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Old June 27, 2012, 08:59 PM   #76
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Join Date: November 19, 2009
Posts: 3,008
My father-in-law served in the 35th Division (Red Bull) - in North Africa and Italy. He, himself, was his squad's BAR man. He saw a lot and wouldn't talk a whole lot about it. In what conversations I did have with him, he mentioned the M42 and the great "respect" (fear) they had of it. He felt it was a much better machine gun than those the Allies had. I remember being in a mall in Florida with him many years ago where there was a gun store. They had a M42 on display and he spotted it. We walked over and he took a long look at it and mentioned to me the times that they had gone up against them . . . and the carnage they created. He got real quiet and I sensed it brought back a lot of bad memories . . . even though it had been 50 years.

He also mentioned the "88s" and how they blasted the heck out of everything. He'd been caught in a number of incoming barrages . . . especially in Italy. He said that he couldn't even describe what it was like as it was one of the most horrible things that he'd ever experienced . . . the noise, explosions, shrapnel and shaking of the earth was enough to drive a man crazy. They all considered themselves lucky to survive, only to experience it time and time again. A lot of their buddies weren't as lucky.

He only mentioned it once to me and then would never talk about it again. At one time in Italy, while engaged with the Germans, he was sent as a runner to Regimental HQ. As he made his way, several Germans were "trying to dust my a** with machine pistols" as he put it. Upon his return to his squad, he came under fire from a MG43 and dove into a ditch in the area where his squad had been located as he left for HQ. When he hit the ditch, he fell on top of bloddy bodies and quickly realized they were Americans. He said he rolled one over, spotted the division patch and then realized that all of the bodies in the ditch were the members of his squad. They had been cut to shreds by M43s.

I find it interesting, how we, years later, can watch a movie and then debate the weapons. I'm not being critical . . . that's what happens when we study history. Unfortunatley, the generation of those who experienced it first hand are quickly fading away. My father-in-law has been gone for a number of years. He was lucky . . . he made it home but it affected him for the rest of his life.
If a pair of '51 Navies were good enough for Billy Hickok, then a single Navy on my right hip is good enough for me . . . besides . . . I'm probably only half as good as he was anyways. Hiram's Rangers Badge #63
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