This took place : “After returning to England for further training, the Division hit Utah Beach on 10 June 1944 (D plus 4) , cut off the Cotentin Peninsula, drove on to Cherbourg and penetrated the port’s heavy defenses.” From Combat Chronicle@ http://www.mrfa2.org/9thWWIIa.htm
Also see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cotentin_Peninsula
Doc was relaxing when the platoon Sgt hollered for him to come on. The Sgt was discarding his weapons and told Collins to put down his weapons and grab his medical kit. As they were walking away from the company area Sgt Ohlinsky told Collins his plan was to go up the hill and see what the Germans were up to. “Doc”, he said, “you just follow my lead and we’ll be fine.” Collins thought, “This ought to be interesting.”
The hill had been blasted clear of trees, nothing there but scrub and dirt and lots of craters. They slogged on up the hill knowing that the Germans had them under their sights. Even with the iron sights of the K98 Mauser the Krauts couldn’t miss them. About 50 feet from the top they were told to halt. Four Germans came forward casually holding their weapons. A German Sgt spoke and asked what they were doing on this hill. Ohlinsky said,” Well, my medic here wanted to offer you any help or medicine that you needed, and I wanted to tell you that you have a chance to save your men from further death and destruction. About 2 or 2:30 this hill is scheduled to be bombed to dust and there is no place you and your brave men can go; there is water behind you and our division on the other 2 sides of this hill.” Collins had given the medical kit to another German and was listening to the Sgt tell what Collins thought was a big lie. The German Sgt looked at Collins as if to confirm what this brash American was saying, Collins looked him square in the eyes and said, “We just got the word about an hour ago. Since you can’t escape, the war for you will be over one way or another. You can save your men; there doesn’t have to be anymore killing on this hill.”
Collins and the Sgt started back down the hill, the Germans made no move to stop them. After they got back to the Company area they finally looked back and the Germans were trooping down the hill under a white flag, tossing their guns aside. As the Germans got to the company area the G.I.s started getting them into rank order. About an hour later around 2:00 p.m. a flight of P-47s flew over and started pounding the hill, the Germans started whooping and hollering and shaking the American’s hands and grinning like possums eating briars. The Americans were surprised and started handing out cigarettes and chocolate. No one was more surprised than Doc Collins though. He found the Sergeant and asked him if he knew the planes were really coming. Sarge winked and said, “Sometimes things just work out for the best.”
Altogether they captured about 200 German soldiers and saved lives on both sides.
Part II here. Part I here.
Republic P-47 Thunderbolt. Picture source.
More to come. I’ll do more battles and his time as a POW of the Germans.
For part 1 go here.
The Octofoil shoulder patch of the 9th Infantry Division dates from the 15th Century when it was customary for each son in a family to have an individual mark of distinction. Under the rules of heraldry there are eight foils or positions. The Octofoil went to the ninth son, symbolic of him being surrounded by eight brothers. The symbolism of the Octofoil makes it a logical and correct insignia for the 9th Infantry Division. The red quarterfoil of the patch alludes to the Artillery, while the blue one represents the Infantry. h/t: http://9thinfdivsociety.org/
For quick outline of the 9th’s WWII history go here.
On the ship heading to Sicily, Doc had some time to reflect on how he had ended up there. Here he was a Choctaw boy from Oklahoma that had just left some bad fighting in Tunisia and Morocco, now going to Sicily and who knows what else.
Doc was going to turn 23 in August of ’43 and he’d already had a lifetime of adventure.
One month after he was born in 1920 his father Edmond gave him to his Grandfather, because the Grandfather had said if Edmond’s first born is a boy that he, the Grandfather, wanted him. So his Grandparents raised Julius. Pretty good upbringing; lots of hunting, fishing, and running around the farm. Collins went to a country school only until he was 12. He left school and went to Atoka County to work on a farm so he could buy what he needed to help out the family; hard times in the U. S.
He cycled through three farmers every summer until 1938 when he went to an Indian C.C.C. camp , smack in the middle of the Cherokee Nation. Beside the work that was performed by the “c.c.c. boys” there were sports such as baseball and boxing. Collins got pretty good at boxing and did some Golden Gloves boxing around the area. After several months at Camp Hollow, Julius returned to help on the farm.
He went to a “White” C.C.C. Camp in Colorado in 1940 and stayed until he enlisted in the Army in 1942. Doc remembered that the camp in Colorado was where he really learned that there were more cuss words in English than in Choctaw. Those White boys could cuss the leaves off an Aspen tree.
More to come. I’ll do more battles next and his time as a POW of the Germans.
Doc Collins tried not to cuss as a habit. He could cuss in at least 2 languages, as a native Choctaw speaker he was fluent in the native curses and the transliterated cuss words of English. He also spoke English pretty well.
If he was going to cuss this was the time. He was belly down in the hot dry dirt watching his “boys” get chewed up by German machine gun fire, and he was ticked off. Collins was a medic with the U.S. Army 9th division “Old Reliable” and it was his responsibility to keep his boys alive.
The 9th had sailed directly from the States into this invasion (Operation Torch)they arrived at Port Lyautey, French Morocco on Sunday 8 November 1942. They had to take the port while under artillery fire from the defenders, but the Navy came through with wave after wave of carrier based aircraft and that was all the “legs” needed to succeed.
Ranger plane handlers push an SBD Dauntless dive-bomber into takeoff position after it has just landed from a strike on French North Africa.
After the Germans temporarily disengaged, Collins started checking on his boys. He saw LC Toffey writhing on the ground. “Where are you hurt?” Collins yelled. The Col said,”something is wrong with my knee”. Hustling over Collins saw that most of Toffey’s knee was shot off. He dressed the wound and administered morphine. The Col asked Collins to get him out of there, so Doc got him in a fireman’s carry and quit the battlefield. While carrying the Col back to safety about 300 yards away to a railroad bank, the Germans started in again with mortars and machine gun fire. “We gonna make it?” Toffey asked. Doc told him “you better believe it”. After getting over the bank, Collins found the rest of company, along with Gen Eddy and Gen Patton.
Gen Eddy and Gen Patton talked to LC Toffey while Collins worked on some other wounded. After Patton found out how the Colonel was taken off the battlefield, he came over to Collins, slapped him on the back and told him “That’s the way to win a war! Just show them you’ve got the guts to”. Collins found out later that the Generals had come back to eyeball where Patton was going to try to run his armor through.
More to come. I’ll try to give some background on Doc’s early years, and subsequent battles and his time as a POW of the Germans.