Despite its verdict, West’s case is not simple.  This new chapter of the Biscari Massacre reveals innominate dimensions of the case and unknown applications of military justice during World War II. Scene from Netflix TV show "The Liberator" depicting 45th Infantry Division soldier battling German ... [+] troops in the Vosges mountains in January 1945. Immediately after Dachau's liberation, US Army authorities and other Allied representatives began treating the sick prisoners, implementing health and sanitary measures to curb the typhus epidemic, and bringing in tons of food to feed the starving prisoners.  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).  James J. Weingartner, Massacre at Biscari: Patton and an American War Crime, HISTORIAN, Nov. 1989, at 38.  Compton was then reassigned and, on 8 November 1943—roughly four months after the incidents around Biscari, was killed in action.  Vermillion, supra note 40. Cutting across the country, the unit was sent to southern France in August 1944.  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. History, 2010) and the Drexel University School of Law (J.D. In 1940, the "Thunderbird" division was reactivated and deployed in late June 1943 to North Africa. The local townspeople were brought in to give the dead prisoners a proper burial. JOHN M. KHOURY, LOVE COMPANY (2003).  In this case, the new scholarship is based on the author’s personal research. The engagements’ location would alternatively come to be known as “Old Baldy Hill” and “Suicide Hill” by others.  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. . In some of these cars there were more than enough to cover the floors.  ATKINSON, supra note 24. Id. Military historian Earl Zi… It quickly advanced through western France, reaching the German border by the end of the year.  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.. Quickly he ordered Private First Class Phullip Meyers, right, Williamsport, PA, to make a hive.  KHOURY, supra note 32, app.  The 399th Infantry’s regimental history offers what is, at best, an oversimplification: “West had fought in Sicily with the 45th. After his parole, the Army did not assign West to a rear echelon unit. His brother sought information from the War Department on details of his brother’s confinement. Patton belatedly agreed. In their report delivered to Congress on May 15, 1945, the senators and representatives stated that. *This article appeared in Army Lawyer, Issue 5, 2020.In February 1945, United Press International (UPI) war correspondent Robert Vermillion visited the positions of the 100th Infantry Division in Alsace—near Bitché, France. 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. Who we are Want to volunteer Schedule of events Venturing Crew. History main page Organization Campaigns and battles Medal of Honor Citations. 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 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. When US troops arrived in Dachau on April 29, they found 2,310 additional corpses on the train.  Id.  Id. Find topics of interest and explore encyclopedia content related to those topics, Find articles, photos, maps, films, and more listed alphabetically, Recommended resources and topics if you have limited time to teach about the Holocaust, Explore the ID Cards to learn more about personal experiences during the Holocaust. From there, he was assigned to the 18th Infantry Regiment of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division. Id.  Robert Vermillion, They Started it, Says Oklahoma Sniper With 130 Nazis to Credit, LINCOLN J. . . This new chapter of the Biscari Massacre reveals innominate dimensions of the case and unknown applications of military justice during World War II. After advancing up the Italian peninsula, the 45th landed at Anzio in February 1944, where it withstood repeated German assaults against its positions. His crime?  A rear echelon unit would have allowed West to avoid publicity. In the town of Dachau, German opponents of the regime, including a few escaped concentration camp prisoners, took over the town hall, but the local SS put down the small rebellion and executed those among the insurgents whom they caught. These cars were an assortment of odd boxcars, some of which were locked, and some were coal-car type. Washington, DC 20024-2126 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. The brigade is a subordinate unit of the Oklahoma Army National Guard, headquartered in Norman, OK. 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.  A report of West’s exploits also appeared in the London edition of The Stars and Stripes.. Reenacting Historical.  Id.  Id.  Id. 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. Patton. On April 20, it captured the city of Nuremberg and on April 30, Munich. And, in the process, West was elevated from murderer to cause célèbre. 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. “It don’t sound right to me, but he was a braggart,” Sees said. Only three hours earlier, Sergeant Horace T. West, also serving in same division, committed a similar war crime when he murdered 37 Italian and German POWs by shooting them.  Id.  Id.  CENTURY SENTINEL, supra note 6. 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW We saw many dead bodies on the ground. [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. 2013), and an intellectual property attorney practicing in Philadelphia, PA. A number of Army documents and memoirs written by infantrymen in the European Theater of Operations shed light on what combat troops carried in their pockets, War Criminal Paroled: Horace T. West and the Final Chapter of the Biscari Massacre, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/39339365/the-record-democrat/, "A soldier in action drinks a lot of coffee" : The Popularity of the Breakfast K Ration, Etched in Purple: Separating Fact from Fiction. Id. 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. What Vermillion did not know, and could not have known, was that the seemingly pious West had only recently returned to combat after being imprisoned for over a year.  Id. The 45th Infantry Division, along with the 7th Infantry Division, fought off repeated Chinese attacks all along the front line throughout 1952, and Chinese forces … Incidentally, the 45th Infantry Division committed additional war crimes during the Second World War. We would like to thank The Crown and Goodman Family and the Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation for supporting the ongoing 1, 1945. History of the 45th Infantry Division: Home page Table of contents. Here are some instances of US war crimes. On 24 January 1945, Private West—along with twenty-nine other replacement Soldiers—was assigned to the depleted L Company, 399th Infantry Regiment, 100th Infantry Division.  CENTURY SENTINEL, supra note 6 at 4. , The UPI story is also the origin of West’s unsubstantiated claims that he killed over one hundred German soldiers. , 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.  United Press Int’l, supra note 1. When the 45th Division first formed its members wore a red square patch on their left shoulder, inside the patch was a yellow swastika, worne for good Luck. The delegations of journalists and congressmen who had been viewing the Buchenwald concentration camp were quickly diverted to Dachau to see the camp. The scene near the entrance to the confinement area numbed my senses. View the list of all donors. Following his release, West was far from inconspicuous. During World War II, the 45th Division fought in 511 days of combat awarding eight Medals of Honor.  Id. 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.  On 14 July 1943, several days after the initial landings, West’s company was engaged near the airport at Biscari.  Id. 1, 1945), https://www.newspapers.com/clip/39339365/the-record-democrat/. 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. 1945) (NARA RG 407, Entry 427); KHOURY, supra note 32, app. The 325th Medical Battalion’s March unit journal (the 325th was the 100th Infantry Division’s organic medical unit) states that it was a major problem in the division, and the report of the following month notes that while the number of hepatitis cases had decreased considerably, it still warranted mention. Since all the many bodies were in various stages of decomposition, the stench of death was overpowering.  CENTURY SENTINEL, supra note 6, at 4. Also, it is possible that West referred to the replacement only as “The Kid” because neither he, nor anyone else in the company, knew the Soldier’s name. 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.  Id.  Id. . 1946). For example, John Khoury in his book, Love Company, approximates the death of the replacement as late February–not January. 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.  Id.  The same day, West’s company commander, Captain John T. Compton, had also been involved in the killing of thirty-six POWs near Biscari. Robert Vermillion, Missus Never Misses, Mabel Takes Care of the Sergeant, STARS & STRIPES (London), Mar. 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. After marching the POWs a mile, West halted the group and selected eight or nine to report to the regimental intelligence officer. West’s story after his parole is not one of redemption. This new research adds a new dimension to the narrative of the Biscari Massacre and how its legacy must be interpreted. According to Tyson, West was already with L Company and actively engaged in sniping when the replacement arrived in late January 1945, and in Tyson’s opinion, the replacement’s death was likely attributable to it. In each of them the floor of the car was covered with dead, emaciated bodies. 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. The soldiers reacted in shock and disbelief to the evidence of Nazi atrocities. As I turned to look over the prison yard with unbelieving eyes, I saw a large number of dead inmates lying where they had fallen in the last few hours or days before our arrival.  Patton initially dismissed the accounts and told Bradley that the incidents would “make a stink in the press." The first evidence of the horror to come was a string of about forty railway cars on a siding near the camp entrance. , West’s reputation grew apace with his body count.  Id. 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. Operation Teardrop: Eight of the surviving, captured crewmen from the sunk German submarine U …  Borch, supra note 7, at 5. 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 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. work to create content and resources for the Holocaust Encyclopedia. 2013, at 1. commander serving in the 180th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, ordered his men to execute thirty-six prisoners of war (POWs). Casualty figures for the 45th Infantry Division, European theater of operations: The 45th Infantry Division gained its nickname, "Thunderbird" division, from the gold thunderbird. . It replaced another previously used Native American symbol, a swastika, that was withdrawn when it became closely associated with the Nazi Party. 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. Main telephone: 202.488.0400 But that was close fighting. It was a part of the Korean War, and it had been triggered largely by ‘Operation Counter’, which was an attempt by the American forces to attack and occupy 12 Chinese outposts, including Hil…  Id. , On 15 February 1945, West’s company moved to new positions near an observation post overlooking Reyersviller, France—dubbed “The Panama Canal.” Assigned to screen the work of Soldiers expanding the Canal, West allegedly spotted six Germans and directed 60mm mortar fire that killed them all.  When West arrived at the front and learned The Kid had been picked off by a sniper, he lamented it “went plumb against my liver.” West said that “the guys in the outfit were burned up…I went to the [commanding officer] and told him I could get that sniper if he’d give me a chance. Those same men, the Army’s 157th Infantry Regiment, part of the 45th Infantry Division, had borne the war on their backs from Sicily to the heart … The brigade commands six battalions. During World War II, the 45th Division fought in 511 days of combat awarding eight Medals of Honor. . 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. Approximately 32,000 prisoners were liberated; 300 SS camp guards were quickly neutralized." As we visited Dachau we saw on a railroad sidetrack paralleling the main highway, and close to the gates of the prison camp, a train of cars which had been used to bring additional civilian prisoners to this camp. at 2. of the Staff Judge Advoc., Headquarters, 45th Infantry Div., Proceedings of Board of Med. In the first, Sergeant Horace West was in charge of a detail escorting prisoners of war back to a collection point. The 180th Infantry Regiment (redesignated to Cavalry in 2008) saw action during World War I as the 142nd Infantry Regiment of the 36th Infantry Division (Texas and Oklahoma) and World War II and the Korean War as part of the 45th Infantry Division and again in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of the 45th Infantry Brigade. Officers 5 (26 Aug. The 45th Infantry Division was formed in 1924 from National Guard units in the southwestern United States. However, Bradley ignored Patton and pressed for charges to be brought against both Compton and West.  Id. , Previous scholarship traced West’s service to his parole and subsequent honorable discharge, but it skipped an entire chapter of his story.  There is no indication that he received any official reprimand, or otherwise ran afoul of the military justice system, after his parole in November 1944. The 45th Infantry was one of the first units into Dachau, where they helped liberate tens of thousands of prisoners.  In his story, West described the prayer he shared with Mabel and his two children before he shipped out: he asked God to “take care of all the boys on the battlefields.” On the subject of killing, West meekly posited, “[a] man shouldn’t be too proud of killing another man.” But, he added, “the Germans started it.”. In Sicily, on July,14th,1943, in what came to be known as the Biscari massacre, troops from this division murdered 73, mostly Italian, POWs on two occasions. Div., 2–3 Sept. 1943), at 90; Off. New scholarship  shows that a convicted war criminal sentenced to life, paroled, and returned to combat, continued to kill; and, in the process, he became a minor celebrity in his new unit. 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 .  Id. , West was tried first. General Dwight D. Eisenhowerissued a communiqué regarding the capture of Dachau concentration camp: "Our forces liberated and mopped up the infamous concentration camp at Dachau. The legend is fact,” repeating West’s likely embellishment and giving it additional authority.  100TH DIVISION ASSOCIATION NEWSLETTER, supra note 54. 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.  Vermillion, supra note 40. Nonetheless, West quickly made a name for himself in his new unit as a sniper.  Id.  He then claimed to have eliminated an additional five Germans with his sniper rifle. A graduate of Drexel University (B.S.  The bodies of the executed POWs were quickly discovered and brought to the attention of II Corps Commander, Lieutenant General Omar Bradley.  Vermillion, supra note 6, at 2. The division was formed and federally recognized as a National Guard unit on 3 August 1923 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  The 399th Infantry Regiment history contains a photograph of West with the caption, “Legend says West killed 150 Germans. 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. In the Dachau camp itself, an international committee composed of representatives of the various nationalities imprisoned there was established to organize resistance. 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.  Interview with Roy Sees (May 8, 2015). The 45th Infantry Division was reassigned to VI Corps on New Year's day. The camp was a concentration camp where parts of the Holocaust were carried out.  Id. The resulting story, “They Started it, Says Oklahoma Sniper with 130 Nazis to Credit,” began appearing in newspapers across the country. These prisoners had apparently crawled out of the cars and had died on the ground. 1943). Fourteen soldiers were killed in fighting while … In addition to burying the dead, the Allied forces attempted to help and comfort the survivors with food, clothing and medical assistance. 2 Jan- The Division fought defensively along the German border, withdrawing to the Moder River. It is a continuation of the same narrative of violence that began in Biscari. He then borrowed a Thompson sub-machine gun from his company’s first sergeant, and told him he was going to kill the “sons of bitches.” He instructed his comrades to “turn around if you don’t want to see it.” West murdered the disarmed POWs at close range, then reloaded and began firing single shots into the hearts of the POWs still moving.  100TH DIVISION ASSOCIATION NEWSLETTER, HOLIDAYISSUE 1985, at 9. D. Certificate of Discharge, Sergeant Horace T. West (U.S. Army, Jan. STAR, Feb. 27, 1945, at 1.  Captain Compton, whose trial took place after West, was acquitted of the charges against him. His unit fought more … On April 28, the day before liberation, a train bearing about 40 or so railway cars arrived at the camp.  West was the one who nicknamed the young Soldier “The Kid.” CENTURY SENTINEL, supra note 6.  Id.  He was found guilty of the murder of thirty-seven POWs and sentenced to life. The retired officer, who lived in Washington, was 93 years old.  FRANKLIN GURLEY, 399TH IN ACTION: WITH THE 100TH INFANTRY DIVISION (1945). 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.  West was quoted as saying “I reckon I must have killed around 120 [Germans] in Sicily. The 816 surviving prisoners were taken to barracks within the camp. In March 1945, the "Thunderbird" division crossed the Rhine River and headed southward. 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.  Sniper Picks off 17 Krauts to Square Things for Kid, CENTURY SENTINEL, Feb. 24, 1945, at 1 [hereinafter CENTURY SENTINEL].  Id. On the afternoon of July 14, 1943, near the Biscari airport in Sicily, Captain John T. Compton, a company commander serving in the U.S. Army’s 45th Infantry Division, ordered his men to execute 36 prisoners of war (POWs).  Id. It appears that West’s desire to kill never waned, but was reformed and made acceptable in the mores of conventional warfare. To the Soldiers in L Company who never had the chance to meet or even see him, he “was like a ghost. On April 29, 1945, soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Felix L. Sparks, approaching the sprawling Dachau complex from the southwest, found 39 railway boxcars containing some 2,000 skeletal corpses parked on rail tracks just outside the complex itself. The war ended nine days after the 45th Infantry reached a large camp in Dachau, Germany.  Despite the 448 days he spent in confinement, he had enough “points” under the Army’s discharge system to be returned to the United States in October 1945, and was honorably discharged in January of the following year.  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. Brain tissue was splattered on the ground from one victim found nearby … The battles took place between June 26th, 1952 and March 26th, 1953 on and around Hill 266 in Western Korea near the North-South border. Eventually the matter was brought to the attention of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and he recommended that West be given another chance. Source: George Ducan's, Massacres and Atrocities of World War II. Their bodies were left behind in various locations throughout Germany. at 3–5. TTY: 202.488.0406, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC, Holocaust Survivors and Victims Resource Center. Each car was loaded with emaciated human corpses . Abraham was a member of the 45th Infantry Division when it liberated Dachau on April 29, 1945. Joel Ward led the unit through one of the 45th IBCT's most dangerous and difficult deployments. 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 It may be argued that one of its perpetrators, Captain Compton, received his due when he was killed in action shortly after his trial. 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. Second Lieutenant David T. Duncan—an officer in A Company—testifiedthat, on the day of the massacre, “Sergeant West was in Company ‘A’, but had been more or less in an individual capacity you might say. The killing in Sicily didn’t take skill as much as fire power and, most of the time, I was using a tommy gun.” This was a particularly shocking statement from a Soldier previously convicted by general court-martial of murdering thirty-seven unarmed POWs with a submachine gun.. West, however, sat in an Army prison in North Africa. The bees accepted the hive. 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. In two incidents on July 14, 1943, American soldiers of the 45th Infantry Division summarily executed German and Italian prisoners of war. He murdered thirty-seven Italian and German prisoners of war (POWs) in an incident now known as The Biscari Massacre.  Id. , 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.  In an article titled “Sniper Picks Off 17 Krauts to Square Things for ‘Kid,” his battalion commander—Lieutenant Colonel Bernard V. Lentz—praised West as “a better shot than any Nazi sniper we’ve ever encountered….I’d say he personally has pushed their line back at least 150 yards.” It was shortly after that article’s publication that Vermillion, the UPI reporter, interviewed West.  Viral hepatitis was a problem in the European Theater of Operations during the winter of 1945. 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