John F. Gatens

John F. Gatens Jr. was born in Port Glasgow, Scotland, on August 9, 1923, he was three years old when his family left Mary Street in Port Glasgow and headed to the United States. At the time of 1942, the army was massively drafting young men and John Gatens was one of them. John Gatens (#32770667) was drafted when he just turned nineteen years old, in Paterson New Jersey. He served as a corporal with Battery A, 589th Field Artillery Battalion, 106th Infantry Division. He served at the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium and was captured by the Germans and held prisoner for four months at "Stalag XIIA" a German prison camp in Limburg, Germany. But then John was rescued by the Welsh Guards.

I met John Gatens, Section Chief and Gunner on the No.1, Howitzer, on May 18, 2012 during a small commemoration ceremony at Parkers Crossroads Monument. A monument consists of a WWII 105mm Howitzer, which is placed on the exact spot where John Gatens' Howitzer was during the defence of the crossroads during the winter of 1944.
A metal plaque commemorates the men of the 589th Field Artillery Battalion who fought here under the command of Major Arthur C. Parker III (to whom the crossroads is named).

A Story by John Gatens
Eric Wood was my Battery Excecutive Officer and a very good one. Liked by every one. December 16,1944, was a very important day for me and for Eric, as well as for thousands of other GI's. As stated in the story below, our Battery was a very active firing Battery on that and other days.
We did what had to be done on that day. Very early the next morning, we were ordered to move to a new position. Because of the weather and roads condition, we had a very hard time getting to that position. We were there a very short time, when Eric got the word that German Tanks were on their way up the road. In his booming voice, he was yelling to all sections to get out there as fast as they could and we'd see each other at the other side of Schoonburg. That was the last order, that I received from Eric. Thank God, Three of the sections made it out and through Schoonburg. Eric and the fourth section, didn't make it. They were met by a German Tank in Schoonburg. He fired and killed two of my good friends. Eric escaped into the woods alone. The other members were all captured.
Now that is as much as anyone that I know, has any knowledge of what happened to Eric. I know that there are many stories written and I have read most of them, all I can say is, knowing the kind of Officer that Eric was, he could have accomplished what is written. However, none have any first hand knowledge as to fact. I'm on Eric's side and hope that it is true.
May he rest in Peace.

John Gatens

You can find also a story of John F. Gatens on this website

May 24, 2014
American Cemetery
Hombourg, Belgium

Battery A
589th Field Artillery Battalion
106th Infatry Division


I met John for the second time. It was a happy see again.