Cincinnati, Ohio

My name is Coleman Magrish, and I was born May 19th, 1925 in Cincinatti, Ohio. I grew up without a father, but still managed to have a pretty normal childhood. I took an interest in Electronics, and later went to school to prepare for a career as an electrician.

There was heavy sentiment that we would soon be engaging in war, but I thought less of it. I felt we proved we were too strong of an Army for other countries to test us. It turns out I was wrong, as the Japanese soon bombed Pearl Harbor. I still thought they were going to apologize for their mistake, but things didn't go that way. The war soon commenced.

I was still in college, but I felt duty called. I was prideful in my country and wanted to avenge that horrific attack. On July 17th, 1943, I enlisted into the Army.

After enlistment, basic training began in Ohio. I don't quite remember the name of the base, but it was an unforgettable experience within it. During camp, I was properly conditioned and mastered our artillery. Our superiors also trained us how to operate tanks, which I did particularly well. At the time, our regiment had M4 Sherman Tanks. Each tank carried five men: the tank commander, the driver, the assistant driver, a gunner, and a loader. Our tanks were good, but they weren't quite as well put together as the Russians'.

I soon graduated and became a member of the 14th Armored Division of the US Army. From the name alone, you could tell we'd be heavily involved in combat. The infantry was transferred to the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York, then flew out to France. We flew across the great Atlantic Ocean, landing in Marseille, France on October 29th, 1944. The primary thing I remember upon landing was the decent weather for late Fall.

The 14th Armored was assigned to the US 6th Army Group on November 1st, and the Seventh Army on November 10th. We were under the command of General Albert C. Smith. General Smith ordered us to the docks to unload our supplies and tanks from Navy Ships. The tanks had accumulated a little wear in the trip overseas, so they had to be tested, cleaned and loaded with ammo. This process didn't take long. The tanks were soon ready to go, and we manned them for a trip up the Rhone River Valley in France. We were propelled right into the war, in pursuit of the Germans.

There were fierce battles going on in the Gertwiller, Benfeld, and Barr areas of France. The Allied Forces were getting the better of the Germans in France, so they retreated towards their home country. They crossed the border before we could catch them, but we continued in our chase. By December 17th, we had crossed the Lauter River, and were in Germany.

In the early morning hours of December 31st, 1944, the Germans broke out with a huge counter-offensive, Operation Nordwind. The Germans mounted a strong attack on the 62nd Infantry and the Task Force Hudelson. They had advanced ten miles on us. The Task Force did a tremendous job of holding the Germans until they were able to get reinforcements. Once the 45th Division blocked any further advancement by the Germans, so they attempted to breakthrough elsewhere. The Germans came into Hatten and Rittershoffen and unleashed a huge offensive right.

We engaged them in combat from January 1st, to January 8th. There was such chaos that I didn't know who was winning or losing during the operation. As a tank Operator, all I knew was to attack when I saw Germans. For over a week, there would be moments of searching for them interspersed with tremendous gunfights. We controlled the Western part of the villages, whereas the Germans had buildings in the Eastern portion.

They seemed to be getting the better of us, and resupply was increasingly difficult day by day. Our perimeter was shrinking, but we safely withdrew from the villages and joined the rest of the Army. We had killed many Germans, but there were many dead on our side, and many lost resources. We put up a valiant defensive against an overwhelming number of German soldiers. Even German col. Hans Van Luck gave us credit in his book.

We rehabilitated from the battle for a couple months, then by March we got back on the offensive.
By this time, Germany was purely on the defensive, desperately retreating towards Central part of the country. We stormed through the Siegfred line, and fought through five towns before liberating three Stalags: Oflag XIII-B, Stalag XIII-C, and Stalag VII-A. We also discovered and freed forced laborers and prisoners of concentration camps. It felt good to know all the violence was ultimately for the cause of freeing people from Germany's oppression.

Ultimately, we reached a town called Landshut, where Germany finally gave up. When we advanced on them they literally had their hands up in surrender. We showed mercy on them. I get the sense that the country was split on Hitler.

I came into contact with civilians, and they frequently said "(Hitler) is no good" and other Anti-Nazi rhetoric, but at the same time I saw hundreds of pro-Nazi signs strewn throughout Germany. I never saw any revolts from citizens, through they apparently were against what was going on. I felt that many Germans were living a lie, in denial about the presence of Nazis in their country. Maybe the civilians who said they were anti-Hitler were just scared of us and saying whatever they thought we wanted to hear.

That wasn't always the case though. I remember a time we were dealing with German POWs who were tasked to pick up trash and other duties. There was a specific soldier who got upset at us about wanting to eat more. He was causing trouble and refusing to work. Somewhere in the midst of the argument one of my partners told him "go to hell!" He arrogantly said "will do." We told him "if you don't work, you don't eat." Ultimately, he relented. He had no other choice.

In Landshut, the infantry moved into civilian houses in until we got further instructions from command. I can recall we were also stationed in Czechoslovakia for a bit, milling about the town. It was pretty boring, and we were soon transferred back to Germany.

August 15th, 1945 started out as a quiet day. There I was, in the house with my other soldiers when we heard a giant "hooray!" bellowing out from another camp. We instantly realized the war was over. Soon, another infantry came and took the Germans prisoners we had, transferring them to another prison.

I thought the carnage of the war was over once we got to Camp Lucky Strike in Cherbourg, but it wasn't quite done. One day, I was walking along a coastal road near the camp with Sgt. Walter Arp. Walker. Some new Army recruits were canvassing the area. The war was over, but we were still shipping in replacement soldiers for our camps in France. While I was talking to Walter, we heard a deafening boom, which was the unmistakable sound of a landmine.

A soldier then came out of the woods, wounded. He told us two of his partners were badly injured. Luckily an Army bus passed by and I hopped on to get some medical help, as well as mine detectors to safely traverse the area where the wounded soldiers were. By the time I got back, I saw one of the soldiers on the ground being attended to, and Walter standing there with a blood soaked jacket. I asked him what happened, and he matter of factly told me he carried the soldier on his back through a minefield. I was incredibly impressed.

Walter was 38, had just been through the war of a lifetime, and had a newborn baby to come home to. He still risked it all to climb a barbed wire fence and cross a minefield while carrying a wounded soldier on his back. Unfortunately, the third soldier was fatally injured, but without Walter's help, the gentleman he saved could have been as well.

Soon after that, we finally go the order that we were being shipped back home. I happily boarded a train through France, before flying back home.

When I got home, I applied for a job as an electrician at the WLWT TV station. I had been reading a book on television throughout my time in the War, and I felt I had gained an expertise. The station agreed and hired me!

Although I had a job, I didn't completely retire from the service like some of my comrades. The country needed Army Reservists, so I joined the Air National Guard and applied my electrical expertise to the service. I traveled to Korea, servicing Chinese and Russian planes, then later there was a scare in Germany that we attended to. There was talk that the Russians were going to invade Germany, so we went to protect Germany. The irony!

These days, my fellow comrades have been dying out, which is too bad. I've been holding on pretty well though.

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