In Memory of Captain Anthony J Prahl
and all the men who served with
H Company 16th Infantry, First Infantry Divison In WWII
Staff Sergeant Herbert Squire
As written by his son Tim Squire in Oct 2010
My dad enlisted 1/7/1941, and was assigned to the First Infantry Division Headquarters and Headquarters Company for the duration of World War II. After he was promoted, he served as Motor Platoon Sergeant. They provided motorized transportation for the division commander and staff, mostly with jeeps and command cars, with drivers.
My father was thankful not to have been a front line "dogface." He was close enough to appreciate what those men went through (like the 16th). He told me that he never had to fire his weapon in anger. At least once they were under direct attack during an enemy breakthrough in North Africa, and he stayed busy overcoming chaos in those moments. His unit often was under air raid and artillery fire.
One of their men was finishing work on the top of a bunker for their lieutenant, when he was hit by the first shell in an attack. Another time, one of their men cut his foot on a tin can running to a shelter during an air raid, and was technically qualified to receive a Purple Heart. The other men hated him for taking that medal. Dad was injured by shrapnel several times, but always refused the Purple Heart. I asked him why he would not accept that honor. He sharply told me that there was no way that he would get a medal and his mother would get a telegram saying that he had been either killed or wounded! Dad absolutely refused to be called a hero, although he was awarded a Bronze Star for his service in Sicily under General Terry Allen.
On D-Day HHC Motor Platoon was on Landing Craft Tank 555 in the third wave, about eleven a.m. Earlier, they could see the first and second waves going in ahead of them. They watched a German observer drive up to a church on the bluffs overlooking the beach and go up in the bell tower (in violation of the Geneva Convention), and a single shot from a Navy ship hit that church and took out that tower and observer! They had a few wounded, but none killed, on LCT 555, when the landing craft struck a mine as they approached the shore. The Navy coxswain was blown twenty feet in the air, and came down belly first on the railing, and instantly got back up and took the wheel again! (A Navy online photo database has three or for photos of LCT 555 on Omaha Beach.)
Several of their vehicles were lost on Omaha beach. That afternoon, they went up a draw to an orchard on the bluffs. D-Day night, dad slept sitting against a tree. They could not put tents up, because pieces of shrapnel as big as a man's finger from enemy antiaircraft artillery was falling around them like rain. One tent was put up, and was soon in shreds. The next day, he went back down to the beach to scrounge vehicles, to make up for the ones that they lost. It was an awful mess. (Read Ernie Pyle's dispatches. Earnie Pyle was their guest after D-Day, and they drove him for his reporting.) They found jeeps that were only fowled by salt water, a few more than they had lost, and got them running again. On D plus 2, They were told that on orders from the CG, if they went down to the beach again to get more stuff, they would be shot!
On the 60th anniversary of D-Day at Normandy, France presented then President Bush with a model of a D-Day American landing craft. The model was of LCT 555!
During the fighting in France's hedgerow country, vehicles were usually running on muddy roads. Jeeps had no front shield on the fenders, and at cruising speed the front tires slung mud up and forward to be splattered on the windshield or, with the windshield down, in the face of the driver and passengers! Dad designed and built a front section of the jeep fenders for the commanding general, to prevent this. General Huebner was pleased with this improvement. The other generals were impressed and soon had their motor pools make similar fenders for them. [Note the Patton Museum jeep, Fort Knox, KY]
Dad told me many of his experiences from training in the U.S., crossing the Atlantic on the HMS Queen Mary, amphibious landings in North Africa, Sicily, and Normandy, advancing across Algeria, Tunisia, Sicily, France, Belgium, and Germany into Czechoslovakia. They crossed the Rhine at the Remagen Bridge. Near the end of the war, General Eisenhower ordered the soldiers to go to and see the Nazi concentration camps, and over sixty years later he could barely speak of the horrors he saw.
On VE Day, Dad spent his time cleaning up a big mess where one of his men had been sick from getting very drunk the night before. The drunk was in no condition to clean it up, and he wouldn't order anybody else to. He was too busy serving to celebrate. Some people say that rank has its privileges, but a good leader learns that sometimes the reward for service is more opportunities to serve. Their motto was, "No mission too difficult, no sacrifice too great, duty first!"
Dad was very fortunate and very grateful to be in a support role, and not in the thick of the fighting. He was very appreciative for those who bore the brunt of the battles. Your grandfather and his comrades in arms in the 16 IR, and many others, paid an awful price for our freedom.
What little I know of it, those serving now have carried forward the honor of the "Big Red One" into another generation. May their leaders be worthy of such service.
HHC Motor Platoon from England about a month before D-Day.
Staff Sergeant Herbert Squire is sitting in the front row to the left
of the Platoons Officer.
Staff Sergeant Herbert Squire circa 1944.
The Fender Concept that Staff Sergeant Herbert Squire came up with.
Notice how the later Jeeps were set up like this with the CJ3 series.
An Artists Rendition of the Church in Colleville sur mer Normandy France.
USN National Archives.
OnJune 6, 2004, the 60th anniversary of D-Day at Normandy,
France presented then President Bush with a model of a D-Day American landing craft.
The model was of LCT 555!
LCT 555 on Omaha Beach
Various landing craft, including LCT 555, on Omaha Beachwith 1st Division colors.
The Church in Colleville sur mer circa 7th June 1944.
A Photo of my Buddy Jess E Weiss taken 50 years after while being filmed for a
He was with HQ Co and E Co.s during WWII
Jess was a Rifleman
Story and photos Thanks to Tim Squire, Photo of Jess Weiss thanks to Jess himself.