Henry J. Roth cheated fate in 1944 when severely swollen feet earned him a coveted seat on a train to an English hospital, weeks before his Army division was pounded by advancing Germans in the Battle of the Bulge.
Sixty-three years later, a faded relic from his foxhole arrived at Roth’s home in Catonsville.
Roth, an 85-year-old retired accountant, received the package this week from Belgium. As his mailman and wife looked on, Roth opened the box and pulled out a dark green canvas duffel bag, emblazoned with stenciled lettering: “Henry J. Roth 33383648″
It didn’t take long for Roth to recognize the bag. It had once contained some of his Army gear and a picture of his wife. He had left it with the other members of the 395th Regiment of the 99th Infantry Division in a foxhole near the Belgian-German border as he went to wash up in a nearby farmhouse.
Before he could return, doctors diagnosed his trench foot – a condition that afflicted scores of soldiers during the war – and sent him to England.