Segment 13

Annotation

[Annotator's Note: a different interviewer, Marty Morgan, now interviews Baker] Baker had a reputation for not wearing a steel helmet. Helmets made it hard for him to hear. His commanders couldn't understand that. His hearing loss was caused during basic training when he got too close to a mortar tube that went off. On April 5th, 1945 he was under intense mortar fire. He explains that all you could hear was explosions. When mortar rounds explode they spread out, not up. They will tear you up from waist down. Baker once saw a round hit right between a man's legs. The man didn't get a scratch but the men behind and in front of him were killed. At the end of the day on April 5th, Baker went to see his battalion commander, Colonel Murphy, on his way to the regimental commander to give the dog tags of the men who had died on the hill to the S-3. He didn't have to go but he wanted to personally hand over the dog tags to those men's families would know what happened to them. Baker collected the dog tags as they were fighting. As he saw a man fell he went to him. He collected about 16 tags. At one point on the afternoon of the 5th, the Germans came out under the flag of truce. Baker and his men were getting ready to evacuate and German soldiers came up carrying stretchers with red crosses on them. Then they dropped them and pulled back the sheets to reveal machine guns and mortars they began to set up. Baker and his men shot them so they wouldn't be able to set them up. They were supposed to advance with mortar fire but they lost them in the morning. Baker's theory is they got separated and were ambushed. Baker and his men didn't get any artillery support because the Army didn't believe they were that far behind the lines in enemy territory. They were radioing back for artillery support but he got word back that they didn't know where they were - that they couldn't be that far advanced. Finally he got through and they used antiaircraft guns on the castle and that suppressed the German fire.

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