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Sgt. York's battlefield thought to be found

 
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BerichtGeplaatst: 10 Dec 2006 7:51    Onderwerp: Sgt. York's battlefield thought to be found Reageer met quote

Sgt. York's battlefield thought to be found

BUT RESEARCHER DISPUTES TENNESSEE EXPERTS' CLAIMS ON WORLD WAR I SITE

By Bill Poovey
ASSOCIATED PRESS

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Two Tennessee researchers who think they pinpointed the World War I battlefield where Sgt. Alvin C. York's valor earned him a Medal of Honor showed off a display of artifacts yesterday, including shell casings found in France that they contend came from York's sidearm.

York was part of an Oct. 8, 1918, surprise attack on German machine gunners who were eating breakfast in a forest overlooking a pastoral opening. When the sergeant in command of the 17-man unit was wounded, York, a onetime backwoods pacifist from Tennessee who had become his unit's sharpshooter, led seven others in killing 25 Germans and taking 80 prisoners.

A total of 132 German soldiers either surrendered or were captured by the time York, then a corporal, marched the POWs to the U.S. lines. York's deeds made him a national hero and were immortalized in the 1941 Oscar-winning film Sergeant York starring Gary Cooper.

The claim by Middle Tennessee State University geographer Tom Nolan and Tennessee Tech historian Michael Birdwell that they located the precise location of the battle remains disputed.

Military historian Army Lt. Col. Douglas Mastriano said in October that four years of research found 19 cartridges he believes came from York's .45 caliber gun at a site in a different valley about 600 yards away.

"The claim by Michael Birdwell and Tom Nolan that they found the spot where York earned the Medal of Honor is completely wrong," Mastriano said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press. "Their declaration is not supported by battlefield archeology, German archival data, military doctrine or terrain analysis and most importantly, the Germans that York fought and captured were never there."

The Tennessee researchers stand by their conclusion, saying they don't know the details of Mastriano's work. They described the discovery of a U.S. Army collar disk stamped "328 Infantry G," which was York's company, as the most prominent find in their second expedition to the site northeast of Paris.

"This makes it very, very clear we are in the right location," Birdwell said.

Nolan said he used a geographic information system to analyze a modern topographic map, information from historic French and German battle maps and maps marked by York's commanding officers to locate the site in rural Ch‰tel-ChŽhŽry, France.

The collar disk was among more than 1,400 artifacts, including spent rifle and handgun rounds, pieces of German bayonets, gas masks, rifle bolts -- items Nolan said were likely discarded by the Germans when they surrendered to York. They also recovered .45-caliber cartridge cases they think came from York and another member of the unit.

"We suspect some of the 45s were fired by him and another soldier," Nolan said.

Nolan said it was the type of artifacts and "where they are in relation to each other" that match with descriptions of the battle by York and others. York died in 1964.

Nolan said he was certain the location is the battle site.

The battleground researchers said a marker dedication ceremony, with the mayor of Ch‰tel and other French officials and archaeologists participating, has been planned at the site in October 2007.

York lived in a cabin just south of Kentucky's Clinton County with 10 siblings, and Birdwell said the Army provided him better living conditions and food than he had at home. Birdwell said York had little formal education and used his political clout after the war to push for a school in his community.

Bob Pile, a greenhouse business owner in York's hometown of Pall Mall, said York is "by far the most celebrated person" in all of Middle Tennessee.

Pile said in a telephone interview that York's legacy is not his military heroics but delivering on that promise to "bring education" to children in his community and the eventual opening of the Alvin C. York Institute, a school in Fentress County.

"He is revered more for that," said Pile, a county commissioner.
http://www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/news/state/16200932.htm?source=rss&channel=kentucky_state
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BerichtGeplaatst: 10 Dec 2006 9:29    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Searchers pinpoint Sgt. York site
Relics in mud reveal scene of WWI hero's stand


By LEON ALLIGOOD
Staff Writer

MURFREESBORO — For two professors seeking to pinpoint the location of Sgt. Alvin York's famous October 1918 fight with the Germans, the proof was not in the pudding. It was in the mud.

"It was just waiting there for us to find it," said Michael Birdwell, a York scholar on the history faculty at Tennessee Tech.
"It" was a collar disk, a piece of metal a little larger than a nickel. The object, part of a World War I American soldier's uniform, was stamped with the number "328" and the letter "G," which stands for York's regiment and company, respectively.

The discovery in the French countryside was announced Friday at a news conference at Middle Tennessee State University.

Last month, from Nov. 12 to 26, Birdwell and Tom Nolan, an MTSU geographer whose specialty is using global positioning data, returned to the forested area northeast of Paris for the second time this year. Their first trip last March convinced the pair of researchers that they were close to solving the riddle that had been obfuscated by the passage of nearly nine decades.

Finding the collar disk was their eureka moment.

"I dug it up and handed it over to Jim Deppen," Birdwell said. Deppen is a Nashvillian who also was on the trip.

Deppen took the find to a nearby creek to wash off the mud. Soon enough, Deppen could see the numbers.

"He began shouting 'three-twenty-eight, three-twenty-eight, three-twenty-eight.' That's when we knew," Birdwell said.

1,400 artifacts dug up

Before finding the collar disk, the team had uncovered a treasure trove of WWI memorabilia. All told, the group unearthed more than 1,400 items, including German gas masks, German bayonets, casings from German and American rifle rounds, and shell casings from a Colt .45-caliber pistol.

The latter were particularly important because on their first trip to France the men found no .45 casings. After using his rifle to dispatch a number of Germans, York turned to his sidearm, firing 21 times, according to Birdwell.

As it turned out, Birdwell and Nolan were very close to the location in March. A primary source of information that the pair used was a map of the battlefield drawn by two of York's superiors. Each officer had drawn a line indicating the position of American forces. While the map was not a complete match, the officers' memories placed the battle line in the same area of hills and hollows.

"As you can see, the preponderance of what we found was between the two lines drawn" by the officers, said Nolan, pointing to an image projected on the wall.

Nolan, director of the R.O. Fullerton Laboratory for Spatial Technology at MTSU, said he basically took those and other old maps and overlaid them on current images of the site created from satellite photos. Nolan said his partnership with Birdwell, whom he has known about a decade, is unusual because "historians are not interested in technology and people in technology are not interested in history."

Birdwell added jokingly: "Science and history can work together. We get along."

Rivals dispute claim

The Tennesseans were not the only group looking for the site of York's stand. A group headed by U.S. Army Lt. Col. Douglas Mastriano, now serving in Germany, issued an e-mail statement Friday that Birdwell and Nolan's claim is "100% wrong."

Mastriano claims to have found — at a different site — casings from the 21 rounds York fired from his .45-caliber pistol. His statement on Friday did not indicate how far his site is from the site identified by Birdwell and Nolan.

The lieutenant colonel could not be reached for comment at his home in Heidelberg.

Officially, the French government has not endorsed the findings of either search team.

"We have until March 1 to get our report to them," Birdwell said.

However, the French government is planning a dedication ceremony next October at the site identified by the Middle Tennessee researchers.

"We're going to be there," Birdwell said.

http://www.dicksonherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061209/NEWS01/612090351
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BerichtGeplaatst: 10 Dec 2006 9:30    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Sgt. York honored in classic movie, museum, park
World War I hero Alvin C. York was a farmer in Pall Mall, Tenn., in Fentress County. He received the Medal of Honor for his heroic acts in France.
York killed about 20 German machine gunners on Oct. 8, 1918. Then, he and eight other soldiers took 132 German prisoners.
In 1941, York's story was made into an Oscar-winning film starring Gary Cooper. His popularity soared again.
In 1993, the Sergeant York Patriotic Foundation was formed. It tries to make the story of his wartime courage and his postwar efforts to improve life in the mountain community relevant for all time.
A high school, Alvin C. York Agricultural Institute, was built in Jamestown after York went on a speaking tour to raise funds. The school, opened in 1925, is operated by the state.
The Sgt. Alvin C. York State Park is in Pall Mall in northern Fentress County. York died in 1964 at age 76 and is buried near the state park.
SOURCE: Tennessean archives
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BerichtGeplaatst: 10 Dec 2006 9:32    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Saturday, 12/09/06
Tracing Sgt. Alvin York

Originally published March 24, 2006

The possible discovery of new information about Tennessee's famed Sgt. Alvin York sheds light on one of the state's more prominent heroes, but it should also open up history to more Tennessee youngsters.

Two enterprising Tennessee professors — Michael Birdwell of Tennessee Tech and Tom Nolan of Middle Tennessee State University — used their own money to help uncover what is believed to be where young Cpl. Alvin York of Pall Mall took on a nest of Germans and captured 132 prisoners.

York, a bona fide Volunteer State hero, won the Medal of Honor and was named a sergeant. Hollywood came calling with the handsome, low-key Gary Cooper taking the role of York; and a movie classic was born.

Doubling up their disciplines of history and map-making, Birdwell and Nolan used the technologically advanced Global Positioning System together with previous notes and maps left behind from participants at the time.

More research will be needed, but the initial findings certainly seem encouraging that the site of York's triumph has been found. The researchers found 159 shell casings and three live rounds from a German machine gun. Then they found evidence that might have come from York's own Lee-Enfield Model 17 rifle: 30-06 casings.

The historical record is never closed, but technology has helped connect dots that have baffled historians for nearly a century. The discovery is as much a triumph for technology as it is the dogged pursuit of the facts by Birdwell and Nolan.

This is a perfect opportunity for young Tennesseans to learn that Alvin York is much more than the name on a public building. Just two months ago, archaeologists from the University of Memphis discovered the first tomb in Egypt's Valley of the Kings since 1922 when Tutankhamen's tomb was unearthed. It's a thrilling time for academics. Tennessee should be proud of the work being done in its state universities. Tennesseans would be even prouder to see education officials use this history lesson from World War I to inspire students for at least another century.

http://www.dicksonherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061209/NEWS01/61209002
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BerichtGeplaatst: 10 Dec 2006 9:35    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Saturday, 12/09/06
Scholars put Sgt. York's WWI heroics on the map
GPS leads to site in France where Tennessean fought

By LEON ALLIGOOD
Staff Writer
Originally published March 22, 2006

A strange occurrence took place recently deep in the Argonne forest of France. Two Midstate university scholars, Michael Birdwell and Tom Nolan, whooped and hollered like Predators fans reacting to a score.

"We were screaming and shouting," Birdwell said.

In fact, they had "scored."

Combining their expertise — Birdwell in history and Nolan in high-tech mapmaking — the pair pinpointed with satellite accuracy the site where Sgt. Alvin C. York silenced a nest of German machine gunners and captured 132 prisoners during World War I.

For his heroics in October 1918, the man from Pall Mall, Tenn., was awarded the Medal of Honor.

While his deed has not been forgotten, the specific site of the action was never officially marked. Through the decades, memories faded and the landscape changed.

In recent years, York's battlefield position has been debated. Birdwell and Nolan believe their work may settle the argument.

The pair spent the first week of this month — spring break at their respective universities — in the snow-covered hills of the Argonne.

They dug for artifacts (spent shell casings, mostly) in the frozen ground with a mattock. But unlike other researchers who had tried to pinpoint the location, the Tennesseans were outfitted with maps compiled using materials from the National Archive in Washington, from York's personal journal and dozens of other pieces of data.

Nolan, who is working on his doctoral degree and will use his York exploration as his thesis subject, is an expert in geographic information systems.

"Basically, what GIS allows you to do is to combine information from a variety of sources into one database so you can view it all in the same scale. Essentially, it allows you to overlay things,'' said Nolan, who is director of the R.O. Fullerton Laboratory for Spatial Technology at Middle Tennessee State University.

Nolan used data such as maps of French defensive trenches and of German battlefield locations to create a basic map of the area. He then added information from a 1927 re-enactment of York's famous deed and from York's personal wartime journal.

"We were able to superimpose all these things on a modern topographic map which was downloaded to a handheld GPS data recorder,'' Nolan said. Global positioning system devices pinpoint latitude and longitude locations using satellites orbiting above the earth.

When they were in the field, the men were able to check their position against the historical landmarks that had been added to the GPS map.

"That's why we knew where to dig,'' said Birdwell, associate professor of history at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville.

Of course, there were still problems once they arrived on site. Logging had altered the course of a stream flowing through the area, so they had to make adjustments to their map. Instead of digging on the west side of the stream, the pair moved across the water to the east side.

On March 7, they made their first significant finds: 159 shell casings and three live rounds from a German machine-gun position, 51 live rounds of ammo for a light French machine gun and several French grenades.

The best was yet to come, however.

"It was getting close to dusky dark, very late in the day, when we found .30-06 casings which we believe York fired from his Lee-Enfield Model 17 rifle,'' Birdwell said.

"We found seven that day and an empty clip. The next day, we found more."

Birdwell, curator of the Medal of Honor winner's papers, said York fired three magazines of five rounds each on that day in 1918.

"We recovered 12 of 15 rounds that we believe he fired. They were buried 6-9 inches below the surface. We're 80% certain that we have found the right location. If we had found any spent .45 (-caliber) rounds, that would have clinched it because, after firing his rifle, he then shot the patrol that charged him with his pistol, shooting lefthanded,'' Birdwell said.

Alas, no .45-caliber casings were found. The two men suspect the .45 casings may have deteriorated in the boggy ground.

"We would have to use a screen to sift through and find pieces. I'm sure they are there, but we just weren't prepared for that kind of digging,'' Birdwell said.

The men, who paid for the trip out of their own salaries, hope to return to France for a more extensive search of the site. "We're hoping that it will generate some interest and support so we can go back and finish up and settle the dispute once and for all, without a doubt,'' Birdwell said.

News of the two men's discovery spread quickly. French authorities who had given permission for the dig wanted to see the spent casings, which they allowed to be returned to the United States. The French are in discussions to create a memorial on the site.

In Tennessee, state historian Walter Durham of Gallatin was impressed by the find.

"This is a great example of what GPS can do. It's comparable to what DNA testing is doing in medicine and law.''

He said knowing the precise location for a historical event is important.

"Just as when you go to The Hermitage, you know that Andrew Jackson had been in that space at one time, it gives you a locus to orient yourself.

"You can say, 'This is the very spot where something happened.' That's important for future generations to know." •
http://www.dicksonherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061209/OPINION/61209001


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BerichtGeplaatst: 10 Dec 2006 9:38    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Sgt. York casings to be given to museums

I got an email from Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Mastriano, whose discovery of the site in France where Sgt. Alvin York and his men captured four German officers and 128 men and marched them back across the lines was reported around the world. The Colonel writes:

“I am pleased to formally announce that 21 of the 21 .45 Colt ACPs that SGT York fired were found in October 2006. The spot matches the 1919 post war photo and is congruent with both American and German testimony/records. The find was where the German archival data led us. There is no doubt that we found the “York spot.” It was an honor to stand on this hollowed ground - where York earned his Medal of Honor. It was quite a moving experience to actually hold the cartridges that were once in his hands. I am humbled that God has blessed us so. It was incredibly hard work - but it was well worth it.

“The discovery does not end the work. The group is working closely with the mayor of Châtel Chéhéry, Roland Destenay, to create a Sergeant York historic trail to ensure everyone has a chance to walk in the steps of Alvin York to ensure that his legacy is honored. As to the artifacts, the group will donate portions to the mayor of Châtel Chéhéry, the York family and various American museums.”

I hope that some of the 21 casings will go to the York museum at the Sergeant Alvin York Gristmill And Park in Pall Mall Tennessee and to the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville.

The Colonel further writes: “In addition to the Colt ACPs, we also found four of the .45 slugs he fired. They were in a row along the exact area where German LT Endriss led the bayonet attack against him. I am pleased to confirm that the archeological evidence is consistent with the York story and puts to an end recent second guessing and revisionist theories to the contrary.

“The mayor of Châtel Chéhéry walked through the area and was shown the artifacts - and he is in agreement with us that the spot was found and that the search is over. He has already agreed to our plan to build a historic trail retracing York’s steps. I have a tentative agreement from three Boy Scout troops to help in this endeavor to start work in the spring.

“It is a great day for the York legacy.” Indeed.

More photos after the break.

De foto's en bron:
http://tennesseeguy.wordpress.com/2006/11/28/sgt-york-casings-to-be-given-to-museums/#respond
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BerichtGeplaatst: 10 Dec 2006 9:43    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Gents - good debate - Jiffin1 asked for references - below find a portion of what I used to find the York spot.

As you can imagine - the German records are quite precise - and there is only ONE place in the entire Argonne Forest - according to the Germans - where this could have transpired - sadly Dr. Bridwell did not visit the German archives and missed the mark.

Also - visit this link to read my article in the SEP Military History Magazine that gives the German side of the York story.

http://www.historynet.com/magazines/military_history/3717286.html

This link is about York's character (click July Newsletter)
http://www.billrudge.org/newsletterarchiv.html

God bless - appreciate your prayers - headed to a war-zone soon.

Selected references - this is not the complete list of my important German resources - just a flavor...

2nd Machine Company, 2nd Landwehr Division, Kriegstagebuch, October 1918, translated by Doug Mastriano.

Die Württembergishchen Regimenter im Weltkrieg 1914-1918, Band 25, Das Württembergishche Landwehr Infanterie Regiment nr. 120 translated by Sonja Gleichmann and Doug Mastriano, pp 161-173.

Landwehr-Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 120, Regimental structures and all operations 1914 – 1918,

120 Landwehr Regiment Kriegstagebuch REP M 411, 381-383,

120 Landwehr Regiment Kriegstagebuch of the Regimental Staff, 01 July 1918 – 01 December 1918.

I Battalion, 120 Landwehr Regiment Kriegstagebuch translated by Doug Mastriano.

I Battalion, 120 Landwehr Regiment Battle Account/History 23 September 1918 – 18 October 1918, translated by Doug Mastriano.

II Battalion, 120 Landwehr Regiment translated by Doug Mastriano.

II Battalion, 120 Landwehr Regiment Battle Account/History, October 1918, translated by Doug Mastriano.

II Battalion, 120 Landwehr Regiment Kriegstagebuch 21 September 1918 through 21 October 1918 translated by Doug Mastriano.

III Battalion, 120 Landwehr Regiment Kriegstagebuch translated by Doug Mastriano.

Die Württembergishchen Regimenter im Weltkrieg 1914-1918, Band 27, Das Württembergishche Landwehr Infanterie Regiment nr. 122 translated by Sonja Gleichmann and Doug Mastriano.

122 Landwehr Regiment Kriegstagebuch, translated by Doug Mastriano.

122 Landwehr Regiment Situation Report and History, translated by Doug Mastriano.

III Battalion, 122 Landwehr Regiment Kriegstagebuch 26 September 1918 – 18 October 1918, translated by Doug Mastriano.

125th Landwehr Regiment Kriegstagebuch, translated by Doug Mastriano.

125 Landwehr Regiment Kriegstagebuch of the Regimental Staff, October 1918. translated by Doug Mastriano.

125 Landwehr Regiment Kriegstagebuch, July – Nnovember 1918. translated by Doug Mastriano.

I Battalion, 125 Landwehr Regiment Kriegstagebuch, translated by Doug Mastriano.

II Battalion 125 Landwehr Regiment Kriegstagebuch, translated by Doug Mastriano.

III Battalion, 125 Landwehr Regiment Kriegstagebuch, translated by Doug Mastriano.

III Battalion, 125 Landwehr Regiment Leader Roster, 01 July – 04 December 1918, translated by Doug Mastriano.

1st Guard Field Artillery Regiment, written by Herrmann Kohn. Defense of the Tiefland Sector of Group Argonne, September –

4th Guard Foot Artillery Regiment, written by Lieutenant Colonel Freiherr von Braun. Defense of the Tiefland Sector of Group Argonne, September – October 1918, Translated by Major Thos. C. Bourke, Field Artillery-Reserve 1930.

1st Guard Foot Artillery Regiment, written by General Richard von Berendt. Defense of the Tiefland Sector of Group Argonne, September – October 1918, Translated by Major Thos. C. Bourke, Field Artillery-Reserve 1930.

270th Field Artillery Regiment, written by Dr. (Lieutenant) Hans Wiglow. Defense of the Tiefland Sector of Group Argonne, September – October 1918, Translated by Major Thos. C. Bourke, Field Artillery-Reserve 1930.

Gruppe Argonne unit deployment locations/unit situations/front line trace of German forces, 6 October 1918 (Nr. 46) (Generalkommando z.b.v. 58, Fifth German Army, German Imperial Army)

Gruppe Argonne unit deployment locations, 7 October 1918 (Nr. 47) (Generalkommando z.b.v. 58, Fifth German Army, German Imperial Army)

Gruppe Argonne Attack plan/objectives between Fleville and Gesnes, Ia 6512, 7 October 1918 (Nr. 47a) (Generalkommando z.b.v. 58, Fifth German Army, German Imperial Army)

Gruppe Argonne and Gruppe Aisne unit deployment locations, 8 October 1918, 1:25,000 (Nr. 50, Nr. 51) (Generalkommando z.b.v. 58, Fifth German)

Gruppe Argonne Unit Order of Battle, 7 October 1918, (Generalkommando z.b.v. 58, Fifth German Army, German Imperial Army)

2. Württemberg Landwehr Division Argonne Defensive Line, Ia 5608, 31 August 1918 (Nr. 2Cool (2nd Württemberg Landwehr Division)

2nd Württemberg Landwehr Division, Divisional Situation Map/Overlay, 4 October 1918, 1:25,000,

2nd Württemberg Landwehr Division, Divisional Situation Map/Overlay, 5 October 1918, 1:25,000,

2nd Württemberg Landwehr Division, Divisional Situation Map/Overlay, 6 October 1918, 1:25,000 (Generalkommando z.b.v. 58, Fifth German Army, German Imperial Army)

2nd Württemberg Landwehr Division, Divisional Situation Map/Overlay, 7 October 1918, 1:25,000 Ia6503 (Generalkommando z.b.v. 58, Fifth German Army, German Imperial Army),

2nd Württemberg Landwehr Division, Divisional Situation Map/Overlay, 9 October 1918, 1:25,000 (Generalkommando z.b.v. 58, Fifth German Army, German Imperial Army),

2nd Württemberg Landwehr Division, Divisional Situation Map/Overlay, 10 October 1918, 1:25,000 (Generalkommando z.b.v. 58, Fifth German Army, German Imperial Army),

Kriegstagebuch, Personnel Lists 1914 – 1921, Kriegsstammrollen incl. Ersatzbataillon 1914 – 1918, translated by Doug Mastriano.

120 Landwehr Regiment, Band 161 Kriegsranglisten, translated by Doug Mastriano.

II/125 Landwehr Regiment translated by Doug Mastriano.

Württemberg Offizier, Kriegsstammrollen , translated by Doug Mastriano.

Württemberg Offizier, Kriegsstammrollen , translated by Doug Mastriano.

Württemberg Offizier, Kriegsstammrollen , translated by Doug Mastriano.

Personnel Files / Records

120 Landwehr Regiment Kriegsrangeliste, 1914-1918, translated by Doug Mastriano.

122 Landwehr Regiment Kriegsrangeliste, 1914-1918, translated by Doug Mastriano.

II Battalion 125 Landwehr Regiment Kriegsrangeliste, 1914-1918, translated by Doug Mastriano.

III Battalion, 125 Landwehr Regiment Leader Roster, 01 July – 04 December 1918. translated by Doug Mastriano.

Gruppe Argonne, GHQ 19 October 1918, Commanding General von Kleist to the 2nd Württemberg Landwehr Division Situation Report, translated by Doug Mastriano.

2nd Württemberg Landwehr Division Ia Nr. 6632, by General Franke to the Division, 12 October 1918, translated by Doug Mastriano.

Gallwitz, Max von, General of 5th Army and Group Argonne.

Posted: Sat Dec 09, 2006 7:11 pm
This is a fascinating debate. As I recall, Sgt. York became separated from the rest of his company, and performed these deeds singlehandedly.

It would seem that the single button found 600 meters away from 21 shell casings came from another member of Sgt. York's company, and not from Sgt. York's uniform.

IMHO, 21 .45 ACP shell casings trump a single button...

En verder:
http://www.dicksonherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061209/NEWS01/612090351
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