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Devils in Baggy Pants: Ross S. Carter

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  • Devils in Baggy Pants: Ross S. Carter

    "American parachutists - Devils in Baggy Pants - are less than 100 meters from my outpost line. I can't sleep at night; they pop up from nowhere and we never know when or how they will strike next. Seems like the black hearted devils are eveywhere...."

    Found in the diary of a German officer who opposed the 504th on the Anzio beachhead.

    "A history of the 504th Parachute Regiment has been written and a military history will be about the 82nd Airborne Division. What I am writing is not military history but an eyewitness, participated in account and human story of men who fought the enemy to a standstill in many bloody battles all over Europe. I missed only forty-some days of duty with the regiment in three years; and so "was there" when all of these incidents happened."

    Ross S. Carter Duffiel, Virginia October, 1945


    This is the most important book I've ever read. My grandfather served in the same battalion of the 504th, at the same time as Carter, so I grew up with the original print in my house. It's an N.C.O.'s perspective from the States, Africa and then Sicily, Italy, England, Holland and Belgium. It describes the battle of Cheneux, December 20, 1944, the worst airborne fight for the US I know of. If you haven't at least read it, and you are an Airborne enthusiast, you are missing more than I can tell you....
    Last edited by Paul Mann III; 08 May 07, 05:03.
    "This life..., you know, "the life." You’re not gonna get any medals, kid. This is not a hero business; you don’t shoot people from a mile a way. You gotta stand right next to them... blow their heads off."


  • #2
    Staff Sergeant Ross S. Carter a.k.a. "The Arab"

    "My friends call me a refugee from the law of averages." -Ross Carter

    This is Ross Carter, the author of Devils in Baggy Pants. He fought through the entire war with Company C / 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. His depiction of the battle in Cheneux are what pulled me into Military History. I grew up with his book around the house, because of Paul Mann Sr. My grandfather and Ross lived near identical wars, and their two companys worked together in nearly every situation from Africa to Germany. When Ross talks about "The Legion of Doomed Men" he's talking about B & C Companies.

    If anyone wants to see them, I've collected pictures and the real names of nearly every character.

    Most of the reseachers I've come across believe "the Arab" and Ross were the same man.

    The only mystery is "The Master Termite," his death is the saddest thing to me, in any war ever, and no one seems to be able to identify the real man by name, to give him proper credit. He was killed on Christmas 1943.
    Last edited by Paul Mann III; 09 Feb 08, 12:46.
    "This life..., you know, "the life." You’re not gonna get any medals, kid. This is not a hero business; you don’t shoot people from a mile a way. You gotta stand right next to them... blow their heads off."



    • #3
      I have a suprise for you Paul. Its related to all this and should be posted in about a week!


      • #4
        Micheal Losyk a.k.a. "The Polack"

        Michael Losyk

        From the fist Chapter 1. A Beer for Duquesne

        Carter recalls in this chapter that Duquesne had a bit much to drink before a planned jump on Andy's field. They all decided that they would yell "A beer for Duquene" when they jumped.

        A well liked trooper in C Company Michael Losyk, "a lean, happy-go-lucky Polack."

        The Polack was a good guy. Other than overeating, oversleeping or counting his money-he never spent a nickel spontaneously he had no observable weaknesses."

        Carter goes on to recall the practice jump. "My chute opened fast. Happy, contented, thrilled, knowing that I was in the best outfit in the army, I yelled "A beer for Duquesne," and floated down like a giant snowflake. I landed unhurt, rolled up my chute and walked over to join Carlton, a tall, gray eyed Texan. His face was ashen and drawn."

        "I was second man out. My chute opened, and I was starting to yell " A beer for Duquesne, when something bulleted past me uttering horrible screams. It was Losyk falling like a rock with his chute stringing out above him I saw him hit, bounce several feet and lay quiet."

        Losyk was buried in a Catholic service and his buddies got together to remember him that night at the Post Exchange.

        They sang "Cause He Ain't Gonna Jump No More" and toasted a comrade. "No man thought of getting out of the outfit because Losyk got his. We were bound to it by forces bigger than ourselves."

        Losyk was the first man of the "Legion" to die. He was the only man in the battalion without insurance, and after this, no one would sleep in his bunk. They put it outside and got a new one.
        Last edited by Paul Mann III; 09 Feb 08, 12:58.
        "This life..., you know, "the life." You’re not gonna get any medals, kid. This is not a hero business; you don’t shoot people from a mile a way. You gotta stand right next to them... blow their heads off."



        • #5
          A great book, IIRC he died in Alaska and is buried in Virginia.
          Those that forget history are condemed to repeat it.
          If you're going to be one you might as well be a BIG RED ONE


          • #6
            Thomas Lloyd Rodgers a.k.a. "Big Rodgers"

            T.L. Rodgers

            Thomas L. Rodgers who Sgt. McCarthy believed had been killed on June 6th when they both were misdropped on a German Garrison, actually landed in the walled courtyard of the garrison.

            He managed to deploy his Browning automatic rifle and shoot his way out of the area and get to safety. He served with the 507th in combat until 6/15/44, when he engaged the Germans heroically and was killed in action.

            Rodgers’ friends received the news in England that T.L. had been killed in action. According to reports received from his 1st Bn C Company Comrades, he had given a good account of himself.

            They were told that in action near St. Mere Eglise he slew 40 Germans and received the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions.

            Ross Carter wrote 504th C Company trooper wrote of his friend in his book, “Those Devils in Baggy Pants.”… “Big Rodgers was more then just a member of the platoon. He was a staunch pillar in our ranks both morally and physically. He radiated a quiet encouragement that sustained our confidence. In battle, he manifested a courage that translated itself into deeds and a bulwark of security for us all”.

            Last edited by Paul Mann III; 10 Feb 08, 14:04.
            "This life..., you know, "the life." You’re not gonna get any medals, kid. This is not a hero business; you don’t shoot people from a mile a way. You gotta stand right next to them... blow their heads off."



            • #7
              Leon Duquette a.k.a. Duqeunse

              Leon Duquette

              Leon Duquette

              DUQUETTE Leon 6138562 Sgt
              KIA 12/21/44 Cheneux

              "Duke," as we called the gray haired old lumberjack, Army age 27, real age 43, was not at reveille. We concluded that he must have had one drink too many. He was about to be turned in mising, when all of a sudden we saw him lone-rangering toward us on an old bicycle.

              He streamed up bareheaded, his gray hair sticking to his brown face. When he turned to look at us, his bike charged a telephone pole and ricocheted him on his chin, belly and knees to his place in the ranks.

              Duke was killed in the 1/504 PIR attack on Cheneux....
              "This life..., you know, "the life." You’re not gonna get any medals, kid. This is not a hero business; you don’t shoot people from a mile a way. You gotta stand right next to them... blow their heads off."



              • #8
                Great book! I am reading it again. I like the contrast of the typically young clean cut paratrooper of today and the older, less spiffy paratrooper of WW 2. These seemed to be all mature men, some out of their twenties. What a contrast to the youngsters in the 82nd today! I would like to see some enlisted men in the 82nd today try to get away with handlebar mustaches and not saluting officers!

                Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"


                • #9
                  Raymond Levy a.k.a. Finklestein

                  Raymond Levy, of the 1st Battalion / 504th PIR, Co. C. He was from Winthrop, Mass. and was killed in Belgium on December 20, 1944 in the attack on Cheneux.

                  Raymond Levy

                  Finklestein and Homer

                  Finklestein is my favorite of the devils in baggy pants. He was a little guy, like Paul Sr., but the little guys are always the tough one. He was reputed to be the most fearless trooper in the outfit, with unflappable courage in every situation. He volunteered for suicide missions and laughed at those who didn't. He was a founding member of the outfit, and fought all the way to the Battle of the Bulge. The image of his death haunts me daily....

                  "I was halfway over a fence when little Finklestein, already across and a few feet in front of it, was struck by a 20mm shell which exploded his hand grenades and set him afire. He ran back a few feet and collapsed in the barbed wires.

                  Stunned by the first burst of enemy fire, our line faltered. Dimly, I heard the bull voice of Berkely: Go Forward, Men! Kill the Bastards who Killed Finklestein!

                  I continued forward in a daze. About five feet to my left a steady stream of tracers felt for me. 20mm cannon balls, systematically currying the field, exploded in vicious little firecracker puffs of flame. A field piece methodically shelled the center of our advance. Mortar shells kept chewing up the 2nd and 3rd Platoons behind us. Machine guns warped and woofed their stitches across and through the zone ahead; it was man-made mechanized hell.

                  For years, it seemed, since leaving little Finklestein on the fence, I had been walking down the field toward the guns. Gradually the noise of battle had disappeared, as had the past and the future, all my thoughts but one: I know I'll die because my life is forfeit, but I hope I'll last long enough not to go empty handed....

                  "This life..., you know, "the life." You’re not gonna get any medals, kid. This is not a hero business; you don’t shoot people from a mile a way. You gotta stand right next to them... blow their heads off."



                  • #10
                    Wow, its a small world. Kilgore is only 20 miles from home. Best ribs in Texas are in Kilgore.


                    • #11
                      Great stuff Paul, thanks for the pics.


                      • #12
                        Warren R. Williams Jr.

                        First Lieutenant Warren R. Williams Jr. of Sanford, North Carolina graduated from West Point in 1938.

                        In September 1942 Major Reuben H. Tucker had been transferred by Colonel Dunn from the 1st Battalion to the Regimental staff as executive officer and was replaced as CO of the 1st Battalion by Major Warren R. Williams of A Company, who had made two rapid promotions in just four months time.

                        The Red Devil's initial WW II combat mission, "OPERATION HUSKY NUMBER TWO", was the airborne invasion of Sicily under Battalion Commander LTC Warren R. Williams in July 1943.

                        Williams commanded the 1st Battalion in Italy.

                        Williams was a founding member of the outfit, who lead the 1st Battalion from the US to Anzio, where he was moved up to XO of the 504th PIR. In Holland, the Bulge, and Germany he maintained that position.

                        Every time Williams was promoted, Willard E. Harrison filled his place. Harrison came up through B Company, and I'm looking for a good photo of him to put up next.

                        These two men had careers very similiar to Dick Winters in some ways, and they are often refered to as "The Devils with the Baggiest Pants."
                        "This life..., you know, "the life." You’re not gonna get any medals, kid. This is not a hero business; you don’t shoot people from a mile a way. You gotta stand right next to them... blow their heads off."



                        • #13
                          Frank Dietrich a.k.a. Berkely

                          "F.D. Berkely" was one of the three original members of his platoon, along with Carter, to survive the entire war.

                          Frank Dietrich

                          In the late afternoon of a sunshiny day in August, 1947, the Berkely of this story and I (Boyd Carter, Ross's brother) walked slowly up a hill about midway between Duffield and Pattonsville, Virginia, to a small family cemetery. Berkely, wearing a paratroopers uniform, stopped before a fresh grave, saluted and for seeral minutes stood at attention with tears rolling down his tanned cheeks and lips and chin quivering. On the tombstone was written:

                          Ross S. Carter
                          January 9, 1919 - April 18, 1947
                          Paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division

                          When Berkely finally spoke, he said "I hae known a lot of brave men, but here on this hill lies the bravest."

                          During WWII he was a Technical Sergeant and later a Platoon Sergeant 504th 1st Battalion, Charlie Company 3rd Platoon. In the book, “Those Devils in Baggy Pants” his character is portrayed by Berkley. Born in Battle Creek Michigan he was an athletically built trooper weighing in at 175lbs and standing 6 feet tall.

                          A few interesting stories he recounted to the Ryan Archive at Ohio University are as follows. While crossing the Waal in those famous/infamous canvas boats he noticed, “ a fairly large hole in the side of the boat, near him. The canvas had been shredded and water was pouring in (threatening to sink the boat). He stuffed the hole with a wool hat that he called a beanie and a pair of wool gloves”.

                          He also recalled hearing someone singing “The Volga Boat Song”, during the crossing. He recalled that it was a friend from another platoon Ross Carter. During his crossing he reports that fire was coming from the opposite side at a point several yards west of the Railway Bridge. Which he thinks must have been the Old Dutch Fort. They were taking some fire from snipers on the Railroad Bridge itself. Dietrich can’t recall anyone getting hit at least not seriosly during the crossing. However he lost 3 or 4 men before this as they made their way down to the river.

                          He attended the Parachute School, Command and General Staff College, Armed Forces Staff College and Air War College.

                          Colonel Dietrich was a veteran of World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. His other assignments included 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, Japan; 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, World War II; and commander, Army Garrison, Fort Stewart, Georgia.

                          Dietrich gets the DSC from Westmoreland

                          His awards and decorations included the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Triple Combat Infantry Badge and Master Parachutist Badge.

                          LTC Dietrich commanded 2-502 Infantry, 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division in Operation Geronimo I, Tuy Hoa, RVN, 1967

                          Former I-Corps commander LTG, then COL, James T. Hill is quoted as saying during Operation Desert Storm, 1991: "Colonel Dietrich was the finest brigade commander to serve in Vietnam. I was a lieutenant, a platoon leader, in that brigade, and now I command it. There it is right out there. Frank D-I-E-T-R-I-C-H. What a master. Just an absolute master of the toughest warfare there is. Operation Geronimo. Never heard of it have you? No one remembers it except the NVA. Dietrich took the Oh-deuce into this valley up north from Tuy Hoa, pretended he was interested in this particular mountain, but slipped around to the other one where this NVA battalion had their base camp, and..."

                          Colonel Dietrich is buried at Arlington....

                          Last edited by Paul Mann III; 16 Feb 08, 03:25.
                          "This life..., you know, "the life." You’re not gonna get any medals, kid. This is not a hero business; you don’t shoot people from a mile a way. You gotta stand right next to them... blow their heads off."



                          • #14
                            Evidence for Ross Carter being "Arab"

                            For those interested;
                            I am of some kin to Ross Carter and I believe I have some evidence to support the theory of Ross being "Arab." On pg. 30 of the book, he states that his family had a letter from Daniel Boone. There is a letter that the Carter family found from Daniel Boone dealing some issue with property. I have not seen the original, but copies are distributed greatly among the descendants of the family. I personally believe that he is "Arab" from the language and just experiences before the war. The area describes as the Arab's home matches his own home too much. Either Arab is him or a man that was practically his neighbor. The Wilderness Trail only runs through about three counties. Also in the end, he mentions the Powell and how he was fishing on it. The Powell is a river across the mountain from where he was from. This is just my own two cents and it might not count for much, but I thought someone might be interested.


                            • #15
                              thank-you amygail concerning Ross Carter being the Arab. i also thought that same thing several years ago too. remember how they both were reading Homer" ?
                              may i ask you further questions ?


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