Tours – Return to Europe
Tour Europe – for Pleasure
by: Reverend Edward T. Boyle
Boarding the Neu Amsterdam for a six week vacation was a joy compared to the one I took in October 1944! What a Sad‑Sack? Loaded down with helmet, shoulder‑pack, blankets, al‑pak, mess‑kit! Now, the Porters were anxious to relieve you of every piece of luggage; friends to bid you “Bon Voyage”; plenty of room ‑ two to a stateroom, instead of sixteen; Distressed? Ring the Steward; he'll bring you comfort, clean your room, bring your meals to you in bed; a drink if you wish. No Sir! Not the crowded, stinky, nauseating hold of the troopship. Now, you can relax in arms deep sofa; call for service ‑ Heinekens beer 10 cents, Bols Gin 10 cents, Scotch 25 cents. There is dancing for your enjoyment, the movies, etc. Buddy, you would enjoy a trip across the Atlantic now!
Remember the beach at LaHavre? Wading to shore; huddle against the walls of bombed‑out buildings, against the cold, the penetration dampness waiting for the six‑by‑six that will give you a windy ride to the mud flats above Rouen. Today, at the dock there is covered ramp to modern station at door of which the latest Paris train was waiting to whisk us to Paris. In a few hours we were in a luxurious hotel just off the Champs Elysees.
Paris ‑ “Paris in the spring” ‑ She's in bloom. Still expensive, but she has shaken off the drabness of war years. Boulevards are crowded with tourists. The Louvre is open, as are all the historical monuments. Conducted tours are many; night as well as day time. Better French restaurants are again serving their meals with all the eclat of prewar years. The meals are excellent. We found that we could live very reasonably in Paris by staying away from tourist spots. We got double rooms with bath for $3.00 to $3.50 and meals about a $1.00 or 350 to 450 Francs.
The French are rebuilding, but Italy even more so. We marveled at the numerous new apartment houses constructed through‑out Italy. The Lire were 650 to the dollar, so except for places like Alberto's or the Bibliotheca, expenses were cheap. In Rome, there is so much to see magnificent monuments of Christian and Pagan Culture. Months could be spent there marveling at the fineness of art manifested in churches, galleries, gardens, and ruins. It was our intent to participate in the Beautification Ceremonies of Pope Pius X. We were in the crowd of 500 to 800 thousand people that were there that Sunday afternoon. I was privileged to say Mass in St. Peter's and many of the other great churches of Rome. The Historical unity of the churches and relics to the Apostles and the early church were an inspiration to Faith. Visited the U. S. Cemetery at Anzio. Permanent stone crosses are being erected over graves of bodies remaining.
Florence is a city of Art. Even today, she frowns on industry and prefers the arts. Artisans carry on their skills. Florence is proud of her art. After the war, her first efforts were to restore damaged art. Piece by piece, from the fragments, the ceiling of the Effizi Galleries were repaired. Nowhere will you see such outstanding art as seen in the Medici chapels, Baptistry of St. John, Pittil Palace, Santa Croise Church, and Effizi Galleries.
Venice, smells of the sea yet, magnificent, beautifully planted on the shores of the Adriatic Sea. She boasts of St. Marks, the Square, Doge's Palace, and her glass and lace work, the Lido. We were exceedingly fortunate while there to witness a grandiose Procession of Gondolas, launches, boats of every size and description, carrying cleric and lay people down the Grand Canal amid the waving of flags, standards, and whistles of several English Italian warships. Atop one of the launches was a beautiful white stone statue of Pope Pius X. This was to be installed in the Cathedral of St. Marks, where as a Cardinal, the former Pope was Papal Leagate.
From Venice, we went to Switzerland by way of Milan and the Italian Alps along shore of the Majore Lakes. In Milan, we were able to get a reserved seat, 2nd class, by racket of former U.S. Italian. When we were seated and on our way, the conductor came around and took off the reserved tickets. He was in on the contract. Switzerland sings out the majesty and magnificence of its Creator from the valley of Interlochen to the heights of the Jungrrau! Truly, it is a delightful pleasure to view the magnificence of rugged nature. Unless you are heavy with lucre you don't stay at the best places. They are expensive, but you can also find places agreeable to your purse. Don't put your feet on the seat across from you on the Swiss trains. The Conductor will request that you remove same. Switzerland is the cleanest and neatest of all European countries. Once, when we walked on the grass to ease weary feet, a citizen called our attention to the fact it was “verboten.” Similarly, to walk across the R.R. tracks, you must use the passenger tunnels.
Fast trains now run between Basel and Frankfurt. Along the way, through the French zone, it seemed that only about 50% of railroad stations were rebuilt. In the American zone, I would say about 80% rebuilt. Karlsrhue station is all rebuilt. In Frankfurt, there is a great deal of ruble despite the fact there is constant reconstruction. But, it must be remembered that there is little industry, little machinery, hence, most of the reconstruction is done manually which lengthens the process of reconstruction. The older sections, so‑called slums are slower in rebuilding. One reason is that ten years are allowed for heirs to claim property before the State takes over. For this reason, much property is untouched. The stores are filled with food and other merchandise. Many department stores have been modernly reconstructed.
A friend in “High Com.” loaned us his Volkswagen. We put about a thousand miles on it traveling Central Germany. From Frankfurt we went to Weisbaden, Mainz, Hediesheim, Bingen, up the Rhine to Koblenz, Bonn to Cologne. The Dom is only in partial use and is being repaired. A great deal of city is still in ruins. Hotel accommodations were poor so we proceeded toward the Schnee eifel and spent the night in Euskirchen. The next day, we passed through the section that was the German position in the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge around Prüm. Because of the great forest, valleys, and railroad we could understand how the “Jerries” could build up such power behind their lines. Visa difficulties prevented us from entering our former positions in Belgium prior to the Bulge. However all the farming towns seem to have recovered practically complete from the War. Patient oxen still clutter the road. All traces of war ‑ signs, wires, equipment are gone.
In Luxembourg, we stopped at the American Cemetery. Some of our men had been buried there. Most of the bodies have been removed and the cemetery is rearranging the bodies and putting up stone crosses over each grave.
The Saarland is road‑blocked by German and French soldiers. This is the only place we were stopped in Germany. First, by French, then by the Germans both going into the Saarland and going out. We spent the night in Kaiserslautern and from there we took the Autobahn. The next two days, we really covered the miles. The Autobahn are all opened. We went to Mannheim, Heidelberg, Heilbron, Stuttgart, the Ettlingen, and Karlsruhe. Spent the night in the hotel in Ettlingen that was 2nd Battalion officers quarters. They really are doing the business. Four dining rooms were crowded all evening. From there we continued on Autobahn back to Frankfurt. Few soldiers were seen outside Frankfurt and Heidelberg, although installations were noticeable off the road. Germans are polite to tourists. Not, what you might call friendly.
In San Quentin, France, we spent a few days with Corteel family. They entertained Father Day and myself several times while we were billeted there.
From there we went to Paris and Lourdes. In Lourdes, the thousand of pilgrims, men and women of every land tongue participating in the devotions was inspiring. In Rome, visitors were viewing the Faith in brick and stone, glass and paint. Here in Lourdes, was the Faith in action, people sincerely honoring their God and His Human Mother, now glorified with Him. It was inspiring to the believer, though provoking to the skeptic.
Air‑France, flew us to London. An excellent meal was served in route with wines and liquors. London was dressed up, freshly painted and powered for the Fair. Food was scarce. However, the English were spending. The hotels, bars, dining rooms were crowded. Many wore evening clothes.
Tea and cakes were served by a Colleen by Air‑Lingus on the way to Dublin. There for thirty dollars (ten pounds) we rented a car and covered the width and breath of Eire. From Dublin to Cork, the Blarney Stone, Lakes of Killarney, Shannon, Westport and back to Dublin. The people were delightful and meals were the finest. Out from Colb, we took tender to the Mauritania. Our accommodations were good and the food excellent. Many fellow travelers were emigrants who were friendly and entertaining.
The “vacation in Europe” is worth while. I'd do it again. It's not as expensive as you think. Investigate and you will be surprised how economic it can be. You arrange your accommodations according to your purse. You will enjoy Europe in peace time. Remember the exchange rates are in your favor.
Glorious Return to Belgium‑Dec 1954
by Douglas S. Coffey, editor
This story of the return of six members of the 106th Infantry Division Association and the one son and the one wife is being written by your editor. It is hoped memory serves well enough to tell you all that happened and the feelings of those who made the trip.
AFTER MANY hectic weeks and months of preparation, broken promises by members of the Association, who were going on the trip, then they were not, then they were, a case of ulcers, the men of the 106th finally met at Idlewild Airfield.
Having exchanged pleasantries with the group and their families who were on hand to wish bon voyage to these gay adventurers. They weighed in with the KLM Airline and completed all the necessary details for the departure. Beforehand each had gotten his passport and shot against smallpox so that he could reenter the United States after his trip.
The experiences of two who were fouled up will be related as we go on. In order to make the trip seem real to you who were unable to go, I shall use the pronoun “you” instead of “I” or “we. ”You kiss the girls goodbye and start your trek out to the waiting aircraft. While on the ramp you take pictures of the activity of the airport and continue to wave to the gallery poised on the observation deck. You then get your first look at the ship that is to carry you over the seas to Scotland on the first leg of your flight. The plane is tremendous, a Royal Super Constellation capable of carrying 85 or more persons. Before actually entering the ship you pose for the KLM photographer who is taking the group for local publicity pictures and feature stories about each man which will be sent to his local paper. KLM has supplied each of you with a lovely overnight bag to carry the loot you expect to pick up in Europe. You are greeted at the door of the plane by a smiling stewardess who shows you to the rear cabin where the group has all their seats to themselves. Much bantering is done back and forth to find out who is scared and who isn't. The Editor who has made the trip once before by plane pretends to be a veteran so as to ease the moral of those who are making their first flight or at least there first long flight over the Atlantic.
How did you feel? Like Stell, who felt she was going to be sick and tried everything in the book not to get sick. Wonderful traveler, she was, for she didn't become ill once although she was a little green around the gills. Some of you were quiet in your own sort of way, wondering if the plane would have an eventful flight or would it, like the plane in “The High and the Mighty,” develop trouble. You think more about it as you are told how to ditch in the ocean without a hitch. All in all, your fears are the same as all passengers, no matter how many times you fly. It's there, it worries some more than others, but when you consider that you may purchase $5,000 worth of insurance for just 25 cents, you see just how much faith the airline has against your faith.
The plane took off without a hitch with exhausts flaming until hot enough to have the pilot cut them out. As you look out and take pictures of the breathless panorama you realize just how small a human being is on this vast Earth of ours. The countryside on the way up the New England coast is wonderful to behold. As you head out to sea you begin to relax and sleep or bat the breeze with the boys. Night falls and all is quite except for the hum of the engines.
Having been aboard now for nine and one‑half hours your airplane descends into Prestwick Airfield where you are to touch down in Scotland. Without incident the plane rolls to a stop, you say good‑bye to the crew and thank them for the wonderful flight.
You are then escorted into a lounge by a gay little Scotch miss who make sure that you are comfortable and tells you that breakfast will be served in a few moments. You pass quickly through the sleepy customs, then proceed to devour a nice breakfast of ham and eggs. Doc Fridline tried a “Bloater.” Most of us could not stand fish for breakfast, but the Doc has a wonderful constitution. It is his fourth meal in 24 hours. He is to have one more breakfast before the 24 hour period is up, so you see no one starved. After breakfast you pick up a few souvenirs and some English money to play around with. You fully realize just how difficult the money exchange is going to be when you make your first purchase.
However, with the card showing the various rates of exchange which Coffey has furnished you, you find that it is not too difficult after all.
At last our bus arrives to take us through a bit of fog to Glasgow. Upon arriving at Glasgow you make the rounds of the town looking in vain for a church that is open. It being Sunday, you want to at least say that you have been inside a church even though there are no services until 11:00 a.m., at which time you will be aboard a fast train to London.
After traversing Glasgow and window shopping and taking some snapshots you return to the hotel in the station once again for breakfast.
Train time arrives and you find yourself on the Royal Scot, England's crack train from Scotland to London. With baggage piled high and spirits high we enjoy the English country side. Dinner on the train is much like that in America except that you receive much more individual service and larger portions and much, much cheaper prices. As night falls your train is whistling to clear the tracks for a clear run through the marshalling yards to its stopping point in London station which saw many a bomb during the war.
Without having to hurry or fret about your bags, Mr. Falconer, who is to meet and take us about London, finds us and takes us under his wing. You couldn't have found a more personable gentleman to meet you in a strange country. After making us comfortable in his Volkswagen station wagon, which held us all comfortably, we wound around London to our hotel. On the way to the hotel he tells you about the streets you are riding in and the famous places you pass. Upon arriving at the Claredon Court you are greeted by the porter who sees that you are registered and made comfortable in your respective rooms. Your room is tremendous with balconies to walk out on and view the surrounding area. The heat is on and the room is cozy. Though you feel like sleeping at once, it is time for dinner. You find by asking the manager that there is a wonderful restaurant just up the road. After cocktails in the lounge room you are escorted to the charming and intimate dining room where a gypsy is playing his violin and once in a while alternating on the piano. Your dinner is too wonderful to describe and the gypsy plays sweet songs at your request. You fall automatically into the European way of enjoying your meal without gulping or rushing. Took you two hours to eat and drink all that was placed before you. A tired but happy group then wended their way back to the hotel for a very restful sleep.
Next morning you're up at the crack of dawn for breakfast in the hotel, with which your are very pleased. You begin your tour of London, seeing all the sights that millions of other travelers have seen in the past years: St. Paul's, Westminster Abbey, London Tower with the Crown Jewels, the crows in London Tower who have their wings clipped because the saying is that if the crows leave London Tower, England's empire will fall. The guards in front of the Tower with their high kicks, and Buckingham Palace, the changing of the Horse Guards, as picturesque as you can find anywhere. No. 10 Downing Street, the ruins still visible despite many fences and billboards to hide their ugly stains. The House of Parliament and the flag flying to indicate the Parliament is in session. Big Ben with its thundering clap striking the hour. The shopping spree to take good care of the little woman left behind whom you cannot forget.
The first real Christmas decorations on the second story of the big shops. You haven't missed much of London during your stay and hope that you may come back and see a whole lot more for a greater length of time.
Mr. Falconer comes for you once more to take you and your luggage to catch another famous English‑European train, The Fleche d'Or, the Golden Arrow. On route to Dover to take the Channel steamer to Ostend, Belgium, you saw signs of war damage until you arrive at the point where the white cliffs loomed up to recall the song written about them. You remember what a pasting Dover took during the Battle of Britain. Upon passing through the now familiar customs you arrive on the cold, windswept pier and see in front of you the Prince Baudouin, which is to take you on your four hour trip across the channel. All is peaceful and serene as you watch sea gulls in the harbor arguing about who was going to get the fish that one gull had the good fortune to retrieve. Finally the ship started and it wasn't too long afterwards that a lot of people were green around the gills. Stella still fortified herself despite the fact that Doc and Doug almost drove her to distraction with stories of sea sickness. The voyage was rough as the pictures will show in Detroit this year. Waves were quite high and all were warned off the decks. Once again 106ers weathered the storm and landed in good style in Ostend.
Trip from Ostend to Brussels was for the most part uneventful except to see the countryside and still signs of war damage.
Upon arrival in Brussels you are met by a typical Belgian who is most gracious and takes you and your baggage in hand and carries you off to the Hotel Splendid where many happy hours are passed both on this trip and on your later return to Brussels.
It is in Brussels that you are on your own so to speak. Each has five days to do whatever he pleases and meet in Liege on December 14th to make our pilgrimages to cemeteries, etc.
How would you feel – when you arrive two of your buddies call a taxi and load all your baggage in the trunk of a little Renault and on the roof of the car and then say to the driver, “Take me to the Wiser Hotel.” The driver looks at you and says, “Monsieur, you are at the Wiser.” Sure enough you look directly across the street and there as big as life is the Wiser Hotel.
Another of your comrades come to Liege and as he crosses the street he hears a loud banging on a glass window. When he gets his bearings whom does he find in the local pub but Wells, Fridline, Behr and Doc's son Jake, lapping up the beer and parleyvous‑ing with the Belgian bartender. It is a welcome feeling to catch sight of your friends after the five‑day separation in a strange city. It is not too long after that your comrades who have journeyed deep into Germany arrive and all together again.
Next morning you rent a car and visit with nostalgia and deep memory those places dear to the hearts of all 106ers. The route to Spa, Heckhalenfeld, St. Vith, Schönberg, Bleialf, Oberlascheid, Radschied, Malmedy, Stavelot, Trois Ponts, Comblen La Tour, Comblen la Ponts‑all names that ring such a bell.
Your feeling run high as you solemnly regard the names on the Monument to the men who were massacred at Malmedy. Around the corner on the road to St. Vith is another monument to eight men who were massacred by the Germans. The old German helmet picked up by Jake, Doc's son. Ah memory! As you arrive in St. Vith you see one building in ruins and then you hardly recognize St. Vith because everything is so new to the right and to the left. Then it looms before you. The one remaining memory of St.Vith. Was it left there on purpose? Division Headquarters, a shambles showing just what happens to a building that has been hit with everything but the kitchen sink and you guess that was thrown in too. Another German helmet staring at you from the debris of the cellar which used to be the third floor. In front of the old Headquarters, as if in defiance, is a beautiful new hospital.
You then go on your way seeing all the landmarks of your days of combat. Some of the Engineer bridges still standing, other bridges never repaired, leaving jagged holes in the topography. You look out over the Ardennes hills covered with snow and remember and remember. You visit the Engineer positions, the Infantry positions and the Artillery headquarters and areas where some of the comrades on the trip spent many an anxious hour. You pass the little church from which many a German was flushed in retaking Oberlascheid and see some German civilians who haven't changed in these ten years. You reach the MLR and see the foxholes once again. No one has taken the time nor the interest to fill them in. You are warned by Wells and Gallagher not to enter too far into the woods for pictures of German gas masks and foxholes; they know only too well what happens when one tempts a mine. You stand there silently in prayer in the hopes that this might never happen to you or any other American again. Oh, those cold nights of darkness and fear and what courage and the lack of knowledge as to what was coming or what you should be doing. The snafu of orders as the Artillery advances and the Infantry retreats, or should we say makes a strategic withdrawal to the rear? The Artillery is advancing only because of a snafu in orders, not because they are smarter than the Infantry. No one is smart in this situation. The smart ones are those who learned by the mistakes in the Battle of the Bulge.
You find at the end of the day that you have visited practically every spot that the 106th was in during the Battle and you are satisfied with your pilgrimage. You regret that time does not permit you to go deeper into Germany and see where the peacetime 106th stayed and the prison camps where your buddies suffered even more than had they stayed in combat.
You are all invited to the home of Georges Sherrington, District Governor of the Lions of Belgium, who makes you feel at home by inviting some of his English‑speaking friends and who even supplies a lovely girl of sixteen for young Jake. The liquor and cigarettes and all good things to eat are plentiful and each and every one of you leaves the party feeling a stronger bond for the Belgians. You are proud that your little effort to help their country in time of war has made such gatherings possible.
The next morning the concierge is looking for “Colonel” Coffey. When your comrade Coffey comes to the desk he is greeted with a salute from a Belgian sergeant who says he is at our disposal to take us to the Cemeteries and any place else we desire to go, and through the courtesy of the Belgian government. The “Colonel” and the group enter the two new American cars with the shields of generals on them and away you go to tour the battle area again.
Because neither driver speaks English, it is up to “Colonel” Coffey to speak to them in his school French and as he asks various questions and tells the driver where we wish to go the driver keeps replying, Yes mon “Colonel.” At first we all though it was a joke on Coffey but somebody goofed and promoted him so we all figured it would be harder to explain he wasn't a Colonel than to let it go as it was. The countryside outside of Liege on the way to the cemeteries at Henri Chapelle and Nieuville en Condroz are known to most of you so we won't dwell too much on that. We arrived at Henri Chapelle and made our way to the flagpole carrying one of our tremendous wreaths that we had brought for the occasion. Gathering around the pole with OLD GLORY flying in the breeze, “Colonel” Coffey led the group in a word of Prayer to Almighty God that these men should have not died in vain, and with a smart salute we paid our respects. While at this Cemetery we took pictures of graves of 106ers.
Shortly after leaving the Cemetery for Liege it began to get foggy and one of our cars was involved in a slight accident. No one was hurt but you felt sorry for the poor farmer who was also involved because he had three strikes against him before he started with the police who had come to investigate. We arrived back in Liege without incident, except that the Colonel had to go to the Commanding Colonel of Liege barracks to tell of the accident in French and also to ask for the two cars for the next day. The Colonel, when he found out he was talking to an American colonel of course was quick to say that we could have the cars. That evening, just before cleanup time to go to a banquet which was being tendered to the group by the Lions Club of Liege, there was a rap at Coffey's door. Imagine his surprise and delight when the gang came in bearing a cake with a real candle, ice cream and candy. They hadn't forgotten that it was the" Colonel's" birthday. A wonderful time was had and you thought you saw a tear come from Coffey's eyes.
Having dressed, we were once again picked up by men of the Lions Club and taken to the most beautiful place you have ever seen for dinner. The building was the old palace of the Duchy of Liege and looked like something out of Hollywood. Beautiful carvings, tremendous paintings on the walls. Old firearms decorating niches; sabers of long ago; a patio out of this world, with fountains playing; a look showed you that you could observe most of the city lights of Liege. The cocktails before dinner were excellent. The food couldn't have been better. The Lions were most gracious and as this was planned by “Colonel” Coffey, a Lion himself, he thanked the Lions in French, for which the men were very pleased. It pleases foreigners no end to have us Americans try to speak their language, as bad as it might be in your opinion. I think most of the group was a little heady by the time they took their leave of the Lions that night.
Getting back to the hotel, there was a call for the “Colonel”from Brussels and when he finished his conversation he informed the group that we must leave Liege the next evening in order to be in Brussels to meet the gentlemen who was to introduce us to the King and to familiarize ourselves with the part we were to play at the ceremony to be held in the Palais des Academies.
Next morning, on schedule, our Belgian drivers were waiting and took us to the other cemetery where Father John Gallagher led a word of prayer. Another smart salute and we were on our way to Meyerode to pay our respects to Eric Wood, the famous 106er who loved to kill Germans in Freedom's name. Upon arrival in Meyerode we contacted the local Gendarmerie and were given a guide into the deep woods to find Wood's monument. We probably never would have found it without his help. In a wonderful wooded setting with a shaft of light shinning through the trees we saw the Monument that the people of Meyerode placed there in Wood's name. We once again placed a wreath on behalf of the 106th Infantry Division Association and had a word of prayer from Father Gallagher. Directly across from the Monument was marked out in moss a large cross, and a tattered Belgium Flag indicated the exact spot where Eric Wood's body was found by the farmer Maraite.
The group then went to Maraite's farm to talk with him about Wood but were informed that old Peter Maraite had died. You did see his wife and daughter and the family and also a picture of Eric Wood with a citation which hangs in the Maraites's home. After taking their pictures your group started the long trip back to Liege.
You passed once again over familiar territory and stopped for awhile here and there to take pictures for those who couldn't make the trip and for whom the pictures will be shown in Detroit. One stop was made in Vien, a favorite haunt of the Engineers wherein is a lovely little church where our good and dear friend General McMahon took time out to pray.
We arrived in Liege just in time to catch the train to Brussels. Our train was late getting into Brussels and it threw a monkey wrench into some of the plans that the Belgium American Association had for us. In good spirits just the same, we were whisked to the home of our host, Colonel Robert Pflieger, the gentleman who was to introduce us to the King.
Colonel Pflieger and his wife have a lovely place and they made us feel right at home with the Colonel personally mixing our cocktails himself. His wife was most charming and friendly to us. Later, General “Nuts” McAuliffe's daughter and one of his Aides joined us. As the evening grew late they left and the Colonel then explained just what we had to do the next day when we met the King. He informed us that we must wear dark ties and possibly have to bow if the King did not first extend his hand. The King, being gracious himself, made our task easier by extending his hand.
Palais des Academies
Next morning after a hmmmmmm, shave, shower and shampoo we all left for the Palais des Academies for the Ceremony. The hall was like unto the Abbey at Westminster where the Queen was crowned. We were to sit on the right side of the stage with Guard of Honor of Belgian officers behind us. On the stage came forty‑eight Belgian soldiers bearing the flags of the forty‑eight state of the United States. Then came a Guard of Honor for Old Glory and also one for the Belgian Flag. On the rostrum were Prime Minister, the President of the Belgian American association who planned and directed the services, and other dignitaries. Counts and countesses were in attendance, dukes and duchesses, generals of the army, the two archbishops, the Ambassador from the United states and Ministers of England, France and other European countries. Invitations were few and had been extended only to the highest ranking families and personages in Europe. The 106th was really in its proper glory. The men who represented our Association were proud of their duty and resplendent in their performance of it.
General McAuliffe entered with his Aide and then the King himself entered his box and the program began. We omit the speeches made by McAuliffe and the others to hasten to the end of the program.
With the band playing the National Anthem, the King left his box for the rear conference room. Your men of the 106th were then escorted to the rear of the Palace to meet his Majesty, King Baudouin. Before a battery of a least thirty cameramen and the newsreels the King approached, first shaking hands with Richard Behr, Minnesota, then Doc Fridline of Ashland, Ohio. The King smiled and shook hands with each and made them feel at ease.Then he moved on to shake the hand of John Gallagher of Laureldale, Pa., then to Bill McMurray for Canonsburg. He had to look up to big Jim Wells of Hephzibah, GA. and finally to Doug Coffey, of West Orange New Jersey. By prearrangement Coffey was to make the presentation of the Lions Tale to His Majesty. Coffey, in steady voice made a speech for which he was later commended by his comrades, and presented the King with the Lions Tale on behalf of the Division Association. The King then thanked Coffey and stepped back and thanked the entire group for coming to take part in the services. The King was visibly moved by this fine group of straight forward members of the 106th who made the trip at their own expense to help memorialize the 10th anniversary of the battle of the Bulge.
After the King left to go back to his Palace the group was ushered into another conference room where they made a broadcast to America with General McAuliffe and Count Boel, head of the Belgian American Association. The Belgian Broadcasting Company is sending a copy of the tape for our use in Detroit in exchange for a copy of the Lions Tale for their records.
After leaving the Palace the men were taken to the fabulous Hotel Metropole for a banquet in their honor and that of General McAuliffe. To skip details, it can be said that the group was really in the height of its glory and when they were introduced and asked to stand so that all could see them they were given an ovation for several minutes. If they hadn't sat down they would still be clapping, so high was their regard for these men. A tired but happy bunch of GIs made their way back to their hotel, the photographers and reporters followed them to get personal stories from each.. The next morning every newspaper carried their pictures and the story of the 106th. Truly the 106th had made history once again.
This actually concludes the story pertinent to the 106th, for a balance of the trip was fun for all and a good time was had. They went on to Paris for three days and who needs to explain Paris. They saw and did everything everyone does when they go to Paris. The Folies Bergere, Place Pigalle, Versailles the perfume shops, the Louvre and all the rest. From Paris they went to Amsterdam and were much impressed. They rode around by tourist bus and went up and down the canals by boat. They bought souvenirs, ate wonderful meals at bargain prices. They visited a diamond factory but alas, no samples. Departure time arriving, they boarded their Super Constellation for the trip to good old USA. They put down in Glasgow due to weather and had dinner and then took off once again for Gander, Newfoundland. As a snow storm arose they were forced to land at the Stephenville Army Air Base in southern Newfoundland. Leaving Newfoundland for home the clouds were beautiful with the sun shinning in all its fullness. As the travelers approached Idlewild, New York, they vowed to get together at Detroit and have their own Convention of the 106th Travelers.
McAuliffe, Belgians<R>Mark “Bulge” Day
An article that appeared in “Stars and Stripes,” European Edition
by: James Quigley, Staff Correspondence
Brussels, Dec 16 (S&S) A standing ovation by an audience which included King Baudouin of Belgium today honored Lt. Gen Anthony C. McAuliffe, 7th Army CG; at a celebration here commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge.
McAuliffe, whose refusal as acting commander of the 101st Abn Div to surrender to German forces won him world acclaim, was the guest of honor at a ceremony in Palais des Academies.
McAuliffe promised that 7th Army troops today stand ready to give account of themselves if a battle should be forced upon them.
He disclosed today how the people of Bastogne aided U.S. wounded during the battle after the 101st Division hospital and medical supplies had been cut off by the attacking forces.
Upon his arrival at the Palais, McAuliffe was accompanied to the platform by an honor guard form the 7th Army MP unit under command of Lt. Otto Kerr.
Veterans in Guard
In the honor guard were Cpl. Cardwell S. Dawson, who was a member of the 707th Tank Bn in the Battle of the Bulge, and Sgt. James W. Collyer, who was in the Colmar pocket.
Each of the 48 state flags was carried by a Belgian soldier to the platform to form a military tableau behind the 7th Army honor guard. Music was supplied by a crack Belgian horn group.
Despite the threat of “militant communism,” McAuliffe said, the buildup of North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces give us the hope that peace and freedom will be preserved.
At the conclusion of McAuliffe's talk the king was introduced to six former U.S. soldiers who participated in the Battle of the Bulge. They sat dressed in civilian clothes, as guest of honor opposite McAuliffe on the platform.
The six formerly were members of the 106th Inf. Div. which was hit by the attacking Germans in December 1944. They were flown to Belgium last week and since have been touring World War II cemeteries.
McAuliffe, who was wearing a blue dress uniform, was greeted by prolonged applause as he arose to make his talk in French.
The audience, which included many Belgium's ranking personalities in military, church and civilian life, also included U.S. ambassador to Belgium, Frederick M. Alger.
The six former members of the 106th Division were:
Richard H. Behr, of St. Paul, Minn.: Dr. C. Delsher Fridline, of Ashland, Ohio; John I. Gallagher, of Reading, Pa,; William C. Mc Murray, of Pittsburgh; James E Wells, of Augusta GA., and Douglas S Coffey, of West Orange, N.J.
Behr, Fridline and Coffey were taken prisoner during the battle while Wells and Gallagher were wounded.
The men of the 106th who returned to Belgium for the 10th Anniversary of The Battle of the Bulge were privileged to make a broadcast which was carried all over Europe and broadcast to the United States. The following is a transcript of that broadcast.
This is Betty Barzac speaking from Brussels, Belgium. We are now in the reception hall of the Palais des Academies. You hear a terrific noise, but that is part of the end of the ceremony in which Gen. McAuliffe in front of the King of the Belgians recalled the Battle of the Bulge, of which we are today celebrating the 10th Anniversary.
Dear friends across the sea, I have the privilege, the joy and the great honor to present to you one of your greatest soldiers, General McAuliffe, the victor of the Battle of the Bulge, General.
Thank you. I have just been very much moved by this splendid ceremony and by the wonderful treatment that we Americans here have received today, as we always receive in Belgium. As you know, his Majesty the King honored us with his presence. There were groups of paratroopers and of 7th Army troopers, and best of all was one of the first events of the ceremony: the flags of the 48 states were brought in and arranged behind the stage. I was very much moved as all Americans were, who were fortunate enough to be here today.
Thank you, General. As always, we welcome you and we anxiously await your next visit.
Friends across the seas, you will now hear from Baron Boel, who has acted as chairman of today's ceremony. Baron Boel is the vice president of the Belgian‑American Association, under whose auspices today's ceremony has taken place in Brussels, Baron Boel.
It has been an honor and a privilege to preside over this morning's ceremonies. Gen. McAuliffe has never before spoken in Brussels in public, yet his name is as popular in the Belgian capital as it is in Bastogne.
The Belgian‑American Association members are proud to have brought the General here. The hundreds of distinguished guests who crowded the hall were happy to have a glimpse of him at last and hear him speak in that simple, straight‑forward military manner which is so characteristic of the men who act when action is expected of them.
The City of Bastogne has kindly loaned us the 48 flags of the Union which have been presented to the City by the American Legion. The flags formed a fitting background to the tribute which Belgium must pay to the American officers and men whose bravery and endurance helped to liberate our country ten years ago. His Majesty the King of the Belgians, by his presence this morning, symbolized the gratitude of Belgium. Once again I feel very privileged to have presided over one of the most impressive ceremonies ever held in Brussels.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. You will now hear from Count Baudoin de Borchgrave, a former Belgian military attache in Washington who was responsible for the organization of today's ceremonies, Count de Borchgrave.
My stay in the States as military attache were the happiest years of my life, not only because of the interesting mission I was intrusted with but because of the many and wonderful friends I made in its course, and it is simply wonderful that the air waves enable me to send a personal message of everlasting friendship along with my best Christmas wishes. Gen. McAuliffe has just told you of his appreciation of this ceremony and the spirit in which it was celebrated. I feel relieved at having had the responsibility of its organization. I was anxious to learn that it had met with the approval of the great soldier who today so well symbolizes the American people and the American Army. Merry Christmas to all.
Thank you, dear Monsieur de Borchgrave. And now I have a surprise for you. Six men who belonged to the 106th Infantry Division that fought in this battle have come over from the U. S. A. at their own expense and on their own initiative to attend this glorious ceremony and to cheer once more their former Commander‑in‑Chief. I am going to have each one of them at this mike. Each wishes to say hello to friends over there and perhaps also a few things about what they have seen and heard and felt this morning. Here is the leader of them all who will introduce himself.
I am Douglas Coffey, a former prisoner of war from West Orange, New Jersey. I have just had the high honor of presenting to the King of the Belgians a personal history written by men of the 106th Division Association and I also want to thank Count de Borchgrave for inviting my comrades in arms to this wonderful affair. Thank you.
I'm Jim Wells of Hephzibah, Georgia, and I surely appreciate the opportunity of attending the ceremonies. While we were over here, we visited the various battlefields that we went through during the war. We saw a lot of changes and a lot of familiar places. We are certainly glad to have been here and I'll give time to my next friend. Thank you.
Bill McMurray from Pittsburgh: We've all been impressed with the ceremonies we've seen.
My name is John Gallagher from Laureldale, Pa. It has been a great honor to be here in Belgium today and to return after 10 years. The ceremonies today were most impressive and we wish to thank the Belgian people for their sincere kindness to us this day and for our stay in Belgium. We will never be grateful enough.
I am Dr. G. Delsher Fridline of Ashland, Ohio, a former POW who fought in the battle of the Ardennes and helped to take care of some of the wounded there and during prison life. I join the rest of the group in thanking the Belgian‑American Association and the Belgian government and all others concerned for the wonderful treatment we have had here today.
Richard Behr, St. Paul, Minnesota. Being a former POW we are very much honored to be back here on the 10th Anniversary and to meet the King and all his delegates. Thank you.
Thank you all for coming up to the mike. I know you are in a great hurry because there is a little reception waiting for you and a big luncheon.
Europe ‑ 1954
by the editor, John Loveless, president 106th Association
The report of our devoted editor in our last “CUB” was most interesting and told you of the great experience we had on our journey back after ten years. It was a great privilege for my wife and I to be a part of this pilgrimage.
As always, in war or peace, the men of the 106th are true gentlemen. You can't imagine how well behaved they are; they treated my wife with such kindness she now expects me to carry on their high standards of chivalry! I shall endeavor to share with you some of our observations.
We had a wonderful opportunity to talk with the people. On the Royal Scot from Glasgow to London I had a fine chat with a Catholic priest who told me of the good work we in America have done for Britain and Europe. He feels we should continue our fight for the freedom of our people, as well as all freedom‑loving people.
London, as you who were there during the war know, is a place of color and ceremony, rich in tradition. It's a wonderful city to visit to get a feeling of English history. We can visualize our own country of some 179 years ago as part of this tradition.
Wherever we went, we were recognized as Americans as quickly as we were when we had our G.I. uniforms on during the war days. We felt deeply honored by the recognition.
It was our great privilege to attend church services in Westminster Abbey and to attend a session of the House of Commons.
The train rides with their compartment‑type coaches were an experience, I have a delightful remembrance of the tea Mac and I had on the Royal Scot; a real English tea, biscuits and all.
The Belgians will always be close to our hearts for their sincere kindness; they are really a grand people. The Lions Club of Leige was most gracious to have us as their dinner guests. We dined in a style a bit different than in 1944.
The ceremony in Brussels was most impressive. It was a great thrill to see the flags of our 48 states and the Stars and Stripes assembled together so many miles from our shores. Here was a sincere tribute from the people of Belgium to the people of America. May our nations ever remain true friends!
Our hearts were filled with emotion as we stood with bowed heads in prayer by the graves of our comrades who gave themselves for us and the things in which we believe. Our prayer was that they may forever be remembered by a grateful nation, that we may all dedicate ourselves to carry forward the heritage they have given to us and to our children.
It was a pleasure to meet the family who cared for our hero, Lt. Wood, while he carried on his guerilla warfare at Meyerode. We were guided into the Ardennes to view the burial spot and the monument erected by the people of Belgium.
The monument erected at Malmedy for those who were massacred there was a reminder to us, as it is to all mankind, what may happen in the world again when one group is given too much power.
The visit to the areas in which we were in December 16th and the days following was a high point in our journey, particularly places like Heckhalenfeld and Vien which are familiar to our “C” Company Engineers.
My wife and I utilized the free time we had by traveling into Germany. Our visit in Germany was planned by the Y.M.C.A. through a friend from home who is International Secretary of the “Y” in Germany. The main stops were Bremen, Bremerhaven, Hamburg, and Hanover. (our visits included hospitals, refugee camps, Y.M.C.A.'s and the Lutheran Churches of Germany.
It is needless to say that my vision was looking back ten years and thinking how strange the life of men becomes. We were sitting together at dinner, German and American, discussing the fate of man through the past half century. How quickly our enemy may become our friend and our friend our enemy.
Germany today in many respects is a new, rebuilt Germany. There has been much progress since the days of Hitler and his Godless rule. However, there is still much to be done, rebuilding, caring for the disabled, rehabilitating the refugees and combating the world's great menace ‑ Communism. There is a need today in Germany, as in most of the world, for greater religious understanding.
As Doug wrote, Paris is the city where all things are possible; whatever you seek, Paris has it. There is beauty along the banks of the river Seine. The great cathedrals, buildings, monuments, and gardens are true works of art. My engineer friends should remember the river Seine and the days we traveled on the L.S.T. to Rouen.
Holland is grand. We found great joy there during our stay. The sightseeing was an education in the art and culture of the Dutch people. As I recall I spent, quite a lot of time in Holland shopping for dishes as did the other fellows. The shopping was grand, girls. You must go next time.
There is much we have to remember from our trip. It was a wonderful experience. I feel indebted to Doug for al] his efforts in making the journey a success. Let's look forward to the time when many more of us may again return to those places that shall forever live in our memories.
Our association has always been a wonderful Organization, but it is only since I have returned home that I realize how much it means to be a member of the 106th Division Association. Maybe it took the people of Belgium to show us how thankful we should be. They are most grateful to our Association and the symbol of freedom it represents. May we ever continue to serve in its work in honor of those who no longer can serve.
A New Perspective
The following is an account of a visit to the Schnee Eifel of the Ardennes Mountains on the Belgian‑German border by The Rev. Ronald A. Mosley and family in August 1960. (The account appeared in the Bar Harbor Times for 1 December 1960). Dr. Mosley, Minister of the Bar Harbor Congressional Church, Bar Harbor, Maine, was a chaplain of the 424th Infantry Regiment of the 106th Infantry Division in combat in the Ardennes in 1944‑45.
The telephone rang in the 3rd Battalion Aid Station, 424th Regiment of the 106th U.S,. Infantry Division, about 2130 hours on 17 December 1944. We had just completed medical treatment of our wounded who we had brought in from Companies K and L that evening and had started to dress wounds of several German prisoners that needed attention. The wounded prisoner on the rough table had a “sucking wound” in his chest, i.e., a bullet had gone in his chest and out the back, and one lung collapsed every time he breathed. As chaplain with the battalion I picked up the telephone, and the Battalion commander, Lt. Col. Girand said: “The Jerries have broken through. We have five minutes to get out. Load our wounded on the ambulance, the medic jeep, and your jeep. Take the rest of the men, and some that are just now coming through, and go back 17 miles to the village of Bracht. The azimuth is 280 degrees. Good luck and good bye. If we make it, we'll see you tomorrow.
This was an order; we obeyed it. We gave the prisoner on the table a shot of morphine, stuffed our pockets and musette bags with medical supplies, loaded our wounded on the vehicles and sent them down the wooded valley road, and struck off through the woods on our compass bearing ‑ all in less than five minutes. The German wounded we left in charge of two German medical aid men who had surrendered that afternoon. We got, to Bracht after midnight after horrible hours spent in total darkness except for flashes of gunfire and artillery bursts, crossing a swift stream on our way. We commandeered several homes in the village and set up a temporary command post and Medical aid station. Lt. Col. Girand and a few of the battalion staff officers came in the next day. Then Bracht was completely encircled, surrounded, cut off, and bombed and shelled for the next four days until an escape route to the south was opened by British and American tanks.
This was a minor skirmish in the Bulge, the Ardennes Campaign, which was the last vicious gasp of the German war machine in World War II. However, I had never forgotten those days, and I had longed to visit that region in peacetime. My wish has come true. My family and I have been over almost every part of that country.
On Friday, August 12th, we drove from London to Southend‑on‑Sea in Essex and took the Channel Air Bridge to Calais, France. The Air Bridge consists of “Flying Box Cars,” which transports cars and passengers 70 miles from Southend, across the English Channel, to Calais, and does this in 26 minutes. Our car was the first off, and customs being a mere formality, we drove along the French coast into Belgium, staying that night in a little hotel in Ypres. At 9:30 that evening we walked to the Menen Gate to see and hear “The Last Post,” played by Belgian war veterans in honor of the 65,000 British dead of World War I buried in a common grave in a huge memorial mound. We were subdued, thoughtful, and ready to seek our beds.
The next day we drove east through rolling country past innumerable British and Canadian war cemeteries to visit the U.S. Neuville‑en‑Condroz Cemetery which is 20 miles south of Liege. Pushing on we came to Malmedy and paused in reverence at the cross roads memorial to the men who had been murdered in the Malmedy Massacre. Our objective was St. Vith which had been the headquarters of the 106th Division, the first American division in action in the Ardennes “Bulge.” St. Vith is a completely new city as only parts of three houses were left standing after the fierce fighting in December, 1944. The ruins of the old tower have been left as a reminder of the war. The 106th Division memorial, which can be seen for several miles if one takes the road from Germany to St. Vith, is a simple structure of brick and glass with an iron cross above a simple altar, which, when completed, will fly the American and Belgian flags.
We were fortunate to get splendid accommodations at the new Hotel Luxembourg, and we spent the rest of the evening planning our stay. The next morning the hotel packed a picnic lunch for us, and we drove to the German border which is only 15 miles away. Getting the lay of the land, we returned to St. Vith (for this is the only road to and from Germany for many miles) and then turned south to Bracht. It was a sunny day, and we enjoyed the rolling hills, the fir‑tree covered mountains, and the farming country ‑ all reminding us of our beloved State of Maine. We found the village, drove through it on a gravel road to the north where I pointed out to my family how the German tanks infiltrated through the woods to fire on the village. We drove to the chatelaine (the main house of the village) where I explained in my bad German who we were and why we were there. The village priest, who lives in the chatelaine, came out and greeted us very warmly. He was Father Joseph Schmetz, the same priest who had done so much for us in December, 1944. We went to his apartment, had a picnic lunch with him, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I asked for the elderly retired professor, Dr. Jean Landre, in whose apartment we had set up our aid station before we were bombed out. Dr. Landre had died in 1945, was buried in the village cemetery, and the next day we visited his grave in tribute to a kindly, gentle soul. On the walls of Father Schmetz's study were two citations for his work with the Belgian Underground: one from the King of the Belgians and the other from Field Marshal Montgomery.
Father Schmetz suggested that we move to Bracht for a few days and offered us accommodations. However, with a family of five this could have been rather grim. I suggested that we stay in the village inn, and the Father called the inn‑keeper, Frau Oly, and arranged for our reservations. The next morning we left St. Vith and moved to Bracht where we stayed for four days.
I had my war‑time compass with me, and taking a back azimuth from 280 degrees (subtracting 180 degrees gave a compass bearing of 100 degrees). I studied a detailed map and determined exactly where our front lines had been before the German counter‑offensive. Being “rusty” I called in my family on this project, and on Monday morning, taking a picnic lunch in my old musette bag, we drove back to the edge of St. Vith, turned east to Winterspelt, Germany, and then took a side road south for two kilometers to Heckhalenfeld. The valley with the brook was familiar to me, and we drove up the old road to where we found an old, overgrown “jeep trail” which I recognized. We followed that, on foot, through a heavy forest to a place just below a large field. “This,” I told my family, “is where we had our huts and bunkers. See if we can't find some ruins.” And we did ! We found holes in the side of the hill with old logs in the ground. What a difference 16 years make! The rubble of war was covered with brambles and raspberry bushes. After our picnic lunch we walked to the top of the hill to the cultivated field, found an old dirt road, and walked to the village of Habscheid which, I remembered, was the scene of some very dirty fighting just before the Bulge began on December 16, 1944. I pointed out the farm house where Company K, Capt. Comer commanding, had its command post, and where things were so “hot” that the enemy, in the rest of the village, had to be viewed through a periscope.
As we were tired and the sky was menacing, we started back through the woods to the car. We were caught, in a violent thunder storm ‑ a fitting climax, we thought, to our visit.
The next day, packing a picnic lunch again, we visited several towns in Luxembourg which I had known from the war, went back into Belgium through familiar Vielsalm and Stavelot and drove to the U.S. Henri Chappelle Cemetery. There we found several graves of men I had originally buried in combat. We stood silently before the names of those missing in action in the memorial archway, three of whom were from my regiment, then went into the beautiful chapel to pray, and because of a sudden shower we ran for the car.
On Wednesday we drove to Prüm, the German city from whence the Ardennes counteroffensive had been launched. We visited the shops, and, appropriately, Eloise purchased a creche— a hand‑carved manger scene;— and I bought a wooden cross. That evening we took a walk looking for the last farmhouse in the southern part of the village where we had our battalion aid station after the chatelaine had been bombed. Knocking on the door, we were met by a young man who had been previously introduced to us as a teacher just evacuated from the Congo. He explained that he was one of the sons of the family, and he called his parents. Again, I recognized old friends, and these fine people remembered me and the time we had used their house for a combat aid station. They introduced us to the older son, a man over six feet tall. These were the two little terrified boys who slept with the wounded and the men of the aid station when, because of shelling the aid station had to be moved to the cellar (or “cave” as they call it) under the stone barn! With our poor German and little French, and the teacher's smattering of English, we were able to communicate. From them, from Frau Oly, and from Father Schmetz I learned that I was the first American veteran to visit that quiet village since the war.
The next day, Thursday, we said good‑bye to our friends in Bracht and started back to England. We drove a different route than when we came to Ypres and stayed at the same hotel. On Friday morning we visited the untouched British and German trenches on Hill 60 and Mount Sorrel which were from World War I, and in the afternoon we visited the beaches at Dunkirk, and then at Calais we took our Channel Air Bridge plane back to Southbend, England. We drove five miles to Leigh‑on‑Sea to the home of my aunt who had tea waiting foe us.
I have often heard the expression “Never go back.” However, I am glad that I did. I am happy to have made this pilgrimage and to have seen such beautiful country. My mind and spirit are quieter and calmer, and I think that, as nature covers the scars of war, God sends His healing upon His people. Those people whom we have met have such a reservoir of good will and kindness that, given their say, war would be an impossibility.
By: The Rev. Ronald A. Mosley, Minister
A Return to Yesterday
By The Editor—Wayne Black
Our flight from Chicago to Scotland in a propjet Brittania was superb. The highlight was a forty‑five minute stopover in Detroit, extended to two hours by a cloudburst. The two hours seemed like a few minutes visiting with Lucille and Bob Rutt. We were in Scotland about nine hours after saying goodbye to them, and had a grand five days touring in Scotland.
The scenery was grand and the people most friendly. (These comments would apply to all of the British Isles visited during the trip). Traveling down through England, then, we took in more historic sites and scenery than one could ever expect to find in so small an area. We wandered through England, ending up at London, whence we returned, again by Brittania, to Chicago.
In Scotland, we managed to see once more the Firth of Clyde with its memories of 1944, Loch Lomond, Robert Burns' birthplace, the holy island of Iona, Glencoe, Ben Nevis, Pitlochry, Dundee, the Trrossachs, Stirling and Edinburgh with their castles, and many other lovely spots. Coming down through England, we visited Durham with its loveliest of all cathedrals, the Yorshire Dales, the Lancashire coast, the Isle of Man, the Lake Country, Chester, Snowdon and North Wales, Hereford, Stratford, Banbury, Oxford, Stonehenge, Salisbury, Chichester, Hampton Court, Bodiam, Rye, Hastings ‑ does this sound like the spiel of the conductor of a long‑ranging, roundabout sightseeing bus?
From Oxford, we made a side trip into the Cotswolds and the locale of our encampment in England. We rushed through Moreton‑in‑the‑Marsh, but I can assure all the Division Headquarters men that Batsford Park is still there. (It's much easier to find now, too, with road signs once more in place). At Guiting Power, I couldn't raise any one at the Grange, but I did trespass long enough to get a few pictures of the old 422 Headquarters, one of which appears on the cover. The huts and the other primitive facilities are removed from the front yard, and the whole place is somewhat better maintained than it was in 1944. The River Windrush still flows past the gate, still all of four feet wide. Guiting Power looks quite unchanged, even to the social hall where the 422 held a dance on the evening of Armistice Day. Naunton, too, just over the hill to the South, is unchanged except for the absence of GI's and the horde of children with their incessant “Got'ny gum, chum?” At Cheltenham, the Queen's Hotel still stands at the end of the Promenade, resplendent in a new coat of white paint. I didn't see any Red Cross girls dispensing doughnuts.
You can well imagine that we didn't have a dull moment, or a moment to spare. It just couldn't have been more enjoyable in any way. I can warn any one who happens out Iowa way that they are in for seeing the 250 slides that I took during the trip and probably the fifty or so Polaroid pictures as well. One word of warning about that: Polaroid film is not at present available in Britain, so any one going there should take all he intends to use. 35 mm film is another story. It is available in even the smallest towns under the same brand names.
424th Veteran Revisits Bulge Area
During a business trip to Europe last winter, H. W. Butler (1 Bn Hq Co. 424) made a side trip to Saint Vith and the area near Elcherath, Germany where he was a platoon sergeant at the outbreak of the Battle of the Bulge. He located the spot where he had manned an observation post at the outbreak of the battle and also found the churchyard in Elcherath where a mortar shell exploded in his face on 19 December 1944. He found that the church had been completely restored since his last visit, but the tile floor which he had studied at extremely close range during the German barrage in 1944 is still in place.
He is now secretary‑treasurer and sales manager of H. W. Butler and Bros. Inc., an apple sales concern. The purpose of his visit to Europe was to inspect shipments of apples his company had made and to secure future orders. 1961‑62 was the first big apple export year for his firm since World War II, and he believes that there will be continued demand for American apples in Europe even in those years when Europe has a full crop.
December 16, 1944
A series of stories stemming from a group tour to St. Vith July 1969
by John T. Loveless
A return to the St. Vith area by 106 members. They reminisce about their past, trying to connect the 25 years past, to seek and capture some of what it was like. They are with groups of friends as they travel old roads and remember some of the things they have forgotten. Surprisingly some of the past still exists...
Schlausenbach — a small village in the Schnee Eifel in Western Germany about 14 miles east of St. Vith, Belgium.
Have you ever thought or dreamed about a place you had once known and wondered what it would be like if, after a quarter century, you were able to revisit it, even for an hour?
On Sunday, 10 December 1944, at about 1700 as I recall, the Hq. and Hq. Co, 422d Infantry Regiment rolled into a small community rising on either side of a narrow stream. It was cold. Heavy snow was on the ground with just a hint of fog. Here we were to stay until early morning of 18 December.
All residents had been evacuated some months before and we moved into their houses, relieving personnel of the 2d Division who reported a very quiet situation.
Capt. Foster, the Company Commander, 1st Lt. MacEachan, 1st Sgt. Davis, Carl Cutler and I were assigned to No. 9, just over the bridge. Officers quarters and Company orderly room were set up in the parlor, while Carl and I moved in upstairs, he in a room over the kitchen and I in a room over the parlor with a gabled window facing a side road. A fire was kept going in the parlor stove, but there was no other heat in the house. But we all did have a bed to sleep in and we were comfortable enough.
The weather turned a bit warm, a little rain fell and the thick fog set in earnest. Things seemed calm. Everyone went about his duties. Occasional firing was heard in the distance. Patrols went out; a few prisoners were taken, some with important information. Sgt. Davis killed one of the chickens still left in the barn for a delicious dinner.
War became real to me when one night Lt. Krol out on reconnaissance, was last seen by his men pinned down by enemy fire and Lex Schoonover, wounded, returned after evading the enemy.
One day we were all paid, but there was no place to spend the Belgian francs.
A few days later I surrendered 540 francs to the Germans at Bad Orb, but a 1000 franc note I carried hidden until we were ready to leave Camp Lucky Strike the following April for home.
At 0605 on Saturday, 16 December 1944, I woke with a jolt from a sound sleep. A deafening noise drew me towards the window. In the breaking light I saw just across the narrow road a hole several feet deep and perhaps 12 feet across. How fortunate for us that the shell had hit about 50 feet from its assumed target! The Battle of the Bulge had begun!
Later in the morning we saw many of the houses peppered by shrapnel, two jeeps riddled and rendered useless. Everyone became more tense, feverish activity developed; difficulty increased in getting to and from Division; communication was not the best; supplies, apparently, were not too plentiful; rumors flew; it was reported that Lt. Col. Kent had been killed; we were alerted to the possibility of a quick pull‑out. I wrote to K on Saturday night; the letter went out with the last mail the next morning.
On Sunday morning, I did not bother to go to the mess; I had some K rations at the house and I ate some of that. At night I watched Capt. Foster, Lt. MacEachan and Sgt. Davis burn thousands of Belgian francs and German marks to keep them from possible capture.
We pulled out of Schlausenbach at about 0230 on Monday, 18 December 1944. As we could not take our duffel bags, I stuffed my pockets with what essentials I could carry; 6 pairs of hose, 6 or 7 handkerchiefs, some toilet articles, coughdrops, a roll of fruit‑flavored mints, two fountain pens, an automatic pencil, two lead pencils, my New Testament, among others. So, in the darkness, I caught my last glimpse of Schlausenbach until Monday, 21 July 1969.
Ever since returning from Europe in May 1945, I had a strong desire to return some day, taking K with me, to see the places where I had been in those War years.
I felt that no trip overseas would be satisfying without a visit to Schlausenbach and Bad Orb. During our tour of those areas where we had been during the Bulge, “Schlausenbach” became the insistent cry of Jack Bryant and me. Our persistence paid off and we went into the town for our bag‑lunch stop. Jack and I trailed by Emily and K, took off up the road, looking for our billets. At first we did not see them; as we turned back down the road there ahead of us we saw mine and up a side dirt road we saw Jack's.
To describe my feelings is difficult. Here, after nearly 25 years, to see the house just as I remembered it, even to the color of the paint of the door and window‑frames (except, of course, for the colorful flowers in the window boxes), is nearly indescribable. Through the kind assistance of Tom Herrmann we were able to talk for awhile with the owners who had lived there before the War and had returned to their home after hostilities were over. We had no feelings of ill‑will; Mr. and Mrs. They seemed overjoyed that we had such an interest to return after nearly a quarter of a century. K and I believe that this was a highlight of our 25th Anniversary Tour that began at St. Vith and shows that the bitterness of War need not remain to destroy the hearts and minds of men.
John T. Loveless, Jr.
by Douglas S. Coffey
(Remembering how it was after 25 years)
I was lying in a nice soft feather bed in my house in Radscheid, Germany when I was awakened by the shaking of the Earth. The noise was terrific. I jumped out of bed, got dressed and hurried over to check my Switchboard location and a general communication set up. When I arrived I found that one of the first shells had hit the corner of my headquarters building where I had my switchboard and the Company clerk's office. The shell had broken the windows and the flying glass had injured our Company clerk. He was one of the first characters in that Field‑Artillery to get a Purple Heart, and best of all evade capture by being taken to the rear.
One of the shells dumped our chow pots so no chow. As we could hear shelling all over, especially on our right, I decided to try to contact my buddy Charlie Riese, my counterpart in the 591st Field Artillery, hoping he could tell me of the situation there. When I tried to get through the Headquarters switchboard I was asked if I had the SOI. Ha! Ha! We were so fouled up that Headquarters hadn't sent down the SOI as yet. The operator, another friend of mine, even though he recognized me said it was against orders to put me through to the 591st. I raised Hell with him telling him how asinine it was that, though he knew me he couldn't put me through so contact was never made. I have often wondered what may have happened if we could have been appraised of the situation and knew that the 591st was going to pull out and leave our flank exposed. Oh well, it is over now and conjecture will not help.
Then I received word that our line was out to the OP. I took one man with me and rushed to the OP and found the break was in between our Firing officer's bunker and the wood line with a nice open area in between which the Germans had under observation and that any movement pooped a shell into the area. I had I had a good man with me so we set it up that as soon as one shell would hit he would run from one side and I the other, meet at the break, make a quick tie in and run like hell back to our positions before the next shell came in. We had to do this three times before we had a firm and proper connection. Later that day another break came and we went out to hunt the break. It was late in the day and getting dark. We had orders not to be out on the lines after dark due to enemy infiltrators, but just at dark we found the break. When I called in I was told to get my . . . in by one of the officers, but I told him I was not coming in until my lines of communication were restored, orders or no orders. Later we came in, challenged by our gang, tired and hungry only to get reamed out by our officer. At least we knew we had done our job and could still fire our Guns. So ended December 16th.
U.S. Veterans Remember the Great Battle
(The Battle of the Bulge)
This Battle will always be remembered in connection with the Ardennes offensive of December 1944, also remembered in the history of this Battle is the 106th Infantry Division, United States, who threw the enemy back. It was in the neighborhood of St. Vith that the Ardennes offensive was brought to a close. This did not happen without sacrifice of the soldiers of America, and also not without the sacrifice of the Civilians, who were forced to look on as their city in which they lived the Enemy was destroying. It is understandable that from this viewpoint the population approached the celebration with mixed emotions.
However, twenty five years have passed and it was decided to have a big celebration. Also, one did not want to have the celebration in December because this would have been a bad time for the Veterans of the 106th Division to come to Europe.
The words of the Mayor were translated by Thomas Herrmann, who during the war had been a translator in the U.S. Headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany. After the guests had drank the Toast they went in a group to the Monument of the Battle.
There, Chairman Coffey reminded the People that not only the Veterans but first and foremost the civilian population suffered most. He appeared quite pleased that so many residents of the community took part in the festivities and came to the Memorial service.
Dechant Brewer then spoke a prayer for the dead American soldiers.
The representative of the U.S. Ambassador, Wm. Marsh appeared joyful that so many Veterans had made their way to St. Vith. He said St. Vith is found symbolically in Korea and Viet Nam. A St. Vith is found in many villages on this Earth wherever people give battle for freedom.
At the close of this speech,the Chaplain of the 106th, John Loveless read the 67th Psalm for many former soldiers. He said for many this was their first trip to Europe since the war. He reminded the onlookers of the battle which took place on a cold and foggy day. “Many of the soldiers were heroes but the majority were citizens as were you and I, who found themselves during wartime serving their country to the best of their ability”.
At the close of his speech wreaths were placed on the Monument.
25 Years After the Ardennes Offensive
(apparently from a St. Vith newspaper)
Veterans of the 106th Infantry Division hold annual conference in St. Vith.
At the 25th Anniversary of the Ardennes offensive the 106th Division held its Congress in St. Vith.
Approximately 140 former members and wives of the Division and with some of their children landed at 9:00 P.M. at the airport in Luxembourg. Arriving from New york, They afterwards took buses to St. Vith.
Highlight of yesterday was the celebration at the monument of the 106th Division on Kloster Street. Today the guests visited the battlefields around St. Vith. Tomorrow they continue their trip with a visit to the American cemetery in Holland, France, Austria and German places are also on the agenda. The flight home will be on August 8th. Shortly before 10:00 A.M. on Sunday the Honor Guard of the 3rd Ardennes Hunters from Vielsalm as well as a music corps of the Fire Police marched through the City and assembled on the school grounds of the City Elementary School where they played the American and Belgian National Anthems. The guests from the United States with their Chairman, Douglas Coffey, then went with the Mayor to the school where the City gave them a reception.
The City of St. Vith was represented by Mayor Pip and several members of the Senate. Mr. Thomas Herrmann interpreted. There were other guests introduced from Prüm as well as Mr. Wm. Walsh, representing Ambassador Eisenhower.
The Mayor said this visit showed the closeness of the men who 25 years ago fulfilled their duties in this vicinity and St. Vith. He also greeted the ladies who feared for their husbands and sweet‑hearts at that time. Mayor Pip closed with the hope and wish that this Congress may help to tighten the relationship between the Veterans Association and St. Vith, to ease the grim memories and let memories of friendship take their place. Afterwards he presented a cultural seal to Mr. Coffey, Mr. Herrmann and Mr. Marsh.
Then they marched to the Monument of foreign soldiers. There were many more spectators than ever before. Chaplain John Loveless reminded us that not only the 106th Division in St. Vith but also the civil population had suffered a lot while they held the town for five days. He uttered his hope that such events would not repeat again. Again the music corps played the two National Hymns. Dechant Brewer spoke a prayer for the fallen soldiers. He also blessed the Golden Book of the Division.
Chaplain Loveless reminded of the long road of suffering of the 106th from the landing in Normandy to St. Vith and into Germany. For many this was their first trip back after 25 years. This celebration shall help to convince people to live in peace together. The speaker remembered all the dead of their Division who died for the idea of Freedom. He also spoke of the shortly deceased General Alan W. Jones. Many guests of Honor and the Veterans later inscribed their names in the Golden Book of the Division.
During the following Ceremonial Dinner in the Hotel Pip‑Margraff, Chairman Coffey presented Certificates of Appreciation to the Mayor and others for their sincere cooperation and service to the 106th.
The excellent Music Corps played during the day in the Town and also in the evening in the Concert hall for a cheerful evening Dance given in honor of the 106th Division.
A Side Trip to Banbury
by Sherod Collins
“Ride a cockhorse to Banbury Cross”,
Well you know the rest of the rhyme !
This is what several of us did while in London. That is, we didn't ride the cockhorse, we rode the train, and we saw Banbury and several other interesting things too.
On Sunday July 27th while most of our people toured to Windsor Castle, Blenheim, and Runnymede, six of us made the trip to the area where the 424 Infantry Regiment was headquartered while in England. These six consisted of Bob and Louise Howell, Robert Howell, all of Griffin, Ga., Van S. Wyatt of Benton, Ky., and Cora and I of Atlanta.
We caught a morning train out of London and upon arriving at Banbury made arrangements to have lunch later at a small hotel near the station. Then Bob got us a taxi and away we went, all six of us and a driver, a snug fit in a compact car.
First we hunted the old manor house at Adderbury where headquarters was located, according to Bob and Van. We couldn't get close since the place is now a nursing home and is closed to the public. Neither did we try the Red Lion Pub nearby. some of you 424'ers may remember it.
Our driver, being a good fellow, tried to find a manor house for us to tour. The one to which he first took us had not yet opened for the day and it seemed to annoy him that we were not allowed in. However, his next choice was an especially happy and significant one for us. It turned out to be Sulgrave Manor, the ancestral home of George Washington, our first President. We were allowed to tour the house with a guide, the house having been restored with period furniture. We found the kitchen to be especially interesting with the great fireplace and its utensils having a place to cook and warmth for the room. The hostess or “stewardess” was gracious and provided some history about which we were unaware.
The house was built about 1560 by one Lawrence Washington, born at Warton about 1500. His ancestry and the family names can be traced back to the manor Wessington in County Durham about the end of the twelfth century. He was twice Mayor of Northampton and acquired the property in 1539 when the crown dissolved the minor monastic holdings and sold them. This one had belonged to the priory of St. Andrew at Northampton. Lawrence survived until 1584.
His eldest son, Robert, occupied the house until his death in 1619. His eldest son Lawrence, sold the house to his cousin, Lawrence Makepeace. This family retained ownership until 1659.
In 1656, John Washington, a grandson of Lawrence who transferred title to the Makepeaces, emigrated to Virginia. It is not known why he left England, but it is conjectured that he was discouraged by the treatment meted out to his father during the Civil War between Parliament and Charles I, who tried to rule with an iron hand. Charles was convicted of treason and beheaded in 1649. When Oliver Cromwell defeated him, his supporters, including the clergy, were severally dealt with. John's father, Rev. Lawrence Washington, was stripped of his possessions and ousted in 1643 from the good living he knew at Purleigh in Essex, and thereafter eked out a meager existence.
So John left an unhealthy family climate and never returned to England. His great‑grandson, George Washington, was born in Virginia in 1732, became our first President and died in Virginia in 1799.
The year 1914 marked the centenary of the Treaty of Ghent and thus a century of peace between Britain and the U.S. Some plans for celebration had to be abandoned owing to World War I. But funds were subscribed to purchase and restore Sulgrave Manor. The list was reopened after the war and donors included a number of Americans. The house was dedicated in June 1921. The Colonial Dames raised $112,000.00 in 1924 and endowed the manor for its perpetuation. Refurbishing and refurnishing have been carefully carried out and the place stands as a monument to friendship between the two peoples.
Three portraits of George Washington hang in the house. One on the South wall shows him as a colonel commanding Virginia Colonial troops. This is a copy of the one done by Charles W. Peale in 1772, the original being at Washington & Lee. In the Oak Parlour hangs a portrait in oils of George Washington by Archibald Robertson, a Scottish painter, in 1792. It was lost during the 19th Century but recently re‑identified and presented to the manor. And lastly there is in the Great Hall, above the fireplace, an original oil done by Gilbert Stuart, the great American portrait painter, reproductions of which we are all familiar. I believe there is another original at Williamsburg, Va. There are a number of personal objects belonging to our first president shown in the house.
Upon returning to Banbury we stopped to take pictures at famous Banbury Cross.
Banbury is a municipal borough in Oxfordshire on the River Chewell, 72 miles northwest of London. It was a church holding until the Reformation when passed to the Crown. There was an early settlement on the site, a battle being fought there in 1556. It was first chartered in 1554. Once a wool weaving center, it is now a market town in an agricultural region and its cattle market is one of the largest in the country. It has factories for aluminum, furniture, electrical apparatus and other light industry.
Its name is familiar in the folk rhyme that begins “Ride a cockhorse to Banbury Cross.” The rhyme probably dates from about 1500 when the three crosses stood at crossroads in Banbury. All were destroyed in 1602 by zealous Puritans who seem to have inhabited the town during the 17th century. A cross was erected in 1858 on the site of one of them. Locally the town has been famous for three centuries for Banbury tarts (or Banbury cakes), a kind of pastry with currants. Population 21,004. There are quite enough politicians — a Mayor, six Aldermen, and 18 Councillors.
The Tury's Return to England
by Louis Try, Jr 424/A<R>Fairview, Michigan
I stayed with a family in the town of Branbury Oxom during our stay in England, before going into action in Europe. The family's name was “Creed” and they lived at 59 Cromwell Road. Every evening after 424/A would finish their field problems, I was welcomed into their home.
After the “Bulge” and five POW camps, and field hospitals, then back home and being discharged, I kept in touch with the “Creed” family. Molly, Idythe and Molly's daughter Helen.
In June of 1989 we flew over to England to visit our daughter, Margaret, her husband Mike Mast and our grandson, Gregory. They were stationed at Alconbury Air Force Base. My son‑in‑law has been with the Air Force for 22 years.
My wife and I had them drive us to Branbury to look‑up the “Creed” family. We had the most wonderful and beautiful reunion ever held. Molly and her daughter Helen and Derek, Helen's husband drove us all over, showing us the town of Branbury and the many places our 106th men enjoyed.
424th “A” Company stayed at the “Red Lion Inn,” but it had been torn down. The “Creed” family gave us so much Love.
We have since received a letter from Helen, that her mother, Molly, passed away on December 31, 1989. The wife and I shall always treasure our visit to the “Creed” family. It was the reunion of a “Lifetime.”
Our Side Trip to Normandy, France
by Walter Bandurak
With special thanks to Doug Coffey, who helped immensely with making arrangements for our side trip, Lill and I made a two‑day visit to the Normandy Beachhead area of Pointe du Hoc and Grandcamp Les Bains, France. On Friday, July 25th, after spending three additional days touring the Bulge area alone in our rented Volkswagen, we returned to the city of Luxembourg.
After visiting General Patton's gravesite at Hamm, Luxembourg, we checked into the Kons Hotel for a nights rest.
On Saturday morning, we departed by train for Paris, France (Paris East Station). We were impressed the most on this leg of the trip by the miles upon miles of vineyards. We had a wild scramble getting off the train, getting a taxi to drive us from Paris East Station to Paris St. Lazar Station and catching a train in forty minutes for Caen, France. What helped in this situation was a note explaining our predicament and written in French which we gave to the taxi driver. In anticipation of this problem, the owner of the Rathskeller Hotel in St. Vith who spoke English, French and German agreed to write the note for us. A crazier taxi ride we never had! We never knew Paris had so many back alleys. However, the driver got us to the station with minutes to spare and without damaging any fenders!
We arrived in Caen, France and took a taxi to the Hotel Malherbe. We were greatly pleased to learn that our room had been previously occupied by General Omar Bradley while he was there for the D‑Day Celebration in June 1969. The room was the most luxurious one we had during our entire European trip. Truly, it was one fit for a king an queen. after an excellent meal of Tripe ala Mode de Caen (specialty of the house), a fine bottle of French wine and a little glass of Calvados (distilled applejack or cider aged in little oaken barrel for twelve to fifteen years), we retired early. Following a breakfast of hard rolls (what else)? juice, and coffee, we drove in a rented car from Caen through Bayeux to Grandcamp Les Bains.
Then we immediately went to the Catholic church in the village to try to locate Mr. Robert Ravelet, Vice‑President of the Committee de la Pointe du Hoc. He was to give us a guided tour of the area where the American 2nd Ranger Battalion had climbed the cliffs on June 6, 1944 and had knocked out the German coastal guns. A special church Mass was being held for the children of the village. We especially enjoyed the children singing in French ( to the accompaniment of guitar and the clapping of their little hands) the song “Oh When the Saints Go Marching In.” Through the use of a letter of introduction written in French, we were taken to the home of Mr. and Mres. Ravelet. We were extremely fortunate to have a Mrs. Brown and her daughter, Cathy, from Norfolk, Virginia, act as our interpreters. They were visiting Grandcamp Les Bains and proved very helpful to us.
The main purpose of this side trip was to completely photograph for the Ranger Battalion Association all the historic spots where the American Rangers had fought. This request had been made by Mr. Louis F. Lisko, Natrona Heights, Penn. a life‑time friend of mine and Historian of the association. With our dear French friends, we devoted the next two days to picture taking.
One of the high points of this side trip was the boat ride from the village out into the English Channel and photographing a sequence of shots of the 100 foot cliffs of Pointe du Hoc. We approached the cliffs from the sea as the Rangers had done that early morning of D‑Day, June 6, 1944. The late President and General Dwight T. Eisenhower had stated on his return trip to this area, “It took guts to climb those cliffs that morning.” After seeing those sheer cliffs, I completely agreed with his comment. Mr Ravelet explained that this area at Pointe du Hoc is the only one throughout all of Europe left battle‑scarred by the Allies. It will remain as such and become a national historic site. On this cliff, overlooking the English Channel, the French people of this area erected a twenty foot‑high monument in the form of a Commando gathering in honor of and to pay tribute to the heroic Rangers who had landed and fought there. Only 70 of the 225 Rangers who had landed there under the command of Major General (then Colonel) James E. Rudder, now president of Texas A and M University, got out of there alive. It is here the Darryl Zanuck filmed his “Longest Day.”
A special trip was then made to the Normandy American Cemetery near St. Laurent‑sur Mer, Clavados, Normandy. Mr. Frank B. Killian, American superintendent of the Cemetery, furnished a complete list of all American Rangers buried there. He also made arrangements for one of his workers to go along with me and “paint” the grave‑markers of several Rangers so that they would photograph better.
Our Normandy visit came to a close Monday evening, July 28th, with a special farewell dinner held at the Hotel Duquesclin. Our guests included Monsieur et Madame Robert Ravelet, their daughter Paula, Mrs. Brown and Cathy. Everyone enjoyed a superb dinner of tomatoes stuffed with crabmeat, lobster tails, king crab, scallops, french‑fried potatoes, salad and ice cream. Toasts were made with the very best bottles of French wind. The dinner ended at 11:00 p.m.; and the hour ride back to our hotel in Caen was made with few words spoken. We truly hated to leave these good French friends.
Lill and I agree we shall never forget the many fine things everyone did for us during our stay in the area. American ex‑GI's and families are very much welcomed by the French people in this area. We will always remember Mrs. Ravelet's cakes, cookies, home‑made wine, and the general warmth and friendliness shown to us. We promised our friends we would return. On Tuesday, July 29th, we left Cain by train and joined the 106th group at the Hotel Moderne Palace in Paris to enjoy the remainder of the twenty‑one day tour.
by Sherod Collins
Many of you may not have had the time or opportunity of seeing or reading about the care afforded to your “hallowed dead” in their overseas resting places. There are eight WWI and 14 WWII military cemeteries in foreign locations under perpetual care and maintenance by the American Battle Monuments Commission, an agency of the United States Government. The agency is not responsible for any domestic military cemeteries.
In 1947 upon agreement between the Secretary of the Army and the Commission, fourteen outstanding American architects were selected, each to design one of the permanent memorials.
No specific requirement was imposed on the architect beyond the budgeted cost except that each should have a small devotional chapel, inscription of the names and particulars of the missing in the region, and a graphic record of the services of our troops.
The “graphic record” takes the form of maps, usually quite large murals amplified by descriptive texts in English as well as the language of the country in which located. The maps were rendered in tasteful presentation by experienced artists. In no two cases is the method or even the materials the same; the map may be of layered marbles, or in fresco, perhaps in bronze relief, or in ceramics. Another feature at each memorial are the two sets of Key‑Maps: “The War Against Germany” and “The War Against Japan.” By these Key Maps each major battle may be related to all others in time and space.
The graves in these cemeteries number about 39 percent of those originally buried in these regions. The other 61 per cent were returned stateside at the request of next‑of‑kin. Use of each site has been granted by the host government, free cost, rent and taxes.
With each architect, an America landscape architect, sculptor, and muralist has collaborated. Their combined talents have provided a major contribution to the beauty and dignity of the Memorials. Each grave is marked by a headstone of white marble ‑ a Star of David for those of Jewish faith, a Latin Cross for all others. These headstones were quarried and fabricated in the Italian Tyrol. The inscription on each includes name, rank, organization, service number, date of death and state. Headstones of unknowns bear instead a well known inscription.
It is of course known to many of our own Golden Lions that Doug Coffey had considerable difficulty in securing permission to proceed with erection of our own memorial at St. Vith since such is generally forbidden by Department orders, such orders looking to construction of suitable monuments and maintenance of them.
During our European tour of 1969, our hope was to be able to visit several of the cemeteries in the areas around which we fought, including Henri‑Chapelle, Belgium, and Hamm in Luxembourg. But time would not permit so we concentrated at “Ardennes”, also known as Neuville‑en‑Condroz, Belgium on our way to Amsterdam via Liege.
Ardennes Cemetery is situated 12 miles S.W. of Liege on Highway N 35 to Dinant and Paris, and at the southeast edge of the above mentioned village of Neuville. The site was established on 8 Feb. 1945 after having been liberated on 8 Sept. 1944 by the 1st Division and used initially as a First Army Cemeter
y. It covers 90 1/2 acres and was dedicated in 1960. It is still open for burials
We found that many of our comrades of the 106th Division were buried here, the Superintendent having supplied us with a list. I found the names of my company commander and two company warrant officers, causing an odd sensation, let me assure you.
Three‑fifths of the 5,279 buried here are army airmen, all lost before and during the attack on Fortress Europe.
The layout and the memorial building itself are most impressive, the limestone and granite structure and the graves being set within a plantation of white pine and evergreens, and surrounded by borders of shrub roses. In high relief on the south wall is carved an American eagle 17 feet high. Beside it are the figures symbolizing Justice, Liberty and Trust, all balanced by 13 stars.
The interior walls consist of large maps composed of inlaid marble embracing a range of colors from white through cream, and gray to black. The map above the door records the Battle of the Bulge and the subsequent advance of Allied forces to the Rhine. The one on the West wall records military operations in Western Europe from the landings in Normandy and Southern France to the end of the war, including the great air assaults by the allies. On the East wall is portrayed the herculean efforts of the Services of Supply.
I wish space would permit quoting the descriptive texts which in three languages, English, French, and Flemish, elaborate on each map. These inscriptions are masterpieces of concise narrative.
At the north end of this building is the chapel. The dedicatory inscription there reads “1941‑1945 In Proud Remembrance of the Achievements of Her Sons and in Humble Tribute to their Sacrifice This Memorial Has Been Erected by the United States of America.
A gilt angel is illuminated overhead and on each side is a U.S. flag and a bronze screen into which is cast the insignia of the major headquarters and operating forces in Northwest Europe.
Just outside the stainless doors is the North end of the Memorial podium and on the North facade of the buildings in colored mosaic again appear the unit insignia of the major units. Beneath is the inscription “To the silent host who endured all and gave all that mankind might live in freedom and in peace”.
On the East and West sides of the memorial are engraved the names of the 462 Missing —‑ Army, Army Air Force, and Navy. On each side there is an inscription: “In proud remembrance of their valor” and “In humble tribute to their sacrifice”.
To the north of the memorial and from the base of the memorial podium, a flight of broad steps leads down to the graves area. These are set in four plots, together arranged in the form of a huge Greek cross.
Those who sleep there came from almost every state in the Union and from eight other countries. There are 746 unknowns and eleven instances of two brothers buried side by side.
At the far north end flies the Flag and at the East end is a bronze figure symbolizing American Youth.
All such cemeteries are open to the public each day. An American Superintendent and his assistant (both veterans) are ever willing to aid visitors in any way possible. There is always a comfortable visitors room and snapshots are permitted. The Commission, upon request, will furnish an aerial view of a cemetery and even a photo of a specific headstone.
Lastly, I should like to quote another inscription on the wall of the little chapel—this one ascribed to Cardinal Newman—and pray this for all of us, both here and there:
“O Lord, Support us all the Day Long Until the Shadows lengthen and Our Work is Done. Then In Thy Mercy Grant us a Safe Lodging and a Holy Rest and Peace at the Last.” Amen.
My Tour in the U.S.A. A Belgian Student
At the beginning of the school year 71‑72, the upper classes were informed that the former 106th Infantry Division were offering a 30 day visit in the USA. This was to show their acknowledgement and thanks for the maintenance of their monument in front of the Bishop's school. Now the question arose for the Director, who should go? It was decided that all interested students would prepare a lecture on the history, geography and economy of the USA. This was to be evaluated by a jury chosen from the Director and English teachers of different schools. After that the students who possessed most, the spirit of comradeship. The sum of these tow results determined the winner.
I took off from Luxembourg in a DC8 “Loftleider” of the Icelandic Company. The destination was Kennedy Airport in New York. Mr. Coffey met me there. He lives in the state of New Jersey. On the motor trip there we were in heavy vehicular traffic: mostly Buicks, Fords, Chevrolets, Mercurys, Pontiacs and here and there a VW.
Those hosts, that is, the families were very conversational. the first week I had some difficulty in understanding what they wanted to tell me. It is clear that the americans speak American and we learn English. The differences are really only the pronunciation and the variety of words.
As I said, this difficulty was overcome after one week. We went to the shore which was “Crowded” and to a shopping center which swarmed with shoppers. It should be noted that New Jersey is the most thickly settled state in the USA.
After a week's stay we then went to Pennsylvania. On the trip there we experienced a delay of 5‑6 hours on the Turnpike. The reason was a POP‑FESTIVAL on the road. The participants had their cars (almost every youth over 17 has a car; they can get a driver's license at 17) parked right and left. When there were no spaces left they parked in the first lane, then in the second lane, until finally the whole Turnpike had become a parking place. The police officiated there as spectators until finally the last vehicle carrying automobiles “pulled out.” My hosts (Banduraks) took time off from their work when I arrived. We ate morning, noon and evening in a hotel and at prices of which I had only dreamed. We visited Pittsburgh regularly. The outstanding sights there, for example were Civic Arena (only one in the world) with and aluminum roof that could be completely opened in two minutes and the largest baseball stadium in the USA. On Sunday different families often met for a cook‑out that is Frankfurters and Hamburgers (at home Hot Dogs) were roasted on a grill.
The next stop was Ohio, the city of Cuyahoga Falls. The host family here (Garns) had two sons and a daughter, but also a Chevrolet, a Buick, and a Porche 914.
From here I was flown to Mebane in North Carolina. There I had different contacts with youth groups that left a positive impression. My picture of the American youth was false. They are exactly as were are. If someone asks what the situation there is with the drinking problem, I can only say it is neither better nor worse that it is with us. My hosts were the George Bullards.
Now we went to the Reunion of the 106th Infantry Division in Jacksonville Florida. Whole families met there. I was astonished. Some came from the northern parts of the USA in order to meet with their Army comrades. Who of us would travel to Greece to attend a war comrades meeting? We visited a boat harbor, an old Spanish fortress and on the last day, Disneyland. I really have no words to describe that it must be seen.
The next to last stop was Georgia, farms with 200‑300 cows were not unusual here. My hosts (Wells) own a factory in which practically only negroes are employed. It is my opinion that relations with the negroes are better there than in the North, where they live in a section of each city “crowded together” and do not lead a very beautiful existence. (I compare it to Harlem in New York). The people of the South are not so American (according to our concept) as those of the North. They are more warmhearted and not so much dependent on the crowds.
The last three days I again spent with the Coffeys in New Jersey. We went sightseeing in New York. It is indeed beautiful, the city to see, but to live there would be another matter.
When I returned home I had to be careful not to make mistakes in my German, because in the USA you seldom find anyone who speaks a foreign language, unless it would be a foreigner.
America is worth a visit but is too large to learn to know.
Alfons was our guest at our 1972 reunion in Jacksonville. The article comes to us via Doug Coffey and General McMahon who translated.
U.S. ‑ German Reunion
by Ron Mosley, Chaplain (24th)
Because of a Canadian postal strike and “wildcat” slow‑downs, the deadline for leaving on December 11 from J.F.K. Airport in New York was approaching with finality. Finally, at the very last mail on Dec. 9th, my tickets and necessary documents arrived. So Eloise and I drove the 85 miles to the Halifax, Nova Scotia, Airport on the 11th to catch Air Canada's afternoon flight to Boston, then by Eastern Airlines to New York. We drove just at the end of a snow‑storm which dropped a foot of the white stuff in our area. Arriving in Boston on time, going though U.S. Customs, getting my luggage checked through to NYC, and getting to the Friendship Lounge at the J.F.K. Airport were all routine. The weather turned out to be sunny. At the lounge we had a fine “farewell party,” advertised as “Wine and Cheese.” Well, I saw no wine, but the abundance of any kind of Scotch and Canadian whisky and bourbon whiskey (note the added “e”!) with lovely Finnish cheese gave all an example of the abundance to come! I stepped into the Lounge wearing my clerical collar and a blazer with the 106th Division Association's “patch” (sent by Walt Bandurak), and impishly said: “l wonder just how we beat those bloody Jerries!” The “hoots and hollers” which greeted me showed that we could expect a week of the finest kind of friends and good times!
We boarded our Finnair with destination for Amsterdam, and almost immediately we prepared for dinner. There were “aperitifs” of all kinds of fine wines and drinks preceding “supper.” The main entree was wild boar followed by a dessert of fruit and coffee and tea. Ear‑phones, renting for $2.50 were passed out, and a motion picture was shown, “High Anxiety” (a mystery thriller). I went to sleep with the ear‑phones on, and I awoke when the attendants went through giving out lovely hot towels to freshen us. Then we had a fine breakfast just before landing.
We sighted land just before flying over Poople Harbor/Bourncemouth, England and I could look down to where I lived as a boy and see where I still have relatives. Immediately, we began our descent from about 35,000, feet. In no time, we landed at Amsterdam, were expedited through Immigration and Customs, met Steve Olem, President of Orbit Internation Travel Ltd., our cordial and efficient “major‑domo” and boarded European style coaches (buses) for a 5‑hour trip to Luxembourg City. Holland was 52" degrees F. and it looked and felt like spring! We crossed innumerable canals, waterways, and on the “autobahn” type roads we could see the farms and wind‑mills. I took no photos as the sun made the huge glass windows steam up like a “greenhouse.” Half‑way through the coach trip, we made a comfort stop in Brussels where most of us looked for a bit to eat. We had to divide up, and I was with a group numbering 8 people. Therein, hangs a tale! Although I live, in a bi‑lingual country of English and French speaking, I am not bi‑lingual myself, but I can understand a little speak also a little, but read rather proficiently. I was, therefore, the “interpreter.” We didn't want much: a cup of coffee would do! However, we had to order lunch in order to get anything: We, all eight, ordered the same: soup with a crust of bread and coffee. When the bill came, I paid it by “Chargex‑Visa.” it came to $66.00! Believe me, comrades, it wasn't any better in Luxembourg or the rest of Belgium.
We got to Luxembourg City, the southern, part of the Ardennes, at rush hour, and it was congested! We stayed at two hotels: Hotel Alfa in the center of the city, and Novotel, on the outskirts. We stayed the nights of the 12, 13, 14 in Luxembourg City and left the for the northern part of the Ardennes on the 15th, staying at, again, two hotels: Ramada Inn, and the Holiday Inn ‑ both at Liege. But I'm ahead of my story!
The Novotel at Luxembourg was very adequate and by itself with all kinds of conveniences. Our tour cost included either a Continental style or buffet style breakfast and dinner in the evening (we had the choice of the main meal at noon or at night we chose an evening dinner!). Continental style breakfast, as most know, consists of hard‑rolls with butter and jam and either coffee or tea. At Novotel it was Continental, and many of us got an extra roll to stuff in our “booty” bags for lunch or “just in case.” To be honest, the food in Luxembourg, at least at Novotel, got smaller in quantity as days went by.
We spent an entire day in Bastogne and outskirts. The major industry, it seemed, is that it is the “Noots” City: the businesses capitalize on Gen. McAuliffe's answer to the German request to surrender. Since we're all “grown up,” I should state that it is almost every knowledgeable person's opinion that the General's reply was really not “Nuts” but a term well known to dog faces but unprintable. We visited Nuts Square, wandered all around, and buying 4‑post cards and 4 decals came to 1.51 Belgium/Lux. Francs (4 cents to a franc $6.04!). I remembered the “barter” we had 34 years ago: rations, cigarettes (at 5 cents a pack), and they tell me some had “nylons!”
Of course we saw approximately where the 101st Airborne's Hq was, a mounted U. S. tank, and using the town as a hub, we “fanned out” with our bus‑coaches, visiting the outer perimeters and cross roads. On the highest part of Luxembourg within sight of Bastogne is the U. S. Memorial to the Ardennes. On the Memorial are the names and the “patches” of all the outfits which fought in the Battle. Yes, the 106th was there, and I had silent prayer. In the front of the Memorial, Father Dermot Collins, a Franciscan Friar, and I had prayers. Immediately across from the Memorial is a privately‑owned museum, “Bastogne Historical Center.” it is impressive and costs $2.00 each to enter. It was opened to us on a free basis. (l think we'd have torn it apart if we were asked to pay!). The outside buildings were comfort stations, and in 3 languages it was “verboten” “to urinate” in the open! Since the “facilities” were closed, I'm afraid we broke the written admonition!
Almost everyone had things to tell about the areas around Bastogne! We saw old “pill‑boxes,” “fox‑holes,” remains of armored vehicles, etc. Horror stories of still finding soldier's remains from both sides almost weekly were told! “
We also visited Wiltz, the scene of terrible fighting of the armored divisions against the Jerries. It is in a valley, mostly, with a castle and a museum up at the top. Many of our people had presented mementos of their service days to the museum. Not much had to do directly with the 106th, but we remembered these were outfits which fought with us.
We visited the Luxembourg Cemetery at Hamm, and I was amazed at the number of names of the 106th Division, especially the 424th. The Father Dermont Collins and I had a short service at the cemetery chapel. The weather was wet, but we managed to keep fairly dry. About a mile from the Hamm Cemetery is the German Cemetery of Sandweiler. It is well kept, but the crosses aren't over every grave ‑ they are mostly black granite in groups of fives, or threes. The individual graves are marked with bronze name‑plates set in at ground level. At the end of a long graveled path is a large cross set on a wall. in the rain and mist we started for there, and again the Rev. Fr. Collins and I had a short General Service for our former enemies. By this time, I must admit, the solemnity and the proof of this terrible toll of battle was getting to me; after the service, I broke down and “let it all out,” secretly I thought, but Col. (Dr.) and Mrs. Powell (Dr. Powell had been a regimental surgeon) were very kind to me. All I remember saying, my dear Comrades, was: “They were all so very young!” meaning the dead of both sides! I think what also hit me were graves of German soldiers, side by side: one was age 70 and the other was age 16!
December 15 was moving day for us, from Luxembourg City to Liege. Some stayed at the Ramada Inn, and the group I was with stayed at the Holiday Inn right on the River Meuse. Here, our breakfasts were buffet style, meaning we had tables piled high with everything! We had all kinds of fruit juices, small pats of butter, jam, marmalade, and chocolate! Here, many of us took soft rolls and with butter, luncheon meat and cheese, made sandwiches for lunches! We took off in rain for a short trip into Germany, stopping off at the lovely Town of Monchau. Now, Monchau looked like it belonged in either Bavaria or the Black Forest. We found out that it used to be a favorite town and “watering hole” for none other than old Adolph himself ! it lies in a lovely valley with the Our River: running through it. We stopped at a place where we could park the coaches, and there was a group of young people with their leader walking and singing. They were attending a choir school. Henry Fix, of the 83rd Infantry Division, my room‑mate at Leige, took sound movies of them, and they sang “The Happy Wanderer” as they walked to their destination over the bridge. It was a marvelous sight and sound! it was a bit “hairy” as we approached the German border outside Monchau. The German regulations were for taxes to be paid for fuel in the buses and a head tax for every passenger. Pass‑ports were collected, and as I couldn't find mine immediately, I was told just to lie low. Our driver, “Willy,” came back and said: “I think they'll make us pay quite a large sum.” By that time, I had found my pass‑port (sorry, comrades, but it's Canadian again!). I took the passport with my photo with a clerical collar, and giving it to Willy said: “Show them this pass‑port with my photo as a 'Vater.' It might help.” it did, and we went a few miles more in Germany and then turned back to Belgium, via a place called by the 2nd Division “Heart‑Break Crossroads” after having captured it and having to give it up when the Bulge hit. This was by a portion of the Siegfried Line.
From there we went by the crossroads outside Malmedy where the Massacre took place. I had prayers there, and then we went on to St. Vith for lunch. At 2:00 p.m. our service at the 106th Memorial took place (reported elsewhere), and then we moved on to Vielsalm, where I was privileged to hold memorial services at the 7th Armored Division's Memorial.
We had the honour of having the U. S. Army historian, “Chuck (Charles) MacDonald with us to brief us. He wrote the book, Company Commander. Hearing I had been with the 424th, he asked about where in the line we were. I told him I was with the 3rd Battalion when the battle began. He asked: ”Did you have built‑in bunkers and corduroy roads?" I replied in the affirmative. He said: “I built those amenities!” We also had a 29‑year old English lad from County Durham, the son of a British father and a Belgium mother. His mother came from the area of the Ardennes, and Will Cavanaugh has made it a main passion of his life to study the Ardennes Bulge, having roamed the woods and hills for years. His briefings for us were tremendous!
There were two British officers with us: Lt‑Col. Paul Adair, Coldstream Guards, and Major Peter Crocker, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Major Crocker briefed us on our last day in the Ardennes, Dec. 17. These officers were with a British film crew, filming the terrain and the battle plans of the 28th Infantry Division for instruction for British Forces. The British officers explained they were doing this as the 28th gave good examples of how small groups of soldiers held off hordes of the enemy. This was very true, but I heard of another, rather secret reason why this filming was taking place: That NATO is convinced that the huge land armies of the USSR are expected, at almost any time, to launch an offensive through western Europe! This was rather a chilling aspect! However, apparently General William C. Westmoreland feels that only by ensuring that NATO remains strong and united can we meet that threat! His toast to NATO at the Banquet at the new Liege Hall of Congresses seemed to carry this thought.
On Sunday, Dec. 17th, we started out early (no one was “hung‑over” from the banquet the night before: story carried elsewhere!), visited again briefly the U. S. Memorial outside Malmedy where we found postcards in the rebuilt inn and went on to the U. S. Cemetery at Neuville‑en‑Condroz. Fr. Dermot Collins and I held a service in the beautiful cemetery chapel with wall maps showing the Battle of the Ardennes Bulge and the marble altar. Fr. Collins gave Mass and Holy Communion, using common bread and wine, and I read Scripture and gave prayers. Going on, we stopped for lunch at Stavelot, seeing many old pill boxes, hearing stories of Pieper's Advance (which we followed all the way along). We stopped in Stavelot for lunch, and since it was an election day, everybody was out! we had to split up to get lunch at various cafes. With our little group was the other bus driver, Jean. Now Jean was a Parisian who spoke a different French. The waiter ignored him and us for about a half‑hour until we had to “pull rank,” tell people who we were, and then get a simple lunch before the scheduled departure at 2:00 p.m. Rounding a corner on a narrow road and steep hill, we saw a German Tiger tank with 88 mm exactly where it had stood when Pieper's Group ran out of fuel! It gave us the shivers, and many remembered the first time they were seen! Soberly, we then made our way back to Liege.
That evening, those of us at the Holiday Inn Liege had a very special Italian dinner with lovely red wine! Those who didn't like the lasagna had spaghetti, or whatever they wished! Then it was pack‑up time.
After an early breakfast, we started before 8:30 a.m. for the Amsterdam Airport. Borders there may be, but for the “Benelux” countries there is no stopping. We had a long ride, a mix‑up to get us checked in for the Finnair flight home, but at last we went through security and could spend a very short time at one of the very best duty‑free shops I've ever seen. I had time to get only some chocolates, wooden shoes, a bottle of schnapps (I liked the stone bottle!), a Delft blue pin with picture of windmill on it for my wife Eloise.
We got on our Finnair 727, had a very good dinner with smoked Reindeer Meat, paid $2.50 again for ear‑phones for a movie (our section's sound was missing‑we got a refund), and landed on time at JFK Airport, New York. It was sad to say good‑bye‑but necessary! We were promised a complete set of names of those who were at the reunion. I got my connecting flight to Boston, and having missed the last plane to Halifax, spent the night at the airport hotel. I took the 11:00 a.m. flight on the 19th to Halifax where my faithful wife was waiting with the car. We were home for tea‑time at 4:00 p.m.
Impressions? Well, next time I'll take half the clothes and twice the money with me. The people who served us along the way, connected with the Reunion, were very kind and courteous. The others? Some couldn't care less that a group of middle‑aged, mostly rotund men and some wives were visiting the scene of rough combat that took away their youth! We couldn't very well tell the officials at St. Vith when we were due; it depended on many things. Those who were there didn't show themselves: i.e., the ones who were in government, school, or church. We looked; I spent my lunch‑time on December 16th doing that. Comradeship? These companions of a week were our family! No doubt of that! I was so pleased that Branch 24, Royal Canadian Legion, Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, gave me a lovely wreath to place at the 106th Infantry Division Association's Memorial at St. Vith. The entire December meeting voted to do so at Branch 24, saying, “If Padre Mosley's outfit has a memorial, and he is going to have a service at it we want to give the wreath for it." Also, I was so delighted with our 106th men (and all the others). They were gentlemen, full of fun, and I'm glad I'm part of the 106th. I hope to see you in July. My daughter in Indiana will be able to see Dad then. At that time I hope to have a few motion pictures I took. Thank you for appointing me the 106th Association's Representative at “The Grand Reunion in Friendship” from December 11‑18 at Belgium and Luxembourg.
Ron Mosley, Chaplain (424th)
106th Division<R>Memorial Service –1978
December 16, 1978 ‑ St. Vith
by R.A. Mosley, formerly Chaplain (Cpt) 424th Regt.
I had the great honor of representing the 106th Division Association at “The Grand Reunion in Friendship” from Dec. 11‑18, 1978, on the 34th anniversary of the Ardennes Bulge. The calendar was exactly the same as it was at the time of the battle.
Dec. 16th belonged to the 106th Infantry Division! We had traveled by coach from Liege, Belgium, visiting Malmedy and Stavelot on the way. We had at St. Vith, and at 1400 hours we met at the bus parking lot by the Hotel Pip Margriff. Boarding the bus, we had just several blocks to go to go to the school on which our memorial stands. I was the first off the buses and had a chance to pick up litter on the site, as an addition is being added to the school very near our memorial. After all, it wouldn't look very well to have a discarded paper cup on the shelf‑altar.
I read a statement and a call to worship to begin our Service. The Old Testament from Psalm 27 was read by Lynn B. Bradley, Service Co., 422nd Inf, Regt. Charlie Ream, Signal Co., 106th, read the New Testament from St. Matthew 16 and from St. John 15. We had previously met Dr. and Mrs. DeLaval from Vielsalm, and although they did not go down to the division memorial, I had a few words of appreciation for their help and devotion. Laying the wreath in front of the division's insignia of “The Golden Lion” were Ed Prewett, Co.B, 424th Regt. and George Call (formerly known as Calathopulos), also Co. B., 424th Regt. The wreath was a very special one: it was given to me on Dec. 6th by Branch 24, Royal Canadian Legion, Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, of which I am Public Relations Officer and was Chaplain in 1976 ‑ the year of the 50th Anniversary of the Royal Canadian Legion's founding. It is also the branch of the Royal Canadian Legion of which my 93‑year old father is the only surviving charter member. Branch 24 wanted to have a part in recognizing the sacrifices of the 106th Division of which I am a member.
Our speaker at the memorial service was General (Four‑Star) William C. Westmoreland U. S. A. (Ret'd). He had been with the 9th Armored Division during the Ardennes. Here is his address printed in full below (taken by tape‑recorder):
“Ladies and gentlemen, as you all are aware, war is sacrifice. Sacrifice, in the first instance by the young men who fight on behalf of their country. Young men who are the cream of the crop of that country. Young men in their late teens and early twenties: such was the case in respect to the young men whom we honor today to whom we pay homage, young men of the 106th Infantry Division. Young men who were assembled after the war was well‑underway, who were trained, and who were rushed to the battlefield, presumably because they were a new division to get their baptism of fire in a calm way by being placed in an inactive sector of the line; but such was not the case. By virtue of the skill of the Germans and the movement of their troops and deceiving our intelligence, these young men of the newly activated 106th Infantry Division were those who bore the blunt of the initial onslaught of the well‑trained and veteran army and the elite of the German Forces commanded by one of their most‑experienced generals, Gen. von Runstedt. Under the circumstances and under the most adverse conditions, these young men stood their ground and performed in a most heroic, and admirable way. Of the divisions that participated in the Battle of the Bulge, the 106th bore the major blunt. All things considered through the adverse position in which they were placed, they acquitted themselves admirably. The young men comprising that division were heroic, stalwart, and brave in the greatest traditions of our great country; they are a credit to our land, to our citizens, a credit to the United States Army. To participate in this brief ceremony, to pay homage to them, to recall their sacrifices ‑ is a privilege to me, and I am sure a privilege to you who are here today on the 34th anniversary of the great battle.”
Following the General's address, I read parts of some of the letters sent to me from families of our division. Here are some excerpts:
(From a wife) “If love and prayers help my husband recover, he has an abundance, for we are all praying fo him. I know he went into this horrible mess with the utmost confidence of returning home to his family. May God bless you and keep you safe, so you too will be home soon. I'm sure God will watch over my husband for He has watched over us in times of trouble often:'
(A wife) “Dear Chaplain Mosley, your kind letter, mailed Nov.2, 1944, informed me that my soldier‑husband . . . was spiritually prepared as well as physically and materially for overseas duty. This fact and my faith in God has been a great comfort to me since I received a telegram that he has been missing action in Germany since Dec. 17, 1944.
“ May I express to you my appreciation for the goodness and kindness that you have shown my husband by talking to him about the primary need of the world today ‑ Christ.”
(A Mother) ‑ Dear Chaplain, “I received your kindly letter information about Harry. I sure thank you for sending me word of Harry's illness... Harry wrote me here in the winter and told me he believed in Christ and for me to pray for him and that he hoped our good Lord would give him strength and faith. May God bless all our fellow citizens and chaplains.”
(From a mother) “We received the telegram telling of his injury only yesterday, and our hearts were torn with anguish. I assure you your letter today was a comfort to us, TO KNOW THAT THERE WAS SOME ONE TO DO FOR HIM THAT WHICH WE WERE UNABLE TO DO. (Ed. note: that's what the army chaplaincy was/is all about!) Our faith and prayers and those of our friends are with him and we are thankful that his life has been spared.”
My letter to a mother who lost her son (March 8, 1945): “I know your grief is very great, but may I say that, God willing, we his comrades, swear by all that's holy that we will insist that he has not died in vain.”
ln a moment of silent Prayer, the Memorial Wreath was laid by Ed Prewett and George Call, both of Company B, 424th Infantry Regiment. This followed by my prayer: “Grant, O Lord, eternal peace unto those who have passed into Thy Glory. Be with their families, those who still suffer. Lord, support us all the day long of this changing life until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over and our work here is done. Then in Thy Mercy, grant us a safe voyage, peace at the last, and work in Thy Kingdom still for us to do. in the Name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Amen.”
“Friends, go in peace; pray for peace; may God be with you!”
We could not find anyone at the school where our Memorial stands, although there were two cars parked. Our “Golden Lion” insignia has faded. Perhaps after the new building has been completed, our Memorial will look better. I am making a small contribution to this memorial. However, in all honesty, one must state that St. Vith is still the stern pro‑German town it was when we first knew it. At the bus parking lot, I thought there would be a riot when someone (I know whom, too!) asked a group of teen‑aged boys whom they wish had won World War II. The reply came, loud and clear, “Germany!”
We departed in our buses and went on to Vielsalm. I had been asked to conduct a short memorial service there at the 7th Armored Division's Memorial, which I did. This was an appropriate thing for me to do: what was left of the 106th was/became the 424th Regimental Combat Team attached to the 7th Armored Division. It was also right for me, as I was the only service chaplain in the Reunion group. We did have a Franciscan Father Collins, a paratrooper in WW II, who went into Holy Orders after the war.
I want to also record the presence of Bob Pocklington of the 28th Infantry Division who had been with the 106th at Ft. Jackson and had left in August, 1943. Bob briefed us on the part the 28th Division played in the Ardennes, especially around Wiltz: “Sky‑Line Drive,” “Heart‑Break Corner” etc. Bob was a prisoner, and he is a very able historian who just about lives in the Ardennes and in Germany half of every year. He has a son who lives in Germany, married to a German girl. Bob and the other 106th “survivors” had our photos taken at our division memorial. My Minox “cocked out.” Any photos of this for a retired and tired old padre? Comrades, I did my best and will give my impressions and other events in other sections of “The Cub.” God bless us all!
“Grand Reunion in Friendship”
Banquet, 16 Dec. 1978 ‑ New Hall of Congresses, Liege
by R. A. Mosley, Chaplain
For the life of me, I cannot remember the bill‑of‑fare of the main Reunion Banquet on the 34th anniversary of the Bulge, with the calendar being the same as in '44! Mental block? I think so! I know we had Le vin blanc for toasts.
Steve Olem turned the program over to the Rev. Dermot Collins, Order of St. Francis, a paratrooper during the Bulge who went into the priesthood after the battle, Fr. Collins said, in part: “In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen. Dear Lord, as we gather here this evening, in friendship, we ask You to allow each one to become instruments of Your Peace. Where we have any doubts, fears, and the like, we ask you to let us so love and reconcile with one another.
And finally, Lord, we ask Thee to bless the food that we are about to receive because of Your Goodness, through Christ our Lord, Amen."
M. C. Steve Olem recognized the hard work of Dr. Charles MacDonald (Infantry Company C.0. and U. S. Army Historian and Colonel, USAR Ret.). Among other statements Dr. MacDonald said: “l have had a 'cotton‑picking' good time, and poor Steve over here has‑he has trouble producing Germans. As a U.S. Army historian, it is my pleasure to deal with many historians. As a consequence, I have come to know by correspondence Dr. Adolph Hornstein from Monchau, where we were today. Dr. Hornstein was a PFC with the 276th Volksgrenadier Division. Dr. Hornstein also turned out to be a leader of a company of 23 men! He also served on the Eastern Front. On this date in '44 he opposed us in the Ardennes; he was in the Eifel and also in Luxembourg. On the 3rd January he was wounded. After he left the army, Dr. Hornstein became an engineer, prominent in the German mining industry in the Ruhr Industrial District. He has now retired and has become a historian of the Hurtgen Forest. He has provided photographs of which we shall obtain prints. He is a very able and apt historian who has given us much help. I shall ask Dr. Hornstein to speak through our interpreter Dick Cowan. The doctor speaks good English, but like myself with French, he would rather use an interpreter in a large gathering.
Dr. Hornstein said, in German, that the animosity of over 34 years has ceased, and there only remains the cemeteries of the American and German forces. Over the crosses there grows the friendship between ourselves, our comrades, and you.
Steve Olem then recognized the work of LTC Paul Adair and Major Peter Crocker who were in charge of filming the battle from the view‑point of the 28th Div.
Steve Olem then introduced a “man of great distinction,” General William C. Westmoreland, USA‑Ret., the main speaker, and his very charming wife. Gen. Westmoreland said, in part: “We are privileged to be with this group for the last several days. As Charles MacDonald has explained it: `we've had a ball!, enjoyed every minute of it, a real cross‑section of members of various units. They have been all good, agreeable, ladies and gentlemen. It's been our pleasure to be with you. I am delighted my wife is here.
“Ladies contribute very dearly to our lives. I promoted the first woman General Officer in the history of the western community. I promoted the Army's chief nurse, Col. Anna May Hayes and, at the same time, the chief of the W.A.C. The first day I had promoted Col. Anna May Hayes, my wife found herself seated next to now Gen. Hayes at the hairdresser. Mrs. Hayes was a widow, and my wife said: `Anna May, I wish you would get married again.” Gen. Hayes replied: 'Mrs. Westmoreland, why in the world would you want me to get married again?' My wife said: `Very simple! I just want some man to know what it's like being married to a general.' This is the first time that I have had the opportunity to visit in these past, long but in fact short, 34 years where we had a major engagement with the Germans. To me it's been not only an occasion of nostalgia but a special occasion to appreciate how the American Army responded to the challenge presented us by General von Runstedt. As I toured the battlefield I'm amazed at the professionalism of the German Army. The fact that they were able to assemble and concentrate troops of major magnitude and totally deceive the American command and in the process catch us by surprise. This, to me, is the major lesson of the Battle of the Bulge. The Battle of the Bulge also reminds us that mobility and fire‑power and logistics are essential if we are going to prevail on a the battlefield of a well‑trained and dedicated enemy as presented themselves 34 years ago. Our strategy now is based on preparation in warfare."
He went on to state that our former enemies are now our allies and that West Germany is the staunchest of all our allies, in connection with NATO. He went on and said that our strategy is now one of deterrent and if it is going to work, we must be perceived by that enemy as strong. He stated that Winston Churchill in the dark days said, during the Battle of Britain, that we Britons win at least one battle and that is the last one. Now that theory doesn't hold up, according to Gen. Westmoreland, for the first battle has to be won. Deterrents are not going to work as a strategy unless we are prepared and capable of winning the first battle. The General stated that this was the major lesson to be learned from a study of the Ardennes Bulge. I'm sorry I can't put in print the sincerity of this great U. S. General and former Chief of Staff! Stressing preparation materially, psychologically, and spiritually, he made us think.
Steve Olem then stated that the first thing in planning for the Reunion was to see if the Belgium people would accept a delegation to visit the battle sites. The answer was yes, and the reception was friendly and interested. He said: “In this connection we are particularly honored to have with us today a distinguished representative of our host city Liege. The first Councillor, Mr. L. Petit, is here.”
Mr. Petit replied very graciously in a short speech of welcome. I wondered how well most of us would do in a foreign language!
Mr. Olem gave, then an introduction of a person whom he stated had made the Reunion a reality. He then recognized the manager of Sabena World Airlines and his wife. Mr. Olem stated his (and our) regrets that General Hasso von Manteuffel had died on Oct. 2 last, saying: “We can honor his memory, not the memory of an enemy, but the memory of a gallant soldier and a fine man who made many friends for himself among his former enemies. I believe Gen. Westmoreland has one of the last letters written by Gen. von Manteuffel. Would you please read this to us, as I think it expresses the character and personality of the late Gen von Manteuffel best.”
Gen. Westmoreland: “This is a letter, dated June 6, 1978, to Joe Stout (Director of LeHigh County Veterans Affairs, Pa.). `Dear Mr. Stout: I thank you very much for your letter of May 16th and the article concerning the reunion of the veterans. I will attend too if I am in a satisfactory state of health. The participation of German veterans will be very meager because we had immense casualties during the battle and the collapse. I am the only one of the German commanding officers, and generals who are still alive. I will give the veterans of the other side of the hill credit, and therefore I am glad we are on the same side to fight, if necessary, for freedom and independence against the communists. I am glad to see and to speak to you in these days of December. Kindest regards, Hasso von Manteuffel.'
“This expresses the sentiments and the character and perspective of this man. Now, I would like to suggest we have a moment of silence.” (Silence) “Thank you!”
Mr. Olem then called on me for the closing words: “I've been talking most of the day at the various places we have been that are sacred to the memory of the 106th Infantry Division and the 7th Armored Division, and the others. I'm almost prayed out, Steve; of course a parson never is, never for a loss of words. I spiritually treated, as a padre, the German as well as the Allied wounded, and I remember one time when my commanding officer, Col. Reid, said: `You know, Ron, you're not only the men's chaplain; you're mine too. I depend a lot on you.' I didn't realize this, and I made a lot of mistakes. Thirty‑four years ago today! Twenty‑five years old I was. How old were you? Where will we be in 34 years from now? I don't know. I want to tell you that this very distinguished military historian, Gen Westmoreland, whom I respect a great deal ‑ his book is out of print. There are some copies available if you write personally to him in care, I think, of the Pentagon, isn't it' sir?” Gen. Westmoreland: “The Department of Defense will probably get me.” “You will get a personally inscribed volume. I'm going to do that just as soon as I arrive home and recoup some money having been in Belgium and, especially, Luxembourg. I didn't have any nylon stockings with me this time. in these days of high costs the book is $12.95 plus postage. Now I realize that's a commercial.” (Gen. Westmoreland: “That's your commercial, not mine!”) “Yes, this commercial is entirely mine. Now Steve Olem has certainly put himself out. I expected more here, but that's all right. Sometimes there is a great deal of quality in not‑so‑large numbers. I think we owe a round of applause to Steve before the festive part of the good eating begins. Steve, I think we owe you a great deal of thanks. You're not a 'puny' man by any means, but you are surely a `pun‑ny' man. One more thing, I live back where I lived as a boy in Nova Scotia. I haven't moved up there because I'm anti‑American by any means, but because it is unchanged and right on the ocean. The Premier of Nova Scotia and the citizens of Nova Scotia want to remind us that the British also took part in the Battle of the Ardennes, and a lot with them were Canadians. This flag pin, the only royally chartered flag by the British Crown outside Britain, is given to you with the best wishes of the Premier, the Government, and the people of Nova Scotia. God bless us all!”
Toasts were made: Gen. Westmoreland led the toast to His Majesty the King of Belgium; Liege Councillor Petit led the toast to the President of the U.S.A.; a third toast was made by Gen. Westmoreland: “Ladies and gentlemen, may I ask you to join me in a third toast: to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, commonly known as NATO, and the countries that comprise that very important alliance.”
Now, don't ask me what we had to eat! I haven't the foggiest without the menu, as I was too busy working a tape‑recorder and trying to think of what to say, almost on the “spur of the moment.” it was a very jolly time! Several old “dog‑faces” wore their original uniforms! I wore a dark suit with the crest in bullion of a U. S. Army Chaplain with my miniature medals. The banquet speakers and formality took place before dinner was served! This I liked, because often when I am a dinner speaker, I have to forego eating until after wards: often it is too late then! It was a great evening. You couldn't tell whether one of the men had been a PFC or a company or battalion commander; that was as it should have been.
A Memorable Return to Anthisnes
George Sutter, 423rd Anti‑Tank Company
George Sutter a 20 year old Sergeant in the 423rd Regiment's Anti‑tank Battalion returned to Anthisnes after 44 years and found “Mama,” 87 years of age (Emma Rousselle), and her daughter Clarisse, who was 14 years old at the time. Clarisse has since married Jules Kepenne.
George is from Munster, Indiana, and is married to an Englishwoman, Peggy. From this union was born a daughter who is a Doctor and is married to a gynecologist.
In '44, George spent six weeks in Anthisnes where, with his eight companions, he was lodged with Emma Rousselle, who ran a small grocery store on Center Street. George was in charge of supplies and his office was set up in the school across from the store.
Mama Rousselle handled the laundry of the nine soldiers in exchange for provisions, cigarettes, chickens, etc and the first “Nescafe (instant coffee)” which had just appeared in Europe.
After their departure, several soldiers kept in contact with the Rouselle family, then little by little, the correspondence dropped off, with the exception of George who continued regular correspondence. George would each year at Christmas time send Mama money in the guise of gifts.
Their reunion was moving and also unexpected due to an error in the date and the people in Anthisnes were no longer expecting the arrival of George and his wife.
Together, they went over the town recollecting memories, then eating dinner. It was also the occasion for George to once again see the old acquaintances from the town—notably, Marie Louise Giltay, who was 24 at the time George was first in Anthisnes.
The family in Anthisnes were overwhelmed with gifts, especially Mama, who received a gold necklace and a magnificent scarf.
@&EDITORS NOTE = (This article was translated from a story which appeared in a Belgian newspaper “L'arrondi.” on 28 March, 1988. Translation was by a language teacher of School District #196, Apple Valley, MN—Editor)
Lt. Donald W. Beseler, 424/A<R>Visits Battle Area
Lt. Donald W. Beseler, 424/A
(Lt. Donald W. Beseler, former 424/A officer, who after the death of his company commander, Cpt Robert McKay led “A” Company into LeVaux and then on to Coulee wrote to me in October of '88. His letter follows, with a report on his trip back to the battlefields in September of 1989... J. Kline, editor)
“John, We are home ‑ back from a wonderful trip to Belgium that was filled with memorable experiences, but so short on time! Thanks to the information and sources that you made available to us, we were able to make contacts and get the most from our visit.”
“A narrative report with some pictures and a copy of an article from “The Stars and Stripes” is enclosed. Please feel free to use any or all of it. In some way I hope that it may provide others with another view of some of the events of that period of our lives.”
–During our visit we were introduced to Jules Herdebise whose address is given in the narrative report. He is working to establish a memorial for the 424th at Aismont. It is to be dedicated during August of 1989. He has, as now a small stone statute made by Guy Winand, Rue Capitaine Lekeux, 6698 Grand Halleux, Belgium.
“During a conversation with Jules he mentioned a need for an American Flag of a specific size for this statute which I will provide. He can also use artifacts from the members of the 424th which can be displayed in the memorial‑museum. Donors can maintain ownership of the material or they can be given directly to him. He mentioned that he had discussed the details of the memorial with Bill Mueller, M Company, 424th, during Bill's visit to the area. I intend to cont Mr. Mueller later.
“It was a great trip and an experience that my wife and I were happy to share. As I look back at the days we spent in the battle area, I have mixed emotions as to just how far I want to follow up on these experiences. Some were gratifying to be relived and others were better to be left in the recesses of the mind.
Many thanks for your help.”
Donald W. Beseler
St. Germain, WI 54558
(Don, during my phone call to him on 1/4/89, said “Tell them that 43 years is a long time and my story is as I remember it.” ‑ J Kline ed.)
Lt. Beseler Visits Battle Areas of the 424th
This is a narrative report of our trip in September, 1988 to the battlefield area of the 106th Division in Belgium. The several days spent there were filled with interesting experiences and returning memories.
Prior to our departure, I contacted Serge Fontaine of Stavelot. He offered to serve as a guide during our all too brief visit to the area. My first thoughts were to follow the trail of the 424th through the entire battle, but I soon realized that time would not permit such a detailed trip. For this reason the following narrative will not be in chronological battle order, rather it will be in the order in which we visited the various battle areas.
We arrived in Stavelot at noon and met Serge Fontaine at the church as planned. from there we traveled to Wanne for lunch and introduction to Jules Herdebise of Trois Ponts. Mr. Herdebise and others are working on a memorial to the 424th which they hope to dedicate in August, 1989.
After our lunch our first stop was Spineaux. I had an experience similar to Ed Prewett's as described in his letter to John Kline, our CUB editor, in December 1987. We were able to find the house we used as platoon headquarters from January 9‑13, 1945. I'm not sure how many days we occupied the village before starting the attack on La Vaux. I do remember it was very cold, there was much snow, and we were constantly rotating between the foxholes and the building. Our stay there had to be at least three days.
One of those days I shall never forget. Our first mail since December 15th caught up with us. Several of us spent hours going through the sacks of mail and all the letters addressed to men lost during the preceding days had to be marked “Return to Sender, MIA Dec. 16, 1944.” It was a most difficult and painful duty.
The day before the attack, I led a patrol to the outskirts of La Vaux. We strung telephone wire along our route and upon reaching the edge of the town overlooking the village, we directed artillery fire on the village and into the wooded area near the crest of the hill to the east of the village. I remember asking that the artillery fire a round into the village using map coordinates and that I would direct the fire from that point. Their first round was short coming through the trees in which our patrol was located and landing within 50 yards in front of us. We all dove for cover and as a result jerked the powered phone from the line. After repairs to the phone I remember telling the artillery that they had damned near shot our hats off and to increase their range by 500 yards and we would work from there!
Once the line of fire had been established it was relatively easy to zero the guns in on the village and the tree line to the east. All this was in preparation for the attack the next day.
While the patrol made its way parallel to the road leading from Spineaux to La Vaux, we found a GI Parachute and other gear that had been hidden there after an apparent successful bailout. We also found several boxes in the woods near La Vaux with German military documents. All this was returned to the Battalion when the patrol returned. A copy of the article published in The Stars and Stripes regarding that day is enclosed.
The attack on the village of La Vaux on January 13, 1945 was not particularly difficult. We captured one German in the very first house. I'll never forget his remark made in English: “I saw you yesterday.” At that instant we realized that if he had seen us, he could have killed us!! After La Vaux we advanced across the fields to the east. We did not run into resistance until we entered the woods. There was small arms fire and machine guns blocked our way. With Mr. Fontaine as a guide, we walked along the trail into the woods and found German foxholes and the trail in the woods running north and south across the crest of the hill.
It was on this trail that the German tank was located. Fire from this tank killed Lt. Robert McKay, our company commander (424/A). The tank moved north along the trail a short distance. Many of us were in the small evergreens along the trail. We called for bazooka and rifle grenade but to no avail. The tank finally withdrew.
1st Sergeant Wallace Rifleman, Green Bay, Wisconsin, of A Company was primarily responsible for getting A Company through this area by knocking out machine gun emplacements that held up our advance. He was recommended for the Silver Star for this action. I believe he was given this award at a much later date.
The advance continued across the crest of the hill to the down slope leading into Coulee. At that point the trees were much larger and incoming artillery and mortar fire took heavy toll. We withdrew at dusk to a field on the crest of the hill overlooking Wanne. The night was spent there in foxholes. It was there that we learned of the death of Lt. Huddleson, 1st Battalion S‑2. The next day we pulled back into Wanne. We spent the day and night there. I cannot remember what happened during the next few days.
We continued our tour with Mr. Fontaine to the area near Grandmenil and Manhay. This was the area where the 1st Battalion of the 424th spent Christmas of 1944. We were originally on the ridges to the west of this area. Contact patrols were made on an armored column coming into Grandmenil from the west. The patrol went on into Manhay which was in our hands at that moment— it changed hands several times the next few days.
On Christmas day Herman Van de Bogart of Seattle Washington, a jeep driver, found a supply of ammunition and a sack of rice. The rice was added to the K‑ration fruit bars and chocolate to make our Christmas dinner. It was cooked in our helmets and was our first hot meal since December 15th and the last hot meal until sometime in February when we were‑issued kitchen equipment!
The 1st Battalion gradually moved forward to the edge of the forest overlooking Manhay. At this point I was able to point out to Mr. Fontaine our position. Here we found the original foxholes. Our casualties at this point were mainly from incoming artillery and screaming meemies (rockets).
A day or two later several battalions of artillery hit Manhay with a heavy “ Time On Target” barrage. Following that barrage, Manhay was taken by elements of the 424th, the armored unit advancing through Grandmenil, and another unit to our left (north side).
On the second day of our guided tour with Serge, we went to St. Vith where we visited the 106th Memorial.
From there we went to Lommersweiler which is about 6 miles southeast of St. Vith. Company A of the 424th was in reserve position there on December 16th, 1944. We arrived here about December 12th. The men of the company were billeted throughout the village. The schoolhouse served as company headquarters and also as our company mess. This building is still standing but will be torn down in 1989. During our visit to the village I tried to locate the house where we were billeted. We talked at length to one family that attempted to aid us in the search. They even provided old photographs of their house as it appeared in 1944. One villager told us he was 14 years old at the time and remembered going to the schoolhouse (mess hall) and asking for food. He described “our Chef” who was Sgt. Pete Mohonacheck of Brooklyn, NY in great detail.
On the morning of December 16th, 1944 some artillery shells began falling on the village. We were alerted for movement to the front line and moved out in 6X6 trucks just before noon. At that time I think we fully expected to be back and eat the food that was being prepared in company mess for that evening. Needless to say, we never made it back nor was the food delivered to our positions.
We were transported to a position just west of Winterspelt. We continued on into the village on foot. Company A started to dig in on a hillside on the north side of the village. A 75mm anti‑tank gun was already in place on the hill. As I recall that day, the gun was able to fire several rounds at the advancing Germans before taking a direct hit. Company A took several casualties here from artillery fire while digging in. We were under constant artillery fire and small arms fire for the remainder of the afternoon. Just before dusk I was ordered by Cpt. Cashin, C.O. of Company A to go to the south side of the village to try to reorganize the men there and set up a defense on the road leading into Winterspelt from the southeast.
By nightfall we had taken up several positions within the buildings. After dark German troops made their way into Winterspelt along the roads leading into the village. When dawn came we found ourselves within the German lines. Several of us were in a small stone shed on the very edge of the incoming road. No automatic weapons were available. We did have a good supply of hand grenades which we threw in volley over and into the surrounding buildings. We then made a run to a stone barn about 75 yards across the field and from there into the woods southeast of the village. All the men that left Winterspelt at that time were accounted for on reaching the woods. Other GIs were also in the woods. We stayed in that position for the remainder of the day and that night moved to the southwest down the hill. Sometime the next night we found elements of the 1st Battalion, 424th near the village of Maspelt. We had difficulty getting back within our lines but we identified ourselves by the use of some strictly GI profanity. In turn we were identified as friendly.
There are some places and times that seem to be forever implanted in memory. Such was the situation at Winterspelt and Maspelt. As we toured that area with Serge Fontaine, I described the stone shed where we had been surrounded and as we neared the edge of the village it came into view.
Before proceeding any further I told him I was sure we would find a very small window on the opposite side of the shed through which fire had been directed down the road. Also beyond the shed I said we would find the stone barn—and such was the case.
We took up a defensive position on the hill above Maspelt and during the course of the next 36 to 48 hours we fought off several advances by the German troops coming up the crest of the hill.
At this time on our tour with Serge we were parked about three‑quarters of the way up the hill at a shelter used by hikers. I was describing the position to Serge when another vehicle approached with a man and a woman. I assumed they were American tourists such as we were. But when we greeted each other I found he was an English speaking German that had been in the area in 1944 as a member of one of the attacking German divisions. He too was on a tour of the battlefield. With his help it was possible to further verify the location of our unit and landmarks within the village. His family still owned land in that area.
Another area that was on my agenda, was the area between Losheim and Losheimergraben. We were able to drive several of the logging trails through the wooded area, crossing the dragon teeth of the Siegfried Line from the German side. Unfortunately we could not get into the actual Company A positions because of locked gates across the trails. As I recall, we were in this area for a week or more before the push for the Rhine started. I think we advanced from there to Berk and Baasem just north of the junction of the Kyll and Glaudt Rivers. It was a relatively quiet area in which we maintained contact with the Germans in front and the units on either flank.
On December 15, 1944 we had received the payroll for the company. We were to have been paid on December 16th. When the battle started, Corporal John Roverano (clerk) of Ashland, Massachusetts remembered the payroll and stuffed it into an ammunition bag. He carried that bag with him throughout the battle until he reached the Losheimergraben area in February. At that time he turned it over to me and I in turn took a trip back to Regimental Headquarters and received a receipt from W/O Charles Rao for 157,457 French francs pertaining to the men that were MIA. This receipt is still in my possession.
On this trip back to the battle field I took with me three original battle maps hoping that they would be useful in locating various positions of our units. Mr. Fontaine had current maps of the area. A comparison of the maps revealed an astounding similarity. Where there were field, forest and trails in '44 and '45, they still existed in 1988. The trees of '44 had been cut but new ones had been planted in their place. Foxholes and other evidence of the battle had been removed from the fields, but they were still evident in the woods. While viewing these emplacements it brought back some very vivid memories—memories that had been stored deep in my mind. These memories of a few men by name and so many more who will be ever nameless but whose gaunt faces will always be in my memory.
My wife and I will forever appreciate the hospitality shown to us by Serge Fontaine, Mr and Mrs Leonard Graff (our Belgian hosts) and Jules Herdebise. Jules is the man responsible for establishing the 424th Memorial at Aismont to be dedicated in August, 1989. All of these people are members of the Comite D'Accuil des U.S. Airborn” which is a group formed to aid the Battle of the Bulge veterans during their visits to the battle field. Mr. Fontaine and Mr. Herdebise are especially interested in the 106th Infantry Division and would appreciate all the information and help they can receive from the division members.
Their addresses are:
Chemin de Ster 11
B4970 Stavelot, Belgium
4980 Trois Ponts, Belgium
We were able to visit the Battle of the Bulge museum at Lagleize and the Memorial at Malmedy. The museum has German and American equipment, many battle photographs some of which were taken by Mr. Fontaine. The curator of this museum is a very knowledgeable and a congenial gentleman. I would recommend that it be on the itinerary of anyone making a visit to the area.
Wischmeier, 423d Service<R>Retraces 1944‑45 Experiences
by Don Wischmeier, 423rd Service Company
Last August, my wife Eileen and I re‑traced my steps taken 44 years ago. This all began when we landed at Frankfurt and drove to Auw, Germany because I wanted to visit the house where I had been captured and the tavern where I was then taken.
In 1944, I was in the 423rd Service Co. billeted near Bleialf. It was my duty to help load and unload supply trucks, with rations, which we picked up at the school‑house in St. Vith and took to our re‑load center near Bleialf.. This trip, under the leadership of M/Sgt John Hall, was taken each day over snow covered roads through Auw and Schönberg.
On December 16th, we were awakened earlier than usual with a warning that the Germans were attacking. M/Sgt hall was ordered by Major Helms to make our routine trip with the three trucks to St. Vith, and by the time we got there the enemy artillery shells were already exploding in town.
After loading we headed back through Schönberg and got as far as the south edge of Auw when the trucks suddenly stopped. I looked out the rear of the truck and saw M/Sgt Hall and the driver crouching in the snow‑covered ditch. Hall told me to get down, that a rifle shot had gone through the windshield between them.
We saw some enemy infantry to the east running across a clearing into a woods, so fired a few rifle rounds at them and then rushed into a farm house behind us.
We spent the next three hours or so in the upstairs of the house where some 81st Engineers were billeted. Across the road from this house and towards town was a barn that we suspected held some German soldiers. Hall and others fired machine‑gun tracer bullets into the building and set it on fire.
This flushed them out, some Germans were possibly hit by the bullets. This bit of history is also written on pages 33 and 34 of the book St Vith a Lion in the Way by Colonel Dupuy, as well as in A Time for Trumpets by Charles B. MacDonald, page 111.
When we were in that house, all we knew of the war was what we could see through the fog and mist. What we did see were four tanks coming down the road. Thinking they were ours, I looked out the front window and saw a German Tank Commander standing in the turret of the first tank. Actually, we saw each other at about the same time. As I ducked down, I ran to the back of the bedroom and felt the impact of eight rounds fired into the house by the Tiger Tanks.
All this activity resulted in some men escaping, and six or seven of us including Bill Devine from New York, being captured. We were ordered out of the house onto the snow‑covered road between the first two tanks, each with machine guns pointed at us.
There was no place to run. There were fences and open fields on each side of the road. Standing there between the tanks, with guns trained on us, we could only believe that this was an enemy raid and that there would be no room for prisoners ‑ our future looked bleak. But German foot soldiers appeared and marched us into a tavern in the center of the village of Auw.
I remember the confusion in the tavern with the Germans and Americans milling about. A very distinct memory in my mind was that of a dead German soldier lying under a round oak table, while another German soldier was leaning on the table and eating from a can of sardines. I was to experience in the months ahead how quickly one could get adjusted to the sight of death.
Outside American artillery shells were dropping into the Village and its streets, but fortunately the tavern was not hit. After dark we began several days of marching leading eventually to Bonn, followed by a five day ride in crowded boxcars with little to eat and no water. During the march to Bonn my friend Bill Devine and I were separated. He was older than all the rest of us and was very well liked.
Our train was also strafed by Allied planes while it remained stationary during the long boring days. Finally this ride ended up at Stalag 4B, Muhlberg. Three weeks later I was shipped on to Stalag 4‑A, Lillenstein, a small camp twenty miles south of Dresden where I stayed until May 8, 1945, the day that the war was over in Europe.
On that day our guards marched us out of camp and across the Elbe River bridge. We headed Southwest. No army troops appeared and by the end of the second day our guards left us ‑ they were afraid of being captured by the Russians ‑ and we were too slow and weak for them. We were left to our own choice, which was to continue walking over the Erz Mountains into Czechoslovakia. We lived off the land the best we could with six of us from the same room (in the Stalag) staying together.
The war was over and everything seemed strange with no government. After three days of walking we holed up in a bomb‑damaged building in a small village. Four days later a few Russian soldiers came through town, some on horse‑drawn wagons and some on bicycles. They were a rag‑tailed outfit but they never bothered us.
Then, on May 18, ten days after the war was over, we saw our first American soldiers.
As Eileen, my wife, and I walked in Auw that Friday evening last summer toward my “refuge house,” I recalled all these memories. We found the tavern in the center of town. There we had a supper of Goulash and Bitburg beer. The round oak table was gone, but the visions of the Germans and American GI prisoners was still there vividly in my mind, along with the sounds of the 106th cannon shells bursting in the streets.
But it was 1988 and we had the incredible luck of being invited by a young German to visit his uncle, Nikolaus Werner. He and his family are dairy farmers who live a kilometer south of the village of Auw.
Nikolaus, as a boy of fourteen, had lived on the same street as our “refuge house” and the barn that had been destroyed by our fire had actually belonged to his family. During the time the 2nd Division had occupied Nikolaus' village, some GIs billeted in his home, had befriended him and enlarged his knowledge of English.
On Saturday morning Eileen and I went to the Werner farm and we immediately became friends. Nikolaus is an expert on the days of the battle and we enjoyed sharing his accurate memories with us. For a day and a half his family wined and dined us. He drove us in his “Trooper” through the Schnee Eifel where we saw fox‑holes and blown‑up bunkers remaining after all these years. The forest trees no longer show the scars of death and injury, rather they showed a place of peace and quiet.
He drove us to Bleialf and to the hill overlooking Schönberg in the valley of the Our River, near the place where the 422nd and 423rd Regiments met the Germans in the snow. Herr Werner also took us to the “refuge house” in Auw and introduced us to the family now living there. They too were gracious and invited us in.
On Sunday morning, Eileen and I planned to attend the 800 year‑old church in Bleialf but got there just as the services were dismissing. We then went into the empty sanctuary and were amazed at the interior decor ‑ beautiful religious paintings on the walls and ceilings ‑ and a splendid altar. This was far more than we expected in a church in such a small town.
Sunday afternoon Mr. and Mrs. Werner drove Eileen and me to St. Vith where we visited his sister and nephew. We had a pleasant time walking around the reconstructed city. We viewed an ancient tower, two World War II Memorials in honor of the 106th and the 2nd Divisions, as well as the one remaining pre‑war home in town that withstood the battle without damage. Our afternoon ended at his sister's home where we were served another delicious meal.
The next day Eileen and I took leave of the area of Auw and St. Vith. Now we have pleasant memories of the area and warm feelings for our new friends. We are keeping contact and hope to see them again.
Golden Lions Return to Europe 1989
by John W. Thurlow 589/592 FAB
Among the many pronouncements made by Doug Coffey, our leader on this trip, was “People always say they are going to write an article about the trip, but they never do.” I might usually do the same but this time just to be different, here for what it's worth, is my article.
The official group trip began on a beautiful sunny day in New York at the JFK Airport. Flight 48 on Pan Am to Stockholm was smooth, pleasant and arrived early in the morning, for the Swedes, late in the evening for us. No problems until we got off the airplane. We then performed “a traditional military maneuver” just to show we hadn't forgotten how. “We hurried up and we waited,” and since no one was there to meet us, we milled around and grumbled. Was this a foretaste of things to come?
We wondered, but it proved not to be so. Our tour guide, Arvid Aseboe, from Bennett Tours, the largest tour agency in Scandinavia, finally showed up after a considerable wait. I don't know what his excuse was. It doesn't matter. The bus came, the baggage came, a couple of members didn't come — we waited, but apparently they missed the flight, so we went on to our hotel, the Birger Carl in central Stockholm. The weather was fine.
Our tour guide proved to be a “gem” among tour guides, according to other seasoned travelers on the trip, and as it was proved by our experience. He changed money for us, unheard of I am told, helped the old folks on and off the bus, planned ahead for our meals, lodging and sight seeing. To quote a line from the song in The Music Man “you gotta know the territory,” Arvid did. It was terrific to have a guide who knew it so well.
Our bus driver, Sven Daae, was also Norwegian — very compatible with Arvid and together they were a good‑natured accommodating pair, a real pleasure to be with. I wouldn't say that Arvid was unflappable, but he handled the flaps very well. The same for Sven — on hairpin curves and sheer drop‑offs he inspired confidence by his ability, and helpfulness in getting people and luggage on and off the bus.
I am not going to bore you with a blow by blow travelogue, and I am probably not capable of writing one anyhow. In the case of Scandinavia, I would probably run out of superlatives.
One thing that had a lot to do with our favorable impression, was the weather. Somebody on this trip was living right, because it was generally ideal, sunny and mild, great for picture taking and cool at night. This couldn't help but improve our dispositions and impressions of the trip.
I propose to describe the trip in two segments, the fun segment— touring Scandinavia, and the serious segment— the visit to the scenes where our comrades were killed, wounded or captured —where we lost some and won some.
Back to the fun part. Our bus route took us from Stockholm, the capital of Sweden to the areas just north of Stockholm. I won't recite all the place names, since to most of you, that's all it would be, just names. Then west, into Norway and the fjord country on a combined bus and boat tour, to Copenhagen, capital of Denmark, then by boat and train to Germany. Traveling across Germany by night train to Cologne and by bus to St. Vith and the battle areas.
As for the Scandinavian part of our trip, I can only say ‑ if you can, arrange to go, don't miss it, it's unique ‑ it must be better in the early spring and early summer. Some of our postcards and tour book pictures bear this statement out fully. With green fields, the wild flowers, and the spring waterfalls, it must be gorgeous to put it mildly.
When we were there, the grain had been cut and the fields were tan with stubble. Fall plowing had begun and the autumn leaves were just beginning to turn. But even then it was spectacular. Aside from many castles filled with paintings, tapestries, weapons and other antiquities, magnificent churches holding the tombs of the former mighty, museums with Viking ships and battle gear. Quaint villages with souvenirs reflecting the local claims to fame, I must say it was all eclipsed by the fjords of Norway.
I have heard about fjords, read about fjords, seen pictures of fjords, even driven a “fjord,” (bad joke) but I was unprepared for what I saw. Sheer cliffs rising from dark waters, hundreds, even thousands of feet deep. Small waterfalls cascading down hundreds of feet from the tops of cliffs. Narrow passages blocking the sun and isolating small farms hanging in seemingly inaccessible places.
As our guide explained, there were big families on the main farms and the eldest son inherited the whole lot. The other boys in the family had to find a place for themselves.
Speaking of people, they were friendly, well dressed, well housed, and well supplied with all the necessities and luxuries of life that we have. Possibly they had more, since many government freebies for education and health care are available. Well‑spoken English is the second language for many, but not everywhere. There were new cars everywhere. Many Volvos and Saabs, naturally, but a good sprinkling of European Fords and Japanese cars. There was also a plentiful supply of pleasure boats.
How do they do it? Salaries aren't that large, taxes are high, anywhere from 30% to 50%, and the prices are out of sight. We asked that question, many times over, and the answers didn't make sense. Suffice to say, they are enjoying the good life while complaining about taxes.
As an example: two hamburgers, one large order of fries and two cokes from their local MacDonalds (yes and they have Burger King and 7‑11 stores) cost a cool $12.50.
Another bit of trivia: Religion ‑ they have a state church. When you are born you are automatically a member and subject to the annual church tax. You can resign later if you wish and avoid the tax. This is no problem, you just have to be of age, and request it in writing.
Despite this mandatory church membership law, a great many churches are empty. Three to four percent attendance is common. The young are not taught religion, this is definitely not a religious community.
Drinking is a problem in Scandinavia. Alcohol prices have been raised to high levels to try and stem the drinking habit. Based on what we saw on Friday and Saturday nights, among the young people, I would say that the cost of liquor is no deterrent. The young people were smashed and kept on getting smashed, in bars, on the street, until three‑o‑clock in the morning. One of the only bad features of the trip was the racket outside the hotel rooms during these nights.
Speaking of hotel rooms ‑ no need to carry your own toilet paper, as we did, or soap in Scandinavia. You can squeeze the Charmin and the soap is fine. They don't believe in wash‑cloths, so bring your own. Otherwise, aside from some strange shower stalls, the hotel rooms were excellent.
We had a disappointment in Copenhagen. Everyone, I suspect, was looking forward to visiting the famous Tivoli Gardens there. But it was not to be. The gardens were closed as of September 10 and we arrived on the 14th. If the tour had started in Copenhagen and ended in Stockholm, we could have seen it. If anything was wrong with the planning, that was it.
Another aspect of planning was the poor turnout by the 106'ers. There were reasons, but the fact remains that we had to have a number of non‑106'ers on the trip to make the tour possible. It worked out OK, but would have been nicer to have more 106'ers with us. Those who stayed home missed a great trip and the totally unique sights and sounds of Scandinavia.
From here, a change of tour management from Bennett back to Galaxy Tours took place as we boarded the train in Copenhagen, for the trip by train and boat to Cologne. We loaded our baggage in through the windows of the train, if you can believe it, and the train accommodations left much to be desired. There, also, we had a new tour guide, Daniel Harnay and a new driver, Manfred. Daniel was the quintessential dour Parisian and Manfred the quintessential teutonic grump. Together, after Arvid and Sven, they had a tough act to follow. Let's just say, they tried, but it wasn't the same ‑ far from it.
We repeated our hurry up, wait, run‑around in circles, scream and shout at Cologne, as the bus didn't show again. Since it was Saturday, a replacement bus took three hours to show. We missed a wreath‑laying ceremony at the AIX LA CHAPPELLE Cemetery as a result. However, the delay did give us a chance to go into the most impressive Cologne Cathedral, right next door to the rail and bus terminal.
The souvenir shops in the Station Plaza gave the gals a chance to shop for Hummels and other souvenirs, an opportunity that was welcomed, since it was not scheduled otherwise.
Postponing the AIX LA CHAPPELLE visit until the next day, we bussed to the town of Spa for an excellent lunch at the Canterbury Restaurant and a reunion there with owners who had been most hospitable on previous visits. We then drove to the town of L'EGLEISE to see a new and impressive war museum. There they had an extensive collection of German and Allied uniforms and weapons with life‑size mannequins posed in combat positions and a big German tank outside. It was well worth a visit and our's was too short.
From there we went to a nearby cross‑roads where we were met by some flower girls and a World War II jeep, complete with a 30 calibre machine gun mount, to lead us to the town of Spineux where a monument was to be dedicated to the 424th Infantry Regiment. (see the following story by Mueller 424/M about the dedication... editor) We noted many cars and people about the site, a tremendous collection of people, including Belgian veterans, community leaders and members of CRIBA. There were several members of our group from the 424th who participated by driving and riding the jeep, ahead of our bus to the ceremony site.
After the ceremony we all drove to the nearby community hall for a luncheon with the townspeople along with “wines of honor.” After that ceremony and community get‑together we departed for the town of Rodt and our hotel.
The hotel at Rodt was more basic, to say the least, than the Scandinavian hotels. It was satisfactory, newly built sections with renovations in the older sections. The cow by our window and the manure piles in the front yards were reminiscent of our earlier times in this area.
The next day we went to a church service in the morning, then to a wreath presentation at the St. Vith 106th Monument, followed by Vin d'honnuer at the town hall with a member of the Belgian Parliament, who represented the German speaking citizens of Belgium. This was followed by an excellent lunch at the hotel in St Vith.
I can't help but comment about the reception of the people in the church. It was in sharp contrast to the reception at Spineux on the previous day. The church was filled with parishioners, but, to put it plainly, they ignored us on the way into the church, they ignored us while in the church, they ignored us on the way out of the church. The service was all in German, and if the 106th was mentioned, it was only in passing, if at all. The atmosphere, if not hostile, was cold to say the least. The townspeople did not show up at the wreath laying at the Monument (St Vith), the town hall or the luncheon. There were no friendly waves at the bus. The local manager of the monument did not show up. As I understand it, none of this was the case in the past. One can only ask, what is happening here?
In any event, after the luncheon, some of the tour members went by private car with people we had met at Spineux the previous day. They visited various battle sites. The rest bussed over to ceremonies at the AIX LA CHAPPELLE and Malmedy Massacre Memorial.
My wife and I went by private car to the areas around the town of Auw with John Gatens and his brother and sister‑in‑law. This brought back some ghosts for me. The terrain was as I remember it, but some of the buildings were changed, of course.
I recall the 16th of December when I was awakened by an almost direct hit on our billet by an 88mm shell. As soon as it was light enough to see, I also remembered viewing the 589th's first casualty, PFC Mike Scanlon, a jolly little Irish wire man, hanging dead at the top of a telephone pole, from a sniper's bullet, in his linesman's belt. Mike, is surely not forgotten by me, and I want him to be remembered by all who read this.
The next day began with a trip to the large and impressive monument at Bastogne. All the units involved in the Battle of the Bulge are represented with plaques. It was great to see the Golden Lion's plaque there.
We then visited other battle areas before going to “Parker's Crossroads” for a ceremonial wreath laying and a speech by John Gatens (see story following) who was captured there, as a tank put its gun up to the door of the Inn where he had was helping some of the wounded. The Innkeeper's daughter was at our ceremony and remembered the incident well.
The next day turned out to be dreary and rainy as we bussed to the Brussels Airport and our not‑looked‑forward‑to skirmishes with customs and immigration officials at both ends.
After an uneventful flight we were once again back in the U.S.A saying our farewells in New York with promises to write, keep in touch, etc. I suppose in some cases with our fingers crossed, but we may all meet again, someday, in Sacramento, Huntsville or on our next trip five years from now. Let's hope so.
Revisit to Germany 1987 – Moyer
Rocky Moyer 424/Cannon
I've enclosed two photographs that you might find of interest. You recall when we talked some time ago about where I was located at the end of the war, I mentioned the town of Langenlonsheim. While in Germany last May (87), I said to my wife Ginnie “'I'm going to see if I can find the site of the German prisoner of war camp the Americans had in the Bad Kreuznack area.”
We drove from Bavaria to Bad Kreuznack and I watched for the road that would lead from there to Langenlonsheim. As we made a right turn, in a down pouring rain, I said “I believe this is the place.” She said “How do you know?” I answered, “I recall a very large open field, with low hills in the background on the north side, with vineyards. I remember a number of the German citizens standing along the hill shouting out names, trying to locate relatives.”
Suddenly I saw a Cross on the left side of the road. We stopped and took a photo of the Monument and Cross. It appears as a black plaque with a face and a German WWII helmet, with an inscription that says something about a memorial to the war and those that fought.
There were several wreaths and flowers placed around the memorial.
We drove further on and I stopped and took the picture showing that Langenlonsheim was two kilometers ahead.
We drove to the town and even though 42 years had passed I was able to recognize a small open square and the house where that acted as our command post.
I could vividly recognize this area, as I had to walk a punishment tour for fraternizing with a very nice young German girl. At the end of the cobblestone street where I walked this tour, was an old house with several old folks living in it. As the other soldier, who was also taking the punishment tour, and I walked by the house the old folks would put out a tin cup filled with white wine. We would take a sip each time we made the turn at the end of this narrow street. It's funny how things like this come back to you as you concentrate on the old memories.
Joe Massey, 422/C<R>Returns to Europe – 1989
Joe Massey, Remlap, Alabama
I returned June 15, 1989 from a 15 day European trip. My wife, Hazel, daughter Cheryl and two couples, Charlotte and Gene Boley, Evelyn and Jordan Baker, toured Belgium, Germany and France.
We toured the Normandy area, Utah, Omaha, Gold and Juno beaches and the American cemetery at Omaha. Utah beach has been left as it was after the war.
Also visited LeHavre, where I landed coming from England, and also left from after being captured during the Battle of the Bulge. Jordan Baker also entered and left from there. We had a brief visit in Paris, the wild drivers were to much for us. Stayed at Versailles and took a train to Paris.
During this trip we found the castle in Lichtenberg where Jordan Baker stayed two nights before he was captured. We also found his prison camp, Stalag IX‑B, Bad Orb, Germany. The camp is now a youth camp. Some of the barracks are still there.
Serge Fontaine and his lovely wife, Suzanna, spent a day with us. They met us at St. Vith and took us to the battle area and to the Schnee Eifel and our old positions. We drove along Skyline Drive to the field where we surrendered. It brought back a lot of memories from Dec. 20‑21, 1944, cold, wet, hungry and no place to go.
Serge is very knowledgeable concerning the Battle of the Bulge. Our day with them was very delightful.
He also took us to the home of Jules and Anna Hurdebise. It was a pleasure to visit with them. Unfortunately, he was unable to accompany us on the day we visited the 422d battle area.
We also visited the Dachau, the concentration camp. Hard to believe such things could happen. God forbid it ever to happen again.
If anyone is planning a trip to the Bulge area, we would highly recommend that you contact CRIBA, or Serge Fontaine. He seems to enjoy helping you find your old positions. He was of great help to us.
A Revisit to Parker's Crossroads – 1989
by John Gatens, 589/A
I was a member of the Scandinavian to Belgium trip. I was delighted and impressed as we made our way through Norway on small mountain roads, stopping at a rest stop, which was a rest camp, during the war, for German troops. The views were breath taking. The boat rides through the Fjords were great, the view of the mountains from the boat gave you the impression of grandeur.
I was again enthused by the train trip from Denmark to Germany, an overnight affair. The train, less the locomotive, was placed aboard a ferry to Germany.
We had an unfortunate delay at Cologne, because of a bus that was four hours late. This turned out to be a blessing for me. Next to the restaurant, where we had breakfast while we were waiting, was the Cologne Cathedral. When I was a POW I walked down the street, around the Cologne Cathedral and over the Rhine on the bridge nearby. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would ever see that sight again.
Around noon on the 16th of September we attended the dedication of the 424th Infantry Regiment Memorial at Spineux. I experienced a very warm feeling for the Belgian people as they turned out and greeted us with open arms. I know you have a separate story on that event, so have kept the comments short. It was a beautiful ceremony.
The highlight of my personal experiences on the great trip was the return to my past. A visit to our former positions and to Parker's Crossroads where I was captured.
On Sunday the 17th, Joseph Gavroye, Mary and Louis Yoncheau (members of CRIBA), picked up John Thurlow (589th HQ) and his wife Joyce, my brother Tom and his wife Lillian and me. These Belgian people, from CRIBA, using their own autos, took us to the first position that “A” Battery of the 589th was in, on December 16th, 1944. For John Thurlow and myself, this was a very emotional moment, it brought back many memories. I just wish I could convey the feeling. You have to be there to experience it.
From there we proceeded to “Parker's Crossroads,” geographically listed as Baraque de Fraiture. (see pages 182 through 192 in our history, St. Vith, Lion in the Way.) This was where I was taken prisoner.
I was advised by my driver, Joseph, that Maria LeHaire, owner of the restaurant, that is now at the crossroads, had invited us to dinner, in my honor.
When we arrived, we were joined by Edward Prewett (424/B) and his wife Reddie, along with his driver, Andre Hubert (CRIBA). We were escorted into Maria's home, not the restaurant. I was in the building that stood on this spot when I was captured. The property has been in her family for five generations. She told me the reason we were eating in her home was because the weather in 1944 was so cold and miserable, that she wanted me to have a nice warm meal in the place that had such a sad memory for me. Without a doubt, the cocktails and dinner was the greatest that you could get anywhere.
Bernadette Lejune (Maria's daughter) is now the proprietor of the restaurant. (note: John Thurlow in his story said Bernadette remembered that when John Gatens was captured, that a tank put its gun up to the door of the Inn where Gatens and others were taking care of wounded and fighting a fire on the roof.)
Bernadette presented me with a painting that her mother, Maria, had made especially for me.
The picture depicts the conditions that existed in December of 1944, Snow, fog, clouds and trees. I was completely overwhelmed by this gracious gesture of friendship. Their kindness and warmth is something that I will remember all my life.
Again, on Monday the 18th, the whole group went back to the 589th Monument at Parker's Crossroads, there again to witness a large turnout of people. The Lion's Club of Fraiture had a nice ceremony, wreaths were placed at the 589th Monument by the Lion's Club, Maria and Bernadette of the restaurant.
Much to my surprise, not being a public speaker, Doug Coffey asked me to say a few words. I gave a little history of what happened at the Crossroads on 19‑23 December '44. Most of the people, on our trip, did not realize how important the battle was.
(editor... To quote from page 190 St Vith, Lion in the Way, by Colonel R. Ernest Dupuy.) ... And that's the story of Parker's Crossroads and the three‑piece 589th Field Artillery Battalion; the end of the trail for the three howitzers of Battery A which Eric Wood had gotten out of the Schnee Eifel. It is a story for American artillerymen to cherish along with the saga of O'Brien's guns at Buena Vista.
One cannot help wondering what would have otherwise happened to the thin‑spread 82d Airborne Division's right flank as the 2d SS Panzer moved in for the kill.
Gatens says “Our unit was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Silver‑Gilt Star for that action.”
The Lion's Club gave a “Vin d'honnuer” and a very nice luncheon in Bernadette's Restaurant.
A trip to Belgium would not be complete without making a stop at the 106th Monument at St. Vith. There was also a nice ceremony there, with the Mayor of St. Vith laying a wreath in honor of our comrades. Then all the women of our trip laid a small flower on the table there, also to honor all the members of the 106th, living and dead.
I strongly urge any member of the 106th Division who has not been back to that area, to go back and relive one of the most important parts of your life. Contact CRIBA and a member will take you anywhere you choose to go.
I cannot express strong enough, how much the people of Belgium love the American G.I. They are only to happy to do anything for you.
Van Moorlehem Returns to Ardennes – May 1990
By Art Van Moorlehem, 423/B
As promised, John, here is my brief report on our “Return to the Ardennes” in May 1990.
With a few helpful assists from you and Joe Massey, we made the trip back. My son Edward and his wife Nancy, and myself. Ed and Nancy were stationed in France and Germany during the 60's with the paratroops, so we were able to put things to make our way around, pretty well. A better grasp of the France and German language would have helped.
We were able to visit briefly with cousins in Waregem, Belgium after renting a car in Amsterdam. We had been in contact with Mr. Andre HUBERT and Pierre GOSSET. We called them from Waregem. (They of course are CRIBA members) After a visit to the foreboding Hurtgen forest and a visit to the monument at Malmedy we met Mr. Hubert and Gosset in St. Vith.
They proceeded to take us to the Schnee Eifel hills, stopping at Schönberg and the bridge we should have held. It, incidently has been replaced and moved slightly.
We drove past the old 423d Regimental Headquarters. Next stop was “B” Company positions in the Eifel. There we were able to locate several old foxholes and dugouts left behind in Dec. '44. Our old positions on the north side of the logging trail still remains, but the south side of the road has been cleared and is farmed. The holes are partially filled, of course, and the pill boxes we used as Company Hqs. are destroyed. But the nostalgic view of the Alf Valley is about the same. Brings back a lot of memories of those scary days and nights in the cold dark days of December 1944.
The CRIBA people gave us a tour of the hills where the 422nd and 423rd surrendered on Dec. 19, 1944. This was interesting because I was with another group looking for a way out when that happened. It is a farmers hayland now and very peaceful of course.
We next toured the Losheim Gap area and I was surprised to find it less rugged terrain than I imagined. We stopped for a short visit at the grave marker of Lt. Eric Woods near Meyerode, in the dark area of woods.
After the Schnee Eifel trip, we returned to St. Vith to visit the 106th Memorial and the old site of Division Headquarters. St. Vith is bigger and is prosperous as is most of Belgium, Holland and what we saw of Germany.
We proceeded in our little Ford to Vielsalm, and to Baraque Fraiture, and Augerge du Carrefour, at “Parker's Crossroads” owned by CRIBA members Lengler, Lejuene. We stayed at the Auberge, at site of the heroic battle. Incidentally, they were expecting a visit from the Parker Family the next week. They were very hospitable.
After a visit to the 106th battle area, we continued on to Houffalize and Bastogne, visiting the church area where Belgian civilians were massacred. We stopped at the German cemetery at Racogne, Belgium where 7,000 German casualties of the Bulge are buried. The next stop was the beautiful American Cemetery at Neuville, near Liege, where well over 100 of the 106th Division boys were buried on land donated by the Belgium Government. It was very impressive.
The next day was spent in touring the Normandy invasion beaches, museums, and cemeteries. Omaha and Point du Hoc are the most impressive as the signs of bombing and artillery still remain.
We had the opportunity to return to Paris, where I was sent on returning from prison camp in April 1945. The French attitude toward Americans has changed dramatically, which is unfortunate. I wish I could have spoken the language to express my impression to them!
The final impressive climax of the visit was a return trip to Stalag IX‑B, at Bad Orb. The old camp still has three of the original barracks left. They are apparently used as storage buildings, mess‑hall complex for the Youth camp now occupying the area. The stark old place is now full trees and beautiful and is in some sort of a tourist area called “Wegscheide” now. The old water hydrant by the cook's shed is still there. What mystifies me is the “Russian Cemetery” at the west edge of the old camp with 1,340 buried, We knew them as Serbs in '45, but does anyone know what happened, that 1340 perished there? Would be interested in knowing the story about that, if anyone can fill me in. There also appears to a cemetery for refugee's that probably occupied the camp in 1946 and later. I am enclosing a picture of the sign near the camp. Do you know what it says?
(editor's note — Art, I will give you a literal translation. “VERTRIEBENENRUHESTÄTTE” The top line translates to “Refugee resting place,” RUHSTÄTTE meaning “resting place. The next line ”des ehemaligen Vertriebenen Auffanglagers" translates to “of the former refugee camp” and the next line “Wegscheide 1946‑1948" names the location and date. As you say, probably the name of camp. ”Wegscheide" in the German dictionary says “Fork in the road. ” The arrow on the bottom “ca. 1000 m” means “approximately 1,000 meters. ”)
The trip to Europe brought back old memories, that I suppose has been haunting most of us since December of 1944. I can't help but think ‑ we were younger than our grandsons, when we went through that horrible Winter. Now the old camp is beautiful and overlooks a peaceful valley. Downtown Bad Orb was leisurely, that Sunday we visited it. A far cry form the Christmas afternoon we unloaded from the box‑cars and that solemn group of German civilians dressed in their Sunday best, back in 1944.
We traveled about 1,500 miles on our trip. Prices were high, autos were clean ‑ no junk or dirty cars on the road. The beauty of the area is surprising, when you compare it with the devastation we left behind when we loaded on the S. S. Argentina on April 21, 1945 at LeHavre.
I must compliment the CRIBA members, Andre HUBERT and Pierre GOSSET for their services. They refused remuneration, but do accept contributions to CRIBA. (The quart of Tennessee whiskey went over well. )
I would like to reiterate the fact that they have a lot of visitors, from other divisions also, and that accurate advance information and any changes in plans, are appropriate. They are real fine people and go out of their way to make you comfortable and well received in their country.
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