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Record 470/959
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Letter written by George R. Dempsey, 13th Armored Regiment, 1st Armored Division, in Ireland to his parents, Mr. & Mrs. Edward Dempsey in Oshkosh, WI. August 8, 1942, Dear Mother and Father, This past week has been the most interesting I've spent since joining the Army. There was a five day maneuver including our forces and the British. My battalion was attached to the British and I was liaison officer for Col. Burke, my Battalion C.O., to British Headquarters. And anyone who says anything against the English officers is going to have me to fight. I've never been treated so well in my life. I ate, slept, drank, and worked with them up until noon yesterday. They ran their show very efficiently; they used a minimum of paper, a point our Army would do well to adopt; and they gained the respect of all who had any close contact with them. The British General was a strapping, 6' 2" gentleman in superb condition. He'd served in the last war, and in Palestine, and in Africa under Auchinleck. He and Col. Burke, who for the first time since last summer's maneuvers had anything like a free hand with our tank battalion, had the time of their lives dreaming up and carrying out 100-mile overland Commando raids against supply trains, experimenting with different combinations of weapons and vehicles, and carrying out cross-country tank attacks the way they should be done. I was released from my liaison job the last four hours of the "war" in time to lead my platoon in a singularly satisfying attack. We were ordered by the general to work cross-country. My driver drooled with glee when he knew he'd get a chance at those stone fences and high hedges. My platoon of 4 was at the tail of our company column when the column was stopped up ahead around a bend in the road by some anti-tank guns. On both sides of the road were those hedges. "Okay sergeant, let's get to work", I said, and signaled the other three commanders to follow. Somehow they failed to get the signal so I was by myself. This driver took most of the fences like a hurricane equipped with shock absorbers. One fence, about four feet thick, at the top of a ridge caused some trouble; he had to sock it four times before demolishing it. The farmers stood by with their eyes popping out. Eight fences and a gate were smashed in getting around to the rear of the guns. After that the company commander gave each platoon a sector to attack. Enemy tanks (they belonged to our outfit but were on the opposing side for the maneuver) were ahead of us. This time the other tank commanders did follow my signal and we took off the road once more. My four tanks were credited by the umpires with the knocking out of 10 light tanks and three mediums without the loss of a single tank of our own. At that point the "war" was called off. In getting out of the place one of my tanks got bogged down. We worked until late last night, assisted by some big wreckers and half-tracks, getting the thing out and putting on a thrown track, then since we couldn't find the rest of the battalion, we came back to camp here; it required a 90 mile march in pouring rain and pitch blackness. We got in a five the A.M. It's late afternoon; I've slept, bathed, and eaten some of the food you sent me. Just now the rest of the company has thundered in. They bivouacked same place along the way in the late evening. All in all there hasn't been a more satisfying and interesting week in over a year and a half. 1t's the kind of stuff that will boost a platoon's moral to the heavens. The drivers had never come across terrain like that before but they have been dying to do it ever since they got here. They're destruction-minded and know they're good. And what I learned for the British, I probably won't realize how much for months. About seven letters were here for me from you and Pop. The mirror you sent from Macy's, an envelope of clippings, and four letters from the wife were waiting too. Thanks very much for the mirror; it's just the thing. That extra one from Altman's, if it arrives, won't hurt to have around. More later, and love, George.
Letter -WORLD WAR II -Copyright Oshkosh Public Museum
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