Thursday, February 14, 2019

April 28 & 30, 1945 "Closer Home" (Post 106)


15th FAB Yearbook

As a reinforcing battalion for the 38th Field Artillery the 15th displaced early on April 17th to Nempitz, returning to direct support of the 9th Infantry on April 18th for a reduction of further AA positions.

After attacking continuously for almost five days and nights the defenses of Nempitz and Merseburg were overcome and these vital centers captured. The entire battle was to a great extent a violent artillery duel. With the fall of Leipzig several days later, the last real fighting for the battalion was over. After a day of maintenance the battalion loaded infantry again for a move southeast of Leipzig through Borna to Theirbaum and positions in Hohnbach on the Mulde River. Following unsuccessful attempts of our Infantry patrols to contact the Russians, the forward troops moved back to the west bank of the Mulde River. While on an air patrol on April 26th in support of an infantry patrol, Lt. Ferguson brought his liaison aircraft down near a fire fight and evacuated a seriously wounded dough-boy, which probably saved the man’s life.

After contact with the Russians was made by the 69th Division on our left, the battalion began preparations for another motor march.

15th FAB Movements

Somewhere in Germany
First U.S. Army         
Sec. Inf. Div.          
          April 28, 1945 

Dear Mother,
     In the last few days I've received quite a few  letters from home along with a few others. As Scott said "when they come they all come at once". Oh well I'm always on the lookout as I know they're on the road someplace or should I say - ocean.
     Feeling much better then I did when I last wrote. It sure did take a hold of me for a few days. 
     Glad to hear you had the chance to get two good sheets even if the price was a little high. Seems like everything is high to-day. Oh yes and also pleased about your new coat you wrote something about.
     Everything here is going well, been moving pretty fast in the pass but the news sounds good.
     Spring is really here but it seems hard for the weather to warm up. 
     Sorry to hear about the bad news of President Roosevelt (died April 12, 1945) but we must think of him as a fallen soldier, no matter how much he's needed on the line or in the battle. After his time has come things must and will go on.  
     I'm sure glad Scott is out of the mess but I guess he has seen plenty, maybe a few things he'll never tell. He must have got into some white phosphorous by the way you wrote. (As an incendiary weapon, white phosphorus is self-igniting, burns fiercely and can ignite cloth, skin, fuel, ammunition, and other combustibles. It has the tendency to stick on to things including the skin. Phosphorus burns carry a greater risk of mortality than other forms of burns due to the absorption of phosphorus into the body through the burned area, resulting in liver, heart and kidney damage, and in some cases multiple organ failure. Wikipedia) I told you once in a letter he'd change his mind and at that time I'd seen already plenty. What did you think when you saw him drive in? Yes this will sure change a man. Scott was right about me and Zip as in the other. I haven't seen Zip since November as he is behind me most of the time but I did see one fellow who said he was okay.   
     I do not seem to remember Fred Turner and still it seems I've heard his name. I'm sure the black ring Helen had was the one I got her. Maybe she'll use Fred for a break away from the other . She wanted me to write but I haven't found time since last November  or at least I haven't written and that was her last letter. I should thank her for the Christmas package.
     If you need a good pen why don't you get one and remember it doesn't pay to let someone else use it as no two persons write the same, that's the only way to keep a pen writing good.
     By the way you wrote Helen must have looked good being dressed so neat.   
     Gee I received a letter from you dated the 20th in just eight days.
     Sure enjoyed reading the town report book but why did I see F.E.K. in there so much. It kind of gave me a little more courage to think things were going so good at times. I have quite a bit more to read. Glad to hear Dad is able to drive the the tractor more. 
     Eugene is playing the game safe with his tractor.
    I am enclosing a write up you'll enjoy reading as I had a part in making it come to pass. Here is also a Heinie arm band. 
     This seems about all for now so will close with love to all.

Letter to his sister Flavilla
Somewhere in Germany
First U.S. Army
Sec. Inf. Div.
April 30, 1945
Dear Sister and All,
     A few lines in answer to the three or four letters and many cards I've received from you, Ralph and the children. I'm in good health and hope this will find you and the family the same. Spring is here with everything green and many of the trees in full bloom. The weather still holds quite cold most of the time and today it feels like fall with a strong wind blowing and heavy clouds overhead.
     Sorry to hear the sad news of President Roosevelt's death, but we must think of him as a fallen soldier, no matter how much he's needed on the line or in the battle, when his time has come, things must and will go on.
     Things have been moving fast over here, and you may be sure I've been on the go. One thing sure, every move brings me that much closer to sailing home, even if I should have to fight in other lands. (He is relating to Japan.) The news sounds good in one way. On the other hand, people are coming to realize, from the things being found, of the terrible crimes committed by the Germans.
     Received a nice letter from Rev. Otto Nielsen only a few days ago and will answer it soon.
     Glad to hear Beverly is doing so well in school and I sure enjoyed the school paper you sent. So David likes to get out and work around the yard? Well, that's the way all young men do. You tell Bill to be careful what he says or Uncle Charlie won't like it when he gets home. Does Harriett still like her fry pans? Ha, ha. Tell the children I miss them a lot.
     I am enclosing a German armband which I feel Ralph will enjoy. I'm going to send the other ones later on as I've already sent mother one, but have no more at this time. Hope I get some more.
     Must close now as it is almost dark and I'm having a hard time to see the finish of this letter. Don't worry.
                      Love to All,

  Leipzig April 1945

Saturday, February 9, 2019

April 19, 1945 "Sick in a Ditch" (Post 105)

                    15th Field Artillery Battalion Movements
Crossing the Weser at daylight on April 8th the battalion went into position six times in a 20-kilometer advance and stopped for the night in Stockhausen. Many Tiger Royal tanks were engaged during the day and one serious incident of direct enemy fire occurred on the Autobahn south of Gottingen. Three displacements the following day 
(9th) covered 18 kilometers to Glasehausen.

Mounting infantrymen again for an armored pursuit, the 15th Field Artillery moved at noon, April 10th, in a 25—kilometer advance to Rehungen. Battery “A” as an advance support unit proceeded on to Friedrichergde to provide foremost elements with artillery support. The next day, resisting enemy tanks and infantry provided an engagement at noon during which at least one tank and one SP gun were kayoed. “A” Battery emplaced 800 yards from a heavy wood, flushed out several PW’s from- an area not previously entered by U. S. troops. The 31 kilometer advance brought the 15th Field Artillery to Collingen. A late afternoon march on April 12th rolled until dawn on April 13th covering 50 kilometers to Schnell Roda.

On April 13th resistance stiffened as the 15th Field Artillery approached, the formidable defense of the Leuna-Merseburg petroleum. refineries. These vital gas and rubber plants were guarded by one of the heaviest concentrations of flak guns on the European continent. With approximately 1000 guns emplaced with good fields of ground fire and clustered up to 40 at one site with well prepared local defenses, the enemy AAA personnel were to make the battle as costly as possible. Taking positions in Mucheln, the battalion began a harassing and counter battery program in support of doughboys attacking the flak positions.

Shortly after displacement of “A” and “C” Batteries on April 14th, the enemy began an intense volume of heavy AA fire on position areas. After losing 2 guns, “C” Battery position was deemed untenable and another displacement was effected. Back in action after making battle field replacements, “C” Battery brought 3 guns to bear on the enemy by noon. Adjusting medium artillery of the 12th Field Artillery Battalion the Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Cassibiy reduced a large nest of flak guns in a real artillery duel. The entire enemy position had been bypassed by infantry and 15th Field Artillery elements, and it formed a genuine threat to our rear displacing early on April 15th, the battalion went to Kolzsoken, where it immediately continued fire on enemy artillery and ammo positions and shifted fire due south to support a night attack. This engagement brought 390 PW’s and 86 AA guns under our infantry control by 1300 on April 16th.

As a reinforcing battalion for the 38th Field Artillery the 15th displaced early on April 17th to Nempitz, returning to direct support of the 9th Infantry on April 18th for a reduction of further AA positions.
                   (from the 15th FAB Yearbook)

Somewhere in Germany
First U.S. Army           
Sec. Inf. Div.            
April 19, 1945       
Dear Mother,
     It's sure high time I was writing a few lines but as you realize things have been moving so fast I just haven't had the time. 
     Sure hope this finds you all in the best of health. As for me I'm okay now but had a couple bad days and nights a short time pass. I was sure some sick with dysentery or G.I. sh-- and weak as a rag. For two days and nights all I did was lay in a ditch and didn't even eat. We made one night move which I just made it, almost had to give up. I don't know what gave them to me it was some Heinie sausage which were quite greasy. We also found a bunch of fresh eggs and had eggs fried, boiled, scrambled and about any way you could imagine. Oh well, I'm okay now. (This was one of the few stories my uncle shared with us about the war. He shared he was feeling so sick that he told his buddies just leave him in the ditch and go on without him. Of course, they refused to leave him. They placed him on the back of some vehicle with his pants down and his rear hanging over the edge as they traveled.)
     It's still quite cold here but spring is well on its way and everything is green with many of the trees in full blossom. 
     Gee did we have a downpour of rain the other night and many of the boys sure got wet as it was so unexpected and I have never seen such a thunderstorm since being over here.
     I received your Easter Card and liked it very much. Also the small Portland papers and my sportsman magazine. I am going to exchange the sportsman magazine for another sportsman book that one of  the Lieutenants receives.
     Jones sure had a big laugh when I showed him the picture along with the fry pan of eggs, ha ha.
     Yes that was the same fellow that was at Camp McCoy but he hasn't been here for a month. (Do not know who he is writing about. It wouldn't be Jones because my grandmother wrote to him and sent him packages because Jones was a close friend to Uncle Charlie.) Guess he'll be back soon. Remember you asked me about the pictures? He's just the same as ever.
     Glad to hear Helen (sister), Joey, and the baby, Joey Jr. made the trip from Florida okay and I have an idea of all the things she has to talk about. Wish I could  see "Husky" (Joey Jr.). He must be quite the boy. 
     I see by the small papers what you mean by Gen. Patton making the head lines. (Appears the front line soldiers had an issue with Gen. Patton. Just my opinion.)
     By the way Eugene writes I guess Dad is doing one swell job on the garage as he sure had plenty in his letter. Guess I know where they're building it - maybe it will be okay later when you become accustom to it. (My grandfather built the "Knight Homestead". I am sure he had some help along the way.)
Knight Homestead House
Grandpa building barn
House and Barn




     You see I was a little worried when I heard  the truth about Dad so I sent him the money thinking he could use it, thought I told him in the letter.
     One thing never worry about a word you can't spell as I can always make out and most of the time just read right along.
     Sure hope brother is better and is over his yellow steak. ha ha
     All letters are censored and stamped over here, not in New York. The way things are going mail is not regular so you have to take it as it comes.
     One thing about George Fuller, he is so far back that there is little worry. Still like the rest of us he is away from home and loved ones.
     No Jones didn't say a word to me about Dad but I could read between the lines of one of your letters so that's how I found out before you wrote.
     Sorry to hear that Jimmy Allen has gone but his job is done and many more have paid the price.
 Sgt. James F Allen 4th Division USMCR
Parents: Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence H Allen
South Windham, Maine, USA
Killed In Action
Roll: ww2c_27

     Yes those pictures I sent were poor but I was lucky to get them.
     Oh yes, I received the film you sent me but haven't taken any pictures yet. I have an old Kraut camera and may be able to use it.
     That sounds just like Cliff Thomas trying to make out those papers but he is just the the same at all times.
     I just heard some bad news about the ninth army over the radio but everything will be okay. (The Battle of the Seelow Heights started on 16 April 1945 when Marshal Georgy Zhukov's 1st Belorussian Front attacked across the Oder. The 9th Army held the line for about 3 days. After heavy fighting Weidling's LVI Panzer Corps was driven back towards Berlin. Most of the CI Army Corps divisions, now north of the salient created by the 1st Belorussian Front were reassigned along with LVI Panzer Corps to Army Detachment Steiner which was tasked with counter-attacking and pinching off the salient in a poorly conceived, unrealistic plan by OKW. In the end Weidling's corps was driven back into Berlin and he was promoted to commander of the Berlin Defensive Area, reporting directly to Hitler. Theodor Busse and the rest of the 9th Army were driven into a pocket in the Spree Forest south of the Seelow Heights and west of Frankfurt.)
     Mother if you can do this without cutting yourself short will you send me a couple pounds of coffee. Remember don't take it from yourself or one of your points. Maybe a couple of cans of milk. 
     Must close now as I have to get up early. Hello to all with love.
                                      Son Charles
                              Last of the video series #5

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

4 April 1945 "They Just Won't Give Up" (Post 104)

To the Weser River

After 5 days of local defense without incident the battalion packed up and rolled on April 5th to Immenhausen where firing positions were organized. Having passed through the armor, the battalion-supported infantry advanced to the Weser river, moving through Holzhausen to the Gahrenberg Forest on April 6th from which enemy artillery and infantry resistance were engaged. On April 7th, the 15th Field Artillery displaced to Vaake, a town on the west bank of the Weser river. (from 15th FAB WWII Yearbook)

Letter to His Sister Flavilla
Somewhere in Germany
First U.S. Army
Sec. Inf. Div.
March 30, 1945
Dear Sister,
     I want to say hello, Ralph and all the children in just a few lines, and let you know I'm in the best of health and still going strong. Received your letter saying Ralph had been sick but by now, no doubt, he is feeling much better.
     Spring is well on the way here and the weather has been good only for a little rain at times. It's still early so the nights are pretty cool but I've lived outside through so much of it I don't mind. Thank God winter and the mud of spring are behind us. This won't last into another winter, I'm sure.
     Why these Krauts don't give up is more than I know. I can't tell you in words, but my God, what a pounding we are giving them. It's hard to believe some of the things you see. 
     Thanks for the picture of Jimmy Larrabee, Jr., but who would believe it? No, I don't know the girl he married. I think Jr. was in a tank outfit and got wounded somewhere in France.
     As for Pauline, oh well, it's a funny world after all. 
     You wrote about the letter I sent the mill and I'll tell you the truth, that's all I hear lately. Someone wrote it even went to the Boston office. All I can say, it was just a letter. 
     Received a package from Helen Ladd and I figure it took about five months. I must write her a few lines and thank her for it but gee, I can't seem to find the time. Guess she stops in at times by the way you wrote.
     So you still listen to " One Man's Family"? Ha, ha! How could I forget that? I've seen you almost twist the button off the radio because you missed part of it.
(One Man's Family was an American radio soap opera, heard from 1932 to 1959. Making it was the longest-running uninterrupted dramatic serial in the history of American radio. The plot-line centered on stockbroker Henry Barbour, his wife Fanny and their five children.)
     Yes, I think I now know the house you own, but wouldn't mind a picture of it someday. 
     You tell Beverly (7 years old) if she'll make those two threes on her rank card come up higher, Uncle Charlie will send her some paper money from over here for a souvenir. Oh, yes, if David (6 years old) does better I'll do the same for him, but he has a good card now and Uncle Charlie is sure proud of him. Now Flavilla, don't let me forget as I have so much to think of and I wouldn't want to fail them. Say hello to all the children and give them a kiss for me. 
     Yes, Sis, I wrote one letter since Dec. 3, but why you haven't received it, I can say. (She will get a letter dated Feb. 19, 1945 sometime later.)
     Guess Mother doesn't like to bring down her blankets because you have the children to take care of and it would make so much more work.
     I receive the mill news and enjoy it very much. I heard they were paying back-pay.  
    This seems to be all for now, Sister. Good night "kiddos" from Uncle Charlie.
Letter to His Mother
Somewhere in Germany
First U.S. Army
Sec. Inf. Div.
April 4, 1945
Dear Mother,
     Not much news I can write about more than you are reading in the papers but you may be sure there's more to it. The news is good but one must remember someone has to pay dear in order to make this good news. 
     As I wrote in my last letter the weather has been with us for some time except for the pasts three days and these days have been raining and cold as the wind seems to never let up blowing.
     I'm still in good health, sorry to hear about  brother Eugene in your letter I received to-day. This is the only letter I received since I last wrote. Oh yes to-day I did have a package from Colebrook, New Hampshire and what do you think - a fruitcake, gee was I some surprised.
     I was planning to send twenty-five dollars toward the garage this month but will make it the first of the month.
     You said the Doctor left some papers to fill out and I can't make out what you meant. I know the sickness Eugene had also glad he's doing something for his throat. Now that he has started I hope he'll doctor until his throat is cleared up as it has always bothered him some.
     Don't ask me why the Germans don't give up but if they keep asking for it we'll keep dishing it out.
     Yes if I can I'll write Cliff Thomas a letter but most of the time I'm behind letter writing.
     I am enclosing an handkerchief which one of the boys brought back from Paris and wanted to know if I'd buy it, so here it is. 
     I put my felts up for a time during the good weather but now have them on. I'll say that was money well spent.
     Well Mother I sure hope brother will be feeling better by the time you receive this letter. Tell him not to worry because he has to lose a few days work.
     Still waiting to hear if Dad received his letter. Glad to know he's feeling better. 
     This seems to be all for now so will say goodnight. 

Paris Handkerchief 12 inches by 12 inches (30.48 cm by 30.48 cm)
Found in the envelope of the April 4, 1945 letter.

Video 4
Battle for the Rhine

Thursday, January 24, 2019

March 21-30, 1945 "Uncle Charlie Holds Nothing Back" (Post 103)

This letter will be written starting
March 21 & end on March 30, 1945

March 21-30, 1945

With the crossing of the Rhine River the battalion was to enter the last phase of the war against a weakened but still determined enemy. Moving through the searchlight-illuminated Rhine valley on March 21st, the battalion crossed a pontoon bridge near Remagen and was emplaced above Rhinebrohl as a reinforcing battalion to support a morning attack to expand the bridgehead to the south. Supporting this attack by dusk displacements, the battalion set up near Leutesdorf on the 22nd of March and Rodenbach on the bank of the Wied river the following night. Remaining in this position on March 24th, the 15th Field Artillery prepared for a sustained forward attack which carried it to Weis on the 25th. During the evening a forward observer party of “B” Battery was ambushed with other doughboys by a group of by-passed enemy troops and suffered losses. Moving just west of Hohr-­Grenzhausen on March 26th, attacks were supported with good success. One self-propelled enemy gun near the 15th FA area fired 50 rounds of harassing fire and defied all attempts of ground and air OP personnel to locate it. Capt. Richards of the attached AAA Battery captured two PW's in our area during the evening. Displacing to an assembly area near Hilderscheid and on to Ndr. Elbert on the 26th of March the 15th Field Artillery saw the last organized line of resistance crumble and prepared to transport infantry following combat commands of armor for deeper thrusts into the Reich. A three-day advance carried the 15th Field Artillery through Hadomar, Oberndorf, Wetzlar, home of the Leica camera, Giessen, Ndr. Ofleiden to Obr. Waroldern, over 130 kilometers in airline distance. Positions were north of the Eder See in a narrow corridor of contact connecting the 1st and 9th U. S. Armies and forming the original Ruhr pocket. No contact had been established but was imminent, and the battalion's howitzers were emplaced for all round defense of the town, billeting the 15th Field Artillery and 3rd Battalion 9th Infantry.

Somewhere in Germany
First U.S. Army
Sec. Inf. Div.      
Mar. 21-30, 1945
Dear Mother,
     With the weather fair and signs of coming spring it sure makes one feel better then in the pass. Quite a change since last I wrote.
     For over a week now the weather has been good, of course it's still cool being so early in the spring but as I walked through the woods the other day I noticed some of the trees were budding and heard the songs of new birds.
     I've sent you a box and the napkin rings were some I had at the same time I sent you the egg stands, etc. The money in the white bag save but that in the black pocket book you may give away for souvenirs if you like.
     I see you received the twenty-five dollars I sent, now I'm writing for the answers to another letter. Seem you should have it by now.
     Gee I just can't keep up on birthdays and other dates as half the time I don't know the date myself. I've just give up thinking about them until this is over.
     I received a very nice letter from Dora Sullivan. Dora and another woman from the Main office at S.D. Warren are ones in charge of the Warren Mill News which is sent out to all the boys in service from S.D. Warren. They receive letters from all parts of the world; then they take parts from each letter and make up a small mill paper. I really enjoy it very much. Her letter was in answer to a very long letter I sent. She read the letter saying it touched her very much. I guess nearly everyone in the main office read it. One girl even had her read it over twice. After reading the letter she wrote about sending it over to the office of the president of S.D. Warren, John Hyde. You know where his home is - that nice house on the right pass the mill. I really feel this an honor. After going to his office it went to L T Gorries and then to the finishing room.
     You wrote about the fox and that is the way they walk one foot in front of the other leaving one straight line of tracks.
##I could tell Dee plenty in less than five minutes if I saw her. I don't blame Helen (his sister in Florida) one darn bit. (It appears Dee is upset that Helen didn't wave to a possible German POW. 10,000 German POWs were held in 27 camps in Florida.  Sometimes they worked in companies or on farms.) One thing Helen realizes is that she has a brother over here and maybe the very Kraut she waves to will be the one that was sniping and pinned me down for so long right after hitting shore (Omaha Beach) the ditch was filled with black muck that stunk like hell but instead of trying to avoid it I just tried to crawl deeper into it. He also might have been the cause of missing buddies and many other things one can't forget. What in the world is the trouble with some of the American people? By gosh Dee may wave if she likes but when thinking of these things I can't give the rats a smile. I've read of some just like Dee that even say they act more like gentlemen than their American boys, some want even to get married. I'd like to be guard over some of them. Just about the time one of them went on a sit down strike I'd give him something to change his mind, he wouldn't stay on his ass very long. Let me tell you one thing it would take more than an open door to cool me off now. Remember what you wrote? ha ha As you wrote it's just as well not to say too much.
     Here it is quite a few days later and I haven't finished this letter to you. Guess I'll just continue even if it is March 30th as I have received a few letters since then.
     First off the weather is still with us and spring is fast on its way. The nights are still cold but the sun feels good during the day. We do have rain now and then but that is spring.
     Gee I have the package with the salve as it came the twenty-fourth and postmarked  sometime in March but I couldn't make out the day. I won't say now rather it will heal or cure but it's sure a big help even if I've only used it twice. You may not believe it but I was using a chap-stick ha ha.
     Haven't as many clothes now after turning most of them in - overcoat, clothing and all but two blankets to go with our sleeping bag.
     I guess Patton does cover the front lines in the papers back home but as you said, "He's not the only one fighting over here." Seems he goes for that front line stuff. Oh well, it's not always the rooster that crows the loudest which does the most good.
     Sure hope you make out well with the turkey.
     So you see about a few things but I wonder if you could see beyond?
     Received Eugene's (brother) pictures and they were o.k. no doubt he picked the best ones to have made. Also received the big one you cut out but it's all gone by now. He sure looked happy.
     The stamps you got from Roosevelt Match of Dimes is a good thing. A few dimes are not much but they add up to a lot. You see he had about the same sickness which left him lame. You'll always notice he has an aid with him while standing.
     Flavilla (sister) sent me a picture of James Larravee Jr's. wedding and I could hardly believe it. I don't know the girl. 
     I guess the letter I wrote the Mill News went all over the place as Glena (the woman with the green car that called at the house) wrote me a letter telling all about it. Gee I don't know what I said but seems I've been pretty popular for the past few weeks at the mill. Still that won't get me home and that's the only thing I care about.
     That's okay if you let Jeanette take the books or anyone else or even anything else I've sent home if you consider the person you let take them first. 
     Your letter today of March 16 with the seal of Maine on it sure looks good. Guess there are a few others before this one telling me Eugene being sick as you started off as I already knew. Hope he's feeling better now.
     Well Mother not much more I can think about now or that I care to write about. Hope Dad received my letter. Tell Eugene to keep up courage and hope he'll soon be well. 
                                       Love to All
   Three items mentioned in the letter
 Napkin Rings & Egg Cups of Belgium

## Uncle Charlie let's off some pent up emotions in that paragraph. Dee had hit a major nerve.

Maine State Seal
In the center of the seal, a moose (state animal) rests under a tall pine tree (state tree). A farmer and seaman represent the traditional reliance on agriculture and the sea by the state. The North Star represents the state motto: Dirigo ("I Lead").

Video 3

Friday, January 18, 2019

19 March 1945 "The Spoils of War?" (Post 102)


The 15th Field Artillery Battalion Advancements
Action continued light and on March 4th, as another attack began, the battalion moved through Dreiborn to Wollseifen and crossed the Roer to Hergarten the following day March 5. The battle had become a pursuit and after firing on tanks and fleeing horse-drawn vehicles the battalion made a double displacement on March 6th, terminated by a night occupation of positions near Bergheim. During the march on the following day the battalion took hasty positions twice to attack tanks and enemy infantry and finally closed into Bouderath, the first town in Germany for which the 15th Field Artillery was completely responsible. A burgermeister was appointed and all materials of war were collected. Enemy artillery fire during the day destroyed the liaison jeep with the 9th Infantry Regiment. Harassing towns prior to their entry by our infantry troops, the battalion moved at noon on March 8th to Mutscheid.
With a shattering of enemy resistance the 15th Field Artillery began a 33-mile night march over rough routes and arrived in Konigstall early on March 10th, taking positions north of town. Moving again in the afternoon against a stiff rear guard action the battalion went into position in Franken and infantrymen of CBT 9 closed on the west bank of the Rhine River to form the north face of a large pocket of several enemy divisions trapped west of the Rhine. Considerable enemy air activity was noted over the area attempting to bomb the Remagen Bridge. Observers established in castles high above the Rhine looked down the enemy's throat and caught all enemy movements in the low-lying towns on the east bank. For several days the battalion continued to support the expanding Remagen bridgehead by fire until its turn came to cross the last river barrier to inner Germany. (The 2nd Infantry Division seized Gemünden on 4 March 1945, reached the Rhine on 9 March and then Breisig on 10 March before assuring custody of the Ludendorff bridge from 12 to 20 March 1945.)

March 19, 1945
Dear Mother,
     Just a note along with this package I'm sending.
     All the things inside the bundle with the helmet are part of a youth uniform found inside a small building behind some houses. Inside the building was a two wheel cart, hand down with a reel of  small fire hose like the old fashion type hose reels we once saw years ago. There was also a small amount of firefighting equipment. In a plain wooden locker were all these uniform, helmets, and a bag to carry over the shoulder which held a mask (intended for a smoke mask but just like the German gas mask). The bag and mask were of a brown shade and hanging in the lockers were brown jackets which looked like plain work jackets. 
     As you notice the outfits had plenty of color (attractive to the youth eyes). The suit cloth was a dark blue, very neatly made. Around the collar, cuffs, and pockets etc was a piping of the same red.
     Some of them were made for very small boys, this helmet being one of the larger and more fancy than the others. I guess as they worked up, more was added to their dress outfit.
     All this seems to me like a very good camouflage due to one fact. Behind the building I found a silhouette full size of a man's head and shoulders with an outline of a helmet. This was nailed to a small stake for standing in the ground. You could find many bullet holes which had been checked off with a pencil but here is what I'm coming to. The helmet outline was that of a G.I. From all this you may form your own opinion.
     The silk is that of a German supply parachute which was found when at one time they tried to drop some equipment to their front lines but made a mistake and overshot. Maybe you could work it into a pillow top or something else.
     The white cord is from a German pilot and I saw him, on Christmas Day, jump from his plane after it had been shot up and set afire.
     Here are some stamps for the collection and also German money with a few others mixed in. 
     The rest are insignias from caps, shoulders and pockets but they were taken at different times and I can't name the places. 

The Ludendorff Railroad Bridge at Remagen
The 27th Armored Infantry Battalion, Combat Command B, 9th Armored Division, discovered that the Ludendorff bridge at Remagen in the First Army area was still standing and passed the word back to the Combat Command B commander, Brigadier General William M. Hoge, a former engineer officer. General Hoge ordered the immediate capture of the bridge, and Advance to the Rhine soldiers of the 27th became the first invaders since the Napoleonic era to set foot on German soil east of the Rhine. Crossings in other army areas followed before the month was. over leading to the rapid defeat of Hitler's armies in a few short weeks.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

15 March 1945 "Uncle Charlie Feels Pretty Good" (Post 101)

The letter written by my uncle is dated March 15, 1945. They 2nd Infantry Division will be crossing the Rhine on March 21st.
As shared to me by Glynn Raby Jr, a member of the 9th Infantry Regiment, "Peter, After we crossed into Germany, our forward progress increased, due to less and less opposition. One factor was that we didn't dig holes in the ground at night, but used the houses in the villages. I have forgotten the names of many towns, but we entered one just after dawn. The Platoon Sgt got word that we would stop there for some time and picked a house for some of our Platoon. He directed me to check the cellar while he checked the second floor. I encountered some enemy and ordered them to come up the stairs with their hands up. I quickly informed the Sgt. We went outside and 7 enemy soldiers came up and surrendered. I think they were weary and just waiting.
A day or two later,  a widespread siege of diarrhea hit many of the 2nd Infantry Division, and as we advanced, we could see signs that the enemy had the same problem. I was one of 3 or 4 in the Platoon that it skipped. The chief medic in the 2ndID ordered that hot tea be substituted for coffee. That helped."

The 9th Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division arrived at the bridge March 10 and did guard duty until they crossed the Rhine March 21st.

Somewhere In Germany
First U.S. Army               
Sec. Inf. Div.                
March 15, 1945      
Dear Mother and All at Home,
     These few lines leave me in good health. Sure hope that Dad is feeling much better since I have been thinking about him most of the time since his accident.
     Received a letter from you yesterday dated Mar 1 which is the best traveling time in a long while, another came in Mar 13 and was mailed Feb 28.
     It seems you were very much full of fun in your letter Mar 1 but don't ever write something and then tell me I don't dare to read it to the other boys. ha ha
     Don't think I told you in my last letter that I had received another roll of paper you sent, also two small newspapers.
     The two pictures of sister and baby were swell. Gee what a boy. I wouldn't blame her if she enters him in the baby show at Miami. (His sister Helen and her 7 month old son Joseph Borek Jr.) It seems the people down there (Homestead, Florida) like her or that's the impression I have from your letters.
     Gee, we have been taking more of a licking from the weather than the Jerries. I never in my life remember when I've been so muddy and wet at different times than in the pass. On the other hand I must admit the last three days have been swell, something like Spring.
     Yesterday I had a hundred percent clean up, washed clothes (didn't have any clean ones to wear) with a hot pail of water cleaned up myself, had a shave, haircut, cleaned rifle and hung bed roll out to dry and air out.
     So Ruth Berry is a nurse in France. Guess I should know her; I went bowling a couple times and out to dinner once while she was training (as a nurse) in Portland (Maine). oh oh - The only trouble was she had to be in so early which were the rules of the nurses' home where she stayed. (Always the ladies' man was my dear uncle.)
     When it is so wet we can't dig a hole we just stay on top of the ground or scoop out a little dirt and pile it around the sides. 
     Yes you may be sure I had many packages for Christmas. Everything was okay, even Helen's L. except for two or three bars. She sent two large and one small box of raisins. Guess she remembered how much I liked them.
     You have me guessing, what are you going to do with that five dollars I sent? Maybe I'll think of it before my next letter - maybe.
     Only I can say is that Claude (a local farmer that was getting richer by the day while not treating his workers well) sure looks after Claude but I hope he doesn't think he's fooling everyone. Guess you know what I mean. 
     Still haven't seen Zip but feel everything is okay. You may realize we hear news here about things going around us, we see what's going on or who's being shelled etc. but never can write about it. I haven't heard anything about him or where he is but most of the time he is behind me as he's in a heavy outfit cooking.
     Did that door cool you off? I see you were pretty hot around the collar when you wrote one letter. ha ha. Mike said "Nina foolish." (Nina, my grandmother didn't take any guff if you know what I mean.)
     I wrote you about my new teeth but I never knew where the others went.
     It's been a long time since the invasion but nearly every day has been on the (front) line so you see how much we go. The fellows that stay in the rear are lucky but some one has to fight so why not me.
     Don't you worry about me over here as I intend starting life where and in the same way as I left off. Oh yes some things will be different but sailing home the same way as when I left is my hope which gives me courage.
     I am sending you some pictures but they aren't worth a darn. They were taken two different times with two different cameras. Some look as if the paper was put on the film before the film had dried. I would like to tell you a few things about a couple of the pictures but I guess I can't now. If you hold the pictures backside to them put your finger at the point of the arrow you'll be able to find the boys and their names. I'll have more to send later.
     It's now 10:30 and I must be going so will sign off. Hello to Dad and Brother and best of health.
Well, other than the concerned about his father in the first paragraph, Uncle Charlie appears to be feeling upbeat in this letter. He's funny at times and a little "sure of himself" in a good way when he shares about the ladies and his future. 
He definitely showed confidence and shared how he felt about issues around him. He wasn't timid to share his mind with his mother. They appeared to have had a very close and comfortable relationship. 
Knowing what Charles B. MacDonald said in Company Commander it did seem some units did most of the fighting in WW II. Not a great deal of rotation, but at least in this letter Uncle Charlie sounded as if "Someone has to be in the front line, so why not me."
As both Charles B. MacDonald and Glynn Raby Jr shared, this was the time when our soldiers sometimes housed themselves in the town they had entered. They would just go in and if there were no houses empty then they made the family move out and go to their neighbor. I wonder if my uncle was in one of those towns when he spent all day washing, shaving, cleaning his gun etc.? 
Boy was he itching to share some information with his mother. He made a telling remark in my opinion when he wrote "they were getting more of a licking from the weather than the Jerries." Our boys are moving right along by this time.
I have said enough for this post.

 Video #2