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"Carentan"
Band of Brothers episode 3
George Luz and Harry Welsh fighting at Carentan.

Episode:

3

Preceded by:

"Day of Days"

Followed By:

"Replacements"

Focus:

Albert Blithe

Subject:

The attack of Carentan during the Normandy Invasion.

"Carentan" is the 3rd episode of Band of Brothers. It follows Private Albert Blithe.

Synopsis

A week after D-day, the men of Easy Company prepare to take the town of Carentan. But one soldier, Albert Blithe, finds himself struggling with war. Will he be able to fight, or will he succumb to fear and "hysterical blindness"?

Story

The episode begins during a sunny day on Normandy. A young Paratrooper, named Albert Blithe is seen staring up the sky. Three men walk by. They are Sgt. Floyd M. Talbert, Private Darrel C. Powers, and Private Wayne A. Sisk. They notice Blithe. They are apparently surprised, since he is the first man of Easy Company they've seen since the drop. Talbert calls to Blithe. He answers, and comes over, explaining he got seperated during the jump. The three men say that they got lost as well, and that they've been fighting with the 502nd. Blithe says he's just been trying to find Easy. Blithe decides to tag along. 

They finally come to the town where the 506th is resting. They then meet Easy Company. Blithe, Talbert, Powers, and Sisk are greeted by most of the men. Private Joseph Liebgott shows off a Nazi Swastika he found, and Talbert shows him an Army Poncho. Blithe decides to sit near T-4. Frank Perconte, and Private William Dukeman. "You got any souveniers?" Perconte asks. He then shows Blithe a couple of watches on his arm. "They're all tickin'. Unlike their previous owners." "So, we lost anybody?" Blithe asks. "Tommy Burgess took one in the face. Popeye Wynn got pinked in the behind.They're gonna be okay." Dukeman answers. Perconte asks Blithe a question. "You run into Lt. Meehan during you're travels?" "No. Why?" Blithe says. "Company HQ's still missing. They say Meehan's plane went down." Perconte answers. "They say he's gonna turn up." replies Dukeman. Perconte disagrees. They tell Blithe that Winters is in command, and 1st Lt. Welsh is commander of the 1st Platoon. Suddenly, Welsh calls first Platoon too move, before Welsh takes a long sip of Alcohol. As they square away their gear, he tells them that they are taking the town of Carentan, so the Army from Omaha Beach could link up. General Taylor is sending the entire Division. George Luz grins at this, and begins mimicking Taylor. "'Remember boys, maybe three days and three nights of rough fightin', and you will be relieved!'" As they leave, Luz continues to mimick Taylor. "'Another thing to remember boys, flies spread disease, so keep your's closed!'" Everyone laughs at Luz's joke.

That night, they all cross a ruined lanscape, with fires burning, and dead Germans lying around. Perconte bend over one dead German, and takes a watch off the dead mans arm, and adds it to his collection. Hoobler notices that F Company, the one they've been following, is missing. Welsh sends Hoobler and Blithe to find them. 1st Lt. Winters comes over and and tries to figure out the situation with Welsh, and Nixon come over, and ask why they've stopped. "Officers are crapping out on their training Nix." Winter's replies.

Hoobler and Blithe meet an F Company trooper, who says, "I can hear ya'll all across the field." "Hoobler then tells Blithe to go and tell them they've found F Company. "I'll figure out what these yokels are at it." The F Company Soldier hears. "Hey, who ya'll callin' a yokel?" As Blithe goes back, he spots a German Soldier by a tree. Blithe gasps as he pionts his M1 at it. "He's dead Private." says a voice. Blithe turns to find Winters coming from a bush. Blithe tells Winters that they've found F Company. Blithe then turns to the dead German. "I thought he had me there." Lewis Nixon, comes over, and recognizes it as a German Paratrooper. "Well theres one less to worry about." says Winters. Blithe notices a flower in The Germans pocket. "That's 'Edelweiss'. That only grows in the alps above the tree line, which means he climbed up there to get it. It's supposed to be the mark of a true soldier." says Nixon.

Next day, Easy Company approaches the town of Carentan. Winters checks it, and tells Welsh to lead 1st Platoon, while he come up with 2nd and 3rd Platoons. After taking one last look, he checks his watch, turns up to Welsh, and says "Go!" Welsh then gets up with a couple of men and runs to the town. Suddenly, a German MG opens up on them. Two men are go down from the Machine gun burst, and the rest of the men hide in the ditches as more Machine guns fire at them. Luz and Welsh though, are still running, and find cover behind a house. As Luz returns fire with his Carbine, Welsh notices that no one else is there, and yells "Where the fuck is everybody?! Where did everybody go!?" Luz turns, and replies "I have no idea!" Colonel Strayer, and Lt. Nixon yell at them to get moving. Buck Compton and Winters get the men up out of the ditches. Blithe lags behind, but Winters pushes him up. More men are killed in the charge. Powers gets behind a chicken pen, and watches as a man is killed by a sniper. Lipton tries to lead Guarnere, Perconte, and a couple others against a gun. One man tries to tell Lipton the position of another gun, before a sniper hits him. Lipton yells for a corpsman. Powers watches as one man unsuccesfully tries to take a machine gun out with a grenade. A sniper then kills the man. Powers spots the sniper, and kills him. Welsh charges one gun, and takes it out with a grenade. Tipper and Liebgott destroy another gun with a bazooka. A German comes out, but Liebgott fatally shoots him with his pistol. Hoobler and Luz break into a building, but find only a family hiding. Lipton runs up a railing, and throws a grenade into an apartment.

Suddenly, Mortar and Artillery fire come down on the men. They sustain many casualties, as Lipton yells at the men to get out of the streets. Blithe runs, but combat begins to wear down on him, and he slumps over in an alley with a blank stare on his face. One mans leg is blown to pieces by a Mortar. Randleman goes to help the man. Lipton is still out in the open yelling for the men to move, when a Flak shell explodes under him, and launches him into a building. Talbert goes to help Lipton, who is bleeding in the face and hand from shrapnel. He then notices blood on Liptons groin. He slits open Lipton fly, takes a look, and says, "You're okay Lip. Everythings right where it should be."

Liebgott and Tipper go to clear out a building. Tipper goes out back. He stops in front of a closet outside. "Hello? Anyone there?" He then fires his M1 Rifle at it three times. As he runs out of the building, an Artillery shell explodes in front of him. Tipper survives, and slowly walks out. Liebgott comes over, and is face to face with a bloodied and mangled Tipper, with only half of his face covered in blood, and his legs torn. Liebgott tries to comfort him, as he begins carrying Tipper out.

As Pvts. Malarkey, and Muck are firing at snipers, they notice a chaplain named Father Maloney bending over dead and wounded in the open, and says small prayers to them. "Hey Malark, you see what I'm seein'?" says Muck. "Crazy fools, we Irish." Malarkey says, at he fires at a building. As the Germans retreat, Pvt. Gorden, and his assistent gunner fire at them from a building with their Machine Gun. Winters meets a soldier on a horse, who's bringing in reinforcements to drive the rest of the Germans out of town. Winters walks over to Col Strayer, Lt. Nixon, and the rest of Battalion staff. Strayer asks if its safe. Winter says yes. As they leave, a Sniper fires at Winters, and a piece of it ricochets into his leg. Winters grunts in pain, as he leans on a wall.

After capturing Carentan, the casualties of Easy are being treated. Doc Roe is seen treating Winters leg wound. He tells him that he's lucky that it's a ricochet. Winters then notices Blithe sitting on the floor, back against a wall with no expression on his face. Winters asks whats the matter with him. Roe tells him that he can't see. He doesn't know what happened. Winters talks to him, and asks if he can see. Blithe says no, he just blanked out. Winters tells Blithe to take it easy, we're gonna get you out of here...get you back to England.  Blithe says he didn't want to let anyone down. As Winters leaves, Blithe puts his hand on his face, blinks and turns. "Sir." he says. "What is it?" asks Winters. "Thank you sir. I'm okay." Blithe says. He gets up, and says he can see. "I don't know what happened. I think I'm okay." He leaves.

Blithe and his friends Pvt. Muck, Pvt. Malarkey, Pvt. Alton M. More, and PFC. Alex Penkala are sitting in the sun eating stolen German rations. Muck says they taste awful. Blithe is just lying on his back. 1st Lt. Speirs comes over and tells them that they will be moving out soon. The men start talking about Spiers. They talk about what he did on D-day, when Muck reminds Malarkey what he saw, who claims he saw nothing. Penkala says he shot one of his own guys when he shot those German POWs. Malarkey is surprised by this, but Penkala says the man was supposedly drunk. Muck then says that a guy told him that Spiers posed the prisoners. Blithe asks why. Muck starts talking about what happened. Spiers come among the prisoners, who are digging a foxhole, and hands them cigarretes. "He even gives them a light." says Muck. "Then all of a sudden, he swings out his Thompson, and brbrbrbrb! Hoses 'em down." he continues. "I mean goddamn! He gives 'em smokes first?" he continues. "Thats why I don't believe he did it." Muck says. "Well I heard he didn't do it." says Penkala. "No it was him all right." says More. "All except one guy, who he left alone." he continues. Penkala says Speirs took the last 105 by himself at five on D-day. "He ran through MG fire like a maniac." "That I did see." said Malarkey. Muck asks Blithe what he thinks. Blithe says he doesn't know. Welsh then gets the men up.

While marching, Perconte is wondering why Easy Company is not in the front, or back of the line, but in the middle, when suddenly, a Machine gun fires at them. Soon, Mortars begin firing as well. They all take cover among the bushes. Blithe hides in a foxhole, as men return fire. That night, the germans on the other side of the hill sing songs, as the 2nd Battalion, 506th try to stay awake. Sgt. Martin, and Pvt. Blithe are seen sharing a foxhole. Welsh comes over, to switch places with Sgt. Martin. He asks Blithe what happened at the aid station. Blithe says that Roe called it hysterical blindness. Welsh leaves to join Winters, who explains the situation.

In another foxhole, a snoozing Private George Smith is awakened by a M1917 Revolver being bonked on his head. Smith looks up, and sees what looks to him like a German. He grabs his bayoneted rifle, and lunges at the figure. "Smith it's me Talbert!" yells the figure, but Smith stabs him with his bayonet. Liebgott comes over and pushes Smith away, who realizes his mistake. Talbert calls for a medic, who comes over to help Talbert. Smith starts moaning that he didn't know. Blithe hears this, and goes over to check it out. He is stopped by Spiers, who tells him it's nothing. Blithe then spills his heart to Speirs, and says that after he jumped, he slept in a ditch, and that he didn't try to find his Company. Speirs tells Blithe to be a real soldier, you have to accept that you're dead. Blithe listens, and contemplates.

Next day, they are suddenly ambushed by a German force supported by Tanks. The men are forced to stay in their trenches and fend off with Trenchguns, M1s, Machine Guns and Mortars. Blithe hides, as the fire grows more and more intense. Meanwhile, Colonel Strayer and Captain Nixon spot with chagrin Fox and Dog Companies retreating. Casualties mount, and Blithe breaks down and starts sobbing and screaming. Winters comes over and encourages Blithe to get up and return fire. Blithe, still crying, gets up and fires away with his M1. He then stares at Winters who is firing with no trouble at all. This gives Blithe reassurance and he begins to get a hold of himself and help fend off the attack. Mortar and Artillery fire grows more intense, as Gordon is injured at his machine gun. Welsh takes Private John McGrath with a Bazooka to help take out an enemy tank. The first shot bounces off the tank. "I knew you were gonna get me killed!" yells McGrath. They hold still and don't fire until they can hit the tank in a weak spot. The tank then goes up a slope, exposing it's underbelly, and McGrath and Welsh shoot it, disabling it. The tank cannon goes off, but hits point blank on the ground as it tips.

Casualties begin to mount. PFC Robert Van Klinken is wounded in the shoulder while trying to fire a man's Grenade Launcher. Sgt. Leo Boyle is wounded in the leg. Pvt. Walter Gordon is wounded in the shoulder and calf by tank shrapnel.

The men continue fighting when Sherman Tanks from the Second Armored Division arrive and destroy most of the German tanks. The men cheer, and press the attack. Gordon, despite being injured, gets up and fires away at the Germans, killing and wounding many of them. One German is shot through the shoulder, and tries crawling away, when a retreating German tank backs onto him, crushing him. The Germans retreat, and one stays behind to fire another shot. Blithe however, spots him, and shoots the man. The man stumbles, and falls out of site as a vehicle passes him. Easy Company is victorious. Fox and Dog Company them return. One young spectacled soldier from the 4th Infantry Division approaches Blithe, and remarks that they must've taken a beating. Blithe just stares at him, and then walks into the direction of the German Soldier he shot. He then finds him lying dead. In his coat pocket, he notices an Edelwiess flower. Blithe picks it up, and puts it in his own coat pocket.

On D-Day plus 25, Harry F. Welsh and Lewis Nixon are seen leading a patrol. They take cover behind a cabin. Nixon says he needs to know what's in the cabin, and asks Welsh to get volunteers. Welsh asks for volunteers. Blithe chooses to go. Welsh then automatically picks Dukeman and Johnny Martin, since no one else wants to volunteer.

Nixon then notices that Welsh has his reserve chute. Welsh says he sending it too "Kitty" when they get back to England. Nixon chuckles and remarks that he never would have guessed. Welsh asks if it's because he is sentimental. "No, that you think we are going back to England" says Nixon.

Blithe gets up close to the cabin. Everything seems fine. He then motions to come, when he is suddenly sniped at the base of his neck. The men provide covering fire, while Dukeman and Martin drag Blithe. While Roe treats him, Winters comes and informs them that they are pulling them off the front line, and will then head back to England.

Blithe is later sent to a hospital. There, Walter Gordon is seen winning his third Purple Heart. On another bed, Popeye Wynn grins and tells Gordon that he has no shame for his three Purple Hearts. Gordon explains he got on for his shoulder, one for his calf, and one for a boil on his shin that needed to be lanced. Wynn then points at Blithe saying that Blithe only gets one. Blithe just stares up into space with a blank expression.

Back at Utah Beach where the 101st Airborne is resting, Donald Malarkey and Alton More are seen having a joyride motorcycle. They nearly crash into a truck, but make it back to their cabin.

At the cabin, Walter Gordon, who recently got back, is seen reciting the "Night of the Bayonet", which reflects on when Sgt. Talbert was accidentaly stabbed by Private Smith. Both Smith and Talbert are both a little embarrassed, but good-natured about it. A nearby group of replacements named Pvts. Lester Hashey, Antonio Garcia, and Edward Heffron are seen listining without knowing what he is talking about, since they weren't there. Heffron gets up to go back to barracks, when he is stopped by Staff Sergeant William "Wild Bill" Guarnere, who asks where he is from. He replies that he is from Philadelphia. "I can tell. 17th Street." Heffron and Guarnere shake hands, as Heffron says he's from Front Street. Guarnere then offers him a seat, and they both chat about stuff in Philadelphia. At the end of the poem, Gordon announces that since Talbert wasn't wounded by the enemy and didn't qualify for a Purple Heart, he gives one of his hearts to Talbert. Lipton then comes and announces that they are moving back to France, and won't return to England yet.

Malarkey, recently made Sergeant, heads to a house belonging to a Mrs. Lamb, so he can get some of his laundry. After getting his, Lamb then tells him that Lieutenant Meehan's laundry is there, and that she hopes he hasn't forgotten it. Baffled, Malarkey realizes that she doesn't know that he is dead, but then decides to say he will take it. She then asks for help with a couple others, which Malarkey says he will. She then starts reading the names of the people who's laundry she wants help with: 1stSgt. Evans, Pvt. Moya, Pvt. Bloser, Pvt. Gray, PFC. Miller, Sgt. Owen, T-5 Collins, and Pvt. Elliot, all of whom are dead. She then finally reads Blithe's name.

At the end, it reads that after Easy Company was pulled off the line, they had lost 65 men. It then reads that Blithe never recovered from his wounds, and died on 1948.

End of episode three.

Trivia

  • It says that Blithe died in 1948, when actually he recovered from his wound, and died on 1967 while on active duty.

See also

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