Engineer CastleHistorical Vignette 003

Captain Chris J. Brous

Captain Chris J. Brous, shortly after being assigned as a company commander in the 23rd Engineer Battalion, 3rd Armored Division

Captain Chris J. Brous, shortly after being assigned as a company commander in the 23rd Engineer Battalion, 3rd Armored Division

Photograph from Captain Brous’ identification card.

Photograph from Captain Brous’ identification card.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the early morning hours of August 2, 1944, Captain Chris J. Brous was returning from inspecting his front line troops. As his jeep rounded a turn in the road, it was struck by tank and machine gun fire, killing the driver. Captain Brous and First Lieutenant McKinney were taken prisoner.

Both Engineer officers were wounded. They were ordered to sit in a nearby field to await transport to a German hospital. Realizing that his field notes might contain information harmful to the Allied cause, Captain Brous tore them into tiny pieces and buried them.

In route to the German hospital, Lieutenant McKinney asked what he should do with his field notes. Captain Brous responded, “You know your orders eat them!” At the hospital, the German surgeons removed 16 shell fragments from Captain Brous’ left thigh and chest. He was then sent to a German hospital in Paris.

On August 18th, Captain Brous and 80 other Allied prisoners were taken to a train station for transport to a Prisoner of War (POW) camp in Germany.

Captain Brous made contact with the French Underground through a worker at the station. They arranged to shoot up the train engine pulling the POW train. Concerned that the train might be accidentally attacked by Allied aircraft, Captain Brous asked the German guards for permission to paint red crosses on the train cars.

The POW train was liberated by Free French troops on August 22nd.

Captain Brous was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart Medals for his actions. After rehabilitating at an Army hospital in England, Captain Brous insisted on rejoining the 23rd Engineers. Captain Brous exercised the Army Value of Integrity by doing what was legally and morally right. His actions of destroying his field notes, directing Lieutenant McKinney to eat his notes, ordering the destruction of the train engine, and marking the train with a red cross to ensure the safety of the soldiers were legally and morally correct. These actions promoted the Allied cause while impeding the German efforts.  

 

Brous serving as an enlisted man in Panama

 

Brous serving as an enlisted man in Panama

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