| I entered the service from Northborough
Massachusetts; March 8, 1943 at the Fort Devens Reception Center (Repo
Depo), I was eighteen years old. We were given physical exams and then
drew our uniforms and equipment. I had requested to be assigned to the
Army Air Corps and after a week or so, we marched to the train station
in downtown Ayer to be assigned to a new camp. The train was over loaded
so we were redlined and were not allowed to board and had to march back
to the Fort Devens Repo Depo.
The next day I was promptly put into the 150th Engineers, "B" Company, Third Platoon. Major Ward H. Van Atta a handsome soldier with strong military values was placed in charge. There was a shortage of officers and we did not have one assigned to us so Staff Sargent Rybolt was placed in command of our platoon. The platoon was broken down into three squads and I think the tallest man in each group was appointed the squad leader. His badge of authority was a band of white tracing tape tied around his arm. You can imagine the reply of some of our tough recruits when a guy with a white string around his arm hollered "Shape up you guys and get with it." In my estimation, Sgt. Rybolt did an excellent job of training us, better, I believe, than some of the rooky officers in other platoons.
Passes to leave the post were very scarce. Many nights, Ruth thought that I was coming home on a pass for a date, but the truth is that I sneaked under the fence near the main road with a friend, Frances Murphy, a member of the 204th engineers. Murphy had a car parked in Ayer and we drove home to Northborough. Ruth always came up with a friend for a double date with Murphy. Security was supposed to be tight around the fort but we never had any trouble sneaking back in the same way we came out.
When I entered the service the town of Northborough gave me, as well as all the other servicemen from town, a gold watch. They also sent us care packages containing cigarettes, candy, cigars, cookies etc. To make money to pay for these items, Northborough put on many minstrel shows. Ruth, being a good tap dancer, took part in the shows. The U. S. O. requested that the Minstrel show come to Fort Devens to perform for the soldiers. After the show we all got together with the performers. I had a great time but Ruth didn't because I wouldn't let her dance with anyone but me. (I knew these guys!!).
I didn't smoke before I entered the service but with all the free cigarettes and those that we found in our K and C rations, plus the daily commands of "take ten, smoke up," I began to smoke.
August 2, 1943, Lt. Joseph McGlinchy (just out of O.C.S.) was put in command of our platoon. He was a good officer and tried very hard. He made sure that we were well trained but many soldiers felt that he was too strict so he was nicknamed G.I. Joe.
August 19, 1943, two men drowned while we were making a practice assault crossing of the Merrimack River in New Hampshire. We marched to the river from Fort Devens on maneuvers. Several assault-crossing boats were overloaded with men and equipment. The men were weighed down with full field packs, gas masks, steel helmets, cartridge belts and rifles. The front end of the boats submerged and the force of the motors pushed the boats completely under. The river was very deep and the current strong. I remember jumping into the river and pulling out several men, one of the men that I pulled out was Jimmy Kazmer.
Eight men including myself were awarded
the Soldiers Medal. We were presented the medal at a formal ceremony in
Durham England in April 1944. The citation reads:
Thanks to Sargent George Bugler I was given my long awaited 1-week furlough two days after the Merrimack River crossing.
Ruth and I wanted to get married, but our parents felt that we were too young so after many discussions and pleadings (I think we even threatened to elope) relatives and friends were called and we were married on August 24, 1943.
Just before we were married I went to the Northborough O.P.A. and received a special allotment certificate for 25 gallons of gas. It was stipulated that the gas was for our honeymoon and we could not leave New England. Gas like most things was scarce so Ruth's father gave us a few more gas ration stamps he had for his farm vehicles.
When I got back from my honeymoon I qualified for Marksman, Sharpshooter and Expert with the new M-1 rifles. This was not difficult for me because I was familiar with firearms. In my early teens I did a lot of hunting and trapping to earn extra cash by selling fur pelts. Before we received our M-1 rifles, we were using Old World War 1 bolt action rifles and this was a welcome change.
At this time we were told of a new secret weapon that the Army developed. The Bazooka. They demonstrated it for us at the artillery range. This turned out to be a formidable anti tank weapon for the foot soldier. An interesting side light about our bazooka training is that somehow a Bazooka rocket mysteriously showed up in a barracks bag (not from my platoon). When we were traveling the bag was thrown onto the floor of a railroad car and it blew a hole in it.
September 8, 1943, we left Fort Devens by train for Elkins, West Virginia. We bivouacked in pup tents on the mountainside of the Monongahela National Forest near Alpena and not too far from Elkins. Our training continued by building bridges, roads and practicing demolition with TNT, plastic explosives and crater charges.
Elkins was at the end of the railroad tracks. There was a roundhouse that turned the engine around. Elkins had one hotel that was always filled and it was impossible to find housing because of the thousands of soldiers in the area. Ruth followed me to Elkins in October and the day she arrived she waited for me at the rail road station. I remember seeing her standing all alone on the platform when I was an hour late getting into town.
Ruth was very naive and innocent and I worried about her. On her first night in Elkins the only housing that we could find was a room that Ruth had to share with two strange women. One girl was pregnant and she kept running out the door because she had morning sickness all night long. On her second day, two LADIES also looking for housing befriended Ruth. She thought that they were a little over dressed to go out looking for a room in their fur pieces and high heels and real silk stockings. They were walking down a street in a nice residential neighborhood when Ruth saw a well-dressed gentleman with a cane getting out of a car. She approached him and asked if he knew of any rooms for rent in the neighborhood. He looked first at the two ladies and then at Ruth several times and then said that he would check with his wife. When he returned he said that they would let Ruth look at their guest room but that they could not accommodate the two ladies.
The gentleman and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Crawford were wonderful to us and treated Ruth like a daughter. They always had special snacks for me when I came to visit Ruth. They also lectured Ruth about making friends with ladies like her fancy dressed companions. Mr. Mrs. Crawford (Virginia and George?) lived at 102 Wilson Street in Elkins. Mr. Crawford was the superintendent of the school system. They charged Ruth the outrageous sum of 5$ a week for board and room and she paid it by waitressing at the Old Inn Restaurant. While working at the Old Inn Ruth became friendly with some of my officers who she waited on. They would come back to camp and tell me how lucky I was to have her near me.
The people of Elkins were friendly and very patriotic. Ruth and I went to U.S.O. dances and other gatherings. We never saw hillbillies before we went to Elkins and I remember seeing a particular hillbilly lady come walking down the street in the snow with bare feet pulling a child's red wagon with a baby in it. The hillbilly women always seemed to wear sunbonnets and dressed very poorly. Woolworth's 5 and 10 cent store had a row of chairs near the door and we thought that was a nice idea to have chairs so that the shoppers could rest until we noticed that the hillbilly ladies would sit there to nurse their babies.
November 10, 1943, we left Elkins for Fort Dix, New Jersey. We were preparing to go over seas and our clothing and equipment was checked and brought up to date. While this was going on, I spent a lot of time assisting Lt. Glasser with mechanical drafting. He was preparing a presentation for the other officers on bridging, stressing, spans, panels, stress areas, and other points connected to bridging.
A woman Ruth met at the restaurant was driving to Fort Dix and offered to take her to New Jersey. She only gave an hour notice at the restaurant before she left but they gave her an extra weeks pay anyway. Ruth had to call Mrs. Wilson every night until she got to Fort Dix to let her know that she was all right. If our parents only knew!!
We found a small summer cottage on a lake in Browns Mills (a short distance from the fort) for Ruth to live in. Lieutenant Glasser's wife lived nearby and it is an interesting coincidence that I got passes and a ride to Browns Mills quite frequently.
Shortly after Thanksgiving we knew that we would be leaving for overseas and Ruth left to go home to Northborough. Our company picture was taken at this time.
December 21, 1943 the Battalion went to Camp Kilmer and we embarked on the Queen Mary. Two days later I remember sailing by the Statue of Liberty and saying "Good by to the U. S. A."
We were the first troops aboard ship and were given K.P. duty. My quarters consisted of a hammock, strung from metal racks along with many others, in the swimming pool. (Oh my aching back!!).
Most of our meals were English rations (mutton and kidney stew). If that wasn't bad enough we also had a very rough crossing (they said it was the roughest crossing the Queen Mary ever made). I got seasick and spent most of my time in my hammock or hanging over the rail.
I do remember hearing President Roosevelt speak on the radio, reassuring the home folks, "That no service men would spend the Christmas holidays on the high seas." This was a good deception tactic because at this time we were in the North Atlantic avoiding German submarines.
We arrived at Firth of Clyde near Grenock Scotland on January 2, 1944 and were promptly appointed to M.P. duty making us the last troops to leave the ship. W then traveled by train to Swindon England and on to Kingston Bagpuise near Oxford two weeks later.
While at Kingston Bagpuise we continued our training and laid down the first steel panel runways in England. We also built Butler airplane hangers.
I received passes and went to Oxford a few times. I'll always remember buying delicious fish and chips that were generously served in a cone made from newspaper. Most of the buildings were old and very impressive. At eleven o'clock every one on pass would gather under the Carfax Clock at Oxford University where the battalion trucks would pick us up to return to camp.
March 1, 1944, we moved to Clifton Heath, south of Oxford and built our camp. Once again we continued our engineering training and bridging. As I remember it, the only fresh vegetables our cooks seemed to find were brussels sprouts, we saw them growing in fields everywhere.
June 6, 1944, D Day, we were building a swimming pool for a British nobleman, (no army materials were used) but we knew something major was happening because of the number of allied bombers that were flying over us in wave after wave.
Shortly thereafter we moved to the marshaling area at Weymouth, England to prepare for crossing the English channel to Omaha Beach. We boarded L.S.Ts with our waterproofed mechanized vehicles that included bulldozers, compressor trucks, jeeps, and weapons carriers etc. When we landed at Omaha beach we had to improve and carve roads from the beach to the top of the steep cliffs so that we could move inland.
On the 40th anniversary of the end of W.W.II. while we were retracing our steps, we had lunch in a small restaurant with Colonel Reagan and others at the base of the cliffs. On the top of the cliffs there is a beautiful American cemetery.
We spent most of our time repairing roads, bridges and anything it took to keep vehicles moving. Every night we awaited "Bed Check Charlie" (German reconnaissance planes). The sky would light up with anti aircraft fire. There were random bombings also and during daylight hours we would see an occasional V-1 flying bomb pass over on its way to England.
In Normandy the roads and fields were boarded with hedgerows. These were hedges that were six or seven feet tall and were almost impenetrable. This made it easy for the Germans to defend and it must have been terrible for the Infantry that preceded us.
August 7, 1944, we joined the XXth Corps of the Third Army. We were pleased and proud to be a member of General George S. Patton's Army but the saying was "His guts and our blood". Our first job was to remove our First Army shoulder patches and sew on the new red white and blue Third Army Patch.
We broke through the German lines and we were on our way to Berlin (we thought) traveling night and day for more than 800 miles until we were almost to Metz, France. We began to realize that it might be a long while before we reached Berlin.
While repairing and building bridges, filling in craters and removing land mines we also cleared many obstacles along the route such as dead cows, horses, and dead German soldiers. We noticed that the dead German Soldiers had wooden bullets in their machine gun belts. The theory being, the bullets wouldn't kill you but send you to the hospital where it would require more resources to care for the wounded.
The French people were very happy to see us. They threw flowers to us as we drove by and offered us drinks. (Mostly wine). Being an engineering battalion with three line companies, we were soon broken up with individual companies A, B and C and assigned to different units needing engineering help. At times we were attached to The 5th Infantry Division, the 35th Infantry Division, the 80th Infantry Division, the 4th Armored Division, the 6th Armored Division and perhaps others that I can't remember.
We were next assigned to the 1135th Group supporting the 35th Infantry Division. At this time "B" Company was to take part in an assault river crossing on the Moselle River. Before getting to the river we had to get the wooden assault boats across a small canal. Then we dragged the boats through a swamp for almost a mile. The crew in my boat was Technician 5 Antone Pappas and Private First Class Melvin Bramley. We loaded the infantry into the boat and pushed off for the far side.
We received heavy mortar, machine gun and small arms fire. After unloading the infantry on the far side, the three of us started back. Brambly was sitting in the stern, I was in the middle and Pappas was in the bow. Machine gun bullets riddled our boat. The row of bullets badly injured Bromly and continued along and stopped, missing me but starting up again and hitting Pappas. At this point I jumped into the water and hung unto the boat. I was able to swim pulling the boat and worked it into a little inlet where we were protected from the firing. Eventually I was able to get hold of medics and Bramly and Pappas were taken to the hospital. This was not a good night and many other men ended up in the hospital as well. At first light, we were discovered by the Germans and received heavy artillery, machine gun, mortar and small arms fire. We hid in the swamp all day and you can be assured that no one smoked for fear of drawing fire to his hiding spot. In the mean time an easier crossing site was found upriver without having to use boats. The Infantry crossed in force and was able to secure positions that allowed "B" Company to withdraw from the swamp. I remember this as a very scary time.
I had the reputation for digging large deep foxholes, some at right angles. It was standard procedure to dig our foxholes as soon as possible if we were to be at a location for any length of time. On one occasion while attached to the Fourth Armored Division we found ourselves surrounded by the enemy. Our foxholes were scattered amongst our vehicles and the tanks. The incoming shells were bursting all around us and the tanks needed to change their positions in a hurry so that the Germans could not zero in on them. While moving to their new locations our tanks came perilously close to some of our foxholes and actually ran over some. We were being heavily shelled. At this time a flying object arrived into my foxhole. It was Staff Sergeant John Ventura. His first statement was "boy am I glad that you dig a big deep foxhole".
It was around this time that the mailman sought me out and handed me the long awaited telegram announcing the birth of my beautiful baby daughter born on August 25 (the day after our first anniversary).
In September we were bivouacked on the WW I Battlefields in Verdun France. This was an interesting area for me because my father, who was in the 132nd engineers in WW I, fought here. I saw the great trenches, which allowed me to understand what was meant by the command "Over the top". The huge crater and shell holes from WW I are still there and convinced me that those doughboys didn't have a picnic either. My son-in law, James Magay, was in the 249th Engineer battalion and was stationed at Verdun during training. Three generations. When will it end?
Most of Patton's army temporarily paused while they waited for fuel, we traveled so far so fast that we exceeded our supply line. When fuel eventually became available it seems that Monty's troops got priority, and we waited!! To add to all our problems, down came the continuously heavy rains. We were bivouacked in the muddy woods and it was impossible to find a dry area to pitch a pup tent. This was the beginning of many days without dry socks. During this time we were very busy repairing and widening roads that were originally built for one way horse and buggy traffic. We also repaired bridges, cleared the roads of mines and debris, set up abatis and prepared some culverts with crater charges.
Co "B" was attached to Combat Command A along with the 4th Armored Division. I remember one of "B" Companies missions quite well; it was to build a Bailey bridge at Sarreinsming near Sarreguimines. The bridge site was at the ruins of a blown out bridge. The third platoon started the job with Staff Sergeant John Ventura in charge. I can't remember why we didn't have an officer in charge, but if he was there we couldnÆt see him. A load of bridge material had been placed nearby earlier so we started to build the bridge. We were getting heavy shelling all during this time. When we started the launching nose we were using six or seven men. The other men were behind the old bridge abutment in a sheltered spot. As soon as we brought out more men to work, the shelling became very heavy and deadly accurate, we all had to scramble for cover. This happened time after time and we made very little progress. The shelling did not let up and the Germans seemed to have us zeroed in. Suddenly a shell landed right beside us and shrapnel smashed Staff Sargent Ventura's finger. About this time, Colonel Reagan, sporting his heavy 45 pistol on his hip and Captain Monzione showed up. They seemed to be hopping from cover to cover before they reached us. Colonel Reagan's first statement was "Why arenÆt you making more progress on this bridge." Staff Sargent Ventura said, as he was holding on to his damaged hand, "If you were around here for a while you'd find out!" Just about then another heavy barrage came in and the Colonel suggested that we withdraw. Johnny went on to the hospital and we did not see him again for several months. The heavy bombardment never did let up and the men dubbed the bridge "The Purple Heart Bridge". Co."B" 's casualties were twenty-two men. After twenty-four hours of artillery fire, "B" Company withdrew. Later, another company took over and completed the bridge, but Major Edmond C. Knight was killed there.
One of the nice things about the war was the day we got a special gift from heaven, socks, socks and more socks. Some people may not think many cases of new socks would mean very much, but to us, after plodding around in wet muddy socks for days at a time, it was just what the doctor ordered. These socks were acquired from a factory that we came upon. I had so many socks that I had the luxury of wearing them for a few days and then throwing them away. Before this we would rinse out our socks in our helmets, ring them out and pin them under our armpits to dry whenever we had the chance. Another bright spot was when we were given some captured fur jackets. We were also well dressed with a special gift of shoepack boots The story goes that a General who was in the area asked to speak to one of our men who happened to be the son of a good friend of the General. During their conversation the General asked if there was anything the soldier needed. He replied that waterproof boots were needed badly. Shortly thereafter the entire battalion received shoepack boots.
I don't remember exactly where it happened, when I lost my friend and truck driver, Gene Rintala. Due to heavy shelling on the road up ahead, our trucks pulled over along side of a raised railroad track. The banking provided us with some shelter from the shelling. Feeling the pangs of hunger, I went back to the mess truck and while I was gone a shell hit the truck and Gene was killed. Gene was a fun loving guy and kept our spirits up. My barracks bag along with Ruth's picture was destroyed.
We heard rumors of a heavy German counterattack. Immediately we were ordered to proceed to Luxembourg as fast as possible. Little did we know that we were going to take part in the greatest battle ever fought by the U.S. Army and in the greatest war ever fought.
Luxembourg, the country I'd most like to return to visit, was beautiful with forests of snow capped evergreen trees. The people welcomed us everywhere. The day before Christmas we moved to Beringen (I think this is where we were). We were broken up and housed with the families in the town. This was the only time in the war that I lived with a family. The family that I was with, consisted of the father, mother and two beautiful daughters who were fifteen and sixteen years old. We were able to communicate in French and they told us how badly the Germans treated them. I remember Christmas Eve because it was like a fairyland with the frozen snow glistening on the trees. Some of us walked to Church to the sound of the church bells for midnight mass. On Christmas Day we were busy with our defensive measures at many strategic points preparing bridges, culverts and abatis for demolition to stop enemy tanks if they continued to advance. Believe it or not, we had a most delicious Christmas dinner with turkey and all the fixings thanks to our hard working kitchen staff. (This was much better than the mutton, kidney stew and seasickness that I had last Christmas). Everyone had this Christmas dinner even the guards on outpost duty. We sneaked some of the food home to our hosts and they shared what little they had with us. The poor mother and father must have been nervous wrecks and I bet they didn't get much sleep with having about fifteen young men living in the house and admiring their beautiful daughters. The guys during our stay at this home seemed to be using their steel helmets a lot more, as wash and shave basins, to look their best in front of the family.
We continued to sand and repair the icy treacherous roads. The snow was waist deep and we worked in the freezing rain. We laid mine fields, prepared the trees for abatis and placed crater charges in the culverts as a defensive measure against the Nazis. Around this time we became attached to the 6th Armored Division. I remember going to a U.S.O. show and some movies, which was an unusual treat, but the intermission was over before we knew it. We were assigned to build a Treadway Bridge over the river near Diekirch. Due to the large number of mines, booby traps and incoming artillery it was almost impossible to complete this bridge but we finished it in three or four days.
We were preparing to go on the offensive and push back the Bulge. "B" Company was assigned the mission of making an assault crossing on the Saur River at Hoesdorf. We were to ferry across a regiment of the 80th Infantry Division. The night before the assault crossing, with the help of the infantry, we carried the boats out of the woods and down the hillside into the town and hid the boats in homes and buildings. Under the cover of darkness we marked the way to the boats and the river with tracing tape so that we could find our way in the darkness
It was demonstrated to the infantry what positions they were to take in the boats. There were three engineers and nine infantrymen to a boat. One engineer guided the boat and everyone else paddled. The river was a turbulent, torrent at flood stage; the current was 12 miles an hour. On the other bank, towering steeply up from the river, was the start of the Siegfried Line. There were Nazi pillboxes there and behind the pillboxes where German artillery and mortars. There were also mines, barbed wire and dragon teeth obstacles. In the daytime, we hid in the cellars of the houses and no one moved for fear of giving our position away. After dark my crew gathered together their infantry passengers and moved down to the river for the first wave. At this time it was cold and slippery and raining heavily .We slipped our boats into the water and all hell broke loose on the German side. The Nazis had the spot well covered. They gave us everything in the book. There were pillboxes on the right side and pillboxes on the left that had us under direct fire. They also gave us flare shells, then phosphorous shells a particle of which will burn through anything it touches. Then came the screaming meemees that make a screaming noise that scares the hell out of you before they hit you. We pushed our boat into the river and were swept downstream with the current. After paddling furiously we reached the other side and the infantry jumped out. Some of the infantrymen lost their equipment in the water. The current swept us further downstream but eventually we got back to the friendly side of the river.
It was at this time that I was kissed in the leg by shrapnel from an 88 shell. One of the medics, Randal Roy, treated me by the river. He pulled out some shrapnel that was sticking out of my leg, cleaned and covered the wound with sulfa powder, bandaged the leg and I was back in action. Of course the doctor, Captain Doyle, gave my leg a look-see after this action was over, but I still have enough shrapnel in me to create a buzzing sound when I walk through a metal detector gate.
When dawn broke, we were back at the
town hiding in the cellars exhausted, thinking about having to do the same
thing over again the next night. We thought that we were scared before,
but that was nothing compared to this action. I received the Purple Heart
Medal here and also the Certificate of Merit. The citation reads as follows:
We continued our regular engineer duties and built many bridges under fire as we progressed toward the Rhine River. We were all very apprehensive about crossing the Rhine. This was the last barrier to the Fatherland and we felt that it would be furiously defended. We had never bridged a river as wide or as deep and it sent shivers up our spine just to think about it. I remember going up in a small piper cub with Lieutenant Harry W. Huntington to get a peek of the area when we were doing reconnaissance of the bridge site.
March 23, 1944, the battalion started preparations to build a 1000-ft Treadway Bridge across the Rhine at Oppenheim. "B" Co. was assigned the job of constructing the far shore approaches and abutment. We were receiving hazardous artillery fire during these preparations. A raft of four pontoon sections was assembled in a partially sheltered bay area. With the help of motor boats it was towed across the river to the far shore bridge abutment site. During our trip across we saw our first German jet, ME-262, fighter plane. It was a jet-black plane with yellow crosses as markings. It started strafing the whole area but due to its great speed the damage was very slight. This was the first of several passes and later it was joined by another ME-262.
The far shore party consisted of Lieutenant Harry W. Huntington, men of the third platoon of "Co B" and myself. Upon reaching the river edge we proceeded to anchor the raft to the shore and prepare the approach. We soon began receiving very accurate artillery fire causing us to seek shelter. Because of the timing and the accuracy of the fire, we felt that a German observation post had to be near by. It was decided that I would take Sergeant Clemon E. Sears's squad and investigate the source. We cautiously advanced and searched the buildings near the bridge site. We discovered 17 Germans with a telephone and convinced them that they had better surrender. I remember vividly, Technician 5 Robert W. Gore moving the prisoners along with his colorful language and his rifle butt. We brought the prisoners to the shore and had a boat pick them up. After this action the artillery fire slowed down considerably and was not as accurate. The bridge was 972 feet long and consisted of 41 raft sections with each section having 4 rubber pontoons with steel treads attached. We also had the help of some Naval LCVPS. Due to the smooth combined teamwork, of "A", "B", and "C" Companies along with the help of other engineers this bridge was completed in the record time of nine hours.
This first bridge across the Rhine
provided the perfect opportunity for General George S. Patton to extend
his superiority over "Monty". The 150th received a Commendation from M.S.
Eddy, Major General, U. S. Army, and Commanding. The first paragraph reads
Many times we've been questioned whether we built the first bridge across the Rhine River, this is our proof. (A full copy of the Commendation is included at the end of this report).
I received the Bronze Star Medal for my part in this action. The citation reads as follows:
I have a picture of Colonel Reagan, myself and others standing close to the original site of this first bridge, taken when we retraced our footsteps through Europe forty years after the war.
We were soon on our way again bridging the Mainz River at Frankfurt and continuing with little or no resistance. Lieutenant Huntington was transferred and Lieutenant Reno S. Villadsen became our platoon's commanding officer.
It was around this time when Sergeant Clem Sear's foot was blown off. His squad was removing an abatis and he apparently hit a trip wire and set off a shoe mine. I was beside him and after the explosion I asked him if he was all right and at first he said "yes" but on looking down we saw that he had lost his foot and that he was walking on a bone. His leg was so numb that he did not realize his foot was gone. When he went to the hospital we heard that he was doing poorly and I assumed that he died only to find out years later that he was very much alive.
As we continued on, we saw tens of thousands of displaced persons trudging along the sides of the roads pushing carts or carrying their only belongings. There were also many civilians of other countries who were forcibly put into the German Army trying to get home. But what was very noticeable was that everyone was heading westward. The reason for this was that they feared the oncoming Russians.
We proceeded eastward building bridges where necessary and helping to clear out pockets of resistance as we approached the Czechoslovakian boarder. We entered Czechoslovakia and proceeded to the city of Susice. We were told to hold our positions here and seek temporary quarters. There was joy in the streets and the people loved us all.
On May 8th, Colonel Reagan announced that the war was over. I felt wonderful but I worried about a crack engineer outfit like ours being called to the Pacific. We soon moved back into Germany because of politics with the Russians and were stationed in Straubing.
One of the last fixed bridges I helped to build was named in honor of our former Company Commander, Major Edwin C. Knight.
At this time the point rotation system
came into effect. I was fortunate to have enough points to fly home. The
point system was as follows:
When it was time to leave I had a touch of dysentery and was in the hospital. Sargent Ventura would sneak in at night and bring me cheese and crackers hoping to bind me up so that they would discharge me from the hospital in time to leave for home. It worked and I will be forever grateful.
I left Regensburg Germany for Marseilles France by 40 and 8 boxcar. (This was supposed to hold 40 horses and 8 men or vise - versa?). I boarded a B17 and flew to Casablanca North Africa, then boarded a C54 and flew to the Azores. After refueling we took off for Presque Isle Maine in the U. S. A.!!!!! The seating on these planes consisted of canvas webbing on metal frames. This was not very comfortable but I would have taken "Standing Room Only" to get home. We landed with out any problem and traveled by train to Fort Devens.
I went through the usual processing and I had the option of staying in the service and going to O.C.S. or being discharged. All I could think of was that I wanted to go home. I must have looked much older than my years because when the mustering out officer asked me how old I was, I answered "21". His reply was, "I'd hate to be hanging since you were 21".
By the way, if it sounds as though I've been patting my self on my back when I mentioned my awards, I was. I am proud of what I did and I am proud of the 150th Engineers and proud to be an American.
I believe that every man in the 150th Engineers had their own private war during World War II. This was mine.