This battle was the biggest battle the Allies fought in World War II. Last week in this space we told about Sgt. George "Vin" Callaghan, father of Bob Callaghan of Lake Clear. He saved the life of another Sergeant, Tom Schear, who kept a journal about the battle and his rescue.
Now just imagine being injured and lost in the Adirondacks but with no one hiding in the woods that want to kill you. Contrast that scenario with the following:
"M Company was ordered to join in the attack on the Town of Beche on Jan. 17. We moved on the road to Beche with Sherman tanks accompanying us, but almost immediately the lead tank hit a mine and lost the right front tread which caused all the tanks to leave us. We continued on, now carrying the ammunition boxes which we had piled on the tanks. The road came through the forest, there were no front lines. Instead there were pockets of Germans and Americans mixing with each other. There were mines everywhere and the battle was fierce.
After the battles, this picture was probably taken somewhere in Germany. Pictured, from left to right, are Richard Egan, Calvin Harris, Tom Schear, George Callaghan, Junior Joyce and Silas Smith — wearing the Combat Infantry Badge over his left pocket.
"It was at this point that I was hit, shot in the left leg. I never saw the shooter. The decision was to leave me there until help could come but George stayed with me. It was already dark so we settled in on the ground in the snow. I was so cold that I wasn't bleeding or feeling any pain. The night passed without incident. We each had an M-1 Rifle with some ammunition so if we were attacked we would do our best to defend ourselves, although clearly, we were in a bad situation.
"We tried to remain alert and the day and another night passed. The cold was awful. The light dawned and George said we had to move and try to find some Americans. Somehow George had a sense of direction in the forest. He got me to my feet and with my arm around his shoulder we set off. We came to a large open area and as we stood there a bullet struck in the snow near my foot.
"We jumped back and tried to see where it came from. After awhile, George said that we should try to get across the field, we made it; never to know how we got spared. We got through another night. The next day we continued moving and about 5 o'clock encountered several American soldiers. We asked if they had anything to eat. [It seems that all this time they had nothing to eat.] They were willing to share but what they offered me was a frozen C-ration of yellow cheese. George had some kind of a biscuit. They gave us directions and we found a larger group and they had a fire. We asked about food and they said they were fresh out. However, one said he had just thrown away a potato skin. I found it, ate it and enjoyed it.
"At this point, George and I would separate. He was going to find M Company and I to a field hospital, later to a hospital in Paris and then on to England for recuperation. George would later receive the Silver Star for his heroism in saving me."
Obviously this detailed journal was edited to fit this space. M Company was then assigned to the French Army - there was severe fighting in the Colmar Pocket, moving to operations leading to the Rhine River and Holland and Germany, including liquidating the Ruhr industrial area which supplied all the needs of the German army. Sgt. Schear was able to rejoin his company in March as it crossed the Rhine into Germany. After the war, according to the journal, Sgt. Callaghan and Sgt. Schear would meet in civilian life.
Bob Callaghan, who gave me the above story, was a combat veteran of the Vietnam War. He went to Army Aviation School and was assigned to the HHD Second Signal Group. He ended up a door gunner and the Crew Chief of a UH-I Helicopter. Bob told me that the Army figured out it was the perfect job for a wild kid from Lake Clear.