Durward B. Varner
Biography: Durward Belmont Varner of Cottonwood Texas was another Ebay driven discovery. If you’re read my father’s section of the site, you know he was honored at a Texas Aggie Muster which was held near the Elbe River in Germany. I had a saved search on Ebay which would let me know if the words “Aggie” “Elbe” and “Muster” appeared in the same listing for a sale item. I must have had that search on for more than a year before getting any hits. Then about two and a half years ago, there was a message that a Muster on the Elbe program was for sale. I immediately contacted the seller with my name a information about my dad. The seller, Tom Varner informed me that it was his father, D.B. Varner that had organized the Muster and ultimately was the M.C. for the event. I ended up purchasing the item and began corresponding with Tom. He informed me that he didn’t know that much about his father’s time in the service and that when they had tried to get information from the government, they were told that all his records had been destroyed. Obviously they were talking about the infamous fire and the St. Louis Pesonnel Records Center. Tom didn’t even have a copy of his father’s discharge. One thing he did remember was seeing some photos of the Elbe Muster event. You can imagine my excitement of the possiblilty of seeing my father in one of these photos…it would have been too good to be true. Regretfully, it did end up be too good to be true. Tom did make 8 X 10 copies of the photos and sent them to me. After careful examination, I realized that my father wasn’t in any of them. In addition the progam that I purchased from Tom didn’t list my father’s name. Confused though I was, I do think that Tom and I came up with a plausible answer to both questions. First, the photos were taken inside and there are no signs of the international guests that were listed in the program. Second, I would assume this was a large celebration, not only was this the normal time to celebrate the Aggie tradition but it was also the end of the war. Allied troops were at the very edge of completing their mission in Europe. Seems like there might have been more than a few hundred officers in attendance. It was my thought that an outside portion of the celebration may have been held earlier in the day which was open to other troops and would half included some of the other “guests” that were listed. The fact that my father’s name was not in the program was easily answered in that Major Varner had organized the event so he could have had preliminary copies of the program before any final edits were made. I sent Tom a scan of the page listing my father and General Simpson, and it is clear that this was done in the same handwritten still and at the same time. His name was certainly not just added as a keepsake. As I looked closer and closer at the photos, I came to notice that Major Varner not only had the 13th Corps patch on his left shoulder by that he had tank destroyer emblems on his collars. This made me look even closer at the after action reports and the payroll records I had from the 6th TD Group. His name was listed in the payroll records as the unit’s Adjutant as of 1943 and as the unit’s S-3 officer as of June of 1945. His listing in the After action reports puts him on the XIII corps roster also. This connection makes it easy for me to connect him with my father with knowledge of whatever he did to earn such an honor.