At the end of the war in Europe the men of The 95th Infantry learn of an insidious plan hatched by their Commanding General to falsify battle documents, records and maps in order to facilitate The 95th in becoming either the invasion force of mainland Japan, or, at the very least, the police forces of Japan, at the end of the war in the Pacific Theatre. Based on actual events, the men of The 95th learn of the potential scandal and begin to hone their resources to have the General stopped. Word of the scandal reaches the Truman White House in August of 1945, and the President of the United States, along with members of his Cabinet, are forced to make a decision that will forever alter the course of American military history.
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ORIGINS OF THE “MEN OF THE 95th”
“The “Men of the 95th” first made its mark, legend has it, during the early morning hours of September 14, 1944. Groups of boys from the 377th became attached for a short while to the “Red Ball Express,” which was the code name for the troops, food and artillery trucks that paced up and down the fronts in France, Holland and Belgium. Trucks were used since most railways were either damaged or had been destroyed by retreating German forces.
There was no other way to ferry troops or even gasoline back and forth other than to secure those highways. The commanders of the “Red Ball Express” gave the “Men of the 95th” their name, since several units of boys from the 377th had been enlisted to help the “Express” team shuttle supplies back and forth.
The commanders were initially skeptical of the “fresh-faced boys” helping them, but quickly changed their minds when they saw the enthusiasm and spirit of the 377th. The boys soon became known as “Men,” changing forever the nickname of the 95th Infantry.”
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON
[General George S. Patton addressed the 377th and the 95th Infantry shortly before the legendary attack at Metz, France]
“There are three ways to die; dig in, lie down and do not shoot until you see the whites of their eyes. To do this is just to tell the blankety-blank airplanes where to bomb, mess up the scenery and cause you to get dirty and tired. To hit the ground, Soldier is just to allow the Germans to get a better shot at you. Germans don’t have white eyes; they’re just dirty yellow.”
A GENERALS ORDERS ARE FOLLOWED SEEMINGLY BY BOTH SIDES
[General George Patton issued strict orders to the 95th Infantry that they were not to harm if at all possible, any structures, windows, doors, and even statues inside the Fortress Town of Metz. The General wanted everything ancient to be preserved and hoped that the Germans, while defending the town they had occupied, would also recognize the historical significance of the town and not cause structural harm to it as they both defended and eventually withdrew]
“With the orders standing not to destroy or harm buildings, H Company had little choice other than to return with their machine guns. Using artillery fire would have caused significant damage to the quaint and historic homes and storefronts within the town itself and destroyed impending diplomatic relations. The significance of the historical homes touched the soldiers as they made their way into town.
There were homes that stood with their original facades from the 12th century, having seen their share of occupation over the centuries, but which had retained all of their beauty, nonetheless. The Germans, since their occupancy had begun long, long before World War I, had also gone out of their way to preserve the old structures, making certain that the homes and storefronts remained in near-pristine condition.
Metz, even during this time of occupation and battle, still glittered with its ancient beauty. Even the tank Divisions that followed the 377th in Metz followed Patton’s directive and made certain that they stayed in the center of the roads as not to cause physical damage to the structures.”
THE ROAD TO BERLIN THROUGH SAARLLAUTERN (THE SAAR) CHRISTMAS DAY, 1944
[The Battle of Saarllautern was the turning point in the final push of the Allied Forces so that they could begin the March towards Berlin. The Germans staged a heavy defense of the area, and the 95th received orders from General Patton that this was the beginning of the end of the German fight if Saar could be taken by the Allied Forces]
“German advances had closed in from a large circle. The withdrawing forced converged near Saar. Having fooled the Allies with their move, the Allied flanks were let vulnerable, and highly exposed. Casualties were heavy on the Allied side of the line. Should Saarllautern fall one more time to the enemy, the Allied lines would close and nothing would come through towards Berlin.
General Patton’s orders were simple:
1. Hold the line at all costs.
2. Send troops into limited attack mode to confuse the enemy, and to completely throw them off balance.
3. Repulse any attacks with force and vengeance.
4. The code name for this measure was “Active Defense.”
5. Failure is not an option.
THE BEGINNING OF A SCANDAL THAT WOULD ROCK THE MILITARY WORLD IN 1945
[Having spent time as the Military Occupational Government in Germany and other areas, the 95th Infantry found themselves at the end of April, 1945 working with locals to clean up and bury the thousands of corpses that were left behind by the retreating Germans.
They also spent time trying to stay away from the actual Concentration Camps, knowing full well the horrors that were greeting other Allied Troops when they entered them. It was the first week of May, 1945, when a rumor began to circulate, a rumor that quickly made its way to even the prestigious Stars and Stripes Newspaper, and began to accelerate out of control]
“Early May also brought a new and bizarre twist to the story of the 377th. Whereas only Heathcote, Sklar and Taggard had previous knowledge about the wishes of General Sanderson to move toward the Pacific, others in the company were soon in on the secret. The General began to make it known that Washington wanted the 95th to become either the invasion forces, if needed, or more likely, the Occupation Police Forces of Mainland Japan.
Each Battalion Commander cried foul at the rumors. They steadfastly refused to send their men back home for a 30-day recuperation period. Sanderson was adamant and made his views and orders quite clear.
If the 95th were called upon to serve, they would be there in a moment’s notice. Whether or not General Sanderson would be able to accomplish this feat was unknown, but CP began to circulate rumors that the General wanted all records of battle directed to him for “inspection.”
Whatever “inspection” was, remained undetermined. The General seemed eager to have the honor of being in both the European and Pacific Theatres, while the bulk of his own CP men did not.
Stars and Stripes, the reliable and venerable military newspaper also began to run headlines of the rumors. Nothing was certain, nothing was known. The only thing that was certain was that the men, at least the majority of them, had earned enough points to get out of the army, and simply go home, and move on with their lives.
The rumors continued well past May 25th , when Stars and Stripes launched a barrage of new rumors about the 95th being deployed to Japan as either the police force after the war, or even more strange, becoming the strict invasion force, first returning home for no more than ten days, followed by a jump to the West Coast, into Hawaii for training, then onto Japan.”
THE RUMORS OF JAPAN BECOME ACTIVE AND THE PRESS BECOMES INVOLVED
[From July through the end of August, 1945, the Officers, Commanders and Infantrymen began to pepper the press with letters of protest, questions of honor concerning their General, and attempts to seek out the truth of what was happening to them. The press quickly picked up on the impending storm of controversy, and in early August, 1945, at Camp Shelby in Mississippi, the full circle of the rumors now had become fact and the press was hungry for a story]
“The 95th was back as a unit once again. However, this was a different group of men. General Sanderson issued strict orders for silence, but the men completely ignored him. When the local press came calling, the men slipped them information, breaking the story despite the general’s best efforts to the contrary.”
“…The men went through the motions of training for deployment, and CP assured them that Washington had ordered the training, while the President was in full control of the decision-making. The men knew that in fact, the President was not involved, and several of them leapt into action, with the local press. They wanted the story to go national, and to hit the White House with a full head of steam.
They wanted the President to know that their CP was putting the blame on him, and, if the stories were indeed false, they figured the President had to do something about it. For two straight weeks, the men leaked information. The letter writing also continued, as did the training.
The General decided to ignore the men and move forward with his plans. His designs had to be executed by a trusted few. By the second week in August the General had finalized his selected team to assist him. Over in the barracks, the men continued to pepper the press anticipating the day that Washington would receive word of their refusal to go to Japan. They did not have to wait long for an answer.”
THE SCANDAL HITS THE WHITE HOUSE AND NEW PRESIDENT HARRY S. TRUMAN
[The record is sketchy as to when Harry Truman was first made aware of the rumors and pleas of the Men of the 95th Infantry. It is known, however, that when he first received word of the rumors and calls for action, he was quick to act. History has long forgotten what transpired in the Truman White House, and the novel begins it’s cross-over into historical fiction at this juncture]
“Mr. President, we have a problem.” This was the last sentence that Harry Truman wanted to hear this morning. He had awakened with a wonderful attitude for the day. Hell, the war in Europe was over, the war in the Pacific was nearing an end, and he did not need problems popping up out of the clear blue now!...”
“What the hell is the problem this morning, Charlie?” Charlie McMillan was the President’s Secretary of War, a holdover from the Roosevelt White House, and one of the few of such staffers who Truman genuinely liked.
“Uh, Mr. President, there seems to be a problem with one of the regiments that has returned home from Europe.”
“Huh? What problem? Is everyone alright?”
“Well, Sir, it’s a little complicated.”
“Sit down, Charlie, and fill me in.”
“Mr. President, there’s a Division known as the 95th Infantry,”
“Yea, I know them. Metz, right?”
“Yes, among others.”
“Well then, what is the problem?”
“Sir, when they returned home a week ago or so, they received word that they were to prepare to ship out as the policing forces in the Pacific, when the war comes to an end there. They are very concerned that they are not being honored properly for the service they have already conducted, and this new order insults that injury. Man of us here fear that some of the men are heading straight for the press on this one. Seems that their general has lost control of his men; they feel he’s up to something sinister, and, well, they’re refusing to go.”
The President stood up from his desk. “What the hell do you mean, ‘they refuse to go’?”