Posted by: philipmartin | December 14, 2010

Another Photo from the Collection of Frank Wayne Martin

On the eve of the anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, which began in the cold of December 16, 1944, and lasted into January of 1945, here’s another photo from the personal collection of Frank Wayne Martin. As a scout for General Patton’s “Lucky Forward” advance headquarters, Wayne’s unit was whisked away from a much-desired R&R and hurtled into combat in the Battle of the Bulge.

Frank Wayne Martin and three fellow soldiers in World War II

Frank Wayne Martin, at end of artillery barrel, with Sgt. John Archibald Skuse ("Archie") at his side, and two other soldiers

One of their main assignments during the battle was working with a group of tank destroyers (TDs).

As he notes in his book, Patton’s Lucky Scout:

“The TDs had much thinner armor than the typical tank. To improve protection, lots of crews added about six inches of concrete and chicken wire as a covering. We would alternate positions with them as we advanced, in a ‘leapfrog’ strategy. First, they would advance through us to ‘blast’ out an area in front. We would advance through them to occupy the cleared area. They would then advance through us again and clear another area in front. We would again fold into the cleared area in front of them. In this way we advanced slowly, but in a way that secured the area we had retaken.

“Once the task force had secured sufficient area, a rifle company would fold in to relieve us for further advances. Usually the Fifth Rangers would be our flank support. We all had to work in close support of one another. To leave large gaps between us and the infantry would invite the Germans to fill in the gap behind us rather than allowing our own troops to do it.”

(This photo is taken at a different time than the Battle of the Bulge, which took place in extremely frigid weather. In this photo, Wayne’s stalwart companion, Archie, is seen at Wayne’s left [viewer’s right].

Sgt. John Archibald (“Archie”) Skuse had worked as foundry worker, where he had developed his powerful arm muscles. He also boxed. At one point, he had been a sparing partner to Rocky Graciano. I had paired up with him as a sort of brains-and-brawn team in the states before we were shipped over. He decked anyone besides me that called him Archie.

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