William McConahey



On 12 January 1945, a doctor of the US 90th Infantry Division, Dr William McConahey, moved with his medical unit to the ruins of Tarchamps. Besides the countless injured soldiers, he was unforgettably touched by the fate of half-frozen and malnourished civilian refugees whom he discovered in a cellar.

After the US 90th Infantry Division had attacked Doncols on 8 January 1945 through the stalled front at SchumannsEck, the long-awaited breakthrough of the Harlingen Cauldron could finally be achieved by uniting with the US 35th Infantry Division at Bras on 12 January 1945.

The last major German offensive in the west had failed and every day the number of prisoners increased. The German prisoners still had to be cared for in addition to their own wounded.

Captain Dr McConahey's medical unit of the US 90th Infantry Division had its hands full at Tarchamps. The bitterly cold winter, the deep snow, the persistent howling blizzard, and the murderous battles made the struggle for survival a real hell.

Because of the barbaric cold, Dr McConahey had installed himself in a badly damaged farmhouse with a roofed and heatable room. There, the severely wounded were bandaged and given medicine to make them fit for  evacuation to the rear military hospitals.

Only in emergencies were operations performed on site.

The treatment of frostbite, which was often severe, proved to be particularly difficult and protracted, as did the treatment of ’trench feet’, which occur when feet are stuck in cold, damp socks and shoes for days on end. This sometimes developed into blisters develop and even life-threatening infections. Unfortunately, in cases of advanced frostbite, amputation could often not be prevented. The sight of people frozen to death was particularly cruel.

During a search of a properties basement , a woman's body was discovered, she had been dumped. In the evening, Dr McConahey discovered a frightened woman from Wiltz accompanied by her sister and two little girls. They were cold, fatigued and had eaten almost nothing for days in the hail of shelling and grenades. They were first given medical attention and food before being taken to safety away from the front line.

Dr McConahey had always admired the civilians who had lost everything and did not give up despite the suffering and misery they had experienced!

Without the caring attitude of the US Army, there would have been many more civilian deaths to mourn.