TESTIMONY (Zundert - HOLLAND - October 1944)



typical G.I. winter garb, as worn by US Infantry in the E.T.O. winter, December 1944 - January 1945

"...the mysterious Seamstress..."

… it was 1633, in the afternoon of Friday, October 27, 1944, when we – members of the U.S. Army’s 104th “Timberwolf” Infantry Division – entered the town of Zundert, Brabant, Holland . Birthplace of famed artist painter Vincent van Gogh, Zundert was our first major town to be liberated, since crossing the Belgian/Dutch border and we expected strong German resistance ! At the time, I was a First Lieutenant and Platoon Leader of 1st Platoon, I Company, 413th Infantry Regiment. The 413th Infantry Regiment – “Seagulls” – was commanded by Col. Welcome P. WALTZ, while the 3d Battalion’s CO was Lt. Colonel William M. Summers, my immediate superior, in charge of I Co, was Capt. Albert E. Johnston . The Division G-2 (Intelligence Staff Officer) estimated total enemy strength , along the 104th TW Division front the morning of October 26 at approximately 7 infantry battalions with an average of 200 to 300 men each and with 2 more battalions in reserve . The further estimate included antiaircraft artillery as well as self-propelled guns . Plans for our assault, originally scheduled for October 27, 1500 hours, included a very large preliminary barrage by both American (385th & 386th Field Artillery Battalions) and British (68th Field Artillery Battalion) artillery . While the 414th and 415th Inf Regts maintained pressure on the enemy in the center and the left sector, the 413th Infantry Regiment was to attack toward Zundert . After having seized the intermediate objectives, and after a brief reorganization, the Regiment drove further forward, to the north . The 329th Engineer Combat Battalion meanwhile had hurriedly constructed a 60-foot Bailey 50th Anniversary celebrations of V-E Day, and delivered a small gift for Jeanne . This was a sewing kit, complete with a supply of needles and thread that I presented with the expressed wish that never again would a Dutch lady need to mend the trousers of a liberating G.I.
(Peter R. BRANTON III, 1st Lt, I Co, 413th Inf Regt, 104th Inf Div, USA, 0-1324903, recollections)

1st Lt. P.R. BRANTON, III, born August 4, 1922, sadly passed away Sunday, March 14, 2004, aged 81 - he was the very FIRST Vet to share his personal WWII experiences with “Strictly G.I.”, and was also running the Nat’l TW Association’s website – may he rest in eternal peace –
“Lest We Forget”

Notes:

104th "TW" INFANTRY DIVISIONforces launched "Operation Rebound" whereby 3 different Task Forces would capture and secure the area near the Belgian/Dutch border (to repulse the Germans, since they blocked the northern approaches to the port of Antwerp); the 4th Canadian Armoured Division (attached to I British Corps) assembled northeast of Antwerp and attacked along the Kalmthout-Essen road . The 49th British Infantry Division attacked St. Lenaerts and Loenhout in order to secure the Loenhout + Wuustwezel areas . Clark Force attacked to first secure Loenhout, and then advance toward Wuustwezel which it was to capture and hold against possible enemy counterattacks .

First Combat Operations for the
Timberwolves
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22 Oct 44 – I British Corps (CO > Maj. General John A. CROCKER) directs the 104th Infantry Division to relieve the 49th British Infantry Division (between 23 – 25 October 1944) and establish strong defensive positions in the Wuustwezel (Belgium) area .

Monday, 23 Oct 44 – 413th RCT moves from its bivouac, and advances via Brecht, to occupy positions in Wuustwezel, Loenhout and partially Meer, and completes relief of the 56th British Infantry Brigade by 1700 .

Tuesday, 24 Oct 44 – 414th RCT relieves the 147th British Infantry Brigade across the Antwerp-Breda road at 1600, and takes position to the left of the 413th Inf Regt .

Wednesday, 25 Oct 44 – 415th RCT relieves the 146th British Infantry Brigade . At 0930 occupation of the entire 104th Inf Div sector is now complete, with CP in Wuustwezel .

25 Oct 44 – First Attack now takes place by patrol belonging to E Co 414th Inf Regt in the vicinity of the Belgian Customs House, Wuustwezel-Breda main road …



413th Infantry Regiment
15 August 1942, organized at Cp. Adair, Oregon and assigned to the 104th Infantry Division; moved to Oregon Maneuver area 5 August 1943 and to the California-Arizona Maneuver area 7 November 1943 . The Regiment arrived at Cp. Carson, Colorado 11 March 1944, and staged at Cp. Kilmer, New Jersey 17 August 1944 for processing and subsequent movement overseas . It doverseas . It departed New York P/E 27 August 1944 and landed at Cherbourg, France 7 September 1944 . After a short stay in France, the 413th crossed into Belgium 20 October 1944 and into Holland 26 October 1944 . The 413th Infantry Regiment entered Germany 7 November . The Regiment returned to New York P/E 3 July 1945 and moved to Cp. Shelby, Mississippi 15 July; it finally transferred to Cp. San Luis Obispo, California 15 August 1945, where it was inactivated on 13 December 1945 .

radio callsign : DAGGER
nickname : "Seagulls"
motto : Fortior Ex Asperis (Stronger after Difficulties)
D.I. : dark blue shield with silver volant sea gull, silver scroll with motto, authorized 20 June 1927, approved 20 July 1927
campaigns : Northern France, Rhineland, Central Europe
special awards : Distinguished Unit Badge to 2d Battalion (24-26 Feb 45) and 3d Battalion (23-26 Feb 45)
Medal of Honor : Cecil H. Bolton, 1st Lt., Co E, 413th Infantry, Mark River, Holland, 2 Nov 44 + Willy F. James, Pfc, Co G, 413th Infantry, Lippoldsberg, Germany, 7 Apr 45

CAMPAIGN KEYS
The official Northern France Campaign credit covered the combat period between 25 July 1944 and 14 September 1944
The official Rhineland Campaign credit covered the combat period between 15 September 1944 and 21 March 1945
The official Central Europe Campaign credit covered the combat period between 22 March 1945 and 11 May 1945

Northern France (25 July - 14 September 1944)
... as July 44 entered its final week, Allied Forces in Normandy faced, at least on the surface, a most discouraging situation . In the east, near Caen, British and Canadians were making rather little progress against fierce German resistance - in the west, American troops were bogged down in the Norman hedgerows . These massive, bulky, square walls of earth and vegetation, 5 feet high and topped by hedges, had been used by local farmers to divide their fields and protect their crops from strong ocean winds . The enemy had turned these embankments almost into fortresses, canalizing the American advance into narrow channels, easily covered by deadly antitank weapons and machine guns . The stubborn defenders were also aided by some of the worst weather seen in Normandy, as incessant downpours turned country lanes into rivers of mud. By July 25 1944, the size of the Allied Beachhead had not reached the dimensions anticipated by D-Day planners , and the overall slow progress revived fears for a return of static warfare (as experienced in WWI) ...

Rhineland (15 September 1944 - 21 March 1945)
... in September 44, the long-awaited final Allied victory over Nazi Germany seemed close at hand ! In the east, the Red Army moved inexorably towards the German border . Allied airpower wreaked havoc on the German Armed Forces, the German industry and lines of communication . In the west, 3 Allied Army Groups stretched from the North Sea to Switzerland, poised for the final assault against the Nazi Fatherland ... SHAEF intelligence predicted that Victory in Europe was "within sight, almost within reach" . However, instead of a quick dash into the heart of Germany, the Allies were to experience an exhausting campaign in horrid weather against a foe whose determination was steeled by the belief that he was fighting for the very survival of his homeland ! As SHAEF plotted its next moves, 200,000 workers frantically labored to strengthen the German Westwall defenses and the enemy prepared to contest Allied thrusts and advances in places like Arnhem, Aachen, the Huertgen Forest, Metz and the Vosges Mountains ...

Central Europe (22 March - 11 May 1945)
... by early spring of 1945 events favored the Allied Forces in Europe . The Americans and the British had by January 45 turned back the  Germans' counter-offensive in the Belgian Ardennes, during the Battle of the Bulge . The failure of this last great enemy offensive exhausted much of the Third Reich's remaining combat strength, leaving it ill-prepared to resist the final Allied campaign in Europe . By mid-March American Forces had pushed up to the Rhine river, had seized an intact bridge at Remagen, and had even established a small bridgehead on the Rhine's east bank ! In the east, the Soviets had meanwhile overrun Poland, advanced into Hungary and threatened eastern Czechoslovakia, thus efficiently destroying additional veteran enemy combat units . The Western Allies were thus in a position to complete their preparations for the final drive into Nazi Germany, and total victory, at last, seemed to be within sight ...  

FIRST CANADIAN ARMY
Organized in the United Kingdom April 1, 1942 . By 1943 it included I Canadian Corps (formed 1 Sep 39) and II Canadian Corps (formed 14 Jan 43) . In August 1943 it underwent its final reorganization of the War, in view of the forthcoming operations in Northwestern Europe and Italy . General Henry D.G. CRERAR commanded the First Canadian Army which finally became fully operational in Normandy on 23 Jul 44 (comprised I British Corps + II Canadian Corps). On 27 Sep 44, the First Canadian Army received the mission to clear the Scheldt estuary, it remained inactive during the ‘Battle of the Bulge’ (around Antwerp), but on 27 Feb 45 it broke thru the last defended section of the "Siegfried Line", and finally contributed to the end of the German resistance around 5 May 45 .
Note : on December 18, 1939 first Canadian troops already arrived in Britain – the contribution by Canada to a joint defense of Great Britain & the Commonwealth .

4th CANADIAN ARMOURED DIVISION
Originally formed from the 4th Canadian Infantry Division (26 Jan 42) - this unit consisted of the 3d + 4th Canadian Armoured Brigades and the 4th Canadian Support Group which arrived in the United Kingdom August – September 1942 . In 1943, a further reorganization took place whereby an Infantry Brigade replaced the second Armoured Brigade; in this case the 4th Canadian Armoured Division (under command of Maj. General Harry W. FOSTER) retained its 4th Canadian Armoured Brigade and the 29th Canadian Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment (South Alberta Regiment) (July 44, battles for Caen and Falaise, and further service in Belgium, Holland and Germany) .

49th (West Riding) BRITISH INFANTRY DIVISION
Originally organized as a first-line Territorial Division, the 49th (West Riding & Midland) British Infantry Division was available at the outbreak of WWII - this unit did however not go to France with the BEF ! It was, at first, to be used piecemeal in Norway, in Britain and even in Iceland, only returning to Britain in August 1942 . The 49th British Infantry Division (under command of Maj. General Evelyn H. BARKER) landed in Normandy between June 11 and 15, 1944 and joined in the severe fighting for the expansion of the Beachhead, also helping to liberate the City of Caen . In September 1944, the "Polar Bears" assaulted and liberated the Port of Le Havre . Further battles would take them to Belgium and Holland . Apart from organic Divisional troops, the 49th British Infantry Division consisted of the 56th Infantry Brigade, the 146th Infantry Brigade and the 147th Infantry Brigade.

I BRITISH CORPS
The I British Corps was already available at the beginning of WWII, and formed part of the BEF – the unit was already in France, September 1939, fought a delaying battle on the continent, and was evacuated in May 1940 via the port of Dunkirk . As part of Second British Army (under 21st Army Group) it landed in Normandy June 6, 1944 (together with XXX British Corps) under command of General John T. CROCKER . Troops of I British Corps assaulted both "Juno" and "Sword" Beaches, and further helped expand the Bridgehead east –and south . Newly arriving British units reinforced its flanks, linked-up with British 6th Airborne Division, and drove toward Caen … for the final assault against this major city . While I Corps put up a heavy fight to secure the northern part of the City, XXX Corps maintained steady pressure on mounting enemy forces grouped around the town . The severe fighting required injection of additional British units . Later on, I British Corps and II Canadian Corps became part of the ont>, which then gradually pushed further again in the direction of Rouen, the Seine River, and Le Havre, followed by the liberation of Abbeville, Dieppe, etc. … and still more eastward along the coasts of France and Belgium . While Polish, Dutch and Belgian units were added, British and Canadian Armies were dashing forward to reach Antwerp ! While II Canadian Corps concentrated on northwestern Flanders and Zeeland, I British Corps swung to Antwerp and Turnhout, and from there up north to Breda in the Netherlands . It then proceeded further into Germany, liberating Rhineland and Westphalia, and subsequently acting as an Occupation Force in the Rhine area, until returning to England in 1948 .


TESTIMONY (Forgotten TECHNICIANS – November 1944)



Battle of the Bulge - whitewashed M1 40 mm Bofors Antiaircraft Artillery Gun (snow-camouflage),
belonging to the 633d AAA (AW) Bn / 80th Inf Div, winter  1944-45


I was a member of the 555th Antiaircraft Artillery (AW) Battalion (Mobile) from March, 1943 to August 1945. During that time, I was one of five Fire Control Technicians . The others were :

Tom Kusic, Headquarters Battery
Howard Bowen, A Battery
Leo Thoennes, B Battery
Robert Steigleder, C Battery
Charles Suntich, D Battery



SSI 104th TW Infantry Division (L)
and 'Mr.Five-by-Five'
555th AAA Bn insignia (R) ,
Click image to enlarge

The training all of us received was similar, but I will tell you about mine. After basic training in Texas in the summer of 1942, I was sent to a school in Los Angeles. This was great duty, and of course, I loved it . We lived in a civilian apartment house and attended a civilian Technical School . This school was across the street from the University of Southern California Football Stadium . All servicemen were allowed to attend games free on Saturdays . In school, we spent half of each day in classes studying physics and maths and the afternoons were spent in the lab doing hands-on projects . This really was a ‘grand’ time …

Early January 1943, I was moved to Camp Davis, North Carolina . I now attended a School where we were taught how to maintain the Fire Control Equipment pertaining to the M1 40-mm Automatic Gun . Each battery consisted of eight 40 mm AA guns and each one had an extensive set of Fire Control Equipment, such as Director and tripod, Remote Control System, Computing Sight, Cable System, and Power Plant that took 4 strong men to carry it on and off the bed of a truck, and Oilgears on each gun . The M1 40-mm Bofors AA Gun was primarily used against low-flying planes, but could be applied for antitank fire, and even used against certain ground targets . Prime mover was the ubiquitous Deuce-and-a-half or 2 ½ ton 6 x 6 cargo truck .

I joined the 555th AAA (AW) Bn on 20 March 1943 (together with 830 men from Jefferson Barracks, Missouri – Cp. Beauregard, Louisiana – Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas – Ft. Snelling, Minnesota) at Camp Hulen, Texas, (where it had been activated 20 February 1943 as a separate CAC Bn, AA-AW), and became a Fire Control Technician with B Battery . While the majority of the Officers came from New England, New York, Ohio, Illinois, and other Northern States, the 555th could truly be labeled a Missouri outfit since almost 40% of the overall strength originated from that State . Lt. Colonel Paul L. REED was our first Commanding Officer, and brought along a nucleus of 13 specially trained Officers from Cp. Davis, N. Carolina, who took charge of the initial enlisted cadre of 96 men from Cp. Stewart, Georgia . The camp was located on the marshy shores of the Gulf of Mexico about halfway between Houston and Corpus Christi . We were issued all of our guns and it was my responsibility to keep them maintained . We spent many days and long hours on the firing range . The guns were lined up on the beach . A small plane flying over the water pulled a target, and at each pass, one of the guns would attempt hitting the target . This was great sport since all the shells were point-detonating (PD fuze) and would explode eacD fuze) and would explode each time the target was hit . The downside of this experience was the terrific high temperature, the excessive high humidity and the numerous mosquitoes ! I might add that maintaining this equipment in these physical conditions was a challenging task for us all .

On 15 May 1943, the old CAC Bn was redesignated 555th AAA (Auto-Wpns) Bn (Mobile). Lt. Colonel Robert J. ROWSE took over command in July 1943 . In September, my unit moved into Maneuvers in Louisiana for a period of 5 months . It was during our stay at the Wells Point Firing Range that the men formally adopted our new nickname “Mister Five by Five” (there was a song called ‘Mr. Five by Five’ - Don Raye & Gene DePaul - it was n° 6 in the Hit Parade, Nov 42, while n° 1 was ‘White Christmas’- Bing Crosby). Living conditions were not good . During these 5 months, I never once was inside a building . I felt sorry for the crews of each gun section . We moved almost every day and each move meant unloading Director and Power Plant along with all the connecting electrical cables and other accessories . Then the guns had to be “dug in” and put into operation . Then the order came to move once more, and all that work started again . Most of the moves were often made at night (can you imagine, our Battery actually moved 31 times) . For the first time, we were to celebrate Christmas and New Year away from home . To this day, I still have no love for Louisiana, and its ‘vigorous’ Maneuvers .

We later moved to Indianola, Texas for Refresher Firing under Fourth Army supervision, this was already January 1944 ! Early February 1944 we left the Maneuver area and moved to Ft. Eglin, Florida to participate in a secret Joint Tactical Project with the Army Air Forces, i.e. to work out proper methods of attacking and bringing down the latest German V-1 or “buzz-bombs” . Another last stay took place at Cp. Livingston, Louisiana for Post Maneuver Intensive Training, terminating in March 1944 . We finally were ordered back to Cp. Hulen on 25 May 1944 … and preparation for Overseas Movement followed now intensively .
A 555th AAA Bn Advance Party left Ft. Hamilton, New York on 5 August 1944 bound for Scotland (where it arrived 12 August) .


M1-40mm Automatic Gun Carriage in position,
near Aachen, Siegfried Line (Dragon Teeth)
Click image to enlarge

NCO Leo J. THOENNES,
spring 1944, ZI
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Summer Training at East Coast TC, future Artillery personnel learn how to load the 40-mm Automatic Antiaircraft Gun M1 (Bofors), this could be Cp.Davis, Wilmington, NC Antiaircraft Artillery School and Training Center, ZI
Click image to enlarge

On 28 August 1944, the whole Battalion departed from New York P/E at 1330, and left for overseas on the Queen Elizabeth (loaded with 14,500 troops) . At that time it was the world’s largest and fastest ship . The 555th crossed the Atlantic and arrived in England 3 September 1944 (our processing area was Blackshaw Moors, Staffs., England) and finally crossed-over to France (in 4 different Liberty ships) to join the E.T.O., the date was 2 October 1944 . The last Battery was only landed on 8 October 1944 . Meanwhile, on 6 October 1944, the 555th AAA (AW) Bn was attached to the 104th “Timberwolf” Infantry Division. We were ordered to join the Division in their Belgium-Netherlands Campaign under First Canadian Army control . On 24 October 1944 the “Five by Five” made a two-day 450-mile motor march across N. France to just north of Paris . We finally arrived at Vilvoorde, north of Brussels one day later – and learned that our outfit was to roll the next day to the front lines – Wuustwezel (near the Belgian/Dutch border) was to become our first combat assembly area ! Section 6 of our Battery shot down the first enemy aircraft on 28 October 1944 . This was an unmanned German “buzz-bomb” (aka V-1) which was headed for the important city and port of Antwerp .

After about a week of combat, it was already November, we were in for a big surprise . German aircraft did not fly like the slow and level-flying target planes we had practiced with on the Texas shores . Our intricate and cumbersome Directors were no match for the fast German planes that did not seem to fly on a nice level course . After all that painful training, this fancy equipment became mute . It was all turned in to an Ordnance Depot in France, the Directors and the Power Plant, ---- not the guns nor the trucks . So, I was left without a job . Along with my four other Fire Control Technicians, we became the Forgotten Technicians for the rest of the war …

Of course, I did not leave my unit, B Battery, 555th AAA (AW) Bn, I continued to fill in various different jobs, including that of acting First Sergeant . All of this eventually led to my being given a battlefield commission as a 2d Lieutenant .
(Leo J. THOENNES, 2d Lt, B Btry, 555th AAA (AW) Bn, USA, O-2025306, recollections)

Notes :

AGF & ASF INSTALLATIONS

Camp Davis, Wilmington, North Carolina > Antiaircraft Artillery School & Training Center – troop capacity 1,978 Officers + 35,327 EM
Jefferson Barracks, Barnhart, Missouri > Range - troop capacity 16 Officers + 1,500 EM
Camp Beauregard, Alexandria, Virginia > Military Reservation - troop capacity 106 Officers + 4,913 EM
Fort Leavenworth, Leavenworth, Kansas > Command & General Staff School – troop capacity 2,644 Officers + 9,844 EM
Fort Snelling, St. Paul, Minnesota > Army Service Forces Reception Center – troop capacity 133 Officers + 6,765 EM
Camp Hulen, Palacios, Texas > Antiaircraft Artillery Training Camp – troop capacity 1,049 Officers + 10,487 EM
Camp Stewart, Hinesville, Georgia > Antiaircraft Artillery Replacement Training Center – troop capacity 2,705 Officers + 37,267 EM
Fort Eglin (Eglin Field), Okaloosa, Florida > Aircraft Armament Proving Ground
Camp Livingston, Alexandria, Louisiana > Army Ground Forces Training Station – troop capacity 2,092 Officers + 42,831 EM
Fort Hamilton, New York > Embarkation & Separation Center for New York
Camp Shanks, Orangeburg, New York > Staging Area for New York P/E – troop capacity 2,545 Officers + 46,367 EM


1940 Introduction Booklet about Camp Stewart, Georgia, AATC

M1 40-MM BOFORS ANTIAIRCRAFT GUN
From 1940 on, the 40-mm Automatic Antiaircraft Artillery Gun M1 & Gun Carriage M2A1, was the std. light AA fully automatic gun; it was highly mobile because wheel-mounted (carriage with 4 wheels); it had a weight of 5,850 lb, a length of 18 ft 9 ½ in, a height of 6 ft 7 ½ in and a width of 6 ft; its maximum depression was -6 degrees at carriage level, and –11 degrees with jacks; maximum elevation was 90 degrees, and continuous traverse 360 degrees; the weapon was air-cooled and could fire 120 rounds-per-minute, in 4-round clips; and had a maximum range of 5,100 yards (vertical) and up to 5,200 yards horizontal; ammunition included HE-T and AP-T; the gun moreover possessed full swivel and track facility without interruption; std. crew was five men; each battery consisted of eight 40-mm AA guns and each one had the following Fire Control Equipment: a M5A3 Director on a tripod, a M10 Remote Control System, a M7A1 Computing Sight, a M8 Cable System, a M5 Generating Unit and two M3 Oilgears on each gun; along with the 40-mm Bofors guns, the 555th AAA (AW) Bn also had ‘Quad-Fifties’ or ‘Meat-Choppers’ at their disposal, these four .50 caliber (HB) Machine Guns & Turret M45 were mounted on M16 Multiple Gun Motor Carriages (aka M16 Half-Tracks) and certainly proved treacherous weapons, they could deliver enormous firepower and were later used extensively during the Korean War…



M16 Multiple Gun Motor Carriage,
with Maxson Turret,
mounting 4 x cal..50, HB, M2 Machine Guns
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M16 of the 447th AAA (AW) Bn,
attached to the 28th Inf Div,
Bulge, Belgium, Jan 1945
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Cal..50 Multiple Gun Carriage M51,
towed version of the Quad-Fifty Antiaircraft Machine Guns,
which could be towed by a 2 1/2 Ton Truck; the M51 Gun Carriage consisted of a Cal..50 Multiple Machine Gun Mount M45 installed on a Trailer M17 (it could be set up in a static position to defend a vital crossroads, bridge, defensive position, etc)
Click image to enlarge


40-mm Automatic Antiaircraft Gun M1
& Gun Carriage M2A1
,
note emplaced firing jacks
Click image to enlarge


555th ANTIAIRCRAFT ARTILLERY (Automatic Weapons) BATTALION (Mobile)
20 Feb 43 activated at Cp. Hulen, Texas, as ‘Separate CA Bn AA-AW” – CO > Lt. Col. Paul L. REED + XO > Maj. Peter HICKEY .
15 May 43 redesignated 555th AAA Auto-Wpns Bn (Mobile) from Coast Artillery Bn .
July 1943 new permanent CO takes over, Lt. Col. Robert J. ROWSE . Battalion reaches full strength, i.e. 830 men .
September 1943 participation in Louisiana Maneuvers in conjunction with 103d Inf Div and 9th Armd Div .
February 1944 transfer to Eglin Field, Florida, for participation in tactical programs with Army Air Forces .
March 1944 move to Cp. Livingston, Louisiana, for post-Maneuver training .
May 1944 return to Cp. Hulen, Texas, for refresher training, in order to prepare for the required AGF tests, before overseas assignment (the 555th received a 91.1 % rating) .
1944 Preparation for Overseas Movement – Advance Party left Cp. Hulen 28 July 44 for Ft. Hamilton, NY where it arrived 1 Aug 44 – it then embarked on board the SS Aquitania and arrived at Grenock, Scotland 12 Aug 44 .
Rest of 555th Bn left Cp. Hulen 10 Aug 44, transferred to Cp. Shanks, NY arriving there 13 Aug 44, and after due processing embarked on QE, via NY P/E – sailed 28 Aug 44 for Scotland, where it arrived 3 Sep 44 . Transferred to England same day and reached Blackshaw Moor, Staffordshire .
Moved to Cp. C-21 Marshaling Area, Southampton 24 Sep 44 .
Crossed-over to France, on 4 different Liberty ships 1 Oct 44, of which some disembarked at Utah and others at Omaha Beaches .
6 Oct 44 officially attached to 104th Inf Div (26 Oct 44 > 24 May 45) and ordered to join the “Timberwolves” for the Belgium-Netherlands Campaign, under First Canadian Army .
24 Oct 44, 555th AA Bn made a 2-day 450-mile motor march, carrying it across France, just north of Paris .
25 Oct 44, Bn arrived at Vilvoorde (vicinity of Brussels) with official message to start rolling the next day to the frontlines!
FIRST Battle Assembly Line is Wuustwezel (close by the Belgian/Dutch border) .
Many German buzz-bombs (V-1) were winged over the Battalion’s positions on their way to the important port of Antwerp, and on 28 Oct 44, and at 1605 one came sufficiently close for Section 6, Battery B to open fire and bring it down ! First action against the enemy and very first score too !
The same day FIRST capture by personnel of OP 23 (Cpl John McCann – Pfc Leonard McShane - Pvt Houston Smith) of 2 German soldiers – also FIRST friendly casualty; S/Sgt William R. Tracey (Btry B) injured by enemy shrapnel at Oudenbosch .
5 Nov 44 - relieved of British mission and assigned to First US Army, continuing to be attached to the 104th Inf Div .
6 Nov 44 southern part of Aachen reached .
3 Dec 44FIRST kill of two Me 109 fighter aircraft by 2d Platoon, Battery B & 1st Platoon Battery D personnel .
4 Dec 44 – CO > Lt. Col. Robert J. ROWSE seriously injured at Inden, evacuated and replaced by XO > Maj. Sayward H. FARNUM
Extensive use of guns in ground fire by quad .50 cal machine guns (Section 3 / Battery B) in the Huertgen Forest, when “TW” HQs referred to the 555th AA (AW) Bn as Assault Artillery rather than Antiaircaft Artillery !
22 Dec 44 – in view of the Battle of the Bulge (German counteroffensive) assigned to Ninth US Army , all 32 Gun Sections now emplaced so as to be able to carry out important antimechanized missions at vital road junctions around Aachen !
21 Jan 45 – Tribute by Maj Gen Terry de la Mesa Allen to the “Five-by-Five” and that it be formally adopted by the “Timberwolves” as one of their own – everyone issued a “TW” shoulder patch !
Assault third platoon now obtained by including Half-Tracks (M16) equipped with quadruple .50 cal mounts, i.e. known as meat-choppers …
February 1945> the 555th AAA supported the VII Corps as it crossed the Roer River to begin its march against Cologne; during the crossing it fired 48,297 rounds of .50 Caliber ammunition for ground support alone !
12 March 45 – Meat-choppers prove to be the very best defense against frequent ambushing and sniper fire at convoys –accordingly, the 555th AAA Bn “Escort Service” soon became to be immensely popular and no gas or other important convoy was allowed to take to the road without proper escort by an M16 Meat-chopper !
12 April 45 the 104th Inf Div liberated Nordhausen and discovered the Dora-Mittelbau Concentration Camp nearby with its underground factories . Some sections and detachments guarded the Camp and provided medical help, while others moved further, crossing the Saale River and started cleaning out the city of Halle . During that period, the Five-by-Five captured 1,394 Germans . Throughout April, the 555th performed occupation duties in 46 different towns, and bagged more enemy prisoners .
July 45 since the Battalion was largely composed of Missouri men, and because of its excellent combat record, it provided on July 15, 1945 an Honor Guard for President Harry S. TRUMAN, when heay to the Potsdam Conference .
August 45 after the 555th AAA Battalion had been disbanded, its members were mostly dispersed to newly-formed MP Battalions in France …

Campaign credits : Rhineland – Central Europe
Return to ZI : arrived NYPE 8 Dec 45
Inactivation : 9 Dec 45 at Cp. Kilmer, N.J.

 

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555th AAA (AW) Bn Song

(Sgt. Emil Stepanovic wrote the verses which were sung to the widely known 1942 tone of “Mister Five-by-Five”, the words were not only prophetic, but proved immensely popular as well, and were often sung during training and marching …)

“We’re the Five Five Five,
We’ll be there when the bombers dive,
And when the skies are all clear
You’ll hear the cheer,
’T was done by the Five Five Five !”

“Our gang can really shoot it, for a young gang,
Why, the Axis won’t be knowing
Whether it’s coming or it’s going” .

“Hail the Five Five Five,
We’ll be there in the final drive
So, hold your hat on Mac,
‘Cause we’re coming back,
We’re the fightin’ Five Five Five !”


FINAL MISSION … Tragedy
On Christmas Day 1944, the 352d Fighter Group
was directed to carry out patrols on a Squadron basis on a line west of Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle) . The 328th Fighter Squadron (flying P-51D Mustangs), scheduled to fly the second patrol of the day, was briefed by Major George E. PREDDY, Jr. and his staff for take-off at 0940 . After intercepting enemy Me 109 fighters, Major Preddy and his wingman got separated from the rest of their Squadron, but in climbing were joined by a silver-nosed P-51 of the 479th Fighter Group, also heavily engaged in the same area, the pilot was Lt. James Bouchier . The 3 Mustangs received another vector directing them to the Liège area … flying northwest between Jülich and Düren, just west of the Roer River, Preddy, Cartee and Bouchier turned to chase a FW 190, when the American pilots were suddenly confronted with antiaircraft fire ! Major Preddy started to break left in a climbing turn, and began trailing coolant, then flak began to hit Preddy’s aircraft and also Bouchier’s . Preddy suddenly nose-dived, when at about 700 feet in its climbing turn and subsequently crashed in open ground, disintegrating on impact … Lt. Bouchier’s aircraft also took a hit in the radiator, climbed to 1,000 feet as the cockpit filled with smoke, rolled over and the pilot bailed out, he was recovered and taken to a FA CP at Langweiler . An AA Battery CO later telephoned to say his Battery shot down 2 out of 3 P-51s and expressed his deep regret ! Major G.E. PREDDY, Jr., O-430846, (Feb 5, 1919 > Dec 25, 1944) >was the Eighth United States Air Force’s E.T.O. top-ace with 28 victories, his last flight was his 143d combat operation, and up to this time he had amassed 532 combat hours flying . Major George PREDDY’s fighter had crashed close to the Antiaircraft Battery that had brought it down – it was a mobile unit of the 555th AAA Bn (AW) believed to be Battery C equipped with 37mm Guns and Maxson Quad-Fifty MGs . The location was just outside the village of Langerwehe, about 15 mi inside Germany on the edge of the Hürtgen Forest, an area where several units of the 104th Infantry Division were dug in (flying low near ground always involved risks of being fired on by one’s own side and sadly, aircraft were shot down by friendly fire – accurate recognition of aircraft types was not easily acquired by gunners – and sometimes it was difficult to distinguish between friend and foe – visual differences were not always recognized – speed of aircraft and lack of information about friendly flights, sometimes caused fatal accidents ) ...



ABMC's Roll of Honor page - indicating burial place
of Major George E. PREDDY, Jr. - incidently,
George Preddy's brother (also fighter pilot),
William R. PREDDY, 1st Lt, 0-2057681,
July 20, 1924-April 17, 1945),
is now buried next to brother George E. Preddy,
at St. Avold, Lorraine American Cemetery, France,
Plot A, Row 21, Grave 42 (William),
and Grave 43 (George)
Click image to enlarge


December 25, 1944 -
S-2 Report No. 25

from a Major J.A. Riley,
12th AAA Gp, reporting air activities,
and other information detailing crash
of 2 American P-51 Mustangs
by friendly AA fire ...
Click image to enlarge


Major George E. PREDDY, Jr, describing one of his missions above Germany …   


TESTIMONY (Dora-Mittelbau – GERMANY – April 1945)

“The Girl with the Silk Scarf …”


KZ inmates, recently freed by the Allies, greet their Liberators -
some were lucky and did survive the nazi deathcamps ... (camp unknown)


Much has been written about the Dora-Mittelbau KZ complex , the death camp at Nordhausen using ‘slave-laborers’ for work on the V-weapons, and I really have nothing new to add to the very accurate accounts as available in “Timberwolf Tracks”. I only wish to relate one small incident of that unforgettable, horror-filled day, that has stayed fresh in my memory, even though exact dates, numbers, and other details have dimmed with the years .



Tec 3 Ken W. CHRISTOPHERSON,
in front of an Ambulance,
Feb 45, Eschweiler, Germany

Click image to enlarge

I was a Surgical Technician, a Tec 3 with the First Battalion Aid Station, 414th Infantry Regiment, 104th Infantry “Timberwolf” Division . Apparently many medical units were called upon that day (“Timberwolf Tracks” states it happened April 12, 1945) to help search for and evacuate the few Concentration Camp inmates who were still alive amongst all the dead . I don’t remember how many of our unit were sent down to the camp, but my good buddy Bill Catney and I were among them . As I look back in time, I realize that, as a Medic with the Aid Station, we were not really aware of much that was going on around us – it seems to me that our field of vision was extremely narrow with regard to the overall picture of battles, places, times, and sometimes events …, so if there were other units besides the 104th Medics involved in helping at Dora-Mittelbau, we probably wouldn’t really have been aware of it …



...only a few of the many ...
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... they died of slow starvation ...
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Dora was primarily a work camp for French and Polish prisoners who were “conscripted” to work in an underground factory, making the deadly V-1 and V-2 rockets . Those ‘laborers’ had been worked until they collapsed, then left to die of starvation when they were no longer productive.



Burial of (2,017) former slave-laborers
by German civilians,
on instructions of the 104th TW Div,
victims were to be buried in a mass grave,
12 Apr 45, Nordhausen, Germany

Click image to enlarge

I was a 20 year old Minnesota farm boy, who had interrupted studying for the ministry to enlist . I was not prepared, even after months of treating hundreds of our own battle casualties, for what lay before us as we entered barrack after barrack. The dead were stacked like we used to stack cord wood back on the farm . Some bodies had been dismembered, They were all nothing but bones with parchment like skin stretched over them . We found many people who were still alive, lying together with the already dead, as though resigned to their final fate . We took them, or sent them by jeep, and by truck to what I believe was a German Military Hospital, anyway, where the doctors were German civilians . Late in the day, I found a young girl who had been lying on her straw covered bunk for two weeks . I was semi - fluent in German so I was able to communicate with her to some extent . She spoke about as much German as I did.

I found out that she was from Poland, was only 19 years old, and had been in the camp for more than two years by now . Prior to being brought to the camp she was a student in a Conservatory preparing to become a concert pianist . Two weeks before the liberation she had suffered a broken left arm when she fell, as a result of being too weak to walk down a stairway . Since she couldn’t work she was of no more use to the Germans, so she was left to die by herself, in her bunk . No work, no food ! Her arm had not been set nor treated in any way, and was badly infected where a bone fragment had punctured the skin . She had made a sling for her arm from a silk scarf . How she had been able to keep such a piece of her past I don’t know, but there it was, a beautiful silk scarf, totally out of place in these inhuman surroundings, something from a different time and a different place . Her main concern was that her hands, which had been those of an artist, now calloused, coarsened, and raw would never be able to perform on the piano again . At the hospital, I carried her (she weighed almost nothing) into an X-Ray room and turned her over to a doctor with strong, if not perfectly phrased, instructions of how to care for her . She gave me the scarf to remember her by, and I carried it with me for the rest of the time we were in Germany, but now, sadly, I don’t know what ever became of it .



'Propaganda pictures' taken by
Luftwaffe photographer W. Frentz,
note how 'peaceful' it all looks,
inmates are working on electrical connections,
taken course of 44, Germany
Click image to enlarge

I am now, at this writing, eighty years old. I am retired and live in a small town in Mexico, my wife’s home town . With all that has happened in these past 80 years, the horrible memories of Nordhausen / Dora-Mittelbau remain, but time has mercifully softened the edges, it is no longer as vivid as it used to be …



Enlarged print of an
aerial photograph of Dora,
taken by the RAF,
13 Sep 44, Germany
Click image to enlarge

I have often thought of that young Polish girl and wondered if she ever became the concert pianist she had hoped to be one day .
(Ken W. CHRISTOPHERSON, Tec 3, Aid Sta, First Bn, 414th Inf Regt, 104th Inf Div, USA, 17156294, recollections)

Notes:

DORA-MITTELBAU
The Dora-Mittelbau complex went thru 3 different phases, and underwent following changes – the first, being the "Außenlager" (External Labor Camp) of "KZ-Buchenwald" (Buchenwald Concentration Camp), whereby Dora (as from 28 Aug 43) was in fact a Labor Camp where groups of inmates were sent to work by the Buchenwald Concentration Camp authorities – the second, when Dora (as from 28 Oct 44) took over the Buchenwald annexes and its different labor activities, thereby now forming "Außenkommandos" (External Laborer Details-starting Mar 43), "SS- Baubrigaden" (SS Building den"
(SS Building Brigades-starting May 44), and "SS-Eisenbahn-Baubrigaden" (SS Railway Building Brigades-starting Jul 44) who were laboring, at one time or another for the "Mittelwerk" ("Dora-Mittelbau") complex located in and around Nordhausen, and also at less important sites such as Berga, Blankenburg, Ellrich, Halle-Saale, Harzungen, Heringen, Kleinbodungen, Mackenrode-Tettenborn, Niedersachswerfen, Nordhausen, Nuxei, Osterhagen, Osterode, Rottleberode, Sollstedt, Stempeda, Stuttgart, Wieda, Woffleben, etc. which would (around spring of 1945) reach a total of more than 40,000 workers, spread over 42 different camps and/or military installations – and the third, whereby Dora now formed its very own " Außenkommandos" (as from 2 Nov 44) intended for 18 different sites, including the notorious Nordhausen-Boelcke Kaserne . The slave-laborers working at the Dora-Mittelbau complex were from different nationalities (from all over occupied Europe-i.e. French, Belgian, Danish, Greek, Italian, Croat, Dutch, Luxembourg, Polish, Rumanian, Serb, Russian, Czech, Hungarian, Yugoslav, Lithuanian,etc.), and were usually sent in from other KZ-Camps; they were mostly political prisoners, prisoners of war, foreign civilian workers, Jews, communists, homosexuals, gipsies, even German specialists, AND they all had a ‘common’ denominator, ALL were "conscripted" to work in an underground factory, making the deadly pilotless V-1 and V-2 rockets (V stands for Vergeltungswaffe or retaliation weapon) . People had to work under inhuman conditions, since there were very few barracks, prisoners were housed in the tunnel shafts in very poor conditions, food was scarce and certainly insufficient,medical care practically non-existent, and working conditions harsh (to say the least), work not only involved building, testing and completing the V-rockets, but continually constructing and expanding the underground installations as well ! Prisoners often collapsed on site, and since the ‘early’ inmates could no longer be considered as a valid and strong workforce, they would be quickly replaced by new batches of prisoners from other camps, until they also collapsed, and were left to die of starvation when they were no longer productive and useful to the Third Reich .



'Propaganda picture' - inmates working on 
guidance system compartment of a V-2 Rocket,
picture taken around May-June 44
Click image to enlarge


General view of Dora-Mittelbau Camp and barracks,
taken by US Military personnel in April 45
Click image to enlarge


... two ' Nordhausen' survivors
- look at their poor emaciated bodies,
picture taken after their liberation,
14 Apr 45
Click image to enlarge


DORA-NORDHAUSEN Discovery
John M. GALIONE, Pfc, ASN 33812812, B Co, Third Platoon, 415th Inf Regt, 104th Inf Div – was the soldier who first discovered the existence of the Dora Extermination Camp as early as April 04, 1945 . He subsequently warned his superiors, and tried with help of two other fellow soldiers to break into the Camp by himself on April 11 . After radioing other American troops for assistance, the Camp complex was finally liberated April 12, 1945 . Various elements of the 104th Infantry Division contributed to its Liberation, as well as troops pertaining to the 3d Armored Division .

Pfc John M. GALIONE (1919-1999), the man who, thru methodical search, personally contributed to the liberation of the Dora-Nordhausen KZ (concentration camp) complex, whose inmates may not otherwise have survived another day in hell

Dora victims - one the many scenes facing liberating US forces … april 1945 (courtesy Mary Galione)



John Galione’s daughter, Mary, runs a website relating the full story of her father’s discovery, as well as different links to Dora-Nordhausen survivors, and personal testimonies from 104th Timberwolf Veterans – please see http://www.johngalione.com

VERGELTUNGSWAFFE 1 (V-1)
V-Weapons or Vergeltungswaffen were Rocket weapons developed by the Germans as a form of retaliation for the destructive Allied bombing raids on German cities . Both the V-1 and V-2 (Revenge Weapons) were widely used by the Germans during WWII against large Allied cities . The very first Rocket was the V-1 (Fieseler Fi-103, with project cover name Flakzielgerät 76), it was a pilotless aircraft powered by an Argus As 109-014 pulse-jet engine, with a 660 lb thrust . It had a 17’ 7 ½" wingspan, a 25’ 11" length, a 2’ 7" diameter, and a 4’ 7 7/8" height . Launch weight 4,7450 lb, propellants used 150 gal of 80 octane gasoline . Max. speed between 390-410 mph, ceiling 2,500-3,000 ft, range 150 mi, endurance 2 hrs . Warhead 1,832 lb Amatol . The V-1 was launched from a ramp (or later also carried by a launcher aircraft) . Its course was controlled by 3 gyroscopes, and at the end of its range, the Rocket was steered into a steep dive, while acceleration caused the engine to stop (thus giving prior warning to the population) . Since it flew at low altitudes, the fastest Allied fighters could intercept it, as well as some antiaircraft artillery fire . Widely used against cities like London and Antwerp . Up to 18,000 V-1s launched during WWII . Numbers built, over 32,000 units . Other names Buzz Bomb, or Doodle Bug

VERGELTUNGSWAFFE 2 (V-2)
The Vergeltungswaffe 2, also known as A-4 Rocket, was a large ballistic weapon, it differed from the V-1, since it penetrated the ground before exploding (while the V-1 detonated just above ground level). Unlike its predecessor, this Rocket used mobile launchers . The V-2 (or A-4) was a pilotless supersonic missile (which exceeded the speed of sound), powered by an EMW engine, with a 60,500 lb thrust, and maximum 6G accelaration . Span 11’ 5 ¾", length 46’ 3/8", diameter 5’ 6 1/8" . Launch weight 28,314 lb, propellants used 12,200 lb of liquid oxygen + 9,200 lb of methanol. Max. speed around 3,110 mph, ceiling 314,880 ft, range 178 mi . Warhead 907 lb 60/40 Amatol . The Rocket’s course was controlled by a LEV-3 gyroscopic plant, integrated accelerators and radio control equipment . Used as Retaliation/Revenge weapons in bombing campaigns against large cities, such as Antwerp, London, Liège, Brussels, Paris and the Remagen Bridgehead . This weapon could not be seen, heard, or intercepted and rose to an altitude of 60-70 mi . Up to 4,320 V-2s were launched during WWII . Numbers built, about 10,000 .



TESTIMONY (Escorting GENERALS – FRANCE - August 1945)



Military Policemen having a quick wash on the 'convenient' steps of an old WWI War Memorial, somewhere in France,
August-September 1944 (in between traffic & movement control of civilians and military personnel,
and supervision of enforcement of general orders & regulations)

… at the end of the War in Europe (May 1945), I did not have enough points to return home very soon, so the best bet for getting back to the States was to volunteer for Far East duty, with the hope of stopping in the States on the way, and … maybe, remain there, should the hostilities with Japan be over sooner than expected …

On May 14, 1945, Major General Terry de la Mesa ALLEN published and issued to the “Five by Five” a Letter of Commendation for the outstanding fighting our Battalion had done alongside the famous “Timberwolf” Division . Then news came from the WD, that Divisions alerted for the CBI Theater would have to release their attached AA units … so, on May 25, the Battalion took leave of its Timberwolf companions and made a one-day 286-mile trek to Helborn, Germany where we were placed under jurisdiction of the 49th AAA Brigade for training purposes .


Letter of Commendation to 555th AAA Bn by Maj. General Terry de la Mesa ALLEN,
Commanding Officer, 104th Infantry Division
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Shoulder sleeve insignia of the 49th Antiaircraft Artillery Brigade, activated at Cp Davis, N.C. 1 Dec 42 as the 49th Coast Artillery Brigade (CAC-AAA) and redesignated AA Brigade 28 May 43 - arrived in England 16 Dec 43 - inactivated in Germany 15 Mar 46 - campaign credits : Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, Central Europe
Click image to enlarge

I had been a Tec 3 with B Battery, 555th AAA Auto-Wpns Bn (attached to the 104th “Timberwolf” Infantry Division from 26 Oct 44 to 24 May 45), and after our unit was released from its assignment in Germany, we made our way back to Belgium, to the ‘Luchtbal Barracks’ (former Belgian Army Barracks, located at the northern outskirts of Antwerp) where we were to arrive June 15, 1945 . There had been an urgent appeal for an outstanding MP Battalion (i.e. for personnel with combat experience) to speed to Antwerp in order to help break up the infamous Black Market there, so after our ‘police experience’ in a (new) occupational-security rôle in Germany, we now had been selected for another “police” job ! A last formal parade of the 555th AAA Bn took place and I remember marching in it on August 1, 1945 . Several Staff members had meanwhile left for other assignments and many NCOs were reassigned to various Military Police Battalions, spread over different parts of Europe . I left my former unit a short time later . I don’t remember the exact date, but I do know it was some time after the day they dropped the first A-bomb on Japan (Hiroshima-6 Aug 45) . I was on a truck headed for Le Havre, France, and on my way to the States (so, I thought), but got retained at Le Havre, and assigned to the 389th MP Bn (Aug 45 > May 46) . I was put into A Company, which did traffic duty for military vehicles around the city and port area and provided escorts for trucks hauling servicemen from the surrounding ‘Cigarette Camps’ for loading onto States-bound ships . Being a 2d Lieutenant (I received a battlefield commission May 11, 1945), I was also given the responsibility to escort visiting brass, mainly Generals who would mostly be coming from Paris, the French Capital (I was later promoted to 1st Lieutenant) . For the most part, it was obvious, that the so-called “inspections” were merely phony, these Generals just wanted to get out of the humdrum life in Paris … At this time, my regular clothing would consist of class A uniform, with shirt and tie of course, and 2-buckle boots (no, I never wore jump boots), furthermore we had MP armbands and helmet liners adorned with MP markings (steel helmets were not used, they were too heavy), and as an officer I carried a .45 cal pistol .


2d Lt Leo J. Thoennes,
389th MP Bn, May 1945
Click image to enlarge

Lt. General John C. H. LEE,
CG ComZ,  ETOUSA
Click image to enlarge

Let’s come back to our subject … But, there was one exception among those visitors . That was Lieutenant General John C.H. LEE (1887-1958), Commanding Officer SOS/ComZ, who was in charge of Services of Supply in ETOUSA, his visits were serious inspections indeed, and also terrifying ! He was the most pompous, arrogant, stern man I have ever known and whenever we met, he made life hell for me . In fact, he came often enough so that he got to know me and it did not help much that he also hated Lieutenants ! (General Lee was a notorious, vigorous, ‘empire builder’, controversial but exceptionally capable logistics chief, he was known as ‘Jesus Christ Himself’ , from the triple initials J.C.H., and from his highly inflated ego) .

Let me tell you one of his typical visits coming down from his Paris Headquarters . I was given his itinerary the day before, and I went over the route and planned alternatives in case there would be any traffic difficulties (in a French city, such was always a possibility) . General Lee would always visit the staging areas on the outskirts of Le Havre, and I am sure that many 104th Infantry Division people came through these Camps on their way home … they were called after cigarette brands, there were 9 of them such as Camp Lucky Strike, Twenty Grand, Old Gold, Wings, Philip Morris, Pall Mall, Home Run, Herbert Tareyton and Chesterfield, all located around Le Havre .

This “typical” visit did not prove quite so typical because this time the General came by private train which arrived at Rouen at 0700 . His car was unloaded from the train, and the column of vehicles fell in behind me, being the lead vehicle . The General’s car was the first one behind me . I was riding in a jeep (1/4 Ton 4 X 4 Truck) with my driver . There were about 10 vehicles in the convoy . I don’t know where they all came from, but I suppose some were from the Le Havre area, while some had probably been driven straight up from Paris . As we left the railway station, I did the usual thing by turning on a siren and started to drive madly out of town . At this early morning time, many Frenchmen were going to work . They scattered to let us go by . Suddenly, I noticed General Lee’s car had stopped . So I stopped too, and ran back to his car . I will never forget his words; “Lieutenant, what the hell ! Are you trying to kill these French people ? These people are our friends, our allies, not our enemies ! Besides, I know, where we’re going . I don’t need you ! Fall in the back of the column”. So, with my tail between my legs, I just did, and the General headed for “Camp Lucky Strike” . Fortunately, I had been around for some time, and over the route the day before and I knew the way . It was not long before the General was lost ! The convoy stopped and a Lieutenant Colonel came walking back looking for the Lieutenant … I saved the day . 


... somewhere in France, September 44, MP fixing
"Off Limits" sign to dubious place,
not to be frequented by US military personnel !

Click image to enlarge

Group of MP personnel with
Major General Milton A. RECKORD,
CG Corps of Military Police,
picture taken either in Britain or in France,
sometime in 1944 

Click image to enlarge

The rest of the day was uneventful … General Lee visited a number of Camps, had lunch at the Officers’ Club in Le Havre, looked over the loading docks, and then left for Paris in his private plane, waiting at a small airfield close to the city . Mind you, for this one-day visit, he used a train, a car, and a plane . Truly the style of a pompous and arrogant man !
(Leo J. THOENNES, 1st Lt, A Co, 389th MP Bn, USA, O-2025306, recollections)

Notes :

389th MILITARY POLICE BATTALION

Apart from specifically designed MP Battalions constituted in the ZI for maintaining law & order, physical security, PW operations and other MP-related functions (in a non-hostile area of operations), there were other Field Army type Battalions to be deployed for duty overseas . When more MP Battalions were needed in France and other liberated countries, Battalions numbered 380 > 400 (minus 392) were activated, using a ZI TO & E, because better suited for their mission ! Activation of the 389th MP Battalion was directed by the E.T.O. Command . The unit was constituted 28 October 1944 in the AUS, being activated 3 November 1944 at Requiel, Sarthe, France, initially located at Rennes and Le Mans . The 389th MP Bn was finally inactivated, while still in Germany, 30 December 1946 . Campaigns : European Theater of Operations w/o inscription .

Early November 1944, 16 new MP Battalions were activated at Le Mans . They were composed mostly of men who had already seen combat ! Using the same type of personnel, 8 new PW Overhead Detachments also were activated, and previous to this, 2,700 MP Escort Guards were added ! With new duties and expanding capacities, the Corps of Military Police prospered, while continuously looking for additional personnel ! And that’s how the 389th MP Bn came about (it saw service in Germany, Belgium and France)… sometimes MP guards turned up more than ordinary thieves . Cpl. Richard Donovan, Pfc. George D. Rivar, Pvt. Herbert Dockery, Pvt. James W. Howard and Pvt. Jack E. King, all members of the 389th MP Bn, once pulled a German from a ration car on a train en route to Paris, December 5, 1944 .

The Corps of Military Police was often described by infantrymen as the soldiers who only posted "Off Limits" signs even before towns were liberated ! Town patrolling was more than just posting these "Off Limits" signs or grabbing AWOLs, but even these jobs had more meaning than was realized . "Off Limits" signs were put up to protect the soldier, to keep him from frequenting places dangerous to him . In periodic AWOL drives, MPs bolstered combat efficiency by returning men to their units . By bringing AWOLs, racketeers, and profiteers to justice, theft and pilfering of rations, gas, equipment and vehicles was reduced, and Black Market activities lessened . More than 10,000 MPs stationed in Germany, Belgium, and France (and the United Kingdom), guarded railways, roads, runways, hangars, bomb dumps and aircraft – provided full-scale control of the Red Ball Express route - helped control movement of refugees streaming back to their homes, enforced curfew regulations and travel restrictions for civilians – assisted with vice control - operated Disciplinary Training Centers on behalf of ComZ – furnished guards to Army Headquarters - provided escorts for visiting brass and VIPs – handled rear area security – organized Straggler Collecting Points – furnished raiding parties for CIC Detachments – moved and handled PWs en masse – and even assisted Psychological Warfare units …


DI of the 389th MP Bn, constituted in the ZI 28 Oct 44, activated at Requiel, France 3 Nov 44 – inactivated in Germany 30 Dec 46 – campaign credits : European Theater w/o inscriptions

CIGARETTE CAMPS
After the Allies secured the French harbor of Le Havre (the city suffered 146 bombings, was largely leveled and lost over 4,000 inhabitants – the attack on Le Havre only began 2 Sep 44, after the Battle for Normandy and after the Liberation of Paris – and the siege which lasted from 5 Sep > 13 Sep 44, left the city in rubble with the major port installations destroyed), the US Armed Forces, supported by Engineer units started building Camps, that were to serve as Staging Areas for Replacements arriving in the E.T.O. . This enabled new troops to disembark directly in France, thereby avoiding having to transit via England . Incoming troops were to pass thru these Staging Camps, for processing and then continued on to the Assembly Areas before being directed to the front …Camps at first received code names (e.g. B-19), but were subsequently named after various brands of cigarettes (for security, and psychological reasons) . Camp Lucky Strike (capacity 58,000 men) was situated at St. Sylvain (between Janville and St. Valéry-en-Caux) northeast of Le Havre . It was based on a former French (1939) and German (1940) Military Airfield . Engineer personnel took control of the area and started repairs course of September 1944 – Camp Lucky Strike was to become one of the largest US Military Camps in the ETO; at first only a large number of tents, then gradually permanent wooden barracks would appear, and eventually roads, pubs, hospitals, chapels, parks, Officer clubs, NCO/EM clubs, movie theaters, gas stations, repair shops, barber shops, post exchanges, etc. – in total over 1,500,000 servicemen would spend some time here … this large tent city (at first) was subdivided into 4 sections, and at the beginning, each section consisted of nearly 3,000 tents – living conditions gradually improved, including installation of running water and public lighting, and impressive quantities of i/c American goods !


homeward-bound Veterans use every possible foot
of the transport that takes them home - what will it be :
Redeployment (Japan ?) or Discharge (USA ?) -
August 45
Click image to enlarge

returning Servicemen,
look at the crowd on board this vessel -
hopefully en route for a Discharge ...
June 45
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Type of Pass issued by Headquarters Le Havre P/E to a Maintenance Officer for operating a government vehicle w/i the port area – dated 5 Nov 46, signed by MTO
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End of 1944, the Caux plateau formed the "Normandy Assembly Area" under command and responsibility of the 89th Infantry Division with HQs at Bois-Guillaume (near Rouen) . This unit was to run and administer many of the ‘Cigarette Camps’ including  Lucky Strike, Old Gold and Twenty Grand .The Camps run by the 89th Inf Div processed 343,733 men between June – September 1945 (pertaining to the 44th Inf Div - 84th Inf Div - 86th Inf Div – 89th Inf Div – 95th Inf Div – 97th Inf Div – 104th Inf Div – 6th Armd Div – 20th Armd Div) .

In total 9 Cigarette Camps were built around Le Havre and in its neighboring countryside, such as Camp Twenty Grand (capacity 20,000 men, near Duclair), Camp Old Gold (capacity 35,000 men, split up in 3 separate sites i.e. Block P > Fauville-en-Caux, Block L > Doudeville, Block J > Yerville), Camp Philip Morris (capacity 35,000 men, near Harfleur), Camp Pall Mall (capacity 7,700 men, near Etretat), Camp Wings (capacity 2,250 men, near Le Havre), Camp Home Run (17th Replacement Depot, near Le Havre), Camp Chesterfield (capacity 17,000 men) and Camp Herbert Tareyton (capacity 16,400 men, near Le Havre) . The Camps were later used as Redeployment sites for American troops transiting to the ZI (for discharge) or to the Pacific Theater (for the Invasion of Japan), including processing of Recovered Allied Military Personnel (RAMPS, in this case ex-US PWs) . Camp Lucky Strike was officially closed in 1946 (it held German PWs long after V-E Day, and even French DPs were temporarily housed there) . Lucky Strike was to see men from the 97th Inf Div pass thru its installations, on their way to the ZI. Nice to know is that the 104th "TW" Inf Div began its final movement (by rail) from Germany to Camp Lucky Strike on June 11, 1945, arriving on site June 19 . After POM checks, packing, spit & polish, inspection, and final instructions, the Timberwolves reached Le Havre by trucks, and embarked for the ZI on board 2 ships, the S/S Monterey (June 26) and the S/S Ericsson (July 2) .

CITY CAMPS
So called City Camps were equally constructed and acted as Assembly Areas for US servicemen . They were all located around the city of Reims, and named after American cities, such as Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago, Cleveland, Des Moines, Detroit, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Antonio, St.Louis and Washington D.C.


St. Sylvain (between Janville & St. Valery-en-Caux)
site of 'Camp LUCKY STRIKE'
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Camp Lucky Strike
- 'Java Junction' - 1945
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Hospital Ward and medical personnel,
Camp Lucky Strike,
winter 1945
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Camp Lucky Strike, part of tent city and chow line,
 picture taken course of 1945 ...
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49th ANTIAIRCRAFT ARTILLERY BRIGADE
1 December 1942 activated at Cp. Davis, North Carolina as the 49th Coast Artillery Brigade (AA) and redesignated as 49th Antiaircraft Artillery Brigade 28 May 1943. The unit moved to Ft. McPherson, Georgia 9 June and participated in the Tennessee Maneuvers 21 June 1943, after which it went to Cp. Forrest, also in Tennessee 1 August 1943 . The 49th AAA Bde returned to Ft. McPherson 16 August 1943; it staged at Cp. Kilmer, New Jersey 26 November 1943 until it departed New York P/E 5 December 1943 with destination the E.T.O. The 49th arrived in England 16 December 1943, landed in France, entered Belgium 18 December 1944 and Germany 11 March 1945 . It was finally inactivated at Weilburg, Germany 15 March 1946 . E.T.O. Campaigns; Normandy – Northern France – Rhineland – Ardennes-Alsace – Central Europe .

HIROSHIMA, JAPAN (6 August 1945)
In order to try and hasten the defeat and capitulation of Japan, a first A-Bomb (named "Little Boy") was dropped on Hiroshima . The Atomic Bomb exploded at 0815 August 6, 1945 after having been released from a B-29 Superfortress "Enola Gay" piloted by Lt. Colonel Paul Tibbets . It has been estimated that the extensive destruction and the great fires that raged across the city caused a total of 135,000 casualties .

Just three days after the first A-Bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a second A-Bomb (named "Fat Man") was dropped on Nagasaki to urge the Japanese to surrender ! The damage however was not as severe due to the different geographic structure of the city, although total casualties still reached approximately 64,000 ! The A-Bombs alone, did not win the war against Japan, but they most certainly ended it, thereby saving thousands of Allied lives that would have been lost by an Invasion of the Japanese islands …

“Enola Gay” – 509th Composite Group, Superfortress B-29, Serial # 44-86292, pilot Col. Paul W. TIBBETS Jr, dropped the first atomic bomb “Little Boy” over Hiroshima, Japan, on August 06, 1945

“Bockscar” – 509th Composite Group, Superfortress B-29, Serial # 44-27297, pilot Maj. Charles W. SWEENEY, dropped the second atomic bomb “Fat Man” over Nagasaki, Japan, on August 09, 1945

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