WWI 1st Division Photo Identification, Robert B. Alexander – Portage, Wisconsin Veteran


After a long hiatus I’ve decided to come out of obscurity and begin posting to the blog again! A recent Facebook purchase from a WWI collecting colleague has proved to be a classic PortraitsofWar photo for interpretation. The photo depicts two US soldiers posed in a German studio during the postwar occupation of Germany in 1919. The soldier at right is shown with three overseas (OS) stripes on his left cuff denoting 1 1/2 years of overseas service as well as a French-style cap. Both soldiers are wearing 3rd Army patches on their left shoulders, which would have been worn during the postwar occupation period. The seated doughboy is sporting two wound stripes as well as two OS stripes and a Wisconsin collar disc on his cap. The reverse of the photo lists one of the soldiers in the photo as Robert B. Alexander of 914 Adams Street, Portage, WI. Given that the seated soldier is wearing a Wisconsin disc on his cap, it is presumable that the identification on the reverse is leaning towards the sitter at left.

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Pvt. Robert B. Alexander (seated), Co. F 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division

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Reverse Identification of Pvt. Alexander

Some quick research revealed that that Pvt. Alexander was born on April 20th, 1892 in the town of Portage, Wisconsin to Robert M. and Mary Alexander. He lived much of his teen years at 913 and 914 Adams Street in Portage and was listed as working as a switchman with the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad as of 1917 before he enlisted in August of that year.

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Railroad Switchman, Ca. 1940

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914 Adams Street

Attempts to find a photograph of Robert Alexander using traditional research methods failed, but I was able to track down a yearbook photo of Robert’s youngest son. Claire Alexander sat for a yearbook photo in 1944; a side-by-side comparison leaves no doubt in my mind that Claire is a progeny of the seated doughboy.

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Pvt. Alexander

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Claire L. Alexander in 1944

 

Wartime Service

Research into Alexander’s wartime service has revealed that Robert was involved in heavy combat in September of 1918 only months before the end of the war on November 11th, 1918. His accolades are laid out in an unlikely document:

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Veteran Headstone Document

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Reverse of Above Document

This document confirms that Robert served with Company F of the 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Division. He was wounded at least once and received the Purple Heart (After 1932) and also the Silver Star. Details about his wounding and SS are still pending… stay tuned.

Private Alexander’s 1956 headstone was made by the Acme Bronze Company of Maple Park, IL and was delivered to the family on November 6th, 1956 following Robert’s death on October 23rd, 1956.

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Mr. Alexander’s Headstone (Courtesy of Findagrave.com)

Research into living members of the Alexander family have proven fruitful…stay tuned for details related to the reunion of this photo with a great-granddaughter!

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Wisconsin Collar Disc on Cap

 

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Wisconsin Collar Disc (Worthpoint Photo)

 

 

 

100 Years Later: Vermont’s Entry into the First World War


It has been called THE GREAT WAR and THE WAR TO END ALL WARS.

According to Tweets from WWI, the American intervention in the war can be summarized as:

There is only room for one: ‘s idealism vs. German ‘s imperialism (US caricature).

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Today, we know it as World War One (WWI). It began in 1914 and ended with an armistice at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. The global toll had already reached nearly 40 million casualties, including American losses of 117,465 dead and 204,002 wounded.

100 Years Ago Today

After War was officially declared (House and Senate) on April 6th, 1917 the U.S. began preparations to enter the quagmire of European trench warfare.

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Vermonter John Corcoran (r) in WWI

In June of 1917, U.S. transport ships carrying nearly 15,000 U.S. troops (many from New England) in the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) approached the shores of France, these soldiers would join the Allied fight against the Central Powers.  They disembarked at the port of Saint Nazaire; the landing site had been kept secret because of the menace of German submarines, but by the time the Americans had lined up to take their first salute on French soil, an enthusiastic crowd had gathered to welcome them. However, the “Doughboys,” as the British referred to the green American troops, were said to be untrained and ill-equipped, untested for the rigors of fighting along the Western Front.

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PortraitsofWar’s WWI Smithsonian Cover

As U.S. troops landed in France, Americans were mindful of a 125+ year old debt owed that nation. France had been the colonists’ most important ally during the Revolutionary War, having supplied money, material and military brains. The Marquis de Lafayette had fought beside Patriot soldiers, equipping some of them at his own expense. He won the affection of George Washington and became a hero to the young nation. Urged on by Lafayette, France had sent ships, troops, and arms that played a key role in the Patriots’ victory. In early July 1917, the newly arrived American Expeditionary Force troops marched under the Arc de Triomphe, cheered by the people of Paris. In a ceremony at Lafayette’s tomb, where the Frenchman lies buried under dirt from Bunker Hill, an American officer lay down a wreath of pink and white roses. Another officer stepped forward, snapped a salute, and declared: “Lafayette, we are here!”

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Earl F. Lavallee of Winooski, VT in Germany, 1918.

As followers of PortraitsofWar will know, we take a great pride in providing interesting and never-before-seen imagery and narration of wartime photography ranging from the American Civil War to the Korean War. In most cases, I take an authentic photograph from my personal collection and work towards uncovering various details that hopefully elucidate some aspect of the photo.

101st Ammunition Train

In this case, I worked the other way around. My familiarity with the First World War history of the State of Vermont is well known to followers of this blog as well as within my home state. One of my favorite Vermont units to serve in the war was the 101st Ammunition Train of the 26th “Yankee Division”.

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Jeannine Russell (Vermont Agency of Transportation Archaeology Officer), Myself (Vermont Agency of Transportation Archaeologist) and David Schütz (Vermont State Curator) inspecting WWI flags

Only a week ago I was lucky enough to be invited into the bowels of the Vermont Historical Society storage area to inspect a series of American Civil War flags with a few colleagues of mine from work. While in the holding area I mentioned that a series of WWI groups had donated regimental flags and/or guidons to the State of Vermont in the years following the war.

Although I can be a bit fuzzy in my recollections, I apparently had my facts straight and we moved a series of shelves to uncover the aforementioned flags. As I fingered through the labels I instantly recognized the attribution: 101st flags. Please see below for a bit of insight into my recollection…

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101st Ammunition Train Guidon Donation Alert, Burlington Free Press, February, 1919

Ok – So my first attempt at searching on the Library of Congress Newspaper website turned up only one reference to the flags, I kept searching (tried COLORS) and came up with this…

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Flags presented

The above snippit from a 1919 Burlington Free Press article reads:

Colors Presented

War Flags and Shields Presented to State

Montpelier, Oct. 23 – The presentation of the colors and shields of the organizations from Vermont participating in the the world war occurred this evening in the State House with some 200 veterans attending and over 400 spectators in the seats of the representative hall and balcony.

The services were fitting and were attended by many of the men who have been prominent in the connection with the war. Col. F.B. Thomas presided over the exercise and the program carried out consisted of the “History of the 57th Pioneer Infantry” Capt. Ernest W. Gibson – Brattleboro

Presentation of colors – First Vermont and 57th Pioneer Infantry, Col. F. B. Thomas… History and presentation of colors of 302nd Field Artillery , Color Sergeant Albert J. Seguin of Newport.

History and presentation of 101st Ammunition Train Col. William J. Keville of Boston Mass.

Presentation of guidon, Company E. 101st Ammunition Train, Capt. Harold M. Howe of Northfield, VT.

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Ca. 1919 Co. E101st Ammunition Train guidon photo (from Brennan C. Gauthier Collection)

Presentation of guidon, Company F 101st Ammunition Train, Captain McMath

Presentation of guidon, Company G, 101st Ammunition Train, Chester Mooney of Newport.

As I stated earlier, I remembered the fact that the 101st and the 302nd had presented the State of Vermont with standards and guidons from prominent units representing Vermont involvement in the war. The following photos show the results of my inquiries:

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Left to Right: Jeannine Russell (Vermont Agency of Transportation Archaeology Officer), Myself (Vermont Agency of Transportation Archaeologist) an David Schütz (Vermont State Curator)

In the above photo we have just unrolled the 101st Ammunition Train guidons from their muslin cocoons. Present are representative samples of Co. C, G, F and E of the 101st. Each of these matches with the above 1919 article. How amazing is it to read a 98 year old article about a presentation and see the EXACT pieces in living color?

I’m particular excited about the Co. E guidon. I own a ratty panoramic photo taken of the unit when they returned in 1919. Click here to see ever single facial feature of the men in that group.

Ok – so here’s a photo of the guidon taken right before donation in 1919:

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And here’s the guidon today (my big head is at the left edge of the frame):

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WWI guidons of the 101st Ammunition Train

Also, I requested that the regimental flag of the 302nd Field Artillery be brought out for photographing. Special thanks to Jonathan Croft for being the photographer!

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302nd Field Artillery

Has it really been 100 years?

WWII Aerial Recon Photo: Burning German Convoy During Battle of the Bulge


alvaalegre059In a follow up to the popularity of my last post (see here), I’ve decided to begin scanning my collection of large format 12×12 inch aerial photos taken during the Battle of the Bulge.  In this first post, we see a German motorized transport convoy in ruins following a strafing attack by P-47’s of the XAX Tactical Air Command (TAC) on January 23rd, 1945.  I acquired a large set of these original 12×12 inch prints (complete with pencil notes on the back) on eBay a few years ago directly from the estate of a 9th Air Force photo tech who apparently saved hundreds of original flyovers like this.  He saved duplicates as well!  This is one of those duplicates.

I’ve taken the time to crop the shot for close up views below.  With some luck, followers of this page may be able to track down the exact location of this image!  Good luck guys!

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January 23rd, 1945

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WWII Color Photo Post: An Unopened Box of Developed WWII Kodak Color Slides!


Many of my followers know that I actively collect WWII color slides, predominantly those developed by the Eastman Kodak Company.  These Kodachrome slides are typically regarded in the field of vintage color photo collecting as the crème de la crème of vintage color.  Taken at a time of incredible social and political upheaval, these images capture an era that will never be seen in the same light or colors again. With the small percentage of the world populace that used color photography, an even smaller percentage of the slides have been passed down or purchased by people with the ability to scan and post them to the internet.

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In this rare case, I was able to purchase a large set of Kodachrome slides taken by a US serviceman before he shipped off to war.  One box of the Kodak-developed slides were unopened.  I took a photo of the seal, opened the box and immediately scanned them!  Please enjoy the following 12 slides that are only seeing the light of day 70+ years later….

Taken in Fort Benning, GA, these slides were shipped home in January of 1945 to only be opened in 2016! Enjoy.

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Famous Bougainville Signal Corps Photo Unraveled – 754th Tank Battalion


From time to time, a certain photo in my collection will call to me from beneath a dusty pile of books and other ephemera; pulling me away from other nocturnal pursuits, I will spend hours slipping down the rabbit hole of internet research.  In tonight’s post I dissect an image I picked up in a large photo grouping from an unidentified Pacific Theater of Operations U.S Army soldier whose estate was broken up on eBay.

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This photo has taken me months to research, with new avenues of potential insight popping up at every twist and turn.  “My” version of the photo includes the portions of the negative’s border which, once deciphered, indicate the photographic unit responsible for the image.  These borders are typically not present on post-war copies of the photo, so this points towards a wartime first-generation version of the photo likely printed overseas. Additionally, later prints of the photo include inclusions and negative abrasions not present in earlier versions.

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What does the negative bar tell us?  For one, it gives us the number of the photographic unit responsible for the image.  The first number corresponds to the ID # for the 161st Signal Photographic Company. The 161st, as anticipated, shot still and moving images in the Pacific in WWII, working in tough weather conditions not conducive to normal photographic processing.  Through my exhaustive research, I’ve uncovered additional information about the photo not commonly known on the internet.

 

Commonly ascribed to Guadalcanal, New Guinea and other remote locations, the photo was actually taken in April (hence the 4-44 label on the negative) of 1944 on Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea during the Bougainville Campaign.  Again, commonly ascribed to a Marine unit, the soldiers in the photo are actually of the Company F, 129th Infantry Regiment of the 37th Infantry Division.

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Insignia of the 161st Photo Co.

 

The details of the photo are crisp, clear and perfectly printed with little great use of light, shadows and other atmospheric conditions in the heat of battle.  Bayonets affixed, the solders are scrambling for cover, firing and advancing behind a Sherman tank of the 754th Tank Battalion as it progresses forward through the dense jungle.  The tank at the forefront of the shot is “Lucky Legs II”, clearly a later iteration of a previously destroyed or abandoned armored vehicle. Tank and plane names were commonly derived from hometown sweethearts, pinup magazine, popular songs and movies, or unique creations.

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Notice the play of light….

What isn’t immediately clear is the reason why the star is only partially visible on the turret. Using the power of the internet, I was able to track down a military forum with some information to help……

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Lucky Legs II in action (note star)

Apparently, the tanks were covered in oiled tar to protect from rust during overseas transport.  This includes the stars, which, in this case, was still partially covered in goop during the first counterattack after receiving the M4 mediums in March of 1944.  The above forum post provides a delicious detail, one that would be almost impossible to posit, without the help of a guy who “was there.”

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754th Tank Battalion Patch

 

According to research, tanks of this new delivery were equipped with armor plate protecting the driver from shots off the starboard and port sides of the tank.  This raised area was used by tankers of the 754th to paint the tank moniker.  Another example from the same group includes the “Wild Boar.”

 

 

Further distinguising insignia found on the tank include the 3 within a triangle, denoting that the tank was the Platoon Sergeant’s tank; the II adjacent to the triangle in the photo likely indicate that the tank is of the Second Platoon.

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Rear Painted Details

So, we have a tank commanded by the Platoon Sergeant of the 2nd Platoon of a an unknown company of the 754th Tank Battalion.  I can narrow this down only a bit more, but future research and reader commentary should elucidate some of the murky details.

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Back to the previous image of the internet post regarding an angry response by a tanker who fought in Lucky Legs II:

“I said just from the inside of that turret.  That’s my tank, and probably my steel helmet hanging on the back. Because Tony Benardo, and Gus, had theirs inside with them.. I think.”

The same forum post refers to a US Signal Corps film that depicts the tank in question….. I think I found it…..

And if that wasn’t enough… I found more shots from the same photographic series

 

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WWII Amateur Photo Discovery – Concentration Camp Family Photo Captured by US Soldier


Photo Background

From time to time new information comes along to help identify photographs from my collection.  In this case, I stumbled across an image during research into the liberation of Nordhausen (Mittelbau-Dora) concentration camp.  The image in my collection (seen below) was originally misidentified as having been taken at Dachau, but I just recently learned that it was actually taken at Nordhausen (Mittelbau-Dora) and captures a moment that US Signal Corps photographs also snapped at different angles.  According to information I’ve picked up in the past few days, the young boy was named Michael Kallaur and the father is Walter; both men buried the boy’s grandmother (Walter’s mother) after finding her body in the unfortunate lineup at Nordhausen.  Elizabeth Kallaur was killed at the camp only a few days before the liberation.

According to information at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Kallaur family was sent to Nordhausen as punishment for helping Jews in the Pinsk region.  The coat seen covering Mrs. Kallaur was given to Michael by John Florea, the Signal Corps photographer. Walter and Michael would not allow German citizens to touch the body of Elizabeth, and she was the first to be buried (at a deeper level) in the first burial trench.

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A Moment of Sorrow at Nordhausen (photo purchased from eBay that launched this post)

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Walter holding Elizabeth’s legs

 

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Michael watches on (note wounded hands)

 

Extensive Research

After hours of internet research, I came across the following Signal Corps photo and instantly recognized the boy….

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Walter and Michael looking over Elizabeth (Walter’s mother)

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A lesser quality image

This is the info attached to the image: (Click link for source)

Figure 1.–Here a Polish boy weeps over his grandfather’s body at Nordhausen after it was liberated by the Americans. It was dated April 21, 1945. That may have been when the photographed was released rather than taken. The press caption read, “Weep for the dead: A Polish boy weeps bitterly after he and a man at left buried (the) youngster’s grandmother who had died while a political prisoner of the Nazis in concentration camp at Nordhausen. Germans in the town were ordered to dig graves and bury the 2,500 dead, unburied prisoners found there by occupying American forces. The Polish boy refused to let the Germans touch his grandmother and insisted he bury her himself. Yanks look on in quiet sympathy.” We doubt if his grandmother was a political prisoner, but like the boy a slave laborer at Dora. He probably searched for her after the camps were liberated. Notice the German civilians at the right.

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Walter and Michael by John Florea, 1945

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An open burial spot (note the depth of Elizabeth’s burial)

And another series of Signal Corps photos showing the burial:

A Polish boy and his father bury the body of the boy's grandmother, who died in the Nordhausen c

A Polish man, Walter Kallaur and his son, Michael, bury the boy's grandmother

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A Polish boy, Michael Kallaur, weeps while helping his father bury the body of his grandmother

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Walter buries his mother – note the shallow nature of the other bodies vs. the above image for Elizabeth

German civilians from the town of Nordhausen bury the bodies of former prisoners

A view past Elizabeth’s burial spot

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Walter continues to fill the grave

American soldiers walk along an open, mass grave prepared by the German residents of the town of

Walter and Michael at a distance

The boy, Michael,  traveled to the United States after the war ended.  Using the information in the image as a jumping off point, I was able to find some immigration travel information:

Michael Kallaur Arrival

1949 Border Crossing

The information on the card all matches up.  As seen in the previous images, he had a visibly wounded left hand; the card confirms this and the fact that his place of birth was Pinsk, Poland.  At the time of his arrival in the US at Niagara Falls, he was 18, putting his birth year at 1931.  The Signal Corps photographer noted his age in 1945 at 14, which matches up with the immigration card.  A website dedicated to the Kallaur family tree referenced a Walter Kallaur arriving in the Niagara region after the war; this jives with both the Signal Corps caption and the fact that Walter is referenced in the above 1949 border crossing documents.  He arrived in Quebec in April of 1948 on board the MV Beaverbrae (listed as the SS Beaven Bren in the document, a ship that eventually transported over 30,000 European refugees to Canada between 1947 and 1954.

Sadly, it appears that Michael passed away in Decemeber of 2000, so my hopes of reuniting this photo with him has been dashed.  His SSN confirms that he lived in Pennsylvania and was issued his card in 1955, six years after his entry into the US.

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Social Security Death Index (he lied about his DOB)

 

Living Family Identified

My internet sleuthing tends to be obsessive at times, and I’m fairly certain with the following deduction.   I will leave out the details of the research in respect for the Kallaur family; some things are best left unsaid.

From what I can deduce, Michael married Eileen Gallagher at some point in the 1960s. Eileen was born in 1944, and was only five years old when Michael came to the US in 1949.  Ancestry.com doesn’t provide marriage records for the couple, but I’m basing my marriage dates in accordance with the birth of their forthcoming children.

My hopes are that a family member will google themselves, or possibly have a Google Alert set…….. All are originally from the Philadelphia, PA area.

 

Michael Kaullaur – 1931-2000

Eileen C. Kallaur – 1944 – LIVING

John Kallaur

Robert Kallaur

Christopher Kallaur

Walter Kallaur

 

 

 

 

Image Details:  Nordhausen Outdoor Generator

The major defining landscape feature of my eBay image is the presence of an outdoor generator.  This can be seen here:

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Generator? Most photos were taken on the opposite side

 

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Generator? from the other direction

HOT ON THE TRAIL OF THE FAMILY

APRIL 27th, 2013 POST BELOW

Casual followers of this blog will know that I never post photos of death or destruction.  My main goal is to present historic photography in a way to help educate internet followers about the world of war.  In this case I will post a photo that may be hard for some viewers to see.  I have hundreds of photos of concentration camps in my collection, yet have never been moved to post any of the photos to the web.

This image called to me.  The composition, the subject, the setting.  It’s all there.  A soldier snaps a shot at Dachau of a man holding the feet of his dead wife while his injured son watches on.  A procession of 3rd Armor Division soldiers file by as this tragic event unfolds; the event captured through the lens of an unknown soldier of an unknown family.  This scene was likely replicated tens of thousands of times at the tail end of the war.

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WWI RPPC Photo – Amputee Soldier Poses w/ Friends in Paris Hospital


Clark B. Potter (at center) was born on October 3rd, 1891 in Kimball, Brule County, South Dakota; eventually landing in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Clark went on to serve as an officer with Company E, 126th Infantry Regiment of the 32nd Division during WWI. He was wounded by friendly fire in August of 1918 during the Battle of Fismes (Second Battle of the Marne) where he was sent to a hospital for the remainder of the war. This incredible photo of Clark posing in a Paris photo studio on Christmas Day, 1918 includes two other wounded soldiers of different regiments.  Of interest is the leg-amputee who seems to be keeping his jolly composure during the photo; an additional veteran attempts to pick Clark’s pocket during the photo, adding a bit of joviality to what should be a somber photo.

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Clark and Friends in December of 1918

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Clark Potter’s WWII Draft Registration

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University of Michigan Class of 1919 Entry

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Clark’s WWI Company posed after the war (he was still in the hospital)

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Clark’s 126th Infantry Regiment Roster Entry

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Clark as a Child (from ancestry.com)

 

 

777th Tank Battalion Commander David T. Zweibel: Silver Star Recipient of WWII Rare Snapshots


POST STILL IN DRAFT FORM

David T. Zweibel

David T. Zweibel

It’s a rare occasion when I post material related to a familial relation; tonight I’m posting an identified photo of Lt. Col. David T. Zweibel, commander of my grandfather’s WWII 777th Tank Battalion.

 

US Silver Star Medal

US Silver Star Medal

UNCONFIRMED – Citation Needed: David T. Zweibel, United States Army, is reported to have been awarded the Silver Star under the below-listed General Orders for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving with the 69th Infantry Division during World War II.

General Orders: Headquarters, 69th Infantry Division, General Orders No. 39 (1945)

 

I also own a rare snapshot of his award ceremony – this is the first I’ve seen of this event, and I wonder if other 777th researchers have additional photographs to share?

Silver Star Award Ceremony

Silver Star Award Ceremony

 

Lt. Col. Zweibel’s WWII After Action Report/Diary

The 777th Tank Battalion

777th TD Battalion

Lt. Col. David T. Zweibel =

Battalion Commander
777th TD Battalion
Photograph unavailable

The Super Race

On February 28, 1945, the 777th Tank Battalion was attached to the 28th Infantry Division, and we marched to their sector in the Monschau Forest in Germany. The route was through Louveigne and Eupen, and the people waved and cheered us until we came to a sign,  You are entering Germany, 94 and then it was silent, hurrying people, who neither looked nor paused as we went by. It was our first glimpse of the so-called herrenvolk.

Remember how strange it seemed going through the ruins of Aachen to see the Red Cross soldiers club there in one of the few untouched buildings?

In the Monschau Forest, we had our first taste of combat billeting, and found it cold and wet. It was cold, and the mud was knee-deep; the sound of battle was close by; the evidence of what our artillery had done to the German army was there for all of us to see in the hurriedly deserted lean-to. The Krauts had left us all their equipment for souvenirs. Here it was too, that the battalion was split up, the medium companies being parceled out to the infantry regiments. And it was here that our tanks provided the punch that sent the 28th Infantry Division through mud and mines to Schleidten , Sistig, Mulenhausen, and the battalion on to Zingsheim, where we again assembled and billeted in the homes of the town from March 8 to March 17, on which date we moved in convoy to Ettringen, a march of 54 miles, and on March 19 to Wassenach on the Laacher See.

While billeted at Wassenach

The 777th Tank Battalion was detached from the 28th Infantry Division and attached  to the 69th Infantry Division. The date was March 27, and at 0610, we left Wassenach, crossed the Rhine on the Victor Bridge, 1,372 feet in length, six miles south of Remagen, and bivouacked north of Bendorf at 1100.

At Bendorf, we had our first chance to fight intact as a battalion, and Dausenau, Nassau, and Weinahr, on the Lahn River, fell in quick succession. The battalion was reassembled at Weinahr on March 29, and marched 32 miles to Neidertiefenbach, arriving 1600, March 30, 1945.

At Neidertiefenbach(sic)

The battalion was again split so that the mediums went with the infantry regiments and got into position as the division moved north toward Kassel. From that time, we fought separately, and it is nearly impossible to present a coherent picture of the situation without calling upon the After Action Report of the battalion, which is presented here so that we can see what each of us was doing through the following weeks.

Application
Company A, 777th Tank Battalion
1 April 1945: First and Third Platoons, working with Third Battalion, 271st Infantry Regiment, Company L, cleared the vicinity of Wetzlar, Germany, with little resistance. Turned over to infantry 12 prisoners of war (PWs), two of which were in civilian clothes.

2 April:Departed Wetzlar for Geisen at 1200, carrying Company L, Third Battalion, 271st Infantry Regiment, on tanks. Departed vicinity of Geisen for Friztlar at 1930.

3 April:One tank fell through bridge at Fritzlar but was recovered with no casualties. Remained at Fritzlar working on maintenance.

4 April: Worked on maintenance and were alerted for counterattack, which didn’t materialize.

5 April: Departed Fritzlar and arrived in the vicinity of Kassel at 1345 with Company B, 271st Infantry Regiment, on tanks. Billeted at Betenhausen on northeast outskirts of Kassel.

6 April: Departed Betenhausen, arrived in Lutterberg, and joined the 273rd Infantry Regiment at 2030. Moved to edge of autobahn, east of Lutterberg.

7 April: At 0530, moved with task force composed of Company A, 777th Tank Battalion; Company A, 661st Tank Destroyer Battalion; K and L Companies, 3rd Battalion, 273rd Infantry Regiment; Reconnaissance platoon, 661st Tank Destroyer Battalion; and two platoons of light tanks, Company D, 777th Tank Battalion; under command of Colonel Miller, 661st Tank Destroyer Battalion, to clear area from Lutterberg to Oberode, Germany. Reconnaissance platoon encountered five Royal Tiger Tanks and lost three Jeeps and one armored car. Light tanks withdrew to the north. Task Force proceeded east until two miles west of Oberode; encountered very heavy machine-gun fire in woods. Company A, 777th Tank Battalion, passed through Tank Destroyers who were held up by the enemy. All tanks dismounted infantry and moved through enemy machine-gun positions with all automatic weapons firing. Known killed: 15 enemy, wounded 10, and 50 PWs turned over to infantry. One mile west of Oberode, encountered two roadblocks; tanks were held up while tank-dozer removed the blocks. Moved into Oberode and remained for the night.

Crossfire

8 April: Relieved from 273rd Infantry Regiment and returned to Lutterberg. Contacted Command Post, 777th Tank Battalion, and were sent to join 1st Battalion, 271st Infantry Regiment, at Wittzenhausen. Crossed Werra River at Wittzenhausen, moved to Gertenbach, picked up Company B, 1st Battalion, 271st Infantry Regiment, and took Mollenfeldt. Turned over 6 PWs to infantry. French laborers stated that six German tanks and 50 enemy had departed Mollenfeldt three hours previous. Remained in the vicinity for the night.

9 April: At 0630, departed Mollenfeldt with Friedland as an initial objective. Took Herrmannrode and Marghausen, and reached Friedland at 0800 with 4 PWs. Departed Friedland at 0830 for Brenke. At Reckerhausen, turned over to infantry 51 PWs. Were fired on by friendly artillery, causing casualties among civilians. Moved toward Reiffershausen. One mile south of Reckershausen, fired on by friendly outpost, and returned fire, inflicting two slight casualties. Took Reiffershausen, Ludoffshusen, Eishenrode, and moved to outskirts of Brenke. Took one PW in the outskirts, and received enemy machine-gun fire. Automatic weapons dispersed enemy. Lead tank sighted what he through was enemy tank at 1,200 yards and destroyed friendly tank destroyer with two rounds, causing no casualties. Were fired on by friendly anti-tank gun and destroyed it, causing two slight casualties. Regimental commanders of the 271st Infantry Regiment and 9th Infantry Regiment conferred in Brenke and found confusion caused by both units having the same boundaries. Orders had been that no friendly troops were in the area. Moved from Brenke to Heilingenstadt. Enroute, turned over seven PWs and two enemy officers to the infantry and located German infantry two miles west of Heilingenstadt. Infantry dismounted from tanks, and tanks led assault in line with marching fire, killing one enemy, wounding one, and capturing 40. Moved through Heilingenstadt to Westhausen and took 10 PWs. Moved to Bodenrode and enemy fled into woods. Fired high explosives, but because of darkness, couldn’t check results. Returned to Westhausen for night.

10 April: Remained at Westhausen for maintenance and moved to Krungen at 2300. On this date, company’s objective was to follow the 9th Armored Division and mop up any enemy resistance bypassed by the 9th Armored Division. Orders were to also bypass any heavy resistance.

11 April: Departed Krengen and moved east following 9th Armored Division. At Beichlingen, which was bypassed by the 9th Armored Division, ran into small arms, panzerfaust (sic) and sniper fire. Dismounted infantry and captured 25 PWs. Lost one tank, and one enlisted man was seriously wounded. Moved toward Bernsdorf through Billroda. First platoon at Billroda turned over to infantry 49 enemy enlisted men and one captain. At Bernsdorf, took 17 PWs and outposted the town for the night.

On to Leipzig

12 April: At 0330, a German truck was destroyed by outpost, seriously wounding one enemy. At 1100, moved east in direction of Leipzig, with one company of 661st Tank Destroyers and 1st Battalion,271st Infantry Regiment. On outskirts of Schortau, 5 PWs were captured.  Received heavy 20, 40, and 88mm mortar fire, causing heavy casualties among the infantry. Returned fire with all tank weapons, destroying six 88mm mortar and three 20mm guns. Withdrew and bypassed area, then moved south through Branderoda and Grost, taking 12 PWs, and then moved to Pettstadt. At outskirts, encountered panzerfaust(sic), heavy machine-gun, and small-arms fire from dug-in positions. Took 51 PWs and one officer; destroyed two gas trucks with trailers. Sustained one casualty. Remained at Pettstadt for night and received occasional flak fire.

13 April: During the morning, received heavy artillery and flak fire. Moved out with third platoon leading and received 88mm fire direct. Bypassed enemy and moved through Naumberg to Stontzsch at 2330. Remained for the night.

14 April: Performed maintenance and received occasional enemy artillery fire. Third platoon attached to 3rd Battalion, 271st Infantry Regiment, and departed at 1500.

First and Second Platoons, and Company Headquarters, Less Second Section, Second Platoon

19 April: Moved from Stontzsch to Lippendorf. Encountered four enemy anti-tank guns, destroyed them, and turned over 80 PWs to the infantry; remained for night.

16 April: Moved through Rotha to Espenhain, toward Gruna. One mile south of Gruna, leading tanks with Company A, 1st Battalion, 271st Infantry Regiment, were subjected to heavy enemy fire of all caliber, ranging from small arms to 88mm mortar. One tank was destroyed by  panzerfaust(sic) and one enlisted man wounded. Infantry suffered heavy casualties. Returned fire, knocking out several enemy positions, and were ordered to hold while artillery brought fire on enemy. Waited for artillery in open position for three hours and then were ordered to withdraw to Espenhain. One German officer was killed with pistol at point-blank range; other enemy killed were considerable, but were unable to verify. Before withdrawing, lead tank evacuated wounded infantry under heavy fire. Second platoon attached to 2nd Battalion, 271st Infantry Regiment, at this time.

Second Seection, Second Platoon, Company A

15 April: Moved into Pegau, with elements of the 271st Infantry Regiment, and engaged enemy pocket in town, capturing a German infantry company of 100 men and officers. Rejoined Company A, 777th Tank Battalion, on the 16th of April at Espenhain, Germany.

First Platoon and Company Headquarters, Company A
17 April: Remained at Espenhain, performing maintenance.

18 April: Moved from Espenhain through Potzschau and Oberschau to Lieberwolkwitz. Joined First Battalion, 273rd Infantry Regiment, and were given mission to clear pockets at Guldengossa, Magdborn, Gruna, and Stornthal, and then returned to Lieberwolkwitz. Twenty-three PWs were taken at Guldengossa, and four enemy killed. At Magdborn, took 17 PWs and were subjected to 20mm and 40mm flak fire and some small-arms fire. Remained at Magdborn, sleeping in tanks. Sustained one counter-attack, which was repulsed by automatic tank weapons. During the night, friendly artillery was brought to within 50 yards of tanks, and the next morning, 50 enemy dead were counted.

19 April: Captured two officers; one colonel and one captain;  entering Magdborn in a vehicle. Thirty-four PWs were taken. Moved from Magdborn to Gruna, with infantry walking in front of tanks. Found 15 88mm guns and 30 flak guns with great quantities of ammunition abandoned. Moved to Stormthal, and found no resistance, then returned to Lieberwolkwitz. Tanks were gassed and proceeded into Leipzig and remained the night.

20 April: Moved from Leipzig to Taucha and returned under battalion control to Naunhof.

Second Platoon, Company A

16 April: Moved from Espenhain and joined 2nd Battalion, 271st Infantry Regiment, atRotha.

17 April: Were alerted at 0400, and at 1000, moved to Bolen and took up positions firing at enemy gun emplacements at 3,200 yards. Sustained three slight casualties. Later, made an attempt to move to Pulgar, but were forced to return due to heavy artillery fire. At 1800, engaged enemy at Pulgar and took 200 PWs. At 2000, moved to Zwenkau, with infantry walking in front of tanks. Took city with slight resistance after dark and remained the night.

18 April: At 0700, moved to Eythra with infantry marching. Infantry was pinned down by small-arms fire, and tanks cleared town with marching fire. One 40mm and one 88 mm gun were destroyed. Platoon was split and town divided, and 250 PWs were taken. An attempt was made to take an enemy gun position containing 46 flak and 88mm guns, but were orderedto evacuate town, preparatory for artillery barrage of the Second Division. Platoon leader, while making a personal reconnaissance for the tanks, was killed by enemy artillery fire. The platoon withdrew to Zwenkau under command of the platoon sergeant and remained for night.

19 April: Remained at Zwenkau until 1715 due to lack of gas, and then moved with the regiment to Markkleeberg.

20 April: Moved to regiment at Taucha and rejoined Company A, then moved to Naunhof under battalion control.

Third Platoon, Company A
14 April: Attached to Third Battalion, 271st Infantry Regiment, and departed Stonzsch at 1500. Picked up infantry at Werben and moved toward Lutzen. South of Lutzen, received enemy artillery and flak concentration, forcing infantry to dismount. Tanks dispersed and fired at probable targets. Took up defensive positions at Rhana and moved into the town after dark.

15 April: Cleared town of Lutzen and moved into Pegau, remaining for the night.

16 April: Moved out at 1100 to Audigast with infantry on tanks, and received heavy small-arms fire. Infantry dismounted and town was subjected to artillery concentration. Infantry and tanks started to move in, and panzerfaust knocked out platoon leader=92s tank, killing the platoon leader and seriously wounding two enlisted men. Platoon sergeant took command, and all tank weapons were used in marching fire, causing extremely heavy casualties among the enemy. Two tanks remained at Audigast to clear town, and two proceeded to Kobschutz. At northern end of town, the platoon sergeant tank received 88mm fire on the turret. The column proceeded, and second tank received four direct hits from 88mm at point-blank range, killing three crew members, seriously wounding one, and slightly wounding the fifth. The enemy gun position was destroyed, and an ammunition dump set on fire. Enemy opened up with heavy artillery concentration, and the remaining tank withdrew into Audigast and remained for the night.

88s Destroyed

17 April: Took town of Kleinstarkwitz, and six 88mm guns were destroyed and 47 PWs were taken. Remained at Pegau for the night.

18 April: Performed maintenance on tanks. Marched to Naunhof with the battalion and rejoined company (19 April).

20-30 April: Remained under battalion control at Naunhof in division reserve.

Company B, 777th Tank Battalion
1 April: Attached to 272nd Infantry Regiment at Hoffen. Spent day on maintenance of vehicles.

2 April: Departed Hoffen, Germany, at 2130, and marched to Giessen.

3 April: Departed Giessen, arrived Altenstadt

4 April: Departed Altenstadt, arrived Istha. Departed Istha, arrived Dornberg.

5 April: Departed Dornberg and marched through Kassel in attack on Landwehrhagen. Took the town and destroyed one Mark IV tank and crew, and turned over 12 PWs to the infantry. Repelled a counterattack, and took 70 more PWs, killing 35 enemy.

6 April: Took cities of Dapheim, Nieste,Kl. Amerode, Ellingerode, and Witzenhausen. Destroyed two enemy tanks and two armored vehicles. Turned over to the infantry 42 PWs and killed 12 enemy.

7 April: With the 272nd Infantry Regiment, shelled towns of Eichenberg and Hohenganborn, and returned to Witzenhausen.

8 April: Moved with 880th Field Artillery, 661st Tank Destroyers, and 272nd Infantry Regiment, and took towns of Eichenberg, Hohenganborn, and Arenschausen against heav=y resistance. Knocked out one enemy truck and one American Jeep, manned by the enemy. Took 45 PWs and killed 15 enemy.

9 April: Took towns of Schonan, Uder, and Heilingenstadt with little resistance. Turned over 20 PWs to infantry and remained at Heuthen for the night.

10 April: Marched from Heuthen to Korner.

11 April: Marched from Korner to Grossneuhausen and thence through Naumberg to Teuchern.

12 April:: Marched from Teucherhn to Obernessa.

13 April: Marched from Obernessa to Elstertrebnitz.

14 April: Attacked Quisau at 1700 with the 2nd Battalion, 272nd Infantry Regiment. Captured and destroyed 36 88mm guns and the complete fire control center. Took 200 PWs, some of which were women in uniform. Returned to Elstertrebnitz.

15 April: Remained at Elstertrebnitz, working on tanks

16 April: Departed Elstertrebnitz at 0900 enroute to Zweenfurth. Encountered light, scattered resistance enroute. Turned over 10 PWs to infantry.

17 April: Company B, minus 1st Platoon, remained at Zweenfurth. 1st Platoon, with Company C, 1st Battalion, 272nd Infantry Regiment, took towns of Hirshfield and Alton, taking seven PWs.

18 April: Departed Zweenfurth 66 1st, 2nd, and 3rd platoons with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd battalions, 272nd Infantry Regiment, to attack the outskirts of Leipzig, Germany. At the outskirts, took 150 PWs. At 1800, the first three tanks of 2nd platoon went forward as a reconnaissance element and ran into heavy opposition. The balance of the platoon came forward in their zone to the vicinity of the railroad station, where the lead tank was knocked out. The crew dismounted, and the leader was killed. Ten enemy were killed and 10 captured, including an SS captain. The platoon returned under regimental orders to Phase Line Three and patrolled the area. The 1st and 3rd platoons worked with their respective battalions, patrolling enemy escape routes from the city of Leipzig.

19 April: At 1800, the company withdrew from Leipzig and reassembled in regimental area.

20 April: Rejoined the 777th Tank Battalion at Naunhof.

Bloody Eilenberg
21 April: At 1300, company alerted to move to attack on Eilenberg. Departed at 1547 and joined Company A, 271st Infantry Regiment. Attempted to force entrance of town, but were forced to retire. Returned to Wedelwitz for the night. During the night, several concentrations of enemy high explosives were received by the tanks.

22 April: At 0900, one platoon was sent to attack the city from the south, and the balance of the company from the east. Both columns moved forward under heavy resistance from enemy artillery and panzer-faust. The column moving from the east worked forward as far as the creek, where the infantry was pinned down. Two tanks were hit at this point, killing one officer and wounding two enlisted men. The column withdrew, and artillery fire was brought to bear on the enemy. The column moving from the south made repeated attempts to work forward into the town, but were unable to gain headway due to heavy panzer-faust fire. Repeated attempts were made, but both columns were pushed back trying to reach the Mulde River. One additional tank was knocked out, but was recovered and turned over to maintenance. Between each attack,artillery was brought to bear on the enemy. During the night, heavy concentrations of 4.2 mortars were used to dislodge the enemy.

23 April: At 0600, after a heavy artillery concentration, the town was cleared and the Mulde River was reached. One enlisted man was wounded in attempting the leave the tank. Company regrouped and returned to Naunhof under battalion control.

24-30 April: Company remained at Naunhof under battalion control in divisional reserve.

Company C, 777th Tank Battalion
1 April: Movedwith the 273rd Infantry Regiment from Faulkenbach to Weilberg.

2 April:Departed Weilberg, arrived Ippinghausen.

3 April: Departed Ippinghausen, arrived Niederelsungen.

5 April: Working with Company E, 273rd Infantry Regiment, took towns of Monchehof, Hohenkirchen, and Holzhausen. At Holzhausen, killed 75 enemy in a barn and took eight PWs. One officer and three enlisted men were killed, and three enlisted men were seriously wounded in the action.

6 April: In the vicinity of Wilhemhausen, took up firing positions and shelled Bonaport, enabling Company G, 273rd Infantry Regiment, to enter the town and drive two companies of German infantry to the north. Known material destroyed: two machine-gun positions and 50 bazookas. Repaired crater in road and removed roadblock with tank-dozer, then moved to Lutterberg.

7 April: Attacked down autobahn to Laubach, and joined 1st Battalion, 273rd Infantry Regiment. Shelled Lippoldshausen and forced withdrawal of German column of six vehicles. Shelled column, completely destroying it at 4,500 yards. Identified one large towed cannon and ammunition truck, which burned.

8 April: Moved to Afzenhausen without incident

9 April: Moved from Afzenhausen to Mollenfeldt.

10 April: Second and third platoons attached to 2nd and 3rd battalions, 273rd Infantry Regiment, respectively. Balance of company moved to Heiligenstadt.

First Platoon and Headquarters Section, Company C
11 April: Departed Heiligenstadt,arrived Schtolheim.

12 April: Departed Schtolheim, arrived Saubach

13 April: Remained at Saubach.

14 April: Departed Saubach, arrived Teuchern.

15 April: Remained in Teuchern.

16 April: Departed Teuchern, arrived Borna.

17 April: Joined Task Force Zweibel (see Task Force Zweibel) and cleared area north of Borna. Took 40 PWs and liberated 1,400 Allied PWs.

50 =93Good=94 Krauts

18 April: Spearheaded advance to Lieberwolkwitz, taking enroute towns of Kohra, Thrana and Grossprona. First Platoon with Company B, 273rd Infantry Regiment, fought their way into center of Leipzig, destroying 12 machine guns, killing 50 enemy and forcing the surrender of several strong points. Headquarters Section worked with a platoon of Company B, 273rd Infantry Regiment, patrolling escape routes from the city, and rejoined 1st Platoon.

19 April: Patrolled Leipzig.

20 April: First Platoon moved to Pausitz and took up defensive positions with Company B, 273rd Infantry Regiment. Headquarters Section moved to Zwititz and established roadblocks with Company D, 272nd Infantry Regiment.

21 April: Rejoined 777th Tank Battalion at Naunhof.

22 April: At 1800 hours, moved to attachment with Company C, 1st Battalion, 271st Infantry Regiment, at Kospa. Moved to a point west of Eilenberg, where 100 PWs voluntarily surrendered. One tank was lost by mines. Several buildings from which snipers were firing was set afire by incendiaries. One of these buildings was a German military hospital. Platoon was relieved at 2100 hours and remained at Kospa for the night.

23 April: Returned to battalion control at Naunhof.

Second Platoon, Company C
10 April: Reported to White Battalion, 273rd Infantry Regiment, 69th Division, and formed part of the advance guard for Combat Command A, 9th Armored Division. Advanced east along the following route:

Volkerode, Mariengarten, Kl. Schneen, Gr. Schneen, Lichtenhagen, Bremke, Siemepode, Gunterode, Reinholterode, Bodenrode, Wingerode, Beuren, Leinefelde, Birkungen, Beberstadt, Hupstadt, Zannroden, Keula, Holzthaleben, Toba, Wiedermuth, Ebeleben, Gundersleben, Schernberg

11 April:

Schernberg, Thalebra, Oberspier, Westerengel, Kirchengel, Hohenebra, Holzengel, Trebra, Niederbosa, Oberbode, Bilzingsleben, Kannawurf, Sachsenburg, Heldrungen, Reinsdorf, Gehofen, Nansitz, Donndorf, Wiehe, Memleben, Nebra, Wetzendorf, Karsdorf, Steigra, Glein, Zeuchfeld

12 April:

Zeuchfeld, Under Wershen, Stossen, Grossgrimma, Krossuln, Runthal, Naumberg, Steckelberg. Stontzsch, Krauschwitz, Markrohlitz, Zembschen, Kostplatz

Formed with Company G, 273rd Infantry Regiment, a separate task force, and advanced northwest. Took the towns of Domsen, Tornau, Schestan, Muschwitz, Pobles, Bossen, Klein Gohran, and Gr. Gohren. Cut route 87, the eastern escape route from Weissenfels, and destroyed the personnel and equipment of an anti-aircraft position in grid square E0201.

13-14 April: Formed the advance party of Combat Command A, 9th Armored Division, with Company E, 273rd Infantry Regiment, and led the advance along the following route:

Strontzsch, Pegau, Groitzsch, Wischstauden, Brosen, Podelwitz, Drossdorf, Breunsdorf, Bergisdorf, Lobstadt, Kleinzossen, Eula, Dittmannsdorf, Stockheim

15 April:Grossbach, Seelingstadt, Grethen, Trebaen, Beirsdorf

Snipers
16-17 April: With Company F, 273rd Infantry Regiment, moved from Tre=bsen to Grimma to relieve the unit outposting the town. Heavy sniper and mortar action from enemy positions on the east bank of the Mulde River, neutralized and reduced to inactivity.

18-19 April: Rejoined White Battalion, 273rd Infantry Regiment, at Grethen, and moved to Lieberwolkwitz for theassault and capture of Leipzig.

20 April: Returned to Trebsen with White Battalion, 273rd Infantry Regiment, released to rejoin 777 Tank Battalion at Naunhof.

21 April: Moved to Taucha to form part of Task Force Sikes.

22 April: Released and rejoined 777th Tank Battalion at Naunhof.

Third Platoon, Company C
10 April: Attached to Company L, 3rd Battalion,273rd Infantry Regiment, and in turn attached to Combat Command R, 9th Armored Division, at Gertenbach on the Wessen River. Mission was to follow advance of 9th Armored Division and mop up enemy pockets which had been bypassed.

11 April: Patrolled vicinity of Mulhausen.

12 April: Patrolled vicinity of Bachra.

13 April: Returned to vicinity of Naumberg and contacted Company B, 131st Ordnance. Stripped one of the platoon tanks and repaired the other four.

14 April: Rejoined 273rd Infantry Regiment at Beersdorf and proceeded to Hobenback and shelled Colditz in conjunction with the artillery. Fire was restricted because the town contained a PW camp for Allied officers.

15 April: Took the town of Colditz and freed 500 Allied officers. Many PWs had been evacuated two days previous by the Germans. Among those taken away was the nephew of Prime Minister Churchill, the son of Joseph Stalin, and the son of Ambassador Winant.

16-18 April: Remained at Colditz and patrolled surrounding area.

19 April: While on an offensive patrol, received 30 rounds of 105 heavy explosives at Bockwitz. Six infantrymen were seriously wounded by this friendly artillery and were evacuated on the tanks. Artillery clearance had been obtained in this area

20 April: Cleared town of Thrana.

21 April: Cleared woods and area southwest of Thrana and returned to control of 777th Tank Battalion at Naunhof.

Company C, 777th Tank Battalion
21-30 April: Entire company remained under battalion control at Naunhof, in division reserve.

Company D, 777th Tank Battalion
1 April: Third Platoon attached to 102nd Cavalry, 69th Infantry Division, under V Corps=92 control as reconnaissance elements. Remainder of company moved with battalion command post.

2 April: Third Platoon at grid coordinate 001041. Remainder of company with battalion command post.

3 April: Third Platoon attempted to take town at grid coordinate 140227. Enemy too strong for reconnaissance element and forced to withdraw. Expended 4,500 rounds 30 caliber, 69 rounds 37 heavy explosives, and 2 rounds armor-piercing. Took one PW and killed unknown number.

4 April: Third Platoon remained under V Corps 92 control. Balance of comp=any remained with battalion command post.

5 April: Third Platoon rejoined company. Entire company with battalion command post.

6 April: Entire company remained with battalion command post.

7 April: Second Platoon, working with 273rd Infantry Regiment, departed Lutterberg enroute to Oberode. Engaged small enemy pockets, destroying several machine-gun nests and one armored car. Returned to company control. First Platoon, working with Battalion Headquarters Tank Section and Headquarters Company, Assault Gun Platoon, 777th Tank Battalion, encountered mines and roadblock in vicinity of Hann Munden. One tank lost, one enlisted man killed and two enlisted men seriously wounded.

8 April: Second Platoon returned to company control after protecting Engineers in removal of roadblock and minefield in vicinity of Hann Munden. Entire company moved with battalion command post.

9-12 April: Entire company moved with battalion command post.

First Platoon, Company D
13 April: Moved into Weissenfels at 1700 with Task Force Zweibel, carrying infantry of 271st Infantry Regiment on tanks. Encountered heavy machine-gun, sniper, and panzer-faust fire. Task force gathered in center of city and remained for the night.

14 April: At 0700, moved to attack a garrison in the castle and lost one enlisted man in 1st platoon to sniper fire. Objective taken and 200 PWs captured. First Platoon ordered to move east through Selau to autobahn. Found village of Selau clear, but at autobahn, received air bursts and direct fire from 88mm guns, knocking out one tank, killing the bow gunner and wounding several infantrymen and two other crew members of the tank. The wounded were evacuated, and the tanks were withdrawn and rejoined the task force at Weissenfels, and remained for the night.

Helpful Hollander
15 April: Proceeded with task force to take town of Kriechan. From information obtained from a Hollander in Wiessenfels, the exact location of a group of 32 anti-aircraft/anti-tank dual-purpose 88mm guns was determined. This emplacement was destroyed with 4.2 mortar fire, and 200 PWs were taken. Returned to Weissenfels.

12 April: Moved to Pegau.

17 April: Task force divided into three sections and patrolled area north of Borna. Picked up 37 PWs.

18 April: Moved toLieberwolkwitz. At 1730, proceeded with Task Force Zweibel to capture city hall of Leipzig. Near Napoleon Platz, heavy enemy panzer-faust and 20mm fire knocked out one of the medium tanks. Task force commander ordered light tanks to withdraw.

19 April: Attached to 2nd Battalion, 273rd Infantry Regiment, and stood by the remainder of the day.

20 April: Moved with 273rd Infantry Regiment to Trebsen and were relieved and joined the battalion at Naunhof.

Second Platoon, Company D 13 April: Departed Plotha with Task Force Zweibel enroute to Weissenfels. Remained in center of citywith task force in defensive positions for the night. Set fire to an enemy truck beside a ground-mounted 88mm gun.

14 April: Assisted task forcein capturing the castle in Weissenfels and also a military barracks. Returned to company headquarters to bring supplies to task force, receiving artillery fire twice during the trip.

15-16 April: Returned to battalion control.

17 April: Rejoined Task Force Zweibel and patrolled the area north of Borna. Received 88 mm fire at Espenhain and returned to Borna at 2000 to rejoin balance of task force.

18 April: Moved to Lieberwolkwitz and attached to 2nd Battalion, 273rd Infantry Regiment at 1400. At 1800, proceeded to Leipzig. Fired at targets of opportunity and supported infantryin capture of the ballpark.

19 April: Remained in regimental reserve.

20 April: Rejoined the battalion at Naunhof.

Third Platoon, Company D
13 April: Joined Task Force Zweibel and moved to attack city of Weissenfels. Fought in the streets until darkness and grouped in center for the night.

14 April: Assisted in attack and capture of the castle and military barracks. Task force divided into three columns and patrolled north and east sections of Weissenfels.

15 April: Attacked town of Kriechen, taking 200 PWs and 32 88mm anti-aircraft/anti-tank guns.

16 April: Moved with task force to Stontzch and were sent with Assault Gun platoon, Headquarters Company, 777th Tank Battalion, plus one medium tank of Battalion Headquarters Tank Section, and infantry of the 69th Infantry to Thesau to reduce a radio station and forward observation point located in a windmill, eastof Thesau. This mission was accomplished. Received enemy artillery fire at this point and also upon return to Stontzch. Moved to Pegau and rejoined company.

17 April: Moved from Pegau with task force and patrolled area north of Borna. Returned to Pegau and marched to Lieberwolkwitz to take up defensive positions, guarding escape routes from Leipzig.

18 April: Moved to Lieberwolkwitz proper and occupied town without resistance. At 0915, attached to Company A, 271st Infantry Regiment, and proceeded to Holzhausen. Remained in reserve while infantry proceeded to attack Leipzig. Infantry was pinned down on outskirts of city, and tanks were brought up as support. Enemy automatic weapons were reduced, and unit proceeded to First Phase Line. At 2200, began advance to Phase Line Four with infantry leading tanks and mortars in support. Phase Line Four was reached.

19 April: At 0300, infantry of Company F, 272nd Infantry Regiment, were surrounded by enemy and asked for aid of Company A. One platoon of infantry proceeded on mission but was immediately pinned down by enemy fire. Two tanks plus another platoon of infantry were sent to relieve members of A and F companies. Tanks under command of S-Sgt. Coffenberg and Sgt. Smith engaged the enemy at the city hall until the infantry could withdraw. At 0530, two light tanks under command of Sgt. Hucock and Sgt. Tool plus infantry of Company A proceeded to city hall to engage enemy and relieve Company F. Enemy garrison was entirely too strong for the force, but fire was maintained until heavier support arrived from Task Force Zweibel. The two light tanks were used to evacuate wounded infantry men under fire. Both tanks made two trips to the city hall and returned. The remaining three tanks of the platoon took up positions behind the city hall and engaged enemy until surrender of the garrison was forced by the task force.

20 April: Moved with Company A, 271st Infantry Regiment, and took up defensive positions along Mulde River in vicinity of Schmolrn.

21 April: Returned to battalion control at Naunhof.

Company D, 777th Tank Battalion
22-30 April: Entire company remained under battalion control at Naunhof, in division reserve.

Task Force Zweibel
9 April: Task force formed to move under division control and clear enemy pockets bypassed by 9th Armored Division. Composition of task force was as follows:

Assault Gun & Mortar Platoon, 777th Tank Battalion

Company D, 777th Tank Battalion

Reconnaissance Troop, 69th Infantry Division

Cannon Company & Anti-Tank Company, 273rd Infantry Regiment

The task force was ordered to assemble at Geisleden at 1300, 10 April.

10 April: Task force assembled at Geisleden and moved to Dachrieden.

11 April: Remained at Dachrieden.

=
12 April: Departed Dachrieden, arrived Steinbach at 1900. Company A, 86th Chemical Mortar Battalion, attached to Task Force Zweibel.

13 April: Moved to attack in Weissenfels at 1400 with 2nd Battalion, 271st Infantry Regiment, on tanks. Patrolled area assigned to 271st Infantry Regiment, engaging enemy machine-gun and small-arms fire. Reconnaissance disclosed main enemy forces in a castle and a military barracks, but darkness was closing in, and task force gathered in center of city in a defensive position for the night.

14 April: Attacked enemy garrison in a castle. After firing a few rounds from the tanks, garrison surrendered, and 200 PWs were turned over to the infantry. Moved next to attack enemy located in a warehouse, inflicting heavy casualties on enemy. Attack was then brought on a militarybarracks. After heavy concentration of heavy explosives and machine-gun fire, a German captain offered to surrender the barracks if firing would cease. Four hundred were removed. Task force continued to patrol north and east portions of the city for the remainder of the day.

15 April: Departed Weissenfels and took towns of Burgwerden, Schkortleben and Kriechen. At Kriechen, upon information received from a Hollander, a strongpoint was taken with the use of mortar. Thirty-two 88 mm guns and 400 PWs were taken. Many of the prisoners were Italian fascists. Returned to Weissenfels for the night.

16 April: Task Force Zweibel was dissolved, and elements of  the 777th Tank Battalion joined the battalion command post at Pegau.

17=
April: A new Task Force Zweibel was formed and composed of:
Tank Section, Battalion Headquarters, 777th Tank Battalion

Assault Gun Platoon, Headquarters Company, 777th Tank Battalion

2=
nd Platoon, Company C, 777th Tank Battalion

Four light tanks o=
f Company D, 777th Tank Battalion

Company F, 2nd Battalion, 27=
3rd Infantry Regiment

The task force departed from Pegau on orders to pa=
trol and clear area north of Borna. The task force was split into three co=
lumns and the area assigned covered, but no enemy resistance was encountere=
d. Proceeded on orders to Lieberwolkwitz and remained in vicinity of road =
junction south of town until dawn.

Our Big Prize
18 April: Occupied L=
ieberwolkwitz with a minimum of resistance. At 1700, 1st Platoon, Company =
B 661st Tank Destroyer Battalion, joined the task force. Moved into Leipzi=
g on Highway 176 with infantry on tanks at 1800. Received heavy machine-gu=
n fire, causing severe casualties in the infantry. All vehicles began firi=
ng automatic weapons, and infantry mounted on tanks began operation of smal=
l arms. At Napoleon Platz, column was met with terrific machine-gun, small=
arms, panzer-faust and anti-tank fire, causing heavy infantry casualties a=
nd knocking out one tank. At this point, the light tanks were ordered to h=
old up, and remainder of column moved in at full speed. Heavy fire continu=
ed until the center of the city was reached. Due to the use of old maps, t=
he objective, the city hall, was over-shot, placing the task force in a ver=
y precarious position. Tanks could not move forward or bring fire on enemy=
. Tanks remained in vicinity of city hall, defending themselves by fire un=
til darkness, when they withdrew a few blocks to consolidate their position=
and formulate plans for assault on the garrison in the city hall the next =
morning.

19 April: At 0730, plans were executed, and the garrison was a=
ttacked at point-blank range of 150 yards with all tank weapons available. =
Fire was maintained until 0910, when an ultimatum was sent into the city h=
all by way of a captured German officer, demanding unconditional surrender =
of the garrison. The unconditional surrender terms were accepted by the Ge=
rman commandant at 0930, and the garrison surrendered. Captured were one m=
ajor general, 175 enlisted men, and 13 Gestapo police. There was found the=
Burgomeister and his assistant who had committed suicide by poison, the mi=
litary commandant and 6 Nazi officials, two of which were women, who had sh=
ot themselves to death. Vast stores of arms of all types and caliber plus =
food and liquor were found in the stronghold. The city hall and city Nazi =
flag were turned over by the task force commander to the commanding general=
, 69th Infantry Division, at approximately 1200. The American flag was rai=
sed over the city hall after the arrival of the commanding general.

20 A=
pril: Task force dissolved, and elements of 777th Tank Battalion joined co=
mmand post at Naunhof.

Battalion Headquarters, 777th Tank Battalion
Du=
ring April, the battalion command post, in order to maintain liaison, moved=
as follows:

1-3 April: Niedertiefenbach
4-5 Apri=
l: Konigshagen
6 April: Kassel
7 April: Lutterber=
g
8 April: Hann Munden
9 April: Witzenhausen
=
10 April: Dingelstadt
11 April: Kolleda
=
12 April: Markrohlitz
13 April: Weissenfels
14 Ap=
ril: Plotha
15 April: Prittitz
16-17 April: Pegau

18 April: Naunhof, for the remainder of April
Assigned units: none
Attached units: See =93Task Force Zweibel=94

Detached Units: At v=
arious times during the month of April, all combat elements of this organiz=
ation were attached to units of the 69th Infantry Division.

Throughout a=
ll of the period, the tanks were attached to and worked in close support of=
the units to which they were attached. The results of most of the actions=
as participated in by the tanks were very difficult to portray, due to the=
extremely small units of tanks working with larger units that are usually =
credited with the successes. It is estimated that the speed in which many =
of the strong points were reduced was 75% due to tank action. The small nu=
mber of prisoners taken is due to the difficulty of armor to handle prisone=
rs, so a very large percentage of the prisoners were turned over to the fro=
nt troops who were being supported. Results of operations:

1. 14 med=
ium and 2 light tanks lost.

2. 3 officers and 10 enlisted men killed,=
2 officers and 22 enlisted men wounded, and 3 enlisted men missing.

3. =
2,746 PWs turned over to the infantry.

Anticipation
This after-act=
ion report has graphically shown that our battalion was in there swinging e=
very minute from the time we marched up to the front lines until the time w=
hen, the enemy defeated, we stood our ground and waited for our lines throu=
gh Europe to face our Russian ally. But there are some things vital to the=
battalion that this purely military history does not show.

It doesn=92t=
show, for instance, that Service Company had three trucks parceled out to =
each company to supply fuel, rations, and ammunition, even though the remar=
kable record of the battalion infers that our supply trains always came thr=
ough. It doesn=92t show again our maintenance section working under diffic=
ult conditions, keeping the equipment fit for combat, and securing replacem=
ents for those vehicles put out of action. Nor does it picture the job don=
e by our medical detachment, the enlisted men of which were split between t=
he line companies and put entirely on their own. They were in the thick of=
it too, and there are three bronze stars in the medical detachment to ampl=
y prove that the medics were in the tight spots taking care of our boys.
=

Payrolls in Combat
There are a lot of other miscellaneous jobs impossibl=
e to include for which we can say, =93Well done.=94 Such jobs as sticking =
to radio sets 24 hours a day, and long, grueling drives on the autobahns an=
d secondary highways for replacements of men and supplies. The battalion a=
lways had its mail call regularly, and there was always a PX ration coming =
through. Whenever possible there was a movie presented, and back of all wa=
s a comfortable feeling that the Personnel Section was doing its bit for us=
, getting the payrolls and keeping our affairs in order so that our familie=
s were suffering as little as possible. And in a final last toot of our co=
llective horn, let us give praise to those cooks, and thanksgiving for each=
time they reached us from the horrors of a cold can of C-rations.

Who w=
as it who made the famous quotation, =93Home is where you make it?=94 Whoe=
ver it was never traveled from Germany to France on a =9340 and 8.=94 =93H=
ome=94 in that case was a newly disinfected boxcar renovated with two cross=
bars spiked over each door so you had something to lean against as the land=
scape went by. We each had our one-man dream sac and our own spot, 2-1/2 f=
eet by 6 feet, to place it in, but the big show was over, and we were going=
in the right direction at last. We had had many homes since the war=92s e=
nd, and most of them were good, comfortable homes, the best that we could f=
ind, in fact. When the Germans gave up and admitted they were licked, our =
battalion was firmly entrenched at Naunhof, just six kilometers from Leipzi=
g, our big bag, and we were still with the 69th Infantry Division, having m=
ade the headlines in every newspaper throughout the world when the first li=
nkup with the Russian army was achieved. Most of us were still getting our=
personal stories in shape for the day when we would get back to the States=
and swap them with our friends back home.

On the 3rd of May, 1945, the =
battalion was given an area to police 20 miles south of Leipzig, and depart=
ed from Naunhof at 0800 to set up headquarters in Thrana. On May 10, this =
police area was changed to take in the eastern outskirts of the city of Lei=
pzig, and the battalion headquarters was moved to Lieberwolkwitz, and the c=
ompanies were spread throughout the surrounding towns. The next six weeks =
were spent chiefly in resting and recreation, and, of course, resisting the=
temptation of fraternization with the usual display of the American soldie=
r=92s willpower.

During these six weeks, the point system was thoroughly debated, the chances of discharge hashed and rehashed, German champagne, wine, and beer critically assessed, and the virtues of the German frauleins compared with anything else we might be familiar with.

Having been preceded by a barrage of latrine rumors, the orders to prepare for redeployment through the United States were received, and the battalion departed by 40 and 8’s from Leipzig at 0800 on the 15th of June. We crossed the Rhine on the Roosevelt Memorial Bridge at Mainz, and arrived at our starting point,Duclair, France (Camp Twenty Grand) on the 19th of June at 1200. We departed from Camp Twenty Grand by trucks at 0700 on the 28th of June to Le Havre, and boarded the U.S.S. Wakefield (army transport).

At 0520, 30 June, =
the shores of France fell away steadily on our stern, and we were on our way home. It hadn’t been easy many times, and there were some good friends and buddies who weren’t making the trip back with us. All of us have felt the loss of these heroes strongly, and any of us would do anything in his power if they could have been on board the Wakefield as she pulled into the Boston Port of Embarkation at 1530, 6th of July, amid the shrieking sirens and hooting of the welcoming nation. There was a lump in many throats no one would admit it, but it was all eyes overboard for the American brand of girls lining the docks waving, although one battalion wag was heard shouting, Kommen sie hier, Fraulein.

At 2200, 6 July, 1945, the 777th Tank Battalion debarked and entrained for Camp Miles Standish, where the battalion was divided into reception station groups to be sent home for a well-earned 30 days recuperation period, after which the battalion was to be reassembled at Camp San Luis Obispo, California, between the 14th and 21st of August, 1945.

It would be a fine thing if we were able to put every man’s personal experiences in this battalion history, and it would, for the most part, make exciting reading, but, of course, that is impossible. But it is hoped that each of you will be able to read between the lines of this history and fill in the gaps with your own memories, not only now but in the years to come when you will read over this history, perhaps with your family by your side. The battalion staff hopes sincerely that this is so and wishes the very best for each of you throughout all the coming years.

BEST OF LUCK FROM YOUR OWN OUTFIT, THE LUCKY TRIPLE SEVENS.

 

WWII Portraits – Headshots of the 739th Field Artillery Battalion


I’m trying something new with this post…… I recently purchased a large lot of headshots of unnamed members of the 739th Field Artillery Battalion.  All the photos were taken in a single sitting in a German studio by a photographer named Lothar Schilling.  I’m currently in the process of identifying each of the men using a unit history with group shots of each particular battery….. more to come on that…….

The image below was created by taking a cropped view of each photo and adding them together in quick succession.  Each face is rendered as an individual frame to create a soundless film of the entirety of the group.  I thought it was interesting to see the vast differences in each facial expression of the 90+ man group.  Complete photo lots like this are hard to come by, especially with such high image quality.

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