Collins, Harry John “Hollywood Harry”

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Collins, Harry John “Hollywood Harry” born on 07-12-1895 in Chicago Iilinois, graduated from Western Military Academy in 1915 and attended the University  of Chicago before leaving in 1917 to join the United States Army. Collins completed the course at the Officer Training Camp in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1917, received his commission as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry and was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Regiment. Collins served with the 3rd Infantry on the Mexican Border at Eagle Pass, Texas, at the end of the Pancho Villa Expedition  and during World War II. Collins remained with the 3rd Infantry, including assignments at Camp Sherman, Ohio and Fort Snelling, Minnesota. In 1922 he was assigned to the 19th Infantry at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. He completed the Infantry Officer Course at Fort Benning in 1926, and remained there as an instructor on the staff of the Infantry School.

From 1929 to 1930 he was an instructor at Fort Ethan Allen, Vermont, and he completed the Infantry Advanced Course at Fort Benning in 1930. A specialist with the placement and marksmanship of machine guns, he operated schools for machine gun operators at Fort Sam Houston and Fort Warren in the early 1930s. Collins graduated from the United States Army Command in 1934 and the US War College in 1935.

He was served again in Hawaii, and in 1938 moved to Vancouver Barracks, Washington, where he was the Plans, Operations and Training Officer (S3) for the 7th Infantry Regiment, and then commanded the regiment’s 1st Battalion. After his battalion command he served as regimental executive officer until being assigned as Assistant Plans, Operations and Training Officer (G3) and then Intelligence Officer (G2) for the 6th Infantry Division at Fort Snelling.

World War II

At the start of World War II Collins was assigned to the Staff at the War Department, and was sent to England as an observer and liaison.

Upon returning to the United States in November 1941, Collins first served as Intelligence Officer for the IV Corps. He then activated the 345th Infantry Regiment at Fort Carson, a unit of the 87th Infantry  Division, nicknamed “Golden Acorn” , which he commanded as a Colonel. In August 1942, Collins was named assistant division commander of the 99th Infantry Division, nickname “Battle Babies”  at Camp Van Dorn, Mississippi and promoted to Brigadier General.

In April 1943, he assumed command of the 42nd Infantry Division, nickname “Rainbow Division”  at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma and was promoted to Major General. In December 1944, the division arrived in France and played a major role in stopping the last German drive into Western Europe, known as the Battle of the Bulge. Dachau liberation. The 42nd Infantry Division, had 106 days of combat and total casualties: 5.949. and took  59.128 prisoners of war.

Dachau concentraton camp liberation

The 42nd Division was credited with the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp. As commander of the 42nd Division, Collins had defied convention by naming Rabbi Abraham Judah Klausner    as the division chaplain, despite not having a large number of Jews in the division. According to contemporary accounts, Collins was moved by the plight of the prisoners he saw at Dachau, and took extraordinary measures to ensure they immediately received housing, food and medical attention. His example enabled Klausner to successfully appeal for assistance from civilians in the United States, requesting items that the Army was not prepared to supply, including kosher foods, religious articles, and cash donations. Abraham Klausner died 28-06-2007 of complications from Parkinson’s disease at the age of 92

Following V-E, the 42nd assumed occupation duty in western Austria, with Collins serving as military governor. In July 1948, he was appointed commander of the 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Washington, and later assumed command of New York-New Jersey area headquarters at Fort Totten, New York.

In January 1951, he was assigned to command the 8th Division at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. A year later he was appointed Military Attache in Moscow, afterwards returning to the United States to command the 31st Infantry Division at Camp Atterbury, Indiana.

Death and burial ground of Collins, Harry John “Hollywood Harry”.

 Collins retired from the Army in 1954 and worked as a Vice President for North American Van Lines and a consultant to the Human Research Organization at George Washington  University. Collins subsequently moved to Colorado, where he lived until retiring to Salzburg, where many Dachau survivors were initially transported after the liberation of the camp. In his later years he was in ill health and used a wheelchair as the result of injuries sustained in a car accident.

Collins’ first wife was Maude Alice McAlpin Collins (1897-1955). They were the parents of a daughter, Patricia. During his occupation duty in Austria, Collins met Irene Gehmacher, a native of that country. After his divorce from his first wife, he married Irene, who died in 1987. Hollywood Harry died on 08-03-1963 in Salzburg and was buried at the Saint Peter’s churchyard cemetery in Salzburg, Austria.

   

 

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