Friday, September 20, 2013

Harshbarger line: Cleveland L Harshbarger, World War II

I'm posting here in full a newspaper article about my father-in-law, Cleve Harshbarger.  From internal clues in the article, it was first printed in late winter or early spring, 1945, and probably in the Huntington Herald Press.  The copy I have is laminated, with no documentation as to where it came from, or when.


Mr and Mrs Grover C. Harshbarger, Huntington route five, have received some interesting information from their son, Pfc. Cleveland L Harshbarger, member of the 12th infantry regiment of the fourth infantry division now with General Patton's third army, in the form of the "Big Picture", the voice of the Fighting 12th and the first allied newspaper published in Germany, and two pages from a magazine with the article "In the Hurtgen Forest" by Sgt. Mark Morriss, Yank staff correspondent.  The story concerns the fourth infantry in the forest with the caption "The 4th division won't forget its 50 square miles of thick, dripping fire, where a gain of 600 yards was a hard day's work.["]  The forest was at the approaches to the Cologne plain.

Mr and Mrs Harshbarger have known little of their son's activities and the stories were a revelation of what the Yank soldiers are doing on the field of battle. "For 21 days this division beats its slow way forward-The monument of Hurtgen is a bitter thing," are brief excerpts concerning what a Huntington youth endured.

The Rock Creek township youth entered the army in November, 1943, and went to England in May, 1944.  He landed on the Normandy beach three or four weeks after D-Day and has been in combat since August or September in France and Germany.  He is with a gun crew of an anti-tank company.  His infantry commander received commendation from the commanding general of the Fourth Infantry Division for the action at Luxembourg which was in part as follows: "The Commanding General, Third United States army, characterized the Battle of Luxembourg as, in his opinion, the most outstanding accomplishment of this division in its long series of engagements. The 12th infantry regiment is the unit meriting the greatest share of this high tribute."

The soldiers'address is Pfc. Cleveland L Harshbarger, APO 4, Care Postmaster, New York, N.Y. "

The only information I deleted from the article was Cleve's ASN. If you are a family member, and you would like to have this additional information, please email me and I'll be happy to share it. 

I can provide a little additional information. I had a conversation of almost an hour's length with Cleve in 1973. I certainly wish I had taken notes, but what I do remember is that he "went in" on Utah beach on D-Day plus 17. He told me he was primarily a bazooka gunner, and that he knew he had killed Germans, which of course was his job. He also mentioned that things got really "hot" in late December, (the Battle of the Bulge), and that he hadn't expected to come home.  I also remember that when he was done talking, he told me that he had never talked that much about the war to anyone, and he didn't know why it was all coming back then.

I mentioned in an earlier post the book "The Guns at Last Light" by Rick Atkinson.  By reading this book, I am able to more or less figure out where Cleve's units were during the war, and it is apparent that the article I copied above probably understates the perilous position Cleve was in for several months.  My heart salutes Cleve, and the millions of men like him, who left their families and their homes to fight for the generations to come.  "Thank you" is not nearly enough to say, to the veterans who are still living, or at the stones that mark the final resting places of those who have answered the last call.