All of us who trained in the Infantry in World War II — every mother’s son of us — can attest to the discipline that was drilled into us. Today I look back and wonder whether it could have been otherwise. But then? Well, then, you couldn’t have expected us to like it.
I had just reached 18 when I entered the Infantry (“with dirt behind their ears”), 19 when I was baptized by combat. A little of the rebel remained in me somehow. Not withstanding the stern, even punitive warnings against GI’s keeping combat logs, I kept one.
I had more opportunity than most to compile one. Sent overseas as a heavy machine gunner, I was reassigned to heavy mortars, then made mail clerk and assistant company clerk. Having started to study journalism before being drafted, I was often detached from the front lines to write citations for Silver and Bronze Stars as well as battlefield commissions on various battered American and German typewriters. I must have batted out 15 citations.
To this day, I can recite details of some of the most sonorous deeds of my fellow combat infantrymen of Co. D, 345th Infantry. To this day, some of those deeds bring tears to my eyes.
My own combat log is somewhat cryptic, but it does evoke some of the places, names, conditions, personal feelings, and the bold sweep of the Third U.S.Army in World War II.
At first I secreted the log in my clothes. After the war, however, I carried it for awhile in my wallet, then stuffed it in drawers and suitcases wherever I lived. Without the Golden Acorn News feature and the solicitation by the Army History Institute, however, I never would have been reminded of my log.
It’s not always legible and not always clear, but its mere existence in the face of severe and repeated admonitions against keeping one is, to me, a minor miracle. For this reason I don’t think very many others will be uncovered.
|10 Oct 1944||Left Ft. Jackson, S.C. Destination Unknown.|
|11 Oct||Arrived Cp Kilmer, N.J. after daylong ride.|
|15 Oct||Left NY POE and boarded Queen Elizabeth.|
|17 Oct||Sailed. Goodbye, old gal. See you soon!|
|22 Oct||Arrived Grennoch, Scotland. Trip uneventful. Weather balmy.|
|24 Oct||Disembarked to Biddulph Moors, England.|
|25 Nov||Left Biddulph for Southhampton. Goodbye “Merrie Old England”|
|26 Nov||Set sail for France on LSI 37. Food good.|
|27 Nov||Went over the side of the LSI to an LCT at the battered port of Le Havre.|
|28 Nov||The Old Aple Orchard near Amiens. Just mud.|
|4 Dec||The “Forty and Eight” days — boxcars full of human beings.|
|6 Dec||Arrived Metz after 2 nights in cattle cars. Committed to action 2330 taking Fort Jean D’Arc. relieving Fifth Div.|
|8 Dec||Met Al, who had come from Verdun, after about two and a half years.|
|13 Dec||Left Metz by truck for Saar Basin, Rimling, Urchen, Medalsheim, and Obergailbach.|
|24 Dec||Xmas Eve. Left Saar after an eternity of Hell. Relieved by the 44th Div after much blood.|
|26 Dec||Rivouaced outside Reims, France after numbing convoy ride. Attached to 7th Army.|
|29 Dec||Crossed Belgium border at 1515, Province of Luxembourg. Snowing hard.|
|30 Dec.||This was the “Bulge”, little did we suspect it. Objectives — Jenneville and Moircy.|
|2 Jan 1945||Snow packed hard and high. Fighting hard. Living miserable. Stayed at Laneville.|
|5 Jan||Moved to Ochamps. Collected 9,500 dollars for Money Orders. Made corporal.|
|8 Jan||Left for Jenneville. Just snow..|
|10 Jan||Campaign for Bonnerue. 12 men captured from our company. Many casualties.|
|11 Jan||Back to Moircy for rest and replacements.|
|13 Jan||Defensive positions at Sprimont.|
|17 Jan||Truck convoy to Wilper, Luxembourg. Patrols sent across Our River at Echternach. Snow.|
|26 Jan||Back in convoy to Wilper, Luxembourg.|
|29 Jan||Moved into a flattened city called St. Vith. Taken by 7th Arm Div and 82nd A/B. Jumped off overland to Hume.|
|30 Jan||Carrying party of emergency rations and a mail bag full of socks 12 miles overland in knee-deep snow. Brought wounded man back. He died.|
|31 Jan||Took Hume after shelling by “88’s”.|
|3 Feb||Andler, Belgium. Poverty, snow and manure.|
|6 Feb||Moved over sea of mud to Auw, Germany.|
|7 Feb||Prepared to assault the Siegfried Line. Crossed I.P. in approach march at midnight.|
|8 Feb||Jumped off to attack Siegfried Line at 0700 from Walschied, Germany.|
|9 Feb||Men against concrete. Cracked some pillboxes. Tanks and TD’s in support. Artillery, too.|
|10 Feb||CP in house with big gaping hole at Olzheim. Jerries coming in by truckloads.|
|12 Feb||The “Screaming Meemie” days. Sniped at going up with mail. Patrols into booby-trapped woods.|
|14 Feb||Back to Auw for a rest. 9th TAC in fray.|
|19 Feb||Left Auw for the Siegfried Line again. Shelling terrific. Many close ones.|
|22 Feb||Taking and sleeping in pillboxes.|
|24 Feb||Took many small towns. One man captured.|
|27 Feb||Two men killed. 7 wounded this week in our company..|
|28 Feb||After an arduous campaign we moved to Neunstein. Not much left of it.|
|1 Mar||Infantry on tanks and TD’s to Schoenfeld.|
|3 Mar||Moving fast we hit Gonnersdorf.|
|5 Mar||On tanks to Digel, Dollendorf. Fed hot chow anytime we can catch up. Usually midnight. Brief rest here.|
|14 Mar||Moving every day and moving fast, we passed through many pretty towns untouched by war. Plenty of Schnapps and champagne.|
|16 Mar||Big move to Karich, and the drive to Coblenz started. Crossed Moselle River at Winnengen in assault boats.|
|18 Mar||Long pontoon bridge built by Engineers under smokescreen. Took Coblenz after moderate street fighting. Some casualties. Big newspaper splash.|
|23 Mar||Into woods ten miles from Boppard. Very hope ful now. Birthday today.|
|25 Mar||Took Boppard. Crossed Rhine under smokescreen after 89th Div had failed further up the river. Some casualties from “88’s”.|
|26 Mar||Pontoon bridge knocked out but we pushed in land to Dahlheim. Returned for mail and was ferried across Rhine by U.S.Navy. Snipers in Boppard, taken by 76th and 89th Divs following us.|
|27 Mar||Esback, Bettendorf, Zollhause, Gimmerich. 6th Cav Grp moving ahead of us.|
|30 Mar||Niederfelters, Butzbach, Brandoberdorf. Flushing out of woods, snipers. Trapped Regt of SS Troopers.|
|5 Apr||Obersul, the Waldfinch, Fich and Tambach.|
|8 Apr||Counter attacked. We lost some men, in 2nd Bn.|
|12 & 13 Apr||Plauen, Ehrenstein, we freed thousands of slave laborers of every nationality, daily.|
|15 & 16 Apr||Two Heinies give in to kitchen tonight. They were hungry. We moved to Judenew and Fossa.|
|17 Apr||Pausa then Plauen, the city flattened by the Air Corps. Camped in tents overlooking the city.|
|7 May||Falkenstein, false VE Day.|
|8 May||VE Day, not much excitement, though.|
 “Al” is my brother Albert, a T/5 in the 386th AAA Bn.
 See The Eagle” Drops Its Gold During Short Battle Pause for observations about the GI payroll.