• T Caswell

War is Hell

Updated: Mar 7

Robert Slaughterhouse was diagnosed as suffering from the final stages of heart failure, a few weeks before he died, my Robert confessed to me several stories about WW2. Now, before I start, I should tell you that Robert was known as one of the kindest men you could have met. Always friendly, never drank, the kind of guy who would have given you the shirt off his back. He's known to the kids as the guy who handed out the biggest candy bars on Halloween. Everyone I spoke to loved him.

Robert was part of a 12 man rifle squad fighting in Northern France. As his unit entered a seemingly abandoned village, they were ambushed by a squad of Germans and his unit was decimated. They barely won, but by the end of the fight only three Americans were still alive, and one of them was badly wounded. The squad leader and his second was dead. The two unwounded soldiers Robert and another swept the battle scene and hauled three badly wounded German soldiers into the middle of the street.

My grandfather looked at the other American soldier, said "No Prisoners", and cut the throat of one of the Germans right there. He said he almost puked because there was way more blood than he was expecting. His partner lifted his rifle to shoot the other two, but my grandfather stopped them. He said that there may have been other German soldiers nearby and didn't want the gunfire attracting them.

So they dragged the other two into the shallow ditch on the side of the road, with about 6 inches of water in it, and stood on the German soldier's heads until they drowned.

After that, Robert told me he still hated the Germans. He confessed to a number of war crimes, including shooting German civilians and killing German soldiers who were trying to surrender.

But the worst? Robert told me that he only felt guilty about one thing he'd done. In early 1945 his new squad was going through a small German village when he and a couple of other guys kicked in the door to a small house. Inside was a small old German woman in a wheelchair, who immediately started screaming and cursing at them in perfect English. Robert kicked her wheelchair over, rolled it out the door, and then knocked an oil lamp over as he left the house with his partners. She burned to death.

He looked at me with cold eyes and said, "That was too cruel. She was an old woman. I should have just shot her."

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