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  Fragments

The labor of historians is much like the passion of fishermen.  You cast the line at a promising spot in search of something worthy of taking home and then hope and then pray.  There is always the anticipation that the next cast will bring up the trophy ready for the frying pan or, better yet,  the wall in the den.  You study the bass as they loll in the reeds, then surface to strike and dive for the submerged tree roots.  You regard the quarry, change the fly, measure the cast and play the lure … the strike, the dive and the line goes tight then suddenly slack; mosquitoes bite at your neck, dragonflies drift in the still air, the sun goes low in the trees. 

Fishing and history are hobbies united by full measures of anticipation and frustration.  Regardless of what you bring home, there is always the feeling that the best one somehow got away.  From the New York Times and wire services, some of the ones that got away and remain deeply hidden in the reeds.

Shootings - Mayhem … and Golf


G. I. Stabs 6 Germans
2 Jan. 1965
Bad Kissingen Germany UPI

An American soldier knifed six Germans today in a restaurant near here, the police said.  PFC Gary L. Stone “ran amok” when he was ordered to leave the restaurant after he fought with another G.I., according to police.  Seized by authorities, he was transferred to an Army stockade.  Two of the Germans were admitted to a hospital.

***

Who knows if this guy was in the 14th Cav or some other unit at Daley?  Luckily, the name is so common that the chances of finding him are slim and, what would you say if you did make contact?  “Hey, remember the night you went crazy in BK … what was up with that?!!”   This is probably one of those stories best left untold. 


Golfer’s Aces Go Together
7 June 1959
Bad Kissingen Germany AP


CPT William E. King of Durham, NC, aced the 150 - yard fifth hole of the Bad Kissingen golf course for the second time today.  Last Saturday, using a 5 iron, the captain who is serving with the United States Army in Germany, scored a hole - in - one.  Today, he repeated.

Finally!  A short,  happy and interesting story!  Who was this dead eye golfer and what was he doing in BK in the late 1950s?  14th Cav, some other unit, just playing the course??  What stories could he tell and what photos  does he have stashed in his attic?  Does he hang around the 19th hole at his current club and in retirement, bore the guests with tales of his mastery of the 5th at BK or was that just an average week for a scratch golfer? 

We tried every search engine and every combination of key words and were foiled by the absolute numbers of “William E. King ‘s”  found in the United States.  Short of making 300 phone calls, this story also goes unexplored.  Any of you guys from the 14th ACR recall CPT King, the guy who owned the course at BK and really seemed to have too much time on his hands?


Fore!!!!!!!!!!


German Girl a Suicide
9 June 1946|
Frankfurt am Main  AP

Dies in U.S. Soldier’s Quarters near Bad Kissingen

A 17 year old German girl was found shot through the head Thursday in an American enlisted man’s billet near Bad Kissingen the Army announced tonight.  She was the fifth German girl to die in a soldier’s quarters within a month.

The theatre provost marshal said that the girl, an employee of the American Red Cross, was alone at the time of the shooting and declared: “She is alleged to have shot herself.”

According to the official report, the girl went to the billets looking of CPL Woodrow M. Kemp, whose home address was not given.  Kemp was away at the time, the report said.  She then entered the room of PVT Richard E. Chappell, where she apparently shot herself through the head with a .45 caliber pistol.

***
I spent a lot of time on this and came up empty. First hand recollections from the occupation period in Bad Kissingen have become very difficult to find. If you were 19 in 1946, you are well into your 80s today. Scanning the Social Security National Death Index for the names of Woodrow Kemp and Richard Chappell revealed that both men are deceased. Through obits published in their hometown newspapers, next of kin might be found I guess, maybe they recall something, maybe they’d rather not.

The Saale Zeitung had not yet returned to printing so soon after the end of the war and with BK firmly in US control, I doubt there was much independent coverage of this tragedy.  I spoke to the Red Cross historian, she doubted they had any records and was sure she had no time to search. 

While researching another story, I did discover a few more facts related to this tragic event.  The Times had edited the AP story probably for brevity and a few details were lost.  The complete story reported that the name of the German girl was Doris Krath, the location was a building used to billet troops of the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry, 3rd ID and the town was Mellrichstadt.

The figure of five dead German girls in US billets probably refers to a total for the whole of the American occupied portion of Germany.  The unedited AP story added that three of these deaths were suicides brought on by the soldier receiving orders to return to the US and one death accidental. The issue of trooper and German girl fraternization was certainly problematic in the first years after the war.

     
  The issue was fraternization in post war
Germany and boys will be boys …
  The chain of command did all
that it could  …
 

   

   
  An unhappy German girl and a trooper with a pistol
on his hip too often led to tragic results
 

 

 
 

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