Now Ian Gardner is writing Deliver Us From Darkness, the sequel to Tonight We Die As Men. It tells the unforgettable story of the 3rd Battalion of the 506th Parachute Regiment of the American 101st Airborne Division during the largest airborne operation ever carried out: Operation Market Garden in September of 1944. I got to see some excerpts of the new book, and wanted to share them with you. I’ll post them here so you can take some sneak-peeks before Deliver Us From Darkness hits bookshelves on April 17th, 2012. For the first entry, we chose the action described below. It took place in September of 1944 at Tempel, about 600 yards north of Vlokhoven on the way into Eindhoven, Holland. Enjoy!
(The pre-war view from the church tower at Vlokhoven, towards the fields at Tempel where the action described below took place.)
At 0600hrs on Monday 18, third battalion kicked off the regimental assault on Eindhoven. The enemy were already withdrawing from the city to the southwest in an attempt to stem the British advance. Forming an extended line straddling the highway H and I Co were leading the assault with G and HQ Co following behind in reserve. As the advance party moved out the two rifle companies deployed into the fields either side of the road behind them. At that moment both assault companies came under fire with H Co 1Pltn baring the brunt of the fighting east of the highway. “As we worked our way through the fields near Tempel we came to a tall thick hedge, almost impenetrable except for a hole about the width of a man in the center,” recalls Sgt Hank DiCarlo.
First to go through the opening was our lead scout Pvt Charles Kier who was immediately shot in the chest.” Taking a deep breath DiCarlo flung himself through the gap narrowly missing Kier and landing heavily on the other side in a deep drainage ditch. Charlie was gasping for air caused by a gaping exit wound in his back. In front of DiCarlo was a large field full of potatoes. “One after another amid sporadic bursts of enemy machine gun fire about a dozen of our guys came diving through the hedge including aid man Pfc Lloyd Carpenter. Moments later as Lloyd was patching Charlie up a couple of battalion medics came tumbling into the ditch carrying a stretcher. After Charlie was secured they began to manhandle him back through the hedge. When one medic inadvertently stood up we cringed but nothing happened. The enemy gun team allowed the first aid guys to carefully slide Charlie to safety without firing a single shot.” While this was happening Lieutenant Bolte noticed a small section of exposed wire fence further along the hedgerow and thought it was an ideal spot to gain entry. The NCO’s told him it was foolhardy but perhaps anxious to prove himself, Rudie would not take any notice.
Grabbing hold of the wire with both hands he bravely swung forward into the field whereupon a single bullet pierced the front of his helmet killing him instantly.
Back in the potato field the men were fighting for their lives. “Although there was a row of farmhouses to our left.” Recalls DiCarlo. “Immediately to our front was another building and directly behind that an open-ended barn and two enormous haystacks. Lieutenant Forney, myself, Pvt James ‘Sharkey’ Tarquini, Pfc Bill Briggs, Pfc Godfrey ‘Jon’ Hanson and Pfc Glenn Sweigart were attempting to outflank the machine gun by moving towards the farm when we came under fire from the direction of the haystacks. The house was empty but as we moved closer to the barn we came under more small arms fire. As I ran behind a large pile of bricks next to the house a ricochet sliced open the flesh on my collarbone. ‘Sharkey’, followed by Lt Forney was up front when the firing began. The lieutenant was hit and collapsed while the rest of us returned fire with no real idea of where the Germans actually were? At that moment ‘Sharkey’ displayed incredible courage and sprinted into the house. Using his rifle as a battering ram he smashed through a rear window and ran around the side of the building killing a group of German soldiers. Afterwards still trying to catch his breath Sharkey from Boston, Mass explained what had happened. At the back of the house there was a three-foot high packing crate pushed against the wall under the window. Holding his M1 across his body the diminutive Tarquini, jumped onto the crate and catapulted his way through the glass frame. Once outside he then ran into an alleyway where he killed four Germans who had been shooting at us from behind one of the haystacks – truly amazing. Rough and ready, a superb scout ‘Sharkey’ was never officially recognized for his bravery on that day or any other. We always pulled his chain by saying that he was just ‘too darn ugly’ to get a medal.”
(James 'Sharkey' Tarquini third from left)