Sgt. Jim Bates 1944

Jim Bates 1992

I was born may 14, 1916 in Bolder Colorado and moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado where I started working for the Alexandria Film Company in high school. I had seven years experience when I entered the U.S. Army as a Cinema photographer. I was a Sergeant Technician and became a member of General Eisenhower's Newsreel Team.
General Gavin asked me to volunteer as a Combat Photographer for the invasion, And then sent me to jump school. I was in the second plane on D-Day 1944 and the second man out with a full load of photographic equipment. I landed in a canal and almost drowned. All my equipment was ruined so I turned into a combat soldier. I blew up a command car with a grenade, and later stumbled in a large pillbox where almost a hundred Germans soldiers surrendered and piled up their weapons.
In January I hitched a ride as a bow gunner on a Third Armored Division Sherman tank. outside of Langlier. I used the machine gun to hit a German with a bazooka. I baled out of the tank when it got stopped and got hit with shrapnel and spent several days in the hospital but came back at the end of the Ardennes and joined up with the 82nd. Airborne Division.

The greatest part of my life was in Cologne, Germany. It was my finest moments as Combat Photography when I joined the Third Armored Division in its capture of Cologne, Germany, for which action earned me a Bronze Star Medal to go with my Purple Heart. It was the tanks backed by the 36th. Armored Infantry Regiment that did the house to house fighting and clearing the area.

In the center square in front of the Cathedral was a German Tank that a Sherman tank thought was disabled but the tank put a shell through the Sherman and killed three men in it. A Tank Commander named Robert Early from E Company 32nd. Armored Regiment went on foot to investigate. I asked to go along and we went on the mezzanine of a building and saw the tank. He told me to stay there and he would come back in his tank and try to put the German tank out of commission and I could photograph it. He had one of the new M-26 Pershings with a ninety-mm gun. Sgt. Early said he would turn into the square under me, stop and fire at the German tank. When his tank came in the square under me the German tank began to traverse the gun. Cpl. Clarence Smoyer the gunner, did not wait for his tank to stop but fired before the gun was aimed at him. His first shot hit the German tank in the bottom and cut off the commander's legs. After the next shot, three of the crew bailed out but the shrapnel had got them. My pictures show the tank commander burned up with the tank, which was still smoldering next morning. The driver got to the back of the building where he fell. The bow gunner fell over a bicycle and lay there. The gunner went down nearby. All had been killed. I was proud to meet Maj. Gen. Rose the Commander of the Third Armored Spearhead Division Today there is a Hospital in Denver, Colorado named after him.

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