This story came to me by way of Charles Hugh Willismason. In our February 2010 newsletter I had several photos of Barenstein, Germany, where Company A was. One Saturday, my phone rang at home and the man on the other end said “This is Charlie Hugh Williamson from South Carolina. I wanted to call and tell you how much I enjoyed the photos of Bartenstein.” Well, Charlie and I talked for a while. Charlie had come to Company A the night after my dad Lewis had come to the company. Charlie had also gone to the 1st Armored Division like my dad. In our conversation of stories he asked if my dad had told me about the Up Rising that happened when they were at Bartenstein. I didn’t know about it but with the help of Charlie and Malcolm “Shorty” Marsh, here is that story.
In August of 1945, Company A moved to Bartenstein, Germany. It was quite a different setting for the men of the Company. They had been in Hainstadt for about 3 months and was a busy town. Each squad had its own home and now they were all to be billeted in the large castle. The castle sat high on a ridge overlooking a valley and the only close homes were the workers of the Prince and Princess of the castle. The nearest town of any size was more than walking distance for the Company and because of this, the time at Bartenstein soon became a little boring.
One morning, Captain Berlin called 1st Sergeant Marsh into the office and informed him that he was leaving and would be back later. Like any other time, it was just a heads up. A few hours later, a phone call came in from Command relaying a message, “Company A is to load up their half-tracks and move out ASAP to ____, Germany about 20 miles from your location. We have an up-rising in this town, so pull weapons and ammo.”
The men of the Company were relaxing that morning playing some volleyball and just laying out on the lawn when this call came in. Then all hell broke loose. Weapons and ammo had to be gathered. Some of the half-track drivers were on leave, so who’s driving? As the men of the Company started to run in every different direction to pull equipment, so the rumors began to run about what was happening.
All 1st Sergeant Marsh had told the men was what he knew. They were needed to put down an uprising in one of the German towns. So from one man to another and one squad to another, the rumors ran. “It’s those Werewolf Packs of citizens that had been trained by the SS.” “No, I heard it’s SS Troopers that have come back down out of the mountains.”
So as they pulled out, many a man was uneasy about what laid ahead. One such man wa Charlie Hugh Williamson. As he sat in the back of his squad’s half-track, with his helmet on and his M1 between his legs, he became lost in his thoughts. In his mind the same thing kept rolling over and over. “Charlie Hugh Williamson, I can’t believe this! You made it through the war without a scratch and now you’re going to get a shot at and maybe killed after the war is over.”
Finally, they came rolling into the town where the uprising was happening. But to the surprise of everyone, the town seemed really quiet. Then they noticed Captain Berlin sitting in his jeep near the entrance to the town. He jumped out and looked at his watch. “You made good time, this is a drill.” Captain Berlin felt the men were getting too soft, so he had planned this drill.
Needless to say, the fear of entering combat faded quickly, with a great sigh of relief. The ride back was filled with laughter and stories of how they felt when the call came in. Malcolm Marsh told me that even he did not know about it being a drill that day. Not many weeks later, the Company would begin to send men off to other divisions. But 65 years later Charlie said he could still see the Company heading to the “Uprising.”