Another WWII tribute photos & history

Discussion in 'General Military Arms & History Forum' started by geds, Dec 17, 2011.

  1. geds

    geds New Member

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    At SSMN's suggestion and after seeing what a fine job he did compiling the WWII experiences of his uncle, I will post what I have been able to compile of my grandfather's experiences. Interestingly enough, SSMN had a photo of the out processing of soldiers at Camp Lucky Strike. We think the unidentified seated officer is my grandfather! (More on that later.) And with SSMN's permission, I will repost that photo - what say you Steve?

    Like SSMN posted, these photos are copy write protected and may not be used in any form without my express written consent.

    Please feel free to comment and offer any ideas or stories that you care to contribute. So many of the folks involved are gone - we just don't have them to ask. Any help and/or related stories would be appreciated!

    The 353rd 3rd Battalion arrived in the destroyed town of LeHarve, France January 21, 1945, after 10 days at sea aboard the troopship SS Bienville from their secret point of departure – Camp Miles Standish, Boston, Mass. The unit was trucked 45 miles up the coast to Camp Lucky Strike – one of the “Cigarette Camps” (Note: on the map it is misspelled as “Camp Lucky Stick”). The unit would return here after the war to process home bound and Pacific bound soldiers.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2012
  2. geds

    geds New Member

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    The 353rd Battalion moved March 5, 1945 to a forward assembly area near the town of Mersch, Luxembourg. This map follows the campaign of the 3rd Battalion, Company I until they completed their duties as interim occupation forces in Bad Blankenberg, Germany.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2012
  3. geds

    geds New Member

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    Here are a few photos from Camp Lucky Strike - the first stop in Europe. They wound up their tour back at Lucky Strike out processing soldiers with more points than they had - so I don't know whether these photos were upon arrival or just prior to leaving.

    Grand Daddy never talked about the war other than to say he was awarded a Purple Heart when a Frenchman dropped a hammer and hit him in the head! And to say he served under Patton. The only war movie I ever saw him watch was The Longest Day and Patton. He would leave the room or ask me to change the channel whenever I was watching a war movie and he was present. He later became president of several insurance companies and was was financially able to go to Europe (my grandmother repeatedly asked him to take her), but he never wanted to go back. He never attended reunions. He did serve in the reserves until he had his 20 years in for retirement as a Major. When the Vietnam protestors burned the Pentagon, his service records were among those destroyed and the Army decided he was a few months short of reaching retirement. They denied his pension and he could not prove them wrong. Perhaps this entered into his reluctance to talk about the war - although I suspect it was what he experienced at the time.

    His cards and letters home never mentioned fighting or that he was frightened. He mentioned late hours, being cold and lonely, being busy, having to go to work, missed the family and his wife, and gave his wife advice about family finances. He talked a little about R&R, camp duty, music, and photography. He asked for candles to be sent so he could use them to write letters by - never mentioned flashlights or batteries.

    Once they captured some high ranking Germans near the end of the war, he talked about them and even sent home a photo of one. He mentioned the differences between the civilians in France and those of Germany. And as the war progressed, his tone soured when talking about all of the civilians there. I can only guess why.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2012
  4. geds

    geds New Member

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    Here is a postcard he sent home just before going into combat for the first time.

    Luxembourg – 1st stop at the front – assembly point near the town of Mersch, Luxembourg March 5, 1945.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2012
  5. geds

    geds New Member

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    Combat Began at the town of Alf, Germany I Company had to capture and secure the town before the assault on the Moselle River.

    Postcard of Hotel-Café Alber Muhle, located in Alf, Germany located on the west bank of the Moselle River across from Bullay, near Zell – March 13-14, 1945
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2012
  6. geds

    geds New Member

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    Tower Hill in the Tear Drop Battle at the Moselle River crossing March 14-16, 1945. Companies I and L had to climb 2900 ft, almost straight up after capturing and securing the town of Alf. I Company’s engagement was the costliest of the Moselle crossing resulting in 9 deaths and 34 casualties, resulting in a unit effective strength of 164 – down from the assigned strength of 186. German losses were 14 POWs and 60 killed; an undetermined number were able to escape in boats across the Moselle River. Many regrouped in the town of Zell and were killed or captured there.

    The engagement involved three false surrenders by the Germans who raised a white flag of surrender and then fired on Co. I GIs who exposed themselves to accept the surrendering troops.

    The tower – called the Prinzenkopf – was used as an observation post and was subsequently destroyed after the battle.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2012
  7. geds

    geds New Member

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    ..
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2012
  8. geds

    geds New Member

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    The Rhine crossing was on March 26, 1945. I Company crossed the Rhine, just south of Oberwesel, in the second wave and captured the heights above the town of Kaub on the east bank (near the Lorelei Rock). I Company suffered 13 missing in action during the crossing – most likely from the loss of one of their boats. Eye witness accounts saw an I Company boat machined gunned mid stream and sunk with no apparent survivors.

    The unit rested March 30 – April 2 near Rauenthal, Germany.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2012
  9. geds

    geds New Member

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    On April 2 the 353rd moved to an assembly area near the village of Kircheim (about 15 miles SW of Bad Hersfeld). This was to prepare for the final push through the Eisenach Corridor, across Thuringia to Lower Saxony. April 5-6 I Company suffered 2 killed and 6 wounded while taking the town of Fortha which was held by SS troops. April 7, the town of Rhula was captured. April 8, Freiedrichroda fell, including a military hospital.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2012
  10. geds

    geds New Member

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    OHRDRUF - FIRST LIBERATED CONCENTRATION CAMP

    The unit was given two days rest before moving to the town of Ohrdruf about 8 miles east of Freiedrichroda on April 10. There, they spent one day at the labor camp that was 1 of 174 subcamps of Buchenwald concentration camp, located outside of Weimar (about 32 miles ENE of Ohrdruf).

    1000 workers were originally assigned to the labor camp; by January 1945 only 200 of the original 1000 remained. Prisoners were worked to death or were shipped back to Buchenwald for extermination when they became too weak to work. Those that died were shipped to Buchewald for cremation. By late March 1945, the camp population was about 10,000; 6,000 were Jews, most of the others were Yugoslav POWs. As the U.S. VIII Corps approached, those able to walk were force marched the 32 miles to Buchenwald; hundreds were too weak and were shot on the way. A few escaped and a few were rescued when Buchenwald was liberated. Those too weak to make the march (less than 100) were shot and left with about 800 bodies of those that recently died before the march and the Nazis had not been able to ship to Buchenwald for cremation due to disruptions in the railroad by advancing U.S. forces. These bodies were stacked in sheds and sprinkled with lime. A few were attempted to be cremated in a makeshift pyre. In one of the barracks a few survivors were found

    The camp was discovered and liberated April 4 by elements of the Four Armored and the 355th and 354th (sister units to the 353rd) divisions of the 89th Infantry. When Gen. Eisenhower visited the site, he ordered all units not on the front line to go to Ohrdruf and see “so he will know what he is fighting against.” He had it filmed so it would be recorded for the future so no one can say it was an exaggeration or propaganda.

    The next entry contains disturbing photos Grand Daddy took at Ohrdruf.
  11. geds

    geds New Member

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    WARNING - THIS PAGE CONTAINS DISTURBING IMAGES

    These are just some of the photos of the camp and are very disturbing. He mentioned in his notes that these were “a small part” of the camp. I grouped these photos as a collage to keep the files smaller - somehow they seem a little less disturbing this way (maybe it is my imagination, but whatever helps you get through them!).

    I suspect this was one of the biggest reasons he never talked about the war and his experiences and why he would not go back to Europe. The tone of his feelings about civilians decidedly turned more sour after this event.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2012
  12. geds

    geds New Member

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    April 11, 3rd Battalion moved to Bittstadt to prepare for the final push. April 12 the 353rd relieved the 354th Division with 3rd Battalion capturing Hanfield and Teichel. They moved on through Naschausen, Neustadt, Lichtenau, and Hummelshain where they captured the German Head Meterologist. Beginning April 15, they cleared from Weltwitz to Merkendorf before resting a few hours then resumed advancing April 16 from Aurora to Triebs.

    April 17 ended the push near Zwickau with I Company at the town of Kirchberg about 10 miles south of Zwickau. Here the 353rd stopped and held defensive positions generally along the Zwickauer-Mulde River where they waited for the Russians approaching from the east. Company I was here when hostilities ceased May 7. Massive German surrenders (the German XII Corps) began May 9. Small skirmishes continued up until then and saboteurs continued harassing until the 353rd moved out May 12 for interim occupation duty.

    These photos show a captured Nazi whose home was used as Command Post when European hostilities ended.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2012
  13. geds

    geds New Member

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    Here is the factory of the captured Nazi whose home was used as Command Post when European hostilities ended.

    I have asked for translation help and for help identifying the town. The best I can tell is it is the Rudolf Dressel Mill (maybe spinning mill?) I have no idea what the banner says - maybe something about "we are all in support of the effort at the front?"
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2012
  14. geds

    geds New Member

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    The 353rd remained in place until May 12 when they moved back to Rudolstadt for interim occupation duty. Company I occupied the resort town of Bad Blankenberg until they were transferred back to Camp Lucky Strike to process home-bound troops.

    Here he actually had a few nice things to say - the accommodations were certainly an improvement! He also got to go to Cannes France for a little R&R and saw his first bikini and the Glenn Miller Band. I'm not sure which he was more impressed with!
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2012
  15. geds

    geds New Member

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    More from Bad Blankenberg
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2012
  16. geds

    geds New Member

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    Here are photos from Cannes France. Note Glenn Miller and Band
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2012
  17. geds

    geds New Member

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    Here are photos he took in Cannes. Note the bikini! Also note French destroyer on horizon of bottom photo.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2012
  18. SSMN

    SSMN Member

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    Steve,
    I want to thank you for posting your photos. Please feel free to attach any photos from my thread that you find to be appropriate.

    Again, thank you for your kind words and perhaps our efforts here will encourage others to follow suit.

    Please continue with your story in photos. I am sure that our family members who gave so much would be gratified to know that we valued their sacrifice and are willing to share their stories with others.
    Best Regards,
    Steve
  19. geds

    geds New Member

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    They went back to Lucky Strike for the remainder of their tour. As I mentioned in the first post, their duties at Lucky Strike were to process out bound soldiers. The letters home were filled with how busy they were trying to keep the soldiers moving through, wondering how much longer they would have until the points number dropped enough so they could go home, and whether they would be shipped to the Pacific Theater.

    I'll post some photos of their training prior to going over seas. He was at Camp Callahan, CA where he was an artillery battery commander.

    I am not familiar with these weapons - any help would be appreciated!

    Edit: Juker identified these as the Browning M-1917 30. Cal. Water-Cooled Machine Gun

    Edit 12/27/2011: The mysterious box on the tripod was identified as a "Director" - "The director could also be used to aim the AA gun in place of using hand cranks. It was a steel box full of gears, approximately four cubic feet. It sat on a tripod, which also had a leveling mechanism. There was a scope on each side, and the trackers stood on the ground looking through the scopes instead of sitting on the gun seats. The director was usually located about 15 feet from the gun. It had to be coordinated with the gun by sighting both of them on some distant object and then locking them together. The trackers had 6-inch diameter wheels located next to the scopes that were rotated to keep their cross hairs on a moving target. The gears in the box were supposed to build in a lead on a target so if you were tracking a plane, the projectile would be fired out early enough to allow lead-time to reach the plane." - Courtesy Bob Gallhager website: http://www.gallagher.com/ww2/chapter3.html.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2012
  20. geds

    geds New Member

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    more battery photos

    Edit: Juker identified these photos as the M1918 3 in. Anti-Aircraft Gun shown in limber and in firing position
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2012
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