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Barton takes offense with 395th history years ago

Barton takes offense

with 395th history report

     Each time I reread "395th Regiment History is shared with readers," by "light colonel" (LTC) Thomas Mayfield, I get a bit more ticked off.

     For openers, in his second paragraph, he says, "this program (ASTP) never fulfilled its promise and the large number of 'ASTPers' were dumped into the divisions to make good on personnel shortages in front line units."

     So let's figure. As a rule, the Army plans wondrously well but they found out that turning out competent engineers was much, much slower than churning out those "90-day wonders" from OCS at Fort Benning. (Incidentally, a person had to score at least 10 points higher on his AGCT to get into ASTP than into OCS. A source of great comfort to us in our hour of need.) The military assigned me to Texas A&M in October 1943. Six months later, they closed ASTP for all but a select few and reassigned me to G/393. Simply put, for us to have fulfilled the promise of ASTP would have taken longer than the Army expected. But it could have been done.

     Second, Mayfield said we were "dumped" into the divisions. Dumped . . . like we were misfits or screw-ups or something? Tell you what, LTC Mayfield, when the Bulge erupted, we "ASTPers" came in damn handy.

     Two paragraphs further on, he mentions the Roer River dams as kind of an afterthought. Those of 395th that went along as part of Combat Team 395 don't dismiss it quite as easily. On Dec. 13, two battalions of 395, the second battalion of 393, and much of the 2nd Infantry Division hiked off into the woods to seize the dams over the Roer River. The idea being to keep German water releases from flooding future downriver crossings. I packed my BAR along on that jaunt. (Always maintained that the generals sent part of the 395 along to keep the 2nd Division out of big trouble and a battalion of 393 along just in case 395 got in over their heads in the process.) That was on Dec. 13 and we headed kind of south. Slow going. Hellish terrain. Stiff opposition at the pillboxes.

     Three days later, Dec. 16 all hell broke loose as we all know but the main German push came through to the north of our Roer River expedition and subsequently we fought our way back through Krinkelt-Rocherath and up onto Elsenborn.

     And there we sat, dug-in, for a bit more than a month. Credit enough . . . for the North Shoulder being held . . . to go around. From the Third Battalion of 395 down at Hofen to, and including, the battle-seasoned 2nd Division dug-in one company over from my foxhole, on the right flank of the 99th.

John Barton

PO box 328

Saco MT 59261