DAYS OF FEAR AND DOUBT

The hot "dog days" of the summer of 1944 in June and July, our company became involved in a hotly contested battle with the enemy, in the Cecina, Italy area. We succeeded in beating off several attacking enemy forces, and established roadblocks at dangerous points.

A struggle, as such, has a telling effect on the individual soldier. The hours were long from daybreak until nightfall. Advancement against the Germans was slow. Caution, and at times waiting for hours in a position of concealment, while the enemy was doing the same. A cat and mouse game for survival. The constant strain and tension of life can snap the toughest soldier. When nightfall cam our five (5) man tank crews assembled at a pre-arranged area, it was here we re-supplied our ammunition, fuel and food rations from Company C security section, whose main function was also to provide guard duty while we tank crews were able to catch some sleep of four (4) hours. When dawn broke our tanks returned to the same daylight positions. As the days on the front became more difficult we became weary and fatigued with the same scenario day after day, we had to cope with stress and were given no escape hatch. A place in our hearts now brought fear and doubt, is this a hopeless struggle?

Everyone entertained an idea, despite fear and doubt, that some would be killed, but on one could think of himself lying mortally wounded. Discipline is a major factor in combat, we as one unit may defend a stance against the enemy, while one of our other units can attack the foe in a different area. The objective picture is the plan of action drawn up by the Generals' of the 5th U.S. Army. They are somewhere safely in the rear area of the front as they pinpoint on a map the delay or progress our troops make against the enemy.

An example of the chain of command: first a four (4) star army general, Mark Clark, next the corps two (2) star generals, they rank above the four (4) or five (5) division one (1) star generals. Beneath the divisional commanders, is regiments lead by a full colonel, they over see battalion leaders who are lieutenants colonels, or majors. Our Battalion has five (5) companies - Recon, Hgts, A, B, C, - with a captain in charge of each company; the line company leaders are 1st and 2nd lieutenants. Finally we are now with the enlisted men of sergeants, corporals, T5, and finally the back end with the privates .... Who does all the dirty duty to win this damn war.

Engaging the Enemy Memoir Index In Livorno, Italy