Page 39


The Remembrances of:

Raymond C. Smith ~ William J. Sheridan ~ Robert M. Smith


REMEMBRANCE

Military Biographical Sketch

for

Raymond C. Smith

Date of birth: 29 Dec 1924 at Minneapolis, MN.

Attended two quarters of Electrical Engineering curriculum at the Institute of Technology, University of Minnesota from September 1942 thru April 1943.

In April 1943, opted for early (Voluntary Induction) entry into.  Army Meteorology School (first choice) or Navy, via the Selective Service System. ASN 37566748. Was not called until 6 weeks later but inducted at that time, 4 Jun 1943 at Fort Snelling, MN.  Entered active service in the Army on 10 Jun 1943 (due to the absence of vacancies within the first two services selected - a common circumstance encountered by naive SS voluntary inductees of the time) at that station. Within two weeks was transferred to D Company of the 710th MP Bn, Seventh Service Command, ZI, garrisoned at Fort Snelling. Served there as MP and later as Post Bugler (because of trumpet skills listed on Service Record) until September or early October 1943.

Circa October 1943, transferred to ASTP "STAR" unit at Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA to await re-assignment to a U.S. Army contract college for engineering training within the ASTP system

Circa January 1944, transferred to ASTP unit, City College of New York in New York City and began a short sequence of engineering training. It lasted only two quarters ... until June 1944 ... before the entire ASTP program was abandoned by the Army. All students within it were thereupon reassigned at the convenience of the Army. [Many of those who had been enrolled in New York colleges were assigned to the 75th Division, though some at CCNY with surnames in the early part of the alphabet (e.g., "A" through "M") allegedly went to the 106th Infantry Division.]

In June 1944 joined AT Co.. of the 75th Div's 290th Infantry Regiment via Shreveport, Louisiana then on maneuvers near Camp Polk. That exercise ended soon thereafter, when the division moved to Camp Breckinridge, KY for further training and presumably, outfitting.

Trained as member of 57mm ("British 6-pounder") antitank gun crew in 1st Squad, 1st Platoon of AT Co. Later in summer, transferred to HQ Platoon as understudy to Reconnaissance Sergeant and as the CO's (Capt Walter E. Brown) runner.

14 Oct 1944 with rest of 75th Division enroute by train to POE staging area at Camp Shanks, NY.

22 Oct 1944 embarked USAT Brazil from Staten Island, NY, for Swansea, Wales, arriving there c. I Nov 1944.

1 Nov 1944, arrived Porthcawl, South Wales. AT Co occupies expanded facilities of civilian hotel at this seaside resort village and resumes training routine.

10 Dec 1944, training ends and AT Co leaves [probably in its own vehicles] from Parthcawl for POE, Southampton, England.

13 Dec 1944, AT Co. arrives near Fr6ville, France via port of Le Havre. Stay overnight in shelter-half tents pitched on muddy slope. Arrival point also given as Yvetot, France in 290th Combat Diary.

19 Dee 1944, 290th leaves assembly area.

20 Dee 1944, AT Co. bivouacs overnight in Belgian Army barracks, Charleroi, Belgium.

21 Dec 1944, AT Co., the 290th and probably the rest of the 75th is en route by motor convoy to Aachen, Germany, allegedly to relieve the 29th Inf. Div. and experience battle-baptism. Arrive Hoeselt, Belgium in cold rain c. 22 December.

22 Dee 1944, (midnight), 290th (et al) depart for Bulge area, Biron, Belgium.

Note: Details for the balance of this chronology taken from the memoranda noted below.

Contents of Raymond C. Smith's "Diary"

for the period

11 November 1944 to 27 June 1945

as a member of

HQ Plt, AT Co., 290th Inf Reg., 76th Infantry Division

--Compiled 13 April 1992 from forbidden notes

(kept anyway), wherein the spellings of the

French, Belgian, Dutch, and German towns cited

may be more phonetic than accurate .... RCS

 

circa

12-23-1944

En route to Biron. Somme Les Rieux. Sniper captured, shot. Full scale retreat going on. Lots of damaged U.S. vehicles carrying wounded in the opposite direction. We don't know why. [It's the Ardennes Bulge.]

12-24-1944

Arrive Biron, Belgium

 ??

At Ny for 14 days. Close hit from V-1 broke windows of quarters (a tavern-like billet).

circa

Soy.... encountered demented civilian woman. Sad.

Narrative continues past the 24 25 26 Dec 1944 period.

Awards

Combat Infantryman Badge

57mm JOB Exp

Bronze Star Medal

European-African-Middle East Service Medal with 3 Battle stars

American Service Medal

Good Conduct Modal

Arms of the City of Colmar

Rank: Technician 5th Grade


REMEMBRANCES

William J. Sheridan

1st Platoon, Anti Tank Company

290th Infantry, 75th Infantry Division

24 25 76 Dec 44

The 290th Infantry, after a motor march from the vicinity of Le Havre, France, arrived in the Ardennes about December 22. The regiment was placed in reserve in the vicinity of Durbuy.

Our platoon was led by Lt. Dalton Raze and our squad leader was Sgt. Alex Moir. Early on December 24 we left our reserve area and moved east in the direction of Hotton. As I recall, our mission was to attack some 600 SS troopers who were reported to be surrounded nearby. An alert for strafing German aircraft was maintained during this movement. As for emotion, a sense of excitement and of unreality prevailed as one faced the probability that this was really "it".

In mid morning we established a road block on the main road that runs west from Hotton, about one mile from that town. We were in support of a platoon from L Company.

December 24 had dawned crystal clear with heavy frost after a long period of rainy cloudy weather. High over head the air action was intense while our P47 dive bombers were very active to our left.  The German reaction was sporadic anti aircraft fire from 20mm guns situated within a mile of our position. In the early afternoon we witnessed the low level destruction of a P47 by a Me. 109 directly to our front.

Although surrounded by the sounds of artillery and tank fire we saw no action at our road block and at about 1700 hours, we moved down into Hotton.

Our hopes for a cozy night in town were soon shattered by receipt of the order to fill canteens and mount up for immediate deployment. Along with other squads of the 290 AT CO we were dispatched to cover the Hotton-Soy road which runs roughly north south along a ridge line.

Our 57mm anti tank gun covered the road from a position west of the road in the middle of a large open field, about one mile north of Hotton. Lt. McElroy's second platoon covered the area close to Soy. Along the road and in the fields were four US tanks destroyed on December 23 or 24, an action described by MacDonald in his book "A Time for Trumpets". At that time, we believed ourselves to be entirely alone on that road but in the morning we found that a force from the 517th Parachute Infantry was deployed along the ridge line.

The sound of motorcycles on the next ridge to the east alerted us to the proximity of the Germans. We prepared our position during the night and generated some noise with our tools. The Germans began firing at us from a tank or a self propelled gun. Because we were in the defilade below the ridge all of the shells passed closely over head and exploded in the field behind us. Shrapnel from one of these shell pierced a can of fruit I had placed on the edge of our foxhole. The war was now becoming very real and personal. Also very cold and sleepless.

At approximately 2300 hours a fierce fire fight erupted to our right front as K Company opened their assault on the Germans dug in on the next ridge. In terms of violence and the flight of tracers it surpassed anything we had experienced in training. Some of the German fire passed over our heads.  By the next morning- we had already learned of the high costs of this attack.

On Christmas Day, about noon, we were dive bombed by a P38 of the US Air Force. The single bomb took the life of my foxhole partner, Karl Sieg and severely wounded our Corporal, Nick Uremovich.

About January 3 we moved about a mile east along the road to Beffe. This was the approximate position occupied by the Germans on December 24. 1 was greatly moved to discover the bodies of two riflemen, probably from K Company, who had penetrated close to the top of the ridge and far to the left of the Beffe Road. I notified our Company Headquarters who presumably notified the graves registration people. These are my recollections of the events of December 24, 25, 26, 1944.

In 1970 I returned to again walk the fields where these events occurred. The appearance of the land had changed little from 1944. Incongruously, brightly colored campers' tents dotted the field over which K Company had pressed their attack.

A Poignant reminder of the events of 1944 was a small monument erected at the roadside and dedicated to an American soldier, John Shields. A local farmer informed me that John Shields' remains had not been discovered until 1948. The villagers had been so touched by this event that they had erected the monument as a token of their appreciation for his sacrifice. PFC John Shields was reported MIA in December 1944 by his unit in the 3d Armored Division. His remains were sent home to Texas for burial.

William J. Sheridan

Euclid, OH

May 1994

MILITARY HISTORY

WILLIAM J. SHERIDAN

Born, January 25, 1924

ASN 32 914 328

Inducted into the army April,1943 in home town, Newark, New Jersey.  Reported to Fort Dix, New Jersey for processing and then joined a large contingent of draftees on a train destined for Camp Blanding, Florida to staff the newly created 66th Infantry Division. I was assigned to G Company, 263rd Infantry Regiment for training as a rifleman.  Attained the designation of Sharpshooter on the rifle range with both the '03 and M1rifles.  My greatest disappointment was missing the Expert rating by 2 points in the one time we shot -for record.

In AugLtst,1943 was chosen to attend the Army Specialist Training Program (ASTP) and assigned to Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York to pursue a course in basic engineering. The ASTP program was sharply cut in March of 1944 as the army fleshed-out the divisions in Europe in preparation for the invasion. The ASTP units were assigned to various divisions in the United States as replacements for the privates from these divisions who were being diverted to Europe.

The Pratt Institute ASTP unit was transported, intact, via Canada to Camp Polk, Louisiana where the 75th Infantry Division was on maneuvers.  Despite my training as a rifleman, I was assigned to the Anti-Tank Company of the 290th Regiment. It seems that Capt. Costinett had passed the word that he wanted big men to wrestle the heavy 57mm guns about.

I weighed 160 pounds but must of looked larger to the officers who interviewed each ASTP arrival for his assignment within the 75th.

In April 1944, maneuvers ended and the Division moved to Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky for training and to absorb the large inflow of transferees including former air cadets. This for me, included a very pleasant trip to Fort Fisher, South Carolina for anti aircraft firing of the .50 caliber machine gun. My basic job was assistant gunner on the 57mm gun.

By October the Division was again on the move to Camp Shanks. New York and a one night pass for all to New York City. Thence by train and ferry to Staten Island where the liner Brazil awaited us. On Sunday, October 20, in perfect Indian Summer weather, the Brazil proceeded down the Narrows to join her convoy for the voyage to Europe.

After landing at Swansea, Wales about November 2, the Anti Tank Company was billeted at a rest home for miners in Porthcawl, Wales a resort community on Bristol Bay.  While our preparations for joining the battles on the mainland were intense, all enjoyed the active social life of Porthcawl which revolved around the large dance hall in town.  A three day pass to London was also memorable.

Thanksgiving was celebrated in Porthcawl but in early December we moved to Southampton and then, on an ancient British liner, we reached Le Havre. Our landing there, via landing nets and LCI's, was exciting.

On December 16, as the word of the German offensive in Belgium filtered down we were ordered to double all guards at our encampment outside of Le Havre. 

Two days later, after transporting the rifle companies to the railroad we were in a road convoy via Charleroi and Namur to Hasselt Belgium.  There the drone of buzz bombs passing over head impressed on us the proximity of the war. Our short stay in Hasselt was memorable for the hospitality of the families with whom we were billeted.

The 75th Division was initially assigned to a reserve corps with the 3rd Armored Division and other units by Field Marshall Montgomery. We were not committed to action until December 24 when we supported the third Battalion of the 290th in their move into Hotton and their night attack outside of Hotton. On December 25 our position was dive bombed by a P38 of the US Air- Force and suffered one KIA and one seriously wounded.

By late January we had moved with the 29oth as far as Vielsalm. On January 25, I was evacuated with severe frost bite to Liege and then to a large hospital in Paris.  For this reason I missed the Colmar campaign.  After two weeks (no passes to Paris) I was on a train to rejoin the Company in Germany, in position on the wrest bank of the Rhine just south of Witten. As the build up for the crossing progressed we received sporadic shelling with one squad member wounded. 

On March 23 the crossing took place after a tremendous artillery bombardment. Unexpectedly, we were ordered across on the following day with the city of Hamm as the objective. However this thrust moved only about ten miles to the vicinity of Dorsten. From this point the Division was involved in the encirclement of the the Ruhr. Witten, Dortmund and Solingen were some of the cities captured by the 290th. On Easter Sunday (April 1) our weapons carrier struck a land mine near Recklinghausen.  I Sustained a back injury and others were more seriously wounded. We were back in action in about two days.

After the surrender of the German forces in the Ruhr the Anti Tank Company was assigned to occupation in Hohenlimberg, a small town in the Ruhr valley. In June we were moved to a location near Reims. France toset up Camp Lucky Strike established to process troops being redeployed.  My back problem grew worse and I was hospitalized eventually entering Halloran General Hospital on Staten Island. I selected the option of a discharge and treatment under a VA program. I left the service on November 2,1945 and in 1946 underwent a mostly successful operation to correct the back injury.

Medals and decorations include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, European African Middle East Campaign, Good Conduct, Combat Infantry Badge.


REMEMBRANCES

Robert M. Smith

2d Squad, 1st Platoon

Anti-Tank Co. 290th Inf. Regt.

75th Infantry Division

24 25 26 Dec 44

THE ARDENNES FOREST, BELGIUM

December 24

The 290th Combat Team of the 75th Infantry Division was assembled in an area in and around Biron, Belgium. During the morning of December 24, the 1st Platoon of AT Company led by 1st Lt. Del Raze set up road blocks on the road running north from Hotton to Biron. We saw no enemy in our vicinity but we could hear the sound of heavy shelling to our south. Occasionally, some of the tanks of the 3rd Armored Division would pass where the 2nd Squad gun was dug in at the edge of the road.  The 290th was attached to the 3rd Armored and I wondered if I would run into my brother who was a tank commander with the 3rd Armored. Time and circumstances did not permit me to pursue finding him and I did not learn until many mail calls later that he had already been evacuated to England.

Late in the afternoon of the same day we withdrew from the roadblock positions and assembled in a small farm house near Hotton to be briefed on our next mission. We were to set up positions in the vicinity of the town of Ny, Belgium to defend the Soy-Hotton Road against a break through by German tanks in the immediate area. At the briefing I can recall being told to synchronize our watches and that there was a complaint about a shortage of watches in the 2nd squad. Someone in the group facetiously suggested that if you needed a watch, take one from a dead German. I sometimes wonder why after fifty years, I still remember this trivial incident. 

Lt. Raze directed the platoon's three 57mm guns to be placed in a large clearing facing the Soy-Hotton Road. I remember a wooded area to our rear and to our right flank. The Ist Squad was perhaps 75 yards on the left flank of the 2nd Squad Gun and we had visual contact. At the time, I was assistant gunner on the #2 gun. I do not recall the placement of #3 gun so perhaps we did not have visual contact. I can remember the bitter cold, the snow and the frozen earth making it next to impossible to dig in the guns. The noise our tools made in placing the guns drew enemy fire but fortunately we suffered no casualties. The Germans could probably hear us better than see us. The ground was so frozen and rocky, I found it impossible to dig my own foxhole and finally settled for a "crouch" hole close to the gun. I recall that night as never ending. S/Sgt. Rivetti, our squad leader, ordered half the squad on the alert and the other half resting, changing shifts every two hours until dawn. The night finally ended and we were spared any conflict with the German tanks.

December 25

Christmas Day dawned bright and clear repeating the bitter temperatures of the pervious day. Capt. Rudy Gillen, our CO, inspected our gun position in the early A.M. and made a promise of hot chow which was later kept. Capt. Gillen observed by shallow foxhole and advised to keep at it. Another piece of useless trivia in my memory bank.

About mid-day a flight of P38's appeared overhead for which we were at first grateful. However, a single pilot mistook our positions for the enemy lines and dive bombed the #1 gun position killing PFC Carl Seig and blowing off a leg of Cpl. Nick Uremovich. Carl Seig was AT Company's first KIA.  Years later I read "A Time for Trumpets" about a flight of P38's on Christmas Day that mistakenly bombed and strafed a formation of U.S. armor thinking they were Germans. I wonder now if the P38 that bombed AT Company was part of this same group.

December 26

I draw a blank on remembering any event of note on the day after Christmas. Maybe it was a repeat of many days in the Ardennes that winter. Or perhaps we can only remember the grief we all felt at losing Carl Seig and the maiming of Nick Uremovich on the previous day. 

AT Company held the defense line in the Ny area for the remainder of December and early in January 1945 we moved to new positions on the road to Beffe, Belgium.

Robert M. Smith

Sarasota, FL

May 1994

MILITARY HISTORY

Robert M. Smith

Date of Birth: 08 December 1924

ASN: 3287 6362

I was sworn into the Army as a voluntary inductee at Grand Central Palace, New York City on 27 March 1943. 1 reported for active duty at Camp Upton, Long Island, New York on 03 April 1943.  After processing, I transferred to Camp Croft, Spartanburg, South Carolina for basic training in an Infantry rifle company. Upon completion of basic, I qualified for the ASTP program and was sent to the STAR unit at Clemson University, Clemson, So. Carolina for further evaluation and testing.  I was then assigned to Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York where I completed two terms of basic engineering.

After completion of the second term, the Army disbanded the ASTP program and I, along with many of my classmates, were transferred to the 75th Infantry Division then on maneuvers in the vicinity of Camp Polk/Shreveport, Louisiana. I was assigned to Anti-Tank Company, 290th Infantry Regiment along with Bill Sheridan, a classmate from Pratt. The remainder of our ASTP group were assigned to other units of the 75th, mostly to line companies and we. had little contact with each other thereafter. Maneuvers completed, the division moved to Camp Breckinridge, KY for additional training. I was placed in the 2nd Squad, Ist Platoon, AT Company - 290th and trained as a gun crewman on a 57mm (British Six Pounder) anti tank gun. As part of my duties during this period, I was assigned by then 1st Sgt. Woodard to assist him as orderly room clerk in keeping company records and processing paper work. (1st Sgt. Woodard did not type.)

In mid October 1944, 1 returned to my squad full time as the Division moved to Camp Shanks, New York, an overseas staging area. About a week later we embarked aboard the army transport Brazil from Staten Island, New York, arriving at Swansea, Wales early in November 1944. We were billeted in an old but quaint hotel in Porthcawl, Wales (a seaside resort) and continued training there until mid December 1944 when the Division left for the continent via Southampton, England to Le Havre, France.

After several days in the assembly area in France, AT Company motor marched into Belgium and was committed to combat in the Battle of the Bulge on 24 December 1944 in the vicinity of Ny, Belgium.  Various campaigns followed: south to the Colmar Pocket; then north into Holland for the Rhine crossing in late March 1945; and finally into Germany. 

AT Company arrived in Hohenlimburg, Germany in late April 1945 and was assigned duties as an army of occupation. I worked for 1st Lt. Del Raze, my platoon leader who headed the local military intelligence office screening German men of military age. In the last days of fighting many Germans who should have been prisoners of war deserted their units, discarded their uniforms and assumed civilian status in an effort to return to their homes. This screening activity continued in Hohenlimburg until early June 1945 when AT Company was relieved by units of the British Army and we departed -for Camp St. Louis, a tent city near Reims, France.

In late June 1945, 1 was transferred along with 1st Platoon members, Norfleet, Hilton and Rivetti to AT Company, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division at Camp Lucky Strike, another tent city, where the 2nd Division was assembling for return to Texas and eventual deployment to the Pacific theatre. While I was in Texas, I was given furlough and was at home with my family in Brooklyn when the two A-Bombs were loosed on Japan. The war ended soon thereafter but because I had insufficient points for discharge, I was transferred out of the 2nd Division and assigned to recruiting duty in the Chicago, Illinois area. I spend my days sitting in various U.S. Post Office lobbies signing up potential army applicants. It was altogether not bad duty compared to life in a foxhole. Finally, my point score was sufficient and I transferred to Fort Dix, New Jersey for separation from the service on 09 January 1946.

Awards:

Bronze Star

European-African-Middle East Medal w/ 3 Battle Stars

American Service Medal

WWII Victory Medal

Good Conduct Medal

Combat Infantryman Badge

Arms of the City of Colmar

Qualified:

Expert - 57mm Gun - Mortar - Carbine

Sharpshooter - Pistol

Marksman - Rifle

Rank:

Corporal


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Copyright 2001, J. R. Puckett
Email: J. R. Puckett
Revised: 03/11/02