April 27, 2005

Sarge, Ralf and Chuck,

I received a call today from a William Hanks. He had just read the "Flash" and saw the Frankenforst map from SSG Binkley. Said he was a squad leader with C-Co/309th wounded also at Frankenforst on March 20, 1945. He lives alone in Decatur, Illinois and I know would love to talk with any of you. Has a memory as sharp as a fresh razor blade.

Said his Plt. Sargent was named "Even". He came into the 78th in early Dec. 1944 redeployed from the 34th Division in Italy. Stateside he was National Guard 33rd Division, part of the mobilization in 1940-41 under the "Rainbow Plan", a one year activation that ended up going for 5 years. Was training cadre at Ft Benning.

He said the map SSG Binkley had drawn of Frankenforst was pretty darned accurate. Said the Germans started hitting them there with mortar fire through the roofs and he lost 7 of his men before he and his BAR man were hit in the hay barn. When they carried him over into the dairy barn, it too had been hit hard and that there were dead GI's "all over the place" as he described it. Worst sight he had ever seen he said.

He said the night before they laid (staged) just inside the timber line there west of Frankenforst, and then moved out in a walking fire line towards the farm through the open space field. The shit didn't hit the fan till they were inside. Someone evidently in the dairy barn thought they saw a sniper or had received sniper fire, and returned fire with a .30 cal machine gun. Then all hell broke look with mortar rounds coming in through the roof tops.

He has an extraordinary recall of the details. He even recalled the listening post that had been setup (the foxhole you found Ralf) with the rusted wire spool next to it.

He also said he had been back there in 1985 and 1989 when the Plaques were dedicated at the Bridge Towers.

The old disappointing part was he did not know Andrew but the good news is we have more details about Frankenforst! (said they called it "Franken-first"). The amazing thing is the memory about it and that it was a clearing objective before they moved towards Stieldorf.

T/Sgt Hanks appears in the morning reports dated 20Mar45, alongside SSG Warren Binkley being transferred to evac hospital.