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York's famous Machinegun finds a home
Old 01-18-2010, 04:10 AM   #1
PlaceOfBayonets
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Default York's famous Machinegun finds a home

http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2010/ja...ast-tennessee/
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Old 01-18-2010, 12:38 PM   #2
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Sgt York is a real WWI Rambo
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Old 01-18-2010, 01:48 PM   #3
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I thought maybe the article had it wrong to say he captured a machine gun batallion? I don't think they made entire battallions of machine gunners? I thought it was only a company alone with the regular infantry in the same regiment working with the machine guns?

As for exaggeration it must be addmitted that York did not do it all alone. Many a man with him had to die as cammon fodder for him to have gotten into the position he did to do what he did.

Those dead men to my knowledge never got any awards.

W

Last edited by PlaceOfBayonets; 01-18-2010 at 01:49 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 01-18-2010, 01:55 PM   #4
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It should also be noted York downplayed his role. If the line in the movie was correct when one high ranking Commander commented about york capturing the whole German Army York replied, "Na sir I only got a hundred and twenty five".

W.
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A little more on Yok
Old 01-18-2010, 01:55 PM   #5
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Default A little more on Yok

The Germans got us, and they got us right smart. They just stopped us dead in our tracks. Their machine guns were up there on the heights overlooking us and well hidden, and we couldn’t tell for certain where the terrible heavy fire was coming from… And I'm telling you they were shooting straight. Our boys just went down like the long grass before the mowing machine at home. Our attack just faded out… And there we were, lying down, about halfway across [the valley] and those German machine guns and big shells getting us hard.[9]

Four non-commissioned officers and thirteen privates under the command of Sergeant Bernard Early (which included York) were ordered to infiltrate behind the German lines to take out the machine guns. The group worked their way behind the Germans and overran the headquarters of a German unit, capturing a large group of German soldiers who were preparing a counter-attack against the U.S. troops. Early’s men were contending with the prisoners when machine gun fire suddenly peppered the area, killing six Americans: Corp. Murray Savage, and Pvts. Maryan E. Dymowski, Ralph E. Weiler, Fred Waring, William Wins and Walter E. Swanson, and wounding three others, Sgt. Early, Corp. William S. Cutting (AKA Otis B. Merrithew) and Pvt. Mario Muzzi. The fire came from German machine guns on the ridge, which turned their weapons on the U.S. soldiers. The loss of the nine put Corporal York in charge of the seven remaining U.S. soldiers, Privates Joseph Kornacki, Percy Beardsley, Feodor Sok, Thomas C. Johnson, Michael A. Saccina, Patrick Donohue and George W. Wills. As his men remained under cover, and guarding the prisoners, York worked his way into position to silence the German machine guns.
York recalled:
And those machine guns were spitting fire and cutting down the undergrowth all around me something awful. And the Germans were yelling orders. You never heard such a racket in all of your life. I didn't have time to dodge behind a tree or dive into the brush… As soon as the machine guns opened fire on me, I began to exchange shots with them. There were over thirty of them in continuous action, and all I could do was touch the Germans off just as fast as I could. I was sharp shooting… All the time I kept yelling at them to come down. I didn't want to kill any more than I had to. But it was they or I. And I was giving them the best I had.[10]


York, at the hill where his actions earned him the Medal of Honor, three months after the end of World War I on February 7, 1919


During the assault, a group of eight German soldiers in a trench near York were ordered to charge him with fixed bayonets. York had fired all the rounds in his rifle, but drew out his pistol and shot all eight of the soldiers before they could reach him.[11]
One of York’s prisoners, German First Lieutenant Paul Jürgen Vollmer (who spoke fluent english) of 1st Battalion, 120th Württemberg Landwehr Regiment[12], emptied his pistol trying to kill York while he was contending with the machine guns. Failing to injure York, and seeing his mounting losses, he offered to surrender the unit to York, which was gladly accepted. By the end of the engagement, York and his seven men marched 132 German prisoners back to the American lines. His actions silenced the German machine guns and were responsible for enabling the 328th Infantry to renew its attack to capture the Decauville Railroad.[13]
York was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroism, but this was upgraded to the Medal of Honor, which was presented to York by the commanding general of the American Expeditionary Force, General John J. Pershing. The French Republic awarded him the Croix de Guerre and Legion of Honor. Italy and Montenegro awarded him the Croce di Guerra and War Medal, respectively.
York was a corporal during the action. His promotion to sergeant was part of the honor for his valor. Of his deeds, York said to his division commander, General George B. Duncan, in 1919: "A higher power than man power guided and watched over me and told me what to do."
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Old 01-19-2010, 10:42 AM   #6
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I think you guys should calm down a bit and use your logic.

It is well known that medal citations are usualy exagerated, this has been confirmed to me by many people, including recipients of medals and people who actualy wrote the citations. As one guy said: "you had to add on a few details, otherwise the officers in the rear who took decisions would'nt give the medal out."

As a simple example, just after looking at this thread and reading up on York, I found some statements that he had killed 25 Germans, others saying he had killed 28.
I would suspect he probably more like killed something in the order of 10 or 15 (which is already more then amasing), though I have no way of knowing.

I have had the chance to read some medal citations and then actualy find out how many German soldier in total had been buried in that specific location, and of course the real number was below reality. I can send a very specific and interesting example to anybody interested.

All this doesnt take away the fact the men like Sgt York were extraordinary soldiers who performed alsmost unbelievable deeds.

But just think logicaly for a minute of the conditions in which the "investigation" for the citation were made.

Did they realy find 25 german bodies in the area? For each body found, did they realy check if the man had been killed on the specific day and in the specific place where Sgt Yorks action occured? For evey killed man, did they check if he had been killed by gunfire or artillery? Did they check if the bullets were fired by York's weapon?

No, obviously not!
Normal investigations when 3 or 4 people get shot are already complicated and chaotic, immagine trying to do a precise investigation on the front lines in war conditions when 25 men were shot.

So yes, Sgt York did something exeptional, but I think every historian should keep a healthy amount of sceptisism and logic; and should avoid flag waving and "absolute" truths.
Maybe this citation is in fact 100% true, but one shouldnt get insulted for not taking every fact mentioned in it at face value.

JL
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Old 01-19-2010, 11:15 AM   #7
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JL, speculating on the validity of an action is no better. If you have no facts to the contrary then the info developed at the time should stand. Is it 100% accurate? We have nothing indicating otherwise. To assume it is made up or embellished diminishes the act. Which of your national heroes should we start taking down a notch?
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Old 01-19-2010, 11:17 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean-Loup View Post
I think you guys should calm down a bit and use your logic.

It is well known that medal citations are usualy exagerated, this has been confirmed to me by many people, including recipients of medals and people who actualy wrote the citations. As one guy said: "you had to add on a few details, otherwise the officers in the rear who took decisions would'nt give the medal out."

As a simple example, just after looking at this thread and reading up on York, I found some statements that he had killed 25 Germans, others saying he had killed 28.
I would suspect he probably more like killed something in the order of 10 or 15 (which is already more then amasing), though I have no way of knowing.

I have had the chance to read some medal citations and then actualy find out how many German soldier in total had been buried in that specific location, and of course the real number was below reality. I can send a very specific and interesting example to anybody interested.

All this doesnt take away the fact the men like Sgt York were extraordinary soldiers who performed alsmost unbelievable deeds.

But just think logicaly for a minute of the conditions in which the "investigation" for the citation were made.

Did they realy find 25 german bodies in the area? For each body found, did they realy check if the man had been killed on the specific day and in the specific place where Sgt Yorks action occured? For evey killed man, did they check if he had been killed by gunfire or artillery? Did they check if the bullets were fired by York's weapon?

No, obviously not!
Normal investigations when 3 or 4 people get shot are already complicated and chaotic, immagine trying to do a precise investigation on the front lines in war conditions when 25 men were shot.

So yes, Sgt York did something exeptional, but I think every historian should keep a healthy amount of sceptisism and logic; and should avoid flag waving and "absolute" truths.
Maybe this citation is in fact 100% true, but one shouldnt get insulted for not taking every fact mentioned in it at face value.

JL
Excellent post, you make some very good points here!

Adam
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Old 01-19-2010, 12:05 PM   #9
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I hope you guys do not use this same logic when buying your militaria pieces. "There is nothing to indicate this pair or panties did not belong to Eva Braun, so I will buy them?"

Your replies are emotional and deeply imprinted with national pride, not the tools that should be used when evaluating a historical act.

You can question any French or Canadian (I have dual citizenship) national heros that you want, I will not become hysterical about it. When was De Gaulle named a General? Did Joanne of Arc realy speak with God as she claimed? Are all the Indochina stories about Sgt Vandenberg true?

Or better, did Billy Bishop really attack that German airport that won him a Victoria Cross? As much as I like Billy Bishop and have read multiple biographies of him, I have my doubts.

I have had multiple chances to read citations and then actualy go to the exact location where the act occured, speak to local inhabitants who were there etc. This experience and its conclusions are what leads me to suspect that Sgt Yorks citation has a good chance of being embelished.

I will not post any more in this topic as I think I have expressed my opinion clearly enaugh, anybody can read up and make his own opinion. I dont want to get involved in an emotional argument concerning a national hero.

I would like to hear from other people who have had the chance to compare medal citations to actual places, cemetery registers, enemy and civilian accounts of the same action, etc.

JL
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Old 01-19-2010, 12:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean-Loup View Post
I hope you guys do not use this same logic when buying your militaria pieces. "There is nothing to indicate this pair or panties did not belong to Eva Braun, so I will buy them?"

Your replies are emotional and deeply imprinted with national pride, not the tools that should be used when evaluating a historical act.

You can question any French or Canadian (I have dual citizenship) national heros that you want, I will not become hysterical about it. When was De Gaulle named a General? Did Joanne of Arc realy speak with God as she claimed? Are all the Indochina stories about Sgt Vandenberg true?

Or better, did Billy Bishop really attack that German airport that won him a Victoria Cross? As much as I like Billy Bishop and have read multiple biographies of him, I have my doubts.

I have had multiple chances to read citations and then actualy go to the exact location where the act occured, speak to local inhabitants who were there etc. This experience and its conclusions are what leads me to suspect that Sgt Yorks citation has a good chance of being embelished.

I will not post any more in this topic as I think I have expressed my opinion clearly enaugh, anybody can read up and make his own opinion. I dont want to get involved in an emotional argument concerning a national hero.

I would like to hear from other people who have had the chance to compare medal citations to actual places, cemetery registers, enemy and civilian accounts of the same action, etc.

JL

What evaluation have you done in this instance? None. You only infer that it happened because you have found that to be true in other instances. I believe each instance (like militaria) must stand on its own merit. Show us some facts otherwise it is all innuendo and opinion. Hardly the stuff of academic research.

The US Army was not known to hand out awards during that time period. Indeed, SGT York was originally awarded the DSC, the 2d highest award at the time. It was after further investigation that it was elevated to the CMOH. I guess they must have found something during the investigation that warranted it. I doubt it was a lower body count. I guess he probably only took 50 prisoners too. I'm sure that part was exaggerated too.

ps- you won't ever find me downing another country's war hero based upon innuendo. If have have facts, I present them. If not, who am I to question the story. I'll leave that to the many armchair experts that never heard a shot fired in anger or a bullet zip past their head.
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Old 01-19-2010, 12:47 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean-Loup View Post
I think you guys should calm down a bit and use your logic.

It is well known that medal citations are usualy exagerated, this has been confirmed to me by many people, including recipients of medals and people who actualy wrote the citations. As one guy said: "you had to add on a few details, otherwise the officers in the rear who took decisions would'nt give the medal out."

As a simple example, just after looking at this thread and reading up on York, I found some statements that he had killed 25 Germans, others saying he had killed 28.
I would suspect he probably more like killed something in the order of 10 or 15 (which is already more then amasing), though I have no way of knowing.

I have had the chance to read some medal citations and then actualy find out how many German soldier in total had been buried in that specific location, and of course the real number was below reality. I can send a very specific and interesting example to anybody interested.

All this doesnt take away the fact the men like Sgt York were extraordinary soldiers who performed alsmost unbelievable deeds.

But just think logicaly for a minute of the conditions in which the "investigation" for the citation were made.

Did they realy find 25 german bodies in the area? For each body found, did they realy check if the man had been killed on the specific day and in the specific place where Sgt Yorks action occured? For evey killed man, did they check if he had been killed by gunfire or artillery? Did they check if the bullets were fired by York's weapon?

No, obviously not!
Normal investigations when 3 or 4 people get shot are already complicated and chaotic, immagine trying to do a precise investigation on the front lines in war conditions when 25 men were shot.

So yes, Sgt York did something exeptional, but I think every historian should keep a healthy amount of sceptisism and logic; and should avoid flag waving and "absolute" truths.
Maybe this citation is in fact 100% true, but one shouldnt get insulted for not taking every fact mentioned in it at face value.

JL
this is perhaps the post i should have made.it is unhealthy to just accept facts as they are written if we did then what world would we live in.points people continue to make is we were not there so just accept it well im not like that but if i turn it on its head and ask someone to show me proof it did happen you can understand it.a great many people belive in the bible do we take that as gospel aswell.

im not insulting your war hero and i don't understand why you get so hot under the collar.
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Sgt. York, the movie ???
Old 01-19-2010, 12:56 PM   #12
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Default Sgt. York, the movie ???

Quote:
Originally Posted by PlaceOfBayonets View Post
It should also be noted York downplayed his role. If the line in the movie
was correct when one high ranking Commander commented about york
capturing the whole German Army York replied, "Na sir I only got a hundred
and twenty five".
W.
Quoting Sgt. York the movie, leads one down the very slippery slope
of history vs. Hollywood. When I was a kid the SY movie was shown
on Sacramento TV on Thanksgiving Day, making it well known to me
and maybe others elsewhere. The facts are that the SY film was originally
made as a propaganda tool to jar loose pre-WW2 American isolationist
opinion. On a technical basis the MOH scene in the movie uses a M-1921
regimental color, rather than the correct period M-1902 from WW1. A
minor error and/or piece of trivia in view of the true Sgt. Yorks deeds.
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Old 01-19-2010, 03:56 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean-Loup View Post
I have had the chance to read some medal citations and then actualy find out how many German soldier in total had been buried in that specific location, and of course the real number was below reality. I can send a very specific and interesting example to anybody interested.
JL
Do you have hard evidence that contradicts York's citation? I would be interested in reading it. I believe York was a true hero, but I am also open to hearing speculation that can be supported with facts.

It is important to note that York was not alone that day. I think he would agree that his achievements went hand in hand with the sacrifices of hundreds of other Americans.

In the chaos of battle it would tough to prove who hit who that day. You have to remember lead was flying around everywhere. York showed exemplary leadership and heroism. In my mind he deserved the MOH whether he killed 8 Germans or 25 Germans like the citation says.

We could all argue who deserved what all day long. Did MacArthur deserve the Medal of Honor for abandoning his men at Bataan, even though he was under the President's orders? Did Barack Obama deserve the Nobel Peace Prize, even though he has only written three books about himself. As free thinking individuals, we should not have to take things at face value. I am always open to hearing speculation that can be supported with evidence. I will decide for myself whether to accept or reject any man's claim.

Eddie
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Old 01-19-2010, 04:00 PM   #14
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Prussian Guard did not mean to insult anyone for crissakes. It's true about exaggerations. His point and that of our French member is valid. However in York's case I agree with Don, back then medals were not handed out like Candy and the main thing that that shows the history to be correct is York himself who was a modest man. He said the movie Sgt. York was as close to what happened as the story could be told.

But come on people, don't go out of your way to be offended.

W.

PS, Eddie, the Frenchmen did not say his experience applied to York, he was just sayin.

Last edited by PlaceOfBayonets; 01-19-2010 at 04:06 PM. Reason: adding PS
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Old 01-19-2010, 04:10 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EMSMIT2 View Post
Do you have hard evidence that contradicts York's citation? I would be interested in reading it.

I am always open to hearing speculation that can be supported with evidence. I will decide for myself whether to accept or reject any man's claim.

Eddie
Exactly, with evidence. Otherwise it is mere speculation.
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