Chaplains of the
36th Infantry Division
Chaplain (Colonel) Herbert E. MacCombie
Over The Dragon's Teeth
On December 26th Division
Headquarters moved to a new location near Larquin, France. On January 4th
we moved to Diemeringen, France. These moves brought us near the
Luxembourg boundary. They were part of the American reaction to the
Battle of the Bulge.
On January 18th we moved to
Hagenu, France. On January 20th we moved to Brumath, France. On January
21st we moved to Mommenheim, France. On January 31st we moved to
Stefansfeld, France. We stayed there over six weeks. That was my longest
stay in one place while overseas, except for my stay in the hospital.
With several other officers I
was quartered in a house formerly occupied by a doctor. He and his wife
moved into a nearby hospital. When the Germans were there he was known as
Dr. Detweiler. When the French came to power, he changed his name to Dr.
I became well acquainted with
several members of the hospital staff. At that time heavy fighting was
going on in the town of Bitche. I asked one doctor where he came from.
He replied, “I am a son of
Bitche”. Judging from his smile I presumed he knew the implications of
the phrase in English.
They were puzzled by our
language. They said to me, “We can understand you, but we cannot
understand the English of the men who are with you.”
They had learned their English
from the British broadcasts. My New England accent was close to the
British way of speaking. The Texas accent and phraseology was more
They told me of an incident in
nearby Saverne. When the Germans took over Alsace they drafted a young
Alsatian. He was blond and blue-eyed. They assigned him to the S.S.
Forces. He refused to serve, so they hanged him in front of the local
school. They did this to impress upon the people that they were now
Germans and must serve the German cause, including saying, “Heil Hitler”.
No French was to be spoken. All French books must be destroyed.
While we were at Stefansfeld, I
was visited by two chaplains from the French Army. They were destitute of
all religious supplies. I gave them some of our communion wafers and even
On March 14th the Division C.P.
moved to Batzendorf, France. On March 16th I went to the Seventh Army
Headquarters to pick up supplies for the Jewish Passover. Our trailer was
almost top-heavy with boxes of Matzo. However, we could only get twelve
bottles of Kosher wine for the celebration.
On March 16th the Division C.P.
moved to Pfoffenhofen, France. On March 18th we moved twice. In the
morning we were in the vicinity of Morsbronn, France. In the late
afternoon we reached Sultz, France. No religious service was held that
day, because of the constant movement. On March 20th and 21st I visited
the Rest Camp at Bains les Bains to inspect the work that was being done
there. I was particularly interested in the work of the resident
chaplains, and the morale situation.
On March 22nd the Division C.P.
was located at Wissembourg, France. On March 23rd we moved to Bergzabern,
At last we were in the
Fatherland. Thanks to the wonderful work of our Engineers, I rode OVER
the “dragons teeth”. As I observed the strength of the German defenses on
the Siegfried Line, I marvelled at the courage and the fighting qualities
of the men of the “Texas Division”. They were really good.
I saluted the Texas flag as I
passed through Schweigen, Germany.
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by Mary MacCombie Fietsam
Printed by Permission