1918 - 1945

[103d Division logo]
[Crossed Signal Flags]
[103d Division logo]


Edited  by :

Pfc. William F. Barclay

Copyright 1995
All Rights Reserved

Memorial Note
William F. Barclay passed away July 11, 2001
Bill was a true gentleman.
He will be missed.

"Remembrances" is still under construction. It is not all here yet and posted portions are still under construction. Some are a bit ragged but they will be fixed as we go along.  Andy Beck, son of 103d Signal Company Commander, Bernard Beck, has taken on the daunting task of preparing a second edition with hundreds of photographs so it may take a while. Please bear with us while we complete the work. Your patience will be  rewarded.



Introduction and Narrative Organization

Part 1 - Prelude to War

1. A Few Good Men Remember  Events for most of "Our Men"
2. The United States, Part of the World, 1918-1942

Part 2 - Beginnings and the 103d Infantry Division

3. Introduction to the Division Units and Men
4. Preliminary 103d Div. and Signal Company Organization and Training

Part 3 - Preparation and the 103d Division Signal Company

5. 103d Signal Company Purpose and Organization
6. A.S.T.P.- Army Specialized Training Program
7. Final Preparation of OUR MEN in a Combat Signal Company
8. They Went That-A-Way
9. Cruise Ship To The Unknown

Part 4 - Introduction to Battle

10. French Riviera Interlude
11. Wet Rhone Valley Motoring
12. Lost In The Woods And On The Roads
13. Into The Valley And The Real War

Part 5 - Internal and External Conflicts of December '44 - March '45

14. French Maginot And German Siegfried Lines
15. Christmas 1944 In The Provence of Lorraine
16. Back To Fight In Alsace - Operation Northwind
17. Seven weeks Rest and Preparation
18. Massive Attack By Allies - March 15, 1944

Part 6 - Attack and Pursuit

19. An Old Wagon-Train Goes To Hell
20. Dark Encounter - Friend Or Foe
21. Occupation And Pursuit Of Fast Retreating Germans

Part 7 - The Beginning Of The End

22. Slow Blue(?) Danube And Fast Moving Action
23. Landsberg - Mein Kampf And "My God!"
24. Cold Alps, The Storm Before The Calm

Part 8 - Victory Beyond The Mountains

25. Sgt. Jones' Wire-Team Become Witness To History
26. Innsbruck - Peace, Tranquillity and Transition
27. We Go Our Separate Ways -Most of Us to the 45th Signal Company
28. Our Men in the 5th Infantry Division Signal Company
29. Rosario Natoli's Oral History - the Real Stuff
30. Some of Our Men (Old Soldiers) Have Refused to Fade Away



Any chronicle of a series of events occurring during a relative short period of time in the life of a group of men, as REMEMBRANCES is, may benefit from the inclusion of information that places those events into a context of preceding and following history. The addition of reference material at appropriate intervals in the text may lead to a better understanding of the events and experiences of those men, their companions and others who were effected.

 I conceived this narrative in eight parts - it's possible that there is too much fragmentation, however, I believe it results in a fairly orderly progression. This is a partial recounting of some of the experiences of the officers and men of the 103d Signal Company covering a period of time before, during and after World War II. It is not intended to be a historical record of that company, however a great amount of technical and tactical information about the Signal Company and the other large and small military units with which OUR MEN  were involved is included to complement their stories.

 The eight  parts are:

PART 1 PRELUDE TO WAR includes an abbreviated history of the United States in the 35-40 years preceding the Second World War. Some of the economic, political, environmental and cultural events and results are discussed. This was a period of time in which OUR MEN of these stories, their parents and their families had experiences that profoundly effected their placement and actions in the military. Excerpts from some of the diaries of the men have been included in this section to illustrate the diversity and drama of that period.

PART 2 BEGINNINGS AND THE 103D INFANTRY DIVISION is an introduction to the structure of the 103d Infantry Division in particular and the general concept and construction of a typical Infantry Division. The preliminary history of the 103d division, its formation after WWI and its training for the second World War (WWII) are discussed.

PART 3 PREPARATION AND THE 103D DIVISION SIGNAL COMPANY is the story of the 103d Signal Company formation after WWI, its history, preliminary training and its purpose and tactical organization, ie. how it operated to provide communication for the division and it attached units. Also included is a "Table of Organization", an outline of the "Command and Control" structure of the Signal Company. The successful direction and control of the Signal Company by Captain Beck, his officers and non-commissioned officers during its preparation for combat action  and during that period of time when the individual operating teams and their members may have seemed to be autonomous units was the direct result of excellent training and support.

 Included in this part is a discussion of the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) and the men who joined the Signal Company after ASTP's relatively brief existence. The additional training period of the Company following the influx of ASTP boys into a "combat unit" was brief and dramatic. Preparation for movement to an unknown combat area, movement, ship boarding and sailing overseas are related by personal experiences.

PART 4 INTRODUCTION TO BATTLE includes the integration of the 103d division into the 7th Army and commitment of the division to action in the Vosges mountains of eastern France.  Also included is a very brief history of the war in Europe before our landing in Southern France.

OUR MEN tell of the initial days of pain and suffering before we had met the enemy and operations as a "real combat outfit", success and failures. The attacks in the mountains, the push down into the valley, combat and conquest in the villages - St.Die and beyond in Alsace are related by men becoming "real soldiers".

PART 5 INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL CONFLICTS OF DECEMBER '44 - MARCH '45  relates probably the most difficult and complex period of combat action by the 103d Division, the Signal Company and its men. The very successful drive through the Maginot and Siegfried Lines and into Germany is followed by the disappointing and chaotic withdrawal and rapid movement to support the Allied Armies engaged in the last great battle on the Western Front. Christmas in Lorraine seems to be a time of reflection about home and family in the letters and diaries before a rush back to Alsace to engage the German forces that were advancing back into territory we had fought so hard to conquer. Command confusion, SNAFU (Situation Normal, All Fouled Up) is recognized. Orders given to Army Group, Army, Corps and Division commanders in our sector were ignored and/or disobeyed. The tragic retreat by the 103d Division and OUR MEN during a miserably cold night to stabilization and a period of inactivity all produced some dramatic descriptions.

PART 6 ATTACK AND PURSUIT covers a period of fast movement, long, tiresome periods of sustained action and work for all of the Company. We were back into Germany to stay. Overwhelming Allied force produced successes but still meant dangerous and dirty work for the men of the division and the Company.

PART 7  BEGINNING OF THE END on the banks of the Danube river began the final drive south through Bavaria, toward the Tyrolean Alps and back into winter-war conditions. Personal encounters by OUR MEN with the brutal German concentration camps are related.

PART 8 VICTORY BEYOND THE MOUNTAINS relates some of the cold drive-and-stop movement of Company Radio Operating and Wire Section teams and their support groups through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world made wretched by conflict and suffering. And then - success and victory! Some of us are missing, others enjoy a well earned rest before going our separate ways.

 Some of the experiences of OUR MEN assigned to the 45th Division Signal Company and the few who were assigned to the 5th Division Signal Company are related. The final chapter ...Refused to Fade Away, does not end our history and legacy.

 Every effort has been made by most of those attending the reunions and the editor, Bill Barclay, to get as many contributions  from all interested veterans of the 103d Signal Company as possible. There is a very good chance we have not succeeded in making the most of our opportunities, in spite of wonderful support from a large number of men (and their families). All of the "willing workers" hope that the book will be of some value to those who were involved and/or family members and others who may have some interest in these events.


Part of this record was initially compiled just after the war while mosts of the men were still in close contact. Notes and diaries written during the hectic days of combat action could be compared, corrected and expanded by recollections that remained vivid and fairly accurate. A number of other men  wrote about those days soon after the end of the war or perhaps a little later or decades later when they were prompted by their own desires to create a record for their families, and/or the opportunity to share their experiences in a narrative such as REMEMBRANCES hopes to be. There probably was some artistic license used in the recall process, but for the most part, we were trying to make a fairly honest record of the times, places, people and experiences

 From the detail available in the diaries, notes and oral narratives contributed, it may be concluded that the military service period in the lives of OUR MEN had made dramatic impressions they wanted to record for themselves and their families.

 In addition to the wire teams assigned to the three regiments of the division, there were several wire teams with trucks operating from the division Command Post to carry wire lines forward toward the regimental Command Posts and to the supporting units of the division. Members of one of these wire teams, led by SGT. EUGENE JONES, attached to division headquarters, com- posed a mental diary of some of their travels and experiences during the period of action when there was little time for reflection or writing. The writing took place during the period just after the war while the Signal Company was stationed in Innsbruck, Austria, while their memories and their honesty were not yet greatly altered by the passage of too much time.

 The editor of these Remembrances, used a "captured or liberated" German military typewriter to write an eleven page diary with the help of EUGENE JONES, JOHN ANANIA, RUDOLPH  DORTMAN, WILBUR ELLIS, RALPH LARSEN, HEBER TISCH and some others who were close at hand.  ANANIA, DORTMAN and I were in the same apartment in Innsbruck, Austria. Carbon copies of that crude effort were given to the team members before we were separated by assignment to different divisions.

 A desire to improve that rather limited and circumspect diary (for John Anania, myself and others of our friends at the conventions) has apparently been expanded beyond all expectations by contributions and encouragement from additional members of the Signal Company and their families.

 The format of this book includes a series of recorded events in chronological order experienced by individuals and small groups of men who were assigned as operating teams within sections of the Signal Company and by other men assigned to more centralized operations at the division command post or the division rear repair and support groups.

 The living style and typical experience of all of the Radio Operating teams was similar. The style and experience of all of the Construction (wire) teams was also similar. The general descriptions supplied by particular groups of men, apply to most of the other similar small units that were some of the basic elements of the Signal Company. The operating groups at the Division Command Post; Message Center, Telephone & Telegraph and others shared many common experiences as outlined by contributions from men serving with those units. Some of the men assigned to the Company Administration & Supply at the Division  Command Post or at Division Rear and the Division Signal Supply & Repair groups of the Signal Company also made records of their travels and experiences.

 This history includes excerpts from the written and oral records contributed by members of the Signal Company, and in some cases members of their families who survived them. Notable among these are BERNARD BECK's son, Andy who has had an extraordinary interest in his father's life and history. Andy has provided us with excerpts from his dad's many letters written during his military experience.  There is a wealth of interesting material, much of which has been included.

 Members of radio operating teams, notably BOB GILL, PIERCE EVANS, SEYMOUR FADER, IMMANUEL WILKE, JOHN DONLAN, and others have been able to give this record additional material, descriptions, and explanations of their far-ranging activities.

 The Division Telephone & Telegraph Repair, Radio Repair and others were, in general, less mobile. The narrative contributed by WILLIAM R. SCHMITZ (SMITTY) in his diary was written soon enough after the events to contain a great deal of detail of his total U.S.Army career. Excerpts have been included at places in the report where they serve to provide clarity to the operation and experiences of the Signal Company Service and Repair sections. FRANK KRAFT, assigned to T&T Repair, has supplied an outline of his military history and some of his experiences. That information has been included in places in the document where it may give a better understanding of the personal nature of the experiences shared by others who followed almost the same route in their forward advance. Frank was one of the very first of OUR MEN  to send an account of his experiences. That effort by him was very encouraging at a time of uncertainty.

 HOWARD HOPPEL, PAUL GRANT, CLEM POST  and many others in addition to Kraft and Smitty who have shared their recollections during reunions and by correspondence have been a great help. BOB GILL has provided a most interesting, entertaining, and "just great" account of his experiences at Claiborne, Howze and over-seas. For those who were there-at- the-beginning, this has to be wonderful reading and remembering.

 JOHN  DONLAN and HAROLD ROREM, acting as secretaries and "collectors of rosters, detailed information, official records, etc" have made a great contribution to this record as well as having supplied a wonderful record of the men of the company, their identities and addresses. Rorem has also supplied a great deal of interesting detail to this record, excerpts from it have been include at appropriate intervals in this narrative to supply back-ground information on the activities of various men and groups assigned to the Message Center and the Division Command Post.  Donlan has provided notes from a very detailed diary of his experiences, his "Ships' Log" of our "outbound voyage" is very complete and impressive. Donlan has also supplied some wonderfully descriptions of the villages and country side through which we passed. In 1945, Sgt. Immanuel WILK wrote about his experiences while serving with a radio-operating team on a special task-force assignment during the last few weeks of the war. Excerpts from Wilk's diary are included in the narrative.

 A separate chapter with a transcription of an oral history of ROSARIO NATOLI has been included. The stories Natoli tells and his narrative style are not the type of descriptive material that fits easily into a well ordered compila tion of real literary material that this war epic represents. All who know and appreciate Natoli will probably agree with this special treatment of an unusual talent.

 Also included in the text are some excerpts from recollections of soldiers from some of the other units of the division or its attachments. The contributions of OUR MEN and these others are being augmented by excerpts and reconstruc tions from a number of books and formal records.  The particular inclusion of reference material is not noted every place in the text; however astute readers may notice a marked improvement in editorial style between the more casual style of the general document and those excerpts from "Real Books".

 As an aid to understanding the Infantry soldier's view of the tactical situation, the day-today "Grunge"  and "the life and times" of these most important men in the division, there have been included, in para-phrase style, recollections a few dramatic experiences of a few men assigned to the infantry companies. The interest and concern for the experiences of some of these infantry men by OUR MEN was not a casual thing - they were our school mates, buddies, in some cases members of our families, and friends.  One of the latter of these infantry men was Private First Class (to become Lieutenant) Gordon Roget, an acquaintance of the editor in Lodi California.

 Medical Doctor Roget has written his own book, Autobiography of Gordon Roget, M.D.- From Nothing, detailing his experiences before, during and after his service in the 103d division. Some of his frankly vivid war stories have been included.  He was a dynamic person and infantry soldier.

 Of course, there is much more included in this record about the Signal Company and its men, but the accomplishments and the sacrifice of the foot soldiers we accompanied or followed are important parts of the stories of the 103d Infantry Division as told in other books.  The routine and the unusual events told by these ordinary (at times, perhaps, extraordinary) men - the most primitive living conditions were routine; that hunger, fatigue, filth, severe cold, danger and sacrifice and sudden death of close friends became common conditions. We in the Signal Company, realized then and now, we had it much better than the average soldier in the division - their stories are some of the vital parts of the "Remembrances".

 The chapters containing the contributions of OUR MEN of the Signal Company tell of the efforts we made individually and as small groups to supply part of the essential communications for the 103d Infantry Division and its fighting men. More than that, however, they tell of a period of time that included some of the most exhilarating, depressing, satisfying, discouraging, physically and emotionally straining experiences of our lifetimes.

 The reports from and about OUR MEN continue into 1995, and beyond. There are successes, disappointments, losses of some of us or in our families, but continuing companionship and evaluation of life experiences. The 1995 convention of the 103d Infantry Division and the Signal Company will be in Williamsburg, Virginia. That historic area of our country may be the setting for the biggest and best convention we have had if the interest shown in it by OUR MEN is an indicator. It could be another great event and memory for us. We should each do our very best to share this once-in-a-lifetime experience with as many of OUR MEN and their families as we can gather together.

 A considerable amount of time was spent in the combining and editing of the material for this book. A very large sacrifice of time was and continues to be made by HAZEL BARCLAY, the best "support person" I will ever have. The book would never have been started or finished without her encouragement and help.

 Much of the transcription of the "raw material" from all sources was done by Jan Schulz, a better than average person and an excellent stenographer.

 There may be more than a few errors, misstatements, wrong conclusions, inclusion of material that may not seem appropriate, exclusion of contributions from OUR MEN that should have been a part of the true story, slights - deliberate or accidental, lies and exaggerations included in the document. Not all of these are necessarily "mean-spirited", but most, if not all of them, were  made by the editor, Bill Barclay.

 In preparing the final (?) version of this book for distribution at the August 1995 convention of the 103d Infantry Division at Williamsburg, Virginia, the editor found that his time, physical and emotional strength and computer skills were failing.  Harold and Betty Rorem, who had done extensive proof reading and error correcting previously, kindly offered to review the pages that had been tentatively bound into a book for reproduction and distribution and to add much significant text, diagrams, illustrations and other professional touches that made the distributed copies a more complete document.  We who have copies of that revised and improved book are very thankful for all of their help and support.

Note: Andy Beck, the son of the 103d Signal Company Commander , Captain Bernard Beck, has undertaken the daunting task of rewriting REMEMBRANCES and has collected literally hundreds of photographs from OUR MEN for inclusion in the revision. Since there is no specific target date for completion of his work, we are providing, on this website, Bill Barclay's original book (text only) to tide you over.


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