There’s no glamour in war, Battle of Bulge survivor says
HARTSVILLE, S.C. — Despite how Hollywood depicts World War II, there was no glamour, according to local veteran David Allen.
Allen participated in the Battle of the Bulge as an infantryman with the 83rd Infantry Division.
“It was terrible and it was the coldest winter,” he said. “I was a foot soldier; we lived in the snow.
“We were chasing the Germans who were getting back to Germany.”
For those who do not know the story, Germany had broken through Allied lines, and the Allied soldiers tried to get in the bulge so the German soldiers couldn’t get back, according to Allen.
Allen has several siblings, all of whom were challenged to write a short story about their lives.
David’s turned out to be about 30 regular pages, and most of it dealt with his time in the war.
Here is an excerpt:
“My first day of real action was pretty exciting or violent – depending on one’s opinion. We moved in single file down what I could describe as a narrow road – covered with deep snow. We passed a few dead bodies, all frozen still. We went into some dense woods – all evergreen – and spread out slightly. One could not see very far ahead. Part of my squad was going down a small hill and had nearly reached the bottom when the Germans opened fire with their machine guns. They had us in a very difficult position.”
Allen returned to the states after being wounded in the jaw. He was handing out ammo to his unit with shells exploding from different directions. Trees were exploding above him, and he took a combination of wood and shell fragments to his jaw.
There was nothing glamourous about the incident.
“I came home to just a great time and a nation,” Allen said. “I didn’t expect anything, came home and went to work. Most of them (veterans), as Tom Brokaw called it, ‘the great generation.’”
Allen was born in 1923. He is 94 years old. He was born in Bennettsville and went to high school in Darlington. He attended Presbyterian College and received his bachelor of arts in English.
He enlisted in the Reserve Corps 1942 and had active-duty stations at Fort Jackson and Fort Benning and Camp Shelby before shipping out to England, France, Belgium and then back home.
He is a widower, having been married to Anna Divver Vaughn for 65 years, prior to her death three years ago. He has two children.
Allen returned to Coker’s Pedigree Seed Company after the war.
“I was told when I came home I could work there,” he said. “I looked for two weeks. I knew what I wanted to do. I was ready to go to work. I worked 42 years there. Bought and closed in 1988. Last man out and locked things up.”
Allen is a current member of the American Legion Post 53 and a life member of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV).
“There have been no drawbacks from participating in the war,” he said. “I was just one of nine million.”
Like many from World War II, Allen felt he went over to do a job and came home when he was finished.