103D INFANTRY DIVISION


Historical Note

All Military Unit Designations ending in "st" (First) employ "st" in the official abbreviation, e.g.
1st Infantry Division.

All Military Unit Designations ending in "th" (Fifth) employ "th" in the official abbreviation, e.g.
5th Infantry  Division.

All Unit designations ending in "nd" or "rd" ( Second, Third) drop the "n"  or "r" in the official abbrevation, e.g. 2d and 3d Infantry Divisions.

Why?

You have heard the saying, "There is a right way, a wrong way, and the army way."
Well, this is the ARMY way."

There is not now and there never has been a 103rd Infantry Division.

It is 103d, ...  louder...... 103d ,....... one more time ..... 103d !

If you have had it wrong all these years, you are in good company.

Our own organization called itself The 103rd Infantry Division of  WWII for many years.

We are running out of time.  Please try to get it right from now on.

Acknowledgment:

Thanks to William F. Barclay for collecting and organizing much of this material and to the many men of the 103d Infantry Division Signal who's interesting observations are interspersed herein. Their comments will be highlighted in color throughout this report. If there are back to back comments from different people, a second deeper blue will be used to help the reader sort them out.

BACKGROUND

The Army Divisions are divided into three groups.
From the vaunted 1st Infantry Division to the 25th Infantry Division comprise the United States Army.  The 26th Infantry Division to the 76th Infantry Division  comprise the National Guard. Everything above this from the 77th Infantry Division to the highest count that I ever heard of, (the unfortunate 106th Infantry Division) comprise the National Army.  These last divisions are usually activated only in time of war.

 From 1921 until activation in 1942, the 103d was a reserve division in the Mountain West, with units in Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico.  The division insignia consists of a yellow disc with a green Saguaro cactus superimposed upon a patch of blue, and was adopted in 1922 when this
reserve division had its headquarters in Denver, Colorado. The yellow disc represents a golden sky, while the green cactus growing out of the blue sage-covered earth characterizes the southwest.

The emblem of the division, the Saguaro cactus, is symbolic of the saguaro of Arizona, the only state in which it flourishes.  The emblems of the individual units reflect this history, such as the Arizona Copper Star of the 409th, the American Indian Zia Sun Symbol of both the 410th and the 384th Artillery, the Snowy Mountain Peaks of the 411th, and the proud motto of the 383rd Artillery: "The West Never Fails."

 Once the division went off to war in 1942, it never returned to its original homeland.  After World War II, reserve units of the 103d were scattered around the upper midwest, including Iowa, North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin, until deactivated in 1959.





 To introduce timely information and to give significant background information, excerpts from the official records of the 103d Infantry Division and the 103d Division Signal Company will be included in this form.

103D INFANTRY DIVISION
TRAINING YEAR - 1943
STAFF ASSIGNMENTS
 
 

Camp Claiborne During Activation and Organization.

  On August 8, 1942 parts of the division were reorganized. The 103d Division Artillery Band and the 411th Infantry Regiment Band were disbanded and in their place the 103d Infantry Division Band was activated.

  Other organizations activated were Headquarters Special Troops; 103d Infantry Division, Medical Detachment; Cannon Company, 409th Infantry; Cannon Company, 410th Infantry and Cannon Company, 411th Infantry.

  First change in the original general staff had occurred November 27, 1942, when Maj. Russell R. Lord (0253043) was announced as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, to take the place of Col. Garrison B. Coverdale (017148), who was transferred to an overseas assignment.  Major Lord, of Alton, Ill., an artillery officer, had reported to the 103d Division November 24, and the next day was detailed  to the General Staff Corps with Troops and assigned to the division general staff.

  December, 1942 was a month of organization for the newly-activated 103d Infantry Division.  The bulk of filler replacements reported from reception centers to bring the division to full strength.  Further schooling of the cadre, reception, classification and assignment of more than 13,000 new men, and complete occupation of the division's area at Camp Claiborne were accomplished.

  The division began its basic training of the fillers, raw recruits, 4 January 1943, under the Mobilization Training Program.  Basic training was conducted for thirteen weeks until April 3, 1943.

  Unit training was held from 10 April to 26 June 1943. On 19 April  construction of the Mock Village (Combat in Villages Course), Infiltration Course, and Close Combat Course was completed and the courses placed in operation to train troops of the division.  The Army Ground Forces (AGF) Physical Fitness Test was given to the personnel of the division during the period 7-12 June 1943.

  During 1943 the division was visited by the Third Army and Army Ground Forces commanders.  On May 6, Lt. Gen. Courtney H. Hodges, commanding general, Third Army, inspected the division in training at Camp Claiborne.  The late Lt. Gen. Leslie J. McNair, commanding general, Army Ground Forces, (he was declared "late" sometime after 1943 and before this report was made) arrived at the Army Air Base at DeRidder, La., 18 October to visit the maneuver area, and the 103d Division was among the units he inspected. Combined training of units was conducted  27 June until 4 September 1943.
 
 

 "Borrowed" from Cactus Caravan (c.1944)


During the phase of combined training, the division moved by motor march on August 8 and 9 to an area west of Camp Claiborne near Slagle, Simpson and Hineston, La., for "D" Series maneuvers.  The first three problems were controlled.  In these the division moved against one of its infantry battalions.  The last three problems were free maneuvers, in which two combat teams of the division moved against the third combat team.  The division returned to Camp Claiborne on September 2-4 and prepared to participate in Third Army maneuvers.
  Movement to the Third Army maneuver area by motor march was begun on the morning of September 15, and the division closed in bivouac in the vicinity of Hawthorne, La., late in the afternoon of September 17, 1943.

  In the first phase of the Fourth Maneuver Period, from September 20 to 30, a series of four field exercises, so-called flag exercises, was conducted under the control of Third Army Director Headquarters to afford the division commander the opportunity to train his division as a complete organization.  Combined training was furthered by attachment of special units such as additional field artillery, antiaircraft automatic weapons battalions and tank destroyer battalions.
  Following the flag exercises, a series of six phases of  two-sided maneuvers was held.

  In Phase 2, the 103d Division initially remained concealed while the 102d Division opposed the VIII Corps, commanded by Maj. Gen. Daniel I. Sultan and composed of the 99th and 84th Divisions.

  Maj. Gen. John B. Anderson then took command of the Provisional XXI Corps, and the 103d, moving to the flank of the 102d, participated in a Corps attack.

  In Phase 3, the 84th defended against the VIII Corps, commanded by General Sultan and composed of the other three divisions.  The 103d and the 102d attacked abreast, the 103d on the left (south) blank. The 99th, marching by night, enveloped from the north.

  In Phase 4, the VIIICorps, commanded by General Sultan and composed of the 102d and 103d Divisions, attacked the Provisional XXI Corps, commanded by Maj. Gen. Charles C. Haffner, Jr.  The XXI Corps conducted a delaying action for two days, the 99th Division opposing the 102d and 103d Divisions. It then counter-attacked with two divisions, the 84th Division (which had been attached later) and the 99th Division.

  In Phase 5, the 103d defended against the other three divisions, which comprised the VIII Corps under the command of General Sultan.

  In Phase 6, the 99th defended the river line against the XIX Corps, commanded by Maj. Gen. Willis D. Crittenger, which had replaced the VIII Corps Headquarters.  In this operation, the 99th and the 84th attacked the bridgehead with the 103d enveloping on the right, making two night marches.  This was followed by a river crossing as a continuation of the attack on the bridgehead.
  Phase 7 was a repetition of Phase 5, with the 102d defending.  The 103d was the interior division of the attacking force, composed of the XIX Corps (84th, 99th and 103d Infantry Divisions).
 
 


 All during the training and maneuver period following the initial basic training of the soldiers that joined the division to fill out its full quota of qualified men, men were chosen for special initial or supplementary technical training.  Some of this training took place at special training centers away from Camp Claiborne, e.g. Fort Monmouth Signal Training Center, etc.

 Upon the close of Army maneuvers November 15, the  division moved into non tactical bivouac near Merryville, La., and three days later began, by rail and motor march, its permanent change of station to Camp Howze, Texas.

 The division closed in Camp Claiborne at 0501 November 23, 1943.  The units of the division arrived at Camp Howze at different times because of various times of departure.  The Signal Company was a unit that arrived earlier than most.

 The completion in November 1943 of maneuvers and the transfer of the 103d Division to Camp Howze initiated the process of seriously preparing the Division and the Signal Company for active service in the war being waged in Europe.

 The planning for deployment of the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps forces to overseas assignments for initial engagements, reinforcements, reserve status, etc. and the actual utilization of our forces had been going on for some time. It is probable that just a few of these high level moves, events, and strategies were noticed or completely understood by the officers and men of the 103d Division and the many other similar units in training.

 One thing was apparent, the focus of the U.S. forces was to bring to full combat readiness as many infantry divisions as possible and to send them to England or elsewhere for the invasion.
 The realization that the 103d Infantry division was being prepared to actually be committed to combat brought an urgency to all the units of the division, including those somewhat isolated Special Troop companies.

NANEY
 After Claiborne, we moved from Louisiana to Texas by motor carrier and it was good to get away from Louisiana.  But Camp Howze was a different story altogether... more discipline and more training.  But aren't you glad you had it when we got into trouble?  It served all people the same, and we had a lot of work ahead of us in the next year or two.

 Gainesville, Texas, where you could only find booze in an elevator in the hotel.  But Dallas or Ft. Worth was a different story altogether, right?  The Bounty Ballroom in Dallas was glorious, as well as helpful in many ways.  And then there was Pirate's Cave in Ft. Worth, such beauties in there, and when you were A.W.O.L. in Ft. Worth you paid dearly for it.  I know...I had four days hard labor and 30 days restriction.  Those rocks on the sidewalks didn't grow there.  Me and another guy put them there and whitewashed them.  Such fun.  They all came from around the water tower.  Then we had latrine duty with all of it.  Beautiful.  Ha Ha!

During the division reunion in Dallas, a "home coming picnic" and parade had been organized by the people of Gainesville, Texas for us.  It included a bus tour of the site of old Camp Howze.  Most of the structures have long since disappeared, only the areas of the water towers were most clearly defined - they gave some of the sharper minds a bearing for finding significant land marks including the Signal Company site which had one of the water towers in a corner of the motor pool.

 In the park at Gainseville a dedication of a memorial to the men who had trained and served with the divisions that had past through Camp Howze was held.

 It should not be surprising that men who had served at Howze had found roots there and had established families in Gainesville.  Some of them had important positions in the thriving community.
 
 

About Camp Howze

 All during the training and maneuver period following the initial basic training of the soldiers that joined the division to fill out its full quota of qualified men, men were chosen for special initial or supplementary technical training.  Some of this training took place at special training centers away from Camp Claiborne, e.g. Fort Monmouth Signal Training Center, etc.

 Upon the close of Army maneuvers November 15, the  division moved into non tactical bivouac near Merryville, La., and three days later began, by rail and motor march, its permanent change of station to Camp Howze, Texas.

 The division closed in Camp Howze at 0501 November 23, 1943.  The units of the division arrived at Camp Howze at different times because of various times of departure.  The Signal Company was a unit that arrived earlier than most.

During the 1995 division reunion in Dallas, a "homecoming picnic" and parade had been organized by the people of Gainesville, Texas for us.  It included a bus tour of the site of old Camp Howze.  Most of the structures have long since disappeared, only the areas of the water towers were most clearly defined - they gave some of the sharper minds a bearing for finding significant land marks including the Signal Company site.

 In the park at Gainseville a dedication of a memorial to the men who had trained and served with the divisions that had past through Camp Howze was held.

 It should not be surprising that men who had served at Howze had found roots there and had established families in Gainesville.  Some of them had important positions in the thriving community.

 Camp Howze was one of many temporary U.S. Army training camps that sprang up during the mobilization period just before and after the United States entered the war after Pearl Harbor Day, December 7,1941.  Most locations were chosen to be away from population centers in the states west of the Mississippi River; Texas, Louisiana and California had several each.

 Howze was located on the plains and gently rolling hills south of the Red River that formed the Texas-Oklahoma border.  The nearest town was Gainesville, Texas.  The most attractive population center was Denton, Texas a few miles farther south.

 Denton was the site of the North Texas State Teachers College (NTSC) and Texas State College for Women (TSCW).  All of the student body at TSCW and most of the student body at coeducational NTSC were young, attractive, charming, southern ladies. It was a popular setting for the soldiers seeking various types of knowledge, carnal and otherwise.

 The first men to be trained at Camp Howze were in the 84th Infantry Division, that had been reactivated at the beginning of World War II after having been inactive since its service in France during the first World War.

These men came into a camp that was still in the processing of being made livable for normal human beings - an ongoing effort that was never really accomplished until possibly some time after the last of the 103d Division had left for a "European Interlude".

 In August of 1942, the 84th surely must have had all of the problems and discomfort and much more to complain about than did the next division, the 86th that rushed in just as the  84th was hurriedly sent off to try to improve the war effort.

 The cadre of the 86th, the Black Hawk Division arrived in November of 1942 to take advantage of whatever carryover lessons they could get from the departing 84th officers and non-commissioned officers. The men of the 86th started their training at Howze and then had a stretch of field maneuvers in Louisiana before being shipped to Camp Pendleton in California in preparation for duty in the Pacific Theater.

 The overall Allied strategy dictated that the war in Europe should be given  priority, so the 86th was redirected to the east coast and sent to France to become part of General Patton's 3rd Army fight force.

 In November 1943 the 103d Infantry Division, the last division to train there, arrived at Camp Howze after a motor march from Camp Claiborne and the Louisiana Maneuver Area where they had been in training.

 The combination of the tar-paper walls and the inefficient, smelly, dirty coal heating made the winter of 1943 at Camp Howze almost as pleasant as the winter of 1944 in the Vosge mountains of France.

 But, the nearness of Denton with its ample supply of college girls seeking educational opportunities and Dallas (BIG D.) which had everything did make the off duty hours more bearable - some said "really enjoyable".

 The many Service Clubs at Howze had plenty of girls at the week-end socials, enough to even draw out the bashful "wall flower" soldiers.   There were lots of young fellows in the army, most of them away from home and family for the very first time. The aggressive training of the duty hours - eye gouging, groin kicking, etc. just didn't seem to have been much help in social situations.

 In the 9 months at Howze many romances blossomed and many military weddings took place in the 11 Unit Chapels of the camp.

 Almost every home in Gainesville took in an army wife, with or without kitchen privileges.  Many solders "went home" every evening for whatever domestic life that was possible.

 There was less "aid and comfort" for the single soldiers in Gainesville with its small cafes and a few meeting places, a stone-dry town.  There were two USO (United Service Organization) meeting and entertainment halls that did help but it just didn't compare to the action and excitement of Oklahoma City to the north or Dallas to the south.


 
 

"Borrowed" from Cactus Caravan (c.1944)



Preparation for the departure of the 103d Division from Camp Howze and the trip from Camp  Howze to France is best told through the recollections of men of the 103d Signal Company.

COLLINS
 When the 103d was alerted for overseas duty, Captain Beck - who was one sharp Captain - had been looking over my form 20 and he talked me into taking the Construction platoon back to Europe.

 I had been in the army for some time (and had some most unusual experiences in the United States and overseas, including the first days of the war in the Pacific and the early days of the war in Europe!).

 I did my 13 weeks of basic training at the Presidio of Monterey, California overlooking Cannery Row. Basic was a vacation for me since the high school military was so much stricter, and where I grew up, we "cut our teeth on the sights of a gun".

 I was sent to Ft. Monmouth for Dial Telephone Installer and Repair training. I was first in my class and had the option to choose my next training.  I chose Dial Central Office Installation and Maintenance.

 For the completion of that course, I was sent back to my unit in California and assigned to the Bell Telephone school in nearby Richmond.  I was the only G.I. in the school, all of the other students were "Ma. Bell" personnel.  As part of the training, we were assigned to go into the field for practical experience.

  During one of these field experience days, we were learning about pole-line installations, etc. when the field instructor fell out of a tree and broke his arm.  I took the guy to the hospital and then went back to my other assignment of installing telephones, I was in full military uniform.  The lady customer was suspicious of my appearance and called the police. I was taken off to jail, the cops wouldn't believe anything I said for some period of time.

 After completing this civilian course, I joined a Composite Company selected by M.O.S. (Military Operating Specialty) that was being sent to the Philippines to install permanent telephone equipment for use by the Army.

 We assembled in Pearl Harbor to get our equipment, etc.  On 6 December 1941, about 1400 hours we left Pearl Harbor on one of the commercial President Lines passenger ships. All of the passengers were civilians except 228 military men.

 Signal personnel at the time were armed with Army .45 caliber automatics - the only guns on board.

 About 2000 hours on 8 December we were notified of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  Our ship was turned around and headed back toward the west coast, bypassing Pearl Harbor and sailing a zig zagging course as a defense against submarines.  We landed in San Diego five days later.

 Back on firm ground, each of us was given a strip map, put on a passenger train and told to report to the Presidio of San Francisco, in Golden Gate Park.  It took seven days to make that short trip, there were many interruptions to accept the hospitality of civilians grateful for the war effort of us "war veterans" returning from the combat zones.

 We were, after a short stay, assigned to the 54th Army Signal Operations Battalion stationed in the Rose Bowl at Pasadena, California assigned to help provide West Coast defense communications.

 My first job was to supervise a platoon of 48 men in building a pole-line from Blythe, Calif. to near Parker, Arizona across one of the world's toughest deserts.  Nothing but sand, rattlesnakes, those big black birds just waiting for you to drop, and an occasional bush.  It was 140 degrees in the shade, and no shade.

  At the end of that telephone line was an internment camp for American citizens and others of Japanese descent who had been moved away from their homes and property in Southern California.

 When this job was completed, some of us were assigned to a project in Iceland, a place of the opposite temperature extremes.  We left from Camp Shanks, New York (which the 103d Division would pass through some time later).  In Iceland, there were two months of hot weather - about 45 degrees, with little kids running around in short pants.  And then, ten months of cold and colder.
 My task was with an Installation and Maintenance platoon installing telephone, teletype and line for remotely controlled radio equipment.  All of this was in lead covered cables buried in the lava rock.  By this time, I had over 200 enlisted men and a 2nd Lieutenant in the platoon.
 The Navy CBs (Construction Battalions) were building a large air base adjacent to Patterson field.  It had, at that time, the longest runways in the world.  Presently, it is the Islandic International Airport.  We installed a lot of lead covered cables around that field.
 This field was used by the military for stop-over and refueling during the ferrying operation of the thousands of airplanes sent to Britain during the war.

 Twenty months after arriving in Iceland, I came back to the States through the hospital with a frostbitten kidney and no hair or teeth because the lava rock had no mineral content at all.
 In April 1943 after being repaired and rehabilitated, I was assigned to the 103d Division at Camp Howze - even that looked good to me after my two adventures across the Pacific  and the Atlantic.  Since I was not trained for a division MOS, I was assigned to special duty at the Post Signal Telephone Exchange.  I then joined the Signal Company.

SMITTY
 On the 8th of March 1944, I stepped off a train at Camp Howze, Texas.  The assignment was Company L of the 409th regiment.  I soon found out what that meant.  It was a different world.  I wondered what it would have been like had I stayed in the Air Force.
 The barracks were covered with tar paper and heated with a coal stove.  It was cold and treeless.  There was a party every Friday night... everybody attended and scrubbed the wood floor.  There was a rifle rack, and everybody had a rifle, a kind we had only heard about before... Garand.
 There were helmet liners with steel helmets to match.  The back packs looked suspiciously like something I had seen in World War I movies.

 The noncommissioned officers were mostly southerners, or so it seemed.  They didn't fraternize with the privates, and when I attained the rank of Pfc. in late April, I found that they didn't fraternize with them either.

 There was a particularly worrisome reminder of the future at Camp Howze.  It was in the form of German POWs.  I never got to see them up close... they were usually lounging about their fenced quarters, or playing soccer.

 To me, they all looked like tall, blond, muscular giants... the enemy!  I, on the other hand, stood at 5 feet 6, weighed 125 pounds (soaking wet), burdened by a 9-pound rifle, helmet, liner, ammo belt, bayonet, canteen, pack, shelter half, a couple pounds of Texas mud on my boots, and another pound in the form of dust on the rest of me... their enemy.  It would be a short war.
 Miles of road marches, infiltration courses, hand grenades, mortars, bazookas, wet runs, dry runs (many in the mud), compounded by inspections at every turn.  In April I was granted an 11-day furlough.  I made the trip home (Milwaukee at the time) and had time for reflection.  I found that in spite of my distaste for life in the rifle company, I had acquired a pride in it.  My comrades were not scholars, but they were good soldiers who had outlived Louisiana maneuvers and they were still going strong.  Besides, each Sunday morning something happened that I will always remember... each man could order his eggs done the way he wanted them!
 

 I was assigned as an assistant Browning automatic rifleman.  The BAR man I assisted was Pfc Patrick H. Robinson of Santa Fe, New Mexico.  I learned later that Robinson and his assistant then, Pfc. Jacob A Tillema of Kalamazoo MI, were the first casualties of the 3rd Battalion of the 409th Regiment.  They were both killed by a German land mine in the Vosges on 9 November 1944.

 During a period of time while I was assisting the Company clerk of L Company, 409 Regiment it became apparent that the division would very soon be sent into action and I was asked if I would consider a transfer in rank (PFC) to the Division Signal Company. I requested transfer on 28 June, 1944.

 On the first day of July I was ordered to report to the orderly room of the Signal Company, where a Captain Beck said, "You're in the Signal Corp, what can you do?".

 When all or most of the ASTP boys had arrived, the officers and NCOs had the task of determining the assignments for each of them to a Section of the company based on his experience and/or ability to perform or be trained to perform the duties of the open positions in the several operating units of the Signal Company.
 In some cases the placement was an obvious and fairly easy procedure by examining the practical experience or talent of the man.  Some other placements were more difficult and the man was moved about among the sections to find the proper assignment or he would be assigned to a more formal learning environment such as radio code class.

BARCLAY
 A few of the ASTP boys did not seem to have any real purpose in life, or recognizable talent.  These hapless individuals were temporally tried in one technical assignment or another but were eventually assigned to the Construction section.  I was one of these marginal or "difficult to place" boys.  Some of us did learn to pull telephone wire off a reel on the back of a truck and then to lay the wire on the ground.    My only special talent was to put the wire up in the trees or on poles or buildings by using a long 'pike-pole' and my height advantage.  In a few cases most of this education was gained overseas under less than academic conditions.

 We few very lucky fellows (occupationally deprived persons) who could not learn to do the most basic operations of the lineman MOS-641 were often left on the road behind the moving truck with its well qualified team of crew chief and his talented helpers. We would wander as "carefree, wayfaring strangers", without being properly uniformed or armed for combat defense or offense.  Doing what we could to protect and install the wire, and doing our very best to protect and amuse ourselves.

 ANANIA, in spite of the fact that he could do all of the difficult things required of a competent wire team member; drive a truck, climb a pole or tree, splice a telephone line, get along with the crew chief, etc., more often than not chose to accompany me into all kinds of misadventures and mischief.  It may have been he was aware that the wiremen had by far the most casualties in the company.

 There were times he may have been motivated by wanting to protect, me, his careless companion.  Perhaps he thought that the less he, Anania, followed the trade of the traditional wireman, the safer he would be.

 But more than any other reasoning, he did it because he was and is one of the kindness, friendly fellows I have ever met.  I was just one of the many men in the company privileged to enjoy his wonderful personality and continuing friendship.

SMITTY
 I was ordered to report to radio repair chief, T/Sgt. GRANT.  Radio repair included T/5 Hank KOLANDER (Ann Arbor), T/5 Eddie JALLOWAY (Chicago), T/5 Earl STAR (Minneapolis), Pvt. Leo CHURILLA (Detroit), Pvt. Ben NOVOTNY (Casper, Wyoming), Cpl. Orville CARVER (Nampa, Idaho) and now SCHMITZ (Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin).  My life took on a new purpose ... it was radio, radio, radio.  There were lots of inspections, Army Ground Forces physical examinations, equipment was water and fungus-proofed.

DONLAN
 I wasn't at Camp Claiborne, but rather joined the 103d Signal Co. (I was in the Radio Section) from ASTP at North Texas State, Denton, Texas in March 1944 at Howze.  The assimilation of ASTP "School Boys" into an infantry division was a bit tough, until the differences were worked out.  The ASTP'ers had been through 13 weeks of infantry (before college) basic, so things got better when we began Signal Company training - going on hikes, field problems, training sessions, doing KP and yard duties, and generally becoming soldiers once more after a short stint in college dorms trying to be "soldier-engineers".

 By the middle of August 1944, the 103d Infantry Division received the "official word" that it was alerted for overseas movement at some date in the near future.  The time and the direction of the movement were a military secret - that is, members of the German or Japanese Armed Forces and/or any officer or enlisted man not a part of the commanding general's staff would not be told.

SMITTY
 Civilians in Gainesville proclaimed that the Division was to be sent to Camp Shanks and the New York Port of Embarkation.

 As it turned out they were, as usual, well-informed.  In early August the division was alerted for overseas duty.

 There was an excitement and a flurry of activity throughout the Division as all of the units and the officers and men started to follow the official instructions and procedures for the troop movement and each individual began putting his own personal affairs in order - sending home excess clothes, personal gear, pictures, etc.

 The radio gear was packed, along with weapons (little light-weight carbines, instead of those Garands that I had grown so used to). The small arms repair truck (adapted for radio repair) became a storehouse for test sets, tools, and replacement parts, along with some suntan uniforms and other contraband of which I had no knowledge or desire to know.

DONLAN - Preparation For Overseas
  Lots of shots, Rifle range and infiltration course, Glider training, Full field inspection, Showdown inspection, Radio equipment checks, Getting motor vehicles ready, Crating equipment covered with cosmoline, Barracks inspections with usual gigs, Lots of poker games, MEYER and LAWRENCE spruced up for big last trips to Dallas,  Last ping-pong and pool games in the day room,  Dental and doctor visits, Last trips to service clubs and dances,  Issued all new uniforms and duffel bag, Lots of calisthenics,  Last guard duty by the motor pool water tower.

 BARCLAY
The Signal Company had a tremendous amount of operating equipment: radios, power generators, teletype equipment, wire handling equipment, tents, kitchen appliances, field stoves and tools of all kinds.  All of this and more had to be packed in over-seas shipping containers, after having been prepared to operate properly in any environment - in the Arctic, tropical islands, or the Sahara desert. (After all, we did not know where we were going!).  Some of the packing cases were as big as 6'x 6'x 12' or more and were moved about and loaded, when the time came for movement, by heavy transfer equipment.  Some of the packages were very small, but essential to the operation - these also required special handling.

 There has never been a movement of military units since the beginning of time that did not include at least some items that were not on the official lists for movement.  As a matter of fact, there has always been some packing and loading of items that are on the lists of things that 'WILL NOT BE PACKED OR CARRIED!'

 This packing and moving session was no exception.  As "SMITTY" has noted, there was some storage in the Company Equipment packing cases of the special personal items of the packers who would be the un-packers, when the cases were delivered in that 'far off unknown'.  Of course that was considered a "right of passage" by the workers.  What could it hurt?

 The individual soldier had a more challenging task to take "important stuff" with him.  He had only his own duffel bag in which to store his issued equipment and not an item more. There will be inspections, names will be taken, asses will be kicked!

 This is just the kind of a challenge that brought out the very best innovative talents of a few men who were experts at using the military system for their own personal purposes.

 Among those who did not have the advantage of being assigned to the packing and crating operations, and therefore were denied the greatest opportunity for slipping in equipment for their personal use, there was none who was able to get more contraband identified, packed, shipped and delivered than Pvt. Jerome WALDREF.

 Waldref had developed a system and organization for the mutual benefit of his "helpers" and himself beginning the first day that he had reported to Camp Howze and the Signal Company.  His garrison duty had been a series of wonderful experiences and special considerations.
Preparation for the overseas experience was just as thoughtful, innovative, and successful. All that had gone before was just prelude to his extraordinary preparation for a "guest tour" through the combat zones that he was planning to take, while the rest of the company was preparing to join in the war effort.

SMITTY
 On the 20th of September, the dishes disappeared from the mess and mess kits replaced them.  Little thought was given to the possibility that those dishes would not reappear until the 11th of September of the following year (on the return to Boston in 1945).  Considerable time was given to erasing identifying unit and personal information.  We said goodbye to Texas on September 27th and boarded troop trains for the trip to New York.
 

DONLAN
 I remember going from our company area (after scrubbing down the barracks) by truck to our troop train.

 It consisted of sleepers and kitchen cars.  I was on KP the first day as we traveled in summer heat through Oklahoma and Arkansas.  We kept doors open for a breeze.  I had the upper or third bunk in the sleeper.

 The next day, woke up for reveille at 6 a.m. in Memphis, Tennessee and we moved through Kentucky.  Through Cincinnati, Ohio the third day.  Meals were fair and we stopped for calisthenics outside the train.  Some of the G.I.'s family members were on the platforms at stops - even though it was supposed to be a Top Secret movement.  The 4th day, we were up for reveille at 4:30 a.m., policed up the train and got ready to leave.  We traveled through northern New York, down the Delaware Valley in heavy fog and wearily disembarked at Orangeburg, New York on the Hudson River at 12:30 p.m.   There we immediately marched to the Camp Shanks barracks, ate a big (and good) dinner at 2:30 in a large, neat mess hall.

 I remember that people on waiting platforms at stations waved to us with cheers and flags on our long cross-country journey.

FADER
 I remember our shipping out by train which seemed to change direction every hour stimulating a debate as to whether we were going to Europe or the Pacific.  Finally, we Easterners saw familiar territory and when the train pulled in to Port Jervis NY we knew we were Europe bound.  The train stopped there for awhile and the Tech Sergeant in the wiremen section, who was a RR employee there, got word out and all his relatives flocked to the station to greet him.  Then to Camp Shanks on the New Jersey side of the Hudson just north of New York City.  (So near and yet so far.)

 An announcement was made that everyone would receive overnight passes into New York and then as we were getting ready to go, the passes were canceled.

NANEY
 Now we are getting ready to go over, so let's try to recall what we can of that train ride from Texas to New York.  Wonderful???  The 24-hour-pass to New York.  What a night.  I got lost in a subway and if a boy from the Company hadn't been down there, I would still be, I guess.  I have no idea what his name was, but I was sure grateful.

SMITTY
 On the first of October we arrived at Camp Shanks.  In the few days there, passes into New York City were given and I got to see some of the wonders of the urban world... Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, 42nd and Broadway, et al.

GILL
 Seemed like the last had year slipped by awfully fast and suddenly we were playing double-deck pinochle all the way from Texas to Camp Shanks - the first order of the day on our arrival was the unceremonious pitching of the two decks of cards into the old round oak stove.  Seems like the pitcher uttered some words to the effect that it was "gonna be the last time he was gonna be beat by his own cards."
 
 



 While at Camp Shanks, the men of the Signal Company rearranged some of the company equipment and records and re-packed  them into a form better suited to be transported overseas.
 There were created or reconstructed a number of 'portable' record and equipment boxes or chests which were large and heavy.  The installation of handles on almost any sized box supposedly made it "portable" as far as the Army was concerned.

 All who saw these threatening burdens hoped never to be called upon to help with their lifting and transport, handles or not.

 Each soldier's personal equipment was formed into a backpack that looked like that of the French Foreign Legion troops.  There was a horse shoe shaped blanket roll strapped around the G.I. musette bag with its supporting shoulder straps.  This combination of unwieldy and unbalanced weight was very difficult to manage on the trip from the barracks, on and off the train and then across a long pier and up and into a very crowded ship.

In addition to the backpack, the soldier carried (or dragged) his fully loaded duffel bag, his rifle and a few miscellaneous pieces of field equipment.

DONLAN
 CWO HOWARD HOPPLE, Assistant Supply officer, and others from 103d Division Headquarters had gone ahead of the main troop train to New York.  They were headquartered on Long Island and were told to get all of the company records in trucks down into the hold of the Queen Mary, the Cunard liner converted to speedy troop ship.  Howard did as instructed.  But a day or so later further instructions to the party were to go back down into the Queen Mary and retrieve those records - change of general orders.  So, we are left with the thought that we were headed toward England originally and probably would have wound up in the 1st, 3rd or 9th Armies, instead of the 7th.  Also, it would have been a speedy, very crowded, less choppy trip across the Atlantic - and - much different experiences than those we encountered.

BUTLER
 I was sent with the advance group to Europe. All of the units of the division had men in the advance group.  Our job was to account for administrative duties and records pending arrival of the troops. We were expecting to go to England. This was not firm. After about 7 days, our orders were re-written to wait and join our units on their arrival from Texas.

 If Mr. HOPPEL said while the advance group was in New York, the company records, etc. were put aboard the Queen Mary and had to be retrieved, he was probably right, he was on the Table of Organization of the Signal Company in a position to know. He and I worked as a team on the Advance Group.

SMITTY
 It was on the 5th day of October that we boarded the train to leave Camp Shanks.  The march from the train to the gangplank of the ferry that was to take us across the Hudson River, I cannot forget.  For some reason I was given a pickaxe to carry.  The pickaxe wore against my pants leg as I walked, unable to readjust its position.  It wore right through my uniform and started on the body beneath.  I remember thinking that this was not the way to go off to war, or to pass the next inspection.

 The gangplank of the liberty ship, the Henry T. Gibbons, awaited us on the east side of the Hudson.  I put my foot on it at 1448 hours.

DONLAN
 Loaded down, we marched off to the train at noon.  New York City train down past little Hudson towns to the 42nd Street Ferry.  Dripping sweat, we crowded onto the ferry for the short ride across the Hudson to the troop loading piers.  Those duffel bags were heavy!  Entered the North River Port of Embarkation (P.O.E.) Terminal Building, Saturday, waited, then up the gangplank of our ship, The Henry T. Gibbons, sounding off our first name and middle initial when our last name was read.  A hot, crowded, pushing walk, down to the "E" deck, stumbling around to find a bunk.  Found a lower bunk and laid my aching back down to rest.

  Equipment had to go in the bunk.  We were two below main deck and three deep in the bunks.  Watched them load cargo on board from Pier 84.  Many other ships in dock and river alive with tugs and ferries.  Long wait for pretty good chow.

Recall there was a band playing when we boarded ship.  No sailing until next day, we were told.

 ROREM
  The troop ship stacked our "bunks" four high and as tight as sardines.  The bunks were metal frames with canvas stretched across and they folded up when not in use.  When folded down, there was scarcely room for a man to squeeze between the rows of bunks.

BECK
 Going up the gang plank only a few blocks from Times Square, I was the last man of the Signal Company to go aboard as I had to check all my men and officers aboard first.  I watched that endless procession lug their much too heavy gear as they answered roll call one by one.  There was a sort of fog to lend to the atmosphere.  Red Cross women were constantly passing out hot coffee, doughnuts and Hershey chocolate bars.  They must have had an inexhaustible supply -not only of coffee but of energy.

 The slow roll call went on: "Smith" and he would reply "John A."  Up he went.
 The heavily laden men, thousands of them, continued that steady walk up to the ship.  Typical G.I. kidding and American good humor prevailed.

 The roll call went on: "Jones" - "John J."

 And the Red Cross tirelessly followed each G.I. with some refreshments, and a word of cheer.  No bands.  No crowds.  No flags.  No identification whatsoever.  Secrecy was the order of the day.
 The lights started to go on in the city.  I could hear taxis honking their horns.  A street car in the distance.  And always that slow gathering rumble that is New York City.  People were leaving their places of business to go home for supper.  Others were going out to dinner.  Many were probably getting prepared to go out for an evening of fun an gaiety.  Up on Times Square I could picture that horde of people crowding each other to get into restaurants, theaters and clubs.  Rush.  Rush.

 When we finally sailed no one saw us - nobody was there except a lazy old watchman who continued to puff on his corncob pipe as he leaned up against a pillar on the water's edge.  Why he didn't even move.  All he did was puff on his pipe and read the "NY Journal-American".

 BECK, DONLAN, R0REM, SMITTY,GILL, and others have described the agony and the physical strain of the trip from the camp leading to the systematic loading of the ship placing them into very cramped bunks in the crowded lower decks of the ship - it was a terrible experience.
 The order of ascending the gangplank of the ship had been prearranged and printed onto a very long list - each soldier had a definite place and number in the "Boarding Order".  It was not alphabetical, perhaps it was arranged by operating sections of the Signal Company.

 The men of the Construction section were the last of the Signal Company to board.
This created two unusual situations for them; one was the baggage that they carried aboard and the other was their location during the voyage.

 BARCLAY
 When all of us assembled in "boarding order" as shown by large letters and numbers marked on our helmets, some of us Construction men  found ourselves standing next to the dreadful "portable boxes"  at the beginning of the long trek down the 'Ferry Dock', some of us Construction men found ourselves standing next to the dreadful "portable boxes".  We exceptional soldiers became responsible for carrying the company records and equipment in addition to our personal baggage.

 The order to execute was simple: "You men, right here; drop your duffel bags and grab the handles of them boxes; and you men, cringing over there, pick up the extra duffel bags, and all of your own equipment, and all of you make your way, as best you can, down this long dock, and up into that there ship!".

 The whole miserable process of getting down the dock, up the gang-plank, and to the storage place for the boxes was terrible.

 But it got a little better when we finally did get on the ship, and learned that the only available space for us, would be in cabins on one of the top decks of the ship.

  About 24-40 men of the Construction section were assigned to 3 or 4 cabins with built-in bunks with mattresses and all the comforts of a cruise ship.  There were army cots placed on the open floor spaces and some rotation of the men between the cots and the mattresses, but it was absolute heaven compared to the condition of hundreds of men assigned to "the hole" below decks.

 The guys with the extra duffel bags belonging to the box carriers did get them as far as the upper deck of the ship and then started down the passage-ways into the bowels of the ship before they abandoned the bags.

 This created chaos in finding the misplaced bags again.

BECK
 By the time I do get to go home I'll be so happy and excited I wouldn't know what to do with myself.  That Statue of Liberty will so different than when I passed her going the other way.  I remember that I had on my "Mae West" and was peering out of a porthole.  Initially, we were all out on deck, but they made us stay under cover for security reasons.  First we'd look at the Statue and then dash across to the port side to see Brooklyn.  I saw Fort Hamilton.  Then we passed Coney Island.  I played my field glasses on the shore-line.  The big ferris-wheels were silhouetted against the gray winter sky.  And it was cold!  Coming up from Texas in khakis and then hitting the bitter icy cold of the North Atlantic - it kind of made you feel lost.

DONLAN
 On Friday, October 6th, the day after the boarding, we had reveille at 6 a.m., chow at 8 a.m. and noticed we were still in dock.  So we folded up bunks with equipment on them.  We were told on loudspeaker that all military personnel must go below decks soon after 10:30 a.m.  Tugs began to pull us out into the Hudson.  I watched through a door at the top of a gangway and could see the New York dock area as we moved down river.  Many ships in docks - Cunard, U.S. in other steamship docks.

 We were off!  On port side of ship saw tall buildings of lower Manhattan, Wall Street and Brooklyn.  Into the lower bay, past the Statue of Liberty, Staten Island and the last thing we saw was Coney Island in the fog.  By now, I was seasick!  We were guided through the mine fields by the Coast Guard.  Other ships appeared, and soon we were forming a convoy with destroyers zigzagging between us.  Two small aircraft carriers joined us also, and cruisers.  We could see nothing but water.  Navy blimps joined overhead.  We were the second ship from the rear of the convoy.

EVANS
 The Henry T. Gibbons had a slightly perceptible rocking motion while still at the dock. This was enough to make some G.I.s sea sick. For them, it was going to be a long voyage.

 Eventually, the engines started to throb with a deeper more powerful sound and it was obvious that we were under way.

 We hurried up to the crowded enlisted men's deck for one last look at the USA . The last thing to drop out of sight over the horizon was the parachute drop tower at Coney Island. Then there was nothing but water. Our convoy had picked up several destroyer escorts("tin cans") and a converted carrier that had once been a merchant ship.

 The sky was blue and the breeze freshened as we cleared New York Harbor and made a definite turn to the south to avoid the submarine wolf packs that prowled the North Atlantic.  When we got down to the latitude of North Africa, the convoy turned to the east and soon ran into a storm.  The sky darkened and the seas grew higher.

 As the Henry T. Gibbons came through one of the monstrous waves it projected out of the wave and then crashed down into the trough.  The deck dropped out from under our feet. It was fun at first but the free fall drop got bigger and bigger.  After a few sprained ankles, we were all ordered below decks for the duration of the storm.

 By this time the "tin cans" were plowing right through the heavy waves which swept over and around the bridge.  At times only their rotating radar antenna was all that was visible.  Those "swabbies" should have gotten submarine pay.

 Occasionally, a wave would even roll down the flight deck of the converted carrier. This was not your every-day variety of storm.

 TOM BROWN
...boarded a Liberty (or Victory) ship, which was a converted troop ship.  My bunk was at the very stern of the ship, and I could hear the ship's propeller (screw for you Navy types) churn against the water.  I was assigned to the Navy gun crew and that was the only duty I was called on to do, which allowed me to catch up on my "sack time."

 When we left dock, a hurricane was lashing the southern Atlantic, and it caused huge swells in our part of the ocean with the ship pitching and rolling.  Soon almost everybody on board was sick.  There was a rumor that even the ship's captain was sick.  We were implored to eat as that was supposed to alleviate seasickness.  I remember the poor devils lined up in the passageway to the mess-hall, sick as dogs, and vomit rolling back and forth across the passageway with each roll of the ship.  If a man wasn't sick when he came to chow then the stench finished him off while waiting for it!  One poor chap had to have glucose pumped into his veins to keep him alive.

 Then the hurricane got closer to us, and the ship was turned into the swells, and the weather got really nasty.  I remember lying in my bunk and waiting while the ship plunged bow first down into the sea causing the stern to ride high into the air with the screws completely out of the water.  When that happened the screws, in turning, vibrated the entire ship so violently that I thought it would break into.  And sometimes when the ship plunged down bow first I thought that it would keep right on going to the bottom.

That trip across the ocean confirmed my choice of no Navy enlistment for me!

BARCLAY
 There was a lifeboat drill soon after we sailed, for the purpose of training and drilling the ship's crew members in the method of launching the lifeboats. While we watched, standing unobtrusively out of the way, along the starboard side of the ship several lifeboats were prepared to be "lowered away". Three crew members got into a boat that was extended out over the rail of the ship and then the process of lowering was started.

 It did not go well.  For some reason, the holding hook on one end of the boat released and the boat was left suspended swinging in the air at a rakish angle.  The crew member in the center of the boat tumbled head over heels into the member at the free swinging end - one of them almost fell into the sea.  Both of them were injured in some way.  The swinging end of the boat was secured by using a boat-hook and the boat and the badly frightened crew members were recovered.  Most of us were hoping that if there ever was a real reason to use the lifeboats, we would make a much better get-away.

On the second day after leaving port, Capt. BECK decided that his First Three Grade Non-coms should have the cabins we were occupying and that the men of the Construction section would take their rightful place below decks. The "rotation movement" had just started when a lieutenant of the Transportation Corps interrupted it.  He explained to Capt. Beck that as Officer-In-Charge of the Army Transport, he would put those being transported where he liked, and he just loved the existing arrangement. Capt. Beck was not happy to have his scheme interfered with.

 Beck did volunteer all of us for special details of sweeping the decks and emptying the garbage over-board each night, etc.  As a result of this labor, we had special meal tickets for 3 meals a day and permission to cut-in at the head of the chow line so that we could go about our business in a timely manner.
 

FADER
 The holds were stifling and confining and I volunteered for pantry duty on the ship--one of the best decisions I made in the army.  All the way over I sat in the pantry--was it with Bill BALLANTINE??--handed out whatever the cooks needed and ate fresh fruit and vegetables (officers' mess) and drank whole milk.  Occasionally opened tins of fish as desired.  It was loverly.  (Before leaving this sanctuary we loaded our knapsacks with tins of food which made the first few weeks in Europe somewhat endurable.)
 

ROREM
 When we were on our way and out of sight of land we were allowed on deck.  Within an hour I was overcome with seasickness and this was the beginning of 14 days of misery.  The only rays of hope during the days of hurricane weather were the oranges that Bill Schmidt brought me at night for three days.  I was not alone with the seasickness, especially during the hurricane weather when we were not allowed on deck and were required to stay in the cramped quarters below.  Our steel helmets saved those in the lower bunks from the results of the seasickness.  The stand-up eating facilities, with water sloshing back and forth, didn't help things either.

SMITTY
 In the next few days I convinced myself that it was right for me to have joined the army and not the navy.  In later years I was to tell my children that, of the 21 days that I spent on the high seas, I was seasick for 26 of them!  There were sick troops everywhere, at least four of them in the bunks above my own.

BARCLAY
 On the second day after leaving port, Capt. BECK decided that his First Three Grade non-coms should have the cabins we were occupying and that the men of the Construction section would take their rightful place below decks. The "rotation movement" had just started when a lieutenant of the Transportation Corps interrupted it.  He explained to Capt. Beck that as Officer-In-Charge of the Army Transport, he would put those being transported where he liked, and he just loved the existing arrangement. Capt. Beck was not happy to have his scheme interfered with.

 Beck did volunteer all of us for special details of sweeping the decks and emptying the garbage over-board each night, etc.  As a result of this labor, we had special meal tickets for 3 meals a day and permission to cut-in at the head of the chow line so that we could go about our business in a timely manner.

 Not long after this incident, the Construction men of the "deck detail" were pressed into moving provisions from the ships storerooms into the lifeboats. Jerome WALDREF was one of first to recognize the possibilities of this project - he was a master at gaining the maximum benefit from such a golden opportunity.

 We did a fairly creditable job, most of the boats were properly provided.  As a fringe benefit of the activity, it became possible to divert more than a few gallon cans of peaches, pineapple, etc. as well as a few edible "survivors rations".  These precious items were briefly stored in the crevices of the cabins until they could be enjoyed in after-hours dining.

 There was a good deal of sharing our ill-gotten gain with some of the men bunking in the crowded holds of the ship . Many of these unfortunate guys could not go back down into the hot, smelly bowels of the ship to eat the regular meals.  All of us spent as much time in the open, fresh air of the deck as possible.  However, the terrible storm that we passed through made being on the deck impossible part of the time.

 GILL
 I figured on the trip overseas the Signal Co. boys had some pretty good duty - like the guy that was working in the ship store and had access to all those goodies - 10" round cubes of cheese, canned goods of all kinds, etc.  Almost every evening when he returned to the compartment he brought some of these goodies and repeatedly tossed out some of his clothing and stuffed the goodies in their place.  When reminded that it might just be cold where we were going, he said one of his buddies told him he could find lots of clothes on the other side but rations would be short. "They aren't gonna starve this ole boy!!", he said.  He was generous and some of us close to his sack shared his goodies.  I purposely kept my eye on his duffle bag when it was dropped into the landing craft in Marseille Harbor - Ka whump!! - thought it was going to go right through the deck.  Recall also watching the fellow that was unlucky enough to have to drag it off the craft - first tug about set him on his can.

 After we had been at sea for some time, orders were taken for candy to be purchased from the ship's store.  It was a wonderful benefit.  It would have been even better if the 'Babe Ruth' bars etc. did not taste so very much like the diesel oil they had been stored close to.

SHEWARD
  I think that "shipped" properly describes the way we went over seas.  I remember that trip well.  I would estimate that 90% of those on board were seasick and the stench down in the holds that held our bunks was nearly unbearable.  Fortunately someone, I think Emil Boitus, gave me the assignment of copying news from WWR for a ship's newspaper.  This was done in the ship's radio room, where I stayed for the entire trip and only returned to my bunk just before we disembarked in Le Harve.  Apart from my news copying, I also had access to the ship's storeroom and accumulated a decent supply of canned goods such as corned beef, that I stuffed into my duffel bag.  You may recall that we each took a duffel bag to carry to the place where we camped.  You just grabbed one.  I cannot recall who got mine, but he was very unhappy about the extra weight involved.

DONLAN
 By Friday, October 6th we were moving down the Virginia and Florida coasts before heading out to sea.  Calm seas, boat drills, fire drill by crew.  We were in a convoy of 13 ships.  Played chess with Bob Rushing on deck.

 On October 7th we were told we were headed for France - probably southern part.  We were issued French phrase books.  Still a bit seasick, had a detail mapping class and we had three meals a day.  At night, a songfest on deck.  We all had some details.  Phosphorescence on water beautiful at night.

 On Sunday, October 8th attended mass in the lounge.  As we crossed the first time zone in calm weather, advanced our clocks.  Usually felt seasick before breakfast - still didn't have those "sea legs".  Found the best "cure" for seasickness was to go up on the bow and lean over.  Read, played chess and watched flying fish scooting along and lots of seaweed!  I wrote a "V" Mail letter home.  So many different shades of blue in the water.  A sailor told me we (convoy) were moving along at 14 knots (17 m.p.h.).  I don't think we maintained this after we encountered the rough weather.

 Woke up on October 10th (5th day out) to definitely rougher weather.  Now, others joined me in seasickness.  Many of us only nibbled at our meals.

 Rougher at night and rain.  We were under strict blackout at night and the convoy drew closer together.  On our port side was a former luxury liner, the S.S. Washington.  Another was the S.S. LaFayette.  The aircraft carrier rolled along on our starboard side.
 Wednesday, October 11 - We advanced clocks another hour.  As the seas cranked up another notch of "roughness", spray coming over the decks.  We tried to eat something, but it grew less appealing.  Many sick on deck and in the hold.  Even the bow is rough-riding now.  The ship is rocking and rolling in the heavy seas.

 Thursday, October 12 - Now restless and sick at night, too, as we start our second week at sea.  Very few of us midwesterners have ever been at sea, much less in a bad storm.  No lightning or rain -just big waves.  We must be north of West Indies now.  This night they turned on the navigation lights in spite of the blackout.  We had nearly rammed another boat in the convoy.  I believe we were in the heart of the storm.

 No food trays allowed on open decks, but it was hard to keep any food down below decks.  Eating lost all interest for most.  Now the waves were monstrous and slow-moving.  The ship would often dip lower than the surface of the water (C deck).  None of the other ships could be seen.  Had some chow in the sailor's galley, felt better and began to get my "sea legs".  Many guys deathly sick and just lay in their bunks day and night.  Oftentimes there would be a sharp crack below decks as the main beam of the ship banged with a deep roll plunge.  Also, the screw would come out of the water and set up a horrendous vibration.  All of the above weren't very conductive to sleep.

 By Friday, October 13 (Lucky!), the storm wore down and the boats in our convoy could be seen again, including the small ones.  Felt better and ate a big chicken dinner.  Still not allowed on deck at night.  Now the sea was almost a dead calm and sanity returned to The Henry T. Gibbons - 8 days out of NYC.  Reading, chess and orientation classes on France and landings occupied our days.  Light rain at night.

 Saturday and Sunday, October 14th and 15th passed without incident.  Clocks advanced regularly every 500 miles or so.  We struggled to read and say a few French phrases, but "Parles Vous Francais" didn't come easy.

 By Sunday, October 15th we were back eating good meals, but instead of being seasick in calmer seas, we were sick of the sea.

 Monday, October 16th - Advanced clocks again.  Lots of anti-aircraft practice fire in the convoy.  Weather turned warm and sea calm and blue.  Must be getting closer to Mediterranean.  Anxiety increased by the hour.  We had a good supply of Penguin paper-back novels, so sitting on sunny deck and reading - not too bad duty.  Clouded up and turned cold by evening.  Had daily masses.

GILL
 Not much I can add to the tales already told about the 14 days at sea except that, fortunately, I was spared the misery of seasickness - I had a pretty good feel for what the unfortunate were suffering, however, as I had a like experience aboard a fish tug on good old Lake Michigan.  I erupted in pretty good fashion when my buddy offered me some Mulligan stew for lunch - yuk!
 Did have a time during the 4-day blow when I wondered if I might again experience a similar eruption.  I slept in the middle pipe berth and was awakened by some wet splatter in my face - opening my eyes revealed some joker standing alongside, upchucking into his steel helmet, which he was holding just above the level of my face - yuk again!!

 When we were several days from entering the Mediterranean ocean, a fire started on one of the freighters and it and both aircraft transporters (I think) left the convoy and headed in the direction of Casablanca in North Africa, the nearest safe port, and perhaps the original destination of the aircraft which could be put in service there much sooner than anywhere in the Mediterranean.

 Tuesday, October 17, 1944 - French classes and good time watching boxing matches on deck.  The aircraft carrier on our starboard side departed our convoy in early morning.  So long - glad to have had you.  Two small boats accompanied it for protection (one of the ships appeared to have fire aboard that was only partially controlled).

 Was this carrier the Wasp or Hornet? (It was only a cargo ship with many "packed-for-transport aircraft) Headed for Casablanca or Rabat, possibly.

 Now, excitement!  About 4:30 p.m. on the distant horizons on the starboard side, we first sighted the distant and hazy coastline of Africa.  By 6 p.m. we were passing a rocky piece of land jutting out into the ocean from the High Atlas Mountains.  What a welcome view!  After 12 days on the briny.  Land also in view on the port side - distant coast of Spain as we nudged toward the Straits of Gibraltar.

 We moved on until we saw the coast of Spanish Morocco.  Soon we came to a large, white town near Tangier and Gibraltar.  There were small boats (fishing) in view, too.   Now we're in the Straits of Gibraltar - around 7 p.m. we saw a spectacular ball of fire sink into the ocean in the west as the setting sun disappear.  What a view - and on the port side, the Rock of Gibraltar.
 They were signaling by light to our convoy from the rock base - asking for identification.  We passed the Rock about 8 p.m., but it was so dark, we could only see the lights on its southeastern side.  Directly on our right was a large mountain peak, into the clouds.  Beyond was the well-lighted city of Ceuta, Morocco.  We went below and had our last song program of the voyage.  Large schools of sharks and porpoises were seen as we went through the Straits tonight. We passed through the Straits of Gibraltar on the early evening of the 17th.  It was good to see something that stood still.  The ship turned away from the African coast and toward the north.  All hopes that the passage on this smaller sea would be calmer were dashed by three consecutive days of stormy weather.

 Wednesday, October 18th - Very calm Mediterranean on all sides at dawn.  Later hugged the hazy African coast all day.  Sheer rock cliffs rise out of the ocean with occasionally a sandy beach.  A showdown inspection in morning in preparation for landing.  We had radio programs on ship P.A. system and basked in the Mediterranean, October sun.  We had a little action with destroyers firing at night.  We were supposed to be turning northeast around 9 p.m.  Don't know if we did or not.

 Thursday, October 19th - Cloudy skies and sea on all sides.  We are headed north by northeast - probably for Marseilles.  I'm not sure.  We weren't ever told firmly that this was our objective.  We were issued cigarettes, "K" rations and Red Cross kits in the morning.  We also had a physical in raincoats - br-r-r - cold!  The sea got quite rough by late afternoon and remained so through the night; but the stars came out.  I went to mass, we had a small chicken dinner and turned in early - sort of seasick once more.  Thought that was over!  Found my lost gas mask.  This wasn't looked on too kindly.

BARCLAY
  I remember spending most of my spare time crawling over bags trying to read the name stenciled on each one, hoping to find my own.  I did eventually find it, and was able to store 2 canvas bunks from the ship's supplies that I later used to enclose a more durable sleeping-bag assembly.
 That was some kind of a bag!  It eventually had the heavy canvas covers held together by copper wire and stuffed with 2 or 3 G.I. wool blankets and inside that heavy comfort pack was later placed a G.I. "mummy bag" of wool.  If the guys on Jones' team had not helped me get this monster in and out of the truck when it was necessary for sleeping, and/or putting the "tools of our trade" and lots of W110B wire in its place, I certainly would have spent many more cold, sleepness nights than I did.

NANEY
 Now... on the boat or ship, whichever was appropriate.  We had ships' bunks with white sheets.  Great.  But we had to get out on deck every night to throw over garbage.  Nice!  Only on a stormy night we had ropes tied to us.  Storms.  Storms. We go to North Africa first, then on into the Mediterranean to land.  Remember the Rock of Gibraltar?  Then there was the bill hill in France.  We got everything issued to us and all laid out to check when we got soused with so much rain from such a little cloud that it washed everything downhill.
 

 (Following report from New York Times shows we were on the northern edge of a real  hurricane that had crashed across the Caribbean island area and Cuba.)
 
 

October 14, 1944 - Caribbean area ALERT/WARNING
 October 18, 1944 - All crops on Cayman Islands destroyed,
    Havana, Cuba; 5 deaths, 200 injured,
    heavy wind and rain, harbor craft wrecked
 October 20, 1944 - New York and New Jersey coast, heavy wind,
    rain and hurricane damage.
 

Marseille - How and Why We Were There

William F. Barclay, in his book 103D INFANTRY DIVISION SIGNAL COMPANY REMEMBRANCES gleaned, from the following sources, a fairly good analysis of the events that preceded and continued beyond the debarkation of the 103d at Marseille. The asterisked(*) abbreviations are used throughout Mr. Barclay's analysis to indicate the sources of his information.

Clarke, J.J. and R.R. Smith 1993. Riviera to the Rhine.
 [U.S. Army in WW II series. The European Theater of Operations].
Center of Military History U.S. Army. Washington D.C.*R-R

Cray, Ed: General ofthe Army - George C. Marshall Soldier and Statesman
W.W. Norton & Company New York 1990 *MARS

East, Sergeant William; Gleason, Private William F.
 The 409th Infantry in World War II [Combat in Arms Series].
Battery Press. Nashville *409

Eisenhower, David: Eisenhower at War 1943-1945
Randon House New York 1986 *IKE-WAR

Keegan, John: The Second World War
Penguin Books 1989 *WW2

Mueller, Ralph; Turk, Jerry: Report After Action
 The Story of the 103d Infantry Division
Printing Office, Innsbruck/Austria *RAA

Morison, Samuel Eliot;Comminger, Henry Steele; Leuchtenburg:
A Concise History of the American People - Second Edition
New York Oxford University Press 1983 *CHAR2

Parker, Danny S.: Journal WWII
Leesburg Va. ISSN 0898 4204 (MAY 1990) *PARK

Pommois, Madame Lise: The Fighting in the Val de Moder
1992 (?) *MODER

Retired Officer Magazine - Various Editions *ROM

Roget, Gordon Boyd MD: Autobiography - From Nothing
1993 *ROGET

Young, Brigadier Peter: World Almanace of World War II
An Imprint of Pharos Books, New York, New York 1986 *ALMA
 
 


 

Barclay's Summary

A brief review of the military experience of the 103D Division and the military actions on the European war fronts as we approached the landing in Marseille may be beneficial.

 By 1 January 1944, The 103d Infantry Division was well established at Camp Howze, the men assigned to the ASTP program at the various universities were well into their programs of study and not aware that the progress of the war in Europe would very soon cause a major change of their future assignments.  (It may be interesting to note that all of the ASTP men would be assigned to combat units destined for action in Europe, none were assigned to the Pacific war.)

 As outlined in the historical chapters of other books; the Allied North African invasion and campaign had been successful, General Eisenhower had completed his assignment in that area and was on his way to Washington D.C. for consultation on his new duties as Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces on the Western Front.

 The invasion of Sicily and then Italy had taken place and by early February 1944, elements of the US 7th Army were stalemated at Anzio beach on the southwest coast of Italy. The tactical events in Italy, and the disagreements between the political and military leaders in Washington D.C. and London were beginning to determine the time and place of the landing of the 103d, and a number of other divisions, in Europe.

 In mid-March 1944, the ASTP BOYS had been assigned to the 103d Division and began becoming a part of the preparation for combat service, most likely on a European front.

 On 6 June 1944, the Normandy Invasion, OVERLORD, had taken place.  On 15 August 1944, the ANVIL invasion of Southern France by the US 7th Army had taken place and the drive north through the Rhone valley toward final link-up of the OVERLORD and the ANVIL forces on 1 September 1944.

 Even as late as the time the 103d Division advance group went to New York to arrange for our boarding, the final decision to ship us to Normandy or Southern France may not have been made.
 

 468 Quebec Conference in September 1944. The Armies in northern France were now more than two million men strong and had broken out of the Normandy hedgerows (earth berm in the farm country) to seize Paris on August 25,1944.*MARS
 

470 The armored columns had raced east and south to join the forces of the American 7th Army driving up the Rhone valley. France was virtually free of Germans for the first time since June 1944.*MARS

 Roosevelt had selected Harry Truman as his vice president and had been reelected for an unprecedented fourth term.

 After the Marseille landings and the port had been restored to limited service, Eisenhower had gained the port capacity to supply his gasoline and supply short armies.
472 There were only 6 American divisions left in Italy, General Marshall promised the British that they would remain there until the war in Italy was concluded.*MARS

 483 Montgomery's troops had captured the Antwerp, Holland port facilities intact on September 4th had bypassed the German units still controlling the Scheldt estuary leading to the port so that it was not possible for any of the much needed supplies to unloaded.*MARS

 Only after the failure of the MARKET-GARDEN airborne assault did Montgomery belatedly move to open the Channel. The first Allied convoy would not dock until November 28; by then winter was hard on the land and Eisenhower's offensive had frozen from the Netherlands to Switzerland.*MARS
 

483 At Eisenhower's request,
 On the 6th of October, General Marshall and a civilian "Manpower Mobilization Director" James Byrnes arrived from the United States to discuss the rather serious problems of manpower assignment and utilization on the western front. The winter offensive had to be considered, and many of the combat units had suffered casualties, sufficient replacements had not been found in spite of the efforts of Eisenhower and his staff.*MARS

 Although the policy of putting the emphasis on winning the war in Europe first and then moving all available force to the Pacific War was understood and well established, General MacArthur and Admiral King and their forces certainly needed supplies and reinforcements in the Pacific war and Marshall and Byrnes were anxious that every available combat soldier assigned to Eisenhower's support and rear echelon units was being used.*EAW

 The two generals and Byrnes reviewed the problems of having enough fighting men to sustain the drive toward Germany. Eisenhower expressed interest in having replacements or new divisions sent from the United States. Marshall explained that there were only two divisions in training, no more would be available. When the two divisions had been assigned, possibly into the Pacific, further training in the States would be only for replacements of casualties in all theaters of war.*MARS

 Marshall suggested that Eisenhower and his staff needed to make a greater effort to comb the rear area supply and service units for men who could be assigned to the badly depleted infantry divisions and other front-line elements.*MARS

 Marshall and the Director were very anxious not to exceed the mobilization limit of 90 divisions that had been set in June 1944. They wanted to examine and review the manpower situation and requirements in the ETO. There were more than 2.7 million Americans in Europe, 437,000 were airforce personnel and 470,000 were attached to ComZ (the supply and transportation units of the European forces). Slightly more that 50% of the remaining 1.23 million were combat soldiers.*EAW

 It was imperative that the combat soldiers needed to be reinforced and encouraged. The proposal was made to give able bodied soldiers, who had been court martialed and confined, pardons if they would volunteer for front-line service. They considered offering blacks serving in segregated service battalions an opportunity to volunteer for combat at the front. Generals Lee and Smith were opposed to such radical departures from existing doctrines, Eisenhower concurred.*EAW

 Marshall and Eisenhower privately discussed the problems of working with the British, particularly Field Marshall Montgomery.

Marshall flew to visit with Montgomery at his headquarters in Brussels on October 8th. Monty did a lot of complaining about Eisenhower's ability to properly command the tactical operations of SHAEF, Monty wanted to have more freedom to follow his own exquisite plans without interference and to have Eisenhower provide him with the proper support.*MARS

 Marshall was furious, "I almost blew off my stack at him". Marshall reconsidered, this was Eisenhower's problem and it would be much better if Ike dealt with it, though it was very hard for me to restrain myself because I didn't think there was any logic in what he said but overwhelming egotism.*MARS

 Marshall had met with Montgomery and listened to his views and proposals for the conduct of the war. He agreed with Eisenhower that Montgomery must be forced to clear Antwerp, made to become an effective leader in the coordinated drive to victory, and should quit his self serving complaining.*EAW

  General Marshal and his group made a survey of northern fronts and he was more convinced than ever that the German salient around Antwerp in Montgomery's sector and the Vosges in the 7th Army area must be eliminated to supply reserves to cover gaps in the front lines between Hodges and Patton.*EAW

484 Later on October 8th, Marshall flew down to visit with Lt. Gen. Devers commander of the 6th Army Group in eastern France. He discovered yet another rift in the coalition he had so painstakingly built. French General Jean de Lattre do Tassigny complained to Marshall about American corps commander Lucian Truscott getting the lion's share of the supplies, especially gasoline. Marshall told him, "You don't have a leg to stand on. You celebrated all the way up the road. You were late on every damn thing and...you are critical of Truscott who is a fighter and not a talker."*MARS

485  Marshall and Eisenhower had an opportunity to discuss the tactical and supply situation after the chief of staff's visit to many of the commanders and their units on the western front.
 Marshall and the war planning board had outlined in 1942 a plan for the tactics to be used in the inevitable conflict in Europe. Eisenhower who had been a vital part of the formation of that plan was now commanding the execution of that plan.*MARS

 The two generals and their staffs reviewed the progess of that plan since the landings at Normandy.

 Eisenhower had mounted a broad campaign to drive to the Rhine river, the last water barrier in Germany. He was setting up a 'grand double envelopment' or pincers movement on the Ruhr valley the site of vital German heavy industries.

 In the south Dever's French and American armies had punctured German defenses and had reached the Rhine and had captured Strassborg in spite of the worst rains in 50 years.
 Patton's army had taken Metz and then clawed its way to the foot of the Siegfried line.
 North of Metz the advances were meager in alternating rain and snow storms. The American Ist and 9th Armies managed to dig in on the frozen west bank of the Ruhr river.

 British armies efforts to reach the Rhine in the Netherlands were costly and slow going with Montgomery complaining that he required a larger share of the available materials.*MARS

 Marshall, Eisenhower and the American chiefs of staff thought that the tactical considerations of defeating Germany decisively and destroying their ability to rearm were very important.
519 These decisions were being made at a time when President Roosevelt was weary and preoccupied with postwar political questions, especially the organization of the United Nations; increasingly the president had referred matters pertaining to the conduct of the war to Marshall, regardless of their political quotient. "The entire responsibility was placed upon General Marshall, as chief of staff, and General Eisenhower, as theater commander," complained American diplomat Robert Murphy. "Both of these army officers accepted this responsibility without complaint, then or afterward, but it was inevitable that they would regard Berlin from the military point of view."
 In the eyes of the British too, this was a damnable error.*MARS

 In October,1944 several Infantry divisions had been "combat loaded" in the United States. They were ready and able to disembark with their arms and support units as reinforcements at the port facilities of Marseille that had been secured in the August attacks. The 103d Infantry Division and its "combat ready" 103d Signal Company were part of these eager warriors. OUR MEN, the first or second to land since the original August action, still felt a great deal of excitement and importance to the war effort, I think.

 The men of the 103d Infantry Division arriving in southern France were to become part of a very extensive military and political drama that had started years and months before.

 Our role in that ongoing scenario would be determined in a major way by the sometimes controversial interactions of the military and political leaders which had already taken place and the events that would now occur as a result of past decisions and successful or unsuccessful campaigns of the war in Europe and the Pacific.
 The Seventh Army and its units, including the 103d Infantry Division were affected at times by the resulting events caused by lack of mutual understanding and cooperation of the political and military leaders.

 Lt. General Devers commander of the 6th Army Groups, in direct control of the U.S. XV Corps and VI Corps containing the 7th Army and the Ist French Army, had never commanded a unit on the battlefield, however he had been picked and trained by General Marshall for his present position and he understood the organization and present purpose of the SHAEF command.
 Devers was well informed of, and agreed with Eisenhower's plan for the direction of the Allied forces in northeastern France. American forces would occupy the center of a strong coordinated front pushing toward the German border and beyond to the Rhine river.
 The British forces, under the control of General Montgomery would be on the north side of that front, the French forces, a part of the US 7th Army, would be on the south.*R-R

 The U.S. Seventh Army was commanded by Lt. General Alexander Patch, a soldier with an impressive military career that stretched back to the American frontier wars.  Born at Fort Huachuca, Arizona Territory, in 1889, the son of an officer in the 4th Cavalry, he graduated from West Point in 1913, a classmate of Patton: served in Brig. Gen. John J Pershing's expedition into Mexico; and then commanded an infantry battalion during World War I.

 Early in 1942, General Marshall had selected Patch to command a hastily assembled Army task force headed for the South Pacific.
 Quickly transforming that force into the Americal Division, Patch took it to the island of Guadalcanal in December 1942 and as commander of the U.S. Army XIV Corps, led a force of one Marine Corps and two Army divisions that finally rooted out the island's stubborn Japanese defenders.

 At Marshall's request Patch returned to the United States to train a Corps of American troops in desert warfare.  By the time Patch was able to bring his Corps to the Mediterranean in early 1944, the desert campaign had long since ended.
 Marshall selected Patch in March, 1944 as the commander of the Seventh Army  that was being prepared for the invasion of southern France.  It was not typical for Marshall to directly select commanders at this level.  This bypassing of Eisenhower may have caused some conflict later among the commanders in SHAEF, the  US 6th Army Group and the US 7th Army.

 Assigned to the 6th Army Group under the command of Lt. General Jacob Devers, who believed in letting his staff and subordinates make decisions, Lt. General Patch had an unusual amount of autonomy to direct his forces.
 Patch fully intended to implement the deployment concept he had promulgated late in August--concentrating de Lattre's French force on the 7th Army's right and Truscotts VI Corps on the left. The VI Corps, to which the 103d Division would later be attached, was then to advance northeast across the Vosges Mountain to Strasbourg on the Rhine River, while the French divisions would push through Belfort Gap to the Alsatian Plains.

 This plan had the approval of SHAEF as of 4/6/ September, 1944 The arrangements provided the 7th Army with but a single Corps, the VI. It consisted of but the three original US divisions; 3d, 36th and 45th, although three new divisions were expected to land at Marseille in October and November, to augment the VI Corps. *R-R
 The first push into the Vosges began on 20 September. The three divisions, along about a 30-mile front began to move northeast (roughly from Jure on the south to Remiremont on the north). However, the advance appeared to have been stalled by the end of October. Bruyeres was taken by the 18th and Brouvelieures by the 21st, as well as an area west of the valley of the Meurthe. *R-R
 Getting fuel and supplies to the fighting fronts became a problem and slowed down the Allied advance in both northern and southern France. The French units commanded by de Lattre in Marseille did an excellent job in supplying the 7th Army units fighting in the mountains, but the flow of even these supplies began to slow as the distance between the port and the front increased. *R-R

 The 7th Army progress was also slowed by very poor weather, lack of air support, and fatigue of the troops. By the middle of September, the aggressive fighting spirit of the officers and the men of the three American divisions and their supporting units was definitely impaired. Companies, platoons, squads and individual soldiers; the strong elements most needed for advancing in this type of close-combat, where the terrain so heavily favored the German defenders, had weakened.*R-R

 This slowing of the Allied advance was not only occurring in the VI Army Group, with its single army (the 7th) and its single corps (the VI). Those British and American forces that had made the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944 and the reinforcements units that had followed them were having many of the same difficulties.

 Eisenhower was convinced that (because of the lack of aggressive fighting men, supplies and weather) an all-out offensive to defeat Germany by the end of 1944 was impossible. However, it was necessary to push forward on a broad front in a coordinated effort.

 The November offensive for the 6th Army Group was planned. "A successful offensive would depend greatly on the capabilities of the fresh but untried 100th and 103d Infantry Divisions and the equally inexperienced 14th Armored Division, all of which were scheduled to enter the front line as soon as possible" In the final plan the VI Corps was to launch its part of the November offensive on 15 November.  The 103d units would be flanked by the 3d Division on the north and the 36th Division on the south. *R-R

 On November 2, the first of the three new promised divisions joined the 7th Army..the 100th Division.  It provided relief for the 45th.

 Between the 9th and 11th of November, the second of the new divisions joined the 7th Army...the 103d Division. It would provide relief for the 3rd Division after unloading at Marseille the 20th of October. It was noted that these divisions were originally destined for northern France (Atlantic coast) and were redirected to the 7th Army by Eisenhower. *R-R
 
 









At this point, the recollections of members of the 103d Signal Company will once again tell the story.

Men of the other units of the 103d Division had very similar experiences and will undoubtedly feel a "oneness" with the men of the Signal Company.

DONLAN
 On Friday, 20 October 1944, The sea was choppy and air cold in early morning.  We sighted the coast of France in the hazy distance at 8:30 a.m. on the starboard side.  We prepared equipment all morning for disembarking.  As the coast came closer into view, it could be seen to be rocky and hilly.  We sighted Marseilles about 11:30 a.m. - on the inland side of some large rocks in the sea.  One of them had a large castle on it.

 Marseilles is partly on flat land - and up into the surrounding hills.  We anchored for awhile after noon in the large, natural harbor around which the city is built.  The Mediterranean was blue and calm in the bright sun.

 On the left side and stretching along the sea was a wonderful railroad built into the barren hills.  There were only a few trees.  Every bit of it was either tunnel or bridge in Roman aqueduct style.  We gazed in wonder at this "new" foreign land from the decks of The Henry T. Gibbons.  There were also factories built in tiers up into the hills.  They were all deserted.  Atop a hill was a beautiful cathedral with a golden statue on top and winding stairs leading up to it.  We saw a large convoy headed out from Marseilles to sea.

 We now entered the inner harbor - slowly - behind the breakwater construction.  A German direction sign still remained on one of them.  British ships were in the inner harbor unloading troops.  There were about five scuttled French ships in the harbor and many collected and disarmed mines.  It was announced that we would disembark in LCT's.  We ate our last chow aboard about 1:30 p.m. with this new strange land in view.  All I could think of was - what a difference from the flatland of Minnesota and Texas.

 There were several Frenchmen on the docks, looking for cigarettes.  We were still waiting to disembark around 8:30 when the air-raid alert sounded.  I was below decks and just sat still.  I later learned that part of the city had been raided (?) and gun anti-aircraft flashes were seen on deck.  When I got up on deck, there was a smoke screen over the inner harbor.  I went to sleep in my bunk and at 11:30 we were alerted that our unit (one of last) was to prepare for disembarking.  Once more, I put on all my equipment and we marched with packs and duffel bags up to D deck square, threw our duffel bags down into the L.C.T. and climbed down the rope ladder.

 Not sure we had practiced that? - perhaps.  The pack was extremely heavy and we had to stand a long time for the L.C.T. to be completely loaded.  After what seemed like ages, we moved off and across the harbor to the sandy beaches of France.  It was midnight when we piled up our stenciled duffel bags on shore to be picked up later by trucks.  We then lined up in company formation.  Those packs weighed heavily on our backs after one long day.  It was well after midnight.  Terra Firma felt funny and good; we were tired, but have many miles yet to go tonight.

ROREM
 The first land we saw was near the Strait of Gibraltar, and after entering the Mediterranean Sea we could see the coast of Africa and the Cities of Tangier and Oran.  We arrived in Marseilles, France on the evening of October 20, 1944.

  Between the two world wars Marseille was the chief sea gateway of France.  In the whole Mediterranean area no other port was so big and so busy.  The port area was now a shambles of destroyed docks and facilities.  Germany had requisitioned, dismantled, and shipped away much of the harbor equipment.  At the same time the Nazis constructed submarine pens, and behind the jetties they organized convoys to the Italian front.  To cripple their enterprises, the United States Army Air Forces and the RAF bombed Marseille from North Africa, southern Italy, and Britain.

 The Marseille we saw as we entered the harbor, and then marched quickly through on our way to our first camp on French soil was in poor shape as a result of the tragic recent history of German occupation, Allied bombing, and the recent invasion by the 7th Army troops we were on our way to reinforce.

 Being in a foreign land with night darkness increasing, being a little scared, in weakened condition from the voyage, the landing, the confusing geographical setting, rightfully doubtful of our leaders ability to make any more sense of the situation then we had - all of this created psychological burdens for some of us, in addition to the physical loads we were carrying.

 EVANS
 After arrival at Marseille we were welcomed by a German aircraft. As it flew high over the harbor area even the novices from the 103d Division could tell that it was German. The Kraut had never learned to synchronize the engines on twin and multi-engine aircraft and the distinct throbbing sound caused by the out-of-sync engines could not be missed. Air raid warnings sounded and lights started blinking off all over the harbor area as Marseille blacked out. The large "D"Deck Square hatches were wide open on the Henry T. Gibbons and the lights from D-Deck shown like a beacon across the harbor. We imagined that since this was the only visible target, the Henry T. Gibbons would soon be under attack. The aircraft apparently was only on a reconnaissance mission and, after looking around, left the area. It was a good thing because when we searched high and low for a switch to turn of the lights we found nothing and were about to shoot out the lights when the all clear sounded.

SMITTY
 On the 20th of October we approached a rather battered port of Marseille.  There was an air raid alarm at 2000 hours and an all-clear at 2030.

At 2100 we climbed down huge nets into landing craft standing alongside the Henry T. Gibbons.  At 2200 the landing craft grated against the French shore.

BECK
 We didn't unload on piers.  Instead we disembarked on LCI's.  They, in turn took us to the beach.  It was midnight by the time my company was ready to go "over the side".
 It was after 1 AM now and everything was as dark as could be.  We had heavy packs on, plus horseshoe rolls consisting of blankets an shelter halves.  Although we do not normally wear packs, we did this time.

 With myself in the lead, we started our long walk, with instructions, that at every turn that we had to turn on, an MP would be there to direct us.  The packs weighed about 70 lbs. as we carried practically all of our field stuff in them.

 The packs got heavier at the end of each mile.  Some of the men got tired and dropped out.  The moon completely disappeared and a slow drizzle started.

 At 3 AM we stopped and I ordered packs off and for everyone to eat their breakfast unit of K ration.

We then trudged on and on.  I thought that my pack would tear my back off.  Each step became more laborious than the previous one.  More men fell out.  At about 0530 I ordered the company into a field and bedded down for a few hours.  My first night in France was spent in a cold, rain drenched field, fast asleep, too tired and weary to mark the momentous occasion.
 At 0730 we were on our way again and eventually arrived at the designated staging area.

FADER
 And then the beach in France...dark night...sirens...searchlights...over the side down rope nets...into boats and onto the beach where MPs were shouting for us to move off the beach and move on, but where to? We kept walking up hill in pitch black night.  Not knowing where we were going or where we were, each of us in turn turned into the fields and went to sleep.  The next morning you could see soldiers in disarray, lying down in helter-skelter fashion...very unmilitary.  Then a jeep appeared with an officer standing and shouting for us to get back on the road and keep walking until we find our staging area.  Eventually we did...a slightly inclined plateau.  We were told to set up our pup tents...looking at the terrain I (we) chose the highest spot I (we) could find.  I think my partner was BALLANTINE...

THOMAS BROWN
 Then we had to march from the docks to the staging area about 20 miles north and all uphill.  We carried everything we owned on our backs, full field pack, cartridge belt, canteen, M-1 rifle, bayonet, gas mask and steel helmet.  The march was at night in the rain.  Guys were falling out and lying on the ground too exhausted to get up or to give a damm about the rain.  I finally made it to the staging a and pulled a shelter half over me and went to sleep. It was another good decision.

 That night it rained heavily and in the morning half the camp's pup tents were floating, but we were safe and secure.

DONLAN
 On Saturday, 21 October 1944 in a column of twos we marched off as a company across a shore road and up dark and narrow streets.  Houses behind walls were dark and deserted.  The streets were steep and winding.  Rumors were of a 10-mile march, but we expected a much shorter one.  Some of the hills were very steep.  A train passed over a viaduct under which we marched into the night. We had a break after a half-hour march, but it was twice as hard getting up again.  The long marches at Howze didn't have these hills!  The packs began to cut into our shoulders.  After another hour, fellows began to drop out quite frequently - probably to be picked up by trucks.  Now we're getting away from the walled homes and out into the countryside.  As we took one more break, trucks and ducks began to pass us up.  One truck smashed into a column, injuring several men and killing one.  It's getting colder now, though we still sweat while marching.
 We found fires along the way to warm by - and were often told, "only two more miles to go".  At one point a group bedded down, while another group of us plodded on.  We were also told to follow the high tension lines.  About 4:30 and I didn't think I could go any further!  The C.O. then decided to bivouac there a few hours.  I unrolled my roll and slept with another fellow for a few hours - till 7:30 a.m.

SMITTY
 It was a dark, cold night.  The streets we marched along were narrow and bordered by walls and shuttered windows.  It was rumored that we had a couple miles to go, uphill. I remember the darkness, the man ahead of me, and the rather foul smell of the streets through which we passed.
 Eventually we reached what seemed to be open country.  I remember but one event along the way.  One HAROLD MURPHY (Dallas, Texas) on the occasion of a rest stop, sat on a bridge rail, only to disappear backwards over the rail to fall some unknown distance into the darkness.  As it turned out, he fell 10 feet, landed on his pack and came up smiling and apparently none the worse for it.  It was fortunate that he wasn't carrying my pickaxe!

BARCLAY
 I don't know how many guys fell over backwards into darkness as MURPHY had. Perhaps it was only a coincidence that I was sitting very close to him (or perhaps some other "most lucky fellow") when my companion, name unremembered, sat down on the top of a stone barricade and also disappeared, apparently as his pack pulled him over backwards.  As I recall, at first, his absence seemed like some magical illusion - we couldn't image where and how he had gone.
 In the darkness, using the light from a shielded flashlight, it was determined that we had been sitting on a parapet along the side of the road that had a drop behind it of about 8 feet into the yard of a farm house.

 Our man was lying on his back down there.  He was helped by someone up an embankment at the end of the parapet, shaken and bruised but able to resume the evening walk.

 Just prior to this incident, our closest hiking buddies had another thrill...the roads were narrow, the passing convoy trucks etc. seemed to be moving through the darkness with reckless abandon.  When there was an opportunity to stop for a brief rest, it was difficult to get back and safely away from the passing traffic.

 An amphibious truck, DUKW, roared by very close to the troops who sat on, or tried to lean back on something, along the road.  One of our buddies had not pulled his M1 rifle back out of the way far enough, his rifle stock was broken off from the barrel assembly.

 For men who knew that their rifles were sacred objects, this was a traumatic experience - what to think, who to tell, what kind of punishment would be waiting when daylight revealed his embarrassment?

 All of these were problems.  The more immediate problem was, how do you carry a rifle "at slung arms" when the rifle sling is connecting two unsightly pieces.

 We continued to get up after each short rest period, but as the night began to grow longer, colder, and damper our strength and our resolve began to fade away.

 Already there was murmuring, even "bitching" and an occasional "discouraging word" as the proposed destination became a more and more distant and unobtainable end to our misery.
 To just "fall out" and refuse to go on, was desertion! In spite of this imperative, men began to drop out and move out of the line of march singly, in pairs, or small groups,saying, "not another step".

 Waldref and I, and perhaps others with us, just finally gave-up and walked off the road, through a dewy field to the shelter of something, covered up someway, and waited for the dawn and strength to return. We were apprehensive.  At daybreak we started out.  Along the road for the last 2 or 3 miles, other men were rejoining the hike in front of us and behind us as far as we could see over the rolling hills.

 When we arrived at a disorganized camp on a dismal, rocky, barren site only about a quarter of the company was there.  Some officers and non-coms leading men, or pretending to, arrived later that morning or in the afternoon.

SMITTY
 Near midnight the march was halted, more or less officially.  The night was cold and still wet.  We woke up to see a grey, treeless French wasteland... our destination.

 About two miles beyond, rows of shelter halves were erected and the company settled in to several days of K rations.  NOVOTNY and myself shared a tent... eventually to sport a floor, a shelf, and a candle holder.  After the slit trenches were dug, the vehicles began to arrive, along with the first mail call.  I noted at the time that the first mail brought NOVOTNY his notice of membership in the VFW.  The nearest bar was two miles, the nearest village five, the city of Aix was twelve.  A real rainstorm floated many of the tents away and the stream running down the company street carried bread, wine bottles and an occasional shoe, passing in review.

ROREM
  We expected to spend the night in some building but, instead, spent the night walking through the city and out to a barren area about 15 miles away.  We finally stopped at dawn and tried to sleep on the ground in the rain.  ROBERT FORCHHEINER and I spent the next two weeks in a shelter half-tent in an area assigned to the Signal Company.  We managed to salvage most of our personal equipment from a flooding rain which turned the Signal Co. area into a lake.  It was not easy to avoid the now-hidden fox holes and more than one person became wet to the waist after stumbling into one.

BARCLAY
 When Jerome WALDREF and I finally did arrive at the camp area, and learned about the situation of the company, our prospects for living the good-life there appeared to be slim or none.
 This cold, wet, rocky hilltop was a terrible place for men to even think about stopping for a short break, much less in which to set up a temporary camp.

 What we had to do was to figure a way to just survive the next few days. It became the challenge; find a convenient, dry place for our tent, get warm, get food, and then "get lost" into the chaos of the company area.

 We both would need to be "present or accounted for" in the official order and records, but not be too obvious most of the time.  Jerry was a master at just this type of "survival skills".

 During all of the training films we had seen on surviving, Jerry may have been learning the lesson - the most serious threat to his comfort and safety could be those closest to him. That surely must include any officer or non-commissioned officer that had him in his field of view at any particular time. Our primary purpose now was to avoid pain and suffering in the treacherous, hostile  environment of this military organization to which we had been assigned.

 We set up our tent as close as possible to one of the outer limits of our assigned company area. We were next to an ordnance company that had lots of work tents and repair vans, and lots of activity to mask our proposed inactivity.  I could see the advantage of being able to just step over the line and almost disappear into anonymity... Lots of soldiers moving about, some of them gainfully employed. We would be hidden like two elephants who had joined a herd of elephants, almost undetectable.

 Jerome could always see or develop the maximum advantage in any situation. Our nearness to the ordnance company was no exception.  He would have business to conduct there later.

DONLAN
On Sunday, 22 October 1944 I awoke, cooked C Rations and went to 9 a.m. mass in the field.  We improved our tents and finished slit trenches in the rockiest soil in the world, Texas included!  Looking around, we now see mountains - some with peaks above the clouds.  Town off in a valley (part of Marseilles?).

A Frenchman rode up to our area on a bike with a little boy. Some G.I.s spoke a little French with him - just to get started.  The bartering began - one pack of cigarettes for two quarts of wine.  Had a nip and it was really warming!  Had a detail of unloading boxes from trucks coming in from the harbor.  Everyone's busy - wooden kitchens are being built.  We put a wooden floor in our tent and fixed up a fireplace outside. Received first letters from home and wrote one, also.  Found out we marched 12-14 miles last night.  No wonder we're exhausted.  Cut my finger bad on a C Ration can.

 Another cold night in the tent - even with blankets.  This particular part of France is dotted with German dud mines and former French glider obstacles. Not far from our area is the former Radio Marseilles - with an extensive antennae system.  It is now operated by the U.S. Army - a signal battalion with several 399's.  Mountains and a tree-lined valley in the distance.

BARCLAY
 The next few days were busy for all of us as we were reconstituting ourselves into an elite unit of the U.S. Army. We began to lose that appearance of a bunch of guys who had just gathered together in desperation after a hard night of wandering in a foreign land.

 As soon as the company equipment started to be unpacked and put in order for military purposes; the careful planning, bartering and packing Jerome had done back in Texas began to improve our personal living conditions. A helpful man from the supply section delivered Jerome his personal radio. It had made the long, rough trip perhaps nestled in the middle of a bundle of soft underwear.  It was the very best available - a Zenith Transoceanic-All Wave Receiver. It most conveniently used Signal Corps batteries the Signal Company had in large numbers. Jerry was concerned about the inner condition of the radio for a reason, I did not understand. His examination, while I looked on in amazement, showed  that the "Pinch-bottle" of Haig & Haig whiskey, packed carefully into the battery compartment of the radio, had safely arrived.
 I had no interest then (or now) in alcoholic beverages and I am pretty sure that Jerry intended this valuable commodity to be used for barter or sale.

 Jerome's "National Match" Colt 45 automatic pistol was delivered about the same time. I think he was the only enlisted man in the company with a 45 automatic pistol. None were issued. Some officers did have such weapons issued or paid for. There were very few, if any, other pistols of this quality in use by officers or men in Europe at that time, and fewer still that had been fired by their owners at the Camp Perry National Pistol and Rifle Matches.

 Jerry's "business"' with the ordnance company, provided him with a mass-produced G.I. barrel for his pistol that he could use if it ever became necessary to shoot "something" and then discard the barrel.  He never used that "disposal feature". I think.

EVANS
 At the rain-swept Marseille staging area, we slept on solid rock in pup tents that constantly fell down because the wooden tent pegs could not be driven into the rock.

 There was inspection after inspection to make certain that we had everything we were supposed to have and had nothing that we were not supposed to have. For these inspections, everything we owned had to be displayed on a shelter half (the one-half of a pup tent that was issued to each soldier). We did this in the unrelenting rain so everything we owned was soaked.

DONLAN
 Monday, 23 October 1944 now things settled into a sort of routine.  Reveille at 6:15 with the band playing marches!  Sun came out, but it's still chilly.  We put up a large tent, ate C Rations and pulled guard in O.D.'s.

 We were all glad to see the kitchen come into operation and even STEW looked good!  We turned in all American money and were issued French francs (50 francs to the U.S. dollar). Days in the staging area moved along with alternate rain and sun.  We kept fires going and pulled our share of guard and K.P.  We heard special lectures from a 7th Army captain on the M-209 converter, radio procedure and signal security in the theater.

 It looks like combat soon, probably to relieve troops fighting up north of us in the 7th Army.  It gets dark around 5:30 and we usually have a bull session around the fire after chow.  One of the very "challenging" details we had was rock-piling.

 BARCLAY
Important parts of any service organization are the toilet facilities.  In garrison living, they are not that remarkable, except in derision and jokes.  In a field situation, such as we had, the arrangements for the relief and comfort of the men and officers at times become more noteworthy.
 Because of the large number of men assembled in the division area, and the rocky terrain, most of companies had latrines dug and constructed for them (perhaps by the engineers).
  The Signal Company facilities included several '10 hole' box seating arrangements in addition to a urinal-pit.

 As was usual, these latrine areas were moved as far as convenient from the living area of the company. In our case, they were lined up along an unimproved road at the rear of the company area.  The road continued to be used by the civilian population, male, female, and others.  Most of the civilian traffic was on foot.

 In spite of the occasional freezing rain, cold wind, etc., there were no protective canvas walls or ceilings around the toilets.  Privacy was not even considered. The civilians could be seen approaching some distance away by those seeking relief. In most cases, the women and girls could be identified, and would cause various reactions and responses by the men.

Some would "cut-short" their business and retreat quickly, others would react in a number of predictable and unexpected ways. In the group who remained "behind to be exposed", there were those who chose to ignore the passersby, others would smile or speak, the really savoir-faire' gentlemen would tip their hats and/or offer the ladies a seat.

 DONLAN
 There was plenty of real work to be done in the relatively short period of time that remained before we would be moved closer to the fighting front lines in preparation for actually being committed to combat.

 The Division and all of its individual units concentrated on the specific tasks most important for their preparation.  For the fighting men of the division, that meant putting the "tools of their trade", rifles, machine guns, mortars, etc. in first class condition, and then practice-firing them one last time before the "real thing", to make sure those vital elements of the few basic items they would carry in the first critical days of combat would not fail them.

 For the service companies, Signal Company, etc., the biggest part of the preparation was preparing new or almost-new vehicles for specific tasks of each operating section. The Construction section had 3/4 ton, and 1 1/2 ton trucks that needed to be loaded with various arrangements of wire-laying equipment.

 Each of the sections of the company had special types of equipment that needed to be mounted in vehicles or trailers.

 The Radio Operating section now had 3/4 ton trucks 'Weapon Carriers' in which to arrange and mount all of their radios and auxiliary equipment.

 FADER
 Then it was time to get ready for "move out" time.  Assigned to Hennum's crew with "Andy" Evans and Mike Schindler.  We used the time to install the radio equipment and, to protect us from a French winter, we raided a local lumber yard and built a shack on the back of the radio truck complete with bunks which became our home for most of our stay in the ETO--very, very worthwhile as the winter came on.

 In addition to all of that special outfitting and loading of the vehicles in preparation of "moving out", there was the additional requirement that all of the personal equipment of the men and the supplies of the company, etc. must be loaded into every available space for transport several hundred miles to the front. After all of that was done, the men had to find space in the vehicles to which they were assigned to squeeze in for the trip. All of it was very challenging.

DONLAN
 K.P. in the little wooden kitchen at the head of our company tent area.  Although it was raining out, it was warm in the kitchen and a bonus of good food.  At noon, about half the company took a hot shower - the first since the boat.  The days pass swiftly now. On Tuesday, 31 October 1944, two of us again went to Marseilles - getting to be our town.

 We got a good view of the French countryside.  A peasant was moving with his horse and cart, a farmer was sowing seed as in the Bible.  We passed, on the bouncing truck, a chateau with walls and towers, an inn and hotel.  We passed a number of Army convoys moving north.  We passed the town of Cabries, built of stone with the houses row-on-row rising above each other on the hill.  Into Marseilles on the Rue de Lyon past casinos and down to the dock area.  The Germans did their best demolition work on buildings, docks and a concrete structure along the docks.  We also saw a line of German prisoners marching along.

 On Thursday, 2 November 1944, I made one more trip to Marseilles before we head north.  I went alone and did a lot of walking.  Found fishing boats down by the quay.  Walked up stone streets for a great view of the harbor.  One rocky island had a castle on it.  I climbed much more to get up to the Church of Notre Dame du Garde.  It sits atop a rocky point above the harbor.  Climbed stone steps to the church and all of Marseilles stretched below me.  What a view!  Inner and outer stone jetties protected the harbor and lots of equipment-unloading going on.  Above me towered a glistening, golden statue of Christ and Mary.  There is also an observation tower and grotto.  I bought some souvenirs and said, "Bon Jour" to a Franciscan priest.

Picked up a truck-ride back on the Rue D'Aix - out the Boulevard de Paris along the docks and out the long Rue de Lyon.  Passed an Arch de Triomphe with inscription, "A La Republique Marseilles Reconissaure".  I even saw an old Roman-type aqueduct and French Renault cars gassing up at Texaco stations.  Went through Calas, with its stone castle and battlements and towers.  Saw big LST's of the Navy in docks.  We went aboard one and were able to purchase a few precious candy bars.  Barrage balloons still over the harbor and anti-aircraft guns.  We saw the former luxurious Hotel Mediteraneo and went to mass in the domed Basilica Church by the harbor.  When we returned to camp, we had to give the sign and countersign for security.  The 100th Division moved out today for the Front.
 
 


 

Moving Out

 The movement of the 103d Division Signal Company from the staging area near Marseilles to an area closer to the combat zone was actually a series of movements by groups and sections of the company with their men and equipment.

 We were all destined for the same general area of the Vosges mountains in eastern France, but the preparation time for various elements of the company meant that some of the earlier leaving elements arrived at the general assembly area before other elements who were putting their equipment in order at the staging area near Marseilles.

 Moving 15,000 men and their equipment was not a simple process and required lots of time and many different methods of transportation. The departure schedules were spaced out; small advance groups of survey, command and control officers and men from the division, and escorts supplied from experienced units at our destinations were the first to leave.

 These were probably followed in order by Division Staff officers, MP traffic control men, Quartermaster mobile-mess units, and then the very large number of vehicles of the division service companies.  The men of the Signal Company were in this latter element of the "motor-march".

 The most important men of the division, the infantry soldiers, were being transported to the front in the same way that soldiers of WW1 had been. They were loaded into almost the same type of railroad cars, French "40 and 8" box cars originally named for their ability to carry 40 men or 8 horses.  Some of those men were already familiar with this type of transportation, having "ridden the rails" as hoboes, during the depression, in American box cars that were larger but just as cold and uncomfortable.

The company trucks, trailers, jeeps, etc. were loaded and overloaded with the "tools of our trades", company supplies and records, 250+ duffel bags, personal weapons, contraband, etc.

In addition to all of the special outfitting and loading of the vehicles in preparation of "moving out", there was the additional requirement that all of the personal equipment of the men and the supplies of the company, etc. must be loaded into every available space for transport several hundred miles to the front. After all of that was done, the men had to find space in the vehicles to which they were assigned to squeeze in for the trip. All of it was very challenging.

JONES' BOYS
 Sgt. Jones' team members were in a 2-1/2 ton truck that had an assortment of all of the above, but the duffel bags we carried seemed to be the dominant cargo.  The bags were piled almost to the canvas cover from the bed of the truck, leaving very little room for the 4 or 5 men that shared the space.

 Our condition was typical of most of our men being transported in the rear area of the trucks.  The driver and 1 or 2 front seat passengers had it only slightly better.

Most of the windshields had been lowered as a precaution against possible air attacks, the side curtains were removed.  The wind and freezing rain made front seat passengers possibly more miserable than those crowded into the rear.

 At the end of the first day of discontent and grumbling, we stopped just before dark at a large park in Dijon where a field kitchen was setup in an unsuccessful attempt to provide a hot meal during a cold drissle of sleet/rain.

 The instructions for the night were to find as much comfort as possible on the wet, muddy grass areas of the park - but stay out and away from the vehicles!  There were some timid souls who did just that.  There were many more who under the cover of dark crowded back into the cramped cargo spaces of the trucks and trailers.

DONLAN - Sunday, November 5, 1944
 Up at 5:30, chow, tore down tents and got ready to go.  We pulled out about 7:30 a.m. with 25 vehicles in our convoy, headed obviously north.  We crossed the I.P. (Initial Point) at Aix at 8:45.  A large town with typical town square and statue in the circle.  The day was sunny and the fields green.  We stopped the convoy every two hours and chow break at noon.  We had three days of "K" Rations with us.  Next towns were Orgon and Orange with its feudal castle on a high hill.  Next was the large walled town of Avignon and we are now following the Rhone River north.  There are mountains along the picturesque valley.  We rotated drivers every several hours.  We made good time and reached Valence toward dark.  Just outside Valence we bivouacked for the night.  We made about 120 miles the first day.

 The next day we left before (or at) dawn along roads with white birch and autumn leaf canopies.  Land flat at Rhone River level with terraced hills beyond.  Through Tain and Annonay the convoy moved.  More railroads with larger engines pass by -- with funny 4 wheel cars.  Hillside towns with church steeples.  People waved and seemed happy to see us.  A large steel bridge between Vienne and town across the Rhone was partially destroyed.  The small towns and mountains gave way to the large industrial town of Lyons.  There were modern electric busses and a huge bombed-out railroad yard.  We parted from the Rhone River and picked up the Saone River, and up through Macon.  Sarvage and Chalon passed by with many boats in the river and a two car diesel train.
 When we got to the large town of Dijon, we bivouacked in the park, cold and very tired.  About 160 miles the second day.  Our bivouac area was very muddy.

 Tuesday, November 7, 1944 was a long day driving through rain.  Out of Dijon on a wide boulevard through residential areas now.  Evergreen trees mingle with autumn-leaved trees.  At St. Michel chimes on an old church rang out the hour.  Nearly everyone in this part of France wears wooden shoes.  Moving due north through Langres (walled with an entrance gate).  It sits above fertile valleys on a hill.  Martagny Les Baines is an old town and Darney a new one.  Noticed beautiful French cemeteries with stone arch crosses.  Around 2 p.m. we got a flat tire and I had to change it in the rain.  Towards dark we crossed the Moselle River and came to the town of Docelles where we pulled into a very muddy area near some wrecked houses.

  We are said to be only 16 miles from the 7th Army Front.  Combat soon.  Our trip from Marseilles to Docelles on Moselle was 475 miles.

 Awoke cold and dined on "delicious" K Rations.  Place surrounded by a sea of mud and still raining -- Rain gear a must.  I drew 210 rounds of ammunition for my "grease gun" weapon.

Heard on radio President Roosevelt was reelected President.

 Had a bad night cheered up with 10 in 1 Rations.  Rain turned to sleet, and snow.  Tuned up the jeep and gassed it up.

Convoy led by Capt. BECK got on the wrong route and jeeps went up and down convoy at 60 m.p.h. trying to straighten it out.  One of our 2½-ton trucks hit a jeep and killed the driver.  We finally got the route straightened out and moved on -- minus our 399 radio truck.  Now we began to see the destruction -- towns of Lepanger, Laval, Bruyers and others in bad shape.  After about 15 miles, we reached our CP at dusk.  It was hill, muddy and curving roads -- also very wooded.  Drove blackout leading a 2½-ton truck on narrow, curving roads.  Now enter combat area with artillery firing all around us.  To add to our troubles, it started to snow.  After several hours, we returned to the small town of Docelles, just west of Colmar -- and Division C.P.  A cheerful fire was blazing and went to sleep freezing under the stars.

 The Normandy armies driving from the east and the 6th Army Group armies approaching up through the Rhone valley joined forces on 1 September 1944. The problem of supplying the massive amounts of war material to sustain the combined drive toward the German boarder by the now combined forces even with the improved ports on the Channel coast and the rapidly clearing facilities at Marseille contributed to a slow down of the advance.  Another major problem was that those front line troops that had advanced from Normandy were suffering fatigue and some loss of spirit.  The same thing was happening to the forces of the 7th Army even though they had been engaged for a much shorter time.

 Eisenhower and his staff reluctantly accepted a short period of rest and resupply, but it was obvious that the Germans would also be able to use that respite to strengthen their forces.  The worsening weather and any unnecessary delay would favor the German defenders.  This situation applied for all sections of the Allied front but it was of special concern in the 7th Army section on the extreme right (southern edge) of the Allied front in the 7th Army sector.

 To the east of the 7th Army, toward the Rhine river and the German border, were the lower Vosges Mountains, the higher Vosges mountains and then a wide plain leading to the Rhine river.  It was expected that the Germans would use each of these physical barriers to slow and/or stop  the Allied advance until the winter snows would close off the mountains, and the later spring runoffs would make the rivers of the plains uncrossable.

 The 103d Infantry Division had been committed to action on 11 November 1944.  The Alsace region of eastern France in which the 103d division would now be operating was no stranger to territorial conflict.  Rule of the region had been under dispute for centuries.  Originally, the territory was neither French nor German  its ownership went back and forth....Germany annexed much of the region by force, the French language was forbidden by law and the men were conscripted into the German Army.  But this episode, too, ended in 1918 when France regained its lost province in the "Great War."  The German conquest of France in 1940 had turned the tables again, as the region became part of Hitler's Reich.  Finally, ownership would be turned over once more in the fall of 1944 with the Allied liberation.  Alsace would again be French. *WWII

 As might be expected, the region was a paradoxical mixture of two cultures - although German was the native tongue, with liberation that language was forbidden by law.  There was an unmistakable German feel to the region.  Although they were nominally French, there was an unmistakable Teutonic air about the people.  Even so, the largest city in the region was Strasbourg, and although it was just across the Rhine River from Germany, it was a long-standing symbol of French patriotism. *WWII

 When the 103d division was committed to action, the 7th Army and its divisions, 3rd, 36th, 45th, 100th, 103d and 14th armored were pushing forward as rapidly as possible.  The 36th had as one of its primary goals St. Die. When the 103d arrived at Docelles, it was assigned the task of assisting the 36th in a drive of St. Die. It was to seize the high ground southwest of St. Die, and then drive into that large city.

  Before the 103d Division could become a strong force in the coordinated attack by the 6th Corps in mid-November (the time at which the 103d division was committed to action), it had to clear a two-mile wide, triangular-shaped wooded hill mass between St. Die and the Taintrux valley.  The 409th and 411th Infantry regiments accomplished this mission during the period 16-18 November, while the 410th guarded the division's left flank.*R-R

 Early in November, Devers had wanted to swing his 6th Army Group forces to the north towards Moselle and Eisenhower had given a decision in favor of that drive with the provision that Devers must not leave any Germans west of the Rhine and south of Strasbourg. A secure base defense in this area was fundamental for containing any German counter offensive - Eisenhower thought such an attack was possible. *IKEWAR

 The 6th Army Group and 7TH Army leaders, Lt.Generals Devers and Patch after the successes of the advance since leaving the slow fighting of the Vosges, had been contemplating a Rhine crossing by the 24th of November. Their plan was to put pressure on the Germans by pressing them hard thus making it possible for the US 3rd Army just to the north to also rapidly advance into German territory.
 Devers, Patch and Haislip, XV Corps commanders were certain that the XV Corps--in position on the northern edge of the 7th Army front, adjacent to Patton's 3rd Army, could seize a bridgehead in the Ratatt area with relative ease and that the VI Corps would be ready to exploit northward through that bridgehead, thereby out-flanking the German fortifications west of the Rhine.  Devers was also confident-- mistakenly as it turned out--that the First French Army, with the aid of one or two 7th Army divisions, would make short work of the battered German Army in the Colmar Pocket.  At the time neither he nor his staff appears to have been aware of Hitler's determination to hold on to lower Alsace. *R-R

 7th Army Amphibious truck companies were already moving eastward to aid in the river crossing.
 This perhaps overly ambitious plan was about to be changed.  Eisenhower and his SHAEF staff knew that it was not going to be possible to advance on a broad front into Germany, which was his basic plan, at any time before the end of the year 1944.  The problems of getting supplies to the advancing troops had become one limiting factor. The other was the unavailability of trained fighting men to replace the casualties that had occurred in the fierce fighting since the Landings at Normandy and Southern France.
 Eisenhower and Bradley began a tour of the southern front to assess the condition of the leadership, the morale and fitness of the troops, and the tactical situations as understood by the local commanders. They visited Patton's 3rd Army HQ at Nancy and they judged that Patton was in trouble.  In spite of the fact that Patton's troops could "beg, borrow or steal" supplies to keep their bold forces moving, there just was not enough to sustain an aggressive drive and the weather was becoming less favorable.  There were stops at Luneville to meet with Devers and Patch, and then Sarrebourg (the XVth Corps command and Brooks' VI Corps at St. Die and finally the French Army still further south.
 Eisenhower's conclusion was that plans to cross the Rhine any time soon were to be abandoned. Generals Devers and Patch strongly argued for their plans.  They were convinced that the successes in the 7th Army area should be exploited with a strong drive into Germany by the combined 3rd and 7th Armies.

  Eisenhower insisted the French eliminate the German 19th Army elements in a strong defensive pocket at Colmar before the 7th Army pushed to the north. Devers, for some reason, believed the German 19th Army had ceased to exist and was not a threat to his forces.  He let the French Army form into two columns for a competitive attack to liberate Strasbourg instead of using the French against the serious German threat at Colmar.  The German forces in the Colmar Pocket were not eliminated. They were later strengthened and exerted an adverse impact on the Allied operations until eliminated at Eisenhower's strong insistence 3 months later. *IKEWAR

 Eisenhower held to his policy that called for destroying all German forces west of the Rhine, from the Netherlands south to the Swiss border, before initiating any major operations east of the Rhine River.  His operational concept also dictated that the main Allied effort pushing toward and into Germany would take place in the north. *R-R

 DONLAN - Friday, November 24, 1944 - St. Die
 Loaded our weapons carrier radio equipment to move.  We left La Pecherie late afternoon and up steep roads deeper into the Vosges.  Went past completely leveled and burned St. Die.  Around the ruins were green hills, beautifully wooded.
 There are many signs of a hasty German retreat.  Near dusk we finally got to Provencheres in Alsace-Lorraine.  The town was just captured this morning and is fairly intact.  We set up in a textile factory, so I got some cotton to make a mattress and slept on the floor.

 Just before leaving La Pechere today, General Eisenhower drove by with Lt. General Patch in a long convoy.  I saluted "Ike".

 Devers was clearly upset over the results of the meeting with Ike and Bradley.  Devers thought Eisenhower should reinforce success--that is, the 7th Army's breakthrough to the Rhine, and  that Eisenhower was more concerned with territorial objectives than with destroying the enemy.
 The November 26th SHAEF decision was still in dispute 30-50 years later. *R-R

  The commander of the VIth Corps expected the 103d to clear the west bank of the Meurthe River opposite Saulacy and St Leonard, before the 20th.  By 26th November, the leading elements of the 103d were in Ville, just 5 miles short of the Alsatian plains. *R-R

EVANS
 Colonel Donovan P. Yeuell, the 411th Regimental Commander, usually set up the regimental advance CP at the advance CP of one of his battalions.  This in turn was usually with the CP of one of the infantry companies.  Yeuell liked to be close to the action so he could assess the situation and make prompt first-hand decisions so the place to look for him was the 411th Regimental Advance CP or some place forward of that.

 In ten days time, the 411th Infantry Regiment attacked through Combrimont, passed quickly through the 409th's sector at Frapelle and Provencheres and, in a rapid advance, attacked Steige and Maisonsgoutte.

 By November 25th, the 411th Infantry Regiment had captured Maisonsgoutte.  Col. Donovan P.Yeuell was credited with the capture of two prisoners as he accompanied the lead infantry platoon into the town.

 In fast moving situations like this, our radio was almost Col. Yeuell's only contact with Division Headquarters.  Wherever he went, we went and it was becoming clear that he would spend a lot of time in dangerous places -- so much for the nice, comfortable, safe sound of assignment to 411th Regimental Headquarters.

 The 411th advance Command Post (CP) moved into a building facing the German positions.  The building entrance was at street level, but the building was dug into the mountainside and extended out to the rear so the ground floor in front was the second story in the rear. the rear exit was a story lower.  There was an outhouse behind the building.

 The CP was at street level, and our radio crew was sleeping in the rear of the same floor.
 At dawn, 411th infantrymen who had slept in most of the other buildings in town had fallen out into the street and were preparing to move out against the Krauts.  Then all hell broke loose.  The CP came under heavy enemy artillery fire that threatened to destroy it.  The very first few rounds landed outside the CP building directly under the heavily shuttered downstairs windows in the rear of the building.

 A second and third round came in very close to the point of impact of the first and then rounds came in all up and down the street.  The infantrymen were caught by surprise and there were more than fifty casualties within a few yards of the CP.

 An emergency Battalion Aid Station was quickly set up in one room of the CP at street level.
 Someone risked a look out through the shutters and shouted, " Hey, there are wounded down there."  I ran down the stairs to the lower level at the rear of the building and saw an unconscious G.I. lying on the ground.  I crawled out and dragged him back inside.  There was no visible sign of a wound.  As soon as I got him inside the building I got my shoulder under him and carried him up to street level where the aid station was being set up.

 When I went out for him I thought that I heard someone else crying for help so I went back down to the rear exit.  There was another infantryman there at the door.  He said that he was looking for his buddy who had brought a German prisoner down to the outhouse and had not returned with him.

I told them that his buddy was wounded but that I had gotten him up to the battalion aid station.
 The first artillery shell that had wounded his buddy had hit directly behind the outhouse and had blown the German prisoner out of it.  He was sitting on the ground crying,"Mama, Mama," We ran out to get him.  The other G.I. grabbed his shoulder and I grabbed his feet. He was seriously wounded and one of his legs pulled right out of his pants.  We managed to get him into the building and up to the aid station but he didn't make it.  He was too severely injured.  The American soldier that I brought in did survive.  His wounds were serious, too, but they got to them quickly enough to save his life.

A 411th infantryman, a private named Edward Holt, acted on his own initiative to locate the enemy artillery battery.  He got so close that he had to call in fire from our artillery right on his own position in order to knock out the German artillery.  For his heroic actions he received the Distinguished Service Cross.
 

DONLAN - Sunday, November 26, 1944
 Attended mass at the village church, with large statue of Joan of Arc -- by a Division artillery chaplain.  Took a shift on radio net and very ill with flu at night.
 Monday, November 27, 1944 - Reeling with flu, but time to move on today, after drawing new rations.  We moved out at noon.  Climbing higher and higher into the mountains, passing through Colmay Le Grande and Lubine.  Very swift-flowing mountain streams.  Got to Fouche past several cleared road blocks.

 The town was heavily shelled last night and this morning by German artillery and mortars.  Bargained with a Frenchman for half of his house and laid the 28 line to the switchboard -- and several long overheads.  Newly-captured Nazis (many quite young) marched up the road.  Saw B-17 formation overhead headed for Germany with vapor trails behind in a clear sky (impressive!).  Slept in basement, after K Rations with German jelly.  Owner is very hospitable.
 Tuesday, November 28, 1944 - Fouche - The radio team with the Task Force returned with lots to tell.  Hills sprinkled with autumn trees and evergreens.  Green meadows slope to rushing streams.  Fouche is draped with French flags.  But some signs in German in this disputed land.  Long hike at night and a warm meal.

GILL
 Within the next day or so we rejoined the Division CP at La Pecherie for a fine Thanksgiving dinner and our first 88 show.  Much later, I was to find that also on that very day my brother was in Le Souche (about 8 miles south of La Pecherie) getting shot up in pretty good fashion.  By the time I found out he had been in the 36th Division (Christmas time), he was well on his way home.

 We were not long with the Division CP nor did we act as NCS (Net Control Station) very long.  When pulling out of the bivouac area, headed for rear echelon (Epinal) to have our set checked over, Boitos met us at the exit road, gave us a little sketched map and redirected us to La Bourgance to join up with the Division Advance CP.  Interesting happening here - late on that dark, rainy, quiet evening I received a call requesting a signal strength check, presumably from the NCS who had taken our place at the Division CP.  My response to this was a 5 x 5 rating of readability and signal strength, (his signal was perfect).  His response to this transmission indicated my signal strength as very poor and zero readability, and a request for more V's.  After about the second or third request for V's I began to become uneasy and justifiably so, I thought, as a new sound pierced the atmosphere.  Whoosh - thud, whoosh - thud.  'Tho I had never heard them in actuality before, it certainly did sound like incoming mortars as depicted in some of those war movies I'd seen.

 My hyper-imagination told me that if the Krauts had jammed our frequency, they could be crafty enough to use a direction-finder on us.  A quick call to rear echelon for a signal and readability check received a 5 x 5 response (perfect), so when NCS called for another series of V's (though I really wanted to send QQQ)
,
 I conjured up the proper Q signals to tell him that rear echelon would act as relay. By this time, incidentally, I was lying on the bed of the truck, trying to slither down through the cracks.

PFC. ROGET
 Another platoon and squad  was leading the attack through the woods and they were being held up by a machine gun emplacement.  One of the First Scouts of the platoon knocked it out with a grenade and rifle fire. He was recommended for a bronze star but he was killed a short time later.
 When our squad moved into the action, there was a machine gun nest that was holding us up and creating a lot of confusion and scaring some of the men into inaction.  I had learned, early on, that the faster you moved around and didn't stay in one place, the better off you were.  So, I was moving from place to place and was able to shoot the machine gunner.  He rolled down the hill and almost into me - I noticed that he was about 15 years old.  His young age didn't bother me, at the moment, but over the years it has disturbed me.

 I saw a German behind a tree who was shooting at men to my left and getting some pretty good hits.  I took a shot at him and missed. He shot at me, the bullet hit the edge of the tree and ricochet off instead of going through.  Eventually, I was able to shoot him and I moved on forward.  He was an officer, I took a pistol and a leather-bound notebook from his body, before moving on.

 There was another German off to the side, behind some stacked wood, shooting very effectively at the first platoon of C company, I shot him from my better position.

 Soon the firing ceased, since I was out in front, I stayed in place until the rest of the company came up.  As the result of that action, I received the bronze star metal, the first one in the 411th Regiment, presented by Colonel Yeuell.
 The First Scout, who wiped out that first machine gun nest, as we came up that goat trail, got his bronze star posthumously.  In this action, he was in the platoon to our left and was killed by rifle fire, possibly by the soldier in the wood pile.

DONLAN - Wednesday, November 29, 1944 - St. Martin
 Pulled out with one of the radio teams.  Into town of St. Martin where some of radio was set up in a rich mansion.  Most were in town, so we set up in a tavern (much better!).  But confusion reigned.  We were "kicked out" of there, so back to the mansion - 3rd floor.  Helped lay 28 line to message center in town.  Slept in the hay loft after a chicken dinner.

 Thursday, November 30, 1944 - Four letters from home raised the morale.  A bath in the mansion felt great.  Cleaned out our radio truck and ran the jeep with equipment between the 399 and Radio Repair.  The hills are terraced and cultivated around here.

 The 409th Regiment had fought out of the Vosges mountains and into Ville on November 25 and another regiment had pushed through the heavily defended Climont mountains.
 The VIth Corps turned some of it components to the north, but the 103d's next objectives were to be LeHohwald and Barr.  The 411th reached LeHohwald on the 27th.  On the 29th the 411th cleared Barr.  The rest of the 103d moved to Dambach-la-ville (5 miles north of Selestat) by the 30th.*R-R

EVANS
 The 411th slugged its way slowly through a succession of small villages. St.Martin, Le Hohwald, Andlau, and Eichoffen.  The advance CP was set up in a building near Le Hohwald.
  Every radio truck carried a reel of "Spiral-4" cable. We had no idea what it was intended for but we quickly found a good use for it.  We rigged up a way to run this cable out to a safe place like the cellar of a building and used the several insulated conductors in the cable to hear our receiver, turn the transmitter on and off, and send messages over the transmitter, all by remote control.
 We had a heavy duty battery on the truck to handle the radio gear as well as the electrical equipment of the truck, lights, ignition, etc., but we had to be careful not to run the battery down.  This meant that in situations where remote control was definitely called for, we still had to go out to the truck periodically and run the engine for a while to recharge the battery.  The other side of the coin was that we could not just let our engine run indefinitely without risking running out of gas at an inopportune time.

PFC. ROGET
 We ran into no more opposition on this drive toward Barr, until we came down out of the hills into Maisonsgoutte. We surprised some Germans in the town.  Some of them surprised a few of us - there were a few casualties. At the far edge of town, we set up a road block by occupying buildings on both sides of the road.
 Glen Hansen, now recovering from diarrhea, found a wash area in one of the buildings, and was finally able to wash his long johns. His skin was very irritated - he had no medication.
 In the morning, when our units started to move out of the town, we came under an artillery attack by German 88mm guns. We had a number of casualties, until Sergeant Pahulski of our platoon led a patrol to silence the 88's on the mountain above the town. He received a Bronze Star for his effort and leadership.

 In our combat during this time, captured villages and incidents seem to run together. we were always tired, cold and hungry. Often during the long nights, I would go to sleep leaning on my rifle, too tired to get up and down each time we stopped.

 A "used up" GI said, "We were loaded and had to drag it all up the slippery slopes, through the brush and down the ravines. We carried our rifle, a belt of ammo and three bandoliers, a grenade launcher, maybe three AT grenades, and three or more hand grenades.

 Then we packed our raincoat, our sleeping-bag if we still carried it, our shovel and our rations. The grenades were dangled from our bandolier or rifle straps, stashed in a jacket pocket or else hung from our pocket by jamming the grenade handle through a buttonhole. The four jacket pockets were the infantryman's warehouse. There was always room for one more thing. We were always going to clean them out when we got time but we never got time. There was still stuff in them from Marseilles. With jacket crisscrossed by our rifle belt and the bandolier straps we bulged like Mae West on top and flared out like her at the hips. As we ate our way through our rations, we would save out the cigarettes and the matches, the candy, the sugar, the chewing gum and the toilet paper.
 The toilet paper we would cram into the shock band of our helmet liner, but everything else would go into the jacket pockets. At first we experimented with a filing system - cigarettes and matches in the right breast pocket, gum and sugar in the left. But when we would find a strap pinning the pocket shut, we used another pocket. So we would end up with a conglomeration worse than the contents of a woman's handbag in each pocket."

 PVT. PULSIFER - 411th INFANTRY (INTERVIEW AT A 103D REUNION)
 "It was very early in our first action.  We were down out of the Vosges mountains and onto the more open terrain of fields, pastures, small rivers, and little villages.  Our company had crossed a small river and were advancing down a country road when we came under an intensive mortar attack.  One of the first bursts was in the trees very close to me. Right next to us was a cemetery. When I got hit, they wouldn't have far to take me."

 (That was your very first thought, if this was really a bad event?)

 "Well, it did come to my mind in the very first moments - a response to the shock perhaps.
 I was hit in several places by the shrapnel; inside my mouth, outside my nose, in my back, in my leg, had a hole through my ankle and a busted arm."

 (Man, that was some kind of being hit, wasn't it?)

 "Yes, but some of the other guys were also in bad shape and worse - I think at least one boy died."

 (Did they have a good procedure for evacuating you fellows, or even recognizing that you had been hit. This was very early in the experience for all of you, even the medics?)

 "The situation was not good. I couldn't get up and move. Some of the others were in the same condition. Evidently most of the men had pulled out, and a couple of our guys had been killed immediately."

 (It was probably better to get hit early in the war before you went through all of the blood, sweat, and tears of the plodding campaign?)

 "I don't know, it was no picnic getting hit - if I had to get it, I am glad I got it early. We laid there until dark, some medics and other men came up and stayed with us."

 "They worked all night putting a rope-bridge crossed the river, and in the morning, they started to move us back.  All that had gone before was bad enough, but when they were working back across the trembling bridge, they dropped me in the water!"

"I went down under the water and then came back up to the surface and grabbed the bridge with the arm that wasn't busted.  They couldn't get me back up and onto the stretcher, so they drug me across and out of the river and through the muddy bank on my stomach, and then put my soaking body on the stretcher."

 (You needed more first aid after you crossed the river than you did before you started?)

 "I was happy to just get-the-hell out of there!"  I think the aid station was fairly close to the river.  They did some hasty repairs and then began to move me back with a lot of the other guys from that action and others that had taken place during the night."
 I ended up in Paris and, after a period of treatment and operations, crossed the English Channel for a stay in a recuperation hospital.

 We sailed home on the 'Queen Elizabeth' that had been turned into a hospital ship. That was in February of 1945, several months after I had been hit."

 (What had happened to your buddies after you were taken out of action?)

 "I didn't know what had happened to the guys in the units until the reunion in Springfield, Illinois a few years ago.  I found the Medic who came up and took care of us and the guy who came up and stayed with us through the night."

 (Have you seen any of the guys from your squad or platoon?)

 "I saw some of them. A lot of them were killed in the war or had died in the passing years."

 How have you been getting along since the war?

 "I am O.K., doing good, I still have a black marks on that leg from the shrapnel - a couple of pieces they don't even know about. It has been 48 years."

Signal Company personnel had been spread out over a wide area providing communications service.  The division along with the other elements of the 6th Corp had moved further out into the broad plain where the enemy as well as our forces had been able to fight a more mobile war and where villages and small cities had  been defended as prepared strong points.  The Germans were not particularly concerned that the structures and the areas they chose to defend and some of the villages and other populated areas had been heavily damaged when defensive strongholds were set up in a populated complex.

  The local Alsace folks seemed to move out of the way of the conflict as it passed them by, and then returned to their farms and homes to assess the damage.  They also were making judgements about the "staying power" of these new, semi-skilled warriors.  The limited, but very kind, treatment we received seemed to indicate that we and they had found friends and supporters.

On 1 December the 103d Division was driving east northeast, pushing the Germans back.
 However, resistance was tougher - the German supply lines had been shortened. They had made good use of the inevitable delays in the Allied advance to construct strong points of resistance. They had a civilian population that was more-or-less sympathetic.

 The Allied forces, including the 103d division, while not overwhelming, were certainly formidable. The French had captured Strausbourg on 25 November. Selestat, on the plains southwest of Strausbourg, was heavily defended by the Germans.  The 103d division was driving eastward toward Selestat, the 36th division was pushing north east toward that same strong point.
 The Germans were putting up a determined defense and 409th regiment B company and elements of the 36th Infantry division had fought into Selestat and were cut off and almost completely wiped out.  Brigadier General Pierce was in charge of the task force and therefore the rescue effort while most of the division had made a motor-march toward Gougenheim in the northeast of Alsace.

  On 4 December, Selestat had been taken after a series of hard fought actions, the 103d was relieved by the 36th and the detached forces moved northward to Gougenheim.

 In the French First Army area, on 5 December the large city of Colmar and the surrounding area west of the Rhine river was occupied by the Germans. These strong German forces, on the right flank of the 7th Army and the 6th Army Group were a direct threat to the Allied forces moving past them to the north toward the Rhine river and the German border. SHAEF and General Eisenhower found this situation intolerable. Despite assurances from Generals Devers and Patch that the French would drive the Germans out, they never did until the final days of the war.
 The US 7th Army was instructed to move northward to assist the US 3rd Army in an assault across the Rhine rive at Manheim. This closed off the possibilities of a drive through Strasbourg and into the heart of Germany.

COLLINS
  I was a master sergeant, NCO in charge of the Construction Section, assisted by Tech. Sgt. Frazier.  I spent most of my time at the front with two or three wireteams, I moved about in a jeep and on foot.  The lieutenant in charge of the section spent most of his time at the division CP.
 At one time, we took over a German basement of a three story building as our living space since it only had two doors and small windows at the street level. It should have provided adequate protection from German fire.

 The only commode in the building was down there with us.  Here comes MARVIN  ELLIS down the hall by the stored potatoes and salted down fresh eggs, and going 'full spead ahead' with his pants around his ankles. The Krauts had put a 88 through the window and shattered the commode he was sitting on. The shell did not explode, the commode did, and Ellis thought he might!

When the shooting finally stopped. I had 580 rotation points, so I came back to France to fly home and be discharged. I finally came back by ship two months after most of the other men of the division had been discharged.

THE 103D "CACTUS" DIVISION IN EUROPE

COMMAND AND STAFF

Commanding General

 20 Oct 44             Maj. Gen. Charles C. Haffner, Jr.

 11 Jan 45             Maj. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe

Assistant Division Commander

 20 Oct 44            Brig. Gen. John T. Pierce

Artillery Commander

 20 Oct 44            Brig. Gen. Roger M. Wicks

Chief of Staff

 20 Oct 44           Col. Guy S. Meloy, Jr.

Assistant Chief of Staff G-1

 20 Oct 44           Maj. Walter E. Winter

 20 Nov 44          Lt. Col. Charles A. Robinson

Assistant Chief of Staff G-2

 20 Oct 44          Maj. Bland West

Assistant Chief of Staff G-3

 20 Oct 44             Lt. Col. Russel R. Lord

 13 Dec 44            Maj. Richard C. Thomas

 16 Feb 45            Lt. Co. Richard C. Thomas

Assistant Chief of Staff G-4

 20 Oct 44            Maj. Robert E. Myers

 16 Dec 44           Lt. Col. Robert E. Myers

Assistant Chief of Staff G-5

 10 Nov 44          Maj. Shelden D. Elliott

Adjutant General

 20 Oct 44           Lt. Co. Alfred W. Croll

Commanding Officer, 409th Infantry

 20 Oct 44           Col. Claudius L. Lloyd

 19 Apr 45           Lt. Co. Hubert E. Strange
 
 

Commanding Officer, 410th Infantry

 20 Oct 44           Col. Henry J. P. Harding
 
 

Commanding Officer, 411th Infantry

 20 Oct 44            Col. Donovan P. Yeuell
 
 



 
 

STATISTICS

CHRONOLOGY

Activated 15 November 1942

Arrived ETO 20 October 1944

Arrived Continent 20 October 1944 (D+66)*

Entered Combat

…First Elements 9 November 1944

…Entire Division 11 November 1944

    D-Day for Southern France - 15 August 1944
 
 









CASUALTIES (Unofficial))

Killed 582

Wounded 3,276

Missing 662

Captured 23
 

Battle Casualties 4,543

Non-Battle Casualties 4,826

 Total Casualties 9,369

Percent of T/O Strength 66.5
 
 


 
 

CAMPAIGNS
 

Ardennes/Alsace

Rhineland

Central Europe
 
 









INDIVIDUAL AWARDS

Distinguished Service Cross 6

Legion of Merit 7

Silver Star 291

Soldiers Medal 12

Bronze Star 2,087

Air Medal 92

Prisoners of War Taken 57,517

COMPOSITION

409th Infantry

410th Infantry

411th Infantry

103d Reconnaissance Troop (Mechanized)

328th Engineer Combat Battalion

328th Medical Battalion

103d Division Artillery

382d Field Artillery Battalion (105mm Howitzer)

383d Field Artillery Battalion (105mm Howitzer)

928th Field Artillery Battalion (105mm Howitzer)

384th Field Artillery Battalion (155mm Howitzer)

Special Troops

803d Ordnance Light Maintenance Company

103d Quartermaster Company

103d Signal Company

Military Police Platoon

Headquarters Company

Band



 
 
 
 
 
 

ATTACHMENTS DATES

Antiaircraft Artillery
353d AAA SL Bn 25 Jan 45-5 Feb 45
354th AAA AW Bn (Mbl) 29 Mar 45-5 May 45
354th AAA AW Bn (Mbl) 6 May 45-9 May 45

Armored
Co B, 756th Tk Bn 15 Nov 44-3 Feb 45
1 tank co, CCA (14th Armd Div) 2 Dec 44-3 Dec 44
Co A, 43d Tk Bn (12th Armd Div) 5 Dec 44-7 Jan 45
Cos A & C, 47th Tk Bn (14th Arm Div) 14 Dec 44-19 Dec 44
781st Tk Bn (- Co A & 2d Plat, Co D) 17 Jan 45-5 Feb 45
Co A, 191st Tk Bn 25 Jan 45-5 Feb 45
Co C, 781st Tk Bn 7 Feb 45-22 Feb 45
Assault Gun Plat, Hq Co, 781st Tk Bn 17 Feb 45-22 Feb 45
756th Tk Bn  22 Feb 45-31 Mar 45
Cos A & C, 48th Tk Bn (14th Armd Div)  4 Mar 45-10 Mar 45
761st Tk Bn 10 Mar 45-28 Mar 45
781st Tk Bn 23 Apr 45-5 May 45

Cavalry
115th Cav Gp 24 Apr 45-3 May 45
117th Cav Rcn Sq 24 Apr 45-5 May 45

Chemical
Co B, 3d Cml Mort Bn 14 Nov 44-
Co B, 3d Cml Mort Bn 5 Dec 44-21 Dec 44
Cos B & C, 81st Cml Mort Bn 15 Mar 45-5 May 45
83d Cml Mort Bn 21 Apr 45-5 May 45
83d Cml Mort Bn 6 May 45-9 May 45

Field Artillery
495th Armd FA Bn (12th Armd Div) 26 Dec 44-2 Jan 45
69th Armd FA Bn 19 Feb 45-
242d FA Bn (105mm How) 2 Mar 45-25 Mar 45
Btry C, 991st FA Bn (155mm Gun) 20 Mar 45-24 Mar 45
242d FA Bn (105mm How) 28 Mar 45-29 Mar 45
242d FA Bn (105mm How) 26 Apr 45-5 May 45
69th Armd FA Bn 3 May 45-9 May 45

Infantry
274th Inf (70th Div) 17 Jan 45-22 Jan 45

Tank Destroyer
Co C, 601st TD Bn (SP) 15 Nov 44-5 Feb 45
Co C, 614th TD Bn (T) 7 Feb 45-31 Mar 45
Co A, 614th TD Bn (T) 21 Feb 45-31 Mar 45
824th TD Bn (SP) 24 Apr 45-5 May 45
614th TD Bn (T) 30 Apr 45-5 May 45



 
 
 
 
 
 
 

DETACHMENTS (ATTACHED TO) DATES

Field Artillery
103d Div Arty VI Corps 25 Mar 45-26 Mar 45

Infantry
409th Inf 45th Div 15 Jan 45-17 Jan 45
2d Bn, 411th Inf 45th Div 18 Jan 45-21 Jan 45
1st Bn, 410th Inf 79th Div 18 Jan 45-21 Jan 45
411th Inf (- 2d Bn) 79th Div 19 Jan 45-21 Jan 45

 


 
 

 ASSIGNMENT AND ATTACHMENT TO HIGHER UNITS



 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Date Corps Army Army Group
Assigned Attached Assigned Attached

9 Oct 44

ETOUSA

6th (Support&Operations)
1 Nov 44 Seventh 6th  (-)
6 Nov 44 VI  Seventh 6th
22 Dec 44 XV Seventh 6th
9 Jan 45 XXI Seventh 6th
16 Jan 45 VI Seventh 6th
29 Mar 45 (-)  Seventh 6th
19 Apr 45 VI Seventh 6th

 (-) Indicates relieved from assignment.
 
 


 

COMMAND POSTS


DATE
TOWN
REGION;
COUNTRY
20 Oct 44
Marseilles
Bouches-du-Rhone
France
30 Oct 44
Docelles
Vosges
France
9 Nov 44
Les Rouges Eaux
Vosges
France
17 Nov 44
L'Haute Jacques
Vosges
France
19 Nov 44
Les Rouges Eaux 
Vosges
France
21 Nov 44
Nompatelize
Vosges
France
22 Nov 44
La Pecherie
Vosges
France
24 Nov 44
Provencheres
Vosges
France
26 Nov 44
Lubine
Vosges
France
27 Nov 44
Fouchy
Vosges
France
28 Nov 44
St-Martin
Bas-Rhin
France
2 Dec 44
Dambach-la-Ville
Bas-Rhin
France
4 Dec 44
Gugenheim
Bas-Rhin
France
8 Dec 44
La Walck
Bas-Rhin
France
11 Dec 44
Gundershoffen
Bas-Rhin
France
12 Dec 44
Woerth
Bas-Rhin
France
13 Dec 44
Gunstett
Bas-Rhin
France
14 Dec 44
Merkwiller
Bas-Rhin
France
15 Dec 44
Drachenbronn
Bas-Rhin
France
19 Dec 44
Rott
Bas-Rhin
France
22 Dec 44
Francaltroff
Moselle
France
24 Dec 44
St-Jean Rohrbach
Moselle
France
15 Jan 45
Reichshoffen
Bas-Rhin
France
20 Jan 45
Imbsheim
Bas-Rhin
France
15 Mar 45
Ober Modern
Bas-Rhin
France
17 Mar 45
Gumbrechtshofen
Bas-Rhin
France
18 Mar 45
Woerth
Bas-Rhin
France
19 Mar 45
Bobenthal
Pfalz
Germany
23 Mar 45
Birkenhordt
Pfalz
Germany
24 Mar 45
Klingenmunster
Pfalz
Germany
29 Mar 45
Schifferstadt
Pfalz
Germany
2 Apr 45
Neustadt
Pfalz
Germany
7 Apr 45
Bensheim
Wurttemburg
Germany
20 Apr 45
Murrharat
Wurttemburg
Germany
21 Apr 45
Ober Urbach
Wurttemburg
Germany
22 Apr 45
Kircheim
Wurttemburg
Germany
25 Apr 45
Lonsee
Wurttemburg
Germany
25 Apr 45
Horvelsingen
Wurttemburg
Germany
25 Apr 45
Geislingen
Wurttemburg
Germany
27 Apr 45
Krumbach
Bavaria
Germany
27 Apr 45
Ketterschwang
Bavaria
Germany
28 Apr 45
Pfaffenhoffen
Bavaria
Germany
28 Apr 45
Bidingen
Bavaria
Germany
30 Apr 45
Partenkirchen
Bavaria
Germany
2 May 45
Mittenwald
Bavaria
Germany
2 May 45
Seefeld
Tyrol
Austria
4 May 45
Innsbruck
Tyrol
Austria

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