Contact: Crystal Wendt
----Sources: Scrap book one: by Elsa Lange Hardrath & Dorthaleen Edwards Hardrath
Contributed by Halbert "Bud" Hardrath
Hardrath Family Photo Album
BATTLE OF NORMANDY OVER FOR SGT. HOWARD HARDRATH
Now In Illinois Hospital Recovering From Shattered Knee
The conquest of Normandy is over for T/Sgt. Howard Hardrath, of Unity and he is now in Vaughn General Hospital, Hines, Ill., with a shattered knee. The injury was incurred in France July 12.
His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Herman Hardrath of Unity, and a brother, Bud, and Mrs. Gilbert Wiedenhoeft, a sister of the wounded sergeant, plant to visit him at the hospital tomorrow.
Sgt. Howard, a member of the 97th Infantry Division which made history in France on and after D-Day, has a brother, Cpl. Harold Hardrath, in service with the Field Artillery, and was close enough to visit him after he was hospitalized at England.
In a letter written home to his parents, Sgt. Hardrath had many interesting things to impart, The following are excerpts from ???? of those letters.
On June 28 he wrote, "Here’s what you want to hear most - I’m okay and made it without a scratch.
IN FIRST COMBAT
"Yes, we’ve been in there and had our first taste of combat. There’s no way to describe it so I won’t say much just that it’s no fun as you know. The main thing is that I don’t think it has affected me too much in any way and I’m much the same. Thank Heaven, a person gets used to almost anything. The country we fought through was defended mostly by Czechs and Poles who were forced to the task by the Germans; I have seen them tied in a pillbox by the foot to keep them there. Of course we did our small amount of sleeping in foxholes in true war style. Yep, I’m now a G.I. Joe folks. Hope I’m not one too long. I’d rather be a civilian Joe.
"We have plenty of wine and champagne this evening. You see we borrowed it from some folks we decided it would be better if we took over. From the way things look to me, France don’t need water, they never drink it anyway.
"We are in a rest area now taking it easy and the boys are sure glad of it. We are all a trifle tired …. Took some snaps off a German officer which gave in interesting sidelight on Russia. He must have been on the Russian front at some time. One was of a Russian who was hanged and had a sign put on him. You’ve seen the same in the newspapers, but this is first class evidence."
On June 29, Sgt. Hardrath wrote, "We are still in the same area resting and taking it easy and catching up on sleep. The place where in is an old apple orchard."
At this point in the letter, he gives a description of the old countryside, orchards, wines and casks of wines in the cellars. He tells of small fields fenced with hedgerows, the same hedgerows where the bloody battles of France were fought and won by the Allies.
"The battle we were in, as you no doubt have guessed was the Cherbourg campaign. I’m sure it was no secret around the States but I’m wondering if the papers played up the 79th Division as part of the attacking forces. They say that the division made history and did very well and I guess it did, as for me, the old luck is as good as gold and I never even got a scratch."
"Have not had much chance to contact the French civilian so far but most of them seen awfully glad. The whole place and its people are all mixed up and torn to hell and human suffering seems as nothing. Be glad you’re on your side of the pond."
Then on July 12 Sgt. Hardrath was wounded and on July 16 he wrote still another letter to his parents. On July 18 he wrote, "Taking it easy now and doing okay too. I suppose Edythe has been out there with the first V-mail letter I wrote and I hope it beat the word from the War Department. It would say a lot of worring. I am in England in a hospital and it’s a big relief after the front. I cannot tell you what happened but believe me I will be okay eventually and the same as ever. Have found out that Harold is not too far away from here and hope he can get up some day. I wrote him a note so he knows where I am. Don’t worry as I was probably lucky in a way as you will see."
"Pretty cool up here," he wrote on July 21. "I’ll bet it’s hot as blazed around there about now.
"I’m coming along fine these days and while I can’t say what’s wrong, I can say that I feel nearly normal again.
"Had a wonderful surprise day before yesterday when who should walk in but Harold. I had just finished the V-mail letter to you and was taking a snooze when he walked up. I guess he wrote you about it and verified that I’m going to be perfectly okay. Boy I sure was glad to see him. …. Sure will have a good many things to tell you when I arrive in the States. Hope I can forget most of them soon."
Sgt. Hardrath, formerly a farmer, enlisted in the service June 10, 1942 in the infantry and received his training at Camp Pickett, Va., Daytona Beach, Fla., and Camp Phillips, Kansas.
Veteran of WWII - hometown Unity, Wis.
© Every submission is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.
Show your appreciation of this freely provided information by not copying it to any other site without our permission.
A site created and
maintained by the Clark County History Buffs