History website Argunners has published a series of previously unseen photos recently uncovered from the archives of an American four-star general who served in Europe during the Second World War. The images show a war-torn Europe as American forces move towards Berlin.
These photos were uncovered in the archives of Brigadier General Charles Day Palmer. Most of them were confidential photos taken by the U.S. Signal Corps, and were deemed unsuitable for publication (many of them are quite graphic). Palmer was allowed to have them for private use after censoring the photos, including the removal of names and places.
Palmer, who served during the invasion of Normandy, the break-out from Saint-Lo, and the crossing of the Siegfried line, went on to serve in the Korean War. He passed away on June 7, 1999. These photos were recently shared to Argunners (here and here) by his grandson, Daniel Palmer, to honor the memories and service of his grandfather.
All photos and captions via Argunners, and are republished at io9 with permission.
Warning: Some of these images are disturbing.
A U.S. soldier examines the grave of an unknown American soldier, who was buried by the enemy before retreating. The first American soldier that noticed the grave decorated it with mortar shells and ferns.
Dead U.S. and German soldiers at a cemetery before burial, at an unknown location. Each body was placed in a mattress cover. German prisoners can be seen doing the work of digging the graves and placing the bodies inside them.
Prisoners of War from the German Military Police force and Gestapo agents of the city of Strasbourg are led to the 3rd Infantry Division. The POWs are being escorted by the French Forces of the Interior.
An M-10 Tank Destroyer from the 636th Tank Destroyer Battalion supporting the 143rd Infantry Regiment, 36th Division in Rohrwiller, 4 February 1945. Notice the extensive damage to the town’s church, which was likely damaged by shell blasts.
Following an attack from U.S. artillery on a German convoy, dead horses, wrecked vehicles and equipment can be seen strewn along the road in the vicinity of Lug, Germany. The Germans were trying to escape encirclement by 3rd and 7th Armies.
A German underground ball-bearing factory in Germany, where all size bearings were made. Shown is a row of polishing and grinding machines used to finish the bearings. This image may have been taken in the vicinity of Schweinfurt.
British M-5 anti-tank mines are used to blow up German pill boxes. Some 400 lbs of TNT were detonated inside the pill box.
U.S. forces trying to recapture Wingen-sur-Moder from German mountain 6. SS-Gebirgsjäger Division troops, who infiltrated it during the night, dislodging American troops and taking a number of prisoners. Hotel ‘Wenk’ and Gasoline are in yard and hit by a tracer bullet, resulting in the burning, as seen in photograph. In the church tower on the left is a German lookout, who is also sniping at the U.S. soldiers.
A helmet and rifle mark the spot in a ditch by road where two infantrymen gave their lives, during a new drive by Seventh Army which opened on a front of 50 miles from Saarbrücken to the Rhine.
Seventh Army men looking for snipers in the Bobenthal, Germany.
When this wrecker towing a 155mm Howitzer became stuck in the mud in a road, nothing less than a Bulldozer could budge it.
Path of a B-17 as it crash-landed into a snow covered field on the Seventh Army front. The pilot escaped with minor cuts when he rode the plane in after the crew bailed out. Note the damaged pole in foreground which was clipped by the plane as it came in.
The remnants of an obliterated German town.
More carnage in Germany.
The charred remains of a German pilot, the plane was brought down by small arms fire on March 15, first day of Seventh Army offensive in Germany. Interesting note: According to this forum, the plane may actually be a U.S. P-47.
A German bridge is blown sky high by U.S. engineers, destroying the span as a defensive measure against German troops pressing towards the town.
A U.S. soldier standing next to the remains of a German soldier he just discovered near German Howitzers, which were destroyed by the Seventh Army.
“End of the Line” General Palmer remarked. The surrender of the 19th Army. The end! With the final capitulation of Germany to the Allies, German soldiers who have bore arms for over five years against almost all of Europe and the U.S. surrender their rifles to their American conquerors near Landeck, Austria. They seem happy that it is all over. Hand grenades and other equipment can be seen piled up beyond the rifles.
Thousands of German officers and men taken in the redoubt mountains can be seen marched back over to the mountain road they once defended. Although these officers and men gave up without much resistance, other German troops offered fanatical resistance at key towns along the way.
Hungarian surrender: Great mass of Hungarian troops who surrendered to the Seventh Army are rounded up in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, scene of the last winter Olympics held before the war. Troops were claimed by their leader to have been used as service or labor troops.
German civilians in the middle of their town. Gen. Palmer remarked: “Well liberated town.”
Wrecked and burned buildings in France. The buildings were mined and burned by the Germans. “Remains of a friendly little town, that was ‘scorched’,” Gen. Palmer wrote on the backside of the photo.
A pillbox located just on the outskirts of a fort. It shows damage, probably caused by American tank fire during the battle to take the stronghold.
Bodies of German soldiers on top of each other lying in the street gutter, France.
Dead German soldiers lie where they fell after artillery worked over this German town during the Seventh Army breakthrough.
These dead German Waffen-SS troops were a three-man bazooka team that tried to slow up the advance of an American armored column and were killed by a direct hit.
This French 2 1/2-ton truck burned when its cargo of 800 gallons of gasoline exploded.
Damage done when a German 280mm shell landed in the area around 0345 hours. General Palmer wrote: “Shell from Railway did this. Not far from where I live. 5 bigger ones hit about 150 yards from my place the others .. (?). One blew the door in on my caravan. The place was a mess. Nice guys!”
A German machine gunner shot through the head, laying next to his smashed gun, in Germany.
Advancing troops moving under heavy enemy fire; dead American soldier in foreground.
At 1300 hours, after three days of battle, this town was finally retaken. Yanks surrounded the Germans after losing the town during the initial German counter attack. The patrol is about to enter the the church to examine the belfry and cellar where snipers are still believed to be hiding. American prisoners were held here.
A pile of dead German soldiers in France, frozen due to the cold weather.
Knocked out American M-4 tank and German Sturmgeschütz IV sit side by side in the street. Note the hits on the German Stug.
A tank destroyer moving past an American tank that was knocked out during the battle when the Americans retook the town. Between the two armored vehicles two medical men are picking up an American soldier that was killed in the fight to take the town.
Troops string wire past four dead German artillery horses which were killed along with five German soldiers when an American artillery burst caught them as the horses were being hitched on December 14th. Another German soldier was wounded.
The editors of Argunners are looking for help in identifying some of the places, persons, equipment, or units displayed in the photographs. Please contact them if you’re able to help.