Harold Glover of La Casa mobile home park in North Port, Fla. was a sergeant in the “Fighting 36th Infantry Division” that first saw battle in North Africa in World War II, went on to Italy and before the war was over made the invasion of Southern France and marched into Germany. He received three Purple Hearts while fighting at Salerno, Anzio, Monte Casino and finally crossed the Rhine River into Germany at war’s end.
North Africa is where Glover and the 36th Division started. They cleaned up after the disastrous Battle of the Kasserine Pass where unseasoned American troops were slaughtered by Gen. Irwin Rommel’s North Afrika Korps.
“We landed at Salerno, Italy at 1 a.m. on Sept. 9, 1943. I’ll never forget it. It was the first invasion of Europe by Allied forces,” the 86-year-old former soldier said. “The Germans had the high ground and they were shooting down our throats. We made the landing and it was pretty bad.
“I jumped into the water with my full pack and a 97-pound base for a .30-caliber water cooled machine gun on my back . Moments later a German 88 shell hit our landing craft. All but one guy got off the French landing craft and made it to the beach.
“We fought our way across the beach and up into the mountains little-by-little. The Germans were shooting right down on us all the time. A few days later we reached Altavilla, a little Italian town just like all the rest of them,” Glover recalled.” That’s where I got wounded the first time. I was hit in the back and shoulder by shrapnel.
“I was bleeding quite badly. There were 12 of us who were seriously wounded who were attended to by Italian ladies. They wrapped me in a cold, wet sheet they put in the well. The idea was the cold sheet would help stop the bleeding. They covered us with straw so the Germans wouldn’t know we were there. We spent the next five or six days hiding out under the straw,” he said.
“Finally our regimental medics got through some how and doctored us up. They got us on litters and dragged us on down over the mountains and put us on a hospital ship. While we were aboard ship German fighter planes strafed the ship,” Glover said.
“I ended up in a hospital in North Africa. I don’t recall where or how long I was there,” he said. “Eventually I got back to my outfit: Company B, 2nd Battalion, 42nd Regiment of the 36th Infantry Division. It was an Oklahoma National Guard unit that served in WW I and WW II.
“When I returned to a foxhole we were still in those godforsaken mountains of Northern Italy around Monte Casino. It was about the time Mount Vesuvius was erupting. We watched a bunch of B-25, light bombers, bomb Vesuvius.
“It was up there in the mountains I got frozen feet. Both feet were black. Army doctors were almost ready to amputate both of them. Then penicillin came along and they tried that on us and my feet started healing up,” Glover said.
“I found myself in another foxhole with my unit again. By this time our outfit was about to move again I made the Anzio invasion in Italy. It was terrible. It was at Anzio the Germans shelled a hospital and killed a bunch of patients and nurses.
“We spent a long time on the beach before we got very far. The Germans had this big railroad gun we call ‘Anzio Annie.’ They always said if you could hear the shell from ‘Anzio Annie’ going over you were safe. They would pull the giant gun out of a tunnel to fire it and then run it back in the tunnel to protect it from Allied bombers,” he said.
“Part of our 36 Division got surrounded by the Germans at Anzio. The 442nd Regiment, a Japanese unit attached to us, rescued them. I think the 100th Battalion of the 442nd Regiment lost more men trying to rescue our battalion than they had in our surrounded unit.
“Southern France and Alcise-Lorraine, down by the Riviera, was our next invasion. It was more of the same, more Germans to fight,” Glover explained. “We pushed the Germans back into Germany.
“At the end of the war the 36th Division had just crossed the Rhine River and was moving further into Germany. We made three attempts to cross the Rhine in rubber rafts,” he said. “Our division commander, Gen. Fred Walker, refused to send us across and was relieved of duty.
“The Germans had beat the living hell out of us trying to cross the Rhine in rubber rafts. Once you shoot up a rubber raft they don’t float very well,” Glover said.
“Our new commander got additional troops and we finally crossed the Rhine.
“By this time thousands of German soldiers were surrendering, trying to get away from the Russians. We’d send those Germans on down the road and told them to find another American unit to surrender to.
“Even after the surrender there were some ‘Hitler Boys’ who wouldn’t give up. So parts of the 36th Division was sent on mechanized patrol up into the Alps around Hitler’s ‘Eagle’s Nest’ to find them. They were tough, but we captured or killed ’em.
“At the end of the war they came up with a deal to send guys home who had at least 85 points. By then I had something like 132 points. I was one of the first to be sent home,” he said. “I ended up at Camp Lucky Strike at Le Harve , France and took a boat to South Hampton, England and from there boarded the Queen Mary and arrived in New York Harbor five days later.
After being discharged from the Army, Grover went to work for a trucking company in New York State where he remained for 50 years. He and his wife, Corinne, were married for 61 years until her death in 2006. He has two sons: Robert and Donald who live up north. He moved to La Casa in North Port in 2008.
Glover hands out a business card that reads: “36th Infantry Division.” The card shows the Combat Infantry’s Badge–a Kentucky musket on a horizontal field of blue surrounded by a laurel wreath. Below it says: “If you haven’t been there you wouldn’t understand.”
Name: Harold Ross Glover
D.O.B: 2 Dec. 1924
Hometown: Canasenaga, NY
Current: North Port, Fla.
Entered Service: 1 March 1943
Discharged: 4 Oct. 1945
Unit: Company D, 1st Battalion, 142nd Regiment, 36th Infantry Division
Commendations: 3 Purple Hearts, European Theatre with 3 Arrowheads, 7 Battle Stars, World War II Victory Medal
Battles/Campaigns: North Africa, Italy, France, Germany
This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Florida on Monday, Feb. 28, 2011 and is republished with permission.
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