Couch nearly kills Frank Doll |

Couch nearly kills Frank Doll

At this time of the war, Frank’s battalion moved all over the southeast coast of England, from Bristol to the east and north. Mostly, what he remembered was that it was a crowded place.

Sometime during the next few weeks, Frank took a “bomb disposal” class. This was a hands-on class. During the class, it was impressed upon the men that this knowledge could one day be life-saving knowledge, so Frank made it his business to pay careful attention. Although Frank couldn’t conceive of a situation where he would save a life with this new-found intelligence, the war had a way of throwing some curves.

Much later in the war, Frank’s battalion arrived in Germany, pushing the Nazis farther from their homeland. At that time, it was customary for the Allied Forces to appropriate houses for headquarters when they first arrived and cleared the area of all enemy Nazis. This was always exhausting work, being the forerunners, spending hours on the road, sometimes going days without sleep.

On this occasion, Frank and his hand-chosen men had been awake for three days when they pulled into a town and found a house, knocked on the door, and told the occupants to get their belongings and get out. When the folks closed the door behind him, one young kid was past exhaustion and eye-balled the vacated couch.

With a deep sigh, he headed for couch, thinking of a few hours of sleep. Something seemed wrong to Frank, and he pushed the young man aside before the kid connected with the couch.

“What the hell?” the kid yelled as he fell to his knees.

Frank raised a hand to hush him. “Sergeant,” he said to the man on his left, “get the probing wire.”

Nodding, the sergeant came back with a heavy wire.

Frank pointed to the couch. “Check beneath it and under the cushions.”

The sergeant did as Frank instructed and it was a good thing he did, because there under the couch the pole came up against something hard. Carefully, Frank and another man moved the couch. Glaring at the men like giant gaping wounds were three anti-tank mines. For several seconds time stood still. Frank glanced over his shoulder at the young Army private. Had the sleepy kid landed on the couch, enough explosives would have blown the entire house to smithereens. Frank, his men, and the house would have been no more than bits the size of pennies. As it was, Frank took a look at the anti-tank mines and knew exactly what to do: with wire cutter, he snipped the correct wire and disabled the mines.

For Frank, this near miss with being blown up was probably the most frightening experience of the war.

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