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Source Material is the Key

I’ve had other things to do beyond WWII but it’s time to publish a few more articles.  This one is about the 101st Airborne Division books edited by P.M. Pulles from the Netherlands.

P.M. Pulles has a listing of WWII 101st Airborne Division Regiments down to Battalion/Company.  When using the sources you have to use them as just a starting point.  There are many errors in his books, little and large.

There are two errors to be mentioned in this article.  The first is that P.M. Pulles didn’t use primary source materials for most of the work.  Yes it was hard as he lived in the Netherlands for most of the work he did.  That doesn’t excuse the errors he made though.

As mentioned there are many errors but I will use one that touches on the research of a man who was buried next to my uncle in the Blosville Cemetery.  Both were buried from isolated graves on July 1, 1944.  They were both killed on June 6, 1944 but in totally different parts of Normandy on June 6, 1944.

I looked for years about what had happened to Sergeant Richard Dawson from Company I 501st Parachute Infantry 101st Airborne Division.  The first inkling about what might have happened to Sergeant Dawson’s death was mentioned in the P.M. Pulles 501st book.  This was the line for Sergeant Dawson “44-06-06 n/Baupte w/Hotchkiss”.  I thought this was a huge lead in my quest for why Sergeant Dawson ended up in Blosville for 4 years.

Well it turns out the information from P.M. Pulles was not even close to being correct.  Sergeant Dawson was killed with another solder that wasn’t part of the Hotchkiss group.  The soldier who was with the Sergeant when he was killed was Private Robert L. Vaughn from Company I.

There are some very valuable documents when searching for what might have happened to a soldier who was killed or captured, in Normandy in this case.  They are called E & E Reports (Escape and Evade Reports).  These were created when the soldiers who escape from the Germans and worked their way back to American lines.  They were interrogated as soon as possible to gather as much information as possible.

Private Vaughn had a very interesting report.  Below from his own handwriting is Vaughn’s E & E verbatim.

“Dropped near Carentan on 6 June.  Landed near MG nest, crawled down road & met Sgt Dawson.  Holed up in briar patch.  At daybreak moved down hedgerow & stopped to look at map.  A German patrol sneaked up on us shot Dawson, missed me; but I was surrounded.  They threatened to shoot me because they couldn’t find Dawson’s weapon. 

Sergeant took me to other prisoners into farmhouse where a German officer spoke to us.  Then to a pit where they had Captain (Albert W.) Mitchell, and (First) Sergeant (Clarence E.) Spangler & Private First Class John F. Carroll, Private (James L.) White and (Leo L.) Westerholm 501.  A guard told me they had shot Mitchell & Spangler”. 

I was lucky enough to interview Mr. Westerholm who was a Medic. He was switched into Headquarters Company 3rd Battalion just before leaving England.  He remembered Sergeant Dawson but had no memory of what happened to him in Normandy.  That always put a little doubt into the P.M. Pulles book.  Mr. Westerholm did talk about Clapper who was buried in Blosville the same day as my uncle and Sergeant Dawson.  Clapper was from Co H and Mr. Westerholm knew him well.

The other soldiers mentioned in Vaughn’s E & E became POWs while Vaughn was able to escape. 

You always need to back up your work with documentation which P.M. Pulles didn’t do.  There are other errors in the P.M. Pulles book but since this was a person issue with Sergeant Dawson I thought this was the best way to go.

P.M. Pulles also had an issue just taking a person’s word when he contacted WWII soldiers.  The perfect example of that is Eugene A. Cook.  Cook is in the 506th P.M. Pulles book but there is of course a problem with that.  Eugene A. Cook was never a Paratrooper and was in fact a fake Paratrooper.  Cook had lied to the people in Normandy for 40 plus years.  No need to write anything more about Cook as an article about him was done a year or so here http://www.airborneinnormandy.com/cook_fake.htm

The other problem with P.M. Pulles is that a large amount of the information he used was from George Koskimaki’s Rosters.  Coach K had created the Rosters in the 60s and 70s.  George said one thing that always bothered him about P.M. Pulles was that he never received a thank you from P.M. Pulles.    

My issue about the P.M. Pulles Rosters is this; people keep calling them the P.M. Pulles Rosters.  They are based on George’s work to a large degree.  They really should be called the Koskimaki Roster Collection as George’s Rosters aren’t just the basis for the P.M. Pulles Rosters but also much more accurate.       

When creating a article you should always if possible go to the source material.  If someone stopped at P.M. Pulles books then they would have an article that was incorrect or incomplete at best.  

Always always check your sources.

 

Upcoming Articles    

There are two more articles coming out over the next month, one about another who claimed to have been in Normandy and Holland.  The problem being he didn’t even come over to Europe until the very end of July 1944 and a Captain who disobeyed not just one but two direct orders in Normandy from two different superior Officers.

 

Brian N. Siddall

August 10, 2018

 


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