Black History Month viewing: The Wereth 11



The story of segregated 333rd Field Artillery Battalion and the 11 artillerymen massacred during the Battle of the Bulge is coming to television. The docudrama, “The Wereth Eleven,”  premieres nationwide on National Geographic Channel on Wednesday, Feb. 16 at 9 p.m. EST. (The above is a memorial video, which you may want to skip if swelling choruses and solemn drum rolls are not your thing. I’d had another video in mind but it would not embed.)

We first mentioned this one last year: The 333rd was overrun and retreated to Wereth, Belgium, where they took refuge with a local family. Their position was revealed by a Nazi sympathizer, they surrendered to an SS recon patrol, but they were taken to a field where they were tortured, maimed, and shot.

It’s an independent film with a low budget, but it looks like it could be some good Black History Month watching. (Here’s the trailer for A Soldier’s Story, a personal favorite.)

“Wereth” includes an interview with retired Staff Sgt. George Shomo, now 90. Shomo gives a blistering account of being an African American G.I. during World War II.  Once outnumbered 10 to one,  he and his fellow soldiers were left behind to fight the Germans.

“As a black soldier in the United States Army, you weren’t as good as a dog,” he said.  “We fired until we ran out of ammunition. It’s hard when a man’s got a rifle coming at you and all you got is a trench knife. But I got a couple (of men) and some of the other guys got a couple. I’d say the Germans had to walk over piles of their dead to get to us.”


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  1. William J. Connerty on

    See this interview I did with Willie Alphonse 33FAB veteran last year at:

    Their are only a handful of 333 FAB veterans left. During filming I found out that his relative (daughter I think) is the Surgeon General of the US. Willie’s wife called her and she expressed interest in getting involved with Joe Small/Robert Child and doing an interview in Washington D.C. Unfortunately, I was brought in late in the research project by Ralph Conner (who died right after this interview) and was unable to make much of an impact on the Wereth Eleven film production. I have to say the stories he told were incredible. It was something out of a “The Great Escape” movie script. Riveting stuff. As he and about 50 other 333FAB guys were being held in a makeshift POW camp a squadron of RAF fighters came in and started strafing them thinking they were Germans. Some were injured on the first pass. He and a white officer grabbed a couple gallons of lye and climbed a water tower and painted the words POW on top of the tower just as they were coming in for another pass. On that pass the RAF fighters just waved their wings signaling that they got the message. That courageous effort saved a lot of guys that day.

    I have to say that when I arrived at his house Willie was bed ridden with advanced emphysema. He didn’t have the energy to lift up his head. We were going to conduct the interview that way but he told us to come back tomorrow saying their was no way he was going to do this laying down. I know he was in a lot of pain the next day sitting in that chair. But he said he was doing it for his buddies long gone

  2. Arthur J. Matthews on

    I just learned a little more about the African-American history for the battle for freedom, but after reading the introduction above, it has some reference to the republican’s theory about our President. When I read the message which is in parenthesis, about not liking “swelling choruses and solemn drum rolls” I wonder what you were trying to say?

  3. My father James Edward Watkins Top Sgt served with the 333rd FAB. He was fortunate to have seen The Wereth Eleven documentary. He was so honored to be a part with these brave, courageous men. He watched it with tears in his eyes but his heart was filled with pride.

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