Charles S. Sahagian
by Dziadzan Sahagian
As men fell one by one, one man stood tall even through his ups and downs. As he left in February of 1944, his mother looked away in pride and with tears in her eyes. Charles Sahagian, my 76-year-old grandfather, lived in Dorchester, Massachusetts, during his childhood years. My grandfather would help out in his father’s convenience store with his brothers. When one of his brothers was sent away to the navy, my grandfather was the man of the house. Charles was to finish up school and continue with his father’s business. Nine months later, when that brother returned, Chuck had just finished high school and was ready to study physics in college. Charles, being a smart man, knew that if he volunteered now, there would be less of a commotion in the household. There would also be a better chance his army career would not interfere with his education.
A New Life:
From his training camp in Florida, Chuck was shipped out for war in December of 1945 to Scotland. From the United States of America to Scotland, he sailed aboard H.M.S Aguitania, for four and a half days. The ship was as tall as a building and my grandfather explained to me about how the ships must move from left to right, every seven minutes, so that the submarines below could not hit them with a missile. Most of the ships broke record times for the speed and the distance at which they went in that type of ship. After landing in Scotland, the troops boarded 'troop trains' and rode them down to the port of Southampton, England. From there, Charles and his fellow soldiers boarded landing boats, which had a flat bottom with one side that would drop down. Having the drop down side helped the troops exit faster, and ride across the English Cannel into France.
With homesickness in his heart, Charles Sahagian landed in France in the city called Le Havre. On his journey from Le Havre to Metz, my grandfather rode a train called the '40 and 8'. The train was named that because it could fit forty solders or eight horses. The crossing was a dangerous trip for the reason that the trains were being bombed. Charles recollects the snow that fell into the train, which had no roof after the burning off from the bombings. When the train came to a stop on December 9,1944 in Metz, my grandfather fell out and landed on his head. Chuck had come down with a cold and little did he know, that he would be sick throughout the entire time he was on the battlefield.
Only Thing Left To Do Is Fight:
With ‘pill boxes’ as far as the eye could see, my grandfather set down his bags and was prepared to fight. One by one, each of the German cement fortifications were knocked down with the help of flamethrowers and bazookas. My grandfather was in the 87th infantry also known as The Golden Acorn, which was set up in Metz, a city in the northeastern corner of France, and was under the leadership of General George Patton. When my grandfather heard that all of the cement fortifications, which the Germans had set up, must be tiered down, Chuck was the first one out on the field. After about half of the ‘pill boxes’ had been taken over by American troops or demolished to the ground, the Germans attacked.
The German raid of St. Hubert occurred on December 16, 1944. The Germans had read the American’s weak spot on the battlefields and hit there first. The 87th infantry was the first to be called to help push back the Germans. So after covering up all the markings on their tanks and other vehicles, the troops made their way to St. Hubert, which was about ninety miles away. Little did the army know, at that time, that the advance of those troops would be the fastest movement and the largest in the history of all wars. Charles Sahagian and his fellow infantrymen, battled against Rundstedt’s 25,000 troops. Rundstedt wanted Antwerp and had to create a huge bulge in the American lines to take the city over. Therefore, this battle is called, the Battle of the Bulge.
Sahagian was in Company M, which consisted of heavy machinery. Heavy machinery was comprised of the 81 mm mortar and machine guns and the only gun by his sides at all time was the M-1. Chuck explained, "I relied on my guns and my ‘co-fighters’ to help keep myself alive". He really enjoyed the fact that he had the opportunity to work with the most important part of a battle, the machinery.
On His Way Home:
Charles fought for over two months without a single injury, other than his long-lasting cold. On February 4th, 1945, Chuck Sahagian was hurt. My grandfather would not disclose any information about this subject. He is one of the 4,110 wounded in the duration of the battles. Chuck’s home away from home was a hospital for more than six months mostly in Nottingham, England. When he arrived back home on February 4, 1946, he was truly missed by his family and friends. His mother and father were proud of their son but were truly grateful that he was home.
Today, my grandfather is safe and sound, living only seconds away from my house. His pride and joy is his family and to this day, Charles Sahagian would do anything to keep it that way.
1. "87th Infantry Division Association Ardennes, Rhineland, Central Europe." 87th Infantry Division. 20 Nov. <http://www.87thinfantrydivision.com/Home.shtml>.
2. Sahagian, Charles. Personal interview. 6 Dec. 2003
3. "87th Infantry Division Campaign Map." 87th Infantry Division. 20 Nov. 2003 <http://www.87thinfantrydivision.com/History/87th/Media/Maps/CampaignLarge.gif>.
4. Dillon, Katherine V., Goldstein, Donald M. and Wenger, J. Michael. Nuts! The Battle of the Bulge – The Story and Photographs. Washington: Brassey’s, 1994.
5. Kline, John. "Battle of the Bulge December 16, 1944 to January 25, 1945."13 Nov. 2003 <http://www.mm.com/user/jpk/battle.htm>.
6. "Timeline with Photos and Text." The History Place. 17 Nov. 2003 <http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/timeline/ww2time.htm>.