Harry J. Collins Grave, Petersfriedhof, Salzburg, Austria

Henry Collins Grave, Petersfriedhof, Salzburg, Austria

Harry J. Collins, nicknamed “Hollywood Harry” for his eccentric behavior, was the commander of the 42nd Infantry Division during World War II.

When the division was first formed, with units from 26 states and the District of Columbia, Douglas MacArthur said it would “stretch over the whole country like a rainbow” – hence its title as the Rainbow Division. The 42nd played an important part in the Battle of the Bulge and the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp.

Collins has a mixed reputation. On the one hand, he was bold enough to buck army tradition by naming Rabbi (Captain) Eli Bohnen as the division chaplain. On the other hand, he had a habit of flying the Confederate flag and waking his troops up with bagpipes.*

After the partition of Austria into neutral zones, Collins became the military governor of the western section. During that time, he met his second wife, an actress named Irene Gehmacher. He retired to Salzburg and died in 1963.

* See Allied Looting in World War II: Thefts of Art, Manuscripts, Stamps and Jewelry in Europe by Kenneth Alford.