GREETINGS FROM GUAM
I deeply apologize for my long delay in letting you know that I received the magazine with your article on the George Ray Tweed story you sent me (“Undercover,” June 2005). You did a great job. It was well written, factual and an enjoyable read, a story that portrays the hardiness of life, strength, courage and faith in time of horrible situations. My oldest sister, who lives in California, bought the magazine before I even knew it was out. She read it and was so happy with it she went out and bought 11 more copies to give to each of us siblings. Thank you again for your courteousness and sensitivity in seeking out the input of our family in the Tweed story. God bless you.
Carmen A. Kasperbauer
Editor’s note: This letter was forwarded to us by author Adam Lynch. Kasperbauer is the daughter of Antonio Artero, the man who saved Tweed from capture by hiding him from the Japanese for 21 months. As a girl, Kasperbauer accompanied her father on regular visits to bring food to Tweed in his hideaway.
CONNECTION TO COURLAND
I enjoyed the article “Life and Death Struggle for the Courland Bridgehead,” in the October issue very much. My father-in-law, Karl Roth, was the lead maintenance sergeant in the headquarters company of the 36th Panzer Regiment, 14th Panzer Division. After experiencing the exhilaration of conquest during the blitzkrieg campaigns early in the war, he went on to survive the encirclement of the Sixth Army at Stalingrad and was finally transferred with his division to Army Group North in the late summer of 1944. The division was instrumental in fighting off repeated attempts by the Red Army to dislodge and overrun the outpost during the six battles of Courland. The 36th Panzer Regiment was part of the “Kurland Fire Brigade.” Roth left Libau by ship and surrendered to the British in Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany, one of the fortunate few who escaped Russian imprisonment after the war.
A footnote on the fanatical Ferdinand Schörner: Although quick to execute anyone who was not at his post, as the war drew to a close he discarded his uniform for lederhosen and flew in his private plane to Austria, where he surrendered to the Allies. He was subsequently turned over to the Russians. As a subscriber since childhood, thank you for your magazine.
Richard W. Byrd
A MOST CREDITABLE ARTICLE
Kudos on your article “A Most Creditable Action” in the November 2005 issue. The German fiasco at the Barents Sea is a classic illustration of how not to win a battle. There is no way Vice Admiral Oskar Kummetz could have lost. He had everything going for him: surprise, initiative, concentration, numerical and qualitative superiority—everything! He had only to keep his force together, plot an interception course and go in for the kill. Instead, in trying to be clever, he came up with a battle plan that threw away every advantage, so that the battle wound up being between Hipper and the entire British escort force. The battle was lost before it was even joined. Adolf Hitler’s “no risk” order was merely the coup de grâce to an already fatally compromised endeavor.
THANK YOU BUT GOODBYE
As an infantry scout and squad leader with the 79th Infantry Division, I could not but take notice of the path of the 749th Tank Battalion as described in “Commands” in the December 2005 issue. A quick check with my division history confirmed my suspicions; the 749th was attached to my division right after the battle for Cherbourg. They were reassigned to the 76th Infantry Division when we were pulled back for reinforcements and reassigned to the Ninth Army in Holland. The purpose of this assignment was to lead in crossing the Rhine River near Duisburg.
I was not aware of your publication until I received it as a gift subscription about two years ago. I appreciate the task you have chosen. A common remark after the fighting ended was: “I hope we never have to experience that hell at home. I wouldn’t take a million dollars to go through that again.” After a pause, that was usually followed with, “But I wouldn’t take a million to have missed it either.”
Your publication serves as a reminder of why we were there, and what price we paid. In a way it is ironic that so much is made of a few men lost today, in comparison to what our losses were then. My thought goes to the day in Normandy when my company ended the day’s fight with 28 men left. All our officers were lost. Only six NCOs were left. Because I was on outpost duty, I was missed in the head count and reported MIA.
As a writer and a veteran I have enjoyed the articles in your magazine, but I have now had enough of further reminders of those days, so I am not renewing my subscription. Thank you for being there, however. You have a mission.
Priest River, Idaho
“A SIGHT NOT LIKELY TO BE FORGOTTEN”
After reading “Don’t Shoot, We’re Republicans” in your December 2005 issue, I was reminded of my brother, who was a radioman on the destroyer USS Cogswell. He kept notes of his radio traffic and, when opportunity presented itself, his other experiences. While on duty on June 10, 1945, he made this record of William D. Porter’s sinking:
June 10, 1945
Still out on Picket Station 15. About 0815 the USS Porter (DD579) one of the two ships with us (We had worked with her in the Atlantic. Little did I dream that I would witness her finish.), took a Jap suicide plane amidships low on her waterline, water flooding her forward engine room and the after fire room causing her to go dead in the water. One man jumped over the side when [the] plane hit and was picked up by us. Three LSC [landing support craft] went alongside to render assistance. We sent over pumps and gave AA [anti-aircraft] coverage. She kept listing and shipping water until they had to give up. She finally went down at 1117, sickening sight to watch her slowly list to starboard finally lay on her side, fantail slowly going under until her bow was vertical then slowly sink from sight. Twenty one hundred tons amounting to about 10 million dollars just disappear. A sight not likely to be forgotten.
Cogswell survived many attacks herself while on picket duty but fortunately made it home with her crew.
Originally published in the March 2006 issue of World War II. To subscribe, click here.