Mrs. Cordie's Soldier Son
A World War II Saga
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: Texas A&M University Press
Series Editor's Foreword
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Since its inception in 1997, the Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life has provided an array of textual images—snapshots, as it were—that capture and chronicle life in the East Texas region. To date we have published volumes on the cotton and cattle industries, outlaws and vigilantes, and other subjects that illuminate the diversity of life in the area. At the heart of these individual volumes and the series as ...
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The myths engulfing what it means to be a combat soldier or a prisoner of war both reflect and influence our popular culture. The result is a collective memory of how men at war are supposed to act. Consider, for example, the immortal words of Alfred, Lord Tennyson: “Theirs not to reason why, / Theirs but to do and die.” Although his “Charge of the Light Brigade” provides an inspirational message for a ...
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I have written and rewritten this preface several times, and no matter how often I rework it, I doubt that I will ever be satisfied. This document started out as a “telling” of the World War II experiences of my sons’ maternal grandfather. However, as I proceeded, it became impossible to tell the whole story because I doubt anyone knows the whole story. It has its beginnings in the tiny town of Chisholm, on ...
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Weighing approximately 160 pounds, D.C. Caughran Jr. was five feet, ten inches tall. With his somewhat wavy brown hair, blue-gray eyes, and quick smile, he easily made friends. This ability was due in large part to his role as the youngest sibling and only son, as well Caughran Sr. and Cordelia Johnston Caughran. He was raised in the neighboring, and much smaller, Chisholm, a community about ...
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The first notice to the family regarding D.C. and his entry into the U.S. Army was a standard-form postcard: July 23, 1942, Cordelia Coughran [sic] at General Delivery, Chisholm, Texas, receives notice from the Dallas,Texas, Induction Station (War Department, the Adjutant General’s Office) that D.C. (Army Serial No. 38,119,554) is accepted for active military service...
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At Camp Wolters, D.C. was replaced by a WAC. His eyesight could not be corrected with or without glasses; however, he qualified for a combat unit and remained in the U.S. Army. Several times D.C. attempted to obtain government-issued eyeglasses (in fact two pairs), but the U.S. Army would not issue glasses unless they resulted in improved eyesight. As a result, he wore his civilian glasses. Because D.C. had good oﬃce skills, he received additional training ...
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As the invasion of continental Europe appraoched and the soldiers were consolidated into tent camps closer to the southern English coast, the “soft life” that D.C. and others had enjoyed in the last several weeks was gone. They now had to do their own laundry, and they used their mess kits daily for U.S. Army-produced meals. The Red Cross gave each soldier a little bag to hang around his neck so his ...
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The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is no larger than many of the counties in the United States. It is largely bordered on the east by Germany, on the south by France, and on the west and north by Belgium. When the war in Europe began, Luxembourg, with its four-hundred-man army, declared its neutrality. Unfortunately, Hitler had other plans and “absorbed” it into the Third Reich on May 10, 1940. ...
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On November 9, 1944, Clervaux got its first snow.1 It was a snow that got heavier with time. The staﬀ soldiers were glad they were not in the field and knew how fortunate they were. They did not realize that northern Europe was about to experience one of its worst winters in decades. Shortly after this, D.C. got a pass for a two-day trip. Their French oﬃcer took members of the unit to Paris for a “night on the town”:...
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Before December 16 both the 28th and 106th divisions sent reports to U.S. Army headquarters and intelligence groups regarding increased vehicular activity in the German sector. However, little action resulted from the receipt of this information. In fact, the 28th discounted its own intelligence by referencing a similar level of activity three weeks earlier, when an enemy unit pulled out of the area and ...
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Certainly D.C. was not wrong about how his parents would react to the situation. The news was worse than they could have imagined. They knew nothing of D.C.’s condition, and it was the not knowing that almost killed them. All they knew was that they had not heard from their son in several days. The Germans had mounted a major counter oﬀensive somewhere near him and had thus probably overrun ...
The Long Walk
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The reality of the situation did not hit D.C. until he was shoved from the post oﬃce basement out into the narrow street of Clervaux by the muzzle end of a German rifle. Fortunately, the rifle did not have a bayonet on it. The muzzle seemed to penetrate the area between his shoulder blades, but it was more the brutal nature of the treatment and the knowledge that he and the others could expect no gentleness ...
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Letters and postcards were the only connection between prisoners and their families. The latter received mailing information that stated the importance of using Form 111, which was available at Red Cross chapters and post oﬃces and had free postage. The Red Cross pointed out that for several years the British had usd these forms for letters and that the Germans seemed to process them much more quickly than the ...
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Near the end of April, 1945, Mrs. Cordie received the following telegram, which brought the good news that her son had been liberated. At last D.C. was safe. With the family, he was the eternal optimist and was soon on his way home. He hoped to celebrate his sister Mildred's birthday with her on July 4...
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Medically speaking, D.C. was not fit. His hair still felt like straw. His wrists were bony, and his stomach was indented as a result of the severe hunger. After only a few days at home on what was to be an extended leave, he grew much sicker. On Saturday, June 2, D.C. was sent to Ashburn General Hospital in McKinney, Texas, about thirty ...
Discharge and A Civilian
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In November 1945 Staff Sgt. D.C. Caughran Jr. reported to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, with the express purpose of being discharged from the U.S. Army. Fort Sam was where many Texas soldiers went to obtain their discharge—in both wars. My grandfather, who served in France in World War I, was discharged at Fort Sam Houston, and my father was discharged there upon his return from the Pacific in World ...
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The 28th division survived the Battle of the Bulge. Since its arrival in Europe in 1944, the Keystone Division had participated in five major campaigns: Normandy, northern France, Ardennes-Alsace, Rhineland, and Central Europe. After Germany surrendered, the 28th, along with several other U.S. Army divisions, prepared to enter the war in Asia. However, after Japan’s surrender in September 1945, the division was deactivated from federal service on December 13, 1945....
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Page Count: 192
Illustrations: 22 b&w photos. 2 maps.
Publication Year: 2008
Series Title: Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Commerce