, The UPI story is also the origin of West’s unsubstantiated claims that he killed over one hundred German soldiers. He received a promotion directly from private to sergeant within three weeks of joining L Company, and was featured on the front page of the 100th Infantry Division newspaper, the Century Sentinel. 1945) (NARA RG 407, Entry 427); KHOURY, supra note 32, app. History main page Organization Campaigns and battles Medal of Honor Citations. It appears that West’s desire to kill never waned, but was reformed and made acceptable in the mores of conventional warfare. Only three hours earlier, Sergeant (SGT) Horace T. West, also serving in the 180th, committed a similar war crime when he murdered thirty-seven Italian and German POWs by shooting them with a Thompson Here are some instances of US war crimes.  This new chapter of the Biscari Massacre reveals innominate dimensions of the case and unknown applications of military justice during World War II. work to create content and resources for the Holocaust Encyclopedia. In 1940, the "Thunderbird" division was reactivated and deployed in late June 1943 to North Africa. at 3–5. On April 28, the day before liberation, a train bearing about 40 or so railway cars arrived at the camp.  CENTURY SENTINEL, supra note 6. When the three units arrived at Dachau, they discovered more than 30,000 prisoners in the overcrowded camp. Nevertheless, the Army officials in charge of this camp advised us that there were 50 of these cars in this 1 train and that at least 100 of these civilians had been jammed into each car . West, however, sat in an Army prison in North Africa. Since all the many bodies were in various stages of decomposition, the stench of death was overpowering.  Id. Washington, DC 20024-2126 The 816 surviving prisoners were taken to barracks within the camp. 2 Jan- The Division fought defensively along the German border, withdrawing to the Moder River. The delegations of journalists and congressmen who had been viewing the Buchenwald concentration camp were quickly diverted to Dachau to see the camp.  While West was assigned to the company headquarters as a cook, for most of the previous year he had been detached from the company on special duty—including as the acting Provost Sergeant in charge of the division stockade at Fort Devens. Source: George Ducan's, Massacres and Atrocities of World War II.  West was the one who nicknamed the young Soldier “The Kid.” CENTURY SENTINEL, supra note 6.  The 399th Infantry Regiment history contains a photograph of West with the caption, “Legend says West killed 150 Germans. A fascinating element of West’s story is how many of the sources refer to his earlier service with the 45th Infantry Division and his combat experiences in Sicily, but fail to adequately explain why West left the 45th Infantry Division and why he was assigned to the 100th Infantry Division almost eighteen months later. After marching the POWs a mile, West halted the group and selected eight or nine to report to the regimental intelligence officer. In addition to burying the dead, the Allied forces attempted to help and comfort the survivors with food, clothing and medical assistance.  HORACE T. WEST IN THE U.S., SOCIAL SECURITY DEATH INDEX, 1935-2014, ANCESTRY.COM, https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=try&db=ssdi&h=66536236 (search results available after signing in).  Id. The local townspeople were brought in to give the dead prisoners a proper burial. As a result, Major General Troy H. Middleton, the 45th Infantry Division commander, convened a general court-martial to try SGT West for "willfully, deliberately, feloniously, unlawfully" killing "thirty-seven prisoners of war, none of whose names are known, each of them a human being, by shooting them and each of them with a Thompson Sub-Machine gun.""  Vermillion, supra note 6, at 2. To the Soldiers in L Company who never had the chance to meet or even see him, he “was like a ghost. Born in Germany, he and his family came to the United States in 1940; his father was in Buchenwald in 1938, but was released after four weeks.  He was found guilty of the murder of thirty-seven POWs and sentenced to life. Reenacting Historical.  Captain Compton, whose trial took place after West, was acquitted of the charges against him.  Id. We saw many dead bodies on the ground.  Id.  On 14 July 1943, several days after the initial landings, West’s company was engaged near the airport at Biscari. 4PREVENTIVE MEDICINE IN WORLD WAR II: COMMUNICABLE DISEASES TRANSMITTED CHIEFLY THROUGH RESPIRATORY AND ALIMENTARY TRACTS 35 (John Boyd Coates & Ebbe Curtis Hoff, eds., 1958); U.S. DEP’T OF ARMY, MONTHLY SANITARY REPORT FOR THE 325TH MEDICAL BATTALION 4 (24 Jan. 1945) (NARA RG 407, Entry 427); U.S. DEP’T OF ARMY, MONTHLY SANITARY REPORT FOR THE 325TH MEDICAL BATTALION 4 (1 Apr. The retired officer, who lived in Washington, was 93 years old. Main telephone: 202.488.0400 Id. Joel Ward led the unit through one of the 45th IBCT's most dangerous and difficult deployments. For example, John Khoury in his book, Love Company, approximates the death of the replacement as late February–not January. of the Staff Judge Advoc., Headquarters, 45th Infantry Div., Proceedings of Board of Med. . , James J. Weingartner, the historian who first examined the incidents, argued that the Biscari Massacre “made the U.S. Army and the War Department acutely uncomfortable. The 45th Infantry Division was reassigned to VI Corps on New Year's day.  Sniper Picks off 17 Krauts to Square Things for Kid, CENTURY SENTINEL, Feb. 24, 1945, at 1 [hereinafter CENTURY SENTINEL].  Id.  Id. History of the 45th Infantry Division: Home page Table of contents. This is an oral history interview with Holocaust concentration camp liberator Fred Abraham.  Robert Vermillion, They Started it, Says Oklahoma Sniper With 130 Nazis to Credit, LINCOLN J. These units are the 1st Squadron, 180th Cavalry Regiment, 700th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion, 160th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry Regiment, and 45th Brigade Special Troops Battalion. Eagles, a decorated infantry commander who led the 45th Infantry Division in the battle for the Anzio beachhead in Italy, died Friday on 22-2-1988 at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md. But that was close fighting. Both feared the impact on U.S. public opinion and the possibility of reprisals should the details of the incidents become common knowledge.” With Compton dead, the chance that his involvement would be revealed was removed. The 45th Infantry Division As Allied troops moved across Europe in a series of offensives against Nazi Germany, they found tens of thousands of concentration camp prisoners in deplorable conditions.e Malnutrition and disease were rampant, and corpses lay unburied.  CENTURY SENTINEL, supra note 6 at 4. The 45th Infantry Division Association is creating a red brick "Path of Remembrance", surrounding the paved walkway, and the flagpole, in the center of the parade ground, at the front of the Museum. 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW He was on special duty for a number of months in the [United States] before coming across, and consequently had been replaced in his squad with another Sergeant...for that reason, West was attached to Company Headquarters and was not controlling a squad.” United States v. West, No. Sergeant West was a cook in A Company, 180th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division when it landed near Gela, Sicily, as part of Operation Husky. The engagements’ location would alternatively come to be known as “Old Baldy Hill” and “Suicide Hill” by others. In 1930s, the symbol became slosely associated with German fascist it had to be abandoned as the insigna of the Division. It refers to two incidents in which U.S. soldiers were involved in killing 71 unarmed Italian and 2 German prisoners of war (POWs) at the Regia Aeronautica's 504 air base in Santo Pietro, a small village near Caltagirone, southern Sicily, Italy on 14 July 1943.  Viral hepatitis was a problem in the European Theater of Operations during the winter of 1945. However, Bradley ignored Patton and pressed for charges to be brought against both Compton and West.  Vermillion, supra note 40. . It is important to note that West’s version of events differs from the memories of other L Company Soldiers. , West’s reputation grew apace with his body count. Their bodies were left behind in various locations throughout Germany. Id. He wanted to fight in Germany, so African authorities gave him a Springfield sniper rifle and shipped him off to the [European Theater of Operations].”, The UPI story describes how West had “been shooting Germans, running, sitting, and standing since his old division, the 45th, landed in Sicily [on] July 10, 1943,” but missed combat in Italy because “he was assigned to the 100th division as a rifle company headquarters handyman.” But, the 100th Infantry Division had not even arrived in the European Theater of Operations until 20 October 1944; and, West’s assignment to the division did not occur until late January 1945.  Borch, supra note 7, at 5. Incidentally, the 45th Infantry Division committed additional war crimes during the Second World War. Scene from Netflix TV show "The Liberator" depicting 45th Infantry Division soldier battling German ... [+] troops in the Vosges mountains in January 1945. He survived the war, escaped serious punishment, and wrought havoc upon the enemy after his early release.  GURLEY, supra note 43. This Native American symbol became the division's insignia in 1939. , In February 1944, the War Department recommended that West be granted clemency, but that no publicity be given to his case because “to do so would give aid and comfort to the enemy, and would arouse a segment of our own citizens who are so distant from combat that they would not understand the savagery that is war.” On 23 November 1944, after serving fourteen months of his life sentence, West was paroled and restored to active duty at the rank of Private. Please Like and Follow Us ... World War I to the present. It quickly advanced through western France, reaching the German border by the end of the year. His intent was to interview a sniper—from Wagoner, Oklahoma, in L Company, 399th Infantry Regiment—who was credited with killing more than 130 German troops.  100TH DIVISION ASSOCIATION NEWSLETTER, supra note 54.  On another day, West was credited with the dispatch of fourteen German soldiers and a possible wounding or killing of six more while sniping and acting as a forward observer for his company’s mortars.  The 399th Infantry’s regimental history offers what is, at best, an oversimplification: “West had fought in Sicily with the 45th. According to West, his sniping exploits were motivated by a desire to avenge the death of “The Kid”—a young Soldier he had met in a replacement depot on the way to the front and who was assigned to L Company the day before West arrived. , While it is unclear whether West—a pre-war member of the 45th Infantry Division—maintained any connection to that unit, he was a paying member of the 100th Infantry Division veterans’ association as late as 1985; he wrote in its newsletter that he would not be able to make the division’s annual reunion, but that he “would like to be there and meet all the good men [he] served with.” Horace Theodore West died in Mayer, Arizona on 24 September 1994.. These cars were an assortment of odd boxcars, some of which were locked, and some were coal-car type.  Patton told Bradley to advise the officer responsible for the shooting to say either that the dead men were snipers, or they were shot during an escape attempt; regardless, nothing could be done about it. Sergeant West was a cook in A Company, 180th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division when it landed near Gela, Sicily, as part of Operation Husky. Operation Teardrop: Eight of the surviving, captured crewmen from the sunk German submarine U … These prisoners had apparently crawled out of the cars and had died on the ground. The soldiers reacted in shock and disbelief to the evidence of Nazi atrocities.  Vermillion, supra note 40. This new research adds a new dimension to the narrative of the Biscari Massacre and how its legacy must be interpreted.  CENTURY SENTINEL, supra note 6, at 1, 4. The 45th Infantry Division was recognized as a liberating unit by the US Army's Center of Military History and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1985.  As the story goes, West took The Kid under his wing, shared what he learned from his earlier combat experiences, and “warned him not to move aroun’ too much” on the frontlines, “particularly when you figure there might be a sniper around” Unfortunately, The Kid became the victim of a German sniper almost immediately.  Official records, postwar memoirs, and histories of the company give no indication that anyone there knew about his involvement with the Biscari Massacre, or his imprisonment; this is hardly surprising given the secrecy surrounding both events. Eventually the matter was brought to the attention of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and he recommended that West be given another chance. at 2.  “He was always bragging about killing Germans, whether he killed any or not was kind of a joke around the company because there was no way of proving whether he shot anybody, because there was nobody there but him….He was by himself, alone.”, On 1 April 1945, West was evacuated to a rear hospital due to an illness—possibly hepatitis—which prevented his return to his company before the end of the war in Europe.  Compton was then reassigned and, on 8 November 1943—roughly four months after the incidents around Biscari, was killed in action.  L COMPANY, 399TH INFANTRY REGIMENT, MORNING REPORT (Jan. 24, 1945) (on file with author). The scene near the entrance to the confinement area numbed my senses. The retired officer, who lived in Washington, was 93 years old. RICK ATKINSON, THE DAY OF BATTLE: THE WAR IN SICILY AND ITALY, 1943–1944 at 120 (2007); Weingartner, supra note 19, at 39; Borch, supra note 7, at 5. Just days before, about 2,000 inmates evacuated on a death march from the Flossenbürg concentration camp had arrived at Dachau and the SS guards had forced almost 7,000 Dachau inmates to move southward. The bees accepted the hive. Our officials advised us that many of the others who had survived the trip had died since in the camp, and many more, although still alive, were starved beyond redemption. An enigma.  Id. The Biscari Massacre .  Instead, he progressed through the Army Ground Forces replacement system, joined an infantry division fighting in France, and unexpectedly found himself appearing in his unit’s newspaper, the Army’s newspaper—titled The Stars and Stripes—and newspapers across America..  The “new research” listed here was conducted by the author. Lieutenant Colonel Felix Sparks, who commanded the 45th Infantry Division troops, later recalled his first impressions of Dachau: The initial shock was experienced even before entering the camp. US soldiers killed German prisoners of war and surrendering SS soldiers at the Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945 during World War II.This is known as the Dachau Massacre. The battalion’s executive officer, Major Roger Denman, ordered West and several other American Soldiers to escort forty-eight German and Italian POWs to the rear for questioning. D. Certificate of Discharge, Sergeant Horace T. West (U.S. Army, Jan. He grew to his full adult height of 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) tall while serving in the Army during World War II.  Id. U.S. troops of the 45th Infantry Division killed about 75 unarmed prisoners, mostly Italian. He also would have been safe from capture and the opportunity to divulge the events of the Biscari Massacre. According to Tyson, when the replacement’s body was searched he was found not to be wearing any dog tags and ultimately was identified through a process of elimination by regimental staff. This new chapter of the Biscari Massacre reveals innominate dimensions of the case and unknown applications of military justice during World War II.  A rear echelon unit would have allowed West to avoid publicity. It was assigned the 89th Infantry Brigade of the Colorado and Arizona National Guards, and the 90th Infa… TTY: 202.488.0406, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC, Holocaust Survivors and Victims Resource Center.  Fred L. Borch, War Crimes in Sicily: Sergeant West, Captain Compton and the Murder of Prisoners of War in 1943, ARMY LAW., Mar. In size, these cars were of the small European type, which, when used for the movement of troops, would never accommodate more than 40 men. .  Id. Approximately 32,000 prisoners were liberated; 300 SS camp guards were quickly neutralized."  Id. As the 45th Infantry Division completed its drive on Munich, the unit was ordered to liberate the Dachau concentration camp. [He] said ‘Fine, go git him!’” West said he went “lookin’ for the bugger,” and his vengeance was swift: In the following days, West claimed to have killed two more German soldiers as they attempted to sneak up a trail opposite his company’s positions. Growing up in A Foxhole (New Edition): A Foot Soldier Looks Back.Memoirs of a World War II Vet of the 45th Infantry Division by Stan Richardson and George Garin | Nov 21, 2014 4.7 out of 5 stars 6  In this case, the new scholarship is based on the author’s personal research. A row of small cement structures near the prison entrance contained a coal-fired crematorium, a gas chamber, and rooms piled high with naked and emaciated human corpses. The division was formed and federally recognized as a National Guard unit on 3 August 1923 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  James J. Weingartner, Massacre at Biscari: Patton and an American War Crime, HISTORIAN, Nov. 1989, at 38. Patton. That Soldier, Sergeant Horace Theodore West, was a thirty-five year-old Oklahoma native with thinning gray hair and skin “tanned the color of smoked ham.” During the interview, West told Vermillion (the UPI reporter) that his beloved Springfield rifle, equipped with a telescopic sight, was named after his wife Mabel. West’s story after his parole is not one of redemption. History, 2010) and the Drexel University School of Law (J.D. Frank Sheeran was born in Darby, Pennsylvania, a small working-class borough on the outskirts of Philadelphia. The first mention of West’s earlier service appears in the Century Sentinel, which merely states that West had “been through the mill” with A Company, 180th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division. The resulting story, “They Started it, Says Oklahoma Sniper with 130 Nazis to Credit,” began appearing in newspapers across the country. , John KHOURY in his book, Love Company ( 2003 ) Press Int ’ L, Fighter! 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