Shortly after we had crossed the River Seine, and were in
the vicinity of Soisson and Braine, I was suddenly ordered to
report to the Division Chief of Staff, Colonel John A. (Long
John) Smith. My first thought was "What have I done wrong
now?" Having received a classic "dressing down"
as the British call it, or a "chewing out," as we call
it, from General Rose just a couple of days before, I was quite
queasily apprehensive when I reported to Colonel Smith. I even
suspected it might be a continuation of the Rose episode, which
had not been my fault in my view, but I hadn't been given the
opportunity to speak. That experience had left me with visions
of barred windows and thinking of how warm it was in Leavenworth
To my incredible surprise and gastrointestinal relief, Colonel
Smith informed me that I was now assigned to his section, that
I had been selected to be a "liaison officer," and
that I would be working out of Division Headquarters, primarily
through the G-3 Section. I was delighted, although I had no idea
what a "liaison officer's" duties were or what this
really meant. Colonel Smith would turn out to be one of the finest
persons I have ever known, an absolute prince of a man to work
for. He was always very kind to me and I would like to believe
that I did a good job for him, as well as for "The Spearhead
Division," which I proudly represented in my liaison role.
A thought that sobered me, when I discovered it, was that of
the three liaison officers working out of the Chief of Staff's
Section, two were killed. A total of five officers would eventually
fill these positions, with a casualty rate, therefore, of 40%.
I was sent, usually, to the division on our right, there to
represent the Third Armored Division. This meant keeping this
other division aware of our operational plans and unit locations,
both present and future. It also meant many messages sent and
received, plus daily trips back and forth carrying maps, overlays,
and messages between the two division commanders and their staffs.
Also involved were briefings of the generals, their chiefs of
staff, and the G-2 and G-3 Sections upon request. It was sometimes
difficult with these other divisions, but also could be most
pleasant, depending upon the unit. It often required great tact
on my part, a trait I was never certain that I possessed to the
required degree. From my point of view, the best unit to work
with was the 9th Infantry Division, while the worst, or most
difficult, was the 4th.
The 9th Division, a veteran unit of the North African and
Sicilian Campaigns, gave me an absolutely free hand into every
phase of their operations. I don't know how other liaison officers
were treated, although I didn't hear any others complaining,
but I couldn't have asked for any more cooperation than I received.
Major General Manton S. Eddy, and later Major General Louis Craig,
were very easy men to deal with and most cordial and appreciative
at all times. Like most of the infantry generals, they were unfamiliar
with armor operations, but they were very willing to learn.
Being a liaison officer brought me into direct contact with
quite a number of well known personalities of World War II. These
include Lt. Gen. Joe Collins, of our own VII Corps, Lt. Gen.
Matthew B. Ridgeway of XVIII Airborne Corps, Maj. Gen. James
(Jumpin' Jim) Gavin of the 82nd Airborne Div., Maj. Gen. Raymond
0. Barton and Col. William Westmoreland of the 4th Inf. Div.,
Maj. Gen. Norman D. Cota of the 28th Inf. Div., Maj. Gen. Ray
E. Porter of the 75th Inf. Div. (I was his Opns. Sgt. in G-3,
V Corps, at Beauregard), Maj. Gen. Robert C. Macon of the 83rd
Inf. Div., and last, but not least, Maj. Gen. Terry de la Mesa
Allen, of the 104th Inf. Div. The incident of which I am writing
concerns General Allen.
As many of you are aware, our Gen. Rose had two very close
personal friends, also generals. They were Maj. Gen. Elwood R.
(Pete) Quesada of the 9th Tactical Air Force, and Terry Allen.
Allen had commanded the 1st Inf. Div. through North Africa and
Sicily, but he had been relieved of command of "The Big
Red One" at the end of the Sicilian Campaign by Gen. Omar
Bradley, then commanding II Corps. Allen had allowed the 1st
Div. to get out of hand with regard to discipline and general
attitude. Allen had been returned to the U.S. without prejudice
and had been given command of the 104th Inf. Div. He would impart
his battle experience to his new command, and as you well know,
made the "Timber Wolves" into an excellent division,
with particular emphasis on night fighting.
I was sent to the 104th Div. as liaison from "The Spearhead"
shortly after the Battle of the Bulge. I had been recalled after
Cologne (Köln) had been taken and went back with the 104th
after the crossing of the Rhine at Remagen. I liked the 104th
and its personnel. It was a very well-trained, confident unit.
I knew about the relationship between Gen. Rose and Gen. Allen,
although I never suspected how involved I would become in this
My first direct contact with Gen. Allen was a most peculiar
meeting. Like most divisions, the 104th set up a special arrangement
for liaison officers so that they would not be infesting the
G-2 and G-3 Sections in their pursuit of up-to-date combat information.
The Liaison Section was headed by the Division Chemical Warfare
Officer and his staff inasmuch as the nature of World War II
had not given this service branch much to do. Most units, except
the 4th, 28th, and XVIII Airborne Corps, didn't object to a liaison
officer or two coming into their G-2 or G-3 Sections to get the
latest information just prior to making a run to their own unit.
The Liaison Section usually did its best to provide current information,
but often their maps just weren't up-to-date. The 104th's Liaison
Section was very good and the CWO and his staff were a pleasure
to work with.
Shortly after arriving at the 104th, I was in their Liaison
Section making an overlay from their situation map. This requires
some concentration and I happened to be on my knees making tracings
and jotting down coordinates. I suddenly felt the knuckles on
the back of someone's hand rap me on my biceps. A deep voice
said, "Got a cigarette, buddy?" Without looking around,
I automatically reached into my shirt pocket and extended my
pack up. I felt a cigarette extracted. While replacing the pack,
the knuckles rapped again and the same voice rasped, "Got
a match?" With a snarl on my lips, I turned and glared upwards.
The sight of two large silver stars on this person's collar caused
my lips to unsnarl rather quickly!
I leaped to my feet, shook the proffered hard hand, and introduced
myself. I then realized, too late, that the proffered hand had
expected to have a match put into it! I produced a light as quickly
as I could, a move which would have put Houdini to shame. I noted
the shock of unruly black hair, the dark swarthy skin, the cold
steady eyes, and knew that this was Terry de la Mesa Allen, West
Point class of 1911. The hard eyes traveled over me and lingered
on my Third Armored shoulder patch. the eyes bored into mine
through the cigarette haze, and he grunted, "Spearhead,
huh?" I snapped out, "Yes, sir! Best in the West, Sir!"
Why I added the latter, I still do not know. The flinty eyes
softened a bit, Gen. Allen gave a crooked grin, and said, "Now
that's good to hear -- pride in one's unit. What do you think
of your division commander?" I don't know what he expected
me to say, but carefully threading my way through this verbal
minefield, I muttered, "None better, sir." He then
said, "I have known Maurice Rose for many years. We've been
friends since he was a lieutenant." I replied, "Yes
sir, I knew about your friendship." He shot back, "How'd
you know about that?" I told him that "Someone in our
G-3 Section told me - he thought I should know." I then
volunteered to deliver anything between them. This I did on a
number of occasions, notes, letters, and small packages, although
I never knew their contents.
Before our informal conversation went further, an officer
stuck his head in the door and announced that the 18th Infantry
Regiment of the 1st Division was passing through town. General
Allen raced out to the curb and stood silently watching the 18th's
vehicles roll by. Suddenly there was a yell - "Lookit, there's
General Allen. Hey, Terry!" The cry was taken up by the
other vehicles. Allen stood there taking all greetings and waving
back at the soldiers of his first love, "The Big red One."
This was a rare, genuine affection displayed by both parties,
the men and their former commander. It made me reflect on what
the reaction would have been had a truckload of soldiers from
our 36th Infantry passed Gen. Rose and yelled, "Hi, Maurice!"
The two friends also talked on the phone. I once heard Gen.
Allen trying to tell Gen. Rose about the 104th's plans on the
approaches to Cologne. Allen didn't want to compromise security,
but Rose couldn't seem to understand what he was hinting at with
pointed remarks about the "big ditch" before them.
Allen finally lost his cool and roared, "God dammit, Maurice,
we're going to cross the Erft Canal at first light!!" That
On 30 March 1945, as "The Spearhead" was approaching
Paderborn, the 104th Division was far to the south, with its
headquarters somewhere north of Marburg. That night, I had crawled
into my sleeping bag somewhat earlier than usual and had been
pounding my ear for an hour or so when I was awakened and informed
that Gen. Allen wanted to see me at once. It was fortunate that
I had slept at least that much because there wouldn't be any
more on that night.
I reported to Gen. Allen. By the look on his weathered face,
I knew that something unusual had happened. Gen. Allen immediately
asked, "Are you in radio contact with your headquarters?"
I said, "No, sir, I haven't been able to reach them since
around three o'clock." He then asked, "Do you know
where your headquarters is located?" I again replied in
the negative. At that particular time I didn't have the foggiest
idea where Forward Echelon was located, although I did know that
"The Spearhead" had been driving north towards Paderborn.
This I gave to Gen. Allen.
I still didn't know what Gen. Allen wanted of me when he put
his hand on my shoulder and said, "I have a partly garbled
message from VII Corps and I can't get any confirmation from
any source on this. VII Corps reports that Gen. Rose has been
killed. Do you know anything about this?" I assured Gen.
Allen that I knew nothing of this and I mumbled something to
the effect that I doubted the report. The reason I doubted the
report was that my mind simply would not accept the idea -- it
Gen. Allen impaled me with those steely eyes and then came
the question, "Would you go up there and find out for me?
I am very concerned about my friend -- I hate to ask you to do
this, but I must find out somehow. I may be asleep when you return,
please wake me as soon as you get back!" Well, that was
one vote that I was going to make it back. I then replied, no
doubt weakly delivered, with a gulp, "Yes, sir." I
was surprised that I answered at all -- who in their right mind
would want to make a trip like this one figured to be? Gen. Louis
Craig of the 9th Division had sent me out on a liaison trip similar
to this back in France with a bunch of overlays because he was
afraid their artillery might fire into 3rd Armored positions
at first light. Driving down unfamiliar roads under blackout
conditions and approaching roadblocks is not my idea of how to
grow old gracefully. The upshot of all this is that I gallantly
saluted Gen. Allen in my best imitation of Gary Cooper in "Beau
Geste," and plunged out the door into a night as black as
the inside of your hat. I located my driver, Private Henry Wazilewski,
of Pe-Ell, Washington, and we reluctantly drove northward. Henry
didn't want to go either.
I shall not dwell on that harrowing trip, other than to say
that if any of you guys manning roadblocks that night remember
some idiot in a jeep passing through your positions after proper
exchange of password and countersign - that was Henry and me!
Some of these people, including an infantry major of the 104th
Division, thought I was insane. - I could only agree with them!
By checking road signs at each intersection with a hooded
flashlight and following the way "Omaha Forward" pointed,
I was able to track down Forward Echelon. As I strode into the
building being used as a headquarters, the first person I saw
through a doorway was Col. Smith, slumped in a chair. By the
sad, dour expression on his face and the exhausted position of
his body, I knew that VII Corps' message to Gen. Allen had been
correct. Col. Smith glanced up at me and hoarsely grated out,
"Maggie, what are you doing here at this hour?" I informed
him of the mission given me by Gen. Allen. Col. Smith then sat
me down and told me the story of Gen. Rose's death as he knew
it at that time. Col. Smith told me to get something to eat before
returning to the 104th, but thinking about the worried man north
of Marburg, I just wasn't hungry. Henry was smarter - he had
found breakfast, such as it was.
Returning to the 104th's Headquarters was much simpler because
daylight was upon us. Sure enough, Gen. Allen was asleep in a
trailer that had been converted into sleeping quarters. I knocked
on the door and identified myself. Gen. Allen immediately told
me to enter. I found him in his shorts, just crawling out of
his sleeping bag. As he stood erect, he motioned me to sit on
one end of his bunk. He asked if that message had been true.
I told him it was. His whole body paused, and then sagged down
onto his bunk. He slowly pulled his knees up under his chin,
clasped his hands over his knees, and rested his head on his
hands. He stared at the wall of his trailer for about a minute
and then large tears coursed down his tanned, swarthy cheeks
as, oblivious to me, he mourned his long-time friend. About six
or seven minutes passed while I silently sat with Gen. Allen,
hardly breathing, and wondering what, if anything, I could do
to ease his pain. Unable to think of anything, I continued to
sit, feeling as out of place as a prostitute in church.
He then asked for details which I supplied to him. He finally
moved, brushed the back of his hands over his cheeks, banged
one fist on my knee, and thanked me for all I had done for him.
He then asked me to send in his aide and asked me to wait outside.
His aide emerged, disappeared for a few minutes, and then returned
with the general's stenographer. I was then invited back into
the trailer. Gen. Allen was now dressed. He again sat me down
on his bunk and asked if I knew who was taking command of "The
Spearhead." I told him that Brig. Gen. Doyle O. Hickey of
Combat Command A was senior in command as far as I knew.
Gen. Allen then said, "I am going to dictate a letter
to your Gen. Hickey. If you think anything should be added, restated,
or deleted, don't hesitate to say so. I'm in somewhat of a daze
over all this." I couldn't believe what I was hearing, but
I said I would. Gen. Allen then preceded to dictate a letter
addressed to Gen. Hickey which described the long relationship
between himself and Gen. Rose, his deep personal regrets over
"The Spearhead's" loss, the marvelous spirit of cooperation
between the two divisions, and assured Gen. Hickey of continued
support by the 104th Division in the future. It was most complete,
there was nothing more to be said.
Gen. Allen then shook my hand, thanked me again, and told
me to get some sleep. I now knew why Terry de la Mesa Allen was
so loved by "The Big Red One" and by the "Timber
Wolves." I would later deliver the letter.