May 25, 1944 — Phil and his men continue toward Rome

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May 25, 1944 — Phil and his men continue toward Rome

The 30th Infantry had no time to rest and lick its wounds. Phil and his men pressed their advantage and continued to move toward Rome.[1]

The Germans were clearing a path for them because they were packing up and running fast, leaving behind tanks, howitzers, and even fully equipped field hospitals.

Nevertheless, as the Americans approached Rome, the Germans stiffened their defenses—likely to give their troops time to escape the city.

The further the Allied soldiers advanced, the more unforgiving the firefights and ambushes that marked their route.

One horrific event involved a captured U.S. Army lieutenant and a sergeant who the Germans forced, at gunpoint, to sit on the front of a tank sent down a one-lane mountain road toward oncoming GIs. The Kraut leader thought this would protect the Panzer from tank destroyer or TD fire. This was a fatal miscalculation.

The battle-hardened NCO leading the spearhead platoon made a split-second decision and ordered the tank to be destroyed. When his men began to blast away, the sergeant leaped from the tank, saving himself. The lieutenant, however, froze and was killed by a TD shell that stopped the tank, killed its occupants, and saved quite a few American lives.

Despite the never-ending firefights and the tremendous loss of life on both sides, a spirit of triumph filled Phil and his men.

Their morale was heightened by the warm weather, sunshine, gentle breezes, and a cornucopia of blooming wildflowers across the Italian foothills, including bright-red poppies in full bloom in the flower boxes of villages the men liberated. Phil’s upbeat attitude was tempered by the adage, “Where a poppy blooms, a soldier has fallen.” It was certainly true for this fight.

He wrote his mother and asked her to send the news clippings of the Battle of Anzio and their march on Rome, adding this thought:

I want to see what the U.S. thinks of what we are doing over here. Boy, I do know that we are happy about it.[1]


The entire letter he sent home:

Lt. P.B. Larimore[2]

Hq Co 3rd BN. 30th Inf A.P.O. #3

c/o Postmaster, New York, N.Y.

Dearest Mother and Dad;

Just a note for I have a few minutes while we are waiting. Mom I wish you would send me all the newspaper starting 23 May and ending 1 June. I want to see what the U.S. thinks of what we are doing over here. Boy I do know we are happy about it. Cause we have been sitting around so long doing nothing so long that it is now a great and happy change.

Mom your writing paper has come through but I am still sweating out the package of food. Sure am looking forward to that cause. Now that we are moving all we get to eat is K[3] and C rations[4][5]4] and eating them 3 times a day sure does get tiresome. Not that we don’t think the rations aren’t good, cause we don’t. In fact we hate them, when I get back to the states I am going to have the FBI look up the life history of the man who invented these rations and see just whose side he is fighting on. I think he ain’t American.

How is your garden coming along? Sure do wish I could have some of the fresh food comming(sic) out of it.

It looks like all of my old friends are getting married. If I don’t get home soon some one will grab off Marilyn on me. I expect anytime for Jane and Bill to write me and tell me they have found the right one. Boy then we will have to have a triple marriage. That would be nice.

Mom I have lost my pen and would like very much for you to buy me a good one and send it to me. Also a new cig lighter. My field jacket was in a place where a Jerrie shell wanted to come. So now I have a new jacket. But I can’t get the rest of the stuff: will you try to get that off to me as soon as you can. I sure do need a pen. Every time I have to censor mail, write letters or any thing like that I have to go beg a pen off someone. I sure do hate to borrow stuff from people.

I am still trying to transfer into the Corp of Engineers. I sure would like to get into that outfit tho. That is the kind of work I would like to do. Mines, barbed wire, demo, road building, bridges and all that kind of stuff. So I think I would like to be with them.

Of course after the war I would have to go to college and take a course in engineering. But maybe I will have a chance to go to West Point. That I would like, cause I want to stick with the army and make it a life’s work. It’s a good life in peace time anyway. You are sure of having a place to live, food, clothing and a fair paycheck. I can’t see a thing bad about (it). Maybe they will have me.

I think Bill will stay in the Navy as a Medical officer. At least I think he should. He will be a regular naval officer when he gets through with this school he is attending, I wish I could talk to him.

Has my Silver Star come in yet? I hope it will soon, but we can’t ever be sure things will get through fast. We will wait untill(sic) about the last of June and if it hasn’t come home by then we will check up.

Write when you can and give my love to all.

Love, Phil


[1] Larimore, At First Light, 111-112

[2] Typed letter (V-Mail copy). Post marked “U.S. Postal Service, No. 3, 6 May 1944.”

[3] The K-ration was an individual daily combat food ration which was introduced by the United States Army during World War II. It was originally intended as an individually packaged daily ration for issue to airborne troops, tank corps, motorcycle couriers, and other mobile forces for short durations. The K-ration provided three separately boxed meal units: breakfast, dinner (lunch) and supper (dinner).

[4] C-rations consisted of two cans of meat and vegetables, two cans of crackers, sugar, and soluble coffee, and two 4-ounce bars of concentrated chocolate. Champagne, 621.

[5] The C-Ration, or Type C ration, was an individual canned, pre-cooked, and prepared wet ration. It was intended to be issued to U.S. military land forces when fresh food (A-ration) or packaged unprepared food (B-ration) prepared in mess halls or field kitchens was impractical or not available, and when a survival ration (K-ration or D-ration) was insufficient.

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