The Norman Transcript

News Features

November 11, 2012

Two years in a foxhole



After the North African Campaign, the 1st Infantry Division participated in the invasion of Sicily. After brutal fighting on the invasion beach and in the mountains of central Sicily, opposed by both German and Italian forces, the cities of Palermo and Messina were captured by U.S. Troops, ending the Sicily Campaign.

Joining the 3rd Infantry Division, Frank made the invasion on mainland of Italy, at Salerno. After progress in the region, the division, and Frank were part of the invasion at Anzio, remaining on the beachhead for four months. They faced continuous counterattacks from German forces, facing on one day three German divisions, losing 900 men in a single day, the most of any division in the war. Frank remembers extremely tough and dangerous combat, particularly one incident in which U. S. forces trapped German troops in a ditch and defeated them in a heavy firefight. In late May 1944, the 3rd Division led the breakout from Anzio and headed for Rome. Rome was captured early on June 4, and the troops were anticipating becoming the security force in Rome and southern Italy for the remainder of the war.

However, on June 6, D-Day, the 3rd Division received orders to prepare for the invasion of Southern France. The landings were made Aug. 15, 1944, landing at St. Tropez. They advanced to the Rhone Valley, through the Vosges Mountains and reached the Rhine at Strasbourg on Nov. 26, 1944. On Jan. 23, 1945, the Division helped clear the Colmar Pocket and in March attached the Siegfried Line position south of Zweibrucken. They crossed the Rhine on March 26 and drove on to take Nuremberg in a fierce battle, fighting block by block from April 17-20. They took Augsburg and Munich in April and were near Salzburg when the war ended.

Frank was ordered back to Marseille, France, in March 1945. There, he received orders to travel to the United States on a Liberty ship carrying German prisoners of war. The ship had 53 U.S. Soldiers and 279 POWs. They sailed to Newport News, Va., where Frank got on a train to Camp Chaffee, Ark. He got leave to go home to Norman and stayed for 45 days. He returned to Camp Chaffee, expecting to be sent back to Europe, but was unexpectedly discharged in June 1945. He returned to Norman and soon began to start his career and his family.

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