Secret Weapon of the 106th
by W. A. Kuespert
Editor's Note (1948) Although the 106th had its share of rough duty, all of the experiences were not unhappy ones. No anthology or accumulation of stories about the 106th would be complete without a touch of that humor that went to make the 106th a fighting team. One of the best examples of the point we are trying to prove is the following story. It appeared in the Oct‑Nov 1948 issue of THE CUB, Vol 5, No. 2. Perhaps the word of the CUB editor should be added as a further introduction to this story.
The memorable first two weeks of training of the 106th introduced a new weapon, writes Art Kuespert of Fox Co., 423d Inf., a weapon expressly designed for use during the various phases of training, a weapon which was used extensively by our Division — in short, the immortal “BAG LUNCH.” Art's yarn, published in full in the March, 1948 issue of the COMPANY F GUIDON goes on to lay bare the closely held secrets concerning the production and tactical and strategic uses of the new weapon. Limitations of space prevent us from publishing the whole story, but we've picked some choice excerpts.
Kuespert's Story Of The Secret Weapon
The bag lunch, official nomenclature was “Bag Lunch‑M1” was the decisive factor in the capture of Tennessee in eight short (?) weeks. It is the proud boast (or maybe sad confession) of our cooks that ”our boys" never went hungry at times when the tactical situation demanded the use of bag lunches. The cook always managed to make lunches for all who couldn't be fed on schedule in the company mess hall, even when the entire company spent several days in the field.
A basic element of the bag lunch is bread, sliced or otherwise. It is the stuff that the army issued as a substitute to the much‑looked‑forward‑to C‑ration biscuits.
It serves as an excellent shock absorber in packing and unloading trucks. Dirt that accumulates on bread can be washed off with soap and water.
The star feature of the bag lunch is the sandwich. When it was originated, components existed in variety and abundance ‑ cold meats, spreads, and fruit which could be made into a tasty, appetizing lunch. But, with the passing of time, the variety became limited to bologna, jam, peanut butter, cheese and some kind of fruit such as oranges. War Department regulations have now been lifted so that we may disclose the ingredients of the deep purple peanut butter ‑ its elements are grape jam mixed with peanut butter. Didn't taste too bad, did it? UGH!
At times, when plans changed or some GFU decided to have a problem at the last minute, the cooks had to improvise. For example, luxurious Sunday cuts of beef or pork might be boiled, whacked into chunks, and placed between bread. With about 150 men, each company needed at least 450 sandwiches, figuring to require 45 loaves of bread, 300 slices of meat, sandwich spread, and fruit. (Kuespert points out that 45 loaves of bread have 90 heels, but others have alleged that the 106th was provided with a special type of GI bread equipped with four heels per loaf).
I might mention that the system employed in assembling these contraband's of war is rated by experts as one of the rarest forms of mass production. After the bread and meat were sliced according to the cook"s mental attitude and ability to control a butcher knife, the assembly operation was launched. First, single slices of bread were placed on tables, stoves, floor space or any other large lateral plane. Irregular slices of meat went on each slice of bread. Step number three accelerated the operation as two ‑ not one ‑ slices of bread were placed neatly over the cherished and scrawny pieces of meat. Steps two and three were then repeated, adding one more slab of meat and two of bread, finding us with five slices of bread behind us. Alack and alas, something different was to be added now. After two meat sandwiches came a change of pace, The third, or “spread” sandwich was made of either peanut butter or jelly which was smeared over at least 25% of the surface of the bread. No matter how many sandwiches were needed from one spread container, a much‑relied on liquid known to mankind as “water” was added to increase the supply of spread to equal the demand.
The final step in sandwich preparation was to slap slice No. 6 on the stack to complete the three‑sandwich unit. In the first stages of bag lunch making, individual sandwiches were wrapped separately in wax paper before being piled in a No. 5 paper sack. After we had become old soldiers, the stacks were handed to us unwrapped and the number of sandwiches dwindled to two per lunch. (Ed. note ‑ There appears to be little truth to the persistent rumor that sandwiches were made on shelter halves and transported by the simple procedure of picking up the four corners of the tent and walking away. Likewise, we banish as unfounded the suggestion that completed sandwiches were placed tenderly in the back of six‑by‑sixes and unloaded by shovel.) The most drastic change was the introduction of the “choker” sandwich unit. The name is self‑explanatory. The sandwich provides the atmosphere of the Sahara Desert in a paper bag, being one dry ingredient sandwich (usually cheese) and one other, usually peanut butter, to be issued on a day when no water was available. In explanation of the poor quality lunches and the shortages experienced during the final Tennessee testing of our intestinal fortitude, I join the defense to point out that lunches were made under the cover of darkness. It was all right for the few days that there was a moon, but for the remaining nights of maneuvers your guess is good as mine in describing the contents of the Bag Lunch, M‑1.
The Last Bag Lunch
3 Dec. '44 saw the last assembly line in operation. The geographic location was Toddington, near Cheltenham and Gloucester in the South Midlands of England. Since this lunch was to be our meal on the rail trip to a port of embarkation, we treated it with care and consideration ‑ just as if it were real food. The cooks deliberated for hours over what to enclose in this final monstrosity. Finally the grave decision was made. Only the Company F men who were on kitchen detail that day ‑ 18 days before we became prisoners of war ‑ know that the sandwich was made of fried powdered eggs cut in square sheets and carefully placed between two crumbling slices of bread. We have an eye‑witness report of an unidentified GI devouring the final crumbs of his sandwich while we were anchored in the breakwater of LeHavre.
Who Won the Medals?
Who won the Medals? Major David Milotta in the May issue of the Infantry Journal answers the question pretty thoroughly. The Air Force did. For every man killed in the infantry, 1.4 medals were awarded. In the Air Force for every man killed 43.1 medals were awarded.
Interesting is the total for the 106 Division. Its men were awarded one Distinguished Service Cross (George Withee) 64 Silver Stars, six Legion of Merit, 20 Soldier's Medals, 323 Bronze Stars, and eleven Air Medals.
The Third Infantry Division with 33 Medals of Honor was tops in that field. Second was the First Division with sixteen Medals of Honor.
The comparatively small number given in the 106th is explained by the relatively short period of time we were in action (90 odd days) and the fact, as one officer transferred into the Division from another outfit said “It's harder to get a Bronze Star in the 106th than a Silver Star in any other outfit.” Unquestionably the standards of awards in the 106th were high.
The Agony Grapevine
by George F. Starrett
(Editor's Note: One of the most stirring, and heart rending episodes of the Division's history, was the way in which the folks back home reacted to the German's radio announcement that the 106th had been wiped out. D.W. Frampton of Pittsburgh was the activating force of the “Agony Grapevine.” G.F. Starrett, father of one of the 106th prisoners and also active with Mr. Frampton, here tells the story. Henceforth this column will be the message center for those next of kin who hope to find some information of their lost loved ones, for members who wish to locate their friends, for the Association in attempting to locate veterans of the Division and their next of kin, whether members or not.)
A few days after the Germans made their initial breakthrough in the Ardennes, American newspapers printed a German DNB news release, alleging that among others, the 106th Infantry Division had been annihilated, leaving the impression that some 400 survivors were wandering around loose, and would be shortly taken care of. For security reasons, the War Department maintained a strict silence, and it was early in January that Secretary of War Stimson made a curt announcement that the Division had suffered 416 dead, 1246 wounded and 7001 missing in action. He did say that most of the 7001 missing were presumed to be prisoners. A few days later the telegrams of notification began arriving, (mostly between January 10th and 12th) and we at home then knew definitely that all rumors were fact and that the Division had suffered heavily. A little over a month after the action, on January 21st, the Associated Press came through with a dispatch of the story that is history.
It had been a rather bleak Christmas and a darker New Year's for next of kin at home, who human like had hoped that the rumors seeping through were just rumors, not fact. When the truth came out, and we had to face the issue, there was every confidence that our men would be found, if we could but find the way.
Telephones began to ring, photographs were brought to light in an attempt to identify some son or husband's buddy, and locate his wife, or family. Families visited each other, to spread cheer and to keep hope and faith high. Soon some order came out of the chaos. A letter reached New York from California, reporting the idea of a Pittsburgh family, who were turning over the names of missing to short wave listening posts. This family turned out to be Mr. & Mrs. D. B. Frampton, who were promptly deluged with a volume of mail as the publicity spread. It was not long before the Framptons became the focal point of information. Their idea was rewarded with a number of boys from the 106th being reported as Prisoners of War on the German propaganda radio, and families promptly notified. As time progressed, the Framptons issued a circular letter regularly, counseling families as to proper procedure, and publishing bits of cheerful information that was heartening to all. In the end, they. had a mailing list of over 600 names, and to Mr. & Mrs. Frampton, we, who were involved, owe a debt of gratitude.
Out in Cleveland, Ohio, a somewhat similar situation developed in the home of Dr. and Mrs. C. R. Woods. Through a mutual friend, they learned that some officer's wife in Chicago had received a letter from her husband stating he was pretty sure most of the boys were prisoners. That started the grapevine in Cleveland and Mrs. Woods was soon receiving telephone calls and letters from a group that shortly numbered 50 people. Families that heretofore were total strangers because fast friends, and information was interchanged.
In New York and other cities and towns, wherever 106th men hailed from, similar groups organized and exchanged information in a similar manner. The faith and courage exhibited by relatives will be remembered for a long, long time.
Eventually word came through of our men in the prison camps, then liberation and return home. Today, over a year later, it all appears to have bee part of a wild nightmare, and something better forgotten, though we shall always remember the encouragement and faith of friends.
From The Agony Grapevine
Vol 3, No. 10 & 11 May‑June 1947
Last week I received my January‑February issue of the 106th Division magazine “The Cub,” and in it I saw your letter requesting information about Jimmie Richards. I hope that the little I am able to tell you will be of interest and help you to understand how things really happened.
I first came to know Jimmie at Camp Atterbury, Indiana when one night we were awakened in the middle of the night by the arrival of some new men ‑ I believe they were from Camp Blanding, Florida. Jimmie was one of the fellows that came into our barracks as a temporary place to sleep. As it turned out, he was assigned to our platoon and also to the mortar section in which I was. When he first told us that he was married. we thought he was kidding and joked with him about it. And as I remember the picture of his wife. he kept on the shelf over his bed, she was very attractive and brought favorable comment from all the fellows. Before we did know that he was married, we used to kid him about going home every week‑end‑getting back in the wee hours on Monday morning. So we didn't really have much of a chance to go to town together on weekends, but we did get to know each other pretty well otherwise. All the men of the same platoon were together all the time working as a unit in everything we did.
When we went overseas, our regiment was the first part of the division to go over. We had a rather pleasant voyage on a crowded Queen Elizabeth, some of us sleeping on a closed‑in deck at night. During the day, we often passed the time playing pinochle, Jimmie, Eddie McDaniels, Fred Wilson, and myself. We had quite a time! We landed in Scotland late in October 1944, but quickly passed into England to an Army post. Then our company was sent out to prepare another camp to be used by part of our division when they arrived in England. So we spent quite a bit of time preparing this large camp, putting it into livable order.
Around the first of December. we sailed from England to LeHavre. France. Then we went on toward the interior of France where we camped for three or four days before going on into Belgium and then on to the front line. We were told that we were being placed in a quiet sector of the Siegfried Line ‑ replacing the 2nd division. Things had been very quiet there for two months and then for a couple of days after we got there. Later in the week is when the break through came.
When we were placed in the Siegfried Line our mortar section had been split up— 2 squads in one position and the one in which Jimmie was had another position. So for those few days I rarely saw Jimmie except occasionally when I was part of the food detail and I would see him in the kitchen.
But then the “Break Through” came and we had to abandon our positions to try to fight our way out. When we withdrew our platoon was again reunited. As I remember it, that was December 18th. We withdrew early in the morning, walked most of the day and into the night. We stopped once to sleep in some farm house but it seemed that we were no sooner asleep than we had to get up and be on the move again. The road was jammed — men, jeeps, trucks, etc. ‑ it was terrible just moving along slowly and finally the line of vehicles stopped moving. We found out later that the road we were on ended in a swamp and creek, past which the jeeps, etc. couldn't go. After going a little further. our battalion stopped in a wooded section on top of a hill. We were told to dig in as we could expect an attack the next morning. So we teamed up by twos and started digging foxholes. You can imagine how tired and worn out we were —besides which the ground was virtually a bed of rocks, but we managed to dig out some sort of holes. Of course, they were far from adequate for protection, but they were a big help to many of us.
At dawn of December 19, the Germans shelled the woods in which we were with artillery. As fate would have it, one shell broke above the hole in which Jimmie and his pal Eddie McDaniels were. Jimmie was killed instantly by shrapnel wounds in the back, and Eddie was wounded in the leg. Sgt. Wyman ‑ Jimmie's squad leader‑rushed over to their foxhole with the medic as soon as they had been hit, but Jimmie was dead already. That was the first time that I had seen hard‑boiled Sgt. Wyman crying— he did bawl like a baby.
As soon as the shelling let up a little, we were, given the order to move out of the woods and run. Where we were running God only knows. We had no means nor time to do anything about burying Jimmie‑so we simply had to leave him in his foxhole.
Speaking for myself and many others, I am sure, we all suffered a deep loss when Jimmie was killed. I don't know of any fellow in the whole company that ever said a word against him. He was a swell fellow and my sympathy goes to his loved ones who miss him most.
I might add that at least the entire fourth platoon of B Company was looking forward to the birth of Jimmie's son. Yes, he said it was going to be a boy and had made preparations for celebrating it. While we were in England he managed to get enough tobacco rations from the fellows so that he bought a whole box of cigars to pass out. They even had me half talked into trying one when the big event came, he had also bought some lovely souvenirs to take home, but these were lost when we moved out of the Siegfried Line. So, you see Jimmie was constantly thinking about those at home he loved. Just as they were thinking about him.
I hope this information is of interest to you and will help you understand how things happened. Might I also add that since Jimmie was one of those called upon to pay the supreme sacrifice, he did it bravely— and died quickly. I'm sure he didn't know that he had been hit.
You might be able to learn a little more about Jimmie from Edward McDaniels, 471 E. Walnut Street, Oneida, New York. He and Jimmie were in the same squad and were together to the end.
As for myself, I was very lucky, having spent 4 months as a P.W. and then returned home after being liberated. At present I am attending Washington and Jefferson College under the G.I. Bill.
Again may I offer my condolences and pray that God will bless you for your interest in such a swell fellow as Jimmie Richards.
The Simpson Service‑Teen of Indianapolis
Despite the long time the Division spent in South Carolina and in Tennessee the vast majority of the GI's of the 106th regard Indianapolis as “home.” The greatest factor contributing to that feeling of being at home was undoubtedly the work of the Simpson's. Mr. and Mrs. (Florence and W. R.) Simpson and son Bob with hearts as big as all outdoors opened their comfortable Indianapolis home twenty fours a day to any man in uniform under twenty one years of age. For two years they held open house and fed, slept and entertained more than nine thousand boys as their personal guests. These boys were welcomed in their home just as were the college mates of their own two sons. They slept and ate and met their dates there and were their guests and friends at no expense whatsoever. It was quite an undertaking but the Simpson's were glad to do it and to spend their money as their contribution to a war in which they did not believe, but for which they felt they owed an obligation as good citizens to contribute their time, money and sons.
Many members of the 106th came to their home only once or twice but many more spent most of their free time with the Simpson's who grew to know and love them as their own. Even now so long after the end of the war they not only get frequent letters from the boys and their parents but a week seldom passes that they do not have a visit from one or more of the boys of the 106th who made the Simpson's their second hone while in Indianapolis.
Young Bob Simpson, when eighteen, was writing a column in the Indianapolis Star entitled “Subdebs” and “Squires.” Following the column that Drew Pearson wrote about the 106th fleeing as chaff before the wind, young Bob wrote a column which we print here. The managing editor of the Star wired their Washington representative to verify this column and Jack Reed also of the Star, wrote the story which appears in the pamphlet “The Heroic 106th,” which has been distributed to all members of the Association who have asked for it. (The supply is now completely exhausted.) As a result of this story the Simpson's had literally hundreds of long distance phone calls and telegrams from all over the nation. By keeping in constant touch with Mrs. (General) Jones, who was tireless in her efforts and cooperation, the Simpson's were able to answer hundreds of inquires, to suggest specific news reels which showed PW's from the 106th, to calm the fears of kin folk and in many ways to lighten their period of frantic uncertainty.
If, as it appears at this writing, the first annual reunion of the Division will be in Indianapolis, hundreds of 106th GI's will have an opportunity once again to say hello and thank you to the Simpson's.
Artillery Organizations In The Sector Of The 106th Division
16 DECEMBER, 1944
Attached to 106th Div. Arty: 275th FA Bn. (Arm'd 105‑mm how) Vicinity of Herresbach
634th AAA Bn. (40‑mm Bofors) CP vicinity St. Vith
820th TD Bn. (3‑in 'towed) distributed along the entire front ‑ VIII Corps Artillery:
174th FA Group (Vicinity Berg Reuland)
965th FA Bn.
969th FA Bn.
770th FA Bn.
402nd FA Group (Vicinity Rodgen and west)
561st FA Bn.
559 FA Bn.
578 FA Bn.
740th FA Bn.
333rd Group (Vicinity Heuem—Schönberg)
333rd FA Bn.
771st FA Bn.
16th Observation Bn (elements only)
In addition, the 802nd TD Bn. was to have arrived the morning of the 16 Dec., and would have been a great help if they had. They had plenty of action, and knew their way around. The advance party had arrived a couple of days before; but were directed elsewhere, and we never saw them again.
The Winter of 1944‑45 in the ETO
Jim Hatch (DHQ, 422), a former president of the Association, has sent us a resume of the headlines of the Paris edition of Stars and Stripes during 1944 and 1945. We feel sure that all of us who lived through these times will find them very interesting. Jim is unable to furnish the headlines for the period of December to mid‑March 1945 for obvious reasons. We would appreciate it if any one who reads this could fill in the gap.
17— 6 Allied Armies Attack in West; Ninth Hurled in North of First
20— Yanks Overrun Third of Metz
22— 2300 U. S. Planes Storm Reich
66 Nazis Shot Down
Nazis Retreat on 100 Mile Front
16— Red Split Krakow Line
13 First Army 4 Miles Past Rhine
24— Third Crosses Rhine
25— Rhine Crossed in North by Three Allied Armies
26— Yanks Break Rhine Line. Pour Through Three Gaps
27— Nazi Defenses Crumbling; Third's Tanks Cross Main
28— British Break Through
29— Seventh, Third Join Past Rhine
30— Frankfurt Falls to Third
1— Fifteenth Army Joins Battle
2— Rhine Trap Is Closed
3— Monty Racing Northward
4— Nazis Face Holland Trap
5— Third Army captures Kassel
6— Ninth Drives Toward Elbe
8— 15 Miles from Bremen
9— British Guns Shell Bremen
10— Nazis Trapped in Holland
12— Yanks 70 miles from Berlin, reach Elbe; Essen Falls
13— Roosevelt Dies
14— Truman Takes Helm
15— Von Papen Captured; Yanks Drive for Red Line
16— Foe Stands Before Berlin
17— Ninth Battles Across Elbe; Reds Open Drive
18— Reds First Encircling Leipzig
19— Yanks Cross Czech Border
20— Leipzig Falls
21— Reds in Berlin's Suburbs
22— Reds Shell Berlin's Heart
23— Street Battles Raging Inside Blazing Berlin
24— Reds 10 Miles Into Berlin; Konev Reaches Elbe
25— Third of Berlin Taken; Ulm Seized by Allies
26— Reich Armies Smashed, Allied Chiefs Proclaim
27— Heart Of Berlin Reached
28— First Army Yanks Link with Reds
29— Truman and Ike Deny It's Over
30— Two‑Power Peace Bid Rejected, gays Moscow
1— Two New Yank‑Red Linkups
2— Hitler Dead
3— Nazis Surrender in Italy
4— Nazis Quit in Holland, Denmark, North Reich
6— Nazi Army Group Quits, Norway's Fall Expected
9— Allied World Celebrates as Peace Comes to ETO
10— Terms Ratified in Berlin; Yanks Capture Goering
11—Here's GI Discharge Plan
15— 500 B‑29's Bomb Nagoya
10— Only 254,539 in ETO Have 85 Points
11— Third and Seventh Will Occupy Reich; Ninth Ending,Job Here
9— 42 Divisions to Be Home By Year's End; 106th in November
2— Japanese Surrender To Re‑Signed Today
A Visitor from Belgium
The Gilder's would like to publicly thank the Bandurak's for giving us the opportunity to have as our house guest Francoise's Delvaux from Belgium. This 20 year old student was a real joy to have around. She spent the first part of her stay with Walt and Lillian Bandurak, who then took her to Elyria, Ohio to some of their relatives the Haddox's. Mr. and Mrs. are both in education as is Francoise's mother so she was able to compare the two countries systems and they also introduced her to baseball games; something her country doesn't have. On August 1st the Haddox's reluctantly brought her out to our home; they also did not want to give her up. We took her on a tour of our city, and if any of you have ever been in North Ridgeville, Ohio you know that took 29 seconds with time to spare. We tried to take her to sights we felt she would not have at home or else we tried to find comparable sights. Bob and I took her to the adult scenes with our children introducing her to the young people entertainment scene, roller skating arena, they have none, the dancing and the rest of the entertainment was similar to what she does at home. We took her to the Amish section of Ohio: taking advantage of a 2 ‑ hour tour that explained the sect their customs and beliefs touring a Cheese factory, we wished we could have brought Florian and Dorothy Fanke to that: Francoise was very alert asking questions and absorbing it all. As they do not have Morticians with Funeral Homes she requested a tour of one of these; as a good friend is a director he gave her a tour and explanation of the various customs of different parts of the United States on this topic.
The poor girl wall probably not fit into her plane seat when she leaves on Friday Aug. 10 they do not have sweet corn “Corn is for Animals” and as you all know this is the season in the States so all of us hosts really filled her up with this item, she never turned it down. Their weather is fairly rainy and not really too warn, so they have no truck gardens so we introduced her to another friend who raised crops for summer market‑ all of their produce is imported she says. We did the typical family affairs‑ Cook‑outs‑ parties with the grandparents both of our mothers drive‑Francoise could not believe that her grandmother would not even get into a car‑much less go to a movie which the grandmothers had done that afternoon. We ended up our stay with her with a visit to Sea World‑she was more than impressed with the seals, whales and etc. as is every body that has ever been there. The Garns‑Chuck and Willie live about 30 min. from the park so we brought our session with Francoise to a close by delivering her to them with Willie presenting us the most delicious meal that women sure can cook. The Garns and their family will amuse her until the end of her stay on Aug. 10th, she returns home to study for examinations and returning to University of Leige. As I previously stated this has been one glorious week we sure did have a ball.
In closing I also would like to extend a big Thank you to the Clarks who gave us the Grand Rapid convention; we all had a fine time and we Ohioans found some new people who had never attended convention before. Hopefully these people will attend the Dec. 16th party at our home and become involved in the association. They will never regret it I am sure.
If we don't see you at Christmas time all will meet in Baltimore.
Bob & Jean Gilder
36303 Behm Drive
North Ridgeville, Ohio 44039
U.S. Soldiers Reburied
Neuville‑en‑Condroz, Belgium — Three unknown soldiers who died 31 years ago on the Belgium‑German border were buried today with full military honors at the U.S. military cemetery here. Officials said the three men were killed during the Allied drive against Germany in the winter 1944‑45. Their bodies were found earlier this month in the Hurtgenwald Forest near Simmerath just across the Belgian border and about 35 miles east of Liege.
Could they have been 106th Infantry boys?
Letter from Will Cavanaugh of England to Ron Mosley
I came across an item in my collection which may be of interest. It sheds light upon an aspect of the battle which may be of interest to you ‑ the encirclement of your two regiments in the Schnee Eifel. In all the books about the battle we are told that General Jones best course of action and that which he decided upon was to withdraw his men back to St. Vith. He had to receive approval from Middleton in Bastogne and called him by phone to do so. During their conversation the telephone connection was inadvertently broken for about 15 seconds and according to the writer of the letter I have, General Jones explained the situation to Middleton. The man who wrote to me is in an ideal position to report what was said since he operated a switchboard in Butgenbach which put through General Jones's call to Bastogne.
The following is his account of that call and the likely confusion which resulted from the call.
At about 10:00 p.m, (Dec. 16) the telephone line became very busy with both 106th Div. and 99th Div. wishing to use it. At about 10:30 p.m. the 106th Div. operator broke in on a call to state he had a priority call for General Jones. Listening to him I heard him reach General Middleton at VIII Corps, Bastogne. General Jones explained how one of his units had collapsed leaving a gap in the lines which he could not close and two units were in danger of being encircled. He said he had decided to withdraw them to cover St. Vith but wished General Middleton's approval before issuing the order. At that moment the flap on the switchboard indicated the 99th Div. calling. It was a tiny switchboard with no telephone of its own so I had to disengage our field telephone from the one position and connect at another to acknowledge the call. The 99th operator said he had a priority call from Dauntlers 6 (Gen. Laver) for Victor 6 (Gen. Gerow). I told him the line was occupied by 2 “6s” now on a priority call but I would call him as soon as I could get them off. When I plugged into Gen. Jone's call I discovered I had inadvertently broken the connection. When I reconnected it, I heard Gen. Middleton discussing the help he was securing for Jones and when they would arrive. At the time I could not understand in full what was being said because I could not match the code names being used for the units involved. I did not think to break into the conversation to tell them they were cut off for perhaps 15 seconds. It was perhaps 15 years later that I deduced in reading one of the books on the “Bulge” that break caused a tragic and drastic misunderstanding.
Anybody Trade a Watch for Bread in 1945?
In a letter written to me (Editor) this last October, Ted Young, Service Company/423rd asked my help in locating the owner of a watch. The story has it's beginning around January 7, 1945. It goes like this as I read Ted's letter.
I am looking for the owner of a watch. I want to tell you a little story that happened the day we arrived at Stalag IV‑B, Muhlberg, Germany.
There were a lot of POWs waiting outside to be interrogated, the temperature was a little above zero and the snow was about a foot deep. I had a piece of bread about the size of a walnut and was about to eat it when some G.I. came over to me and said “I'll give you this watch for your bread.” I don't know who he was but I am sure he was from the 106th Division.
I still have the watch and it still is in good operating condition. Sure would like to find the man who it belongs to. The watch is a Hamilton wrist watch and in a very fine gold case.
Would like to return it. I kinda imagine this watch was a graduation present. The chances are worse than the odds at Atlantic City.
Ted Young SV/423
Timepiece from War Returned
GI in prison camp traded it for bread.
The Associated Press, Richmond VA‑May 1988
A watch traded by a famished American prisoner of war for a piece of bread near the end of World War II found its way back to his widow.
Thomas Willis Pitts, who was captured during The Battle of the Bulge in December 1944, gave his watch to a fellow GI for the bread at a compound at Mühlberg, Germany (Stalag IV‑B).
After the war, Pitts returned to his job with the Internal Revenue Service, working until retirement in 1976. He died June, 1987.
After her husbands death, Esther Pitts joined the 106th Infantry Division Association, composed of men who had belonged to that Division and their wives. One day while looking through the Association magazine she saw this notice from Theodore William Young of Ozark, Alabama.
Anybody out there who traded a watch for bread in 1945?
“I had a piece of bread...when some GI came over to me and said I'll give you this watch for your bread.” I still have the watch and would like to return it."
“When I saw the ad, I got cold all over,” Mrs. Pitts said. I said “That's got to be Willis'”
She wrote Young and described the watch. They agreed it had been her husbands. Young said he kept the watch in an old matchbox for the rest of the war. When he returned home, then in Columbus, Ohio, Young gave the timepiece to his father‑in‑law.
About four years ago the father‑in‑law returned the watch to Young.
The watch, still keeping time, was delivered to Mrs Pitts' home Monday.
(editor's comments‑The above story appeared in several papers throughout the United...)
This article started when I received a letter from Ted Young, Service Company, 423rd Regiment, prior to the Feb‑Mar 1988 CUB being published. Read page 29 of that issue, Vol 44 No.2.
My notes here are not to take credit for the deed, that was triggered by Ted Young's desire to see that the rightful owner of the watch was found. As Ted said to me “John, it's a one in a million chance that the owner belongs to the Association.” How right he was, but the odds paid off and I am happy that I had something to do towards its successful conclusion. There are two parties involved, Ted Young who has had possession of the watch since January 1945, and Mrs Esther Pitts, wife of the late Thomas Pitts, a former 106th veteran of D Company, 422nd Regiment.
Last year in July, 1987, while I was in search for my former comrades of M/423, I decided to contact 43 former 106th Ex‑POW members who I could identify as having been held captive in Stalag VIII‑A, Gorlitz, Germany at the time I was there.
One of my letters was addressed to Thomas W. Pitts, Richmond, VA. Mrs Esther Pitts answered my inquiry, stating that her husband had died on June 25, 1987, that she would be interested in receiving a copy of the diary I had prepared, showing my experiences there and on the long 415 mile evacuation march from Gorlitz to Helmstedt, Germany and thence to Liberation.
I sent Esther my packet of material, we corresponded on two occasions as well as on two phone calls. Esther told me her husband Tom had been active in the Denny Landrum AX‑POW Chapter in Richmond, VA and that she was still attending some of the meetings. She said her husband had found several 106th fellows. She named three ‑ Calvin Nunnally, Richmond, VA; Vaughn Bozman, Crewe (?), VA, and Alighierd Azzi, Mechanicsville, VA. Calvin Nunnally is a member of the 106th Infantry Division Association.
Since Esther was active with the AX‑POW group I urged her to join the Association so that she could keep up with the news on the members. Had she not joined she would not have read the Feb‑Mar issue of THE CUB, therefore the watch in question would not have found its owner. I hope this makes you feel as good as it did me..
ln a recent phone conversation Esther Pitts said to me “John, this was supposed to happen, it was God's will.”... (editor, John Kline)
A Son Reflects on his 424th Officer‑Father
Wolfred K. White II, son of former 106th Division officer—Wolfred K. White HQ/424
I ran across an old copy of “THE CUB”(Vol 40 No.3, 1984) in my father's papers. He so enjoyed keeping tabs on his old comrades. As a Navy vet myself (Vietnam) I thought his old comrades might want to know what happened to him.
My father Colonel Wolfred K. (Fred) White U.S.A. (Ret) joined the 424th Regiment at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. Was with the 424th through England, The Bulge, he served as a 2nd or 1st Lt.—I haven't been able to find out his company or platoon. (see Sherod Collins article following) When the 106th was broken up he was assigned to an Ordnance Outfit to the end of the war.
At the end of WWII he went to regular Army and was in Korea when that one started. He was Secretary to the General Staff for General Ridgeway during the Korean conflict.
His later duty assignments were numerous, including—CO 1st Bn 188th ABN Reg, 11th ABN Div. ft Campbell, KY & Augsburg, Germany; G‑3 Sec. HQ 7th Army, Stuttgart, Germany; USMC Senior Officer Course, Quantico, VA, P.M.S., F.S.V. Tallahassee, Florida; CO 2nd Training Reg. Ft Leonard Wood; May IG 8th Army, Korea; U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA; O.C.M.H., M.D.W., Washington, DC, Ft Meade, Maryland; P.M.S. Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, KY.
My father retired in 1975 and was offered a position with the College of Law Enforcement at Eastern Kentucky Univ. He created, researched and wrote the courses on Anti‑terrorism, Organized Crime & Composite Police Systems that he taught. His students had the Law library at E.K.U. named “WOLFRED K. WHITE LAW LIBRARY” in his honor. He passed away 1 June 1984, after 6 months of illness.
He is survived by his wife Patricia White, 1039 Idylwild Drive, Richmond, KY 40475 (who would be happy to hear from his old comrades) his son Wolfred K. (Kip) White II of Las Vegas, Nevada, and his two daughters Elizabeth White, Madison, KY and Debra Jean (DJ) Sturgeon, Louisville KY and four grandchildren.
Father was proud to have served with the 424th Regiment, 106th Infantry Division.
Thank You, Wolfred K. White II
BILL MOSOLF 424th Cannon Company
a story of “one hell of a man
by John Kline, editor
I never heard of Bill Mosolf until I received a letter he had written to Sherod Collins in early 1988. He, in that letter, was telling about the death of his leader, Lieutenant Wolfred K. (Fred) White, regimental special service and PX officer. Mosolf, age 35 in 1944, respected Lt. White and considered him a great man and a good leader. (See the article above)
Through letters and conversations from Bill since 1988, I feel that I have some idea of the make‑up of Bill Mosolf. Bill has not had many good things happen to him in life, that is if you listen and read his thoughts. While Bill will still disagree, I think he is “one hell of a man.” He has to be to have stood the ravages of time and consequences as it has been explained to me.
I can only reveal a little of what I know.
When Bill was 35, I was 19. That makes Bill 80 years old, as a matter of fact, from a copy of his “Enlisted Record and Report of Separation ”Honorable Discharge" his birth date is registered to be 5 Feb 1910. His military occupation specialty (MOS) is “Communication Chief.” His civilian occupation was “Boilermaker.” I see from a handwritten note in the upper right hand corner of the discharge the inscription (somewhat blurred) “Local 82 Alameda County.” Five foot eight inches, 170 pounds ‑ I can picture him as a real scrapper. I was 170 in 1944, but would not have thought of tangling with a 5'8" boilermaker in some alley on a dark night. I don't think that was Bill's nature, but the visualization does come through that he is a scrapper.
Bill's life, from what he tells me, has been a series of “knocks.” He says the best thing that ever happened to him was being discharged from the Army. Only he can vouch for that.
His childhood was filled with stressful happenings. He was orphaned at age 4. He entered service at age 22, on January 10, 1932 ‑ my seventh birthday ‑ and was released September 4, 1935. While in the “Regular Army” he served with the 64th A.A.A. Battalion. Then on July 18th, 1942, at age 33, he was drafted and sent to the 462d A.A.A. Battalion. He caught up with the 106th, in Belgium, on December 16, 1944. A day we all shall not forget, and I know one that Bill has not forgotten. Bill was discharged on October 14, 1945.
Those are all dates and figures, they tell little. I can't tell it all, but will try to catch the highlights.
The reason he went to the Army in 1932 was a very simple one. He says, in one of his letters to me, “In those days it was hard for a single person to get a job, so I joined the so I could eat.”
“The Army was very strict in those days. The movie ”From Here to Eternity" was filmed very near where I served, and it could be the story of my life, a very realistic movie.
“When I would tell the WWII guys how it was in the Regular Army, they would say they couldn't believe it. In the Regular Army the First Sergeant's would say, “Give your heart to Jesus for you A— belongs to me.” or “Don't complain and don't explain,”
“We were never allowed to go into the 1st Sergeants room unless we were sent in or got permission from a Corporal ‑ did you ever try to get permission from a Corporal for anything?"
From a letter dated in 1983, “I made the Normandy invasion with an 462d A.A.A. outfit that was attached to V Corps. In December of 1944 we were in the vicinity of St. Vith. I was transferred to a field replacement depot at Malmedy on December 14th and was transferred to the 106th on December 16, 1944 ‑ the day the Bulge broke.
“On the 17th I was picking up the battlefield dead (Graves Registration). Can't remember how long it was before I was the lone (undertaker) and a member of the 424th Special Services Section. We were know as the ”Dervish S.S." attached to Cannon Company “for pay and rations.”
“We were a section of four men; Lt. W. K. White and 3 Pfc's. When not busy picking up bodies that showed up in the spring, or an occasional suicide, I helped the other men in drawing and issuing PX rations and chauffeuring personalities.”
I find the idea of the combination of being in “Graves Registration” and “PX Services” as being a little bizarre. I know that Bill Mosolf felt the same. It must have had a great impact on his life from that point on. I can only imagine what it would be like to wander through the forest looking for dead bodies.
One of present Association members, can vouch for the misery that Mosolf went through in those days. I recently phoned him, after I ran across his name as a contributor/producer of the “Photo Album” that was published in the summer of '44 at Camp Atterbury. He is Robert A. de St. Aubin, now of Berlin, Wisconsin. In a letter he wrote on March 16, 1981 he said, in part, “My name is Robert A. de St. Aubin. I served in the Cannon Company of the 424th Regiment of the 106th Infantry Division from 3/9/43 until my discharge 12/20/45. My job was ”Mail Clerk."
“After the Battle of the Bulge,we started getting replacements, one of which was ”Willie Mosolf. I will never forget why I remember him so well. He was assigned to an officer and some other men to do graves registration work. The job was so bad I think I would have gone A.W.O.L., rather than help... Willie and the others had such a miserable job when the ground was frozen. We thought spring would be better... No such luck, the heat was worse...
“How a man can live with this all these years and remain sane is beyond me... ”
There is more to Bill “Willie” “Staline” Mosolf than the misery painted above. There is another story in his other job description “PX Services” operating from the office ‑ code‑sign “Dervish S.S.” ‑ in their headquarters over a drug store in Ettlingen, Germany. They distributed unknown “tons” of PX material to the 424th. One count shows 53,200 candy bars, 49,00 packs of cigarettes, 207 wristwatches, 7,400 bottles of beer, 16,150 razor blades, 23,850 cigars, 1,100 tooth‑brushes, 21,600 packs of gum, on and on and on.
Also there is the respect and loyalty he shows for his officer Lt. Wolfred White.
More importantly, in his papers to me I found letters, dated in 1984, between Pierre GOSSET of CRIBA, Andrew T. Ryder of GALAXY TOURS, stemming from a request from Mosolf and our Chaplain Mosley, seeking people who had befriended Mosolf in LIMONT, BELGIUM. It is a heart warming story. A story that reflects the inner part of the man MOSOLF, nick‑named “Staline.” He was in search of a part of his past. A pleasant part of his past, amongst all the misery he shared.
It is another story of the friendship of the Belgian people towards the American soldier. It shows what power a forty year old memory and a picture can have, that is when it is directed to the right people.
Date‑line Leige 15 December 1984, a letter from Pierre GOSSET, secretary of CRIBA, describing his successful efforts in finding the family that Bill Mosolf had been searching for near LIMONT, BELGIUM. It shows, once again, the cooperation of the CRIBA organization. The miseries of Mosolf's war, must have been set aside when this report reached him. Yes, war is hell, but out of the misery of war, comes compassion, love and respect from those that you are fighting for. Many a friendship has reached across the sea, born of the necessity of man to leave his home to do that which becomes necessary to stem the tide of evil.
Pierre GOSSET's report on his search for Mosolf's Belgian friends of 1944.
1.) LIMONT (REMICOURT) 18 kilometers west of Liege, in the cultivated plain of HESBAYE. There is still an old windmill, which worked in 1944. Knowing well that village, which was the birth‑place of my mother and the windmill where, as a child, I went with my grandfather. I was nearly sure that the village that MR MOSOLF was looking for was not this one.
2.) LIMONT (TAVIER) 26 kilometers south‑west of Liege. Land of meadows and small wooded hills.
Sunday, 28 October 1984 ‑ Below the level of the road #38 climbing out from SEARING to OUFFET, a stream winds. This road runs along four houses on the right, indicating the entrance of the village. A hundred meters farther on the left of the highway, a road climbs steeply to the center of the village on top of the hill.
At the bottom of that road, two small farms. After a slight bend, on the right of Road #38 we see an imposing castle‑farm made of local blue freestone and over there above the farm, a building on the bank of the stream. Ideal site for a watermill.
As a matter of fact the present dweller confirms that it is a former watermill transformed into a superb country‑house.
3.) After a few inquires in the area, we look for people who lived in LIMONT 40 years ago. We learn that in 1944 the watermill was occupied by the FABRY family.
Mr Aime' PRICNONT has continued the investigation.
Here are the results:
Watermill of La Chapelle: In 1944 occupied by Mr. and Mrs. FABRY with their eight children, the eldest 15 years of age.
The old Mr. and Mrs FABRY have died.
The eldest son, Andre' FABRY lives in TAVIER, BELGIUM. He has been contacted. When he was shown BILL MOSOLF's photo he yelled, “He is that American we called STALINE!”
Forty years later, he remembers that 3 of the 4 American soldiers came at night to sleep in the watermill. It was December or January. He would have liked to obtained precise details from his brothers and sisters, but the FABRY family have scattered after the war. Four children have migrated to CANADA where they are presently living.
Anyway, Andre' FABRY is formal. He states that it was his mother who gave the religious medal and pieces of brown bread, baked by herself in the oven, to an American who was leaving for Germany. Andre' promised to write to MOSOLF.
4.) The photograph: Bill Mosolf on left.
In the middle, next to Bill, there is somebody who could be a truck driver called JOHN CARROLL ? (to date not confirmed)
The civilian at the extreme right in 2d row is Marcel BAETEN. In 1944 he was age 25. Unfortunately he was killed in an automobile accident in 1981.
The little boy on the knees of the G.I. on the right, is Jean‑Marie VERHOEVEN. He is Marcel BAETEN's sister's son.
5.) On the back of the photograph is written:
Petit souvenir de Limont M. Therese Le 31‑1‑45
The handwriting has been recognized by the old school‑teacher of Limont. She is 82 years of age.
That information allowed us to direct our inquiry: Marie Therese is the mother of the little boy on the picture and consequently the civilian's sister.
In December 1944 and January 1945 Marie‑Therese BAETEN lived in one of the first houses of LIMONT on the highway, on your right side when you enter the village by the north.
The BAETEN family did not really live in the village. They were evacuees from SERAING.
Bill Mosolf will perhaps remember that the young lady was a clock‑maker and repaired soldier's watches. By jeep they drove her to SERAING and LIEGE to fetch spare parts for her work.
Our inquiry through Marie‑Therese BAETEN's life led us to ANTWERP and SPA. She now lives in SPA. Mrs COLETTE‑BAETEN Marie Therese promised to write to Bill Mosolf the son Jean Marie VERHOEVEN.
Made by Center of Research and Information of the Battle in the Ardennes.
12 December 1983
Chaplain Black Reminisces ‑ 422/A Reunion
Rev. Ewell C. Black, Jr
A/422 held its first reunion the end of April. I don't know just how many men counted themselves as a part of this company during the lifespan of the 106th Division. I do know that at its full strength it had 200 men at any given time from activation to deactivation. Of this number many went out as replacements, one lost his life in the Battle of the Bulge and several died while POWs. As we gathered some 46 years after that battle, less than twenty of us were there along with some wives. Many who might have attended, we have lost track of. Some who were contacted could not come for various reasons. Some who had been with us at Camp Atterbury and in combat have joined the number of those lost in battle and as POWs.
As we gathered, two things were apparent. We were all older and most of us were probably in better financial condition than when we had last been together. Of course this same thing can be said of our yearly reunions as the 106th Infantry Division Association. But it is neither of these things which brought us together or which brings us together each year. What brings us together is something which me had all of those years ago and which might be hard to put into words. Yet I believe that each of us knows what I mean.
As I thought about this I realized that each time that we gather we are faced with the fact that all of the worldly wealth which we have is not great enough to bring even one of those friends into our midst whom death has claimed. Those of us who have been blessed by God to be around for these reunions become aware that it is not of our doing nor because of our worldly possessions that we are able to take part while others have answered the final call.
The Psalmist writes in Psalm 49:10, “For all can see that wise men die; the foolish and the senseless alike perish and leave their wealth to others.” Of course the wealth of which he speaks is worldly wealth. Maybe the only true wealth which we have is God's love for us and the love which we give and receive from our families and friends.
I would like to think that it is this kind of wealth which we knew 46 years ago and which continues today, that brings us together, now, in our advancing years. There was and is something there which all of the wealth of this world can never buy. God gave us the opportunity at a very difficult time in our lives to form bonds with one another which time has not erased but, in fact, has made stronger.
Our Father God, we thank thee for the wealth of Thy love for us and of friendships sustained through the years. AMEN.
The Pocket KnifeThat Came Home
Home after 45 years
by John Kline, editor
This is the story of a “Pocket Knife.” Much like the story where an article in The CUB found the former owner of a watch that had been traded for bread in a prison camp.
The knife was given to John Thurlow (589th FAB Headquarters) on the day that CRIBA and the Belgian people dedicated the 424th Regiment monument at Spineux, Belgium.
An elderly lady came up to John and gave him a pocket knife. She found the knife after the Battle of the Bulge fighting had subsided. Through an interpreter she asked that he try to find the owner.
On the knife the words “Ray” and “Hattie” are inscribed. Under those words the date “November 27, 1944" was appear. (that turned out to be the date the GI shipped over). On the same side the name of the city of Massillon, Ohio appears. On the other side is the photo of a young lady.
John Thurlow, 589/HQ (see his story in the Jan‑Feb‑Mar 1990 CUB about the Scandinavia trip page 7) sent the knife to me, asking that I put an article in The CUB, thinking that it belonged to a 106th soldier. Since knife had the name of Massillon, Ohio on it, I contacted the editor of the Massillon Evening Independence by letter and asked that he place a news article in his paper. He assigned the story to Denny Highben, a staff reporter, who did an excellent job as you will see in the following two stories that appeared in the Evening Independent in the Massillon, Ohio Independent on March 3 and 10, 1990.
John Thurlow failed in the excitement of the moment to get the Belgian lady's name. In an attempt to find her name I wrote our Belgian friends of the C.R.I.B.A. organization through their vice‑president, Andre Hubert, you will recognize him as the interpreter for the 424th Ceremonies (see page 18 in the Jan‑Feb‑Mar 1990 CUB). He was successful in finding the identity of the elderly lady.
A heart‑warming story follows. I am so happy that C.R.I.B.A. (who dreamed up the monument to the 424th), the 424th who so bravely fought to clear the area of krauts, John Thurlow, who went to the dedication, and myself had this wonderful opportunity to bring about such an amazing story.
The Evening Independent editor could not have picked a better writer than Denny Highben. His style and his lead story was fascinating, poignant and did the job.
From the Massillon, Ohio Evening Independent March 3, 1990
Staff writer Denny Highben
Soldier's lost memento seeks Massillon home.
Ray, are you out there?
I don't want to intrude into your personal business, Ray, but I can't help being curious about the date Nov. 27, 1944.
Why is it significant to you? A birthday? The day you proposed?
How did the date get inscribed upon a pocket knife, a knife you apparently carried with you so many miles away from home. In fact, the knife was light years from: home when it was lost.
Home, back then, had been set aside. The sweet, down‑to‑earth simplicity of Midwestern life was altered by the necessities of war. Total, all‑out war. Little Massillon, Ohio, and the entire nation focused ‑ on hard work and sacrifice to support the effort. Home wasn't the same for those who stayed behind.
But the men who left took “home” with them in their hearts and minds. They carried mementos to remind them of peace and love, of clean beds and hot food, of the sheer joy of the freedom they were fighting, and maybe dying, to protect. Anything could be imbued with the significance of home: photos, medallions, lucky charms, pocket knives.
That date, Nov. 27, 1944. It was so very, very close to the brutal Nazi thrust into Belgium that will forever be remembered as the Battle of the Bulge. More than 180,000 men, American and German, became casualties. How did the date, just three weeks before the battle began, get inscribed on the knife, and then the knife get into the pocket of a soldier in the midst of hell on earth?
Ray I know you're out there, in spirit if not in body. The spirit of love so great it would sacrifice physical life for the benefit of others can never die. It is an aspect of the force that will, in the end, prevail.
Your knife was found, Ray, by a girl. When the terror of men killing and dying had ended, she ventured outside. There was a pocket knife, in her back yard near the village of Spineux, with your name on it. Your hometown, Massillon, was listed, too. And that date.
Embedded on the other side of the handle is the picture of a young woman, Despite the torment the World was putting itself through, the young woman smiles. She still smiles today, as young and as beautiful as eternity itself.
What does the name “Hattie” mean, Ray? Is it a nickname? Is it her name ?
Through all the years the Belgian lady protected that knife. The world healed most of it wounds and, somehow, has managed to avoid yet another episode of all‑out war. She grew older and older, but she never forgot that small treasure, so valuable to a man at war, a man who helped rid her treasured home from the Nazi shackles.
Last September, she sent the knife on the long journey home by the safest route possible ‑ in the care of Americans who fought at the Bulge. They would treat it properly, for no one can better understand its real value.
The Americans are veterans of the 424th Regiment, 106th Infantry. Today, the pocket knife is under the protection of John Kline in Apple Valley, Minnesota. He wants your knife to complete its journey. Kline is the editor of The CUB, the 106th Infantry Division Association's newsletter. In his letter to us, he recounts that the 106th was mauled at the Battle of the Bulge. Other battles followed as the German might was finally crushed.
Maybe, Ray, you didn't make it home in body. Maybe you did return to enjoy the fruits of your sacrifice, to embrace the smiling young woman whose photo adorns your knife.
The years have been so very long.
Perhaps you've left your worldly home again, to enjoy the fruits of eternal love.
In spirit, as long as the memory of sacrifice remains in our hearts, you'll always be home.
Now, though, it is time for your pocket knife to come home. If you read this and recognize the knife, call. If anyone out there can shed light on Ray's whereabouts, call. Or write to John Kline. His address is The CUB, P.0. Box 24385, Apple Valley, Minn., 55124‑0385.
One more thing, Ray. Thank you.
From the Massillon, Ohio Evening Independent March 10, 1990
Staff writer Denny Highben
GI's knife comes home
Ray's pocketknife is finally home.
It arrived this week.
Almost a half‑century earlier the knife fell to the ground in that bitterly contested region dubbed “the Bulge,” the territory briefly held by Nazi divisions in their desperate offensive against Allied troops.
It had been a gift from a wife to her husband, then a gift from a father to his son, and then the young man left for war.
It had been left in Belgium by Harold Raymond Bradford of Massillon.
Edna Bradford never saw the knife before, although it belonged to her childhood sweetheart, Harold, the man she would eventually wed. “We're all in shock, she said. We cannot believe this is happening.” She went to school with Harold in the little town of Unionville, Ohio. But his family moved away when Harold was still a boy. They came to Massillon and, from Massillon, Harold went to war.
The knife was found by a Belgian woman after the Germans were pushed back from her village. She kept it until last September. At a ceremony dedicating a monument to the American unit that liberated the village of Spineux. She sent the knife on its long journey.
Harold Bradford came home long before, after fighting the rest of the war, to the blessings of freedom. He was reunited with Edna, they married and had two children, Tim and Cindy.
Much of his working career was with Ashland Oil, his hobbies included traveling and bowling. And he spent a great deal of his time working with the Shriners, to help crippled children.
He never talked about the war, Edna said. But a clue to his devotion to crippled children, and a glimpse of what agony confronts men in combat, emerged in the early 1970s. His son, Tim, was in the 3rd Division at the time, serving in West Germany. The family visited him and toured the land his father once fought to help free.
As they approached the many small villages, the most prominent feature in each was a church steeple jutting above the rooftops.
Harold remembered, and he talked. Church steeples and children suffered dearly ...
He passed away in 1977.
Edna showed the knife to Harold's mother, Hattie, who remembered buying it for her husband years before the war. Her husband, Ray, collected knives and he inscribed their names on it. When his son prepared to leave for the European Theater, Ray inscribed the date, Nov. 27, 1944, on it. He also imbedded onto the knife a small photo of the girl Harold was dating. On its return to the United States, the knife went from Florida to John Kline of Apple Valley, Minn. Kline edits The CUB, a publication for the 106th Infantry Division Association. His outfit, fresh from the States in early December 1944, was overrun by the Nazi's surprise attack in the Ardennes, at the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge. He was among some 7,000 troops captured. As he talked with Edna about the knife and all the memories it has stirred, he realized Bradford may have been one of the Americans who freed him from a POW camp.
He promised that he will try to discover the identity of the Belgian woman who kept Harold's pocket‑knife. Edna wants to visit her, to thank her.
Edna said she and her children are considering donating the knife to a museum.
“It belongs to us, but it really belongs to the men who fought at the Battle of the Bulge,” she said.
One more thing about that knife, and the picture imbedded on it: “He got a `Dear John' letter,” Edna said, smiling. “Knowing him, when he got that letter he probably sent the knife airborne!”
The letter from Andre' HUBERT (CRIBA)
A letter I received from Andre Hubert of C.R.I.B.A. in Belgium, after asking his help in locating the person who found the knife and 45 years later turned it over to John Thurlow.
Andre' HUBERT (Gouvy) BELGIUM March 26, 1990
Mr John Kline
PO Box 24385
Apple Valley, MN 55124
I received a few days ago your most welcome letter and since then it will be difficult for me to write “Dear John” without thinking of the poor guys alone in the Ardennes or elsewhere on the ETO receiving such a letter from a “sweetheart.”
Thank you for your letter and a copy of “The CUB” which is an interesting book.
With the help of my friend Jules Hurdebise, I was lucky enough to find immediately the name and address of the lady who gave the knife to John Thurlow. (I met John at Parker's Crossroads with John Gatens last September.)
She is an old lady (80 years old) and a widow, living in Spineux with the following address:
Leonie MICHEL‑DELECLOS 25, Spineux 4980 TROIS‑PONTS (Belgium)
I phoned her and she told me the knife was found in her home or around the house (not in the woods). We can suppose that Harold Bradford kept the knife for the memory of his father and mother and that he lost the knife during the battle at Spineux.
Leonie MICHEL told me she is happy to know that the knife was returned to the owner's family. She only regrets that the owner died. She had been wondering all these years how she could give it back.
Leonie MICHEL is old, I am sure that the letter of the family's owner would be the highlight of her life.
Thank you John for the time you devoted to this affair. I am grateful for the kind appreciation about our organization and our work, but we know what we do is nothing compared to what you did, you and your nation, for us 45 years ago.
Very friendly yours,
Rev. Black ‑ Thoughts 45 Years after Liberation
“Watch over and protect them, Blessed Father!”
Rev. Ewell C. Black, Jr. Chaplain 106th Assoc.
The girl was in her mid teens and her mother in the late thirties or early forties. They were talking with Wes Eckblad and me in the Town Square of Gleina, Germany, on our Day of Liberation. They gave me a yellow mechanical pencil to remember them by, which I still have. But what I remember most about them was the mother's request, “You aren't going to let the Russians get us, are you?” With the ignorance of youth and in the exuberance of the moment I assured them that we had been liberated by the Americans and this wouldn't happen. Little did I know nor would I have understood that the politicians had already sealed their fate on this point. I have no way of knowing what happened to these two people left in what would become Communist East Germany. Neither could I know that it would take forty‑five years for this wrong to be righted.
A long time ago God's people were certain that theirs was a charmed nation and so God would not allow any bad things to happen to them. The events of history proved them to be wrong to ignore the warnings of God as given through the prophets. Like the events in Germany following World War II, it was some forty years before events began to change for Israel. I don't say this as a comparison but only to point out that when we do those things which are displeasing to God, we do them at our own risk.
I rejoice in the events of the past year which brought about so many changes in Europe. But even as I write this we find our men and women once more in a situation which could mean armed conflict with all of the attending things which happened to the 106th Division in 1944‑45. In Isaiah 2:4 we are told thusly of the Lord's judgment. “He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
I have no way of knowing what events will transpire from the time that I write these words in December until you read them in February or March, only God knows what the future holds. However I pray with each of you that they will be more like those spoken of in Isaiah 2:4 than in Joel 3;9,10.
Blessed Father in Heaven we would pray for a world at peace. A world in which people would settle their differences with brains rather than the sword. Watch over and protect our men and women and those of other nations who are in the military. Let we who have known war be Thy instruments of peace and of reason in this time and place. AMEN
Remember the Aquitania?
Harvey Bradford, 424/Service Co.
In December 1987 I rejoined the 106th Infantry Division Association after previously having been a member from 1946 into the 50's.
I was contacted by Frank Borbely of Norristown with whom I was acquainted back in 1942 when he was assigned to the 29th Division at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, we were also stationed in Washington DC and Fort Benning, GA..
The INFANTRY SCHOOL where I assisted as Infantry Weapon and Vehicle Instructor; and to Army Air Force in Arkansas at which time 36,000 of us who had not yet begun air training as Pilot Cadets, were sent back to the ground forces. I was then transferred to Service Company, 424th Regiment of the 106th Infantry Division at Camp Atterbury.
As a youngster, in Rutledge, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, we had a complete 20 volume set of THE BOOK OF KNOWLEDGE, printed in 1922, educational ‑ but not exactly an encyclopedia. In one of the volumes was a picture of the Aquitania, but little did I know at the time that this same ship would transport me from the United States to England, later to participate in The BULGE.
Perhaps over the years another member has located a picture of the Aquitania, never the less I am sending you a copy from the 1922 Book of Knowledge, while it appears to be a drawing, rather than a photo, it might bring back memories to some of the members.
As for me it brings back memories, but mostly of greasy mutton and motion sickness. I do not get “airsick,” but water and I do not agree.
(From the 1922 caption)
The Aquitania was 901 feet long and 57 feet wide. Set on end beside the Woolworth Building (51 stories) it would reach 150 feet above it. Gross tonnage is 47,000 tons and a speed of 23 knots. Contained eight passenger decks, accommodates 3,250 passengers and 1,000 crewmen.
On one deck are four large motor lifeboats equipped with wireless apparatus. In case of accident these would tow the rowboats and rafts. The ship draws so much water that there are only a few ports to which it can go without danger.
Maddox – Aquitania, isn't it a small world?
Robert C. Maddox 424/Cannon Hackettstown, NJ 07840
I noted with interest the story in a recent CUB about the Aquitania since it was the ship that the 424th went to Europe on. I have a “odd” tale of that ship and our trip in October 1944 that might be of interest to others.
In the fall of 1959 I was a candidate for the Council in Plainfield, NJ. There was a meeting in the home of the mayoral candidate in which all the Republican candidates met to review and file our biographical summaries for a joint press release. The mayor's wife was circulating and scanning the various summaries. She glanced at mine seeing that I had been in the 106th Infantry Division “overseas in 1944,” she asked what ship I had crossed over on. When I answered the “Aquitania,” she replied “In October of 1944 I was a Red Cross worker on the Aquitania.” We ascertained that we were on the ship at the same time. Unfortunately they would not let me amend my statement to add: “I was also a shipmate with the Mayor's wife....”
If that would be of interest to you for use in The CUB go right ahead, if not share the “isn't it a small world” comment with me. — Bob
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