The below image shows Maj. A. D’Arcy Marks and Capt. A. Brandon Conron of the Canadian 6th Armoured Regiment (1st Hussars) (6 CAR), posed in front of an M4A2 Sherman medium tank near Colomby-sur-Thaon, France, 28 June 1944 in the push out from Normandy.
Marks has what appears to be a Browning Hi-Power (or M1911?) in a very interesting holster that appears to be a British Pattern 37 flap holster that has been partially cutaway. Conron, meanwhile, is well-outfitted with a revolver rig that includes not only spare rounds but also a cleaning rod in the holster.
As for the 1st Hussars, formed in 1856, they served overseas with distinction in the Great War, earning honors at Vimy Ridge. They returned to France in 1944, landing at Juno Beach where they were “the only unit of the Allied invasion forces known to reach its final objective on D-Day,” which certainly lived up to their motto of Hodie non cars, (Today not tomorrow).
Still part of the Canadian Forces Reserve, they are currently stationed at London, Ontario as part of the 31 Canadian Brigade Group.
Last week, the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) sailed out of Ingalls after a three-year saga of being put back together following the collision with container ship MV ACX Crystal on 17 June 2017. She is now headed back to her regular homeport of San Diego for a return to service with the Pacific Fleet.
She dedicated a Remembrance Passageway to the seven Bluejackets lost in the incident and flies a special flag in their honor, recalling the 1813 dying command of CPT James Lawrence aboard USS Chesapeake.
Similarly, the crew of the USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), Fitz’s sistership, successfully completed basic phase certification, June 2, following months of training and preparation to return the ship and its crew to operational status. As you will recall, McCain has been sidelined for repairs and extensive, accelerated upgrades over the last three years, following a collision in August 2017.
“His seven sons hoist father Clarence F. Patten, F1c, USN, into the air, onboard USS NEVADA (BB-36), following his enlistment into the Navy, 9 September 1941. Present are (left-right): Myrne, Ray, Allen, father, Bruce, Gilbert, Marvin, and Clarence, Jr. All were members of NEVADA’s crew.”
Notably, the above happy image was in peacetime and less than three months away from the Infamous Day that brought lasting sadness to Battleship Row.
Nevada, the only dreadnought to get underway during the Pearl Harbor attack on 7 December and ended the morning run aground on the Navy Yard side of the channel off Hospital Point, just south of Ford Island, lost 57 officers and men of her 1,500 man crew that day and over 100 more were wounded.
Amazingly, the list of the fallen that day does not contain a single “Patten.”
Hold your family close, gentlemen.
Here we see an image, taken 8 February 1945 in the woods near Echternach, Luxembourg, showing very muddy Soldiers of 3rd Battalion, 417th Regiment, 75th Infantry Division (“Bulge Busters”), cleaning their M1 Garands and M1918A2 BAR “before moving up to the line.”
The shot reminds me greatly of a Willie & Joe cartoon from the redoubtable Bill Mauldin, an artist who cut his teeth as a teenager in the 45th Infantry Division in 1940 and knew a thing or three about what he drew.
“Sgt. Joseph F. Gorenc from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, the assistant S3 of HQ/3, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne Division climbing aboard the lead transport aircraft C-47 Dakota 8Y-S “Stoy Hora” of the 440th Troop Carrier Group at RAF Exeter Airfield, Devon, the UK on the night of 5/6th June 1944 for a drop behind Utah Beach on the Cotentin Peninsula of France near Cherbourg.
Sgt. Gorenc was taken prisoner on June 8th at St. Côme-du-Mont and reported as MIA. He apparently escaped from a Prison train in July and he was in action again at ‘Operation Market Garden’.
He returned home after the war, married, and had two daughters and at the age of 34 was an officer in a new startup manufacturing firm. While he, the owner, and another man were working late in the shop one night, an oil tank exploded. The young man; Joe and the owner were all injured but Joe’s injuries were life-threatening and he died two weeks later. (Taken from an account given by his sister Pat)”
Joseph F. Gorenc, born April 24, 1923 – died October 30, 1957, aged 34.
Original caption: “A six-pounder gun crew in action against the enemy in the Lingevres area [Normandy]. Our troops are pushing forward in this sector against strong enemy resistance. 7th Green Howards/50th Infantry Division, 16 June 1944.”
The British Ordnance QF 6-pounder 7 cwt, adopted by the U.S. Army as the 57mm M1 anti-tank gun, could penetrate up to 7-inches of armor at 100 yards with APDS rounds, a figure that would drop to 2-inches at 2,200 yards. As you can tell, it was always better to get the drop on upcoming armor, to cut that range as short as possible.
Of course, the thickness on the hull nose and glacis, mantlet, and turret front was of a Tiger II was 7.28-inches, so there is that.
The French Army’s 106e Régiment d’Infanterie (106e RI) has a long history, with a lineage dating back unofficially to 1622 before its number appeared as the 106th Line Infantry Rgt in 1792.
In 1939, at the dawn on WWII, the 106th’s flag was decorated with fourragères, the Médaille militaire, and the Croix de guerre with no less than four palms. On its body, it carried four Coalition/Napoleonic battle honors (Biberach 1796, Gênes 1800, Wagram 1809, Malojaroslawetz 1812) and four from the Great War (Les Éparges 1915, L’Aisne 1917, Montddidier 1918, Mont D’Origny 1918).
A monument to the regiment’s bloody WWI service, crafted by renowned sculptor Maxime Real del Sarte– who himself had lost an arm in 1915– was erected on the crest of the Éparges battlefield in 1935. It had seen the elephant at Austerlitz in 1805, endured the Siege of Paris in 1870, and been bled white on the Western Front in 1918.
Modernized in 1939, the 106th was redesignated the 106e RIM (régiment d’infanterie motorisée) as part of the French 12th Motorised Infantry Division (12e DIM) at Reims.
When the “Phony War” went deadly serious on 10 May 1940, fighting as part of the French 1st Army, they ended up holding the line at Dunkirk while the British Expeditionary Forces were largely withdrawn following the Allied collapse in Northern France.
Trapped in the Lille Pocket along with some 40,000 other fighters, the French fought like lions for half a week and in a counterattack were even able to capture the headquarters of German Maj. Gen. Fritz Kühne, with Herr Kühne in tow.
However, a pocket can only ever be wiped out or relieved and no one was coming to get the 106e RIM out of their jam.
Under an agreement brokered by French Maj. Gen. Jean-Baptiste Molinié, the men of the Lille Pocket laid down their arms– for which they largely had no more ammunition– on 1 June 1940, some 80 years ago today.
Churchill himself later noted, “These Frenchmen, under the gallant leadership of General Molinié, had for four critical days contained no less than seven German divisions which otherwise could have joined in the assaults on the Dunkirk perimeter. This was a splendid contribution to the escape of their more fortunate comrades of the BEF.”
As for the 106th, the regiment’s commander, Col. Louis Félicien Marcel Tardu, ordered the regimental badges and medals be thrown in the bottom of the pond of Lille’s historic Château d’Avelin and the historic flag and its pole doused in gasoline and burned.
However, the Germans arrived before this could be done and, instead, the cased ensign was entrusted to the regiment’s priest who quickly buried it on the chateau’s grounds before being captured himself. The priest was later able to pass on the banner’s location to a local who, once the front lines shifted, was able to collect the relic and hide it for safekeeping.
When Liberation came on 26 August 1944, the banner saw sunlight and was paraded once again, at the head of a band of reformed French troops.
While the 106th is not one of the nine standing French army Metropolitain infantry regiments today, it is far from forgotten and its WWII flag is still retained by the force. The regiment’s motto was “Toujours debout,” which translates to, “Still standing.”
Here we see a .32 ACP Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless self-loading pistol carried by General (later Field Marshal) Sir Gerald Templer, KG, GCB, CB, GCMG, KBE, DSO. The S/N (377681) dates to 1921 production.
Dubbed “The Smiling Tiger,” Sir Gerald commanded infantry and armored divisions, as well as the German Directorate of the Special Operations Executive, during the WWII and later went on to lead British forces during the Malayan Emergency, one of the few successful counter-insurgency operations undertaken by the Western powers during the Cold War.
He was also something of a gun buff.
The signed 1954 card in the pistol’s case reads:
“The .32 Colt revolver and ammunition, in this case, was one of about 20 purchased by me when I was GSO I (1(b)) at GHQ, BEF. It was necessary for some of my officers to/ have a small automatic in their pockets on a good many occasions. I carried this one throughout the War, and when I was High Commissioner and Director of Operations in Malaya it never left my side. It was under my pillow every night whilst I was in country, ready and cocked.”
Sir Gerald died in 1979, aged 81.
If you are like me, you may be looking a bit between a caveman and Ted Kaczynski these days, and with that in mind: