Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Embry D. Lagrew, May 21, 1986

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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 BEAN: My name is Richard M. Bean, born April the 11th, 1919. Recently I have become acquainted with a Mr. Embry Lagrew, who matches my definition of a soldier and a warrior. Wars are fought mostly with soldier-types. But it takes some specialized warrior-types to win them. Warriors are rare, and it's in the interest of history to see how they operated and why. They may be a dying breed. Let's talk with Mr. Lagrew and perhaps learn what a kill-or-be-killed warrior type did to help us win World War Two. Embry, let's now start out with the beginning of your life, and if you could, tell me your full name and whether -- when you were born and where you were born.

LAGREW: My name is Embry Draper Lagrew. I was born May the 6th, 1907, Salt 00:01:00Lick, Kentucky.

BEAN: Would you tell us a little something about your family at that time? What conditions were you all in?

LAGREW: My father run a general merchandise store in Salt Lick, Kentucky, at that time. Salt Lick was a lumber town where -- and there was five lumber companies in the town, making oak flooring, stave mill, heading factories, and different lumber products. In 1919, our family moved to Lexington, Kentucky, at which time I entered Morton Junior High School.

BEAN: Well, now, how many in your family? How many brothers and sisters?

LAGREW: Just two, myself and my sister. My sister is nine years younger than I am.


BEAN: All right. So what kind of education did you get in Salt Lick?

LAGREW: Just the grade --

BEAN: Public schools?

LAGREW: -- public grade schools.

BEAN: Just as a matter of interest, when you were -- in this early years, were you known as a fighter? Were you a scrapper in the schools or did you get in trouble for something like that?

LAGREW: Only as the boys would in a little country town like Salt Lick. I think all the boys were in some kind of a gang -- not a gang fight, but [chuckle] scraps and so forth, which I suppose is incidental to the country and town which we lived in.

BEAN: All right. So your father sold out down in Salt Lick and came to Lexington?

LAGREW: In 1919.

BEAN: And what happened to you?

LAGREW: Well, of course, I come to Lexington with the family, and my father entered the gasoline business -- service station business. We had the first 00:03:00service station south of the Ohio River, my father did. And, of course, I entered the Lexington public schools. I went to the Lexington High School up until my senior year, in which I transferred to the University High School, and which I graduated in 1925. Then I went to the University of Kentucky, in which I was in the class of '29. I --

BEAN: That -- wait a minute, let's -- how about during this period of -- in Morton and in [phone ringing] the schools? Do you want to get that phone? During this period, did you have any major scraps or were you in any kind of a -- were you a fighter?

LAGREW: [Chuckle] That I couldn't tell, no.

BEAN: Didn't get in any trouble?

LAGREW: No, no, no, no.

BEAN: Did you have any -- were you in boxing or wrestling or anything?


LAGREW: No, no.

BEAN: All right. So you went --

LAGREW: Just normal stuff. I played football at University High, but wasn't good enough to make the University of Kentucky team or anything like that. And I played some baseball, and just the kid's games. But no indication of anything like that at all.

BEAN: What did you study at U.K.?

LAGREW: I did join -- while I was in high school I did join the Kentucky National Guard. I did that just before I entered the University of Kentucky. There was a cavalry troop here. And we were not social enough to get in country clubs or anything like that. And that gave me an opportunity to get into a club to ride horses and stuff, which I liked to do.

BEAN: Where was the guard unit? Here in Lexington?


LAGREW: The guard unit, yes, was here in Lexington. The guard unit was here in Lexington [and] was headquartered out on -- which is now Henry Clay Avenue, right by where the railroad track is.

BEAN: Oh, yeah. Now, then, were you a soldier there or did you just -- were you all just riding around? Did you ever go to maneuvers or anything?

LAGREW: Oh, yes, of course. The National Guard--which is still true today--we drilled once a week. We drilled once a week and then every summer we went to camp for two weeks. We'd go to different camps. We'd go to Fort Knox, which wasn't Fort Knox at that time. It was Camp Knox. And then we would go up into maneuvers up in Wisconsin, different places like that, yes.

BEAN: Oh. Was it all horse?

LAGREW: Oh, yes. Sure, it was horse cavalry.

BEAN: So everybody was mounted on a horse.

LAGREW: Oh, yes. That's right.

BEAN: And you carried a rifle?

LAGREW: Well, yes, everyone carried a pistol and a rifle. That's the way 00:06:00cavalry was armed in those days.

BEAN: All right. So then you went to the University of Ken--- what age were you when you joined the guard, about? Is this before U.K.?

LAGREW: I must have been about eighteen. Yes, I was eighteen.

BEAN: All right.

LAGREW: Then, of course, I -- then I went to the University of Kentucky, in which I took ROTC.

BEAN: All right.

LAGREW: And, of course, I -- when I got my -- I did get a commission at the university because I -- for some reason, I liked it. I not only liked it, I absorbed it, what -- and the reason I absorbed it was I was more interested in it. Now, why I was more interested, I don't know.

BEAN: All right.

LAGREW: But things I didn't do well in, I've come to find out later is because I'd -- it was because I didn't take interest in them. I failed in English, and it was because I had -- I didn't apply myself because I didn't think Chaucer was 00:07:00anybody I wanted to know. And I didn't study and apply myself to it, so I didn't do any good. But I was the -- I applied myself to the military things, and for what reason I have no idea, except I enjoyed it, and I -- when I got my co--- when I received my commission at the university, why, then, of course, I become a reserve officer -- a second lieutenant in the reserve.

BEAN: In our infantry?

LAGREW: In the infantry, that's right. And --

BEAN: Did you have any officer duties in the ROTC? Were you an officer -- your senior year at ROTC, were you an officer or a sergeant or --

LAGREW: Well, yes, I was a captain.

BEAN: Captain in the ROTC.

LAGREW: Captain in the ROTC.

BEAN: All right. So then you graduated from the university. And what kind of degree did you get? What school were you in, business or --

LAGREW: Yes, business. Uh-huh. Business administration.

BEAN: It was a degree in business administration.


LAGREW: So, anyway, I, of course, was going into the Guard, and at about the same time, I don't recall whether -- within the same year, I got a commission as a second lieutenant in the National Guard. But that was in [the] cavalry. Well, I kept both commissions for about two years. And then the -- and I didn't want -- and, of course, I enjoyed the cavalry. I enjoyed the cavalry and so, of course, I didn't pay much attention to the reserve commission until about the time that I felt like that the war in Europe was getting serious and that we -- it's a possibility that we would become involved. So with -- and 00:09:00incidentally, the War Department notified us that we couldn't keep two commissions.

BEAN: Oh, uh-huh.

LAGREW: We, [chuckle] you know, --

BEAN: Had to have one or the other.

LAGREW: -- yeah, have to have one or the other.

BEAN: Well, now, let me go back just a little. The cavalry unit by this time -- you graduated in what year at U.K.?

LAGREW: '29.

BEAN: The cavalry unit was still going as cavalry?

LAGREW: Oh, sure. It did. The ca---

BEAN: Then you -- what?

LAGREW: To bring you up to date on that, the -- it stayed as a cavalry unit clear up until 19--- until we went to war in 1941.


LAGREW: But it was horse cavalry.

BEAN: Here in Lexington?

LAGREW: Here in Lexington. It belonged -- it was the Kentucky National Guard, part of the Kentucky National Guard. But I did -- I felt like as it got up into later years, up in the '30s, when it looked like that -- and, of course, I 00:10:00decided -- and what made me decide, of course, was that the regular Army had de-horsed a regiment of cavalry, horse cavalry, and made the mechanized cavalry. And that mechanized cavalry moved to Fort Knox, Kentucky. And when we were down there in the early -- in the late '30s with the Kentucky National Guard, I saw them. And I got intrigued with them and saw -- and felt like that's the way that the future armies would go. And with that, I come back and transferred into -- well, I transferred into the cavalry. I was still in the cavalry, of course. But I mean, into the reserve -- back into the reserve, in the cavalry. 00:11:00Instead of infantry, into cavalry. But then I had to resign the other commission later on, which I resigned then, the National Guard commission, and kept the cavalry commission in the reserve.

BEAN: Now, we're about -- we're now -- you're out of U.K. We're 1930.

LAGREW: Oh, yeah, we're way past that now.

BEAN: And you're -- well, now, we skipped some years in there. During this time, you became a businessman here in Lexington.

LAGREW: Oh, yes, uh-huh.

BEAN: And you --

LAGREW: Well, at the -- right after the U---

BEAN: Just a quick catch-up on business during this period.

LAGREW: Well, okay.

BEAN: Were you active in business and in the army?

LAGREW: Oh, well, I was -- yes. Yes. I was active in -- I went into business with my father.

BEAN: All right.

LAGREW: We built a new place in 1930 on -- down on Vine Street. It was Lagrew's. My father and I owned it. And it was a -- we were a tire and battery distributor, besides a big, super service station. And that's what I owned on 00:12:00up until the time I went into active duty in World War Two. Now, through that time, I was in the reserve, sometime in the Guard, but mostly in my reserve activity, because I belonged to the reserve officer's association. That's the way I took -- I mean, my social life. I become president of the reserve officer's association, and --

BEAN: Were you going to camps and things?

LAGREW: Oh, sure. To --

BEAN: You keep your reserve commission going then, and --

LAGREW: Sure. Kept it go---

BEAN: -- and active.

LAGREW: Very active.

BEAN: And you met weekly and so on?

LAGREW: Oh, sure. Yes. Well, we met, really, twice a month, except when we went to summer camp or whatever time that we were ordered to do summer camp. But I kept my commission active.

BEAN: All right.

LAGREW: Very active. And I did correspondence work. In other words, that was 00:13:00part of the work that you did, and to schools and classes in the reserve. You had to keep -- in other words, in that particular time, the reserve was set up that they had three classes of the reserve: the real active reserve, that's the people in which -- that's what I was, that was taking a real active part keeping up with my lessons, coming to all the meetings and all the other stuff. And then there was the inactive, that was the fellows that were just occasionally, and so forth, were there. And then there is the ones that didn't come at all. And they kept these ones that didn't come at all on the books for three or four years and then they dropped them. You follow me?

BEAN: Right.

LAGREW: But to keep up --(coughs)-- -- the ones in the top grade, the ones in the real active reserve, the class -- first class, --(coughs)-- were officers, because at that particular time the regular army was way down to sub-strength. And for instance, in the regular army units, they prob--- like a company, or a 00:14:00battery, or what have you, a company only had one officer -- regular army officer. But then on their books they would have -- in case of an emergency they'd have reserve officers.


LAGREW: You follow me?

BEAN: Right.

LAGREW: So in case of an emergency, the real guys that were on this thing would go to their units that they were assigned to, in case of an emergency.

BEAN: Oh, the regular army units.

LAGREW: Regular army units. That's what I did. And I was assigned, and worked at it, to the 7th Cavalry Brigade, that mechanized cavalry unit in Fort Knox.

BEAN: Oh. All right. And you were really studying and doing your work in this mechanized unit --

LAGREW: Sure. Sure.

BEAN: -- keeping up as a reservist.

LAGREW: I did correspondence work with them. And when I went to duty in the summertime, I would go to Fort Knox and join the unit and go on maneuvers with them or whatever they did. You with me?

BEAN: All right.

LAGREW: Now, that's the way the reserve worked. Well, of course, that kept on 00:15:00up until the emergency started. And the emergency started in 1940. In 1940, the president of the United States and the arm forces, they start -- and they started mobilizing to a degree. I worked -- see, the war was declared in December [of] '41, but this was the first of '40. So they ordered a lot of reserve officers to active duty, and particularly these -- now, it was voluntary. It was voluntary. You could sign -- but, of course, you know, at that particular time, it was still the Depression ending up. And it offered pretty good jobs to a lot of fellows. And -- but then, if you were in this first line attached to these regular army units that they were building up, they -- you -- they ordered you to duty. So I was ordered to duty on August 1st, 1940.

BEAN: And you were about 33 years old then?



BEAN: All right.

LAGREW: Okay. I was a first lieutenant.

BEAN: All right.

LAGREW: I had grad--- come -- as I said, I had studied and applied myself through the reserve. And after so many years, you see, and you got a chance, and they give you an examination and you were promoted. Okay. So in 1940 I went into -- was a -- went into active duty.

BEAN: Now, was this voluntary or --

LAGREW: Yes, yes. It was voluntary.

BEAN: They asked for reservists that would like to come on active duty to join?

LAGREW: For one year.

BEAN: For one year.

LAGREW: For one year. So, of course, I wanted -- so I was ordered to Fort Knox. And at the same time I was ordered to Fort Knox, the armored force was organized. The same day that I was or--- cut my orders and ordered me there, the armored force was organized, made up of the different branches of the service. Cavalry, horse cavalry, infantry, and artillery moved into the armored 00:17:00force. And, of course, the headquarters was made at Fort Knox. And at Fort Knox they started building the armored school and all the ramifications of the things to set up that special arms of the armor. And they organized the 1st Armored Division. Well, see, I had already been in this 7th Mechanized Cavalry Brigade, which was taken in the 1st Armored Division. Boy, I was -- that's what I was hoping to go for. But I didn't stay with them a week. And the reason I didn't stay with them a week was things were moving into Fort Knox and they were starting to build. And, of course, they interviewed me and found out or thought, after looking at my record and what I had -- the type of business that I had been in, in the automobile business, and tires and batteries and front-end 00:18:00geometry, different things like that, selected me to go to the armored school. So I went and helped organize and build the armored school, and taught there for one year.


LAGREW: Of course, I didn't like school-teaching. I wanted -- I thought I was in the army to be a soldier. And I wanted to be with my troops -- with the troops, and I was -- at the end of the year I was tired of school-teaching. I didn't want any part of it. So I tried to find how to get out of there, you see, how to get out of that school. So I started looking around and, of course, by that time I began to meet a lot of the regular army officers and different people at Fort Knox and all. I met a regular army officer [who] was a -- had become a real good friend of mine. And I told him that I wanted to get out of the school, and he come -- called me one night and says, "How'd you like to go to the armored board? That's where they test all the new armored equipment." 00:19:00And I said, "Fine. That's for me." So with that in mind, I got transferred from the armored school over to the armored board. And that was my cup of tea.

BEAN: First lieutenant?

LAGREW: First lieutenant.

BEAN: All right.

LAGREW: But I --

BEAN: Where was the armored board? At Fort Knox?

LAGREW: At Fort Knox. Yes, yes.

BEAN: Oh, I see.

LAGREW: Everything that pertained to armor was at Fort Knox.

BEAN: All right.

LAGREW: With the exception of the 2nd Armored Division, at Fort -- the 1st Armored was at Knox, and the 2nd Second Armored was ordered at [Fort] Benning. That's what General [George] Patton had, the 2nd Armored at Benning. Well, anyway, I worked with the board, and in about three months after being at the board I got promoted to a captain. About that -- so in -- as you know, Pearl 00:20:00Harbor come in '41, December [of] '41. And they quit building automobiles, the first thing they did. Of course, we were trying to get equipment for the army and they wanted tanks. And then the president of Chrysler Corporation come to the board and said, "Gentlemen, you want 100,000 tanks. I can build them for you." And, of course, we had been looking at Cummins Diesel and all the other different kinds and they couldn't do nothing because they didn't have the capacity for them. We wanted -- Cummins Diesel said their total capacity was 3,000. Said the Navy wanted 30,000.

BEAN: A year you mean?

LAGREW: Yeah, a year. --(coughs)-- They'd have to build new factories to do all this and everything. But here is Chrysler coming, so they turned Chrysler loose into building them. And our first tanks -- and they built a tank arsenal. And so I become -- got the job of being the liaison officer. Now that's got -- 00:21:00the first tanks to test, and I was the liaison officer between Fort Knox and Detroit. So aft--- on the first production of tanks -- we had the first fifty, see, that Chrysler built. They sent them to maneuvers, and I had a command to go to Louisiana on maneuvers with them. --(coughs)-- Pardon me. --(coughs)-- So I took these on maneuvers, and they were--you still hearing me?--we took them to Louisiana on maneuvers. And, of course, they were such an abortion, as far as the vehicles are concerned, that the one that went the farthest went ten miles and they were just strung out there, all burned up.


BEAN: Oh! [Chuckle] What size tanks are we talking about?

LAGREW: They were medium tanks.

BEAN: Medium tanks.

LAGREW: The Sherman tanks.

BEAN: Sherman mediums.

LAGREW: Umhmm. And, of course, they were the first water-cooled tanks -- I mean air-cooled tanks, that they had -- or water-cooled tanks, rather. And, of course, they had a big radiator in there, and the guys who were building the tanks with their greasy hands got the radiator greased -- dirty. And as soon as that big -- as soon as the tanks hit the ground and that dust, and the pads paddled up the dust, the dust come back through that air stream, through that radiator, it didn't go [clock chiming] 100 yards until the radiator was solidly chewed -- backed up with dust. And it was just like you didn't have a radiator on there. Cut that off for a minute now. --(coughs)-- Let me get a d---

[Interruption in taping]

BEAN: So you were on maneuvers and the dirt was coming in the tank.

LAGREW: Well, and blocking up the radiators. So, of course, we had to 00:23:00improvise and do everything we could at that particular time. Well, of course, they had to send steam generators to the companies to clean up them all. And they had to find out what to do, that is to build a radiator that wouldn't clog up and so [inaudible]. But, incidentally, --(coughs)-- by the time this maneuver was over, they were organizing the 6th Armored Division. They were organizing that at Fort Knox. Of course --(coughs)--, I wanted to get into an army unit as fast as I could. And incidentally, several of the fellows on the -- at the armored board was going to the 6th Armored. One of the men that was going was going to be the second-in-command of a regiment -- . of an armored 00:24:00regiment. He was a lieutenant colonel. And he and I traveled together at that time. We lived at Elizabethtown, going back and forth to Fort Knox. And we would communicate, ride back and forth every morning. When I found out that he was going to the 6th Armored, well, I said to him, "Colonel Thompson, please take me with you. I want to get [inaudible]." He said, "Well, I think maybe I can," He said, "We're looking for a motor officer, and they are hard to find!" He said, "This afternoon I'll take you over and introduce you to the new general that's going to have the division and we'll see what we can do." So he took me over there and introduced me, and with that I was ordered to join the cadre. That's the new group -- organization of the 6th Armored Division.

BEAN: At Fort Knox.

LAGREW: At Fort Knox, Kentucky. And that was in January of '42. See, right 00:25:00after -- [long pause] -- so we stayed at Fort Knox for about thirty days. And then we moved to a new camp that had just been built called Camp Chaffee at Fort Smith, Arkansas. Brand new camp. So I took what -- we marched with the wheeled vehicles, road marched with the wheeled vehicles, and the track vehicles were shipped. So I marched with the wheeled vehicles and we took three days to march from Fort Knox, Kentucky, to Camp Chaffee, Arkansas. And we took over that new camp. And, of course, in -- within two or three days after we reached there, we 00:26:00got our -- we -- this was only a cadre now, as I am telling you. Then we got the 6th -- I mean we got the draftees to fill up the division, 14,000 or something like that. Of course then, the first thing was to start elementary training, getting the groups and training these men that -- and, as I told you, I went in this regiment, armored regiment, the 68th Armored Regiment. And I was a captain. But this -- and I got the -- had the maintenance company, the maintenance company of the regiment. There was only two regiments in the division. So -- but I was commanding the maintenance company, which was the largest company in the regiment. Over 250 men. They were mostly mechanics and 00:27:00different people to supervise the maintenance and care of the tanks and all in the regiment. We had three platoons of tanks for emergencies. And they were the emergency tanks for that, that I commanded, too. And this company commander, according to the tables of organization, was a major. Because he not only was the company commander of this maintenance company, but he was the regimental motor officer or the staff officer. He was a dual officer that took care of all that. In other words, that's what the cadres would do, would bring in people -- like in companies, they'd bring in a first lieutenant, so he had an opportunity as a company commander, and he'd get a promotion to captain, and 00:28:00that was --

BEAN: Right, umhmm.

LAGREW: -- throughout the whole unit. --(coughs)-- You going?

BEAN: The 6th Armored --

LAGREW: Are you going now?

BEAN: Yeah.

LAGREW: The 6th Armored stayed at Fort Chaffee for several months, three or four months, training the cadres, getting them on up. And then we were ordered to Louisiana for maneuvers. We went to maneuvers, and one of the first big maneuvers of the war that they had, where armies -- divisions were fighting against divisions and so forth then. After that maneuver was over we went back to Chaffee, and then we were ordered to California, to the desert for desert training.

BEAN: Did you have all your equipment by then?

LAGREW: Oh, yes.

BEAN: Full tanks and everything.

LAGREW: Yes, yes. We had all our equipment then. So --(coughs)-- we went to 00:29:00the desert, out in -- the desert was Rice, California, along the Colorado River. And had a tent camp, just in a desert tent camp. And we stayed there from the fall of '42 clear around to the spring of '43. At the spring of '43 we went to Camp Cooke, California, in a -- exchanging with the 5th Armored. The 5th Armored was at Camp Cooke, California. We were in the desert. And so we left our equipment intact. They left their equipment intact. They had not had desert training and we had. And so they moved their men down in the desert and took over ours, and we moved to Camp Cooke and took over theirs. You see, at 00:30:00that time it seems as if General Patton was in the desert preparing to go to North Africa. It seemed as if the whole concept of the thing --(coughs)-- -- that mostly we'd have to fight the war in North Africa in the desert. And so the training for all the tanks and everything was big desert training. And, of course, it was wonderful training because, I'll tell you, that anyone that could live out in those conditions and keep a tank running out in all those divisions, really knew how to operate. There's no question. One -- I think it was one of the greatest trainings that we had during the war, particularly for individual living and for maintenance. So we stayed at Camp Cooke until early '43. And 00:31:00then we were shi--- I mean, yeah, `44, January of `44. And then we were alerted and shipped overseas.

BEAN: Now, "we" is the what?

LAGREW: The 6th Armored Division.

BEAN: And who was the general?

LAGREW: General Grow, Robert [W.] Grow.

BEAN: G-r-o-w?

LAGREW: Yes, G-r-o-w.

BEAN: And you were shipped then from California overseas --

LAGREW: Well of course -- yes, we staged to be shipped overseas from California. We didn't go by sea from California. We went by land across the United States in troop trains and all to New York. --(coughs)-- You follow me?

BEAN: Right.

LAGREW: The POE is in New York, Camp Shanks. --(coughs)-- And at camp, of course, we -- and then in January we were loaded on a troop train -- I mean on 00:32:00troop ships. We went across the ocean. And there were 72 ships in our convoy. It was the largest, they said, at that -- the largest convoy that ever went across, 72 ships that went across. It took us thirteen days. Of course, we had to zigzag because of those submarine packs. And then it was -- now, where the convoy landed, I don't know at all except that we went to Scotland in the Firth of Clyde, and went up to Glasgow. And our -- the whole division went to Glasgow. And then we got off the -- we were -- we got off the ship at Glasgow and got on troop trains there, and come all the way down to England -- I mean through Scotland and through England, to the Cotswolds, which is just -- well, it's where Stratford-on-Avon [is].

BEAN: Oh, all right. Umhmm.

LAGREW: In the Cotswolds there, in the Midlands.

BEAN: Let me back up just a minute. In your convoy and the ship you were on, was that a military ship or was that a -- just a freighter?


LAGREW: Well, the one we were on -- the one -- there was every kind of ship in this convoy. There was aircraft carriers, and they weren't prepared for combat. They were just loaded with everything.


LAGREW: You follow me? Now, we weren't on that but they -- there was three in this convoy. But they -- everything was loaded with materials, shipping it across. Now there was a battleship -- Arizona was the lead ship. And then, of course, we -- patrolling us all around was little corvettes and destroyers and destroyer escorts.

BEAN: What kind of ship were you on?

LAGREW: Well, I'm going to tell you. We were on a Liberty ship -- well, a merchant ship that had been changed over to a landing craft. It was changed over, and on board were these big landing craft all stacked up, you know, ready 00:34:00to ship over, to go. It was a mother ship to a landing craft -- I mean for a landing operation. --(coughs)-- So --

BEAN: But you had to -- do you remember how many men were on there? Was your whole unit on that one ship?

LAGREW: Umhmm. I was a battalion commander at that time. I had been promoted -- or back in -- at Camp Cooke the regiments were broken up in the armored divisions and they made several battalions. And I got the 15th Ta--- organized the 15th Tank Battalion, medium tanks. And then I got that, which was a com--- was a battalion composed of four tank companies and a service company and a headquarters company. --(coughs)-- I -- and on shipboard, this ship had about 00:35:00-- roughly 1200 men, or maybe 1500, which was my complete battalion and a few aux--- a few little auxiliary troops. One company of engineers, something like that.

BEAN: All right. Okay. So then you landed in Glasgow. And did you have your tanks on the ship with you?

LAGREW: Oh, no.

BEAN: All right. So you landed in Glasgow with just your regular equipment, and then you went in -- down to the Cotswolds? And where did you go there?

LAGREW: And then the Cotswolds and went into a tent [camp]. That was a brand new tent camp.

BEAN: On a railroad? You rode a train down.

LAGREW: Oh, yes, rode a train down, umhmm. And put into a tent camp there. And then, of course, we started intensive training. I mean by that kind of training for landing in Europe instead of landing in the desert. We went into -- over into to Wales, to little towns that were walled up just like they would 00:36:00be in Normandy and in France, and practiced gunnery and. attacking those town and so forth until -- that was through the spring of '44 until -- right, of course, at D-Day we were alerted. And then we were moved down into operations that were getting ready to go across. And so, of course, on -- and in D+18, why, we were sent across and put in Normandy -- went in there. Of course, the beachhead had been --

BEAN: All right. Now, you were -- while you were in England, though, were you just a separate battalion working around Wales? Or were you a [inaudible]?

LAGREW: Oh, I was part of the division, of course.

BEAN: Oh, the division was still --

LAGREW: But, of course, we normally trained mostly as a separate -- well, we did train as a separate battalion. But of co--- but sometimes we would train as 00:37:00a task force with -- larger than the battalion, you see? But it mostly was a reinforced battalion.

BEAN: All right. But you were altogether, though, as a division --

LAGREW: Oh, yes. Oh, yes.

BEAN: -- down in England.

LAGREW: Yeah, umhmm.

BEAN: And you were still living in tents?

LAGREW: Oh, yes, yes.

BEAN: Not a regular army camp?

LAGREW: No, no, no. Just tents. Well, of course, what we had is -- we had Quonset huts for a mess hall and supply place and our headquarters. But as far as our sleeping and living conditions, we was all in tents.

BEAN: All right. Now, how much training did you have for attacking Europe while you were in England?

LAGREW: Three months.

BEAN: And you had your tanks that you would take over? You'd received those --

LAGREW: Oh, yes. Oh, yes.

BEAN: They were all new.

LAGREW: Yeah, brand new. Everything we had -- when we got to England we were resupplied. Everything brand new. Everything.

BEAN: And you got all the equipment that was called for on the --

LAGREW: Yes, sir.

BEAN: -- equipment?

LAGREW: Every bit of the equipment we want, yeah.

BEAN: And you were a battalion commander?

LAGREW: Yeah, I was battalion commander.


BEAN: And how big was the battalion?

LAGREW: Well, my battalion was -- as I told you, it was --

BEAN: Four units?

LAGREW: -- four companies.

BEAN: Four companies.

LAGREW: Umhmm. Five companies.

BEAN: Wait a minute. Let's -- when you were called to go overseas, what did you take with you, when you went over to France?

LAGREW: Just a -- we didn't take any of the equipment except our personal things.


LAGREW: Our clothes, of course, and our personal things. I don't think we even took any personal arms. I think we got our personal arms all in Europe.

BEAN: So you were just put on a train from near the Cotswolds and sent down to landing craft that's st---

LAGREW: Oh, no, no, no, no. You're -- are you're talking about in England?

BEAN: Yes.

LAGREW: Oh. At the Cotswolds?

BEAN: Yeah.

LAGREW: Oh, we were fully equipped with our tanks, our half-tracks, our jeeps, --(coughs)-- everything. And when we were sent down to land, we --(coughs)-- 00:39:00marched down the roads.

BEAN: Oh, all right. And then you got onto -- where did you get off -- take off from England? You're on D+18?

LAGREW: Umhmm. Now, we got out -- off down --(coughs)-- at the southern tip of England. It was --

BEAN: Portsmouth?

LAGREW: Portsmouth.

BEAN: [Or] Southampton?

LAGREW: Yeah, Portsmouth. Yeah, took off from Portsmouth. And to take my unit across, it took three landing craft to take my battalion across.

BEAN: All right.

LAGREW: Tanks and half-tracks and jeeps and all the things that we had in our -- and we were fully equipped with everything.

BEAN: Had your full number of men and --


BEAN: -- the whole works that you needed?

LAGREW: Oh, yeah. Yeah, uh-huh.

BEAN: All right.

LAGREW: Then we landed there on Omaha Beach. --(coughs)-- We pulled up -- you know, the way it was, the tide was so [high] there that they'd come up at high 00:40:00tide, go up on the beach, and when the tide --(coughs)-- would go down, you were way up on the beach.

BEAN: All right. So you stayed on your landing craft until the tide went out and then they lowered the landing craft ramps and you drove off your tanks.

LAGREW: Right off on the sandy beach.

BEAN: Were there any Germans there at the time or --

LAGREW: Oh, Lord, no.

BEAN: It was all cleaned up.

LAGREW: --(coughs)-- Oh, they'd moved back half-way across -- they'd -- we'd pushed them -- in that eighteen days, they'd pushed them half way across the Normandy peninsula, you know.

BEAN: Right. They were -- the battle of St. Lo hadn't happened yet, had it?

LAGREW: No, no, no.

BEAN: Okay. So Patton was the -- who was in charge of the landing, attacking?

LAGREW: [Omar] Bradley.

BEAN: Bradley. So Bradley was --

LAGREW: That was still -- the Third Army hadn't come into existence then.

BEAN: Oh, all right. That is Patton's Third Army.

LAGREW: --(coughs)-- Pardon me.

BEAN: Patton's Third Army --

LAGREW: Patton's Third Army was on paper.


BEAN: So Bradley was --

LAGREW: But Bradley had the First Army.

BEAN: Right.

LAGREW: He was going to have the Twelfth Army Group --

BEAN: So you all just landed and went without any attacking or any -- there was no fire.

LAGREW: Oh, no. We just marched inland. Of course, we had 25 or 30 miles of movement that we could move into positions on, and which we did. And of course, that was the name of the game, was --(coughs)-- moving in and taking up positions, ready for the big push-out first. And, of course, --

BEAN: You used the word "march." All your men were mechanized, weren't they? They were all -- nobody would walk.

LAGREW: Oh, sure, nobody was walking.

BEAN: Nobody walking, okay.

LAGREW: But we called that a march.

BEAN: All right, okay.

LAGREW: So -- turn it off for a minute.

[Interruption in taping]

LAGREW: Turn it on and I'll tell you. Is it on?

BEAN: Yeah.

LAGREW: Well, we moved off of the beachhead back through the hedgerows, 00:42:00--(coughs)-- back up in the Normandy peninsula about 25 miles, into positions. And we were in reserve positions. We were not in the outer lines of combat at first. --(coughs)-- They were -- the -- as part of the Third Army, or at that particular time we were designated the First Army, but we were on paper as to become part of the Third Army. --(coughs)-- The Third Army was not activated for two weeks later.

BEAN: Had you ever heard of General Patton before that?

LAGREW: Oh, yes. --(coughs)--

BEAN: You knew Patton.

LAGREW: He trained us and supervised us in England.

BEAN: Oh. All right, okay.

LAGREW: We knew we were going to be with him. And, of course, as far as we 00:43:00were concerned, we were with him all the time, but -- and he was over us but, technically, we were under Bradley. --(coughs)-- Let's --

[Tape one, side one ends; tape one, side two begins.]

LAGREW: It started out like a cold day, but look at that sun.

[Long pause]

BEAN: All right. We are now -- you've landed and you're part of

General Bradley's group.

LAGREW: First Army.

BEAN: All right. Now, then, what happened?

LAGREW: Well, of course, we had to go through a period of buildup, which took about two weeks. Of course, what we were completely waiting for was that the infantry divisions that were ahead of us and around was to clean out this 00:44:00Normandy peninsula, and which they did. After this two or three weeks, why, then, of course, the Third Army was activated. General Patton took command. And we had the greatest air attack of the whole, complete war. Over 4,000 planes hit these towns of Avranches and these towns through there. That was when General [Leslie] McNair was killed and so forth. But it was the greatest air bombardment of it, and after that bombardment, the Third Army was turned loose or made its attack through Avranches, and that was the start of the breakthrough out into France. The two -- the Third Army at that point had two 00:45:00armored divisions, the 4th Armored and the 6th Armored. I was part of the 6th Armored. And our division was divided up into task forces, three task forces, and I had one task force. At the breakthrough, going through Avranches, I was in Task Force Reserve.

BEAN: Now, you were a major?

LAGREW: I was a lieutenant colonel.

BEAN: Lieutenant colonel then.


BEAN: And how big was a task force?

LAGREW: Well, --(coughs)-- a task force was --(coughs)-- my battalion, less one company of tanks, which was given to another task force. And I picked up a company of infantry and a company of engineers, and artillery. It was about 00:46:008,000 men -- 7,000 or 8,000 men.

BEAN: In a task force?

LAGREW: A task force was. --(coughs)--

BEAN: Had you known any of these fellows? Had you trained with them before England?

LAGREW: What do you say?

BEAN: In your battalion?

LAGREW: Oh, yes. Oh, yes.

BEAN: These were the original people you were training with in America? All right. Most of the men were -- knew you and knew the unit?

LAGREW: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Oh, yes.

BEAN: All right.

LAGREW: So, anyway, we broke out. We didn't, I mean, but --(coughs)-- I was in reserve. I was in reserve as we broke out through Avranches, except, I recall that there was -- they had hit these Germans going through the town, these German columns, so that we had to, in our units as the force going down there -- 00:47:00had --(coughs)-- to use our -- we had on -- in our companies of tanks, we used a `dozer blade on one tank per company. We did that, of course, because of the hedgerows, to make an opening. And we had to put the -- get these `dozer blades to scoop the dead Germans and the dead horses and the vehicles out of the way so we could go down through the street.


LAGREW: It was just -- we had caught these columns and everything. You've never seen such -- many blown up vehicles and horses and equipment and everything, is [when] this big air attack that I told you about hit. But that got us through. And we crossed and went out into France. They turned us, that is, the 6th Armored Division, General Patton turned us abruptly to the right --(coughs)-- toward Brest, back up the other peninsula toward Brest. Turn that 00:48:00off a minute. I'm going to get this damn --

[Interruption in taping]

BEAN: Excuse me just a minute. We're now talking a little bit about the air bombardment that happened in France --

LAGREW: Umhmm. Yeah.

BEAN: -- to begin with, and Embry is going to tell us about when he saw it and looked at it.

LAGREW: Well, I took my staff -- my staff officers, three jeep-loads of us, and they told us [inaudible], but we were on the -- another hill, I would say about a half a mile away from General McNair's group, you know, because everybody didn't want to get up together. [Inaudible] on the maps that go up on there, so we -- about -- we were up there with the group from the 4th Armored Division. And we were up on the hill watching with our binoculars, trying to watch this thing. We saw these planes coming in in formation. You looked back toward England and you'd see them coming in and they'd drop their bombs and turn around. And they were going back. And when you got out a distance going back, you could still see them coming in, making that -- in old, big formations about twelve planes across. Just as far as the eye could see, it was this solid mass 00:49:00of planes. They started dropping these bombs, and they contended what killed McNair and a few of our own troops was that -- and I -- it's possibly -- it could have been. But after about 30 minutes or 45 minutes of this bombardment, the smoke and the dust and the stuff come up, so that after the first hour you couldn't see anything!


LAGREW: You follow me? You just might have been in a solid smokescreen. --(coughs)-- So, of course, we got the hell out of there. I mean, hell, we can't see nothing. We'd better get back. And another thing, you could hear them busting pretty close. And somebody said the same thing. You know, if they -- some of these guys might make a mistake. Let's get back down where we can crawl in the ground a little bit. So with that, we got in our jeeps and run on back to my headquarters.

BEAN: How long did that raid last, do you suppose?


LAGREW: I'd say it lasted three or four hours.

BEAN: Oh, okay. All right. So then your bombardment is over. You've put the [inaudible] --

LAGREW: Getting ready now to make the big attack out of the --

BEAN: And you're going out on the Brest peninsula.

LAGREW: Out on the Brest peninsula, see?

BEAN: Okay. Now, with Patton -- you knew Patton was your commander?


BEAN: He was in charge?

LAGREW: That's right.

BEAN: And Patton worked under Bradley?

LAGREW: That's right, yes. That's when, I assume, that they ca--- that they had the Twelfth Army Group, because Patton had the -- I mean Patton had the Third Army, and Bradley had the First Army. I don't know who he give the First Army to, but then Bradley commanded both of them.

BEAN: Oh, all right.

LAGREW: You see?

BEAN: So your unit now, your battalion, is headed out under Patton to the Brest peninsula.

LAGREW: Right, [inaudible].

BEAN: Okay, now, here we go.

LAGREW: The second -- the first day was practically nothing to it. It was 00:51:00almost like -- but the second day we took off, before we got to a little town called Coutances. --(coughs)-- The next morning we crossed a little bridge and we went out. And there again, I was still in reserve. The lead unit that was the same size as mine broke -- got through all right, except in my tank company that I had lent them -- the platoon, I mean it was Company A. The lead platoon, the first tank, hit a minefield. [Inaudible] put across that thing, and he went to get out. It blew his track off, and he went to get out and he was machine-gunned. He was the first officer I lost. --(coughs)-- The rest of the unit bypassed him on the sides of the road and went on. And as this group, our 00:52:00next group, come up behind him and hit there, they opened up on us and you've never seen such a fight in your life!

BEAN: Now, "they" being the German --

LAGREW: Oh, yes, the Germans --

BEAN: -- regular German Army.

LAGREW: -- had -- well, now, it was a -- I'm sure -- I never did see any of them. But I could tell there was about two German 88mm guns and, I don't know, about four or five machine guns. But these German 88mms was a vicious gun. They could knock out a tank, go through one side and out the other. And they got -- they almost destroyed a battery of field artillery we had and some of the other troops that was attached to our combat command. And I was a part of this combat command, too. The colonel that was in charge of this whole reserve 00:53:00command -- and he was in a half-track and I was in a medium tank, and I was ahead of him. And as soon as I saw -- I looked around and saw that these shells bursting on the road and stuff going. And I tried to get his attention, and --(coughs)-- up on this half-track was a .50 caliber gun. And he grabbed this .50 caliber gun and just started shooting in the bushes and [inaudible], he was just [inaudible]. And, of course, I saw what a position he was in up there on the road, right in plain view, you know. So I made my driver -- patted him on the head and said, "Turn around down in that ditch. Get out of there." And I jumped out of the turret of tank, run down beside and jumped up on the half-track and grabbed this colonel's shoulders, hollering in his ear, and said, "Get the hell off this road! We got to get off!" And so he looked around and then he -- it dawned on him [inaudible]. And he turned out of there. And it's a good thing we did, because his -- my tank didn't get hit and his half-track didn't get hit. And the rest of the vehicles right along that stretch got it. As I come back on the road, a shell hit within about three foot of me and tore 00:54:00my kneecap off, just [as] if you'd had just taken a knife and gone right around there. And there it was just hanging by a little piece of flesh, this whole kneecap. Well, I looked at it, and then I got sick. And then I vomited and I got sick. If I hadn't seen it, I'd have been all right. But then I was scared to death, and I got the hell out of there. And I went down in there, and I got my radio --(coughs)-- and I said, "Come on. We've got to bypass that." So with that they come on by. I jumped in my jeep and I told my tank to follow me and we come out on the road and, of course, by that time I reckon somebody had hit them or they pulled out. I really don't know.

BEAN: Were these German guns -- were on a tank, you think? They weren't fixed guns.

LAGREW: I tell you the truth, I don't know.

BEAN: Oh, all right. They were just on the --

LAGREW: I said I never saw them.

BEAN: They had that road covered.


LAGREW: Yes, sir, they had that place covered.

BEAN: So you --

LAGREW: That's the way they defend. So, anyway, I pulled out of there and went back -- went on ahead then to this next camp, [inaudible] camp and went to the doctor -- I mean up to the field place where they were bringing them in. And they sewed me up and gave me a shot of penicillin. --(coughs)-- And I went on and got in my jeep and wrapped a robe around me and I didn't have no trouble. It was sore. Oh, man, it was sore. So the next day we took off again. I was still in reserve.

BEAN: Now, that night you spent in tents or in your vehicles? Where were you?

LAGREW: Oh, in my bed roll, of course. Hell, we didn't have no chance --

BEAN: You didn't set up a camp? All right. So you --

LAGREW: No camp. No, no.

BEAN: -- your tanks [were] just parked on the side of the road somewhere, and you set up a guard.

LAGREW: Well, or spread out, yeah.

BEAN: And were there Germans all around or you didn't know?

LAGREW: They were in front of us.


BEAN: All right. You were driving them out toward the end of the peninsula.

LAGREW: Oh, yeah. But, of course, we hadn't gotten very far out this time in the peninsula. We'd -- I suppose we'd got fifteen, twenty miles, as far as we'd gotten out there. We hadn't got by St. Lo yet.

BEAN: Oh, all right.

LAGREW: See? And -- but, anyway, -- so, anyway, I never will forget the next day, too, and the next [inaudible] but, anyway. So the next -- are you watching where you have to cut it off?

BEAN: Yeah. We're all right.

LAGREW: So, anyway, the next day I got up, I was awful sore. And we got back in the -- on the road and we was going that way again. Well, since that other fight that they'd had the day before, you know, we hadn't learned anything by that time. Here was a whole division spread out on one single road. And that point up there was looking, boy. They weren't running. They were looking over 00:57:00the hill, and they'd run a little bit and they'd stand and fight. And, of course, that just kept the division strung out behind them fifty miles or forty miles, whatever it was. You understand.

BEAN: Yeah, yeah.

LAGREW: And we just weren't moving! And I -- nobody -- anybody could see why. Went around through this little place -- villages there. We were just crawling. --(coughs)-- My group got out of their vehicles [to] come walk along. We'd wait ten or fifteen minutes before we'd move fifty yards. One of my vehicles come over and said, "Colonel, look over in that field. Look over in that field, that little -- those woods over there." I looked over there and there was some Germans running around. I don't know what the hell they were doing, now, but they were scattering like they were backing up and getting ready to go. I thought to myself, "Well, hell, we're not doing anything. We're over here to kill Germans. Let's just go get them." [Chuckle--Bean] So I told the light tank company, "Take two or three tanks, go over and get those guys." So we went 00:58:00over there and they didn't -- I don't know that they fired a shot. But they come back with 27 German prisoners, the first I ever saw.


LAGREW: They brought them along there. They just about got -- brung them back when somebody leaned out there and says, "Colonel, Big Six is coming. Big Six is coming." That was General Patton. And he was coming up the rear. "Goddamn!" I said, "Line them prisoners up." I got out of there, and he was in an armored car and he was standing up there with all that damn brass and all that on. And he come around that curve and come up there in a dust pile. I don't know how fast he was going. And he come up there and he skidded to a halt and I run out there. And I was going to show him my German prisoners, you know. --(coughs)-- And I [inaudible]. He says, "Who are you?" And I was saluting and I said, "Sir, Colonel Lagrew, 15th Tank Battalion." "What in the goddamn hell are you doing stopped in this road?" I said, "Well, sir, I'm in reserve 00:59:00and moving as fast as I can." He said, "Reserve, hell! There is no reserve in the Third Army! Everybody that's here is supposed to fight!" Well, good -- oh, he started. You've never heard such a thing. He said, "Boy!" He said, "I want to tell you something. If you don't get up and get going after these guys," he said, "if I ever see you stopped on the road again, I'm going to personally kick your ass!" I said, "Yes, sir!" But, boy, was I deflated. I never got a chance to show him my prisoners I was so proud of! [Chuckle--Bean] I limped back to my -- took my radio --

BEAN: Wait a minute. Just a minute. Was Patton really dressed up and shining?

LAGREW: Oh, these two pistols, [inaudible]. --(coughs)--

BEAN: Did he have a coat or a -- he had a helmet on, didn't he?

LAGREW: Oh, sure. --(coughs)--

BEAN: And his two pistols and his medals and his stars and his --

LAGREW: Sure, he's in a battle jacket. Sure.

BEAN: Stars on his helmet?

LAGREW: Oh, sure! Stars all over it.

BEAN: You weren't wearing a battle jacket though, were you? Were you wearing a 01:00:00field jacket or -- you were in fatigues or something, weren't you?

LAGREW: Yeah, umhmm.

BEAN: And then he comes up, he's --

LAGREW: Oh, sure. Sure, sure.

BEAN: -- obviously dressed better than anybody else. Okay. So then you went back to your radio.

LAGREW: Then I went back to my radio and I called the general. And I -- and he -- of course, he and I are personal friends and I said to him, "General!" I didn't say "General," either. I think I was calling him "Six." See, "Big Six" was a -- was him and he was the "Little Six." We didn't call him "Little," now, but over the radio we did. "Bamboo Six," that -- we always had something in front of us. See, I was "Six," too, because I -- but I was "Bacon Six," you know, something like that. But anyway, I said, "I've just been really chewed out and he -- I want you to know if -- I'll tell you first, but you'll probably 01:01:00hear it directly, that there is no reserve in this organization anymore. Everybody is out killing Germans and I'm going to tell you I'm taking off after Germans. And I'll see you later." Well, I had a road map, a Michelin road map. --(coughs)-- I look over here and see plenty of little old parallel roads. Shit, I just got my mike and said -- told my unit, I said, "You follow me!" Goddamn, with that I just take [off] cross country, across them damn fields, go through this little town over on the next road and take off toward Brest. Take off. Pretty soon, instead of having one column across Brest, we had four columns across there. Do you follow me?

BEAN: Yeah.

LAGREW: So that's the way we went. We -- [the] next day we were fired on. I was up -- it was so peaceful and all, going, and to try to keep my men moving 01:02:00--(coughs)--, I was up leading the column in my jeep. I was riding in the jeep, leading my tanks with a jeep! Just running across the countryside [at] 35 miles an hour. Nobody firing at us. --(coughs)-- All at once I come around a little curve and look up there and there is a German half-track or an armored car [inaudible]. Well, of course, I grabbed the driver and hollered at him, and he turned the jeep over in the ditch, and it just turned half over on its side like that and we spilled out. Got down beside this [jeep] and, of course, my tank started to open up on it. Come to find out, it wasn't a German, it was French. It was a Free French that had stole this German car in that little town that we were going into.


LAGREW: They were coming out to meet us. So after about the second round, --(coughs)-- they -- the tri-color French flag was waving and going and a white 01:03:00flag was waving and going. --(coughs)-- So we captured it. Well, I mean, it wasn't nothing to it. So then we moved into this town. They was -- that town --(coughs)-- was as still as this room. There wasn't one thing [moving]. And it scared me. I was the first one into town, and I come up this little street. Big Catholic church here, and there is a courtyard center of the little old towns like they are, you know. And there wasn't a chicken, there wasn't nothing. And there wasn't no sound or nothing. It was as -- it was dead. And then that's when it dawned on me. Boy, is something wrong. --(coughs)-- I looked down --(coughs)-- at this gate, and there is a big old black pair of shoes standing there at that gate. I reached back to get my submachine gun out 01:04:00of the jeep, and just as I went to come around with it like that, the gate burst open and it was a Catholic priest.


LAGREW: He says, "Amerique, Amerique?" And I said, "Oui, oui!" And he hollered. And with that, the windows come up, the people come out, bringing flowers and whiskey -- I mean cognac and Calvados. And in three minutes my jeep was full of flowers and we were -- the guys were hugging girls. The tanks was full of them. You never saw nothing like it, now. They just busted open so, of course, I said, "We got to -- with the war on, grab you a bottle or a girl or something and let's go!" --(coughs)-- We moved on through that town. And that's the way we come to find it. If we come up to a town and the people were welcoming you, we knew everything was all right. If we come up and it was quiet as hell, we knew it was dangerous. Do you follow me?

BEAN: Right. Umhmm.

LAGREW: That is some of the first lessons that we learned that I've told you. 01:05:00So we moved pretty fast, the lines going. --(coughs)-- So the next day, that's the--my wounded the first, the second--the third day --(coughs)--, I come up and I got with division headquarters. They joined me. Or they were just in the back of me. Of course, they were going, so we started --(coughs)-- down this road. It was getting into pretty hill country [inaudible]. One of my tanks, my lead tank again, got in this cut -- big bank on that side and a river over here, and a big drop-off over that river. And the Germans had fortified that, would attack the things across the road. --(coughs)-- And I was -- heard him on the radio and he said that his tank had run into this minefield. Well, of course, 01:06:00naturally I had to double the column and get up there to see what was going on as quick as I could. --(coughs)-- So I get down and get within about --(coughs)-- --

BEAN: You're in the jeep?


BEAN: You're in a jeep still?

LAGREW: Well, I was in a tank.

BEAN: Oh, in a tank now. Okay.

LAGREW: --(coughs)-- Maybe I was in a jeep. --(coughs)-- I had three vehicles that I rode in, a jeep, a half-track, and a tank. And, of course, when I was in attacks, I was in the tank. But I couldn't double the column. And on this trip to Brest, it absolutely wore me out because you got to get that column started. And then I had to stay and push them up, push them up. Once they get all up, I'd have to get in my jeep and double by them and go on up, you know.

BEAN: Right.

LAGREW: And, of course, we were worried about the roads being mined or the -- over on the shoulders being mined. And we heard everything. So anyway, up at 01:07:00this defile, my tank hit this minefield. And I told -- I got on my radio and said, "Sit still. Don't get out. Don't get out." He either didn't hear me or didn't pay no attention. And he crawled out of the tank. And just as soon as he crawled out of the tank, he -- that's was -- that was the name of the story. That's what they did. He was killed. He was shot immediately. So I, on foot, and three or four of my officers and couple of fellows, people following, about five of us -- four or five. And we were running on up, and I passed [inaudible] and we had to turn around a little curve and I could see my tank sitting there in the road. And these mines -- it was this Teller mine just laying in the road. --(coughs)-- He should have seen them and not run over them. Anyway -- but anyway, we called for the dozer to come up and push him aside if he could have. Of course they were defended, these Germans and the 88mms.

BEAN: Now, these mines were about the size of a dinner plate? A big --


LAGREW: Yeah, about that big. About that big.

BEAN: -- a big dinner dish. And about four inches thick --


BEAN: -- and laying on the top of the dirt --


BEAN: -- of the dirt road.

LAGREW: Of the road. Just laying in the road! Just laying there.

BEAN: Okay, somebody just in the hurry had put them down there and --

LAGREW: Sure, that's called a hasty minefield. Just lay them there.

BEAN: Okay.

LAGREW: So I start up the road, you know, trotting, and they opened up on us with the machine guns. And I was the first one hit. I thought I was -- I could see the bullets hitting. --(coughs)-- When they hit in a dusty road, you see the dirt fly, and then some of them were tracers. I could see the red just sparkling and going. And --(coughs)-- they were shooting low, right about that high. And I was -- I thought I was hit in the heel, but the blow slapped my heel down like that, but it went right through that leg, right in the center.

BEAN: Through your right leg.

LAGREW: Through my right leg. And, of course, I hit the ditch. Well, the 01:09:00ditch was just about that deep. Wasn't much of a ditch.

BEAN: About a one-foot ditch, yeah.

LAGREW: Yeah. And another guy, just --(coughs)-- another officer, jumped down beside me, and the next damn burst of machine gun went right through his brains and blew them out all over me. --(coughs)-- That's all I needed. I'm sure I dirtied my pants. I was scared to death and I didn't know what to do except try to save myself. So I looked up and, of course, there was my tank right there, twenty feet ahead of me. Let's get behind that tank. So I jumped up and run real quick and got behind the tank. Then I looked --(coughs)-- and saw these mines laying down there, I said, "Well, we got to get them out." And I just went out there and started grabbing them and throwing them over the road -- I mean over that -- down the bank -- down that -- in that -- and, of course, this -- there was a sergeant. His name was [Detorre?]. I see him every year now. He lives up in Pittsburgh, in the steel mills. I tried to make him an officer 01:10:00but he wouldn't -- he didn't -- he wouldn't accept it. One of the best sergeants I ever knew; the best men I ever knew. He saw me and, boy, he come out with his tank flying over my head, you know, and giving me covering fire. But I threw those -- all those between the tank and the cliff. I threw those four or five mines over there and then jumped back behind. And he was a guns blazing and he went right on by me with everything blazing, and everybody followed him. I said, "Let's go! Let's go! Let's go!" --(coughs)-- So when I did that, I looked down and I realized that I had been hit, and I saw that blood just running out. And I didn't faint but I sat down on my behind. Well, the corpsman grabbed me, and they carried me back around there, and there was a little village [there] and [they] laid me down in the street. And the division headquarters was all there. All them kitchen trucks and all them big old stuff 01:11:00they had, you know, --(coughs)-- them officers. And this poor old woman come out of that house, a little old house across there. And she had a bottle of champagne. And she opened that bottle of champagne and give me -- I thought -- I wished I had remembered her name. I would have gone back and seen her. But anyway, she give me that. And the doctor give me a shot of morphine. And, of course, -- and then they -- of course, he wanted to evacuate me, put me in an ambulance. And I said, "No way you're going to put me in no ambulance! Get the hell away from here!" And they kept on like they was going to do it anyway, and I just pulled my .45 out. I said, "You want to go back in the ambulance, too, just get a little closer and I'll just puncture -- bust you one." I reckon I was silly -- half-drunk or silly or what have you. I didn't know what I was doing or I wouldn't have done what I done up there at that tank. I was scared to death. I got the Distinguished Service Cross for being -- doing something 01:12:00that, I wonder what in the world, how silly can you be? --(coughs)-- But it was something to do to save my life. So anyway, my doctor come up and said, "Let me take care of him. Let me take care of him." So he put me --(coughs)-- in his ambulance and drove off with me, looked -- fixed my leg, bandaged it up. --(coughs)-- The division surgeon has told me ever since that he -- the only reason he released me --(coughs)--, he asked me to wiggle my toes, and I wiggled my toes. He asked me to wiggle my toes and I wiggled my toes and he knew then the nerve wasn't cut. You follow me? So he let my doctor have me. --(coughs)-- He said if my foot had dropped and I couldn't have done that, he would have made me been evacuated. --(coughs)-- Anyway, I wasn't. So --(coughs)-- the 01:13:00next day, then, of course, I couldn't move. I had been wounded here, and then the shot through the leg --(coughs)--, and I couldn't walk or do nothing. I had to -- you know -- and the doctor was good to me [inaudible] sleeping and that. Why, he let me have a --

BEAN: A stretcher?

LAGREW: -- a stretcher to sleep on. --(coughs)-- So I got that comfort as a stretcher. And then I had a blanket. I'd sit in my jeep and ride. --(coughs)-- Of course, division headquarters come up. We done that. And we were almost to Brest then, just one day out of Brest, one long run to Brest. And General Patton come up, the last thing, to talk to General Grow about going -- what they were going to do on Brest. I didn't know about it, but they were meeting in this field and I was coming over to division headquarters. As I was going to go in the gate --(coughs)--, General Grow and General Patton was coming out the 01:14:00gate. Of course, I stopped [and] saluted.

BEAN: You were walking or in a jeep?

LAGREW: Oh, I was in a jeep.

BEAN: Oh, I see.

LAGREW: Sitting there in a jeep. I just pulled over to let them out. And so I'm sure General Grow had told him about it and so forth, what I did and that they'd given me the Distinguished Service Cross and all that business. And so General Patton says -- General with his squeaky voice, says "Lagrew," says, "you're an unlucky son-of-a-bitch, aren't you?" I looked at him and grinned. --(coughs)-- I says, "Hell, no, General." I said, "They ain't no damn Kraut can kill me." I said, "I am too tough for that!" And he pats me on the back [patting sounds] and says, "Now that's the kind of men we want to have. That's a -- ." From then on, I never done any wrong. I mean I never done any wrong. Just said the right thing at the right time. So, of course, the next day, we 01:15:00took off for Bre--- I mean, for Brest. See, we were five days going clear through there and it was nothing in the world but spotty --(coughs)-- -- it was a -- we'd start [during the] day and then we ended up in a night march. That night we got in down through there and I had to double the column and so forth and, of course, with being wounded the day before, I was --(coughs)-- worn out --(coughs)--, just two or three o'clock in the afternoon.

[Interruption in taping]

BEAN: When you were picking up the mines. All right. Now, then, we are the next day and you were in your jeep with your right leg wounded at the heel and your left kneecap with bandages on.

LAGREW: Wounded two [times], uh-huh.

BEAN: And you're now back in command of your battalion?

LAGREW: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

BEAN: They never did remove you from command.


LAGREW: Oh, no. Uh-uh.

BEAN: So you went on back up to the -- your command.

LAGREW: So then, now, okay. So we had this overnight march. That -- well, it was the day march and then overnight, too. By the time we got just to the outskirts of Brest, it was about two or three o'clock in the morning. --(coughs)-- I was so worn out. I was so worn out and so tired, I couldn't hardly move. And, of course, I was scared. I was really scared and worried, too, because I was having so much trouble with firing up and down the line. See, the guy in the rear vehicle didn't know any more about what was going on than the guy in the front vehicle. You follow me?

BEAN: Yeah.

LAGREW: Going through strange country like that. And, in fact, one of my battalions -- before the tank battalion -- I mean the tank destroyer battalion, 01:17:00the lieutenant colonel that commanded it was killed by his own man. Coming up in the dark, you know, to the thing --(coughs)--, and this guy was jittery. This kid was jittery and shot him, killed him. --(coughs)-- So everybody was on edge. So this fellow York, Major York--and he was my buddy real good--and he saw me, what I was, and he says, "Embry, please lay down there and I'll fix your bedroll. Now lay down there and get some sleep. I know you're worn out." And, of course, here my doctor was going to come, too, and see me and he'd give me another shot. They were worried about me. We had gone in this hedgerow, which we normally do, and pulled clear around it. And I come back to the gate, and our vehicles line up. Then they go to the next hedgerow. When they get into 01:18:00the other hedgerow, and they go around, all at once [inaudible] --

BEAN: This hedgerow is a big field, and the hedgerows are the bushes going around the field.

LAGREW: About an acre. Just about one acre, see?

BEAN: So a one-acre field. And so he pulled his units into the -- you pulled your units into the field --

LAGREW: Sure, it's --

BEAN: -- around the outside border.

LAGREW: -- and fill it up and we'd go to the next one.

BEAN: All right. Then fill up the next one.

LAGREW: Umhmm. --(coughs)-- Just like the old wagon train defense. It completely -- you know. So they're at the second little field up that they're going through. --(coughs)-- He had his burp gun going loose and all that going, and I got mad, just jittering mad. And I grabbed him and I said, "I'm going to put a stop to this. I can't have this going on, no way." I had just had it until I can't take anymore. And when I jumped up, [Jess?] York, of course, wanted -- went with me and a couple of guys. We went in up through the little road to the fence going in there. And when I got there I heard somebody holler in there, "You Kraut son-of-a-bitch, get in line! Blah, blah, blah." And I 01:19:00went in, and lo and behold, twelve German -- twelve truckloads of German troops had gotten in our column --(coughs)-- and followed us all night long in column. We turned in the field, they turned right in and stopped with us.

BEAN: At night?

LAGREW: At night.

BEAN: They didn't know what they were doing?

LAGREW: No, no. And we didn't either, until we stopped and caught them. Well, from then on we started catching stragglers coming down the road. --(coughs)-- So at daylight the next morning, seven or eight o'clock daylight the next morning, General Grow come up there. [He] had come down to see what we was doing, we -- the lead column got in there. And we told him, and so he got on his radio and told his security company, which were 37mm towed guns, and told them go back down the road and make a roadblock. Because we were catching too 01:20:00many. We'd already filled up one field full of prisoners. --(coughs)-- That is the worst thing he ever done. He should have set up a trap for them, let them come on down and catch them one at a time. Because he went back up on that hill, back behind us about half a mile, and was setting up these guns --(coughs)-- when some of them come by and saw him -- you know, saw them and stopped, backed up behind. --(coughs)-- Lo and behold, that next day -- I mean that next afternoon, we had to go back and fight them for five or six hours and surround them, and captured 2700 prisoners and the general that commanded this division. And he was a -- this division out of -- this German division out of St. Lo that they'd been ordered to -- for him to -- ordered to get out of there and get on over into Brest, to help defend Brest. And they did get out, but we got ahead of them. And they were trying to come out, coming down the same lines 01:21:00we were at the same time.

BEAN: Right behind you.


BEAN: And he didn't -- did he know you were in front of him?

LAGREW: --(coughs)-- No.

BEAN: You had no idea he was behind you?

LAGREW: No. So we --

BEAN: Not a whole lot of communication between you and the main forces back on the mainland.

LAGREW: There was such a void in there.

BEAN: Yeah, all right. All right. You're going through an empty area.


BEAN: So then the -- these guys were coming in [and] you ended up capturing them when they -- after a fight?

LAGREW: Well, we killed about a thousand of them, I reckon.

BEAN: These are your units with their tank guns? [It] wasn't the infantry killing them? Your --

LAGREW: Oh, no.

BEAN: -- your units [inaudible]?

LAGREW: That's right. Yeah, umhmm.

BEAN: So you were really firing back toward France.


BEAN: And what was on Brest at the time? Was there somebody coming from the backside, too?

LAGREW: No. Toward us?

BEAN: Yeah.

LAGREW: No, no. They'd have moved out of Brest.

BEAN: Okay.

LAGREW: The next day -- next night we moved into the outskirts of Brest. And 01:22:00if we had had some infantry -- if we had had an infantry division and trucks with us, we could have taken it right quick. But instead of that, we come on the high ground. We'd come right at the edge of Brest, and then we were called back to the outpost and went on up on the high ground. And with that, that afternoon, as soon as they saw us, you know, they turned those big naval guns around on us. I don't know whether they were -- they were at least eight-inch and maybe ten or twelve-inch guns. And you never heard nothing like it! Why, man-oh-man, alive! And so they -- we were going to attack Brest the next day and [the order] was countermanded. It's a good thing they was. I wouldn't be here today and nobody else out of the 6th Army [sic 6th Armored Division]. It would be like that picture I saw the other night, Gallipoli. Everybody would have been killed. We couldn't have done there. But anyway, they countermanded the attack on there until they brought up that. And so when they did that, 01:23:00countermanded it, they changed their -- didn't change their mind but they decided then -- so they detached me from the division there. And, of course, they didn't need all the troops. They were just going to watch them there in Brest. So they detached my task force, 15th Lagrew's Task Force, detached it, and they gave me a battalion of field artillery and a battalion of infantry and my own tanks, see, a small combat command, and sent me to Lorient -- south to Lorient. So we raced down to Lorient. We had no opposition until we got to Lorient. And when we got to Lorient, it was defended just like Brest. But at Lorient there was the headquarters of the Free French that was in there. And 01:24:00they had a whole regiment of infantry -- of French troops. And they attached them to me. So --(coughs)-- my orders were to contain the troops in there. So we got -- there was two rivers, the Scorff and the Blavet. And so I took the French and put them on the line out there, this infantry, and then I reinforced them with my tanks and all that stuff behind them, you know. And all we did was contain them. Every day and every night we'd capture a few of them trying to come out; some to escape, some wanted to give up anyway, I reckon. And we held them there for six weeks. In the meantime, of course, then the Alli--- the rest of them had gone, and then they split France in two. The rest of the 6th Armored Division, they took -- had taken Brest, and they had moved up to Nancy on the Moselle River. So then they ordered me to break away, sent a new 01:25:00division. That's the way they would do. They sent a new division that had no combat experience from America in, let them come down to take over us because there really wasn't any fighting, you know, where we were. And sent me on then, up to Nancy.

BEAN: All right. Let's quit there.

LAGREW: All right.

[Tape one, side two ends; tape two, side one ends.]

LAGREW: Well, we left. We were ordered to pull out of Lorient and to come up 01:26:00to Nancy, on the Moselle, and we reported up to the headquarters of the 6th Armored, and was put in position, then, in Gremercey Woods, facing the Germans there, just from the Moselle River. Our first attack there was to clean out the -- this Gremercey Woods, because the 35th Infantry Division was in there, outposted in the woods, and they didn't have enough troops to hold the whole woods. And they'd take it in the daytime, and the Germans would take it back at night. So we wanted to completely clear it out for them. So with that, we organized it and our two task forces -- one task force went around the right, and my task force went around the left of the woods -- on the edge of the woods. 01:27:00And we got on the high ground on the other side of the woods, of course, and entrapped a lot of them and cleared the woods out for them. That was our first attack across the Moselle. Then, of course, we -- the weather started getting bad. That was in the fall of `44, and the weather started raining and -- cold and rainy weather. The ground -- the tanks were almost, in every occasion, subject to staying on the roads, not allowed to get off cross-country because the ground was too wet. --(coughs)-- And our attacks become, then, just 01:28:00short-lived. One little town after the other. Just -- sometimes it'd be 2,000 yards, sometimes it'd be two miles or three miles, was the length of it. We worked up that complete valley --(coughs)-- around Metz, across the Saar River. --(coughs)-- And with a combined unit of other units in the Third Army, captured Brest [sic Metz]. And then after capturing Brest [sic Metz], we moved on to the Saar River. At the Saar River, which we reached, and we fired our first shots over into Germany on Christmas of 1944. At the same time -- 01:29:00approximately the same time that the Germans broke through up at -- they broke through in --

BEAN: Bastogne?

LAGREW: Well, it is Bast--- didn't break through -- the Argonnes [sic Ardennes], not the -- the Argonne [sic Ardennes] Forest. Turn it off a minute.

[Interruption in taping]

We are not at -- BEAN: Lieutenant Colonel Lagrew is in charge of a task force, which is part of the Third Army, and he is now up to the German border, in the Ardennes Forest?

LAGREW: No, we're at Sarreguemines along the Saar River.

BEAN: Saar River.

LAGREW: Umhmm.

BEAN: And then what hap---


LAGREW: But at that -- but at this time is -- about this time is when the Germans made their first attack on the Argonnes [sic Ardennes] --

BEAN: All right.

LAGREW: -- which become known as the Battle of the Bulge.

BEAN: All right.

LAGREW: And then, of course, they broke through, and General Patton, at the meeting with General [Dwight D.] Eisenhower, said he'd rush up and help them relieve them, which he did, and the 6th Armored, which I was a part of, was ordered north to Bastogne.

BEAN: Right.

LAGREW: And we made an overnight march through the City of Metz and up to Luxembourg, and the next day was in -- right ready to attack, in Bastogne. And we, the 6th Armored, made our initial attack on the last day of December, 1944, 01:31:00and relieved, along with the 4th Armored and some other units, relieved the units that were in Bastogne. We then pushed out from Bastogne and fought the Germans there for about two weeks. It was heavy, bad weather, deep snow, hard terrain to fight through. But at the end of two weeks -- about the end of two 01:32:00weeks, we attacked the Germans and broke out of Bastogne, pushed them back out of Belgium, back out of Luxembourg, across the Skyline -- what they called the Skyline Drive, and back out over into Germany proper. At that particular time, our unit, the 6th Armored, was ordered south to join the Seventh Army for an attack through the Siegfried Line, which two infantry divisions were going to make a hole through the Siegfried Line. And once they made the hole, they were going to push us through, and which they did, and then we would race to the Rhine. They -- these two infantry divisions, the 3rd and 45th Infantry 01:33:00Divisions, fought all day, and with a coordinated attack had made a hole right through the -- breach right through the Siegfried Line. And at five o'clock that afternoon we pushed through the Siegfried Line. My unit pushed through the Siegfried Line. We had two columns, my column and another column to our right. My column took off and the next morning, at daylight, we were 67 miles away, on the banks of the Rhine, sitting there. Just a march through there. Our other column that was on the right had some quite -- fighting -- heavy fighting to do, because they got into -- run into some German tank columns and so forth that were trying to escape over there. But my unit didn't strike a thing. It was just a rush, just as fast as we could go all night long, until we got on the 01:34:00Rhine next morning. And on the Rhine the next morning we had to stop and re-supply. And we pulled outside of a village that was on -- up on the -- well, when I say the banks of the Rhine, the river itself was about a mile away across the valley. But this was on the hillside there, the high ground [inaudible]. So we pulled up there and stopped to re-supply and everything. And with that I got in my jeep to ride up in this -- to look at things. [There was] nothing around. And I, with my jeep, one other officer and my driver, the three of us, drove into this little town. And we got out and I started looking down, and as we started walking down the street, the Germans come walking out the door. I stopped at one place there--it was a post office--and opened the door, and about fifty German troops come walking out. I looked in the door, and around the 01:35:00wall, just perfectly around the wall, was where they'd gotten up and there was their kits, their rifle and everything, sitting right there, right in position. They'd just moved out of it and got up, come out like this.

BEAN: Raised their hands coming out?

LAGREW: Yes, sir. Not a shot was --

BEAN: Surrendering?

LAGREW: -- not a shot was fired. Not a shot was fired. --(coughs)-- We looked around. I looked around. As we moved down the street they'd come out, raising their hands.

BEAN: Raising their hands.

LAGREW: I looked around and we had between 300 and 400 prisoners. And I got worried. I said, "Well, what in the Lord?" And I got on my jeep and said -- I was about a half a mile away from my troops that were all out there. I was just up there looking in this town! [Chuckle] I said, "Come up here. Come up here quick!" And, of course, which they did send them on up and -- but we had no trouble. But about that time, they did -- across the river, over in Germany -- I mean, well, over in the other side of Rhine, they started opening up on us 01:36:00with heavy gunfire. But we pulled back out of that and spread out and we didn't have any trouble. So the next day -- the next day after that, why -- yeah, the next day after that, we crossed the Rhine on a pontoon bridge. And where -- crossed the Rhine --(coughs)-- at a town called Worms. And it's right where the Main River runs into the Rhine. That's where we crossed. So we were on the west bank of the Main, and across the Rhine there, and in that triangle. And that's where -- about five or six miles to Frankfurt am Main and the Frankfurt airport. We had -- in that woods --


BEAN: How did you get across the river?

LAGREW: Yeah, we were across the river.

BEAN: Pontoon river? Pontoon bridge?

LAGREW: Pontoon bridge, yes. --(coughs)-- We'd -- there was some fighting in that woods there around the airport because they had some anti- aircraft guns and things, but light, not heavy. And we had no trouble crossing the Rhine, none whatsoever. So we pushed up to the airport and took the airport, with hardly any casualties or any trouble at all, and got out. And then we got on the autobahn and on the strip going down into the city of Frankfurt. And so we got down into the city of Frankfurt, and as I said we -- I had one column that was going around this way, and the other half of the division was going around that way, and we got into Frankfurt and we met, got together right up at the edge of town. But as we was coming in, I had a liaison plane over me, looking 01:38:00out for me, and he -- we were going back and forth. And he'd -- as my units were going down the great big wide brick street and the autobahn, he'd tell me about the bridge. There was five bridges across the river there, the Main River right downtown. So we raced to one of them and as we -- just about the time my tanks got within one hundred yards of it, it blew. And then he says -- and now, of course, these streets run right along parallel to the river, right on the bank. There's river streets on both sides, big wide ones. So he -- of course, he was telling me about that up in the air. He could see it. I couldn't. So he said, "We need a -- ." I mean, "We should have a --" I mean, "Go to the 01:39:00second bridge." So I called my men and said, "Well, go down, turn to the right, and go up the river to the second bridge. It's right there." And they'd get up there, and just before they'd get there, boom, they blow that. So they did that to the four bridges. The other bridge was a railroad bridge. But when they dropped it --(coughs)-- --

BEAN: Now, there had been some Germans there just set to blow it when the American troops came?

LAGREW: Oh, yeah, that's right. They had it all ready just to press the button when we got there.

BEAN: Yeah, yeah.

LAGREW: On this railroad bridge [inaudible], and on the other side it was a suspension bridge going on. And it was all right on our side. On the other side, it had just dropped down one end. So he told me about that. And I called this infantry battalion that I had attached to me. --(coughs)-- I knew I couldn't take no vehicles across it, but I told him about it and I said, "You go on down there and put your men -- walk across. You can walk across that. You might have to climb down, but you can get across." And so he -- I sent that battalion of infantry there. Okay. So we'd gotten all down there and my men 01:40:00were still looking and the division staff [inaudible] come up and I said to the division signal -- I mean the division engineer, Williams, I said, "Williams, we better go down and take a look at that br--- at the river down there and see what the hell we need to get across the river, because the old man is going to be on our tail pretty quick. Tell me how in hell we can get across there. You're the one is going to have to get us across." He said, "All right, let's go." So I had a half-track there. [Inaudible] I was using a half-track, because in my half-track I had much bigger radio equipment. I could call anything, anybody, [within] fifty miles or so. So with that, we both raced down 01:41:00there. So we got right down to the foot of the bridge. And on this side, a beautiful street along there, was a service station, and we just pulled in at the service station and got out of the -- I got out of my half-track, he got of his car, and another guy, and the four or five of us walked up on the abutment of the bridge and looked across. And lo and behold, the bridge wasn't blown. It was an old bridge, one of them old kind where they built with stones, like an archway. I don't know what supported it other than that. Big old stone bridge. But they had blown, and there was a hole about that big, was all they had blown, in the center of it. And they were out there repairing the wires and going on. The German troops were out there doing it, setting up a machine gun on the other side. And I said, "My God, Williams. Let's get the hell out of here and get some help in here and we will get this." So with that, we darted back to my half-track and [inaudible], and I called up my tanks, see. And, of 01:42:00course, my machine gun [inaudible]. And I said, "Run them son-of-a-bitches off there." And so he pulled the half-track up where they could look over the bridge, you know, to see them.

BEAN: Yeah.

LAGREW: Opened up at them. We didn't want them to finish blowing it, you see, so we opened up on it, and we kept them from blowing it. And so, within about, oh, a couple of minutes, here I heard my tanks roaring and coming. And so I put them down that street, looking right across the river, you know, on that street, just turning the turrets that way. And, well, -- and then I put -- started to putting some across the river. So I've got one -- of course, what I needed, you know, going into town, is not tanks by themselves. They easily get knocked out. A guy could stay in the window of a building on the street and stick a bazooka out and knock it out. He's got to have some infantrymen along with him, you know. So, of course, I called for them and we put -- here come a whole group of infantry and I put them across. They was jumping down and running. Get a 01:43:00little small arms fire from these four or five -- I don't know how many German troops was over there. There must not have been over a half-dozen --(coughs)-- because we didn't hardly get any fire at all. But we finally got them across -- I mean got this across, and then I got one company of tanks across, light tanks. And my other tanks had come up then, other two companies come up, of mediums, and they were strung out down the river, giving them covering fire, you know, [inaudible]. But it was kind of fighting house-to-house. We fought up to the railroad station, which was about three or four blocks. We got about four blocks, that's -- we actually got while I was there. So I knew I better go back and tell the old man real quick, you know, [inaudible]. So I went back. Oh, my God, son. Hell, it was in Stars and Stripes and all. We got the big bridge going into Frankfurt. Blah, blah, blah. All this. That was the next thing to getting the Remagen Bridge going across the Rhine. You never saw such hoopla, 01:44:00and I guarantee you, within an hour, there was fifty newspaper reporters there. That was before the day they had these big movie cameras. Well, they had some movie cameras, but I mean these late things.


LAGREW: TV. Boy, they were there. You never saw nothing like it. So we got down by that service station. And we -- these guys come up and they were interviewing me. And this Margaret White from Time, Life, whatever it was, she had a guy who was sketching me and taking pictures and she was asking all that crap and so forth and so on. And a bridge battalion come moving in, see? He had called. And to get across, we thought we was going to have to put pontoons across. I think they really did use them. They sent a big -- a company, a big heavy company of bridge equipment. They come across there and parked along the street. And then, of course, I had gotten on it. They sent a whole regiment 01:45:00out of the 5th Infantry Division up. Well, we were sitting there, and this -- here come this jeep, and this colonel got out. And he come over there to me, he says, "Are you Colonel Lagrew?" I said, "Yes." He says, "Well, I am reporting to you." I said, "You don't need to report to me. There's your job. I'll give you covering fire." I said, "I've got to get out of here directly." I had no more than said that, than the goddamnest bombardment opened up on us. We got down in behind there and then we crawled and we finally got -- ended in the goddamn cellar of that house down there. Got down in the cellar. And it was [inaudible] from the -- from this bridge and all that across there. He got on -- he had his radioman there with him and he [inaudible] up and they sent that regiment. They lost fifty percent of their men trying to cross that bridge.

BEAN: Really? Why, you already had some units over there. You had your light tanks over there?


BEAN: And the bombardment was coming from --


LAGREW: Trying to hit that bridge!


LAGREW: I come to find out all about it later. --(coughs)-- See, remember all that time we hadn't gotten a shell come in or nothing.

BEAN: Yeah.

LAGREW: What had happened on the outskirts of town, the Germans had these 120mm anti-aircraft guns. They were set up in batteries. That and their 88mm was the most vicious guns in the war. And those 120mms fired whole reams of shells, and they set them on these batteries for anti-aircraft fire. But they could also depress them and come right down for ground fire, 120 millimeter firing like a machine gun, practically. These guys had -- I think there was two batteries of them on the hills on the other side, you know, of Frankfurt, on opposite side from where we were. And the burgermeister of Frankfurt had talked to the 01:47:00commander, that they -- "Please don't defend Frankfurt. It's too pretty a city to be shot up and everything." Said, "They'll take it like they have these others and they'll tear it all up, blow it up! And this has been our capital and blah, blah, blah," you know. "That Frankfurt is a very --(coughs)-- prominent city, and old rock houses and blah, blah, blah this." And he talked the commander into it. And so they were loading up, and all the time we were in there, putting my men across [inaudible] and talking and bullshitting and all that other. If this infantry division had been there when I first come up, we'd have had the whole town real quick. But he didn't, of course. But anyway, so he -- they were loading up and getting ready to get the hell out of there. And we were so slow, with his few pittance of men that was downtown and, you follow 01:48:00me, and somebody come told them, "Why, hell, with this we could hold the bridge." And he changed his mind. And instead of leaving town, unloaded and come back to his guns.

BEAN: Oh. Umhmm.

LAGREW: And, boy, the reporters and everybody said that all -- they had never gone through anything like that in the whole war. So after about two hours of it, I got orders to pull out of there. And I told my men to wait until darkness and, [with] what they could, slip out of there. And it was because they were -- already had a pontoon bridge the other side of town. They was going to bypass it. They weren't going -- we weren't capable of fighting in it anyway. They're going to let the infantry divisions do that. So I waited until after dark. And then I crawled up. [Chuckle] I have never cut my hands and [inaudible] as much and everything. And got to my half-track, went up the street. Just scared to 01:49:00death. I never saw as much windows shot out and trees, the leaves falling off, and as much equipment in such a small area, you know, in my life, as that was. But I got back to my headquarters, and then I was ordered to pull out. And the whole 5th Infantry Division and another division was moving up, going to take the town, which they did.

BEAN: How many people do you think got killed at that bridge, on that bombardment?

LAGREW: I'd say 300 or 400.

BEAN: Oh, okay. So then you got orders to pull out and the infantry would pull in and take the city. What did you do? [Inaudible]

LAGREW: Well, of course, I -- we pulled out. We pulled out and, of course -- see, we had a little nucleus of places that we were safe. You know I'd say three blocks, which wasn't too much, but it was a safe area to pull out, you 01:50:00follow? And, of course, all we did was wait for these -- this 5th Infantry Division. The men come in [and] come on up to our place. We'd give them what post we had, then our men pulled out. See what I mean? --(coughs)-- So anyway, we loaded up and the next morning we took off. And we crossed the pontoon bridge, up the river, and got back on the autobahn, just north of there. We raced up the autobahn. In fact, half of my outfit was on one side the autobahn, and the other half was on the other side of the autobahn. We had two columns. Of course, the autobahn, you know, [is] like the interstate.

BEAN: Right, [a] double road.

LAGREW: Double road.

BEAN: So you were going one --

LAGREW: We were going --

BEAN: -- one way on both --

LAGREW: -- the same way both ways.

BEAN: All right.

LAGREW: Both sides.

BEAN: Were you still at full strength and all the tanks and men you needed?

LAGREW: Yeah, practically. Yeah. So anyway, we didn't need anything then. We 01:51:00didn't need anything. It was -- right at that particular time, is when they -- our whole units had surrounded all those troops in the -- what they call the Ruhr Pocket. [It had] whole armies in there, that Ruhr Pocket. We were headed toward Kassel. We got -- all those Germans were surrounded. --(coughs)-- The next morning, not the first day after Frankfurt, but we went on up the road a piece. And they'd blown a bridge, the overpass, and they'd just blown it and let it drop down across the autobahn. And there was a few defenders there. I don't think it was over fifty. So it was just a little matter of time, becau--- when we [got to a place that was] defended, then, we'd have to -- of course, we'd stop and then surround the place and go by it, see. So that -- but the next day that we took off, I don't know -- I don't recall a single shot being 01:52:00fired. We went and started up the autobahn, and they started coming to us, surrendering. That day we captured 22,000 prisoners. And we hadn't fired a shot. They were coming out of that pocket, you know, and from everything there. And they were going the opposite direction from what we were, of course, and they were in the center of the autobahn, their hands up, surrendering.

BEAN: Oh. They're walking down the center of the autobahn going back west?

LAGREW: Yeah. Umhmm.

BEAN: And you all are riding along going east.

LAGREW: They're coming out of the pocket. So anyway, of course, we were going up toward Kassel. We didn't get to Kassel. They took us off and sent us then --(coughs)-- -- took us off and sent us directly toward the Russians then, you know. We had had everything [inaudible]. So from then on, all we would have to 01:53:00do would be little -- they'd blow a bridge -- down in these -- of course, you're going through some kind of mountain areas, you know. And they'd blow a bridge, and we'd find a few diehards that would defend that bridge, and a few that would defend the town. But that was occasionally. In other words, by that time --(coughs)--, we were such experienced -- our men were so experienced, with their know-how and what to do and under certain conditions and all, that it was -- and, of course, our equipment was so superior, too, that we got to the point to where we weren't having any particular difficulties. And they weren't counterattacking, and then they had no air power. Only once in a great while we'd have one plane come in over us. The rest of our airplanes was up and gone 01:54:00on over, attacking way ahead of us or something. So there was no problem at all, particularly. Now, we went on -- after this -- the day that we got so many prisoners there, I would say that's about the -- in April, in the middle of April or something like that, of '44 -- `45, I mean. By then, of course, we turned toward the Russian sector. And, of course, our first town was Muhlhausen. And they attacked pretty much at this Muhlhausen -- attacked us once there, trying to break through. And we didn't have any problem with them, getting them, cutting them off and capturing what they had. Going back to Frankfurt, as we crossed the Main River, in a combat command billet, we had one 01:55:00of our officers that was my good friend. His name was Jack Heinz. And he was -- his father was the -- had been the ex-chief of staff of the United States Army. And he was a full colonel and commanded a combat command that was -- and he was shot up awfully bad in attacking the airport that I told you about going to Frankfurt. So at Frankfurt, I was relieved of the 15th Tank Battalion and given a combat command. That's a full colonel's thing. Instead of a lieutenant colonel, that's a full colonel.

BEAN: Combat command is --

LAGREW: [Inaudible].

BEAN: -- roughly about what?

LAGREW: Well, a combat command takes the place of a regiment.

BEAN: Oh, okay.

LAGREW: See, I was just a regimental commander. But it has a larger staff and all of it. And it has lots more in it. There's only two of them in the whole 01:56:00division, see. So it's half of a division.

BEAN: Oh, okay.

LAGREW: So I got command at Frankfurt of Combat Command B. So we go on to Muhlhausen where we had our other attack. And then we had an attack at Altenburg. We had no other attacks at all. At Altenburg, they attached an infantry division to me, the new one, just come over, and attached them to me. And so we were going -- I had them at my headquarters and told them what we'd do 01:57:00for the next morning. Then we could move up the center part. My tanks would go around to the right, around the left of the town, which was our normal procedure. If we didn't have any trouble, just bypass the town and on we'd go. If we had trouble, of course, then they surrounded the town, they had their guns to support anything, you know, [inaudible]. So this old guy, this old division commander told me, he says, "Young man." He says, "Now, you're too impetuous. You're too impetuous." He says, "We can't do it like that." Says, "We're going to have to get them a little surrender medicine." I said, "General, we don't have to give them that until we see if we need it." "Oh, yes, we should!" So I'm -- I knew that the old man would really be on me, and I -- because I was waiting and waiting. And he waited an hour and I couldn't wait no longer for him because my men had already surrounded the town, gone all around it, you know, the other side. So with that, I got in my jeep and went up the road. And 01:58:00he had sent a platoon out. He called them his scouts. He sent his platoon out scouting. And we went just marching down the road. I was in the center in my jeep and these guys walking on both sides. We come up to the edge of the town of Altenburg. As we got to the edge of the town, down the hill out of the town, come a guy on a bicycle. And it was the burgermeister, the mayor. In was in his full regalia, boy, all these lap boards, his tall plume hat and his short pants with all his tassels on it and everything. And he said he wanted to surrender the town. He said it was an old walled city and it hadn't been taken or fired on since Charlemagne. Now, that's [going] back [to] 800 and something. And that it had a lot of great things, which I got some of the stuff out of the rathouses, junk. But anyway -- and so he surrendered. We went on up through the town, my -- all my guys. And so I called the old general back and said, 01:59:00"Sir, I hate to tell you, but that general sitting back there in the field." I said, "He's sitting out [inaudible] and everything, going to -- said he's going to -- ." I said, "You'd better watch him. He is liable to shoot some [inaudible], but I couldn't do nothing with him." So General Grow went up there and he told General Patton what it was, and I think they relieved that general of his command. [Chuckle] Poor old guy, I felt sorry for him. --(coughs)-- But, of course, they were just unknown. They hadn't -- but that was the last fight we actually had in the war. Now, I did skip this, telling you that --(coughs)-- in Bastogne, in -- after leaving Bastogne, two things of importance that I'd like to say. Number one, we were in an attack [inaudible] real cold weather. There was a hillside out there, and there was a town called Magaret 02:00:00down in the valley. We'd take that town every day, and they'd come back and take it at night. We were up on the hill massed on this side of it and they were on the hill massed on the other side of it. And it just -- we couldn't do it. They couldn't either, of course, hold it. So we had -- on this -- they had had a counterattack and taken this big wood mass on this side. So we were ordered to go clean this wood mass out and take it. So we ordered -- I ordered the advance for the next morning at six o'clock, whatever, just right after daylight. And so, of course, I had my tanks move up to the edge of the wood, but mostly had to take infantry going through those woods, because they were planted woods just like cornfields, you know. And my tanks would go around the edge and support them if anything. So I get around -- there is a trail going up through these woods. And I and my jeep and my driver and my executive officer 02:01:00go around through there. Well, of course, I have a rule and it's one we [inaudible] -- we had learned that always that, number one, General Patton always said you can't push spaghetti. You had to lead them. The second thing is, that everybody in the front, in the fighting, wanted to get back for some reason or another, even if it is to take a leak or to get a bar of candy or something. There is always an excuse to get there. When they're shooting at you, it's a pretty good idea, too. But -- so, therefore, if they come back -- a guy comes back with one prisoner, turn him loose until you capture a few, and send him on back. Everybody come -- everybody you catch coming toward the rear, turn him -- send him to the front. That was General Patton's -- it was the right thing, of course. So as I go around there, they started -- guys come walking out of the woods bringing one or two or three prisoners. After I had accumulated ten or fifteen, I let my driver -- no, I don't th--- I let one of my 02:02:00officers take them back. So we drove on around another 100 yards. They kept coming, lining up there in the road. And I let my driver take them. Well, I was there by myself, though I didn't think he had to walk very far back there to turn them over, and so these guys started coming out of the woods and bringing them. And I said, "Just let them sit right there. Sit right there." So pretty soon I had collected about fifty prisoners. And they were cold, you know, and all, and wrapped up with old rags around their heads, you know, all that [inaudible] coats [inaudible] off the thing. They were sitting down squatting, all along. After I got about fifty of them I said, "I better take these back myself." So with that I hollered, "Hey, [inaudible]!" And they all stood up, you know. And so I reached around in my Jeep, got my Thompson submachine gun. And it was just a little trail going there, you see, woodlands all there, and so 02:03:00I decided -- I said, "This way, [inaudible]." They turned left-face to go down the trail. So I dec--- thought, well, it was the ideal thing to do. I'd kind of step out where I could see the head of the column. So I had my gun like this and I was stepping out to the head of the column and stepped in -- over the thing and fell ten feet down in the thing. My gun went one way and me in the thing. Well, you could imagine how scared I was, that there I was by myself. And two of those big Germans jumped down there beside me. Well, what did they do? They didn't hit me in the head, grab the gun, or do nothing. They -- one grabbed one side of me, one the other, picked me up and started dusting me off. Two more stood up there and they handed me up to them. The others reached down and got my gun, dusted it all off, wiped it off, and handed me my gun. You wouldn't believe it. Well, you know the only answer to that is they were ready to surrender, now. They weren't vicious, no way. They'd had to -- they'd already been chilled good and so forth, anyway. That was one of the things that 02:04:00was amusing. And then, of course, the next day, in an attack that we had I c--- would bring my tanks as we'd usually do, overlooking this hill mass going through there. And I was standing there with binoculars at the hill -- I mean in my tank turret, looking across at this thing, see the gun flashes to mark them. And now my other tanks were progressing. And we were hit. And the shell hit my gun shield, went through my gun shield, went through eighteen inches of armor, practically. It split the -- it hit the top of the turret and split it. And when it hit the turret ring, it went out from there, and fell right down beside the tank. Well, when it hit and so forth, I either jumped or for some 02:05:00reason, I bailed out of the tank. Of course, I was sitting up, about this much of me showing anyway. Had a little jump seat we'd sit on, you know, up there?

BEAN: Yeah.

LAGREW: So I bailed out.

BEAN: Chest-high, you were sitting up.

LAGREW: And I [got] hit on my head. And I was wounded right back there, either by a piece of spall -- what we call spall is when something like that hit a tank on there, some of the brackets fly off of it, or something, you know, hinge or something. --(coughs)-- But, of course, right next to the tank exploding, everybody was killed but me. I was laying there. Well, of course, I was picked up quick because 'Oh my God, the colonel has been hit!' And my Lord, they give me special treatment, which I tried to keep them from doing. But I couldn't. So they put me on a -- and they laid that round--I got it here--that hit that tank on that litter right beside me and carried me back. And they gave me a shot of morphine. And, of course, a good big shot of hooch and I was ready to 02:06:00go again, you know. So --

BEAN: Well, the shell didn't explode. It just came through the --

LAGREW: Oh, no, it was an armor piercing shell.

BEAN: Oh, it doesn't explode. It just goes through it.

LAGREW: No. I've got it. And I will -- I used to keep it sitting there on the --

BEAN: So it's a -- it didn't explode and kill anybody in your tank. It just took the top off of it.

LAGREW: Oh, it did kill everybody in the tank.

BEAN: In your tank?

LAGREW: Sure. Everybody, because the tank exploded. The tank exploded by the -- the bullet never went inside the tank.

BEAN: All right.

LAGREW: But pieces of the tank flew off and hit the rounds or something. They hit something in there.

BEAN: Oh, I see.

LAGREW: Do you follow me?

BEAN: Your own equipment inside exploded.

LAGREW: Yeah, yeah. Uh-huh, yeah.

BEAN: And killed everybody in it. You were wounded in the neck when the when the pieces came out.

LAGREW: And, of course, where I was wounded, I didn't know about it at the time because I was too dumb, I reckon, and some way to be evacuated. Well, of 02:07:00course, I had been -- as I told you, I really loved that outfit, and so forth and so on, and whatever it was, I had good doctors to take care of me and I had no idea the extent of it, but what had happened was my fifth and sixth vertebrae had been crushed in my neck.

BEAN: By this tank explosion?



LAGREW: And, of course, I started getting paralyzed on this right side, just completely paralyzed. And so they started shooting Novocain in me, and they come to find out I happened to be allergic to Novocain and that swelled up that big and that's scared them to death. And so I suffered out the rest of the war with that, without knowing it. They didn't know it was that. So at the end of the war, why, of course, they -- I went back and they took x-rays. And, well, I 02:08:00was under their care of Glen Spurling, who was from Louisville. And he's the greatest neurosurgeon in the country. And he found right off what it was and that sent me home, back to Percy Jones General Hospital. But anyway, after -- I told you about -- well, Muhlhausen, where we had our attack -- big attack, and after Altenburg where this general was relieved and so forth, there was no other fighting at all. When we pulled up to Apolda--A-p--- I've got some pictures here to show you of Apolda. And that's on the Mulde River. And that's where we 02:09:00were stopped. That's where we were stopped and ordered not to go any farther. Because that's where that we were to meet the Russians. Oh, when we heard that the Russians were getting close to us, one day the general --(coughs)-- come by my headquarters there, and said, "Let's go see --"

BEAN: Let me stop for just a minute now.


[Tape two, side one ends; tape two, side two begins.]

BEAN: Now we're back again at -- you had just come up to the -- near the Russians. Tell us about that.

LAGREW: General Read, assistant division commander, come over to my headquarters and said that the Russians were just up the road from us and let's 02:10:00go over and see them. So with that we went out and got in my staff car, and I took my executive officer with me, and the three of us went to see if we could find the Russians. So we went up and went down this road, looking at the map, and went across the river and so forth, and I looked -- as we were riding along, I looked at the road that we were going on and I saw that nothing had been on the road. I could see where -- every once in a while where cart tracks that would go from one field to another, across the road, and then leaving it on either side but [inaudible]. And I looked up at this executive officer of mine who was looking at the map up front, and I said to him, "Ed, do you know where you're going?" I said, "This don't look good to me." He said, "Oh, yes. Oh, 02:11:00yes." And with that I looked up and we were looking li--- we're going toward a woods. And I looked and there was the road barricade. And our driver, of course, just kept right on going and he pulled right up to the barricade, which consisted of big logs put out in the road so you had to stop, and you had to make an 'S' turn to go through the logs and like. And lo and behold, this driver just made the 'S' turn, turned through the logs, and when we got inside there I looked and there was two German 88mm guns on either side. The Germans were standing there, all at attention, and saluted us as we passed. And we were on the top of a hill. And the road goes down around the hill. We'd make the circular rise and go down to the bottom of the hill. We get down to the bottom of the hill. There is a railroad station and a railroad. Lined up at this 02:12:00railroad station is a full regiment of Germans. And they're lined up just like they're going on parade. Got their best uniforms on and all lined up, their officers out in front of them and all like this. And this -- we pulled up there and this --

BEAN: You're in a jeep?

LAGREW: No, we're in a staff car.

BEAN: Oh, all right. Okay.

LAGREW: In a staff car. This executive officer of mine, who is riding in the front seat, jumps out, runs up over in front of them -- this German commander in front and says, "Sir, the war is over. The war is over." He run up and down the line telling them the war is over, in English. You know, the war had been over just that day, you know. But, of course, how in the world would we know that, you know, being out in the woods like that? But they knew it, too. And, of course -- but one of the queer little things was that--and I wish we would 02:13:00have brought the fellow out of there--is a man -- a civilian come walking over to us. And he pulled a letter out of his pocket, handed it to us, and it was a letter from our ambassador, [the] American ambassador to Germany before the war, and said this man was an employee of the American government before the war, and a very loyal employee, and if anything that we could do for him would be appreciated by the American government. Why we didn't put him in that car and bring him out of there, I don't know. That's -- I'll never answer that because I don't know. But anyway, we leave there. You know, you get kind of [inaudible]. We go back up the hill. Oh, we tell them that the Russians are coming, that if they want to surrender to us, that they must get up and back to our lines. Do you follow me?


BEAN: Umhmm.

LAGREW: Get up and get across -- in back of our lines. Because we were over in the Russian lines.

BEAN: You're in Russian territory now.

LAGREW: Yeah, umhmm.

BEAN: All right.

LAGREW: So anyway, I presume they did that or tried to, I don't know. Never did know the aftermath of that. The only thing I wish we had done is brought that civilian out of there.

BEAN: Did you ever meet the Russians?


BEAN: Did you ever meet with the Russians [inaudible]?

LAGREW: Oh, I'm going to tell you that. Yeah.

BEAN: All right.

LAGREW: Yeah. We hadn't yet now. We got in this little trap first, looking for them. See, we hadn't seen them. And the reason we hadn't seen them, they didn't come toward us directly. We were along the river. We were stopped there and they were supposed to come that way. And they did, except they missed us by about thirty miles. In other words, they come down the river and hit farther.

BEAN: And what river is this?

LAGREW: The Mulde.

BEAN: The Mulde River.

LAGREW: Umhmm. And then, of course, they got permission that they could cross 02:15:00the river, because the good road, the big four lane highway, was on our side of the river.

BEAN: Oh, umhmm.

LAGREW: And so they crossed on the river and come down the river, because they could use the road. You follow me?

BEAN: Yeah.

LAGREW: Okay. So anyway, we left there and come on the top of the hill, and them Germans got up and saluted us again and everything the same way. I said, "Ed, by God, you're lucky, us doing that." Because they couldn't have known -- they -- I don't know what would have happened but, anyway, it didn't. So we come out of there. As we got back up on the main road, where we had turned off, well, here c--- here we saw the Russians starting to come down the road, walking. Well, to give you my first impression of the Russians as I saw them, they looked like -- what I would try to tell you, it looked like the Mexican Army. Number one, they were mar--- instead of marching in any formation, they 02:16:00looked like a rabble, a bunch of hunters going out with one rifle this way and so on. No military order about them. That's the first thing. Now, of course, they weren't on parade now. Don't get me wrong. There is a lot of difference, being on parade and out in the wilderness going. But the next thing is, we started to notice, not one single vehicle was alike. I bet you twenty guns -- as we went over there to watch them in this little town, Apolda, that I told you. We went over there and parked on the street as they come through the town --(coughs)-- just to see what they'd do in this town. Now, that was our territory. And we blocked off the streets to keep them from coming away from the river, you know, [inaudible]. So they go on down -- I mean, they go on. So we parked there and watched them. There wasn't a single gun looked like of the 02:17:00same caliber. And not a wagon that didn't have different wheels or -- you know, they -- it was just a rabble.

BEAN: Were they mechanized at all? Did they have any tanks?

LAGREW: None. Oh, no tanks and --

BEAN: What's a wagon to you? You said they had -- wagon wasn't alike --

LAGREW: Horses.

BEAN: You mean they were horse-drawn wagons?

LAGREW: Sure. Sure.

BEAN: These guys were --

LAGREW: Well, they had trucks, too.

BEAN: They were on foot --


BEAN: -- with horses and so on?

LAGREW: That's right --(coughs)--, just a rabble.

BEAN: And this was the forward point of the Russian Army --


BEAN: -- coming down this way in Germany?

LAGREW: That's right.

BEAN: And you met them at this village, and they knew they were going to meet you?

LAGREW: Well, I'm sure they did. Yeah.

BEAN: Oh, okay.

LAGREW: Well, of course, the commander -- --(coughs)--, the first --(coughs)-- -- the first commander I saw was a colonel. The first commander that I saw was a colonel, and he was in a buggy with a horse and no top on it. And he had a basket down in front of him and it was full of vodka. And he was drinking as he was riding along. He had a driver, and he was sitting there doing -- just 02:18:00enjoying himself, looking at the country, riding in this buggy. I reckon I would have, too, if I was in an occupied country doing nothing. I don't know now, but anyway -- but -- so that's the first one I saw. --(coughs)-- Then, of course, we went on and looked around, but we didn't see anything that was of interest after that little crap, so we went on back to my headquarters, which was down the street about two or three blocks. The only other interesting thing was that -- of course, I issued orders, which I was told to do, that the Ger--- that the Russians were not supposed --(coughs)-- to come in our territory, outside of that one road that went parallel. So we put guards out on the streets -- or roads, leading off that road. --(coughs)-- Then, of course, they just put a horse, what I mean [by] a horse is a pole or anything they could 02:19:00improvise to stick across the road, that they could remove if something legitimate come along. So here come a Russian truck and they hollered, "Halt!" And he didn't halt. He just hit the barricade and on he went. Where he went, I have no idea. So this company commander -- of course, this -- whoever it was on that roadblock, hollered, you know, at these -- [inaudible], the company commander called me. And so I called -- see, I had a liaison officer over [at] this Russian headquarters, you know, so we could keep continuity. So I called over there and told him. And I said, "Ask that Russian that what the hell to do in a case like that. How rough can we get?" --(coughs)-- He come right back and said, "Oh, the Russian commander said that if you tell them to stop and they don't, shoot them." So I --(coughs)-- -- well, that surprised me. I'd have never told them to shot [sic shoot] my men. --(coughs)-- So lo and behold, less 02:20:00than thirty minutes later, the same thing happened. Of course, I had told them -- [inaudible] them. If they do, shoot them. By God, here they come and, boy, our guys opened up with a Tommy gun and killed three of them. Just pushed them off on the side of the road. Well, that scared me. I thought, "Well, we'd gone too far." So instead of calling them on the radio, I get in my jeep and go over there. So I went over to this Russian headquarters, on this storefront down the street. And I pulled up over there and got my [inaudible] and went in there and [inaudible] an interpreter. I told him what happened. He said, "Well, that's fine, old boy. Come on. Sit down. Let's have a drink." [Inaudible]

BEAN: Nothing [of] a problem?

LAGREW: Everything I saw with them was just like that. No respect for nothing. Not anything like we would.

BEAN: Hmm. Did they end up having any real army vehicles show up?

LAGREW: Well, they had some trucks, now, that were [inaudible].

BEAN: No tanks, though?

LAGREW: Oh, no. I never did see a Russian tank.


BEAN: Did they see yours? They knew you had a tank column and so on.

LAGREW: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, umhmm.

BEAN: All right. Okay.

LAGREW: Now, they didn't come mix with us, you know, because we were back from that -- I mean, our units and everything. I reckon they did in a lot of places. Don't get me wrong.

BEAN: So how long did you stay there where you were right next to them?

[Long pause]

LAGREW: I'd say two or three days.

BEAN: Oh, all right. Then you got orders to pull back --


BEAN: -- and turn it over to them. And you turned your column around and came on back to where?

LAGREW: Well, we come on back. We give up about 100 miles of territory or more, 125 miles of territory.

BEAN: And then all the Americans --

LAGREW: We were way over the -- Leipzig is way over, almost to the Polish border, you know, in there. That's where we were.

BEAN: Oh, you were in Leipzig?

LAGREW: Right by Leipzig.

BEAN: Oh. Oh. Oh. All right. Did you ever talk to any of their really 02:22:00[veteran] combat officers?

LAGREW: Of the Russians?

BEAN: Yeah. Not the guy in the wagon, but --

LAGREW: Well, yeah. I talked to a couple of generals.

BEAN: Russian generals that came up there at Leipzig?

LAGREW: Yeah, umhmm. Well, one thing they were amused at, they looked at -- [what] they wanted to see was we had a -- we didn't -- I didn't use it as far as I know of, but we had made it, was a -- we had a mine detector thing, a mine blower-upper or whatever you want to call it. It was like a phonograph record, big steel things that were about twenty feet high. And they were -- these steel things were put on an axle. And then they were on a shaft and they were hitched to a tank. And these big -- it was like a big roller, but they were sheets of steel. You follow me?


BEAN: Yeah.

LAGREW: And so you'd roll that through a mine field and the mines would burst -- explode but, of course, they couldn't destroy much. They'd just hit those sheets and they'd blow them out like that and you'd just keep on going.

BEAN: Making a roadway twenty feet wide.

LAGREW: Yeah, uh-huh.

BEAN: And the front of the sheet was on a wheel of some sort.

LAGREW: Well, it was about forty sheets of steel on one axle like -- they looked like big phonograph records.

BEAN: Oh, okay.

LAGREW: Do you understand? And there was -- and [there] was about twenty of them in line across this axle. You with me?

BEAN: Yeah.

LAGREW: Which fit in this yoke that was [inaudible].

BEAN: Like a harrow -- like a farm harrow?

LAGREW: Just like a farm harrow, yeah.

BEAN: Okay. All right. So you -- did you ever remember a story about the Russians saying they wanted to find out whether that road is mined, so they sent some troops over?

LAGREW: That's -- well, that's what I'm going to tell you.

BEAN: Oh, all right. Okay.

LAGREW: That's the -- this is the guy --

BEAN: They came over to see yours.

LAGREW: They come over to see our mine detector, or at least they asked about it. Maybe they saw it parked out there, you follow me?


BEAN: Umhmm.

LAGREW: You know, we were giving them a drink or anything, and General -- this was General George Read. He was inquisitive like I -- well, we were both alike about it, interested. And so we -- he wanted to see it. So we took it out and showed it to him. And we pointed it all out, let them sit in our tank. We didn't care, I mean, particularly. It wasn't -- at that time we were supposed to -- they were supposed to be our allies.

BEAN: Yeah.

LAGREW: Hell, we'd give them their trucks, the six-by-six trucks they used, everything -- their equipment. All their good equipment was built by us anyway. [We] give it to them. So -- but anyway, we were talking to these two generals, talking to the generals. We showed them all this equipment. And then George Read said, "Well, what detectors do you use?" And the interpreter asked him. He shrugged. He says -- told him [inaudible] says, "The only thing we use is we 02:25:00just use men." He said, "We just march them in through it, the field."

BEAN: And set them off?


BEAN: All right. Let me -- have you finished, you think? Got any more to tell us?

LAGREW: Well, we've seen the Russians and then we back up from the Russians. You follow me? The war is over. And General Grow, our division commander, goes to the hospital to get some catch-up work that he had to be done. I go over to visit him in Belgium, at this hospital where he was. And General Patton happened to be there. And General Christian was there, who was the surgeon general. And General Grow was telling General Patton about me. He was worried about me since Bastogne when I was hit, that I'd lost weight, and he'd sent this surgeon around to look after me and all this and the other. And so General Christian asked me about it [inaudible] and I told him, like I had told you, 02:26:00about falling out of the tank, jumping out or what had happened, about [inaudible] back here and that I had gone paralyzed here every once in awhile in [inaudible]. He said, "Would you -- I got to -- let me send you back. "Hell," General Patton said, "hell, you can use my -- I'll get you to use my plane to fly you back." General Christian says, "Yeah, I've got the best surgeon in the world, this Glen Spurling. I'll call him and tell him to look him over personally and we'll get -- find out." So that's what they did. When I got back to Paris, hell, I had three colonels waiting for me. Boy, you would have thought I was a VIP sure enough. Oh, "Colonel Lagrew, come here." General Patton had called, General Christian had called, blah, blah, blah. Took me over to the hospital, [and I] got up there [and he said], "Take your clothes off. Come in this little room. Sit up here." And I looked around [and] there was six colonels there, full colonels. Not --

BEAN: Like a --

LAGREW: -- lieutenant colonels, full colonels! --(coughs)-- Of course, they 02:27:00were neurosurgeons and specialists and they -- you know, they were just [inaudible]. That's all. They thought it was something, and I reckon it was. And so they looked around and [inaudible] and I sat up here on this cot, with legs over, when General -- I mean, Glen Spurling got this little old rubber hammer out and started working on me, my knees. You know how they do, peck you.

BEAN: You're all right.

LAGREW: And when he got to fooling with my shoulders and hit me up there, boy, he hit the spot. I said, "Whoa." "Oh," he said, "we got it!" So then they all come over and he showed them, made a lecture on me. And then they all left, walked away. He had found it. And he sent me down to the X-ray rooms and so, but he knew what it was. And he was right. And they [inaudible]. He said, "We got to sent you home, get that operation so we -- no problem to it and everything." I said, "General, I don't want to go home. I want to go to Japan. 02:28:00We got to whip them Japs!" Hell, you know, with a combat command that I had, boy, I was fixed. "No problem. You can go home and I'll send you to --(coughs)-- a guy who will operate on you and you can go see your wife, and [have] sick leave for thirty days." "Well, [I said,], "that will be wonderful." I couldn't turn that down. "And we'll fly you back here, VIP, [amd] fly you back to your own troops. Your command will be ready for you." So I fell for it. I did. That's what happened. So anyway, they flew me back up to my organization. And --

BEAN: Oh, you came home for your thirty days, got operated on --

LAGREW: Well, then I ought to say, I went and they did fly me to the States. They flew me to the hospital, to the Percy Jones Hospital. And of course, when I got in Percy Jones, it wasn't a question of thirty days. It was a question of six months.


LAGREW: Or seven months. But it wasn't all, you know, operations or anything 02:29:00like that.

BEAN: Yeah, recovery.

LAGREW: It was rest and try this and try that, and so forth. But anyway -- well, I got -- I just looked at this. I come home in -- [to] Percy Jones Hospital in July, I think, of '45, and I was -- they had made the decision by the first of December of '45. That's how long I was there. You with me?

BEAN: Yeah.

LAGREW: So anyway, that's the story unless -- you can ask me questions and I will tell you anything.

BEAN: All right.

LAGREW: But anyway, I will finish and tell you that they did look and decide that I had a fifth and sixth vertebrae crushed, and that the best thing to do was not operate on me, [but] was to treat me with traction. They had to put me in a fifteen-pound thing, a halter over my neck and so forth. And I responded 02:30:00so good for it and they treated me for other things, too, and straightened me up and sent me home, and I've been very good since.

BEAN: Can I ask you what your decorations are?

LAGREW: I got --

BEAN: You got the Medal of Honor --

LAGREW: No, no, no. The DSC, Distinguished Service Cross.

BEAN: All right.

LAGREW: Legion of Merit.

BEAN: Right.

LAGREW: Silver stars, three.

BEAN: Right.

LAGREW: Bronze Stars, five.

BEAN: Right.

LAGREW: Purple Heart, three.

BEAN: Right.

LAGREW: [The] French medal is the Croix de Guerre.

BEAN: Right.

LAGREW: And the Legion of Honor.


BEAN: Is that a French [medal]?

LAGREW: Yeah. That's where they think I got -- I didn't get the American Legion of Honor. I didn't deserve one but, now, of course, I wished I had have.

BEAN: You once were telling me about a time when you were in a tank and the -- some Germans were next to you and you threw some grenades in. When did that ha--- they were in a doorway, and you saw them and --


BEAN: Where was that and what ha--- tell us that story.

LAGREW: I think [inaudible] throwed it -- threw the g--- yes, I did. We were in the -- it was in Alsace-Lorraine in that time when I was telling you about how wet and dirty and muddy the conditions were.

BEAN: Right.

LAGREW: So we had taken this little town and we were going through it, and at the other side of the town, at the end of it, there was a German gun that's 02:32:00firing. And, of course, the little town -- the streets were narrow and I tried -- I was sitting there in this tank, in the turret of my tank, looking ahead trying to find this gun. It was up at the edge of town -- up the street, see? And the only way I could tell at that time was maybe a flash, you know, the gun flash when it fired. And out of the side of my eye, in this town, you know, looking out of the side of my eye, I saw some movement. I turned real quick to look, and out of the doorway, as close as that hearth is there to me --

BEAN: Twelve feet.

LAGREW: -- ten feet, ten -- twelve feet away was a man -- a German soldier. And he was carrying a bazooka. And he come out of that thing and started to come up with a bazooka. Well, as he started to come up with the bazooka, I come out with my .45.

BEAN: Out of a holster?

LAGREW: Out of that -- well, I carried one.

BEAN: Shoulder holster.

LAGREW: Yeah. --(coughs)-- And I just, boom, woo, woo, woo, woo, woo. Boy, I 02:33:00let him have it. I never did hit him. I hate to tell that story because that is really embarrassing. I don't remember whether it was seven, eight, or nine times I shot. And all I did -- the only thing I did, I scared him as bad as I was scared. And he pulled up that bazooka just like that. I'm sure he [inaudible] and pulled it off. --(coughs)-- The bazooka missed the tank and hit our roll -- our big black bedroll thing that was -- you know, tarp was on the back, and blew it off. That's the only thing he did. And I missed him, and he ducked inside the house. And, of course, the next thing I come down with was a grenade, you know, after I missed him and saw he did that. Well, I pulled the grenade and threw the grenade in there and killed him. I wished I'd saved him. I wished I hadn't killed him now.

BEAN: [Laughter] Well, you -- did you carry a grenade on your body?

LAGREW: Oh, yes.


BEAN: Was it pinned on you?

LAGREW: Oh, yeah.

BEAN: So you were armed with a pistol on a shoulder holster. You had grenades. Did you carry a rifle of any kind? You, personally?


BEAN: [An] M-1 rifle was also with you.

LAGREW: What I used -- that was in my -- that was not in my tank. In my tank, a .45 and hand grenades is all I had, except I had a .50-caliber mounted up on the turret. But in my jeep, I had an M-1 and a submachine gun. I used the submachine gun most of the time.

BEAN: Did you fire much with it? Did you have --

LAGREW: Oh, my God.

BEAN: As an officer, did you have to shoot it much?

LAGREW: Oh, I would say I did. I don't know whether to say 50,000 times or how many rounds I did, but a lot. The peculiar thing about it was, in this system of going through Europe and these -- after we learned these lessons 02:35:00--(coughs)--, like Alsace-Lorraine and these other towns that we went through, we got smart. We knew how to take a town. And, of course, the guys in the tanks -- and it was well understood, as I go back and say that General Patton said, which stuck in my mind, that you can't push spaghetti but it's easily led. And some way or another, I could do that. I don't know what you want to call it, but I could do that. And the reason I could do that --(coughs)--, I've always thought, and thought about years and years later, the reason I could do that --(coughs)--, I felt like in my mind that it was just as safe to lead as it was to lay in a ditch. I -- that's the concl--- in my mind. For instance, I do not wear seat belts in my car today. And I'll never put them on if I don't -- 02:36:00if they don't physically make it, because I am afraid of a seat belt in a car. I am allergic to it. Do you follow me?

BEAN: Yeah, but in your defense of yourself, you carried a pistol most of the time. Did you ever shoot your pistol other than that time?

LAGREW: No, never did.

BEAN: Very seldom had to -- not that close to them.

LAGREW: No, no, no.

BEAN: Did you ever use your M-1?

LAGREW: Oh, yes sir.

BEAN: Well, you were talking about you fired so many rounds with the machine gun.

LAGREW: Oh, well, I was going to tell you that. Going to lead up to that. I happened to have -- get in this -- now, what for [inaudible], I'm trying to think to tell you, but --(coughs)-- now a third of the way through the war, I happened to have a company assigned to me. This boy's name was [Hal Finney?]. He was an all-American football player from the University of Southern California. And he was a big strapping guy, and he become my buddy. He was a 02:37:00company commander of a tank destroyer unit. --(coughs)-- And he stayed with me all the time. He had a vehicle. He stayed with me, although he was not supposed to do that. --(coughs)--

BEAN: Sort of your personal guard [inaudible].

LAGREW: Oh, he become my personal guard.

BEAN: What rank was he?

LAGREW: He was a captain.

BEAN: Oh, all right.

LAGREW: He was supposed to look after what -- of our -- he was supposed to look at things that I would tell him to shoot at and to do for tanks, of course. That's -- we had tank destroyers. But instead of that, he stayed right close to me. And we just got married up together and so forth, from friendship and so on. But he just wanted to, and when we'd pull up to a town -- and I had, which we all had --(coughs)-- -- we had -- in a battalion we had six what they call 02:38:00assault guns. And they were mounted in the tanks, but instead of being 75mms, they were 105mms. They were the big heavy artillery, short. And let me tell you something, when you pull up to a town and get where you could site, see, the fire -- of course, they could come back, and they did and fire like regular artillery, --(coughs)-- but -- and I used them some, but I didn't pay no attention to them. That wasn't the way I used them. I had them right by me, and I'd see something up there I wanted taken out, and I'd say, "Take that out!" And they would. Okay. --(coughs)-- We'd come up to this town, run into a roadblock or be fired on out of this town. Well, the damn doughboys that's out here are not going in that town by themselves, no way. But if -- when I get my tanks around there and they start opening up --(coughs)--, and my assault guns, 02:39:00principally, and hit these -- every house had a tile roof. And these assault guns hitting that tile roof, that runs the damn Germans in the basements or out of there, you know? They're not going to stay out in the open. As soon as you do that, if you're ready to run in, you're protected. You follow me?

BEAN: Yeah.

LAGREW: You have a protected area. Well, for some reason or another, this old [Hal?] -- this [Hal Finney?] wanted to go with me. Another one -- we got to kidding everybody and all my other officers on my staff and all, how many Lugers we had, how much loot we had and blah, blah. And we did. God almighty, damn. I had had Lugers by the ton. I had all kinds of -- every kind of pistols and so forth, because we stripped them. And we had an opportunity to get them. And the reason we had an opportunity to get them, just like I tell you, we went into that town on the Rhine and captured 300 [inaudible]. I had a selection of anything, you know. You follow me?

BEAN: Yeah, right.

LAGREW: Okay. But anyway, that was just part of it. But anyway, for some 02:40:00reason, [Hal Finney?] was a buddy of mine and he carried an

M-1. And I carried a .45 submachine gun. He'd take one side of the street, and I'd take another. You follow me.

BEAN: Umhmm.

LAGREW: For some reason, we would. And boy, he was a bravo [sic bravado] kind. He'd walk up to the door, hit it like that. And I wasn't. I was the guy that'd stay back [inaudible] like that [inaudible]. But we bragged to one another. I'd say, "Look what I got." And he'd say, "Look what I got." You know, it was that sort of business. But anyway, it made results. Because as we'd go into town, our troops would follow us in real quick.

BEAN: Yeah.

LAGREW: You with me?

BEAN: Yeah. And you were on foot, walking through the town?

LAGREW: Oh, of course!

BEAN: And you had foot troops following you, and your tanks around the outside.

LAGREW: That's right. Of course, a lot of times we had to dodge real quick. Now, don't get me wrong. But at least we felt the water out. Felt it out. You with me? And it worked. I was --

BEAN: Well, how many men would you lose in attacks like this?

LAGREW: Some of the biggest attacks, we didn't lose one or two!


BEAN: Oh. Did you lose any --

LAGREW: We didn't slaughter no men.

BEAN: Well, you didn't -- your own men, didn't you have a lot of losses of --

LAGREW: Well, of course, you must remember, we were in 286 days of continuous combat. I don't know. I'll have to get my book out to tell you how many men was killed, but I know that we had 100 percent replacement of officers. So that was a turnover.

BEAN: Guess how many men you think you lost.

LAGREW: Well, let's see. My battalion now -- of course, let's don't get up into the division. My battalion had 850 men. I'd say I lost 200 dead.

BEAN: And wounded?

LAGREW: Oh, heck. Six hundred, I'd say. And that's -- you're making me guess --


BEAN: Well, you're making -- you're -- then the guys -- you're getting replacements from the United States all the time.

LAGREW: Oh, sure, sure, sure.

BEAN: New men.

LAGREW: Sure, sure. Replacements.

BEAN: New officers -- new men coming in.

LAGREW: Sure, yeah.

BEAN: And then did you have to train them or were they pretty well trained when they got to you?

LAGREW: Well, the enlisted men weren't too bad. The officers weren't worth a damn.

BEAN: Umhmm. All right.

LAGREW: They just weren't worth a -- well, the reason I say they weren't worth a damn, we just didn't know how to train anybody. We -- well, as I -- I think I told you in going through this whole thing, which I have told you about, that we were a well-trained division. We were a well-trained division as far as maintenance--how to take after -- look after our vehicles and how to take care of ourselves personally. But fellow, we didn't know bullshit from apple butter about how to fight. You know, you never do. The -- tell you the funniest thing 02:43:00is, that some of the guys that I thought would be the best, turned out to be the worst. And some of the little scrawniest guys that I thought wasn't worth a nickel, turned out to be the best. So I want to tell you, you can't tell what a man will do when that kind of thing starts, when the bullets start flying and that starts flying, some of the biggest, roughest guys I ever saw was laying in the ditch, bawling and crying like babies. There is no rhyme and reason to it. You follow me?

BEAN: I was wondering, is there -- you couldn't tell this in advance?

LAGREW: No, sir. No, sir.

BEAN: The background of the guys?

LAGREW: No, sir. No, sir. I tried to explain this to them and, of course, with our guys, I think -- from example, if I would -- the only reason I could say is from examples and all the other things I saw, I tried to put on an act of 02:44:00bravo [sic bravado] and so forth with all these guys. But most of the time, I was just as scared. Don't -- I wasn't a brave guy, now, no way. And my doctors, now, for instance, and I -- well, I often thought myself -- I fainted a dozen times when doctors would take out some big needle and want to see me. And to this day, when I look on there and they show some little kid getting a vaccine, and they pull out this needle, I have to do that because it makes me sick. I can't help it. It does! Well, so with that sort of thing in mind, I reckon these other -- same things that affect other people. Now at Bastogne, around this thing, we'd caught these Germans in this thing -- in one thing in a barrage. And there must have been a thousand of them. They were marching along this little trail, and we'd hit them. And they fell just like wheat would fall, 02:45:00just laying over just like that, laying along the edge of this road. They weren't up on the road now. They were right on the edge of it. And they were just laying like you'd cut them down with a scythe. Right up -- we built this little -- they built this place, by digging a hole --(coughs)-- and cutting these logs, and crisscrossing these logs across. Then they had eight logs deep, a dugout, right up there. The Germans got it zeroed in because of our radio. And we dug it in right at the edge of these woods. Afterwards I went out there and looked at it. The Germans had hit it so much that it hit the trees, of course. They'd come in and hit the trees, and just tore them all out of around there until they had a funnel right there. [Chuckle] They had a funnel. But, of course, it had dropped down on eight layers of logs, [inaudible] hell, that deep, you know.

BEAN: Oh, uh-huh.

LAGREW: But anyway, right outside there was a German soldier. He had his rifle 02:46:00in his hands, and his helmet [was] still on. He must have been hit in the head, had a concussion. His head was split right across here, all around. And half his skull was laying over.

BEAN: [Inaudible].

LAGREW: Half his head was laying over at one side, away from the body, just over at one side. The helmet still -- the helmet over at one side of his head, just laying over at one side and the rest of it, the brains all laying out. --(coughs)-- I could eat a sandwich and drink a cup of coffee sitting there looking at him. Now, it didn't bother me. Isn't that funny?

BEAN: Yeah.

LAGREW: Now, don't get me wrong. I don't tell you --

BEAN: But you still hate the needles and the --

LAGREW: I can't stand them. And the little children, --

BEAN: Well, you have to be --

LAGREW: -- you know, or something. There's just -- there is one side of me that's awful. Man, I can cry at the least turn of some little things.

BEAN: In those days? Or now, you mean?


LAGREW: Yeah, now I can. Yeah --

BEAN: In those days you weren't -- you couldn't cry about anything, could you?

LAGREW: Well, I don't know. One time I did. I saw a guy that reminded me of my grandfather. That's my grandfather over there. And he was a little short man like [Crutcher?], just the size of [Crutcher?]. And on that place that I told you, up there at Brest where we got -- those guys come out, those Germans come in down there and we fired back on them. We had them surrounded. We got them back on them. And I walked up -- was driving up in my jeep up there, and I looked out there when we started the firing and going on, and there was guys out in the fields plowing and working and they -- we had this battle and they -- some of them never did even stop work.

BEAN: You mean you were shooting over them or around them?

LAGREW: Around them. [Laughter] Oh, it was queer.

BEAN: Frenchmen getting their crop in.

LAGREW: Yeah. But anyway, this old man was lying in the road. And he had a 02:48:00little child -- these two little children, I'll say three or four years old, and he was -- his hand is -- one was a little girl, one was a little boy. And he was leading them up the road or down the road, whichever way he was going. And this shell burst had got them. And there they were, laying there in the road, and he still had them by the hand. And I looked at that and the tears -- I really broke down. I couldn't help it.

BEAN: Did you see your own troops getting killed and you had to call the ambulance and they'd haul them off and so on?

LAGREW: Oh, yes.

BEAN: This was out in the tanks. If a tank driver got killed, how would you replace him? The tank driver's going down, you've got a crew of four in there, medium tank?

LAGREW: Well, yeah. In a tank -- there's actually five in a medium.

BEAN: And then so they -- one of them would get shot or hurt.

LAGREW: Well, it wasn't like that.


LAGREW: If they got shot, they was all getting shot. --(coughs)-- Or they'd 02:49:00all go back together, as far as I am concerned. Of course, it'd be possible for -- I didn't pay much attention to that. Of course, it -- to me, my attention become how many tanks do I have on duty or something up in the line? Of course, I got the reports each day of how many was -- been wounded, how many killed and you know, and so forth. But I couldn't keep count of just whether they come from A Company, B Company, or where they were [inaudible] --

BEAN: You knew that C Company had lost three tanks and --

LAGREW: -- unless it was [inaudible] my own, you know. Of course, I knew my own orderly, and -- I mean, he was with me. My own driver was with me, you know, or my own things. But --

BEAN: Okay. All this time -- we skipped a big period from going from Brest around to Germany, and this was the march that I thought was famous where Patton 02:50:00went so fast that he ran out of gasoline.

LAGREW: Well, he did. That's true.

BEAN: Is that the period -- were you shooting anybody during that period?

LAGREW: What did you say?

BEAN: Was anybody stopping you during that period?


BEAN: It was just a matter of speed?

LAGREW: Just a matter of getting gas. --(coughs)--

BEAN: And when you all ran out of gas, what did you do? Did you ever run out of gas?


BEAN: Your unit never did?

LAGREW: No. The reason we didn't, we weren't part of that advance guard that was doing that.


LAGREW: That's what I tried to tell you.

BEAN: Yeah.

LAGREW: You see, we were sent from Brest down to contain the troops in Lorient. And we weren't part of that racing across France. You follow me?

BEAN: Oh, all right.

LAGREW: But part of our troops were, that I know. Our 6th Armored was. I went up to see them and they were sent from Brest [inaudible]. [Sneezes] That -- well, let's take -- you see, in a division, we have a reconnaissance battalion, and that's -- generally leads the division out.


BEAN: Point man, yeah.

LAGREW: And they don't have any medium tanks. They have armored cars and light tanks and jeeps, see. And the squadrons are, you know. Our 86th was crossing the Saar River, which we had to take --(coughs)-- four months later, when they called a halt to it. And they come up -- the Germans had evacuated Metz and were leaving Metz and running out of there. You follow me?

BEAN: Yeah.

LAGREW: When they halted us, and we had to pull back to Nancy and along the Saar there to catch up and wait until we got gasoline and stuff. And then the Germans come back into Metz and -- you know, and re-fortified it and all. And we had -- that's another six weeks it took us to take all that, or two months.



LAGREW: Yeah, that's the rat race, when we run out of gas. Now, I wasn't part of that. I wasn't part of that part of it because they stopped me in Lorient, to hold the Germans in Lorient through that little period, I don't know, a couple -- ten days, two weeks, something like that.

[End of interview.]