Ed Carr was an 18-year-old rifle toter in L-Company, 303rd Infantry Regiment, 97th Division of Gen. George S. Patton’s 3rd Army in Europe during World War II. He now lives in ‘Village on the Isle’ condominiums in Venice.
From the final days of the “Battle of the Bulge” to the closing days of the war in Europe that concluded in Czechoslovakia, he and the men fought the enemy from town-to-town. More than 70 years later Carr’s recollections of these battles are fuzzy. He is 92.
“We arrived by ship at La Havre, France as “The Bulge” was about over. The Germans were starting to fall back,” he recalled. “They put us on army trucks and we headed for Belgium and the fighting.
“We joined up with Patton at ’The Bulge’ and started pushing the Germans back across Europe from one town to the next.
“I remember that first night before our first day in battle being scared. I thought maybe I’d die tomorrow. I got through the first day and survived. Then I thought about making it through a second day and surviving. When I made it through I decided to stop thinking about dying and start thinking about surviving. It worked!
“Our guys hit them with our Sherman tanks. We were support troops walking in the snow along side our tanks toward the German artillery. If they hit one of our tanks with their 88s it was bad. Several of our tankers died.
“In one German town there was this hill we had to capture,” Carr said. “ We finally pushed the enemy off the hill. There on the ground in perfect formation was our first squad. All of them were dead. They died trying to capture the hill.
“On another occasion our general told us the next town we were going to capture had a brewery. He didn’t want us breaking into it, so our commander went to the brewery and bought beer for our unit from the Germans.
“A German tank shot up one of our tank-killer units. They were fast, lightly clad, well armed vehicles. Two or three of our men were killed in the fight. Then the Germans ran out of bullets and surrendered. We wanted to kill them, but we didn’t.
“At one point I was an artillery spotter with a buddy. The two of us climbed up in the bell tower of a German church spotting. We did until the Germans realized where we were hiding and started zeroing in on the church’s tower. We left in a hurry.
“We lived in German houses we confiscated during the whole time our unit moved across Europe. We never dug a foxhole. While in these houses we scavenged for food. I remember we were in this big farmhouse and in the attack there were pieces of fat hanging from the rafters. In the yard they were growing potatoes. So we dug up the potatoes and used the fat in the attic to make French-fries.
“Our colonel, who could speak German, went into town with us. We were the first Americans to arrive. In town there was a German POW camp commanded by a German general that held French. He didn’t want to fight anymore, but he would only surrender to another general.
“He invited our colonel for dinner. The colonel said he would dine with him if the general would feed us, too. We had a good meal, steak and German chocolate cake. After we ate we got a truck and took all the Germans’ rifles back to our lines.
“We each were given the opportunity to take one of the rifles as a souvenir. I shipped my rifle home. My younger brother showed it to kids around the neighborhood and somebody stole it.”
“What do you remember about ‘V-E Day’ (Victory in Europe)?” Carr was asked.
“I got a pass to go to Paris. When I got to the bus someone had stolen my pass. I didn’t get to go,” he recalled.
“I went back to ‘Camp Lucky Strike’ and sailed back to the United Sates on a German luxury liner. When we arrived in New York there was no big celebration,” he said.
“We got off the boat, took a 30-day leave. Then we were sent to Camp Pendleton in Calif. for invasion craft training and then on to the Pacific. We were the first to reach Tokyo after the surrender.
“During the six months I was in Japan I worked as a mail clerk with little to do. Most of the time I was a tourist sightseeing. I roamed the country and found the Japanese were very gentle people who treated us with respect.
“When I got off the troopship from Tokyo I closed the door on World War II. I didn’t want to remember anything.”
Carr took the G.I. Bill and became an electrician. After decades in this field he acquired his father-in-law’s stamp and coin shop in Wakefield, Mass. He did that until his late wife, Doreen, suggested it was time for him to retire and move to Florida. In 1976 the couple moved south to Venice. They have three daughters: Diane, Cheryl, and Janice.
Name: Edward J Carr
D.O.B: 8 Oct. 1925
Hometown: Boston, Mass.
Currently: Venice, Fla.
Entered Service: 10 March 1944
Discharged: May 1946
Rank: Private first class
Unit: L-Company, 303rd Infantry Regiment, 97th Division
Commendations: WWII Victory medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Theater Campaign ribbon, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon, American Theater Campaign ribbon, Good Conduct medal
Battles/Campaigns: Czechoslovakia, Germany
This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Fla. on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018 and is republished with permission.
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