I visited my Dad in Huntsville, AL a few weeks ago,
and he shared some stories about his experiences with the 419th. I
took mental notes and jotted them down soon afterwards, and was able
to take some written notes during some of his stories. The following
is not a direct quote, but it is certainly close and conveys some
stories I had not heard before:
Larry Lemberg was Colonel McCabe's driver: The 419th
left for Europe from New York City. when we were shipping out, the
ship ran aground while we were still in New York harbor, and we were
all transferred to another ship.
McCabe was not going to be allowed to go overseas because
of his health. I think he had asthma and maybe some other problems.
But he did all the 25 mile hikes with full packs in the Georgia heat
with us, so he could certainly hold his own. we heard they went all
the way to President Roosevelt to allow McCabe to travel with us.
I kind of doubt that Roosevelt was ever involved in that decision,
but who knows. I'm glad he went with us, too. McCabe did all the selection
of firing targets, and he made a lot of right choices. We would sometimes
move fast, drive on highways for a couple of hours and then stop and
set up the firing battery. McCabe would identify targets and the gunners
would let fly. Then off we'd go to the next point.
We were in a town called Vionville, and my Jeep had
a generator problem. The battery would die if I shut off the engine,
and I'd have to push it to start it again. We were on the forward
line, which was just a little hedge screen at the edge of town. Beyond
that is no mans land. A shell of some kind went off real close to
us, and McCabe got a piece of shrapnel in his bedroll in the Jeep.
Nothing else was hit. Usually a tire would go flat when a shell hit
that close, or something, but we were lucky. There was a chicken and
a rooster there and when the shell hit those two birds simply disappeared.
I guess the shock just blew them apart.
We were traveling somewhere in the country and came
to a ditch that the Germans had dug across the road. It was about
a foot and a half wide six feet deep all the way across the road.
A half track pulling an anti-tank gun had hit the ditch and the anti-tank
gun had bounced off its hitch. The GI's were screwing around trying
to get that gun hooked up again when four shells hit, two on each
side of the road. None of us got hit, but the half track just took
off and left the anti-tank gun where it lay. McCabe jumped in the
jeep and said "Lembug let's get the hell outta here". I hit that ditch
and thought the jeep was going to break in half, but it kept going
and we made it.
The primary artillery piece in the 419th was the M7.
I went to sleep next to an M7 one night. I had a bedroll that my Mother
had sent me, and it was a lot better than the GI issue bedroll. Well,
the firing battery of M7's got firing orders in the middle of the
night. Man, when that thing went off and I was sleeping right next
to it I thought I was done for.
I once went into a farmhouse and went to check the basement.
There was a big pile of potatoes in one corner and for some reason
I thought that would be a good place to hide something. You had to
be careful and watch for booby traps, though. I started going through
the potatoes and found a wooden keg of schnapps buried in there. It
was probably about 3 gallons. Man, that was good stuff. The officers
got a liquor ration, maybe a couple of quarts a month, but the GI's
never did. So we were always looking for booze. I once found a case
of Hennessy Cognac that was missing only one bottle and I stashed
it in the Jeep. I think McCabe probably knew it was there. He didn't
drink, but he never said anything about it. We went through some pretty
rough terrain and I was sure the bottles would be all broken but they
were OK. I don't know who drank all that stuff, but it sure disappeared
in a hurry. Another time I went into a cigar or cigarette factory
and found two pair of coveralls that fit me perfectly. Later I got
so drunk I threw up all over them and threw them away.
One time McCabe and I were in the Jeep out front of
everybody on recon somewhere. We were following one light tank. Each
time the tank came to a hill it would stop and the tank commander
would pop up and scan the next valley with his binoculars. I don't
think the tank commander nor McCabe knew where we were, and finally
McCabe said "Lembug, this guy doesn't know where he's going, let's
head back" and I sure was glad when he said that.
We started getting shelled one time and I ran to a building
and hit the ground against the wall. I had laid right in a pile of
shit, and I think it was human. But I figured it was better to be
dirty than dead so I stayed there. Through all that time, I never
got hurt. Hell, I never even fell down. Don't understand it.
response from Micky McCabe | May 30, 2006:
Those stories were simply wonderful. My Dad had just
been operated on for an ulcer prior to deployment. I think he used
the same US Senator that gave him an appointment to West Point to
pull strings so he could go overseas. He was recovering from the operation
and that is why he could not drink. I remember my Dad saying he would
transmit on the "peep" (big jeep) radio and the motor would die. They
were in a dangerous situation as usual, and your Dad would get very
nervous when the motor would quit. I remember his sleeping bag falling
apart about 25 years later and pieces of metal shrapnel fell out.
I wish I had kept it as a souvenir. I remember him telling me basically
the same story. Keep asking your day questions to jog his memory.
Are you and your Dad going to make it to the reunion?
-Keep in touch, Micky
Rose Lemberg's email dated
Nov. 13, 2001