Private First Class Sid Engman was born Sept. 2, 1917 in Vermillion. He was married to Reidella in 1939.
Sid was drafted in December of 1943. He went to Boot Camp Chof in North Carolina, and became a machine gun operator for the infantry.
France was his destination and he was in Patton's 3rd Army. He wasn't even in the Army for a year when he was captured in September 1944.
The Germans were out of food so they didn't get much to eat. Sid believes their food would have been better if the Germans themselves had more food. He was given a bowl of watery barley soup and one piece of hard bread. It was so hard they couldn't pull it apart. So, as soon as he could, he traded cigarettes for a knife. Then they could eat their food easier. The knife was a regular German knife and it was the only souvenir he brought home. He still has that knife.
Because he was injured he was taken to a makeshift hospital. There were German doctors there as well as a few captured American doctors. His foot was very sore and began to swell. The German doctor wanted to amputate his foot, but the American doctor asked them to wait a little longer. Finally one day the American doctor said, "I want to try something," so he took the flat of his hand and pushed as hard as he could, and finally, a piece of shrapnel and pus came out and it saved his foot. They used the only drug that they had at that time which was sulfa.
They were liberated at the end of April. Sid was air ambulanced to Heenes Plants Hospital. He came home in September of 1944 to a hospital in New York. After a while they told him he could ship out to any hospital he wanted. He asked to be sent to Shenandoah, IA. He was transported there by train. In April of 1945, they sent him by train to San Antonio, TX. The first leave for home was given to him in July of 1945. He was home for two weeks and then had to go back to Texas. Just before Christmas he was sent home where a local doctor by the name of Hanson treated him.
General Patten required everyone to wear a tie at all times. There was an exception and that was for the men in the infantry who were on the front line. So, Private First Class Engman didn't have to wear a tie. He also required the front line men to wear fatigues over their uniforms to help keep them warm.
C-Rations were the norm for their meals, but there were occasional exceptions. There were a couple of days that some people in Nancy, France gave them a warm, home cooked meal.
The most difficult time of the war was when he was captured outside of Nancy. They had just taken the town of Nancy. They were on a hill and the officer in charge made 10 of the men and two machine guns to stand guard. After a while the men on guard saw what they thought were German tanks coming towards them. They sent word to the officer in charge, but he made them stay there.
As the German tanks, got closer, five of the men took the guns and charged the tanks. Of course, they were killed instantly. The other five, including Private First Class Sid Engman, ran as fast as they could to towards a house to get some semblance of protection. They each took a room with a window and used the gun which was part of their pac. Sid hit someone going by his window and then the German soldiers started shooting into the windows. Sid decided to go into the hallway. At the same time one of the German soldiers came into the hallway. They both shot at each other. Private First Class Engman was successful with his shot. He was wounded when they were shooting in the windows. Finally, one of the American soldiers came to the conclusion that the German soldiers would keep shooting until all of them were dead so they might as well put out a white flag and surrender.
Private First Class Sid Engman has been awarded many honors for his heroism. He is the recipient of the Purple Cross, Good Conduct Medal, Combat Infantry, POW Medal, Victory Ribbon, American Theatre Campaign Medal, The 35th Division Patch, and the Eric Severeid Award presented by Northwest Broadcast News Ass. KMEG TV "Award of Merit, Ed Symen POW 2009.
His brother, Robert was in the CBs, an offspring of the Navy, doing construction work, at the same time Sid was in.
We invite any Clay County Veteran who wants to tell his story to call Donna Schafer at 605-624-4819.