Our Time in England


  • Traveling on the Queen Elizabeth, we arrived in Grenoch, Scotland on October 22nd, 1944. We then traveled by train to Alderly Edge, England. I think the whole division was stationed in small villages around Manchester.
  • While in the train station in Glasgow, one of the guys found that his fiancé was part of the welcoming group serving us coffee and doughnuts. They were certainly thrilled to see each other.
  • During our month stay in Alderly Edge we lived in large estate homes, sleeping in bunks. The PX would open some of the time, and I still have a ration card (actually this card is from my Camp Oklahoma days, but it is of the standard form).
  • At one time as I served as guard at one of the empty mansions, which had coal heating and a bath tub upstairs, I attempted to take a bath. Just as I was prepared to take my first and only bath in Europe the inspecting officer came by.
  • I had the pleasure of accompanying our trucks and anti-tank (AT) cannons on the trip from Alderly Edge to Stockbridge where we crossed the channel on Nov. 28 to arrive in Le Havre, France. I believe it was a sergeant who gave me this road guide, which we used to travel through the English countryside.
  • On the LST, while crossing the English channel. I was to guard the trucks and guns contained in the darkened ship's hole. The waves in the channel as we crossed were very high, but at least the Navy had hot coffee on deck to calm us.

 

We Move Out to Continental Europe


  • When we arrived in the Le Havre port there were German prisoners on the docks to help us unload.
  • After leaving Le Havre, France in the mud and with the wrong shoes for the job, I remember entering Metz and receiving sniper fire from across a moat (our first fire). We were in a German gun factory in which we left our duffle bags. In my case I left a number of candy bars in the duffle bag that were of no use by the time we returned.
  • As we entered the war we decided that gas masks were useless so we immediately discarded them and kept the cases. Another no-no was drinking from wells during our march from the coast while not using the tablets provided to purify the water. It was like the times in the states when we usually palmed the salt tablets before a forced march.
  • In December we were in the Saar where the weather was fairly nice, cold but no snow. It was here that we experienced our first combat and lost a number of men from our anti-tank platoon.
  • In late December we made the dash to the Ardennes. In the Ardennes we generally slept in foxholes with contour sleeping bags and added blankets. I recall one morning waking up under a foot or more of snow. At other times we crawled into our sacks with loaded 45's, in fear of being captured.
  • One event that was certainly distressing to me occurred on a hill somewhere in Belgium. The Germans where firing those large mortars at us, from across the valley, the ones that sound like a freight train. Two of our guys broke under this strain and had to be sent to the rear. I am not sure what happened to them but I expect they were section eight's.
  • At another time one of the guys thought that a self-inflicted wound would get him out sooner so he shot his foot with a rifle. Unfortunately he did this while the rest of us were sitting around in a concrete lined room. The shell ricocheted around the room missing everyone.
  • Another time one of the guys with a BAR tried to jump onto the back of a moving truck. The gun went off accidentally spraying the area behind him but no one got hurt.
  • At one time when we had nothing better to do, we decided to do a little fishing in the Rhine river using hand grenades. This method of fishing proved to be very efficient
  • While in Belgium I was sitting in a second story room with a friend who was drinking schnapps, the German equivalent of Tequila. He was leaning back in a chair near a wood stove and passed out hitting his head on a hard object that resulted in a bad wound. I immediately thought that maybe he had a case for a Purple Heart. To worsen the situation I attempted to dispose of the remains of his bottle by pouring it into the wood stove. As you might expect the whole side of the room ignited in flames.
  • Everybody gets sick at some time. I recall in one town, after we had checked out a building where we thought we could sleep that night, we found a hidden cache of wine. We were told that there was now a new rule and we would have to sleep in pup tents using our little stove heaters for warmth. I recall getting a can of applesauce from the mess, eating some, and getting deathly sick (botulism). The main problem now was getting out of the pup tent every hour or so and into the freezing weather to reach the latrine.
  • One night in the Siegfried line I had to go outside the pillbox to find relief. After crawling through a slit trench for protection, keeping my head down, I completed my chore and returned to the pillbox. When I tried to rejoin the guys inside they told me to find another spot to sleep that night.
  • During our fighting In the Siegfried line, my mail was delivered to me in the field one time. So for a brief moment I enjoyed reading my comic books behind a log as the shooting continued around us.
  • There was another interesting thing that occurred during our trip along the Reich Autobahn near the close of the war. As we passed an open and fairly flat field a couple of P51 pilots set down to see what trophies we had to exchange.
  • Finally, a pass to Paris - While in Camp Oklahoma four of us decided to take a trip to Paris on June 23rd. Two Texans, a guy from NY, and me. We stopped at various bases along the way for meals and found quarters around Rainbow corners from the USO. Romeo, our New Yorker, disappeared early down a side street. At the end of our visit we located trucks near the Eiffel tower that were returning to camp, and hid under the seats. When we got back to camp we found that our sergeant had covered up for us and all was well.
  • The Division loaded into LCI's at Le Havre and was transported to the Navy Transport "West Point". The trip home was fun, and we arrived to a tremendous reception in New York Harbor on July 11th. My mother saved a newspaper clipping announcing the West Point's arrival.

 

Waiting to board the LCI's

Waiting to board the LCI's

Boarding the USS West Point

Boarding the USS West Point

U.S. Army Star
Antitank and I Companies, 347th Infantry Regiment

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