My Father relates Being “Shot To Death” By Germans

Friends of Pfc Robert E Cornish, son of Mr and Mrs S.J.Cornish of Spring Street, will be interested in reading the following story of his experience when he was wounded in Italy. The story as printed in The Ashford News, the publication of Ashford General Hospital, West Virginia, where Robert is now a patient since being returned to the United States, follows:


“Those Jerries would really be surprised if they could see me now,”says Pfc. Robert E Cornish. Ward 203, from Upper Sandusky,Ohio,upon relating how he missed his date with death.

His outfit was holding one of the sectors at Anzio and he and his buddy were assigned to a machine gun outpost some 200 yards to the front of their company.

“We had a few riflemen to the right of us to act as protection and plenty of ground to watch in front of us.  A slight rise about a hundred yards to our front obscured our vision somewhat and a couple of old Italian buildings to our rear made the company seem even further away.”

“All night things were quiet and fairly peaceful and we were just preparing to rejoin our company about 4:30 the next morning when we heard some grenades explode to our front and things started to warm up a bit.   Through the haze of the early morning we could see about a platoon of jerries coming our way.  The riflemen to the right opened fire and we put our machine gun into the scrap.  The Jerries were well armed and although I saw quite a few of them fall the rest kept coming.  We fired until they were about 25 yards away and when we saw that we were just about ready to be captured or killed we knew we had to do something fast.”

“I suggested to my buddy that we pretend we were dead and perhaps they would pass by us.  He said it was okay with him and we slouched over the gun as though they had really got us.”

“The Jerries came up to us and passed us by, but we still couldn’t move because they were pretty close to us.  Some of them went to the buildings behind us and prepared them for demolition.  Iwould have loved to have turned our gun on them, but they were too scattered and the ground was too broken to offer us a decent shot.  We then heard the buildings the Jerries had been working on go up with a loud explosion.”

“We lay there wondering and waiting for the Jerries to return to their lines once their mission had been accomplished.  Boy, that was the toughest sweating out I ever did.  We surely didn’t want to be captured and if we had shown signs of resistance we would have been killed, so there was nothing to do but lay there and sweat.”

“They started to go back to their lines when two of them came back our way to take another look at our machine gun nest.  They walked around to the front of us and started some sort of discussion.  I would have given anything to have been able to understand what they were saying.  After what seemed to be at least a century, one of them must have raised his rifle because I heard a shot and my buddy groaned slightly, then it seemed as though someone had slammed me between the ears with a sledge hammer.  I didn’t go out completely, but my ears were ringing to beat the devil.  My buddy was dead.”

“When I thought it was safe to move I started back toward my company.  I must have made a pretty sight going back, for I can remember staggering along until I’d get too weak to go further, fall down and crawl for awhile until I got strong enough to get up and stagger on some more.  I finally arrived at the company area and someone told me where I could find the medics.”

“I stumbled along the road and kept calling the medics so I wouldn’t pass by them.  Someone with a voice that sounded as sweet as Mother’s said:’Yeah, I hear you fella.’  Then I took a nose dive into a ditch.”

“The next thing I remember I was being carried into the Aid Station.  After a check-over they told me that the bullet had gone through my helmet, grazed my scalp, and lodged in my shoulder.  I was bandaged, wrapped in blankets, and laid on the back of a tank for transportation to the Regimental Aid Station.”

“The rest of my stay in hospitals and my return to the States seems like a wonderful dream.  It took me over a week to assure myself that I was really back in the States.  It’s swell to be back, but I wish there was some way I could let those Jerries know how they fumbled the job.”


Robert E Cornish was seriously wounded Feb 7,1944. The bullet lay too close to his heart to be removed then and as it turned out he took it with him to his grave.

Above article from a copy I have of what I believe is the Upper Sandusky newspaper dated March 17-18,1944