There were many “Fighting Texas Aggies” who contributed greatly to the Allied success in WWII. However, there were probably none more so than Richard Brooks from Waco, Texas. And you probably never heard of him. Many have been honored and commemorated down at College Station for their contributions to our military efforts, but he has not been. There is no statue or plaque there commemorating what he did. It is a fact that General Patton greatly admired Texas Aggies. And he said that mainly because of Richard Brooks, my mother’s younger brother. Here is his story:
He graduated and was commissioned an officer in the US Army at just the right time to be sent to England at the start of WWII.
General Patton was legendary there, as you know. He did not participate in the D-day landing. Instead, he was used as a decoy to cause the Germans to suspect a landing near Cherbourg, farther down the coast from Normandy. The Germans feared him above all other Allied leaders. That he was still in England after the D-day landings caused Hitler and most of his generals to think that the main landing was yet to come and be headed by Patton. That is one reason that they did not throw all their massed Panzer Divisions against the Normandy landing and throw the Allied invaders back into the ocean. They felt they needed to hold them back to oppose Patton.
Finally they realized that Normandy was the main force. It got bogged down in the hedge rows in that part of France and also moved slowly because of what many consider the over cautious tactics of Montgomery and General Bradley. They needed to break out of there. That was when General Patton was sent over.
He attacked from down to the right, away from most of the hedge rows. We have all heard how his tanks were out in front of everyone, sending the Germans reeling back. What most have not heard is that someone had to be out in front of those fast moving tanks, to get them across the multitude of bridges that the Germans blew as they retreated, the creeks, the ravines, and the tank traps that the Germans left. That job fell to Patton’s Engineering Corps.
And Richard Brooks was one of the officers in charge of Patton’s Engineering Corps for most all his operations. He had officers above him, but he was the ranking officer in front of those tanks…….”the tip of the spear”.
That made him the ranking officer to free every French town they encountered and the ranking officer to capture every German town they took. In Germany he had orders not to leave an armed population behind them. In each German town and village they took, he would call out the Mayor or “Burgermeister” and order them to pile all their guns in the square to be burned.
Captain Brook’s, father was the Chief Engineer on the Katy Railroad that ran from San Antonio to Kansas City. He was a very Godly man, but with few outside activities other that his important railroading job and church and Sunday school. It was my father who taught Richard how to hunt and fish and to appreciate and care for fine guns.
He told me, as his nephew, that it really pained him to destroy all those fine old firearms. He said that those old Germans would actually cry and shed tears as they threw those old guns onto the fire. Richard said that he almost cried with them. However, he saved back some of the best ones. He sent quite a few of those to me here in Texas. But he saved the very best ones for the small group of pilots that protected him.
See, he was out in front of those tanks. The only primary protection that he had was the small squadron of fighter planes that were assigned to strafe and fire their rockets in front of the tanks. They were all Douglas P-47s. Their air cooled 18-cylinder, Pratt & Whitney radial engines generated 2,600 hp. At a speed of 440 mph their speed equaled that of the much lighter and more glamorous P-51 Mustangs. While the Mustangs carried six 50 caliber guns and 1,800 rounds, these “Jugs” as they were called, each had eight 50 caliber guns with 3,400 rounds of ammo. The pilots just loved them. They had roomy cockpits and big comfortable seats.
Each of these planes could carry 3,000 lbs of armament, half that of a Flying Fortress. Its bombs and 5-inch rockets were very effective against those big German tanks. Since they were stationed at captured German airfields just behind Patton’s forces, they flew as many as 3 missions on many days. It was dangerous work,
flying those low-level sorties against the radar controlled anti-aircraft guns of the Germans. Many were shot down, and on those low-level strafing runs, your parachute was useless. However, without those brave P-47 Thunderbolt pilots, Brooks could never have done his job.
Brooks made sure that the pilots of those planes got some really fine German firearms, particularly the thin-walled 16 gauge shotguns.
One of the two of those 16 gages he sent me was so unique. It was a twin barrel 16-gauge shotgun with an 8mm rifle barrel just underneath the shotgun barrels. It had the standard shotgun sighting rib down between the shot gun barrels, but when one wished to fire the rifle, he could push on a little tab on the stock and a rifle sight would rise up right out of the shotgun rib.
He related how on one occasion they captured a big warehouse that was totally filled with the 22 caliber Mauser rifles that the Germans used to train their youth. He made sure that I got one of those, also, complete with its bayonet.
So, you might ask what all this has to do with the theme of this book about God intervening in a particular way with his Spirit Power to cause real, tangible miracles. Let me tell you.
As they were moving across Germany, one day Captain Brooks was down in a tree-covered ravine deciding the best way to get Patton’s tanks across it. A German soldier threw one their shrapnel grenades way up in the air over him. It exploded at the top of its arc. One cubical piece of the shrapnel slammed down and hit Captain Brooks. It entered the top of his back, went completely through his body, and came out against his belt. He said that all he felt was the hot metal burning his stomach and lodged against his belt from the inside. They rushed him to the field hospital, but he needed almost no medical attention.
After the war, when he first returned, he showed me that piece of shrapnel. His children told me that he never even showed it to them. It was cubical and about 3/4 of an inch on each side. What I will never forget is that on one side it had rough, serrated ribs; and there was khaki wool imbedded in that metal where it had gone through his wool coat. Now just think about it. How could a piece of hot metal that big go all the way through a man’s body from the top of his back down to the belt around his stomach and miss every blood vessel, and every organ, and every nerve? I consider that an absolute miracle that I literally held in my hand.
They say that Captain Brooks was back in action in only three days. A host of people were praying for protection and success for the Allied troops. Captain Brooks was so important to that effort at that very time; I just know that this miracle was one of the answers to those prayers. He needed to be there in front of those tanks.
Brooks and Patton were very frustrated that they were not allowed to circle and capture that sizable German army that was allowed to escape out of the forest after the Battle of the Bulge.
They were really frustrated when Eisenhower and Bradley held them at the Siegfried Line in what seemed like forever. They could have easily captured Berlin way before the Russians ever got there. Let’s not get too deep into the politics, but that was for sure a political decision, just like it was to let the Russians take and control most all of Eastern Europe. Our media never showed all those East European troops on our side committing public suicide in protest for allowing the Russians to take over their countries and make Communist satellites out of them.
Brooks was very self-effacing. He protested when they pinned all those medals on him. They wanted to promote him to Lt. Colonel or at least Major, but he insisted that he remain Captain Brooks.
Upon his return to Texas, he related a few of his experiences to me. One day I was allowed to see the sizable pile of medals he had been awarded. He protested every time that he did not want one, but they awarded them to him anyway. I picked one shiny medal up and asked him what it was awarded for. He insisted that he did not want it, but that they pinned it on him anyway; but I insisted on knowing what it was for.
He finally agreed to tell me. He said that they had fought all day and all the next night to save a particular old bridge in a German town. He did not want the Germans to blow it. He wanted it for his tanks to get across the river. Finally, they succeeded, and all the tanks got across. He said that he was so exhausted that he was just leaning against the far end of the bridge after the last tank had passed over.
At just that moment he was amazed to see a hidden steal door open across the road from him at the end of the bridge. He said that an immaculately dressed German officer stepped out and walked over and asked permission to surrender his troops to him. With Captain Brooks’ acquiescence, the German officer barked out orders and German troops started exiting……..several hundred of them. They were hidden in tunnels built into the end of that bridge and beyond.
Brooks told the German officer to take charge of the troops and have his junior officers to march them back across the bridge and down into the town where Patton and his staff were ensconced.
So, across the bridge and down into the town marched most of a whole German battalion with only Captain Brooks as their captor. They say it was an amazing sight. They insisted on giving him the medal for such a feat.
Under the stress and pressure of combat sometimes communications were quite short and even curt. An example was when in the Battle of the Bulge the German Panzer Divisions had the crossroads town of Bastogne completely surrounded. It happened during some of the worst snow and cold ever recorded in that area. On December 22, 1944 two German officers from the 47th Panzer Corp. and two German enlisted men from the 901st Panzer Grenadier Regiment came walking down the Arlon Road south of Bastogne carrying two white flags. The Germans had their own blindfolds with them. The two German enlisted men were left at a foxhole outpost and the two blindfolded German officers were taken to the Command Post of F Company, 327th Glider Infantry Regiment, which was a large foxhole located in a wooded area about a quarter mile away.
The Germans, a Major Wagner and a Lt. Henke (who could speak English) both from the 47th Panzer Corp., had a one- page, typed surrender demand in English. It noted that the Americans were completely surrounded. It said that the Germans would wait two hours and then open up with heavy artillery and four units of Anti-Aircraft guns and completely annihilate everyone in Bastogne and the surrounding area if the Americans did not agree to surrender. It appealed to “the Americans’ well-known humanity” that all the civilians there would not be killed if the surrender was accepted. It was signed “The German Commander”.
The paper was taken to the commanding General of the 101st Airborne, Gen. Anthony McAuliffe. After conferring with his staff, he sent back this typed short, curt reply that was typed in the center of a single sheet of paper:
To the German Commander,
The American Commander
The second in command at Bastogne was Col. Bud Harper, the 327th’s Regimental Commander. Others above him were all wounded or out of action. He was not there. He was out inspecting his unit’s positions. He was summoned on the radio and he came in to their headquarters. Gen. McAuliffe had him read the German letter and before he could reply with an answer, the clerk came in with Gen. McAuliffe’s typed reply. When he read it, he just laughed and said that would be adequate.
The two German officers were still waiting at that foxhole out in the woods. They felt that since they had delivered a formal offer of surrender, they were due a formal reply. Gen. McAuliffe sent Col. Harper himself out to them with his reply.
The two blindfolded German officers were then driven to their entry point at the Arlon Road. The group was rejoined by PFC Premetz who could speak German. The blindfolds were removed and the Germans opened the envelope and looked at the reply. They asked, “What does this mean?” They obviously didn’t understand the American slang. Harper and Premetz discussed how to explain it. Col. Harper suggested, “Tell them to take a flying s**t!” Premetz thought about it, then straightened up, faced the Germans and said, “Du kannst zum Teufel gehen.” He told Harper it meant “You can go to Hell.” Then Col. Harper said, “If you continue to attack, we will kill every damn German that tries to break into this city.” The German Lt. Henke replied, “We will kill many Americans. This is war.” Harper then said, “On your way Bud, and good luck to you.” After Lt. Henke translated, the major acknowledged. They saluted and the Germans started to walk away. Harper angrily called out to them, “If you don’t know what I am talking about, simply go back to your commanding officer and tell him to just plain, ‘Go to Hell’.” After Henke translated, the major got angry and stormed off.
I am sure you have heard how General Patton was ordered to make a 90 degree turn and see if he could get to Bastogne and relieve it.
The artillery of the Germans had already been moved on to the west so they did not lay down the promised artillery barrage, but they bombed that night and heavily the next two with the their Luftwaffe. They made 17 attacks with tanks and troops, but the 101st doggedly held out.
Gen. Patton’s 3rd Army tanks did arrive at 4:50 in the afternoon on the day after Christmas. He had made one of the most amazing forced marches in US Army history and broke through the German encirclement.
The Rhine River was the last main barrier to the German heartland. The Germans had blown all the bridges across it as a defense. However, their explosive charges did not bring down the Ludendorff bridge at Remagen as they had planned. The extremely brave US Army engineers cut the wires and kicked off the remaining explosive charges that were still there, under heavy machine gun fire. A movie was made about it (The Bridge at Remagen).
However, the Americans were able to get a fairly sizeable group of soldiers and some armor across before the bridge finally came down. They were enough to make a fairly safe bridgehead on the other side of the river. However, they were not nearly enough to repulse the German counterattack that was being readied to annihilate them.
Captain Brooks had saved back a sizeable number of rubber rafts and the metal tracks to lay across them for just such an occasion. In nothing flat he had a bridge across the Rhine there. Patton’s tanks and support trucks rolled across. They not only saved the troops providing the beachhead, they began to roll into the area of the German Ruhr, the German heartland. However, before they charged straight ahead, they made a quick arc to encircle and capture 22,000 German troops.
Patton was just ecstatic that he had beaten Bradley and Montgomery across the Rhine. When Central Command heard about it, Eisenhower radioed wanting to know how he had done it. Montgomery and Bradley were still stopped by the Rhine River. Patton’s crossing was totally unexpected, especially by the Germans.
It is said that he sent back one of those short, curt replies just like Gen. McAuliffe did at Bastogne. Patton’s reply was only…………”One Texas Aggie!!!”
And here is the rest of the story:
In their blitz across Germany, Capt. Brooks told me of a German aviator that came down one day near them.
He was captured and brought to Capt. Brooks. He could speak very good English. Since they were moving so fast, there was really no place to put him under proper custody. He was quite well behaved and stayed with Brooks for several days. My Uncle Dick Brooks told me that the German Aviator Officer was just adamant that they should not be fighting each other. He strongly contended that: “They should all be fighting the Russians, together”.
Richard Brooks was as appalled as the other soldiers by what he saw as they liberated the German concentration camps. He did not want to talk much about it, but I learned this much about Dachau.
On April 25, 1945 the US Seventh Army’s 45th Infantry’s Division was tired, dirty, and pushing on to take the German town of Munich. Just ten miles from Munich is when they came upon Dachau.
The first thing they saw was 40 German freight cars lined up on the train rails leading into the camp. They looked in and were shocked and amazed to see that the cars were stacked full of human corpses. Later count showed that there were 3,219 stacked in those cars.
The 45th was in full battle mode and all hyped-up with the adrenalin of battle. They were immediately fired on by German SS troops in the towers of the concentration camp. They dispatched those and warily entered the camp, for they did not know how many SS troops may be lurking there to attack them, and they knew how dangerous and brutal the German SS was.
Then they saw the first of the 30,000 emaciated prisoners who were still there. 7,000 had been marched off in a “death march” the day before from Dachau to Tegernsee by the Germans in which most were either shot because they could not keep up or just died from the exertion and starvation in their emaciated state.
The troops of the 3rd Battalion saw the kilns where the corpses were still being burned. There were piles of corpses waiting to be burned. The stench of death just permeated the air. They were in full battle gear and still all hyped, not knowing who was there to shoot at them. And they were just overwhelmed and appalled at these sites.
The 3rd Battalion of the 45th started rounding up the German SS officers and guards. It was never reported in the media, but these US troops were so appalled and viscerally sickened that they lined up many of those SS guards and started executing them. They had encountered SS troops before and knew how brutal and fanatical they were. These men of the 45th said: “To Hell with the Geneva Convention rules.” And they started taking their own revenge in their righteous indignation.
You don’t believe it? Look at this shot:
Some of the prisoners had not been there too long. They were not yet totally emaciated. When they saw the US soldiers rounding-up the Waffen SS Officers and guards, they became emboldened and took after the other German guards and officers.
One of the prisoners, Walenty Lenarczyk, said that immediately following the liberation the prisoners gained a newfound sense of courage. They caught the SS men “and knocked them down and nobody could see whether they were stomped or what, but they were killed.” As Lenarczyk put it, “We were, all these years, animals to them and it was our birthday.”
There’s a reporting of two liberated prisoners beating a German guard to death with a shovel and another witnessed account of a liberated prisoner stomping repeatedly on the face of a guard.
Two of the most notorious prison guards had been stripped naked by the prisoners before they were shot.
Jack Goldman was liberated at Dachau and became a U.S. Veteran of the Korean War. His father was killed in Auschwitz.
Goldman reflected on the Dachau liberation, the subsequent events that transpired, and the idea of vengeance. Though he doesn’t preach hatred, he understood the feelings of those prisoners.
“I knew men in camp who had sworn by everything that was holy to them that if they ever got out that they would kill every damn German in sight. They had to watch their wives mutilated. They had to watch their babies tossed in the air and shot.”
One vivid memory Goldman recalled from the liberation was the American troops taking their names. He said, “For the first time, we were no longer only numbers.”
After word of American soldiers killing SS Guards at Dachau spread, an investigation was ordered by Lt. Col. Joseph Whitaker. The “Investigation of Alleged Mistreatment of German Guards at Dachau” as it was called produced documents that were marked “secret.” Soldiers spoke under sworn testimony and in the aftermath were inclined to speak little more of whatever happened at the Dachau Concentration Camp after it was liberated.
Felix L. Sparks was a general who wrote a personal account of the events.
General Sparks wrote that, despite more exaggerated claims, “The total number of German guards killed at Dachau during that day most certainly did not exceed fifty, with thirty probably being a more accurate figure.”
I think Sparks was just trying to make things look better. Take a look at that last picture again.
The stories of US troops taking revenge in behalf of those prisoners and corpses was kept secret until 2001 when certain archives of WWII were finally released.
After the war Captain Brooks became Chief Engineer of American Airlines. He was first stationed in Dallas, and AA kept promising that they were going to move to Dallas, but he finally had to move to their headquarters in New York. They eventually did move to Dallas, but way too late for his purposes. He eventually resigned and moved back to Dallas to work for Braniff.
However, he knew something that he could never talk about. It deeply disturbed him all the rest of his life. One night it even caused him to take all his medals out into the backyard in New York and burn them.
I will just mention what it was without getting too deep into it. Others have completely confirmed it, and even written books about it.
General Patton was seriously considering coming back to the States and running for President. It was the opinion of those who knew, that he would have for sure been elected. Eisenhower was, and Patton was way more popular than Eisenhower at the time. Patton knew all about the Deep State, though it was not called such then. He did not owe anybody anything. He would have for sure cleaned it up. It was way worse then than it probably is now, even though it is still way bad now. We had not even translated the Verona Tapes back then. (Look them up on Google/Wikipedia.) There were so very many Russian/Communist agents all through our government. Our Intelligence people recorded all the radio transmissions going out of the US back to Russia, but they were never translated until many years later. That was the Verona tapes. Senator Joseph McCarthy wanted to do something about that plethora of Communist agents. He held hearings on the subject, but our liberal media just excoriated him. They even make his name into a bad word that is still used today…….”McCarthyism”.
It has never been publicized by our Media, but when we finally translated all those tapes, it showed that not
Only was McCarthy correct, he only scratched the surface.
The Deep State could not let Patton come back and clean that whole mess up. They could not let that happen. It is well documented now, that they had Patton assassinated. When he did not die from their staged “accident” at that railroad crossing, and was getting better, in collaboration with assistance from Russian Intelligence, they had him injected with the Russian drug that gives the appearance of a heart attack.
Brooks knew all that, but he had to just hold it inside until the day he died.
One thought on “Richard Brooks”