Band of Brothers
The true story of the men of Easy Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne
Title: The Patrol
Director: Tony To
This episode is this time seen through the character of David Kenyon Webster The latter had been wounded in Holland and episode 8 begins showing his difficult return in the Easy Company. David indeed appears to be despised by his comrades.
I asked Donald Malarkey why he had been put aside by his friends, as this episode shows. He said to me: “David Webster did not train entirely with us in Toccoa, we really did not know him and our ties were not hardened either before or during the war. Parachuted with the members of the General Staff of the Easy, of which he was a member. He was wounded in Holland, missing the terrible Battle of the Ardennes, the cold, hunger, pain … which we endured, The E-Company before we arrived in the city of Haguenau.“
Many members of the 506 PIR were then dead or wounded, the war was prolonged, and the new arrivals, the “replacements”, were considered unconscious blues. Webster was considered, by some remaining soldiers of the Easy, as one of those substitutes, whom one prefers to charge or ignore. In addition, Donald told me that “David only talked to others about Harvard, this great school he had left before he joined Camp Toccoa, and that he finally appeared to us as a character belonging to another world.“
David Webster wrote after the war, recalling a journey in the back of a truck with his comrades: “It was good to be back with the faithful friends I had known and in whom I could trust. Listening to the discussions in the truck, I felt warm and relaxed inside, like a lost child who had returned to a welcoming home filled with love after getting lost in a dark black forest.” He was going to be very disappointed by the behavior of some comrades. But his formidable state of mind helped him not to pay attention to these provocations, founded on a field of war. He understood the pain of these men, being on the front longer than he.
The Easy Company enters the Alsatian town of Haguenau, north of Strasbourg and at that time in German territory. The Easy receives the order to send a patrol across the river crossing the city in order to capture enemies and make them talk. Lieutenant Jones, who had just landed at West Point (he finished his studies and graduated on June 6, 1944, the day the Easy was parachuted in Normandy), volunteered to carry out this mission. Richard Dick Winters, knowing that Jones has no experience in combat, does not let him command the patrol. On the other hand, it leaves it the possibility of participating as an observer. The leader of this patrol is John Martin.
At the end of this patrol and after a short battle between the Americans and the Germans, the members of the Easy left a German soldier in agony, wounded by the grenade launched by Eugene Jackson, All his strength, torn by pain. David Webster then thinks of crossing the river, joining the other side and knifeing the German wounded but he does not go for two reasons: there was at that moment a dam of mortar fire on the east side of the shore And it was possible that the Germans had used one of their men to allow the American soldiers to approach them in order to defeat them at the right moment. The Americans decided to throw grenades to kill the dying German soldier. Soldier Cobb threw one close enough to kill him.
Although successful, the mission cost the life of another paratrooper, Pvt Eugene E. Jackson (ASN: 13011296): he threw a grenade into a German house to secure it but did not explode. As he entered the house to make prisoners of possible survivors, the grenade exploded in his face.
In response to this loss, Dick Richard Winters decides to ignore Colonel Sink’s orders to organize a second patrol of the same type the following night. He then wrote a false report in which he wrote that the second patrol did not succeed in capturing German. Sink, deceived by the report imagined by Winters, abandons the idea of creating other patrols of the same type.
This second patrol, scheduled to be launched 25 hours after the first, had been planned by Colonel Sink. It had been expected that it would take place at a place other than the first, in order to avoid any enemy ambush. Richard Winters, by refusing the departure of the second patrol, certainly saved the lives of several American soldiers.