Singing like a caged bird

Friday, February 11, 2005


For the past year I have been uncovering the experience of my Dad's hellish journey through Europe long ago. Sixty years ago, this January, the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment had been assigned a mission to prevent the demolition of the Schwammanauel hydro-electric dam on the Roer River in Germany. The regimental 3rd Battalion was to conduct the raid. H Company was to be the lead company. And 2nd platoon was assigned to be a diversion by running out of the willow trees and across the 200 yard wide and one foot deep river just below the dam. My Dad was the Platoon leader for that diversion. It was considered a suicide mission. This photo below was taken on a railway car in Belgium heading toward the dam which is near Schmidt, Germany. This type of rail car was called a 40 and 8 because it could haul 40 hommes et 8 cheval...40 men and 8 horses.

Before the raid was to take place, it was fortunately cancelled as the 78th Division had captured the dam. Otherwise, I probably would not be writing this blog today. The men in this photo had survived the Normandy night drop, the ill-fated attack on the "Bridge Too Far" in Nijmegen, Holland and the frozen inferno of the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardenne Forest of Belgium. My dad is the one smiling with the sunglasses his left front is Neal Beaver and to his right front is Herb Beattie. When I learn the identity of the other men in the photo I will post them. They should never be forgotten!

RLS 40 and 8s II


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