Skip to main content

tv   The Civil War World War II Soldier - Major Dick Winters  CSPAN  November 23, 2021 1:11am-2:02am EST

1:11 am
1:12 am
sure that witness the battle of 1863. an early age eric began collecting historical relics from throughout history. the broad range of artifacts has grown into of the finest owned collections in the united states. among the treasures in a museum is the large assortment of easy company artifacts in the world. his wide array of historical adventures on the now on to
1:13 am
jared. author of a number of books including the normandy invasion. prior to his current position he served as a park ranger's of the gettysburg national med military park and harpers ferry historical park. karen is a bird on c-span, pbs and numerous independent documentaries on the turner classic movies as a guest post. he also received awards for teaching skills and efforts on behalf of student veterans. this test sentimental to me because garrett began his history career here at the heritage center over the civil war museum. young 14 or 15-year-old came
1:14 am
in here with coloring book and later selling greeting cards he got his start here pretty pretty cool to see how he has blossomed into a true historian, thank you. do any further introduction i'm going to turn my program over too gerrit thank you. and thank you for having us. it's wonderful to be here with everybody on the anniversary of the battle of gettysburg. over telling eric story here and a little bit. some food for thought as we get started, i would like all of you to think about what is friendship? who is your best friend and why are they your best friend? interestingly enough these are some of the key themes that
1:15 am
emerged as were trying to explore the larger than life historical figure in the winners. i think an analogy here in gettysburg on july 2 is we should think of dick winters as a joshua chamberlain of world war ii. they can look at personalities, backgrounds, education, upbringing. these were two young men who were born of pacifist families. they had hard work and diligent attitude instilled in them as young men. they believed they could move through life promote themselves through life of higher education. neither of them had formal military education. and yet despite all of that
1:16 am
they come to be some of the best-known officers and the iconic clashes of their generation. why is this so? popular culture has something to do with that. has an interesting domino effect. both of these men have the best selling books written in which they are the main characters. both of those books thereafter turned into wildly successful hollywood productions in which they are the key protagonist. that leads us to a process of historical memory of which these two officers served notably and bravely had it not been for the other characteristics they have otherwise may have been a footnote to history. so historical memory by a really interesting and
1:17 am
sometimes unusual component in regards to all of it. so really the story is about dick winters, the man behind the legend and what has a letter sent artifacts have to tell us these three quarters of a century later. to tell us a little bit about that were going to learn about eric's collection. >> in 2016 i was fortunate enough to obtain the major collection after a lot of effort. we thought he was appropriate for the museum because we interpret not just civil war but other conflicts and especially world war ii. besides the artifacts that were in that collection, his uniforms, metals, weapons, things like that were his files. he kept a file from every man from easy company.
1:18 am
he worked very closely with steven ambrose during the writings of the book. one of the other things in there were his wartime letters. there've been several books written about dick winters. the letters had been used a little bit but not in their entirety. when i read these letters i was so blown away by their content that i thought we really need to do something with them. they were so special. we think of dick winters, people have seen this series and read the books as you have a certain image of him as a real officer and businesslike. but these letters were showing his human side. i just knew we had to do something with them. i thought the book would be a good way to do it and present them in their entirety and in order. we also included photos of some of the other artifacts as well.
1:19 am
one of the things we had to do was try to get a good forward and there only two men left from easy company i asked brad freeman who is one of dick's winters men to write the forward. i have become friends with him, i toured with him twice. i asked him if he would be willing to do that. he said he would really like to do that. i was very happy about that. having brad write that forward really brought a lot out. brad loves winters. he speaks so highly of him all the time. when i would show the photos and letters he would light up. it was a great experience have him write that forward. one of the big challenges with
1:20 am
this scholarly adventure was placing these letters into context. if you have seen the book or will see the book his letters are bridged with these miniature essays that eric and i composed. how does the parachute regiment go from england to france, to belgium, to germany? and for all intensive purposes this was a man and an outfit who traveled there half a different dozen countries over the course of a year end a half. they sought some of the most pivotal clashes of their time as a result. but our story begins and rather unlikely place. that is in asheville, north carolina. it is in the western reaches of that state were dick
1:21 am
winters is going to form one of the most lasting and profound of friendships that he will form during the second world war. this is what dick look like when he graduated from franklin and marshall college and the people year of 1941. after he graduated he censured two options. he could join military service of his own volition. do so on its own accord or he could wait for the compulsory draft. this is a man who is not anticipating a making a military career for himself. he that i'm going to do my one year of military service but i will do it and get out of the way the eye will continue on with my life. he ended up at camp cross which is right across the north carolina/south carolina border. he spent a lot of time in the city.
1:22 am
it was while he was stationed in this city that he meets a young lady who we see on the right. in her name she is not referenced at all and hbo series band of brothers. she gets occasional reference and some of the books on dick winters in his fabled unit. i think it's important we underscore the fact even though she's not a well-known person, she was one of the most important people in his life. the written relationship, the penpal relationship they would develop throughout the second world war would allow dick winters to get there some of his darkest and toughest episodes of his military career. as the relationship continues to blossom they would go
1:23 am
horseback riding on the biltmore estate right outside of asheville. his after with his horseback riding tours they discovered they were with at the pearl harbor attack was ongoing. throughout the next three years, she would write him approximately 120 letters. >> so one of the really compelling artifacts in the museum's major winters photo id card you can see on the screen right there. it shows how he rose through the ranks he would cross out his rank as he would rise up. he starts as lieutenant and
1:24 am
ends up as major. one of dick's really good friends was a fellow g.i. from lancaster you can see that illustration of him on the right of the screen. it was ultimately trimmed to slowly convict a trend convinced winters to join the airborne and head to fort bragg as we can see if the words on the screen. nick was not too enthused about jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. i have been telling him he is not for that suicidal outfit. i wrote that on generate 22nd not too long after pearl harbor. so he did change his mind as we can see here. when he did change his mind dick end up in the ranks of
1:25 am
the parachute infantry regiment that was located we can see some of the camp here in the background. dick wrote that february it is our motto our battle cry for it is taken from a mountain at toccoa georgia. the 13 miles high lease to run up. the record was 42 minutes. i made it in 441 day. i'm strictly no runner there, just did it by plugging along. want to hit europe in my travel shall have a letter from each country and a souvenir. that includes berlin and tokyo. if i must do it myself. here we see a man of sublime confidence as he is involving himself and parachute training. so the copy of the often
1:26 am
stayed behind and read his books. part of his success as a combat leader. a lot of the guys would go out and have a beer and go out on dates. dick would stay behind and study his manuals. he felt he had a job to do. >> that's also my favorite artifact that is featured in the book. we can look at all of the cool stuff. this really gives us an insider perspective of who this guy is, riding in the margins, making notes. you can see what he's learning from the journal he is later going to apply it to his tactical situation once he finds himself in europe. i find it really compelling stuff this dollar 50 book he bought at the post exchange during his training.
1:27 am
the 506 regiment will eventually find itself in england. the regiment will go there, they will go across the atlantic in september of 1943. they will spend the better part of the year training for the invasion of france. they will end up here in this quaint little community where the paratroopers would endear them self on the local populace. also sometimes get into a little bit of trouble is paratroopers sometimes do. it was during this time that winters was with an english family common english household. the people who live there at the time of francis and louis may barnes we can see them here. that couple had lost a son
1:28 am
previously in the war. i kind of became a replacement son continued to write to them even in the years after the war. what we see here on this spread are some of the pieces of souvenir from his time in england. newspaper clippings, a book that the barnes of family presented to him. and also within the collection of the museum is the jump uniform that dick or for the march 1944 practice jump that was witnessed by dwight eisenhower and winston churchill. and so these are short signs and indicators that big things are afoot. and perhaps the invasion is only a few weeks away. it was during this time when
1:29 am
he endeared himself further in regard to written correspondence. she herself joined the military service. she joined the ways which was the female component of service at this time. he was really proud of her when she did this in march of 1944. hey wrote to her there's a lot of smart modern things to say to find out who joined the wave. all i can say is what i feel. you have got what it takes, congratulations ricky. these were the very endearing words. these two members of the military would share throughout the conflict. his anticipation of the invasion really reaches fever pitch. once we get into early june of
1:30 am
1944. one of the most poetic things that he wrote to her was just four days before the invasion took place. he said every night at tabs i will meet you at the north star. the north star is a soldiers guiding light when he's alone and feeling footy in the pit of his >>. that is when he feels good when he can look up and no there is somebody else looking up there also. so some very sentimental words that he shares with her a mere four days before the invasion. and of course that big day h our operation overlord arrives the early morning hours of tuesday june 6. as we see depicted in this painting the arrival for these paratroopers was a rather
1:31 am
rocky one. they're about 13000 allied airborne men and glider troops landing behind the lines, setting the stage, paving the path for the amphibious troops that would land only five or six hours after words. it was their responsibility to destroy communications, disrupt german defenses, late the groundwork for the bigger operation to come. and dick winters would find himself right in the midst of all of this. he said in his subsequent d-day diary a portion of which he almost wrote in real time, it is a one red lights. ten minutes out all is quiet. there some antiaircraft fire red tracers coming up to meet us. it seems to come slow. looks like they might hit one of our planes, look out there after us now.
1:32 am
he wrote this about two weeks after the invasion. he still fresh in his mind and he is riding in a real-time fashion as we can see here. when he and his troops landed on the ground search in their angst and frustration and sense of danger. [inaudible] the outskirts which is one of the made convergent points for allied troops in the early morning hours. he said those church bells wrote tolling a request for us to come to church but an alarm to the countryside we had arrived. what followed is history but it sure gave me a funny feeling. machine-gun fire and rifle fire did not scare me.
1:33 am
but those bills being all alone with only a knife gave me a feeling of being hunted down by a pack of wolves. and in my mind that is said erie in account as one can provide with these paratroopers were providing an landing behind enemy lines. >> so winters drew a map that was included with what he calls his d day diary diary. it was six pages typed. he sat down when he was wounded and got a hole of a typewriter. he actually wrote six pages. he did it not because he had any kind of ambition of writing a book or anything else but he recognized the importance of that day and wanted to reflect upon it. it is one of the best
1:34 am
first-hand accounts of that battle and also d-day i think, it is so fresh it's literally two weeks after it happened. the map there he drew from memory. there were four german guns there that him and if you guys took on d-day. part of that was he was awarded the distinguished service cross for that action, which is our nation's second highest award. he was put in for a medal of honor but he went down to the dsc for political reasons. they only gave one medal of honor for each unit on d-day. so here we see his field glasses and his 1911, the binoculars carried by winters throughout the war. you can see how we added some personalization to the leather case. he had his name on top which
1:35 am
was written on a piece of the medical tape. he also painted 506 emblem which was the spade from a deck of cards in the second battalion kick at the bottom at the 6:00 o'clock position. they usually did that on their helmets. it's a very unusual for someone who's seen a lot of world war ii artifacts i've never seen on a binoculars case, that is a very unique piece. the 1911 you see there is not the one he carried on d-day. it is the one we have in our collection. the story we got in the story in his files as he had the early 1911 he carried all through training but right before d-day was able to obtain a newer 1911 a1. that is the one he carried on d-day. i've you've seen the hbo series or read the book you will know he lost his equipment due to the blast from jumping too fast, the
1:36 am
plane was going too fast. it ripped his equipment off. so when he landed he had no weapons. he just had a knife. he later obtained a weapon from a killed in action soldier. this 1911 was sent over when his footlocker came over. there are photos of him with a 1911 in the metals ceremony. he carried it throughout the rest of the war. and then finally you see the photo at the bottom right. it's probably one of the most famous photos. steven ambrose chose to use that very image on the book. that is what you see there are paratroopers from easy company in the town of saint marie dumont. was taken after d-day when they met up with the fourth infantry division. the guy on the far left first row left is a guy name forrest
1:37 am
goose. he had the camera with him. it was rod's camera and rod did not want to carry it they were told not to bring any cameras or diaries into normandy because if they get captured with a camera it could be possible the germans could get intelligence from that. but forrest goose, good for us to disobey those orders and took one with him. he took some of the most amazing photos as easy company on d-day in the days just after d-day. that is become one of the most iconic photos. it's hard to see but forrest goose has -- also has 1911 on a shoulder rig at his chest. the gettysburg museum of history recently obtained that weapon from forcing goosed son. that's a true d-day carried weapon with photos of it there.
1:38 am
i will wait on that. >> we have so much what to say and so little time to say it. certainly the fighting in normandy did not de-escalate after june 6 or seventh. the major objectives of the 101t airborne was to set it sights on was this community of karen tan. it was absently vital community in order to connect the american beachhead at omaha beach in utah beach. this is what dick winters and his men would be sent to next. it's during this very fierce firefight going from street to street and house to house that winters is actually wounded. a bullet ricocheted peers as the tongue of his boot and he hobbled for the next several days. the amazing thing about it is the 101st air force veteran
1:39 am
airborne had a very active public relations department. they wanted every newspaper back home to know the troopers within that regiment, within that division more doing their part to win the war. so lo and behold in the lancaster new era about a week and a half after the battle took place there was a great little write up about dick winters in his hometown newspaper. it said he went into the front lines when ss troops counter attacked on the morning of june 13. he was commended by his co his commanding officer the distance that stated that his lieutenant winters personal bravery and battle knowledge that held a crucial position when the going was really tough. and so even before band of brothers or anything like that , at least these hometown folks knew dick winters was a
1:40 am
very able officer indeed. in the midst of all of this dick was also prone to capturing some souvenirs as well. flex leather gloves you see there are actually german paratrooper gloves. they would wear gloves to be able to pull onto their risers and control their parachutes. they were price war trophy for american soldiers they were really high quality and really nice. it is one of duke winters souvenirs. probably one of the first ones he picked up. we can see in the photo next to it is a picture of dick winters later in life wearing these gloves. he prized those through most of his life. we have them at the museum now too. the jacket we believe is still the hands of his family. we would like to get that at some .2. >> who wouldn't. [laughter] here's the really special
1:41 am
story. because it was today, july 2 that dick winters was awarded the distinguished service cross. this is a very rare photo that's featured within our book. we cannot only see dick here in the front, but we also see a number of other well-known personalities. over here on the left we see general maxwell taylor who is the commander of the 101st airborne division. also appear general omar bradley who presented these troopers their mettle. it's very appropriate we are all here together on july 2 the anniversary of this event. >> operation market garden was initiated on october 17, 1944 the allied leaders sought the heart of germany via a single
1:42 am
advanced or nazi occupied holland for it all this is done in hopes of bringing the war to an end by christmas. here the objectives of winters and her fellow troops parachute regiment was least number of the bridges in this vicinity to facilitate the allied advance access was dependent upon timing and many operational hurdles led to the campaign backfiring in more ways than one, wishing not to be recognized by the enemy as an officer figure, offers became a target for snipers, winters had eight zippered map cases sewn into his new m43 jump jacket. there's also some other pocket sewn on the inside. paratroopers were known for customizing their equipment or the airborne warfare was new.
1:43 am
they made adjustments as they needed it. i have never seen this particular modification on any other uniform in our collection or anyone else's. officers would carry a map case. so if a would see that, they would pick them out and they would become a target of that sniper. also something else winters was known for doing was turning his collar up because he worked college and trim color brass try to hide the insignia. that way he could blend in. another thing, we saw his binoculars case but he did not carry a binoculars case into combat. he would wear them around his neck and keep them in his jacket so he could pull them out as necessary. but not have that case. a map case, a binoculars case, color brass and something on your helmet with a captains bar will make you a target for this termination snipers. >> it shortly after this the 10t airborne is still in holland
1:44 am
that winters endures what is in my view one is the most searing experiences. it's one that long resignation in my mind. it's conveyed in the crossroads episode of the band of brothers. his platoon was meandering through the boggy dutch countryside and he realized he had to take the initiative against the german force that was much larger than his own. in the midst of all of this he comes across a young german sentry as the attack is unfurling. this is what he later had to say about encountering this young man. he said and jumping up on the dike there is that young soldier right across the road for me. he was directly on the other side of that road for me,
1:45 am
about two steps away it was a narrow dirt road coming up from the river. i came up directly across from him, eyeball to eyeball. he was just as shocked as could be. fight leveled off at him. the thing i can never forget is that he smiled. and as he smiled, i shot him. it is incredibly close, personal and this was a memory that long haunted dick winters for many years that followed. shortly after that, once we get into december of 1944 dick had some much warranted reprieve in paris. here is rare photo we can see them here on the left, the big
1:46 am
tough guy he is he's the only one without it overcoat on which is quite telling. just a few days later on christmas day there is a highly anticipated football game that was to be had within the 101st airborne division. it's going to be known as the champagne bowl. that game never took place because a few days prior the 200,000 german troops broke through the forest thus initiating the battle of the bulge. here too, dick winters and he wondered first airborne will be at the forefront of this pivotal clash at this crossroads community. this is one of those iconic stands of the ages. it has been depicted and many books, films, so on and so forth. their defensive backs stone pregnancies overwhelming numbers lasted more than a
1:47 am
week through bitter winter conditions. but the fighting went on well into january of 1945 until the americans were able to regain a lot of the lost territory. this is a very grueling time. of this time, by this moment and dick's letters you really get the sense he has become more cynical. he has a darker view of the world. there is an added edge to a lot of his correspondence. he wrote here in january 1945 just as the battle was coming to an end, since i am in the army i daydream of fights, fighting juries, outmaneuvering, out thinking out shooting up fighting them. but they are tense, cruel, hard, bitter. there are 80% of my dreams. but they pay off you would be surprised. sometimes when you dream over and over a problem you get the solution. it also shows sometimes half
1:48 am
full individual always looking for the silver lining to a dark situation. quick so but early may the hundred first airborne among many others allied units reach the highly symbolic german community near the alps known as purchase garden. this photo was taken near the town and you see dick winters here are some of the men from second battalion and also shown and that photo one of the other famous officers pretrade in the series. and lewis nixon one of winters really close friends. there are a few others there. but during this time they were war trophies were talking about a little bit before. one of the big prized war trophies was of course
1:49 am
hitler's silver. when they were looking for war trophies they were looking for something that was invaluable. they all grew up in the depression they were taking pistols, useful items like the gloves we saw earlier. but when they got here to the gardens they were exposed to hitler's silver set. some of the lucky members of the 506 special the guys who got into the eagles nest on the mountain got some of hitler's silver and they mailed it home. we have a big collection of that at our museum. it is fascinating, people love that. it's all engraved with hitler's initials ah and the national eagle. how can i sit back and see men i'm sorry, how can it sit back and see others take men out and get them killed because i
1:50 am
don't know, they don't have it. maybe i will get hurt or killed for my troubles. but so what if i can make it possible for many others to make it home. their mothers want them to the same as me. so what else can i do and still hold my self-respect as an officer and a man? so they were getting ready at that point to possibly engage japan and go over to the pacific. so dick winters wanted to get over there sooner rather than later he thought as a trained combat officer he could do good over there. so will everyone and his family said he did enough he wanted to go and made that move to try to go to one of the units going over right away. that shows a lot about his character. >> indeed. there's also some comical elements we can find, we will share some of these is begin to finish up today. dick had a lot of opinions
1:51 am
about the other service branches. he was not hesitant to let her know about these but here's what he said about the marine corps the only branch of service had any respect for. he said the marine is okay the rest i can't understand. on service and supply people provide food and supply and whatnot. they wear the uniform and draw the pay that's it they don't know the score they cannot walk or act like a soldier. on the air forces i spent the evening and london the most lonesome night of had in years all air corps men not a man or soldier in the bunch. i could not talk to any than their boys, kids no doubt. then of course is he's writing a young lady in the navy that navy gets the worst tongue lashing's of all. he said now that you are in the you're just a another member of the ferry boat command. that something i guess you missed in the navy the soldiering part.
1:52 am
maybe i am a victim of propaganda but what is the difference between the sailor and. [inaudible] the lesson here, why as a soldier i've seen more of the sea than you ever have or will. you are just a land dry. [laughter] little harsh at times but a little bit of banter we see here nonetheless. we are running out of time. will quickly wrap things up here. in all reality we think about the meaning of this friendship i think this excerpt says it best. he says i will never forget your one letter saying, when you are in a tight spot remember you've got to come back so by gosh what happened in the biggest toughest fight i was in? i'm so >> after having to walk three nights in four days of no rest and i'm running through an actual hail of bullets, two or three times an hour i'm not kidding it was hail. this one time i'm halfway
1:53 am
through the machine gun opens up on me, down i go. and he thanks he has me, i am playing dead and what do i think? yes she said i got to come through. and here i am today, a lucky fellow. i think that sums it up as best anybody can. they didn't stay in touch now and again. they had a reunion for her birthday and may of 1996. here we see these old penpals reunited 51 years after the fact. that is what a friendship is, folks. just to leave you on some words of inspiration as we finish up we have all gone through tough times over the past year. these words i have found some resonance in. i said i have one message to all, hang tough, do your best every day.
1:54 am
you do not have to know all of the answers, no way, don't expect that of yourself. just do your best too. satisfy yourself so at the end of the day you can look in the mirror after you have brushed your teeth and say honestly to yourself, today i did my best. if you do that, everything is going to be okay. and with those words i can't think of a better way to wrap it up other than to say hang tough. thanks for tuning in today. [applause] [applause] and i believe we have a few minutes for questions. >> what was the hardest artifact to get? speak to the whole collection was hard to get. i had to convince the person in possession of it to let us have it and come up with the
1:55 am
funds to acquire it. i tried for years to get just anything of dick winters. there were a few items and other collections. then all the sudden we got almost everything. [inaudible] >> did not happen like that. also one thing we forgot to mention is a lot of people don't know this but dick winters actually lived in our area for a while. he was from the lancaster area and retired to hershey. he lives outside of new oxford from 1955 to 1960. we kind of claim him as an adams county guy two. >> what does dick winters think about his popularity after the movie came out of the book came out. how did dick see his popularity that first he tried
1:56 am
to be very accommodating. he responded to all of the letters, sent out autographs and this and that. eventually it got to him. he had to have his name, address, phone number and listed in the phone book. he had to get a po box rather than getting his mail. he could not keep up with the level of celebrity that went along with it. he was on that as long as he could to try to accommodate as many people as possible. he was a real champion of the story he kept meticulous records if it wasn't for him keeping records steven amber's temper would've had the material context to write this book. and so, we owe him a huge debt of gratitude not only for his
1:57 am
service but so proficiently cataloguing and preserving story of his men. >> people know me, know i could not come out for something like this without bringing for something for show and tell. goes through world war ii just not d-day. >> would he remain closed with any of his men what about nixon? >> dick did remain very close with lots of his men. especially nixon. because he went to work for him. and yes, he maintained that
1:58 am
contact with them. he participated in reunions. it was because of that close relationship that all the stuff wasn't documented they were able to bring these guys back for the interviews and everything. so yes he did stay in contact. especially with nixon and floyd tolbert was a front favorite of his. several others, harry welsh. >> i will add real quick, he kept a foul on every one of his soldiers. whenever they wrote a letter he made a photocopy, he put it in the file had cabot in his office this guy was meticulous. so he kept in touch with them very thoroughly. >> we have the major dick winters files an easy company files along with his photo album which is amazing too. you know, i have to get a little bit of credit to dick winters wife.
1:59 am
she was a librarian. she helped keep everything so organized. we owe her as well. >> dick winters show and share any form of ptsd at that time? they didn't call it that back then it would be impossible and short yes. he did cope with ptsd. back in lancaster the end of the war. his walking down the street one day and a little kid came running up the sidewalk he ran a stick along a picket fence that in his mind that sound like machine gun. as he later wrote he dove to take cover because that
2:00 am
staccato sound was kind of like a machine gun to him. as he said in the book and the series, there is a reason he bought a farm here in south-central pennsylvania. it was to find the quiet and solitude, in my mind to help them cope with a lot of things he saw, think if your question thank you all for coming out today.
2:01 am
your program right c-span.org/history. >> today we're going to talk about the tomb of the unknown soldier. this is the

3 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on