. Finally during the spring of 1942 we were told we were going back to Fort Riley…only we didn’t take the horses with us. Got back to Ft. Riley and found that all the horse barns had been turned into tank barns.
From then on I became a member of the 9th Arm’d Div., 2nd Tank Bn, Co D. [editors note: the 2nd Cavalry Regiment was deactivated at this time and the men and equipment used to form 2nd Tank Battalion] We trained a set of rookies that were shipped off and then got a 2nd set of them which we kept. We went to the Desert Maneuvers and from there to the maneuvers at then Camp Polk, LA. Got to go to a parade in New Orleans with the tanks and that was something for a farm boy from Kansas. From Camp Polk we went to NJ where we left for Scotland on the Queen Mary. From Scotland we went to England where we drew new equipment and waited for our turn to land on the beach. After working our way through the hedge rows we went through Paris with our tanks. My youngest brother was killed in Oct of 1944 only a few miles from where I was but it took almost a month for me to find out. I had 5 brothers and 3 sisters and 4 of my brothers plus me were all in the service, 1 in the Pacific, one in Australia (who went in the service the same day I did and after being inducted at Ft. Leavenworth we didn’t see each other again for almost 5 years), 1 in Africa and Italy and the youngest brother John and I in Europe. In Dec. of 1944 we were ordered to the area around Bastogne.
Our light tanks were ordered to guard a road crossing and not to leave the area for any reason. When the big Tiger Royals started in on us it was something else. You could read a newspaper all night long with the firepower around you.
Finally about the 18th of Dec. we ditched our tank and threw a grenade in it and took off on foot with nothing with us as we were out of shells of any kind and no food. It took almost 2 weeks for the Germans to catch us but they finally did. We have snow and cold but nothing like they had in the Bulge. I have never been that cold since and never want to be. I am the only one left out of my tank – the other 3 did come back after being POW’s but they have all since died. I was on a forced march across Germany for most of the 149 days I was captured but finally did end up at Stalag IVB – there’s lots on the web about this POW camp and some pictures. I weighed about 185 pounds when I was captured and when liberated I weighed less than 90 pounds. I never saw a Red Cross pkg. and the best meal I had was cooked by some women who gave up their meal for us in a factory of female prisoners. It was barley and water and some awful looking bread but it was the best food I’d had in a long time. I am now almost 85 years old and have had some major medical problems this year but doc says I can still kick butt so guess I’m doing fine.
[Editors note: Since writing this article Sam has ridden on to Fiddler's Green.]
David.Gettman March 29th, 2008
LETTER FROM SERGEANT VITO SPADAFINO, TROOP A, 42ND SQUADRON, 2ND CAVALRY REGIMENT
I’m a WW2 veteran formerly with the 2nd Cavalry Recon and Mechanized unit of the 3rd Army in the European Theater. My unit was responsible for re-capturing the [Lipizzan] Stallions and numerous other horses prior to the end of hostilities somewhere [Hostau] in Czechoslovakia. The Stallions were turned over to The Spanish Riding Academy and the mares in foal and other breeds were shipped to a huge estate somewhere in the American zone.
My platoon and I were responsible for the protection and care of these precious animals. I have some photos of the great, great, grandmothers of some of today’s offspring. Two German veterinarians and the grooms and family that we brought back with the animals tended to them.
We were also keeping watch on all the horses in different parts of the estate. Our main concern was the Russians who were on the other side of the hedges that separated our sector from theirs. We had constant patrols around our perimeter because of them. I was fortunate enough to be able to assist the Polish cook in the kitchen who provided us with delicious meals. We had two German Vets who cared for the horses and also bred some of them. The Lipizzaner mares were in separate corrals of their own.
I have one amusing anecdote to tell you. One day Unit Commander Colonel Reed came to visit to see how things were going along. He and I walked down to see the Lipizzaner mares. While we observed them, I turned to the Colonel and said, “They look like they are pregnant.” Colonel Reed looks at me and says, “Sergeant, where do you come from?” I replied, “The Bronx, sir.” Well the Colonel says, “Where I come from we say they are in foal,” as he smiled. After a while my buddies got me on a horse to teach me to ride. I learned pretty fast and the grooms picked out a nice even gaited one and every once in a while I would go out riding after dinner with one of the platoon members. Strangely enough that was the last time I was on a horse. Soon I was ready to return to the USA to be discharged into civilian life. Continue Reading »
David.Gettman March 22nd, 2008
Biography of Cliff Miller
372nd Eng Bn/3rd Pltn, C Troop, 42nd Sqdn, 2nd Cav Grp, U.S.A.
I, Cliff Miller, will attempt to give you a run down on the experiences I had during WW2. I went over in August 1943. We were about 14 months ahead of the main invasion troops, to prepare for their arrival. We built camps, living quarters, hospital, etc. There was nothing earth shaking going on in England, other than getting to the English ladies.
In 1944, preparations were being made for the crossing of the channel. All troops were ordered to move into pup tents and be ready to move on a moments notice. Continue Reading »