by Arnold Cascarano, 291 Infantry Regiment, 75 Infantry Division
Recently I have read many stories by veterans of World War II explaining how the battles were fought and of troop movements. I was only a PFC so Generals Eisenhower, Bradley, Smith, Hodges and Patton never called me into their meetings and asked me how to move armies. All I knew about our progress was what I read in the Stars and Stripes. It wasn’t until years after the war that I was informed how the war was fought. When you are in the infantry, you are confined to your immediate area. So I only knew of 50 yards to my right and left, and 50 yards behind me. That was all.
There has been a lot said about The Battle of the Bulge. Books have been written, movies made, and documentaries have appeared on television, etc. Being a veteran of The Bulge, I know well the carnage that took place, and we should NEVER forget this great battle that cost us so many lives.
However, there were other battles we fought that did not get the attention of The Bulge. As a former infantryman, I can tell you if someone is shooting at you with artillery, mortars, machine guns, etc. it is a big battle.
During the last part of The Bulge, about January, 26, 1945, my division, the 75th Infantry, was shipped to Rhineland, France, to support The American Seventh Army and The French First Army. We were in need of rest, replacements, and equipment, but we were not given rest. We boarded the box cars called “The Forty and Eights.” (I believe this term was first used in World War I). They put 40 men and 8 horses in one box car. Remember, the horses were not housebroken. We traveled for two days to arrive in Alsace-Loraine in the bitter winter. We had no time to really dig in and we had many casualties. This became known as The Colmar Pocket.
We fought with the 28th Infantry Division and the 3rd Infantry Division. We finally pushed the enemy across the Rhine. By the way, this is the battle for which Audie Murphy earned his Congressional Medal of Honor.
While waiting to get shipped to Holland, for some reason my company was given the worst detail, which had a profound effect on me. It still stays with me to this day. We had to go into areas and pick up American bodies and bring them out to the grave registration people at their trucks.
It was then that I realized how many stories will never be told about our very brave boys. We found four Americans’ bodies that were close to each other, and there was one body draped over a machine gun. The other soldiers had a M1’s. As we went further out, we discovered about 40 dead enemy soldiers. Of course we had no way of knowing what took place here, but we tried to piece this together. It seems these four men killed about 40 enemy soldiers and then were killed themselves. What bravery!! This is only one of the many stories we will never know about. There have been many stories like this one.
So the Battle at The Colmar Pocket, as it was called, took many casualties. The mission may not have been spectacular, but the fighting was. I do remember how well the French First Army fought to take back the City of Colmar. That was their city, and they wanted it back from the Germans.
Chevalier Cascarano earned two Bronze Stars, Combat Infantry Badge, three Battle Stars, Victory Medals, and Army of Occupation.