628th Reconnaissance Company History
Wounded and Evacuated
Charles H. Geissel
Arthur P. Puffer
The word "Rocnnaissance" defined in most dictionaries is usually a short brief statement about it being a "Military Survey".
Maps and charts can give the position of objects and terrain as it was when drawn. Information is needed as to the immediate
situation in war, and it is the Reconnaissance elements that supply the details. On good Reconnaissance has depended the
lives of personnel and the success of battles.
The Reconnaissance Company was born of men from Headquarters Battery, of the 109th Field Artillery, 28th Division. It originally
bore the name of "Pioneer Company", and came into existance in Camp Livingston, Louisiana, in the month of January, 1942. In
march of the same year, the first recruits joined its ranks.
It was with amazement that the handful of summer-clothed G.I.'s looked upon the new men as they unloaded from the train. Each
man carried an overcoat and wore OD's, long discarded by the camp personnel. They in turn were cursing the heat and the
weight of two barracks bags.
Lt. Bocock, welcomed the men as the Company Commander, and under his guidance began the training with wooden guns and simulated
Tanks. The greatest discomfort to many man's sorrow, was the scratching of a "Chigger" or Red Bug" bite. Stiff muscles from
hardening exercises caused some unrestful nights, but on the whole did a lot to increase the stamina of the individual. It
was embarrassing, however, to double time down the road in shorts, past the grinning civilians, They undoubtedly were curious
of the display of manliness.
A morale trip to the city of Monroe, Lousiana, was scheduled for the end of May, and the Battalion took over the town with
the full support of the warm-hearted citizens. The "Pioneer Company", made the most of the situation and an unforgettable
time was had by all.
On Organization Day, July 10th, the Company displayed its athletic might by winning the prize cup. The winning points were
scored by Joe Vitelli, in the pie eating contest, today a baseball star for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Ex-Marine Vic Taylor,
the mulit-decorated Mess Sergeant, prepared a sumptuous Victory dinner and all indulged in drinking a "Chug-a-Lug" out of
Prior to moving to Camp Hood, Texas, in late August, Lt. Starzynski assumed command of the renamed "Reconnaissance Company".
Here more men were received to bring the outfit up to full strength. The most remembered even at Camp Hood, besides actual
Tank Destroyer training, was five days of combat experience. It was most enjoyable to listen to a lecture without changing
clothes after swimming a stream, wiggling through barb wire, smoke, and exploding dynamite the final effort being a run up
the steep "Puke Hill". It did put most in the right frame of mind to learn how to effectively dispose of an enemy.
Crawling through the infiltration course and listening to machine gun bullets crack a few inches above your head or ear was
very thrilling. But returning to an evening of the restful Pup Tents was an oft. blessed event. In the final days at Camp
Hood, Capt. Roeloffs, took over the Company, and further lessons were learned from him.
The next move found the Reconnaissance Company with another new C.O., and the scenery of
. Captain Scott was now in command, and the long expected Army Ground Forces test was taken and passed. Furloughs
over Christmas and the New Year of 1943 were granted.
In keeping with the usual moving that was always expected, and not to disappoint anyone, the next stop was
Camp Carrabelle, in January. As it was in Camp Hood, the camp was officially opened and the name changed to Camp
Gordon Johnston. From the Floridians, it was claimed that this was not actually part of their wonderful state. They described
it as being like the little telephone booth structures seen behind so many residences. No one who didn't have to, lived there.
Amphibious training was our great purpose, and towards the closing phases, the majority were inclined to believe we were
porpoise. There were forced marches through the sand that always found itself into everything. The nights, and such were
romantic indeed, but soon shattered when lying between sand sprinkled sheets. The thirsty members of the Company found their
heaven at the Beach Comber. No one disagreed with the statement made the first day, "Here we will separate the men from the
boys". All were men.
From Florida, to dry out and prepare for maneuvers the "Gypsies" landed in Camp Rucker, Alabama. This was only a brief stay
and along with a new Commanding Officer took off for Tennessee maneuvers. Capt. Burgess had charge, and a popular new
"Top Kick", "Ibber" Lowe. The outstanding casualty, was when the First Sergeant lost his pistol, wrist watch and reported
mind. Having had experience with eating sand it was no trouble to get accustomed to the rich super fine dust. This conversion
was helpful later while touring France.
Maneuvers wound up, and in Camp Rucker again to rest and recover from the strenous ordeal. While resting, a new person made
his debut, "Major Midnight". It was his policy to insist on an eighteen hour day including Sundays, for maintenance and
inspection. Everyone mourned his departure after his brief stay.
A change of scene was in order again, so Camp Pickett it was.
Here the first enemy engagement was fought and won. The battle was touch and go for a while, but with the employment of large
sprays, the bed bugs were annihilated. Preparations were started for advance Amphibious Training to take place under the
Navy at Camp Bradford.
In Bradford, it was difficult to get used to seeing so much blue around. We had lessons in who to salute, but here the Navy
didn't seem to observe the custom. The K.P. was a pleasure, with only one job to do and plenty of goodies in the pastry
shop. The meals were as delicious as any that could have been prepeared by a gastronomical expert. Each meal was like an
Army Sunday dinner.
The climax of eating pleasure was the complete chicken dinner with lemon merringue pie served on the beach. This brought forth
many queries as to transfers to the wet branch of the service.
Too soon it was over and back to Camp Pickett, where this time weekend passes were granted. They were most welcomed and
thoroughly appreciated by the men.
Here we go again, on the move as usual and a real change this time. For some reason it was the mountains of West Virginia,
in the vicinity of the town of Davis. Not being able to move the vehicles through the goo and mud to our area, most of the
equipment was humped the quarter mile. The deluxe quarters were of the winterized "Pup Tent" style ideal for October weather.
A few boards for a floor and sides with a shelterhalf nailed on the roof. It was nice to look over the valley and wish to
be some other place. In two days time the clouds gave forth with an eight inch snowfall, this helped to plug the holes in
the "homes", but in no other way added to comfort. About this time, the rear echelon wives, and civilian cars began to
arrive. The folks in the near by towns did find places for sleeping, at least for the majority of the pioneer mountain
dwellers. Then arose the question as to where reveille should be held, in town or at area.
In reflecting one shouldn't forget the "Hernandez Corduroy Road", built over the quagmire called a firing range. Most of the
time was spent in digging out stuck vehicles, and needing a proverbial mine detector looking for those which sank. Returning
in the evening to a good plate of delicious "C" Ration stew renewed the energy.
It wasn't the cook's fault if it froze in the mess kit before you could eat it. It wasn't rough either, when Wolfe could
get his favorite home-town beer, and a twenty-five cent whisky ration card could be had. It was perhaps the most enjoyable
place the gang ever stayed. The folks in town really made up for all the inconveniences of the "Hill".
Recalling an incident of that location, the then Pvt. Ashby was detailed to sterilize the latrine. It was occupied at the
time by an officer. Requesting that the person tarry not, but apply a bit more pressure, he said jokingly, "Better hurry up,
sir, cause I'm gonna burn this place down," Ashby then went about the business of dumping a few gallons of gas into the hole.
A little while later an embarrassed Pvt. reported to the same officer.
"You all know that latrine screen we had sir?"
"What do you mean had?"
"Well sir", the man began. "The wind blew, it caught on fire and burned up."
No statement of charge was filed.
The next stepping stone on the way to combat, was Fort Dix in the wilds of New Jersey, in December. The Fort itself was a
nice place, the usual barracks of white painted exterior. But that was not for us. Our place was some five miles past the
civilized portion, in some abandoned CCC buildings. It was here we received the Company Commander who was to lead us through
many months of combat. Lt. Doerr, was the man, and he just returned from Cavalry Reconnaissance School. Having been reared
in a saddle, it perhaps was with some dejection he returned to a mechanized unit.
A new First Sergeant was chosen and he was Penberthy. Our Motor Sergeant met with a slight accident and he was replaced by
the present Cumer. During our stay a new Mess Sergeant arrived to take the place of "Fritz" Schwertzfeger. He was Ex "Ranger",
Al Klosewicz, and soon organized his mess deluxe. Here also the mystery arose over the disappearance of some beef from the
Kitchen. On the same line was the snacks of melted cheese sandwiches and beer in most platoons in the evening.
Furloughs were granted for the last time, and during the men's absence over the Christmas Holiday, the East Coast was alerted.
Those who were around, will remember the setting up of machine guns and such. And on the stroke of twelve, New Year's Eve,
1944, the expected confinement went into effect.
This time with some traces of "Gang Plank Fever", the destination shrouded in secrecy, we boarded a train and wound up at
Camp Shanks, New York. For twelve memorable days the last preparations
were made. Shots, a brush up on the use of cargo nets, marching with all that was ever issued and brief passes to the city of
After leaving the rail coaches and crossing the Hudson River to pier fifty-nine, we had the first glimpse of our new home for
a time. It was H.M.S. "Acquatania", our "Banana Boat". While waiting in the drizzling rain and chill of that January night
the pretty Red Cross Girls did a fine job with coffee and doughnuts. On the inside of the former "Luxury" liner we wondered
where the "Luxury" ever was. This was not all for as we showed our meal tickets for our first meal, we were asked to "que-up",
and after receiving the oderous kidney stew for breakfast and knowing that only two meals were served, were sure that we'd
be dead from starvation before the voyage ended. The life saver was, no doubt, the ships canteen, bless it! For seven days,
craps, poker and pinochle games raged through-out the ship. Everybody proved fairly good sailors and later debarked in Greenock,
Webmaster Note: Here, as with the other companies, the reference is made to the Acquitania. The correct spelling for the
ship is Aquatania.
The waiting for the trains was the only time actually spent on Scottish soil. Quite some differences were noticed, as the trains
were more like toys compared to our behemoths. The Red Cross was on the job again with coffee (?) chocolate, doughnuts, and
smokes dispensed by real American gals. Scotch Whisky, was the same in cost as back home, according to prices quoted.
In Packington Park, the tempo of our movements slowed. Many a good time was had in the blackout. It really required the services
of a native to guide one around the darkened cities. A raincoat became a necessity to combat the dampness, and Radio Sgt.,
Cooper, acquired the name of "Radar". Beer and customs became the topics of the hour, arguments at times lasting far into
Having drawn new equipment, still untested, it was necessary to prove it. In Wales, in the hills, a short distance from Aberdare,
Camp was established for this purpose. Nightly passes to town and the warm welcome given by the civilians will never be
forgotten. The town was completely in American hands, and the beer seemed of a better quality. A new Welsh song was becoming
polular called "Roll Me Over" and was sung with gusto by the visiting Yanks.
On our return to Packington Park, we enjoyed the comfort of our barracks until Easter Sunday. The pup tents, still wet with Welsh
dew, were again unfurled beside our former quarters. Two days later we were in the Marshalling Area of Dorcester. Our work
here was in the form of service and supply, many troops scheduled to make "D Day", landing were briefed and outfitted in the
camp. Each man had his own job, and in operation was even a barber shop run by John Asti, with an excellent trade. Most
exciting were the air raids, and many can relate strange happening during one. It always seemed a debatable subject to take
advantage of the shelters or stay in bed. Road patrols for security reasons, offered an opportunity to see the scenic wonders
of the Island for the men so assigned.
Up to this point we were waiting for our turn to be alerted for movement. It came soon enough, we were set up in D2 shortly
after "D Day". This was in the vicinity or Bournemouth. The Battalion's third Anniversary dinner was celebrated here with a
slight word of caution from the Mayor. All he requested was that we didn't tear the town up too much and please forget souvenirs.
It was a big success, and Bournemouth suffered no damage.
Camp D 3 was to see us for a short time and from here we were soon loading aboard ship. Some went via LST
, others by LCT's. The Navy chow was, as usual superb. Most thankfully
on our part, several cases were left within easy borrowing reach. These included such delicacies as canned chicken, spam,
and salmon. The ships soon pushed their noses onto Utah Beach, Normandy, France. By July 30th we unloaded and went into our
Here we became attached to the 5th Armored Division and joined the "Blood and Guts" drive through France. The company was slpit,
a Reconnaissance Platoon each joining a firing company. The 1st Platoon was attached to "B" Company, until VE Day. The 2nd
Platoon to "C" Company, until August 25th when they changed withe the 3rd Platoon to "A" Company.
One of the first missions in August, was to provide flank reconnaissance for the main column of task force "W". The first platoon
destroyed an enemy troop carrier which supposedly had been booby trapped. Sft. Al Moletz, Tom Carpellotti, and Tom Moses
were responsible for its destruction.
With orders to return to their Company, they started back to join the main column. Like most of the "Liberators", Bob Eason
and Ken Bishop werer preparing to enjoy a few sips from gift bottles. Setting them on the hood of the jeep, they were
without warning, suddenly forced to take cover. Bullets began to whistle all around, just passing over the ditch in which
they had dove. Something was definately wrong, as the tracers were with red tails, which were friendly. The main column
had spotted their movement and had opened up, thinking they were Germans. Eventually, the identification was made and the
fire ceased, but not before two bottles of "Vin Rouge" were in the same state as the fallen "Humpty Dumpty".
Another incident which happened, was when the second section of the third platoon was to secure and hold the bridges over the
Eure River near Dreux. A platoon of destroyers was also on the same mission and when almost to their destination, they
received some heavy enemy fire. The section consisted of an M-8 and two jeeps,
the crews being St. John, Thomas, Adams, Murphy, and Paul. No casualties were suffered and one man distinguished himself
for bravery. When asked how he won the Bronze Star he begins, "As fer as ah kin ricollect the incident goes sum thin along
these har lines." It's six foot "Hound Dog", a Southern Gentleman, who's on Army records as Vernon R. Adams.
"We wuz arolling down the road, mah jeep in the lead, St. John's Jeep in the rear of mine, and Sgt. Puffer with his M-8 and
crew. Well, all of a sudden like we came to an open field with a woods on the further side and we started ta cross it. Jes as
we started ta cross it, things started apopping. Ah means they popped! Some Jerra in the middle of the field musta got plumb
scairt cause he ups and starts to run."
"Goddamm Meeee! He didn't git very fur. Ole Sgt. Puffer opens up with his tirty caliber and lets him have it. Picks 'im clean
off'n the ground and hurls him high in the air and when he cam down he jes laid thar."
"But that wuz only the beginning," says Hound Dog. "All of a sudden from out'n the woods the damn Jerras opened up with machine
guns. Give us everything they had. Everyboda ran, even the tanks scrammed, and thar ah was aleaning up agin a tree mah carbean
"Then ah noticed a jeep someboda left out thar in the middle of the field, so duckin low ah races fo the jeep and gits inside
level with the flo-bods. Ah werks the gas pedal with mah hands and looks oute'n the side t' see where ah was goin. Well, ah got
to where ah was agoin with bullets jest apoping alla round me, but ah got me and that thar jeep safe."
"Goddamm meeee! Ah'l never fergit it!".
Everytime a dash was made on burning wheels to liberate a small French village, it became reminescent of a miniature "Times
Square". The happy inhabitants thronged the sidewalks and choked the streets. They filled the lanes and hung from the open
windows. Passage was made impossible by the colorful throng, and the speed of vehicles slowed to a halt. Once stopped it was
"Duck Soup" for the gay French. They clambered over into the Jeeps, Trucks, and Armored Cars. The Tanks even received their
share. With tears of joy they heaped them with flowers, bottles of wine, cider, and cognac. The woman especially were very
emotional, throwing their arms around the none too resistant Yanks and implanting there on, a token kiss.
Webmaster's Note: "Duck Soup" was a 1933 film by the Marx brothers. It has been considered their greatest and
No matter where we went the proverbial French Anthem seemed to be "Chocolate?" and "Cigarettes Pour Popa?" This was echoed
throughout the entire nation wherever the Americans were, and many such rations were distributed. After a while when things
began to quiet, the phrase chenged to another color, this being from the men, "Madamoiselle cushay..."
Soon Paris was entered and a big time was expected by everyone. The warm August sun however, was replaced by a drizzling rain,
which made the ride less enjoyable. The Parisians were out in full strength, lining the boulevards three and four deep.
Cigarettes, chocolate, and "K" rations were erupting from every vehicle. In return apples, tomatoes, flowers, and liquids
took their place. The French were none the less happy to receive the small gifts and which were without doubt appreciated
after four years under Nazi rule, without.
Road markings were fairly dangerous in the days of France. The American forces at this time were operating behind German lines,
so anything could happen, and usually did. One marker would stand by a crossroad, and after directing the major portion of the
column through, it would be necessary to wait for the stragglers. These last few vehicles had always been held up by one
thing or another and were usually racing to catch up with the main body. This happened at a lonely spot near Valenciennes in
the cool dusk of evening, when it was impossible to trust one's eyes.
Two men from the Pioneer Platoon were left to mark a road junction. They stood and waited for the remnants of the column to
appear, keeping at the same time, a look out for snipers. In the distance they heard the rumble of tanks, as the noise grew
in volume, the men stepped out and pointed the right direction. Too late, they discovered the tanks were enemy. With no chance
to escape, they were fired upon, and miracously managed to dodge out of the way of most of the bullets. After the tanks had
passed the wounded men were discovered and quickly evacuated to a hospital.
In short order our tanks soon took up positions and engaged the column, destroying a large percentage.
Colorful September found us deep in the heart of the beautiful Luxembourg hills over-looking Ammeldingen, Germany. "A" Platoon
of Reconnaissance was cautiously going up the side of a steep hill. On the way to their objective, an observation post, they
could not help but notice the tall towering pines on either side of the winding path called a road. They couldn't help but
gaze in abstract wonder at the shadow pattern cast upon the ground by the filtering sun. To add to this lovely picture and to
enhance its splendor, a deer came bounding from the wood and watched the passing vehicles.
Completing the laborious climb to the objective, they related what they saw, "We gazed from a vantage point in breathtaking
wonder at what stretched below us. A beautiful rolling valley carpeted with green grass. But was it so beautiful? A closer
look the very first time with a trained eye, would not have brought a gasp at the beauty, for there stretched across that
mantle of green and in every strategic position lay a part of the long sought "Siegfried Line". Pillboxes galore. Each
protected by the "Fangs of the Dragon". This was the kind of stuff we had to crack in order to get to the heart of the "Reich".
"Rough going" we knew it would be. There lay Geramany before us and we were between the border line of Luxembourg and
Germany. We stayed there observing for about three days gathering important data and information. About the second day a patrol
of seven Krauts came to within one hundred yards of the post and the ugly snouts or our waiting machine guns. For reasons
of keeping the position secret no attempt was made to either shoot or capture the "Cabbage Heads", but had they seen the
position, who knows but what they might have been knocking on St. Peter's or more than likely the other feller's door.
On the third day the Tank Destroyers lumbered into view, they pulled into position and pointed their guns at the formidable
pillboxes. Wump! Wump! Wump!, they banged away. All to no avail. Even the terrific power of our T.D.'s had no effect on the
thick walled pillboxes. The armor piercing shells, sad to relate, bounced off the ten foot thick walls like rubber balls. They
did no more than chip large hunks of concrete from the outside.
From then on it was a job for the Infantry and Engineers to demolish the concrete forts. The air force can be credited with
the destruction of many with their pulverizing bombs. Heavy artillery did its bit and before long the line was breached.
We had done our job as a REconnaissance Platoon and this was when we took wing. Mission accomplished.
Having blazed the way through the obstacles commonly thought of as the "Siegfried Line", it was found that the "Siegfried Line"
was behind the actual fortifications.
We bit roughly about ten miles into Germany. The facts were kept on the hush hush side, and it was all for the better, it
being good psychology on the part of the brass.
Yes, it was good psychology not to inform the little man about the little things which were incidental to the bigger thing.
The little thing being, namely, we acting as bait, and the bigger thing being the fish who not only swallowed the bait,
but almost succeeded in digesting it.
The first ten miles into "Kraut Land" seemed almost a pushoever, except to stop and scatter a few pillboxes to the elements
and level Wallendorf to the ground.
But as we were sailing along like a ship into the blue, peaceful like, things began to whistle. It took a few seconds to
realize that it wasn't the birds, so unabashed, the courageous comedians hit the ground.
Pal, they were eighty-eights, and they were being shot at us like rifles, direct.
They rooted us out of each spot we thought was safe. Could they observe? Yes, they could see every little move we made. At
that time although we didn't know it, one of our cubs was
flying around in our rear. It was and it wasn't ours. Right then it wasn't, it was in enemy hands and he was the cause of
the chaos. He was soon reported and shot out of the skies by a P-47.
The artillery barrage continued so we scattered to the valleys and to spots of refuge where we could consolidate our front
and hurl back some of that "Rough Stuff". After consolidating, we began to fire back some of the mail, and although we were
fairly strong, they were a stronger force, far outnumbering what we had, then we found out that the enemy had powerful
mobile reserves, which had been our mission.
The enemy thinking this a major thrust concentrated a good bit of his reserves against this special sector. For the first time
since the coast of France, we really felt the sting of concentrated artillery. The Germans were in Germany, they no longer
ran, and so the fighting became a vicious artillery duel.
The Krauts brought up their reserves day by day, until nearing the seventh and eighth day they ad amassed an estimated twelve
battalions of artillery of all kinds.
They gave us hell! Laying there in a slit trench and listening to those damned devil guns go off, one hundred and forty of
them. "What a peculiar sound". The Germans had placed their guns in a horse shoe formation on the high ground overlooking
our position, then they saturated the valley and the hilltops in brackets, trying to annihilate everything. On the last
day before our strategic withdrawal from sure destruction, we took five long steady hours of continuous barrage.
The escape route was made possible by the brilliant action of several Reconnaissance men who reconnoitered the route. Sgt.
Barth and his crew were highly praised for this piece of work, when orders to withdraw were received. Sgt. Freeman and
crew were also commended on their bit of reconnaissance.
After the miraculous escape from the hair-raising escapades of treacherous Wallendorf and its "Devil Guns" we found ourselves
retreating in an orderly fashion through an alternate route which led across a ford and up a hill made slippery by a
misty rain. Trucks and tanks alike were straining their motors to the very limit. Vehicles were stuck right and left, wheels
were whirring and spinning, mud was flying and brows were sweating, muscles were strained to the limit of human endurance, to
keep the column moving.
Some of hte vehicles had already reached the top of the torturous grind and were wending their way thorugh the woodlands
while the remainder was still sweating it out in the valley below. Watching from the direction we had just come, we noticed
many miles away a series of flashes on the horizon, being veterans of "Wallendorf" and knowing what those flashes were,
even though they were miles away we hit the ground. For a few brief heartrending seconds it seemed like the hammers of hell
broke loose. That familiar scream of the "Nebelwerfer",
combined with the whistle of artillery and then the exploding shells, just for a few seconds and then silence. No one was
hurt in this last barrage. The miserable "Huns" thought they would throw in a triumphant effort to try and keep us out of
their sacred land.
Well, chums, this wasn't the last effort because we came back and the next time we came, we came to stay.
Perhaps one of the heaviest concentrations, artillery and mortar fire of the war, came on a day in December, 1944. This day
found "Ye Ole' Pioneers" braving this heavy concentration to assist in retreiving two M-36's
out of a heavily mined field. The job was only started but not completed and they returned to the company. The job being
only half-finished, they returned on the following day, and neutralizing the mine field, recoverd the vehicles.
Later in December the dropping of paratroopers in the vicinity of Hahn cuased quite a furor, to such an extent that road
patrols were set up and operated twenty four hours a day. Such constant and strenuous patrolling found the men in the
morning hackeyed and worn to a frazzle. The Paratroopers were dropped behind our lines to create a disturbance and
disrupt the supply lines to help Von Rundstedt's push. A few were caught in our sector, the others probably landed in full
civilian regalia, no wonder we couldn't find them. At any rate our Pioneer Platoon, cooks and what have you, patrolled far
into the small hours of each night. The road vigil ceased on the 24th of December and we were whisked away to still another
We were in a short time on the way back to Belgium. There had been reports about a German break-through, and several times
we had been strafed, but paid little attention to it. Our road patrol was in operation and everything was fairly under control
in that sector. However we were on the way to Belgium with no definite plan or information and had sensed something had
happened. The night air was bitter cold, and seemed to be getting colder. Gone was our vision of Christmas turkey and
trimmings. Near Rahrmont, contact was made with the German advance and Christmas found many with nothing to eat at all,
not even a "C" or "K" ration. The situation was so fluid that the front lines changed by the minute, Germans were using
American Tanks and Americans using German. The fight was severe and casualties were heavy on both sides. It was later
evident that the Bulge was beginning to shrink under the efforts of the Allies and during this period the Platoons had been
acting as security and liaison for the firing companies. They had several small skirmishes and narrow escapes. This fighting
was perhaps the bitterest and most savage ever encountered. After it was apparent that the situation was under control, the
companies and platoons were billeted around Boubal with the relieved civilians. Many made lasting friends of these people
and usually a good time was had in the evenings. Seven days after Christmas on a clear brisk day, Christmas dinner was
served with all the trimmings and it was a happy occasion.
After doing out bit in the "Bulge", the outfit made a motor trip to Voordendall, Holland. Here we awaited the crossing of
the Roer River. One of the firing Companies and a Recon Platoon attached, joined in an indirect fire mission. The night
of the crossing saw hundreds of bombers in flight and the resultant flasses of the bombs exploding on their traget some
miles away. After they had laid their eggs, the cannon commenced to fire and the sky was vibrant with the flashes. While
in Holland Henry Katula, the Company clerk urged all to take out Soldiers Savings for passes that were promised. At the
same place a dance was made up and was attended by Holland girls and chaperons. It was regrettable that not all could enjoy
this bit of relaxation, but had to sweat it out up on the front.
From Holland a move across the Roer at night was made, and the push to the Rhine was on. The Roer was shrouded in smoke
from the generators operated for the purpose of hiding the bridges from enemy eyes. Many towns on the way were seen
leveled to the ground, and in some we made temporary quarters. The outfit assembled for the first time near Krefeld, but in
a few hours one of the platoons was recalled to its firing company. At Krefeld, we were very near the Rhine, being only
about four miles away, and the firing companies were supporting an indirect fire mission on the city of Duisburg. They
also covered several patrol crossings of the river, even though bridgeheads were established many miles further to the north
and south. The platoons were comparatively inactive during this period.
It soon came the time for us to cross the Rhine, and this was done at Wessel, and the mad pursuit of the German Army began.
Events happened too fast to be recorded, but many strong points were by-passed and later had to be cleaned out as a threat
to the supply lines. The Reconnaissance Platoons were used for this purpose, and one mission, a platoon was to guard a
highly important radio station. Its importance was so great that the Germans made several attempts to recapture it. However
with some support, the platoon held on to its prize and beat the attackers off. At the same time, the enemy made an attempt
to cut the supply route, and was partially successful, but these were reopened in a few hours and things returned to normal.
The Elbe was reached and the division took up holding positions. The platoons were regrouped and accomplished the mission
of gathering small bands of enemy personnel left in the rear areas.
After withdrawing to the rear, it was the Battalion's job to set up Military Governments in various towns. This consisted
of checking on civilian passes and the processing of all the towns inhabitants. This was being done at the announcement of
VE Day and contrary to all expectations no great celebration was held, but it was greeted with great calm and peacefulness.
Credit should be given to all the various sections in the company, the Cooks who did a fine job with the chow, and the Motor
maintenance gang who kept the wheels rolling through many miles of territory of all kinds, and to the excellent spirit
of cooperation on each individual's part in the company, who undoubtedly helped in winning victory.