Lyman Anson, a medic/ German translator in the 119th, Company was nearly capture by the SS in Alsace Lorraine in 1944. At great risk, a local Eugenie Mathis hid Anson and other 44th GIs from the SS. The men had become separated from their unit and took refuge in Frau Mathis basement. Diary and picture courtesy of the Anson family.
Start of Lyman Anson Diary 9/5/43 Left the States on U.S.S. Monticello, formerly Count de Grande, an Italian Luxury Liner. Most everyone got sea sick. Played a clarinet about every night. Very cramped quarters. Good Navy band on top deck. Food was pretty bad.
9/15/43 Landed at Cherbourg, France. First division to land there direct from the States. Stayed one month in orchard in Normandy, near Monteburg. Terrible destruction all around. Saw our first German "souvenirs", etc.
10/14-18/43 Crossed France, camping first night in an open field somewhere near the base of the Normandy penninsula. Second night on Autodrome outside of Paris, then in woods near Luneville.
10/19/43 Chanteheux, where we were in a schoolroom in back of the city hall. Had some Grenadine (like flavored water), then went in to Luneville and had some beer one night. No sight of SS.
10/25 Marainviller--stayed in a barn on the second floor. Found nice family of Jean Oliger, who were very friendly. Paid them nightly visits. Saw movies in town and in Luneville. Did some Christmas shopping (red wooden shoes for Jean, tie for Dad; necklace for Lynn). Our kitchen fed many civilians too lazy to cook their own food. Our squad first went out from here; working from aid stations in Embermenil. Tompkins had his helmet blown off while stealing chickens when an 88 came in. Spent one night in a foxhole near 1st Bn C.P. Had a couple of hauls; nothing big.
11/13 Launeuville--The big attack started today. We were up at 3rd Bn Aid Station on a hill. Station was in a pill box. Spent miserable night in a water-filled hole, trying to shut out noise of 88's coming in. Came back to company in Laneuveville. I was sick. Slept in basement room. Very small. 12 litterbearers augment our platoon for the attack. Up with 3rd Bn on railroad tracks; hauled down embankment to station on the tracks. Dug in, as shells weren't too far away. Many causalities. Found an old clarinet upon return to Laneuveville. Ziggy's sax left behind in the barn.
11/18 Avricourt--Slept in basement of vacated house on a straw bed. Worked on clarinet and began Christmas cards. Town pretty well beat up. Shells still coming in while we were there.
11/20 St. Georges--Slept upstairs with Jack Yates and Gumba. Cleaver--friend of Harbaun's--spent night after being pinned down all day. Spoke to German wounded downstairs. Finished Christmas cards. Found sailor's hat, top hat, fireman's uniform. Everybody wearing funny costumes, guys riding bicycles, plenty of prisoners going by. Took lots of pictures.
11/22 Sarraltroff--just outside of Sarrbourg. Only there one night. Half in 3rd floor of home, then moved to auditorium. Moved out next morning with 2nd Bn. Marched about 12 miles. plenty of handouts along the way; apple cider, coffee, pie, schnapps. Old woman told us on a break that a fortune teller told her the last battle would be fought in the Black Forest. Had to wait in town while 1st and 3rd Bns. cleaned out snipers. Talked with nice girl that afternoon. Had argument that night with T/5 Mexican in Aid Station.
11/23 Metting--after one town forward, we pulled back with 1/2 the company. Stayed with Bowker's squad at home of Lucienne and Charlotte Ganglof, their mother and aunt. Played "Mensch Argere Dich Night". People were wonderful to us. Baked cheese pie, plum pie, coffee, etc. Lucienne very nice. PW stockade in school.
11/24 Dossenheim--slept in attic with Joe D. and Boben. Woman a little off her nut--in fact, whole town seemed to be full of them. Her husband is SS. Got insignia off uniform when she had to turn us in. Yet, each night she invited us for "wine or milk". Nice girl always saying "o-hah-O" for Ohio. Took some pictures and bought some postcards. Wix, Wilfur, et. al., drunk on mixture of wood alcohol and grapefruit juice. Showers in basement of school where company stayed. Spent one evening with school-master and wife--both very well educated. Attended Lutheran services where causality list of church members was read as women wept.
11/28 Brauweiler--Spent couple of days in a loft in huge barn. Rest of platoon stayed in old, burned out furniture factory, where I made notebook. Christmas packages are beginning to come from home.
11/30 Seiweiler--slept in front room of Wirtschaft with Jack. He and I tried to uncover a Luger by canvassing the town and demanding to see all private weapons. However, we gave it up when we found the list the old Burgemeister had and we thought it more a job for the CIC. Stole butter paper from dairy for stationary. Met Bob Hager, 63rd Eng., cousin of Stanley Fisher of Wheaton. (Marcy's note: Wheaton, Ill., was my dad's hometown. He grew up at 404 N. Washington, across the street from Wheaton College)
12/3 Adamsweiler--Spent one night in basement of school. Got lost on way there and nearly lost an ambulance to SS 88's. Piano upstairs in school. Chaplain's asst.--Rocky--taught me "Out in the Cold Again". Stole Nazi "Hoco" cigarettes, made in Alsasce; lousy tasting. Emptied packs and filled with straw. Sold to Germans.
12/6 Ratsweiler--went out to 3rd Bn from Adamsweiler. Stayed 1/2 day at advanced aid station in farmhouse at edge of woods, where I saw Sgt Norm Burns. Forced marched couple of miles to Ratsweiler. Stayed in tavern, drank wine. Smith went to "Bund" meeting every night. Borrowed clarinet for a night. Christmas packages came in.
12/12 Our squad out to 2nd Bn to Butten. Smith, I and 2 men from 2nd Bn with "G" Co. on attack on Mayerhof. Rode tanks from woods to valley, ran across open field under 88's and machine guns. Pulled up to railroad embankment. Couldn't get across, so waited until dark to pull out. We had to drag a Kraut wounded in chest, on a litter couple of miles to Mayerhof. Hq sec fired on at entrance to city. Got 8 prisoners from farm house on corner. Turned our casualty over to them. Proceeded down the road to Kleinredingen. Fired on by burp gun, flares, and rifle fire. Pulled back one house, where we spent the night. Direct hit on house in the night. No casualties, fortunately. Next day we were pinned in while we watched tank battle in field outside. First thoughts we might die. Snowed the night before. Saw aobut 5 American tanks get knocked out in the field. Kept us busy. Many casualities. Hard to work while pinned in. Finally made a dash from barn, after German was hit in back with a dud mortar shell, and made the aid station around the corner. Back to company next noon. Another squad pad picked up 2 cases of much needed candles.
12/14 Rohrbach--Stayed in a house on ground floor. House across street hit at night by 88's from a tank which had evidently gotten around behind the town and thought we were in there. Out next morning with "I" company in valley north of Kleinredingen. Evacuated couple of casualities up hill under fire. Slept in old barn. Took pictures back at the company. Slept upstairs in nice rooms.
12/17 Montbronn--Regiment in division reserve. Tried to locate clarinet--no luck. Slept in small house with Jact, Lt. Frew, etc. Went out with Hap, Art, Frew on quartering party.
12/21 Wittring--Got rooms for whole company in about 8 different homes after riding all over the countryside. Everyone had fun with Olga, dark girl. Spent one night in Wittring. Talked to storekeeper and people where we stayed.
12/22 Neunkirch--slept in large apartment bldg. Artillary firing over our heads all night. Went out next morning to Reinheim, just across the river. First time in Germany--just north of Sarrgemines. Had to pull out in a hurry and couldn't find Smith. Pulled back and spent the night in small house where the corner of the room had been knocked out by a tank turning the corner. Back the company the afternoon of the 24th.
12/24 Dieding--pulled in a day before Christmas. All squads came back from the aid stations. We stayed at Priest's home. Xmas Eve he and housekeeper came up, played violin, sang. Had caroling on the corner with the civilians singing too, and the shells going over head. Had good meal Xmas. Sang with the help of Priest's piano downstairs on Xmas night. Played some bridge with Kahnen, Heineman, and Jack. On New Year's Eve, we knew nothing of the big counter attack. Shout "Hurrah" and banged on a mess gear couple of times to usher in the new year. Priest took picture of Wix, Art, Art Rice, Earl Foreman and me. Were punished by 10 minutes of close order drill for blowing off Gumba when he tried to get us up at 10:30 one morning. Played football in field behind house. Priest took couple of pics of chow line, etc.
1/3/45 Silzheim--stayed in small house. Rice, Wix, Bowker, Peterson, Hap, Blake, Smaith and I. Had fine times. Stayed almost 5 weeks. Went out twice to Flobesweiler which was a pleasure, for we lived in an abandoned house. Second time met Mrs. Lambert's cousin, Braddock. Frew usually there. Frau L. spoke very plain German and was very nice to me. Learned many songs, games, phrases and new words from her. Tried to make ice cream with the lime powder--failed. Moved across the street when pinochle became too much for me. Jack had lots of trouble with his stoves. Lost Rice, Wix, Buchanan, Rekuc and Foreman to 71st aid stations. Katie ualso used to visit at night in the kitchen. Never forget Mrs. and Marie Lou Lambert.
2/2/45 Rahling--lived with Frew, Jack and Gumba at home of crazy school teacher. Visited Silzheim 4 times. Route: Diedheim, Oerringen, Herbitzheim, silzheim. 63rd Colonel bawled us out for not saluting him one day in Herbitzheim. Woman in Rahling tried to be nice to us but was rather queer. However, Gumba liked her cognac.
2/16 Rohrbach--stayed over Eddie's meat market. Learned fine points of slaughtering and sausage making out behind his house. Home had fine piano. Ziggy brought back clarinet from Nancy Pass. Cooked hamburgers, french fries, steaks, plenty of sausages. "Oma" used to give us rotten apples. Nice furniture in house. Smith and I had 2 rooms at first, then Ziggy's new squad--Rogers, Hoffman and Hoviman moved in. Visited Silzheim twice, the second time was a Sunday when everyone left the company without passes and Sidney, Nick and Mike got caught.
3/16 Sarralbe--Division in Army reserve. Lived in 3rd floor of home on the hill overlooking the Solway plant. Woman of the house had queer sense of humor. Had beer in cafe downtown. Weather was fine. Visited Silzheim 5 times, walking along canal to Herbitzheim then hitching to S. Last night had big party in S. 71st officers had liquor rations, Lamberts (Mr. there now) had beer. I should have been home in bed because I was sick. Marie Lou cried when I left as did also Frau Lambert at 5:30 in the morning.
3/25 Carlsburg--First city in Germany. We stayed in a beautiful, clean home in a town totally untouched by war. Had individual first night, with "day room" attached to house. Woman fixed hot water for us in the morning. Then moved to house with whole litter platoon in same bldg. House had beautiful furniture, 2 pianos. We had downstairs room. Station in clubhouse. I found 180 dollars in civilian money.
3/27 Lampertsheim--crossed Rhine 27th at 11:27. Stayed in school building, guarded by kaput 88 parked next to it. Radio and electric light from our own generator. Before we stopped, we saw at noon, plenty of prisoners marching back after town had been taken the night before.
3/28 Vierheim--Company in hotel. 3 squads in hardware store next door. Clearing and aid stations in same town. Piano upstairs in hotel, liquor in basement. I was really sick by then.
3/29 Was evacuated to clearing and on back to 27th evac. between Worms and Kaiserslautern the same night. Had the flu, with 104º F temperature. After 3 days was o.k. The 27th staffed by U. of Ill. medical personnel. Hosp was in field with 112th and an airport next to it. On 4th day I was moved to 2nd Convalescent in former German Hosp. bldgs. in Neustadt. There 2 days then hosp moved to Erback; lived there in mud. Strafed on the way there. Then to 10th Bn of 2nd Repple Depple in Worms for 17 days. Champaigne for 3 days from wine cellars guarded by our men. Met Wix (limited assignment) and Hoffman. "Bed Check Charlie" over. Strafed the railroad once. Good movies and entertainment. Non-coms good. Then to 3rd Bn of 2nd R.D. near Mosback, in the vicinity of Heidelberg. Was there for about 24 days. Finally caught company on the 14th of May at Landeck, in the Tyrolean Alps. Beautiful setup in a a guest house overlooking the town.
Endo of Diary