Chaplains of the
36th Infantry Division


Chaplain (Colonel) Herbert E. MacCombie
Division Chaplain

Farewell To Major General Walker

When we were moving north of Rome we came to a road junction.  Division Headquarters took the left hand fork.  The 141st Infantry took the right hand fork.  After we had gone several miles north of that point, I decided it was necessary for me to go to visit the 141st.

I studied my map and discovered a connecting road some miles north of the junction.  I thought I could use that road and save myself time and mileage.  I took the road.  I held my conferences and started back over the same road.  I was stopped.

One of the officers told me, “That is what we are fighting for.  The road is mined.  You had better go the long way around.”

Later on they took thirty mines out of the road I had traversed so confidently.  Someone UP THERE must have been taking care of me.

On June 16th I went to Grosseto to visit the Aid Stations and the collecting points.  As we were riding along the road the German artillery opened up on me.  One shell landed ahead of me.  Another behind me.  They had me bracketed.  Fortunately just ahead there was a stone building.  As we passed behind it, I ordered my driver to stop.  Sure enough another shell landed just where I would have been, if we had not stopped.  I waited a few minutes to perplex the enemy and then took off fast.  We were safe.

During this period we changed our bivouac area almost every day.  It was exciting.  Finally we got to where we could see Livorno in the distance.  Then on June 25th the Chief of Staff announced that the Division was being pulled out of action that night.

The next day we received the sad news that General Walker was to be relieved of command.  Every one of us was shocked.  How could they relieve of command an officer who had been so successful?  Personally I thought he was best commanding officer I had ever known, and I had served under many commanding officers.

Later I attended his farewell party in Rome.  The chaplains of the division had a special meeting with him when we presented him with a scroll of appreciation.  I attended his final review.  Things were never quite the same again.  I had lost not only a superior commanding officer, but one whom I had appreciated as a friend.

Many years later he sent me a greeting card signed “With admiration and respect”.  I felt it was the highest accolade I had ever received.


Copyright 2001 by Mary MacCombie Fietsam
Printed by Permission

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