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JIM KURZ, B Company

Hitler's Baby Factory

     The US Army nurse read Jim Kurz's chart, spelling his name. "K-U-R-Z, that may be a German name, but 'Hitler's Baby Factory' --don't try to kid me and say you were one of Hitler's studs who was shot by a jealous lover and picked up by the advancing American troops. You didn't pick up that accent in Berlin."

     "No." explained the sergeant. "I was shot by the British."

     "So an English soldier came home on leave and found you in bed with his wife. That is easier to believe. Yank," the nurse retorted.

     "Well. I did get to sleep in a bed the first night after parachuting fifty miles behind the German lines into Holland," continued Kurz. "It really is a long story, and if you will come back after duty, we can — Hey, don't go — you haven't rubbed my back yet!"

     This may sound like a fabrication, but actually Sgt. James O. Kurz was wounded by a shell from a British tank near Wyler, Germany, and evacuated to a hospital in Nijmegen, Holland. The hospital, staffed by Dutch doctors and nurses with an American Airborne doctor in charge, had been operated by the Germans.

     "The Dutch nurses told us." Kurz reported, "That blue eyed German girls were bred to blue eyed German men and had their babies at this hospital. The sole function of the hospital was to produce babies for Hitler's Aryan super race,"

     Sgt. Jim Kurz, B Company, was the last paratrooper in his stick to jump from the burning C-47 over Holland, September 17, 1944. "I turned to the crew chief, and said, “Follow me!”. The chief jumped right behind me." explained Jim. "And we saw our plane crash in flames at the edge of the field where we landed."

     As Kurz descended toward the freshly plowed field, another paratrooper slipped under him, which sucked out most of the air from the sergeant's chute for the last 70 feet of the drop. It was a hard landing, but the soft plowed dirt absorbed some of the shock, so that Kurz only suffered a broken or dislocated bone in his foot and some pain in his lower back. Quickly a medic taped the injured trooper's foot and gave him a pain shot for his back. With help from his friend Jesse Womble, Jim was able to keep up with his company.

     Later that afternoon, A and B Companies advanced into the city of Nijmegen. Kurz remembered how the Dutch people celebrated. They threw flowers at the troops, offered them cold beer, and of course the girls — they ran alongside to get a hug or a kiss from their liberators who dropped from the skies.

     What at first seemed like a holiday parade quickly turned violent as darkness fell heavy and thick, over the advancing column of paratroopers. An explosion knocked Sgt. Kurz off the street and over a hedge, leaving him shaken up, but otherwise uninjured. Jim was lucky compared to the trooper the medic was attending as Jim returned to the street — for this one had lost a foot in the blast.

     The explosion was followed by small arms fire, but B Company continued to advance into the heart of Nijmegen, with Chester Standley at point with his BAR clearing the way. Heavy resistance at a traffic circle by a German force using 88s, machine guns and rifles stopped the advance. Lt. Millsaps ordered the company to hold their position, but take to the buildings for better protection.

     Kurz and his squad went into a house and occupied the second floor where they had a good view from the upstairs window. By taking turns on guard, they were able to get some sleep. "We actually slept in a nice bed." Kurz recalled.

     The next morning the company was ordered to leave Nijmegen and return to the drop zone. Gliders were to come in later in the afternoon, but by now Germans had occupied the LZ (Landing Zone). The Jerries had to be cleared out so the gliders could land safely. By noon B Company, along with C Company on their right, was back in position near the LZ ready to attack.

     First Sgt. Leonard Funk was point lead for C Company and Sgt. Jim Kurz was point man for B Company. They kicked off at 1230 hours. Kurz and two scouts, including BAR man Chester Standley, led the way. Everyone hit the ground when the Jerries opened up with 20 mms and machine guns. Kurz and the lead scouts got up and continued the advance with bullets kicking up dirt all around them. They had advanced about 100 yards when Kurz looked back and saw that the three of them on the point were the only ones advancing. Sgt. Kurz yelled at his men, "If you don’t get up and follow, I will shoot at you also!"

     The troopers rallied behind their sergeant and charged in the face of intense fire. In the charge Kurz noticed a line of foxhole to his front indicating they were approaching the enemy from the flank. He positioned machine gunner Cpl. Tony Mrozinski to fire down the line of foxhole and he and BAR man Chester Stanley moved to the left of the Mrozinski's line of fire and continued up the line of foxholes.

     When Kurz and Stanley got close to a foxhole, Kurz motioned to Mrozinski to hold his fire and Stanley to cover ahead with his BAR, Then Kurz approached the foxhole and shot into it with his .45 Colt pistol. He then moved back to the left. Tony Mrozinski resumed firing and Kurz and Stanley moved to the next foxhole and the process was repeated several times. Chester Stanley knocked out the two machine guns with his BAR and the rest of the Germans surrendered.

     B Company was credited with killing 20 Germans and capturing 12 men and 2 machine guns. (Jim Kurz was awarded the Silver Star for his actions in the attack.)

     Kurz described the thrill of victory, "Just as we reached the far side of the field, the first gliders came in. The glider troops had seen the last of the attack and cheered us as they arrived. We sat down and thanked God we had cleared the field in time."

     On September 19 and 20 Sgt. James Kurz was in the attack on Wyler, Germany, and the withdrawal to higher ground above the town. By September 20, British tanks had reached the area, having covered about 50 miles since September 17. The tanks lined up on the ridge above Wyler and fired in support of the withdrawing Americans. Some of their fire was short and the US paratroopers were hit by the British tanks from their rear and the Germans to the front.

     Kurz, Staff Sgt. Rowe and two other men were in a house. Kurz opened a door to leave and a shell from a British tank sailed in the door over his shoulder and exploded in the room. Rowe had over 100 pieces of shrapnel in him, and miraculously survived. Sgt. Kurz sustained a broken shoulder blade and had a piece of shrapnel lodged about 1/4 inch above his heart. The two other men only suffered concussions.

     Jim Kurz was evacuated to a hospital in Nijmegen (Hitler's Baby Factory). The doctors cleaned his wound, but did not take out the shrapnel. He carries it to this day 1/4 inch above his heart.

     The airborne invasion casualties overflowed the hospital so that some of the men were put on mattresses in the hallways. In fact, the hospital had neither the rooms, nor the food, to care for so many. The patients were only provided one bowl of soup a day.

     Jim's mattress was in the hall near the door. After the doctors and nurses made their rounds, he and another slightly wounded paratrooper slipped out and raided neighborhood vegetable gardens for tomatoes, cabbages, potatoes and turnips. They returned before the doctors and nurses made their next round and shared vegetables with everyone on their floor.

     After a few days Kurz was transported to Brussels and then flown to a hospital in England. Jim was hospitalized for about a month, then spent some time in Nottingham. Finally Jim rejoined the 508 in Camp Sissone, France. December 18, at 0430 hours — just in time to climb aboard one of those long cattle trucks for a ride to Belgium.

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