Saturday, June 22nd, 2024 Church Directory
HARVEY TEXLEY with the medals and awards he received for his service in WW11. (Submitted Photo).
HARVEY TEXLEY’S POW PHOTO, 1944. He was brought to Auschwitz and then held at the Luckenwalde prisoner-of-war camp. (Submitted Photo).
WWII SOLDIER AND POW Harvey L. Texley. (Submitted Photo).

Grandfather’s POW experience inspires Quamme

Clearwater resident Erica Quamme and her family were inspired by her Grandfather Harvey Texley’s WWII military service to join the Clearwater American Legion.

“We volunteer at the Legion because of his service and sacrifice,” said Quamme. “We’re instilling in our children the act of volunteerism and giving back to veterans because of the sacrifices they have made for our freedom and country.”

Like many young men of the time, Texley was drafted into the United States Army in 1942. He trained for various scenarios in Bend, OR, Needles, CA, and Camp Carson in CO before being sent to Europe, a trip that took 13 days.

He landed on Omaha Beach in France not long after the Operation Overlord Normandy Invasion. He later shared that the movie, Saving Private Ryan, was exactly how he arrived on that beach.

After fighting in France and Belgium, Texley was in Holland in the advance guard of an anti-tank company that came under German fire. He and two fellow soldiers crawled through a beet field in an attempt to get around the shooting. While they succeeded, they found themselves in a woods full of retreating Germans and were captured.

Marched to a nearby city, they were lined up against a basement wall and a head German officer pulled a pistol on them, demanding information; the men refused to give more than their name, rank, and serial number. Just before they were killed, the group came under fire from the Americans, which sent them all, Germans and prisoners, scrambling to escape the barrage.

Resigned to their fate, “we [the prisoners] just hoped we could die,” Texley later recalled.

Texley’s POW group was taken to Auschwitz, where they showered in the same gas chambers where Jewish prisoners were murdered. The guards laughed about it as they explained how the Jews were killed. Texley saw the jets used to pipe in carbon monoxide all along the building, and they were told if the Jews didn’t die quickly enough the guards threw in canisters of Zyklon B to speed up the process. 

“When they’re all dead we knock out their teeth because the Jews are rich and have a lot of gold in them,” Texley recalled them saying. The guards pointed out pails that were lying about for collecting those teeth to the prisoners.

The POWs were then sent to Stalag III-A, a prisoner-of-war camp at Luckenwalde, west of Berlin.

Along with other atrocities during his time as a POW, Texley once watched a Jewish prisoner who was on a road gang stumble and fall while pushing a wheelbarrow. A guard came up and shot him in the head.

Like other prisoners, the POWs were just barely kept alive, subsisting on a piece of bread and half a cup of soup a day.

“We just lived day to day,” he said. “We didn’t know what was going to happen to us.”

After six months as a POW Texley, sick with hepatitis, and the other prisoners, including 5,000 Americans, were liberated by the Russian Army on April 22, 1945. He was taken to an air base and was later discharged as a corporal on July 17, 1945.

After returning to the United States, the memories of his time in the war never faded from Texley’s mind. Every morning and every night he would feel the artillery shells landing all around him. 

He didn’t share his story for 25 years until one day his son-in-law, Larry Grimlie, was looking at his discharge papers and told him he had a lot of medals due to him. He encouraged Texley to apply for them, which he did.

Once he received his medals he was suddenly able to talk. “I was froze [sic] before, I wouldn’t say anything to nobody,” he shared.

He eventually found that talking about his experiences with others helped. Once the floodgates opened he joined a group of former WWII POWs that met to talk about their time in the war and as prisoners. 

Texley passed away on September 6, 2008, at 87 years old.

“My grandfather was very proud of serving and up until his passing carried the POW flag for the Memorial Day celebration in Brookings, SD,” said Quamme. “His story is truly inspiring and what he went through was beyond torture.”

“We have freedom today because of our veterans, and we are honored to volunteer our time to the Clearwater Legion family as a thank you to him, my father Larry Grimlie, who also serviced in the military, and all other veterans.”