11 September 2002
It was early October of 1995 when I received Issue #2 of the
2nd Armored Division Association Bulletin. While briefly scanning
for names of fellow veteran friends of mine, there it was on
the top of page 6. Something immediately drew my attention to
it, with the headline, "Can you, will you help?" It
was from a letter written by a Steven L. Ossad -- a person unknown
to me. I had never read his name until then, as he was not a
member of our Association. Reading further, I learned that he
was not only a non-member, but neither was he a veteran. I assumed
it was some family member seeking information on a relative/family
member lost in battle, which is common in veterans' news periodicals.
But no, he was asking for help in finding information on the
death of Major General Maurice Rose, a non-relative. When he
incorrectly stated that Rose's death was 31 March 1945, I read
that and thought this guy really needs my help! He had the story
partially correct when he wrote that Rose was an "up from
the ranks, a non West Point, Jewish officer." So I assumed
that meant that he had done some previous homework -- little
did I know at that time that he had acquired far more data about
the Rose family history than I knew! It was Rose's military data
he was seeking. I would learn all this later.
Steve Ossad had written in his request for information, "I
would be appreciative of any help you can offer." So being
the "Good Samaritan" that I am and willing to offer
whatever support I could give, I replied by letter on October
10, 1995, (ironically October 10th is also the birthday of General
Rose's jeep driver, on that fateful night, 30 March 1945, my
friend, Glenn H. Shaunce). I mentioned that I had served under
General Rose's Headquarters Combat Command "A" of the
Second Armored Division in the Invasion of Normandy, France,
June 1944 and the Breakout at St. Lo, in Operation Cobra, July
Steve recognized my name from an article previously published
in the Army's Armor Magazine, March-April 1991,The Triumph and
Tragedy of Major General Maurice Rose, written by Ralph C. Greene,
MD. I had exchanged correspondence with Dr. Greene regarding
Rose's Combat Command "A" at the Invasion Beachhead
at Carentan, France, on 13 June 1944. Steve immediately replied
and pressed me for details based on the information published.
After a cautious slow start, he was still a stranger to me,
the flow of letters and telephone calls rapidly became a daily
occurrence and in time they soon led to our sending emails and
computerized copies of documents. We were two amateur historians
with the same goal -- willing to exchange information about the
life of Maurice Rose, both personal and military. We made visits
to each other's homes and then formed a bond of friendship by
means of an open exchange of information and our theories (at
that time, ours remained to be proven). In a literary seminal
moment, we agreed to co-author a manuscript about the untimely
death of the relatively unknown American Army General, Maurice
Our arrangement was simple -- Steve would handle the keyboard
and enter everything into his computer. Not owning a computer
at the time, as a journalist investigator, I would assist in
the research, and include my own wartime memoirs. Soon I was
forced to give up my typewriter and buy a complete computer set-up.
This enabled me to send emails and letters to contacts in the
USA, Belgium, Holland and most importantly, made it possible
to locate and interview German veterans, including the German
Panzer men from the unit that ambushed General Rose "that
Destiny stepped in to arrange this juxtaposition, in effect
we were two complete strangers who might be rightly described
as total "opposites." He is a younger man in his mid-fifties;
today, I am 80 years old. He has not served a single day in the
military and I am a retired Technical Sergeant, veteran of World
War Two, having served 20 years of active duty, plus 10 more
years in the reserves. He has earned three degrees, including
an MBA from Harvard -- whereas I finished high school and enlisted
as a volunteer in the army. He is of the Jewish faith and I am
a secular humanist.
We live in opposite ends of the state -- he lives in San Francisco
and I reside in southern California. To date, in the nearly seven
years that have transpired, we have met but three times. Communication
was not a problem, as I became a part of his extended family
and he a part of mine. We have one great thing in common however,
a strong mutual desire to tell this story of a true military
legend we both admired, Major General Maurice Rose.
From the inception, obtaining the full story has taken years
of time to materialize due to the seemingly impossible and difficult
challenge of penetrating the layers of military bureaucracy,
solely by correspondence through "proper channels",
to secure the vital records and documents buried deep in the
army archives for more than fifty years. I knew from past personal
military experience, while serving with the IG (Inspector General),
the typed Field Reports made by teams of investigators assigned
to the case after interviewing any and all witnesses to determine
the cause of General Rose's death were recorded and had to be
still on file.
These Field Reports would not have been destroyed. A photocopy
or microfiche film had to be stored on file in the archives --
someplace. The Army repeatedly declined to help in finding the
location of the missing crucial files. Without the conclusive
proof in these two files, one domestic and the other ETO (European
Theater of Operations), we didn't have a case or an authoritative
story with credentials.
Finally, with our persistence and the assistance of two of
our most powerful California representatives, Christopher Cox
and Dianne Feinstein, we were able to pry loose the once classified
essential critical files to thoroughly review the investigation
reports. More importantly, we were able to research the affidavits
taken from on-the-scene witnesses by Army Field IG investigators.
What we learned from those two files (US & ETO) was dynamite!
This enabled us to meticulously piece together the sequences
and events that led to Rose's death on the night of 30 March
1945 at Hamborn, Germany.
From the facts in the files available to us, we were able
to make a positive confirmation whether or not it appeared to
be murder of a Prisoner of War or an "unfortunate accident
in the heat of battle." Friends fluent in German painstakingly
translated a search of the German army records (that I received
from a German veteran) of the Panzer tank unit involved in the
ambush. Not surprisingly it had a different perspective from
statements made by US witnesses. Then we began the arduous task
of assembling a multitude of documents and file copies of records
from various American and German civilian and military historian
sources, including Rose family members, of the man's 45-year
life span from his birth in Middletown, Connecticut on 26 November
1899 to his untimely death.
We described the painful Rose family details of the days following
the shooting, including his burial at the US Military Cemetery
at Margraten in The Netherlands, then the aftermath and tragic
family disintegration that followed. In the end, the manuscript
was crafted in a scholarly fashion and submitted to selected
military book publishers to no avail. Editors would read the
synopsis and write back, "although well written, the story
is about an unknown general." Unknown perhaps to the civilians
without military backgrounds, but not to the veterans who fought
in the bloody campaigns across Western Europe!
The fact that we were also two unknown authors was not mentioned
nor over-looked. As the frustration factor began to build, we
were fortunate to obtain the services of a well-known, long established
literary agency, Blanche C. Gregory Inc., to represent us. Our
agent, Merry K. Pantano, after more than two dozen rejections
by various publishers finally placed the work with Cooper Square
Press who will publish our book titled, "Major General Maurice
Rose: World War II's Greatest Forgotten Commander" in the
spring of 2003.
The subject of creating a title for our work presented another
problem. Steve first suggested using "The Extinguished Flame
of MG Maurice Rose"; whereas I thought a title with a punch
would be better and suggested using "In The Heat of Battle:
The Murder of The Commanding General." Our mentor, Martin
Blumenson sent us his suggestion, "From Rabbi's Son To a
Military Legend: Major General Maurice Rose." But, once
we sold the publishing rights to Cooper Square Press, they settled
that with their revised choice of the title. In the end, after
the book is finally available to the public, Maurice Rose will
no longer be the Forgotten Commander.
In addition to meeting and exchanging correspondence with
so many interesting people from all walks of life and from all
parts of the world while doing research for this manuscript,
I received a deep sense of gratification from two key experiences.
One from the human-interest standpoint was finding and uniting
General Rose's two sons (half-brothers) from the general's two
marriages. These two men, now 76 and 61 years of age, had never
met nor spoken to each other in their lifetimes until our research
connected them and made it possible.
The other experience has been the pleasure of watching my
young friend, partner and co-author, Steven L. Ossad, launch
his professional career as a military historian and successful
author with this biography of Major General Maurice Rose, knowing
this will undoubtedly serve as the linchpin of his future in
writing military history.
Along the way through this long journey of life, now in my
twilight years, I give thanks that I made a great friend and
close confidant for life, Steven L. Ossad -- without whom, this
story could not have been possibly told.
Bershert -- to borrow a Jewish expression that means,
"It was meant to be."
Condensed and edited versions of this article
appeared previously in 2002 issues of the 3rd Armored Division
Association Newsletter and the 2nd Armored Division Bulletin.
Publication or reproduction, in part or whole,
is prohibited without written permission from the author, Don
R. Marsh. All rights remain the sole property of The Marsh Family