Our attack on Woerth started from the grove of trees in the left background. The tall grass in the ravine was our last bit of cover and then there was nothing but the open field to the top of the hill. The Germans fired on us from the trees but either surrendered or fled when we overran their positions.
Photos taken in 1967.
Our platoon sergeant Ralph Wards, standing in the open door of this barn, was shot through the left shoulder as we exchanged fire with the unseen enemy. This was March 17, 1945. A young man working at this sawmill told me in 1967 that he had been living in Woerth when it was taken by Americans. The townspeople had hidden in the woods in a bunker during the fighting. The young man could not understand why I, an American soldier, was driving a (rented) German automobile!! Photo taken in 1967.
From Ed DeFoe, October 30, 1991:
Ref: Page 40 MUD & GUTS
(Where Sergeant Wards was wounded in Woerth, Alsace.)
Yes, I also remember Sergeant Ward(s)....he wouldn't let me fire my bazooka into a barn that held a kraut sniper in one of our raids, and I wasn't real pleased with that decision and on our way back I threw the thing in a culvert and picked up an M-1. I got called on that shot and he, I think, told me I would have to pay $75 bucks. Of course, that didn't worry me as I never saw any of my twenty-one bucks a month anyway. My excuse was...if I couldn't fire it I did not want to carry it....I never knew where my ammo carrier was anyway.....
From Ralph Wards, Christmas 1991:
Ref: Page 40 MUD & GUTS
Well, I guess I am the sergeant that you remember getting hit in the left shoulder in Woerth, France. Maybe you really didn't know me that well though (I had written that he was always at the top of my remembered list of real soldiers---AJC). I was just one of the GIs trying to get the job done and get back home. I will also say I was with the nicest group of men I have ever known.
Ray Crabtree, February 1963:
You remember Sgt. Ward. Well, I thought he had been killed in the barn when the Germans shot through the door and hit him. When I came to in the hospital where you last saw me, he was the first person I saw. He said the bullet went through his chest and missed his heart by a hair.
I showed the man at the sawmill the picture of Woerth in our Regimental History Book and he told me where to find the church. It appeared just th esame as in 1945 except for two additional windows on the street side. See photo below from 409 Regimental History Book (page 111). Upper photo taken in 1967.
On our way out of Woerth in 1967 we found this big lodge which, I'm sure, is the place we stayed in during our first visit to Woerth when we spent so much time digging fortifications up in the hills. Even the little pillbox in the bend of the road was still there. Photo taken in 1967.
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