The Remembrances of:
Robert McConide ~ Morris W. Ringel ~ Alfred S. Roxburgh ~ Harold Shadday
McConide, Robert I- Age 17, Height 6 feet 1, Weight 140 lbs. Born Carroll, Iowa, August 7,1925. Occupation - Student. Enlisted at Camp Dodge, Del Moines, Iowa, 8-2-1943. Serial number 171-53-068. Reported for duty 2-10-1944, Camp Dodge, Des Moines, Iowa. Sent to Camp Blanding, Florida, for infantry training. Was there from 3-20-1944 to 7-15-1944. Qualified as US Army bugler. Was only 18 years of age when basic training was completed, so was sent to Camp Howze, Texas, for more training until reaching the age of 19. Entrained for Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky, 8-12-1944. Assigned as bugler to Howitzer M3 105 MM Bobtail cannon crew 2nd section, lst platoon CN Co., 289th Infantry Regiment, 75th Division. Entrained to Camp Shanks, New York, 10-15-1944.
Embarked for Great Britain aboard the HMS Franconia on 10-22-1944, landing in Liverpool 11-3-944. Left Liverpool and went to Swansea, Wales. Left Swansea, Wales and went to Southhampton where we boarded the SS Leopoldville, and crossed the channel, landing near Le Havre, France. From there we went into Holland. Battle of the Bulge broke out, and we were called into the Battle of the Bulge on Christmas Eve, 12-24-1944. From the Bulge we were sent South into France to help clean up the Colmar Pocket. We saw our first German jet propelled airplane here, which strafed and bombed our company. From here we went north to the Rhine River, where we fired all night in support of troops advancing across the river. Continued on through Germany to Ickern. Left combat here and went to Ludenshied, Germany to act as occupying force for a large German hospital full of wounded Germans. Service done there we went to Camp Detroit, a redeployment camp to send troops back to the states and then on to the South Pacific. Camp was near Rheims, France. I was assigned to salvage department, as troops going to the states were issued new equipment. Camp closed in February of 1946, and I was sent to 344th OM. Depot Co., Personnel Department at Metz, France. Left there and departed on a Liberty troop ship 3-18-1946 for the USA- Arrived New York harbor 3-26-1946.
Boarded a train and went to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin where I was discharged 4-1-1946, rank of Tec-5. Received the following medals: Good Conduct, European-African-Middle Eastern Theater Service Medal with three battle stars, Bronze Star, and Combat Infantryman's Badge.
Morris W. Ringel
Fire Direction Center
289th Infantry Regiment
75th Infantry Division
20 thru 29 + December 1944
I am going to start these remembrances back in the United States because they were important to me in the battle of the Ardennes Forest. In the waning days of Cannon Company's stay at Camp Breckenridge, about the first two weeks of September 1944, Captain Dempsey felt the Battery Commander Method of firing the company's Bob Tailed 105 Howitzer was not the best method of firing this weapon. He decided to go to a more proven method used for years by the Field Artillery, called Fire Direction Control. Two classes were given in the states pertaining to Fire Direction Center procedures. Nothing was yet formulated since we were about to be deployed to the ETO. A two month delay was in the way, although those of us selected did some reading and studying in our spare time.
When the Cannon Company arrived at Camp Claes Farm, Wales on 8 November 1944, full time was given to the new FDC method. Lt. Rogers was an able instructor and the five men chosen were able students. Hundreds of simulated problems were fired by the FDC. We were briefed on both phone and radio procedures during these simulated problems. We did fire a few missions to take the bugs out before embarking for France. No further work was done in France, Belgium and Holland until 18 December 1944 when Able and Baker Batteries were formed.
We moved to Tongres, Belgium where we had our first German Bomb in Buzz Bomb Alley. A V-2 bomb landed near the bam we were staying in and exploded. Lots of debris, but no injuries. We were lucky. We were ordered into the Battle on the north flank of the Battle of the Bulge on 22 December 1944. We moved near Septon, Belgium and set up gun positions. We set up in two different Battery Positions. Our cannons were in position to fire to cover two different Battalions. On the night of 24 December 1944 the guns were moved forward into new positions. We moved into position to protect the front lines for Manhay, Grandmenil and Erezee. The enemy was in front of us and we were ready. We were near Grandmenil.
Early on 25 December 1944 we fired our first "for real" fire mission in support of our troops at Erezee sector. Cannon #1 commanded by Bill White fired our first round into enemy territory at the Erezee sector. Fire Direction Center had poor equipment, temporarily thrown together. We nailed a couple of ammo boxes together for HCO and VCO tables for our maps. We used field artillery slip sticks and made our calculations for the mission. At the same time the FDC acted as a relay for the 897 FA Bn and their F.O.s. A later survey showed our data was correct within five yards. The mission was a success.
Two days later, 27 December 1944, after intermittent firing, we again had to fire a heavy mission for the Sadzot area. On 27 December 1944 we fired over 300 rounds of H.E. to back up the 1st Battalion near Sadzot whose companies were bearing the brunt of the German attack. We had been an important factor in suppressing the breakthrough spot for the Germans.
This was perhaps our most important firing in the war. The Company guns received their first real counter fire from the 88s on 28 December 1944, but we were well dug in and little damage was done. Cannon Company continued to support all three Infantry Battalions on the line.
On 9 January 1945 we were sent to Garonne where we relieved the 82nd Airborne. We fired missions on Vielsalm and Bech. The Bulge was being pushed back and we were part of one of the greatest battles of the war.
Morris W. Ringel
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Ringel, Morris W. Age 19, Height 5'6". Weight 185. Born 25 November 1923 at Shawano, Wisconsin. Occupation - Student at Lutheran Divinity School in Oak Park, Illinois. Was drafted by hometown draft board on 14 April 1943.
Reported for active duty on 21 April 1943 at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. Endured the customary orientation for one week. I was assigned to Field Artillery basic training Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I did much hiking and a little bit of Cannoneering. The base was short of artillery pieces, so I didnít get too much work on the 105, but enough to know how it operated. While in basic I was informed I was accepted into the ASTP program.
After completion of basic the ASTP selectees were sent to the Citadel in South Carolina. Here I awaited my school assignments. I spent about 40 days at the Citadel when I was told I was assigned to Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute. Just before I was assigned to ASTP I was informed that I had been inducted erroneously and I could apply for discharge. Dumb me, I said I would stay in the Army.
I arrived at Brooklyn Poly in the middle of August 1943 and was housed in apartment house near the Brooklyn Navy base. I spent two terms at the ASTP school. I received the great news that we were being transferred to the Infantry, 75th Division. I joined the Division on maneuvers and went out on several Company exercises. Then I went to Camp Polk for organization and transferred to Camp Breckenridge, Kentucky for advanced training. I was assigned to the 2nd Platoon as a cannoneer. Just prior to leaving Breckenridge in early September 1944, four of us were called into a conference with our CO, Captain Dempsey, and told we were going to try an experiment in cannon firing. I had two short sessions on the basics for the Fire Direction Center.
We left for Camp Shanks, New York and embarked for the ETO on 22 October 1944, aboard the H.M.S. Franconia. The introduction to British fare was eye-opening. We arrived at Liverpool on 4 November 1944 and left for Wales to Camp Claes Farm. It was here that accelerated training in F.D.C. method was learned through the capable instruction of Lt. Rogers. We fired hundreds of simulated missions and a couple of live demos.
On 9 December 1944 we sailed from Southhampton on the H.M.S. Leopoldville, arriving at Rouens moving to the Freville Mud Flats. We left France for Holland and heard about the breakthrough. We were in Tongres on 20 December 1944 when we had our baptism of enemy fire.
A Buzz Bomb almost made history of Cannon Company as we spent the night in a barn there. We were shortly in the Battle of the Bulge on the North Flank. The weather was bitter cold and trench foot and frozen feet took their toll. After many fire missions the Bulge was leveled off and the Company was sent to the Colmar Pocket in South Central France.
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We were attached to the French First Army and saw bombing and strafing as well as artillery fire. The area was secured and we were returned to Belgium and Holland and entered into the Ruhr Pocket cleanup. From there we moved to the Rhine at Baerl, Germany. Cannon Company fired many fire missions prior to crossing the Rhine.
From here on it was fast forward to Ickern and then Ludenschied where the ETO ended and we became occupation troops. We were then assigned to Camp Detroit near Laone, France. We spent about six months redeploying troops to the Far East Theater. I left for home on 14 February 1946 on the Victory Ship Costa Rica, arriving at Fort Dix on 23 February 1946. Five days later I was on my way home from Fort Sheridan. Tour of duty completed.
I received the following medals: Good Conduct; American Theater; European African Campaign with three bronze battle stars; Victory Medal; German Occupation medal; Combat Infantryman badge; Medaille De La France Liberee; The Belgian Commemorative medal; French "A Ses Liberateurs" medal.
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Alfred S. Roxburgh
*Gun Crew #3 Cannon 3rd Section
2nd Platoon Battery B
Cannon Co 289th Infantry Regiment
75th Infantry Division
24 25 26 27 28 +/- Dec 44
We traveled since noon moving up. It's been quite a little while since I wrote in here [Diary]. We are back in Belgium. All the people line the road along our route of travel waving to us and throwing apples to us as we pass. We slept in a barn last night which is one side of the court yard. We were awakened by V-2s passing over head. They sounded like a Model A going through the sky. You can hear the V-2s way off and then zoom they go over. One of the V-2s sounded like it was too low and the barn might be hit. Wham. The hay/ground on which we were lying shook followed by a loud explosion. The V-2 hit so close it blew or shook the tiles on the roof over our heads down. After a few minutes we turned over and looked around to see who was killed by the pieces o tile which fell. A lot of scared guys.
Christmas Eve. What a life believe me. We slept in the woods all night. Why nobody knows except as deep reserve. No lines of communication. FDC [Fire Direction Control] got disgusted and we all rolled up together and slept. No guard except over the gun but after an hour of hoping no cold steel would slide thru my ribs I fell asleep. It was cold as my canteen was frozen solid and my feet were ready to fall off. We were supposed to roll at nine but we rolled at 12. Later just as we hit the hay for a nice Xmas in bed, "march order". Some rolled out cursing a blue streak. D____ War.
December 25, Christmas Day, December 26. We unrolled our sacks in an attic of some old deserted house for an hour or so of sleep. We got up freezing to death and hobbled out to the trucks. After a miserable ride we fell out and dug FDC in but fast. Frozen ground is no joke to dig a hole of some type in. I dug a hole that was neither a fox hole or a slit trench but large enough and deep enough in which to spend several hours. We are near a cross roads in the NE corner of a field. I think the FA [897th FA and 790th FA] are N ? of us. To the south are open fields with a forested ridge further south. To the SE the wooded ridge seems to be closer and just around the corner from the cross roads. There are several tanks (3d A D) at the cross roads. The men are from an armored outfit that have been fighting since June. To our right are flat fields with wooded hilly areas behind. The sun came up and we watched the AAF roll to Nazis Germany. Vapor trails crisscrossing here and there. It was beautiful to watch wave after wave of B24s and P47s move overhead until a yellow flare marked the end of one of our buddies. Shortly later a 24 spun to earth, two chutes came out. It makes one's blood boil as one guy landed on enemy ground and the other on our side. **Several P38s were diving and climbing behind the hills to our SE [Grandmenil]. First day of combat. At least the sun is up and shining. Thank heavens we stayed here as the sun came out and it was really nice. I hope it stays like this. We are already to fire but haven't as yet. The sun is down now. I washed up and saw the medic about my feet. Most of my toes are numb. Boy, I'm sure going to warm them up tonight. I hope we stay here for a week. The FA in back of us is firing wham, wham. A lot of tank traffic on the road along our gun placement. I hope my feet get Better or I'll be a casualty soon. Patton is moving up 20 miles away. HURRAY, We all hit the dirt when a round fell short. Adios.
Dec 27 28 29 all in one recording. Just as I started to write a buzz bomb putted overhead. For three days we have been shelled. It started after the night fire fight just up ahead of us [Sadzot]. It's not a pleasant feeling at all being scared to death and lie huddled in a hole and think the next round is coming straight at you. The situation is pretty well messed up. We fired barrage after barrage into a target area south of our location. We are really in it. All the line Cos have caught hell. We are fighting some panzer and SS troops, the elite boys of Germany. A bunch of them came by us on their way to a PW enclosure. I am glad I am not sick like I was when we hit France. I sure thought I would be blowing taps. I felt like I couldn't see or think.
All the armored moved out and so we have their house, but it is really lonely here now. Three guys with the axe and rail shoulder patch [84th ID] came into our area. They had been placed along the forest ridge by an officer every 100 yards but decided to look for American troops. I went for a ride but wham, wham came in and we tore back. Darned if I'm not too darned souvenir happy. I wish I could get over it. We stay here putting out a little fire and catching a little now and then. We are trying to get a line thru to the OP now. I'm freezing so I'll sign off. I waited all day to go up for a look at the hell of war but they were shelling just beyond us so I couldn't go very far. Later we went up and a tanker [629 of 722TD] said "hell there were dead Germans all over the place. They took one prisoner. So the woods are clear now. I soaked my feet but they still seem numb. I can't feel a thing in my toes. It seems to be spreading throughout the outfit. All the armored pulled out so we are in sole command. The last day of the old year. My feet have been cold all day. I waited for two) hours to go up to the village that was attacked the early morning hours of December 28. What a life in the Fire Direction Control room' Warm as toast. I think the old lady who owns the place is worrying too much. What these people have seen.
I went up in the small town [Sadzot] a few hundred yards up the road and saw a dead Kraut that the light tankers sent to hell frozen stiff. We just started to look at them when schuoom whoomp so we hit the dirt and then grabbed the jeep and tore out of there. I saw my first dead men on this day. Not too bad. One solid year as a soldier. I hope that next year at this time I am able to see my days as a civilian looming in the horizon. Let's hope so anyway. I guess all the guys will be changed when I get home.
I think we were in one of the last attempts by the Germans at breaking thru our defenses. [This attempt to breakthrough the Northern Sector of the Bulge was the 28-29 Dec 44. Military History has not recorded this final offensive thrust which ended at Erezee because of lack of information about the actions of the 289th RCT and the actions of the 2d and 12th SS PDs but has mistakenly recorded the last thrust was stopped on 26 Dec 44 in the Sector held by the 2d.] The dead Germans (in Sadzot) were (some) paratroopers at least the helmet I picked up was a paratrooper type [40 men 10th Co lst Air Corps Paradivision] and the skull and cross bones on the collar [12 SS Panzer division Regt 25]. The campaigns at Grandmenil [sp] and Sadsack [Sadzot] are over. Hasta Manana.
Excerpts from the diary of Alfred S. Roxburgh 1944-45.
*I trained on a flat trajectory 57 mm anti-tank gun, #1 Gun Squad Anti-Tank Platoon Hq Co 1st Bn 261st Inf Regt 65th ID. When I joined Cn Co 289th Inf Regt 75th ID in Sept 44 1 was assigned to Cannon Crew #3 105 Cannon. This gun was a high trajectory weapon and fire was directed at the enemy initially by a forward observer from the map coordinates and direction to the cannon Sgt at the gun. The gun Sgt ordered the necessary cannon adjustment before giving the command to fire at the given target. The procedure was almost identical to the cannon tactics use in the Civil War as the cannon was used in line with the infantry in battle and were to move forward as the line advanced. The gun crew could see the target and adjust the fire by direct sight. Our Co CO with the use of radios adopted the FA method of calculating the adjustment to the cannon from the FO through a Fire Direction Control unit in order to provide more target accuracy. It was very effective. I was asked to join the FDC unit some place enroute and tried to learn by observing the operation. I felt more comfortable with the gun crew as my 57 training was more compatible. ** Eleven P38s 43OSq vectored to enemy targets by 7th A D. (Cole)
Roxburgh, Alfred S., Age 18, Height 5'11', Weight 145 lbs. Born San Diego, CA; moved to Sacramento, CA. Occup. student. Enlisted at Sacramento, CA, September 16, 1943, Serial Number 19,188,692. Reported for active service December 1, 1943, Monterey Presidio, CA for initial processing. Entrained to Camp Shelby, Miss. Assigned to Gun Number One Squad, Anti Tank Platoon, Hdqtrs. Co., 1st Bn., 261 Inf Reg., 65 Infantry Division. Completed basic infantry training and qualified as an Expert Infantryman. Served as gunner on (British 6 pounder) No. 1 anti tank gun. Entrained for Camp Breckinridge, KY, September 24, 1944. Assigned to a Howitzer, M3 105 MM Bobtail Cannon crew, 3rd Sect. 2nd Platoon CNCO, 289 Ina Reg., 75th Infantry Division. Entrained to Camp Shanks, NY, October 15, 1944. Embarked for Great Britain aboard the HMS Franconia landing in Liverpool November 4,1944. Moving through Wales sailed from Southhampton December 9, 1944 aboard the SS Leopoldville. (This ship was sunk by submarine U-486 December 24, 1944 with a loss of over 8M 66th Inf. Division soldiers.) Narrowly missed being hit by a U-2 buzz bomb near Tongres, Belgium. The cannon crews played a key role closing the gap between A and C Cos. 289th Regimental Combat Team south of Sadzot, Belgium. The German Ardennes offense had made its last northern thrust against the Allied Forces in the largest land battle in WWII, the Battle of the Bulge. Continued to play an active role in stopping and containing the German panzers and infantry at Vielsalm, Bech, Rencheau, Burtonville, and Grand Halleaux. The Division was assigned under the command of the French First Army. The cannon crews played a key role in driving the enemy out of the Colmar Pocket in France and across the Rhine River. CNCO was bombed and strafed by the operationally new German ME 262 jet-propelled airplanes. Traveling north to Sevenum, Holland the cannon crews fired in support of the Maas River crossings. In Breyell, Germany cannon crews fired 750 rounds in support of the Allied crossing of the Rhine River. The crews fired in support of the offensive drive at many locations in Germany and were frequently under heavy artillery fire. Ickern, Central Germany was the last combat position. On April 21, 1945 the ETO was over for CNCO. CNCO was assigned interim occupation of Germany until relieved by the British occupying forces. CNCO was assigned to Camp Detroit, Laon, France. Served in a supply acquisition role until assigned to a Field Artillery BN as acting supply sergeant. In February of 1946 assigned to an Ordnance CO in Metz, France as supply NCO. Qualified in March 1946 with 49 points to be assigned to a Refrigeration CO returning to the USA. Entrained, embarked, and entrained from Metz, France to Camp Beale, CA. Honorably discharged as corporal April 4, 1946.
Mail Clerk, CB Co
289th Infantry Regiment 75th
24 25 26 Dec 44
The next day was bright and the sky was cloudless. Son the airplanes began to appear in the southwest. The first flight was badly hit and four came down in flames. From then on they roared over in overwhelming numbers. Dogfights would be heard high above us within the vapor trails, but we could not see them. A P-38 appeared from one of these clouds of vapor and spun round and round as the pilot apparently tried to regain control of his plane. It crashed about a mile from us in a big woods. 'Mat afternoon our guns were placed on line and we again spent an uneventful but nervous night.
The next afternoon we received our orders to move with the rest of the regiment. We were moving towards the Germans and would attack them the next morning, Christmas morning, if we were no attacked before we got there. We took a road down a narrow winding valley, driving along between two lines of riflemen. Along the ridges, on the right and the left, a line of riflemen guarded the flanks against possible attack. Along the sides of the road two lines of weary, unshaven Joes trudged along with bandoliers of M-1 ammunition strung crisscross fashion across the chests. Combat packs and hand grenades bounced up and down as they trudged along the frozen road. Long strings of K-rations dangled from packs or any other part of equipment which could be used as an anchor. Behind the line of riflemen trudged the medics with their jingling aid kits.
After moving along with the rifle companies for a short distance, we went ahead of them. We met a jeep pulling a 57 anti-tank gun in the middle of a bridge. There was not room for both vehicles and the wheels locked. By the time we had lifted the anti-gun up and let the truck get by, the rest of the convoy had gone ahead with the exception of the maintenance truck which was the last vehicle in the convoy. We soon found that we were lost and did not know in what direction to go. After numerous checks of the map and turning around many times we followed a road to within about a half-mile of Heyd, our destination. At that point the traffic got so heavy that we were unable to proceed any further. Vehicles were moving up the road that joined with the one which we were on and trucks of an armored division were hauling up the rifle companies of our regiment. One of the truck drivers said that he was taking a load of 'rock" up to the front line. After a number of short moves and waiting for about an hour, we finally go into town.
Heyd is a small town built on the side of a big hill. We could see very little as we drove up to the upper part of town and parked in front of a barn. We carried our bedrolls into the barn and went to bed on a haymow at about 9:30. At about 11:15 we were awakened and told to prepare to move out. We soon got into the trucks and moved in convoy out to the edge of the town. 'Mere we parked on a side road to let the rest of the regiment go ahead of us. Above, the hill rose sharply and was covered by a thick mass of leafless trees. Intermittently great red flashes appeared above the top of the hill and roars of artillery fire roared down into the quiet village. After about an hour of waiting we lined up the trucks and followed the line companies, up the winding road. The road led nearly straight up the lower part of the hill and then turned back under a mass of rocks to follow the hillside. It led up to the top of the hill in a general slope and then followed down a ridge between two masses of small trees and underbrush. Now we could see the flash of the guns and wondered
* Taken from WARTIME NOTES by Harold Shadday
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if it was our artillery firing or if it was German shells coming in. The road then led down along a field where the road was bounded by a couple of strands of barbed wire on each side. Then, turning to the right the road led down steeply into the village of Franzel. We got just in the edge of the town when a battery of heavy artillery on the hillside in front of us fired. We did not know it was our artillery and felt a bit nervous. We talked a few minutes with some men of the artillery unit and learned that they had been pushed back there by the German advance. We moved downtown and pulled up in a pasture behind a bam. We were shown to an old deserted house where we spread out our bedrolls in dust about two inches deep and went to sleep. That was about 3:30 on Christmas morning.
About 5:00 we were awakened and told to get into the trucks to move up to our position. Due to the fact that two of the guys were slow in getting into the truck, we lost the convoy at a fork in the road. We followed one of the roads for a few hundred yards and then turned back and came back to wait for them to come after us. We were pleased that Corner did not try to find them. Kelly and Bowsman soon came back after us and led us up to the company area. Most of Christmas Day was spent in digging in the guns, digging slit trenches, eating cold C-rations, and enjoying a warm sun. It was a rather pleasant day and we were pleased to find that combat was so nice. That afternoon some of the boys were strafed and bombed by a couple of P-38's up near the line. We could see the planes strafing from our position. In the early morning we could see the shells bursting on the hillside a few hundred yards in front of us.
The position was a concentration of artillery. Two batteries of an armored artillery battalion were located along the left side of the road that led down to our guns. Our six guns were along the right side of the road. An artillery battalion of our division had their guns behind us, to our left, and to our right. In the middle of these artillery pieces stood two houses built across the road from each other. The one across the road from our guns was occupied by some reconnaissance men and the other was occupied by some the men from the armored artillery battalion. Everything was rather quiet in our part but the guns of the armored battalion were firing to try to help one of the batteries escape where they had been surrounded a few days before. The area around the buildings were strewn with parachutes and parachute bags which had been sent down there instead of to the men who were surrounded. I dug a slit trench in the orchard and prepared to spend the nights there. I slept there the first three nights. Everything continued to be rather quiet for the first three days. On the second night a light snow fell.
About 3:00 on the third night there was a counterattack in front of us. I first learned of it about 5:00 when one of the fellows came down and asked if I was still in my slit trench. I asked him why I should not be and he told me of the counterattack. I got up and went up to the guns to learn about it and also to see the flames from the town which I was told was in flames up in front of us. About a half-hour after I got up, four of us were standing in the middle of the road thinking things over when a shell suddenly burst in the field a short distance away, probably forty yards. Four helmets rolled in the road, four carbines clattered on the frozen
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gravel, and four surprised, green men crawled into the ditch. The first one was quickly followed by a great number of others which sailed over our heads with a slight whistle and landed on the hillside behind us. After the first ten or fifteen rounds they ceased firing and I retreated behind the barn near my slit trench. Soon after daylight they began to fire again and I stayed behind the barn. Some shells hit the kitchen of one of the artillery batteries in the woods to our right and a half-track was hit in front of one of our positions with the resulting death of two men. Two first sergeants had been killed already. We became rather jumpy. We soon learned in combat to take such shelling as they came. We had a small fire burning outside the lower section of the barn and were heating C-rations over this. I had a can open and was heating it over the fire when the guns of the artillery battalion fired and I spilled the whole thing, dropped my helmet, and fell down trying to get to the barn, before I realized that it was our own firing and not incoming mail. During the morning one of our boys was hit by a small fragment of a shell, but did not report to the medics. A wire had been cut by a dud while he was up a post tying the wire to the post. The pocket of enemy troops from which the mortar shells were pouring was rapidly being destroyed, and about evening the mortar shells ceased to fall upon us.
The next few days were lively ones. The enemy had moved back, but they still knew the location of our guns. They continued to pour heavy mortar and artillery shells into the area. Winter had really set in and it snowed just about every day. 'Me roads had been turned into a solid mass of ice. The few tanks that were in the area were helpless on the slick roads. My job gave me a chance to go back to Heyd once each day, although it was sometimes late at night. A bright moon flooded the white fields with a light that nearly approached the brightness of sunlight. Low-flying German planes could be seen at night and I felt like a mountain there beneath them. We could see them so plain that it seemed incredible that they could not see us. The chow situation was very serious. The kitchen was in Heyd and we ate C-rations all of our meals except four in the two weeks or more that we were there. I went back to Heyd to get the mail each day and sometimes got there in time to get some hotcakes which the cooks seemed to always have frying. They would cook them as long as I would eat them. I usually took about ten.
The kitchen was located in the gangway of a barn and the cooks, mess sergeant, armor artificer, and supply sergeant slept in a room of a house near there. Outside the door of the barn was a tank that had its gun trained on a roadblock at a curve in the road a few hundred yards distant.
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Harold L. Shadday
I grew up on farms in southeastern Indiana. Two weeks after graduation from high school in May, 1942, I entered a business college in Indianapolis. I registered for the draft January 18, 1943. 1 received my second questionnaire January 25, and my first questionnaire January 26. 1 was sworn in March 20, 1943, two months and two days after my 18th birthday.
I reported to Ft. Benjamin Harrison March 27, 1943. The direction of my Army service had been determined before I left Ft. Harrison. I had done well on the ACCT, and could type 60 wpm. We entrained for Camp Blanding, Florida, about April 1.
I was assigned to Battery C, 871st Field Artillery, 66th Infantry Division on April 5, 1943. I was made the mail clerk and assistant battery clerk. I trained with the company and did mail, evening typing, and CQ in battalion HQ in rotation. I was assigned to Division HQ, Special Services for part of the last month in Camp Blanding.
I went to Stetson University, DeLand, Florida, August 2, 1943, the first step into ASTP. We were then sent to Rollins College on August 6, and stayed about three days.
I reached Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, August 13, 1943. I was there for two terms, leaving March 14, 1944, when nearly all "basic" students were sent to the 75th Division on maneuvers in Louisiana. I was delayed by flu in St. Louis, and arrived in the Cannon Co. 289th Reg., 75th Infantry Division area March 30.
We reached Camp Breckenridge, Kentucky, April 14, 1944. I became the mail orderly July 1, 1944. I was also the assistant company clerk. I trained with the Wire Section.
I bragged in a letter to my parents May 14 that I fired 181 out of a possible 210 with the M-1 rifle, and was high in the Company until the last set of targets. On June 4 1 fired in the Division meet, shooting 143 against a division best of 154. 1 was the highest in the novice class in the regiment, and 7th highest of all in the regiment. That's not bad for an ex-squirrel-hunter mailman.
We left Camp Breckenridge by train October 15, 1944, and arrived at Camp Shanks, New York, October 17. We left Camp Shanks October 21, sailing aboard the Franconia. We arrived in Wales November 4. We were briefly at Old Harbor, and then near Swansea.
We sailed from Southampton December 9 aboard the Leopoldville. We left the Rouen, France area December 17, and passed through Belgium arriving in Holland December 18. We came back to Belgium to meet the non-motorized part of the Division. On the night of December 20 a big tree stopped a buzz-bomb a little over 100 yards short of our billet. If the tree had not been there, we would have been hit.
We left the Tongres area December 21, and became actively involved in the Belgium Bulge Christmas morning. We were about a mile cast of Erezee for about two weeks, and were west of Vielsalm about a week, as well as other brief positions.
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We left Belgium January 26, 1945, and arrived in Ribeauville, France, January 29. We participated in the Colmar Pocket campaign, a brief, dirty, bloody campaign of which WWII historians have written almost nothing.
We started back north on a low-priority drive, and arrived in Luefelt, Belgium February 16. We went to the Sevenum-Blerick area of Holland on February 21. We stayed there until March S. We arrived on the Rhine River at Baerl March 10, 1945.
The Rhine was crossed March 28 about two miles north of our location. We crossed a day later and headed eastward. We moved almost continuously for two weeks, and then were nearly static for a week. We moved to Ludenscheid on April 21 as occupation troops for a month. We moved to Kierspe, a short distance south, May 20, and remained there until June 4. We arrived the next day at Camp Detroit, near Leon, France.
We ran a redeployment camp there, and waited to come home. I continued to take care of the mail until the Division left in October. Then I was moved to the Fire Department in the camp. I left Camp Detroit December 23, and was near Reims until New Years Eve. I arrived at Camp Lucky Strike, near Le Havre, January 1, 1946. We were aboard the M.M. Guhin for more than seventeen days before arriving in New York. I was discharged January 27, 1946.
My ASN was 3509 9814.
I have joked in my Cannon Co. bulletins about the non-heroics of being a mailman in a cannon company. My primary responsibility was mail. I also did some chores for the company clerk, stood a lot of guard, helped take food to the guns, and whatever errands came up. I was pleased with my job, so very different from those units we were supporting. I developed a great appreciation of those who were carrying the load of combat - an appreciation which exists as reverence.
No other 34 months of my life brought greater change. I entered as an eighteen-year-old of 5'9", 144 lbs, and came out as a twenty-one-year-old of 174 pounds. I feel my attitudes grew far more than three years. I used my G.I. bill (I could never have afforded college otherwise) for a bachelors degree in business at Butler University, and for part of an MBA, completed in 1965. 1 was proud to be a part of the overall effort in a good company. I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to visit with nearly fifty of those friends in recent years.
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Copyright 2001, J. R. Puckett
Email: J. R. Puckett