Thanks to real heroes, those who honor them

Published 5:00 am Monday, April 23, 2001

Fifty-six years ago this week, a Hazlehurst soldier was nearingthe end of probably what was the most difficult period of his life:service in World War II.

Charles Cassedy Woods served in Battery A, 370 Field ArtilleryBattalion, European Theater, including the Battle of the Bulge. Hissister, Christine Barlow, who lives in Brookhaven, has shared someinformation about his time in service.

At age 29, Woods was probably older and more experienced thanmany of his fellow soldiers. Maybe that helped him endure what wasto come after departing Boston Harbor on Sept. 29, 1944, andarriving in Southampton, England, on Oct. 10.

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According to notes made by Woods, the soldiers arrived inBelgium on Nov. 7.

. . . “Spent three days in a peach orchard outside Aufel,Belgium. Rain, snow, cold. Lots of mud. She was beginning to getrough.”

On Nov. 10, the soldiers left Aufel for Krinkelt. On ArmisticeDay, Nov. 11, there was no peace.

“Battery fired their first combat rounds, firing in the SiegfredLine.

“Remained at Krinkelt until December 17th, when we were drivenout by the German forces during the Battle of the Bulge. Left about17:30 hours. German artillery caught battery on road. Fired in ourconvoy, some killed, some wounded. One gun put out of action, andvehicles damaged. Retired to Wirtzfield. German artillery shelledus again. More casualties. Spent about an hour covered by cow andsheep manure while being shelled, but darn glad to come outO.K.

“Moved to Eisenborne. Went into position. shelled, strafed andbombed for several days.

“German Air Force greeted New Year by using jet-propelled planestrying to bomb us. All were shot down.

“Extremely cold. Lots of snow. Heavy blizzard Jan. 19.”

Although Woods’ notes offer few details, that’s understandable.From Dec. 16, 1944, to Jan. 28, 1945, the Battle of the Bulge ragedin the Ardennes forest in France and Belgium.

Nearly 600,000 Germans, 500,000 Americans and 55,000 Britishsoldiers fought World War II’s largest battle.

When it was over, 19,485 Americans were dead; 45,155 werewounded; 15,360 had been captured by the enemy.

Charles Cassedy Woods died in 1969 at age 53, not living to seeThe Veterans of the Battle of the Bugle Memorial dedicated on March17, 2001, at Camp Shelby. But, his sister did, and so did manyothers.

I thank Mrs. Barlow for sharing her information with me, and Ithank her and all the others for their efforts to see that thesereal heroes are never forgotten.

Write to Nanette Laster at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, Miss.39602, send faxes to 833-6714, or e-mail to’d love to hear from you.