Tiger Tanks at War
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Smoyer's unit, Task Force X, was ordered to wait overnight in a forest while Rose accompanied the advance of Task Force Welborn, the leading edge of the thrust. But the column encountered a deadly German tank ambush that destroyed its lead and rear elements, cutting off retreat and making sitting ducks of all but a few of the remaining vehicles that managed to escape.
Enemy fire methodically unleashed a massacre, while Smoyer's unit could do nothing but guess at what was unfolding under a flashing sky. Rose and his aides eventually sped ahead of the burning column in an effort to get clear of the attack and radio for help. Just as they thought they'd managed to do so, they encountered another German tank that rammed Rose's jeep into a tree.
The account in Makos' book describes Rose and his driver attempting to surrender, with the driver slowly removing his shoulder holster and placing it on the enemy tank. Rose's sidearm was holstered around his waist. He undid the belt and let it slide to his feet, then raised his hands again when suddenly the German tank commander let loose with a burst from his machine pistol. Rose fell dead, struck 16 times, while the driver and an aide managed to bolt away and escape before the German could reload. The next day, Smoyer's unit was the first to the site where Rose died and recovered his body.
We were all broken up," Smoyer said, noting that the March 30 anniversary has stayed with him. The driver's account advanced the narrative that Rose had been murdered. But the tank commander's motive for opening fire remained an open question. In , Makos and Smoyer toured the site of what became known as the Welborn Massacre looking for clues. They learned of one tank commander in that ambush who was still living, and requested an interview. He knew the identity of the soldier who shot Rose, a young "daredevil sergeant," who was killed just a few days after he gunned down Rose.
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But why did he shoot a man trying to surrender? He reportedly told other German tank commanders that he had nearly been shot "by a very tall American," Makos' account says.
But he had moved more quickly and fired first. Whether or not the soldier truly felt that Rose was making a move for his sidearm, the result was the same: The Army lost one of its top generals in the darkness of the German countryside.
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But nowhere was that loss felt more keenly than in Denver. Although Rose remains a significant figure in "Spearhead," the account focuses on the narrative that brought Smoyer and his enemy, German Pvt. Gustav Schaefer, into conflict and, decades later, friendship.
Military History. But as Fogel points out, Rose's military career predated tanks and began when he dropped out of East High School to join the military in time for World War I. Wounded in the battle of Saint-Mihiel, France, he disappeared from the hospital and was presumed dead.
He had returned to his unit, against doctor's orders, to continue fighting. Rose returned from the war as a captain in and went into the meat business, Fogel said. But he realized he was a soldier at heart and returned to the Army in , and was one of the few selected to attach to the U.
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He served with the 1st and 2nd Armored Divisions in North Africa and earned the first of two Silver Stars in the battle for Tunisia in He rose to the rank of brigadier general just before the invasion of Sicily, where his unit was the first to enter the city of Palermo. From there he fought pivotal battles across France, Belgium and finally into Germany, where Spearhead Division was the first to capture a German city.
In an amazing feat just before his death, he led his unit on a mile sprint in a single day, the longest advance through enemy territory in the history of mechanized warfare. After Rose's death, the hospital that was already being planned by a group of Jewish doctors was named in his honor — General Rose Memorial Hospital, which opened in Fogel notes an interesting military twist: "When the 3rd Armored Division found out they were building a hospital honoring Gen.
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Dwight Eisenhower laid the cornerstone and came back for the dedication of the hospital. Fogel remembers as a boy seeing the helmet Rose wore at his death, punctured by two bullet holes, encased at the hospital. It now resides in an Army museum in Washington, D. That triggered his interest with the general and his career. Why doesn't anybody know about him? They don't make 'em like that. That's what a soldier is all about. Michael Green is a freelance writer, researcher, and photographer who specializes in military, transportation, and law enforcement subjects, with more than 50 books to his credit.
In addition, he has written numerous articles for a variety of national and international military-related magazines. Brown served twenty years in the U. Army as an armor officer, with secondary specialty in research and development. His active duty service includes a four-year tour as an assistant professor of engineering at the United States Military Academy, where he taught combat vehicle design and automotive engineering.