WWII 3rd Armored Division Snapshot – Tanker John F. Housman of Braceville, IL in France


WWII Snapshots are easy to come across.  They appear in bundles at flea markets and yard sales.  It’s very uncommon to be able to positively identify a US soldier in a snapshot – let alone one that has relatives actively seeking information on ancestry.com.  Please see below for a step-by-step breakdown of my research on this photo.

Step 1: Purchase of Photo

A $12 eBay Purchase

A $12 eBay Purchase

 

With the purchase made, I had to wait a week for the photo to arrive without any research potential on the photo.  All I knew was that the shot was of a tanker with sand/dust goggles standing in front of a Sherman tank in France.  An interesting shot, albeit sleightly out of focus…..

 

John Housman Jr.

John Housman Jr.

 

Step 2: Research Photo

 

Researching photos can be a daunting task without a proper research database at hand.  Luckily, I subscribe to ancestry.com as well as a number of other databases. In this case, I was able to make the proper ID with the US census record combined with the WWII draft record. What do we know from the photo?  It turns out that the photo arrived with an ID on the reverse:  Johnny Housman-Tanker  of Braceville, Illinois.  It’s a great starting place and provided the key to the unlocking of the positive ID of the photo.

John Housman Jr. WWII from Braceville, IL

John Housman Jr. WWII from Braceville, IL

 

With the info at hand I was able to make an easy identification using the tools at hand.   A quick search yielded the following info:

John F. Housman Social Security Number 358-05-2949  Born 10/11/1918 Died 9/17/1992

John F. Housman Social Security Number 358-05-2949
Born 10/11/1918
Died 9/17/1992

 

And his enlistment which appears to be off be off by a year:

 

WWI Draft Registry

WWI Draft Registry

 

I’m sure the family of John Housman Jr. will find this site and I hope they will share some info on their father/relative.  I’m more than happy to send the original to an identified member of the family.  I know you’re out there !

A Voice From the Past – WWII ” Letter on a Record” Digitized!


WWII USO "letter on record"

WWII USO “letter on record”

I have to admit that this is a first for me.  99% of my posts have been dedicated to photos mixed with the occasional letter and/or youtube video.  This is the first time I’ve digitized a WWII record! The process was incredibly laborious and the results were scratchy and hard to listen to.  Given the condition of the record as well as the limited audio digitization available, I think I did a decent job.

Here’s the story – I purchased a set of WWII “Letter on Record” wax and paper records produced by the USO in WWII.  They were put out by the USO in affiliation with organizations such as the National Catholic Community Service.  According to my research, over 350 recording booths were available during the war with a total production of 350,000 +/-.  They were printed on wax and paper records using a recording booth where the sitter would talk while the machine “cut” their voice into the record.  They were then sent home to be listened to by loved ones.  I can’t imagine they were made to survive 70 years, but these two copies remain in decent condition.  I purchased them for $1.50 each at a local flea market.

The discs were recorded by a Eugene “Gene” Daly who was stationed at an Army Air Corps base in Charleston, SC during the war.  He was a member of Crew 620 of Sub Unit E.  I’m not entirely sure what this group did but it may have to do with sub patrol on the East Coast.  It was sent to Bunny Echenique of 122 Bedford Ave, Grant City, Staten Island, NY in February of 1945.

I played the disc on my record player at 33 speed and held my iPhone up to the speaker and recorded what played.  I could hear a slowed down version of human speech so I knew that the process was working.  From there I sent the audio file to my computer where I fiddled with Audacity to tweak the speed.  I was able to speed up the voice by 1.6X.  A voice from 70 years ago played on my speakers.  From there I created a video with the actual record as the visual and posted it to youtube.  Listen for yourself!  I still have a few additional sides to record, but this one gives you the general feeling of Gene Daly’s “letter on a record”.

Envelope details

Envelope details

WWII Christmas Card Identification Research: Henry Behrens of Grand Island, Nebraska


UPDATE: This Christmas card has been returned to the Son of Mr. Henry Behrens.  He found this post while searching for information about his father online.  I’m pleased to have returned yet-another WWII photo to it’s rightful place.

Followers of PortraitsofWar will know that I love to do in-depth research to ferret out the names and stories of WWI and WWII veterans through the photographs they left behind.  In this case, I purchased an inexpensive World War II postcard on eBay with the hopes of doing some sleuthing to find the identity of the sender.  I already have a huge backlog of material to post, but I figured I would add yet another to the collection.

A Pilot Christmas Card

A Pilot Christmas Card

christmas137

The card was interesting, and had nice composition.  These style cards were often sent home by veterans to family members back home.  With this in mind, I flipped over the card to check the reverse.  Bingo.  A name and address.  Figuring that he likely send the card home to a family member (and not to himself) I began a quick ancestry.com search for the name.  John Behrens of Grand Isalnd, Nebraska.  I pulled the 1930 census record for the Behrens family to see if there were any likely candidates for the sitter in the photo.  My initial guess was the he was likely 20-25 years old.

1930 censusThe address matched up on another record, so I’m 100% confident that this is the John Behrens named on the reverse of the postcard.  John had two sons named Willie and Henry.  Both were born in Germany and eventually emmigrated from Germany to the United States in the 1920s.  I thoroughly researched both brothers and eventually found a reference to Henry having been in the air corps during WWII.  His obituary also confirms that he was born in Eckenforde, Germany.  It also sounds like he was a lifetime Air Force veteran.

Here’s his obituary:

Marin Independent Journal
Saturday, June 29, 1985

HENRY BEHRENS

A memorial service for Henry Behrens of Novato will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday at Redwood Chapel Funeral Home in Novato.

Mr. Behrens died unexpectedly Wednesday at his residence. He was 67.

He was a native of Eckenforde, Germany. He spent 31 years in the U.S. Army and the Air Force. He retired from Hamilton Air Force Base in 1966.

His most recent job was office service manager for Mission Equity Insurance Co. in San Francisco.

He is survived by his wife, Runee Behrens of Novato; two sons, William H. Behrens of San Jose and John W. Behrens of Fairfield; a daughter, Linda P. Garrecht of Irvine; his mother, Alwine Behrens of Grand Island, Neb.; and three grandsons.

Inurnment will take place at 3 p.m. Tuesday during a graveside service at the San Francisco National Cemetery at the Presidio.

The family prefers memorial gifts to the American Heart Fund.

3520535_133765988073

WWII Color Slide Photo – Aerial Shot of the Opening Hour of the Battle of Tarawa Shot by Carrier Fighter Pilot


Talk about rare!  A recent color slide collection has provided a rare glimpse into the opening hours of the infamous Battle of Tarawa.  A Navy carrier-based fighter pilot snapped this 35mm color slide while flying cover over Betio on that fateful day on November 20th, 1943.  I’ve never personally seen a color shot taken from the air during this battle.  The series I recently acquired may be some of the only known color aerial shots taken during the opening hours of the battle.  And the kicker is that I digitized the veteran’s audio cassette tape describing the image.

Collectors Note: The best thing about collecting 35mm color and B/W negatives/slides is that they were physically present during the event.  Photographs were printed afterwards, but nitrate and celluloid negatives were physically processed through the camera during the event.

 

Please forward to 3:45 for a verbal description of the slide by the veteran who snapped the image

Aerial Shot of the Invasion of Tarawa

Aerial Shot of the Invasion of Tarawa

Veteran Description on 35mm Slide Mount

Veteran Description on 35mm Slide Mount

 

And some info on the opening day of the Battle of Tarawa (from Wikipedia):

The Battle of Tarawa (US code name Operation Galvanic) was a battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II, largely fought from November 20 to November 23, 1943. It was the first American offensive in the critical central Pacific region.

It was also the first time in the war that the United States faced serious Japanese opposition to an amphibious landing. Previous landings met little or no initial resistance. The 4,500 Japanese defenders were well-supplied and well-prepared, and they fought almost to the last man, exacting a heavy toll on the United States Marine Corps. The US had suffered similar casualties in other campaigns, for example over the six months in the campaign for Guadalcanal, but in this case the losses were suffered within the space of 76 hours. Nearly 6,000 Japanese and Americans died on the tiny island in the fighting.[2]

Background

In order to set up forward air bases capable of supporting operations across the mid-Pacific, to the Philippines, and into Japan, the U.S. needed to take the Marianas Islands. The Marianas were heavily defended. Naval doctrine of the time held that in order for attacks to succeed, land-based aircraft would be required to weaken defenses and provide some measure of protection for the invasion forces. The nearest islands capable of supporting such an effort were the Marshall Islands, northeast of Guadalcanal. Taking the Marshalls would provide the base needed to launch an offensive on the Marianas but the Marshalls were cut off from direct communications with Hawaii by a garrison and air base on the small island of Betio, on the western side of Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands. Thus, to eventually launch an invasion of the Marianas, the battles had to start far to the east, at Tarawa.

Following the completion of their campaign on Guadalcanal, the 2nd Marine Division had been withdrawn to New Zealand for rest and recuperation. Losses were replaced and the men given a chance to recover from the malaria and other illnesses that weakened them through the fighting in the Solomons. On July 20, 1943 the Joint Chiefs directed Admiral Chester Nimitz to prepare plans for an offensive operation in the Gilbert Islands. In August Admiral Raymond Spruance was flown down to New Zealand to meet with the new commander of the 2nd Marine Division, General Julian Smith, and initiate the planning of the invasion with the division’s commanders.

Located about 2,400 miles southwest of Pearl Harbor, Betio is the largest island in the Tarawa Atoll. The small, flat island lies at the southern most reach of the lagoon, and was home to the bulk of the Japanese defenders. Shaped roughly like a long, thin triangle, the tiny island is approximately two miles long. It is narrow, being only 800 yards wide at the widest point. A long pier was constructed from the north shore from which cargo ships could unload out past the shallows while at anchor in the protection of the lagoon. The northern coast of the island faces into the lagoon, while the southern and western sides face the deep waters of the open ocean.

Following Carlson’s diversionary Makin Island raid of August 1942, the Japanese command was made aware of the vulnerability and strategic significance of the Gilbert Islands. The 6th Yokosuka Special Naval Landing Force arrived to reinforce the island in February 1943. In command was Rear Admiral Tomanari Sichero, an experienced engineer who directed the construction of the sophisticated defensive structures on Betio. Upon their arrival the 6th Yokosuka became a garrison force, and the unit’s identification was changed to the 3rd Special Base Defense Force. Sichero’s primary goal in the Japanese defensive scheme was to stop the attackers in the water or pin them on the beaches. A tremendous number of pill boxes and firing pits were constructed with excellent fields of fire over the water and sandy shore. In the interior of the island was the command post and a number of large shelters designed to protect defenders from air attack and bombardment. The island’s defenses were not set up for a battle in depth across the island’s interior. The interior structures were large and vented, but did not have firing ports. Defenders in them were limited to firing from the doorways.[3]

The Japanese worked intensely for nearly a year to fortify the island.[4] To aid the garrison in the construction of the defenses, the 1,247 men of the 111th Pioneers, similar to the Seabees of the U.S. Navy, along with the 970 men of the Fourth Fleet’s construction battalion were brought in. Approximately 1,200 of the men in these two groups were Korean forced laborers. The garrison itself was made up of forces of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Special Naval Landing Force was the marine component of the IJN, and were known by US intelligence to be more highly trained, better disciplined, more tenacious and to have better small unit leadership than comparable units of the Imperial Japanese Army. The 3rd Special Base Defense Force assigned to Tarawa had a strength of 1,112 men. They were reinforced by the 7th Sasebo Special Naval Landing Force, with a strength of 1,497 men. It was commanded by Commander Takeo Sugai. This unit was bolstered by 14 Type 95 light tanks under the command of Ensign Ohtani.

A series of fourteen coastal defense guns, including four large Vickers 8-inch guns purchased during the Russo-Japanese War from the British,[2] were secured in concrete bunkers and located around the island to guard the open water and the approaches into the lagoon. It was thought these big guns would make it very difficult for a landing force to enter the lagoon and attack the island from the north side. The island had a total of 500 pillboxes or “stockades” built from logs and sand, many of which were reinforced with cement. Forty artillery pieces were scattered around the island in various reinforced firing pits. An airfield was cut into the bush straight down the center of the island. Trenches connected all points of the island, allowing troops to move where needed under cover. As the command believed their coastal guns would protect the approaches into the lagoon, an attack on the island was anticipated to come from the open waters of the western or southern beaches. Kaigun Shōshō Keiji Shibazaki, an experienced combat officer from the campaigns in China relieved Sichero in July 20, 1943 in anticipation of the coming combat. Shibazaki continued the defensive preparations right up to the day of the invasion. He encouraged his troops, saying “it would take one million men one hundred years” to conquer Tarawa.

November 20

Marines alongside an LVT-1 “Alligator”.

Marines seek cover amongst the dead and wounded behind the sea wall on Red Beach 3, Tarawa.

The American invasion force to the Gilberts was the largest yet assembled for a single operation in the Pacific, consisting of 17 aircraft carriers (6 CVs, 5 CVLs, and 6 CVEs), 12 battleships, 8 heavy cruisers, 4 light cruisers, 66 destroyers, and 36 transport ships. On board the transports was the 2nd Marine Division and a part of the army’s 27th Infantry Division, for a total of about 35,000 troops.

As the invasion flotilla hove to in the predawn hours, the islands four 8 inch guns opened fire on the task force. A gunnery duel soon developed as the main batteries on the battleships Colorado and Maryland commenced a counter-battery fire. The counter-battery proved accurate, with several of the 16 inch shells finding their mark. One shell penetrated the ammunition storage for one of the guns, igniting a huge explosion as the ordnance went up in a massive fireball. Three of the four guns were knocked out in short order. Though all four guns fell silent, one continued intermittent, though inaccurate, fire through the second day. The damage to the big guns left the approach to the lagoon open. It was one of the few successes of the naval bombardment.

Following the gunnery duel and an air attack of the island at 0610, the naval bombardment of the island began in earnest and was sustained for the next three hours. Two mine sweepers with two destroyers to provide covering fire entered the lagoon in the pre-dawn hours and cleared the shallows of mines.[5] A guide light from one of the sweepers then guided the landing craft into the lagoon where they awaited the end of the bombardment. The plan was to land Marines on the north beaches, divided into three sections: Red Beach 1 to the far west of the island, Red Beach 2 in the center just west of the pier, and Red Beach 3 to the east of the pier. Green Beach was a contingency landing beach on the western shoreline and was used for the D+1 landings. Black Beaches 1 and 2 made up the southern shore of the island and were not used. The airstrip, running roughly east-west, divided the island into north and south.

U.S. Coast Guardsmen ferrying supplies pass an LCM-3 which has taken a direct hit at Tarawa.

The Marines started their attack from the lagoon at 09:00, thirty minutes later than expected, but found the tide had still not risen enough to allow their shallow draft Higgins boats to clear the reef. Marine battle planners had not allowed for Betio’s neap tide and expected the normal rising tide to provide a water depth of 5 feet (1.5 m) over the reef, allowing larger landing craft, with drafts of at least four feet (1.2 m), to pass with room to spare. But that day and the next, in the words of some observers, “the ocean just sat there,” leaving a mean depth of three feet (0.9 m) over the reef. (The neap tide phenomenon occurs twice a month when the moon is near its first or last quarter, because the countering tug of the sun causes water levels to deviate less. But for two days the moon was at its farthest point from earth and exerted even less pull, leaving the waters relatively undisturbed.)

At 0900 the supporting naval bombardment was lifted to allow the Marines to land. The reef proved a daunting obstacle. Only the tracked LVT “Alligators” were able to get across. The Higgins boats, at four feet draft, were unable to clear the reef.[6] With the pause in the naval bombardment those Japanese that survived the shelling dusted themselves off and manned their firing pits. Japanese troops from the southern beaches were shifted up to the northern beaches. As the LVTs made their way over the reef and in to the shallows the number of Japanese troops in the firing pits slowly began to increase, and the amount of combined arms fire the LVTs faced gradually intensified. The LVTs had a myriad of holes punched through their non-armored hulls, and many were knocked out of the battle. Those ‘Alligators’ that did make it in proved unable to clear the sea wall, leaving the men in the first assault waves pinned down against the log wall along the beach. A number of ‘Alligators’ went back out to the reef in an attempt to carry in the men who were stuck there, but most of these LVTs were too badly holed to remain sea worthy, leaving the marines stuck on the reef some 500 yards (460 m) off shore. Half of the LVTs were knocked out of action by the end of the first day.

Colonel David Shoup was the senior officer of the landed forces, and he assumed command of all landed Marine Corps troops upon his arrival on shore. Although wounded by an exploding shell soon after landing at the pier, Colonel Shoup took charge of the situation, cleared the pier of Japanese snipers and rallied the first wave of Marines who had become pinned down behind the limited protection of the sea wall. During the next two days, working without rest and under constant withering enemy fire, he directed attacks against strongly defended Japanese positions, pushing forward despite daunting defensive obstructions and heavy fire. Throughout Colonel Shoup was repeatedly exposed to Japanese small arms and artillery fire, inspiring the forces under his command. For his actions on Betio he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Several early attempts to land tanks for close support and to get past the sea wall failed when the landing craft carrying them were hit on their run into the beach and either sank outright or had to withdraw while taking on water. Two Stuart tanks eventually landed on the east end of the beach but were knocked out of action fairly quickly. Three medium Sherman tanks were landed on the western end of the island and proved considerably more effective. They helped push the line in to about 300 yards (270 m) from shore. One became stuck in a tank trap and another was knocked out by a magnetic mine. The remaining tank took a shell hit to its barrel and had its 75 mm gun disabled. It was used as a portable machine gun pillbox for the rest of the day. A third platoon was able to land all four of its tanks on Red 3 around noon and operated them successfully for much of the day, but by day’s end only one tank was still in action.

By noon the Marines had successfully taken the beach as far as the first line of Japanese defenses. By 15:30 the line had moved inland in places but was still generally along the first line of defenses. The arrival of the tanks started the line moving on Red 3 and the end of Red 2 (the right flank, as viewed from the north), and by nightfall the line was about half-way across the island, only a short distance from the main runway.

Colonel David Shoup’s command post on Red Beach 2.

The communication lines which the Japanese installed on the island had been laid shallow and were destroyed in the naval bombardment, effectively preventing commander Keiji Shibazaki’s direct control of his troops. In mid-afternoon he and his staff abandoned the command post at the west end of the airfield, to allow it to be used to shelter and care for the wounded, and prepared to move to the south side of the island. He had ordered two of his Type 95 light tanks to act as a protective cover for the move, but a 5″ naval high explosive round exploded in the midst of his headquarters personnel as they were assembled outside the central concrete command post, resulting in the death of the commander and most of his staff. This loss further complicated Japanese command problems.[7][8]

As night fell on the first day the Japanese defenders kept up a sporadic harassing fire, but did not launch an attack on the Marines clinging to their beachhead and the territory won in the day’s hard fighting. With Rear Admiral Shibazaki killed and their communication lines torn up, each Japanese unit was essentially acting in isolation, and indeed had been since the commencement of the naval bombardment. The Marines brought a battery of 75 mm Pack Howitzers ashore, unpacked them and set them up for action for the next day’s fight, but the bulk of the second wave was unable to land. They spent the night floating out in the lagoon without food or water, trying to sleep in their Higgins boats. A number of Japanese marines slipped away in the night, swimming out to a number of the wrecked LVTs in the lagoon, and also to the Niminoa, a wrecked steamship lying west of the main pier. There they laid in wait for dawn, when they would fire upon the US forces from behind. The long night dragged on, but lacking central direction, the Japanese were unable to coordinate for a counterattack against the toe hold the Marines held on the island. The feared counterattack never came and the Marines held their ground. By the end of the first day, of the 5,000 Marines put ashore, 1,500 were casualties, either dead or wounded.

 

 

 

Context and Historic Photography: A WWII Case Study


Have you ever wondered what the difference is between an old photo and an historic photo?  Context.

Photograph collections are often unknowingly hidden away or discarded by people in the modern day due to the influx and influence of modern digital camera technology.  Family photo albums are stored in attic crawlspaces by distant relatives with no sense of stewardship or preservation.  The stories of thousands of American families are discarded at the local dump each year, losing context and supporting documentation that could help historians piece together stories of the distant (or not so distant) past.

A good example of the value of context when interpreting vintage photography comes from a collection of WWII photographs and negatives a colleague of mine and I purchased from an online auction house (ok, it was eBay) back in 2010.  This case study lead me across the globe, a generation gap, and  even landed me a few friends along the way.

For this story, we need to travel back to January of 2010.  The dark winters of Vermont are a good time to surf the web and make online purchases.  For someone who generally dislikes the cold, I tend to spend the majority of the winter season indoors.  One night I found a spectacular grouping of WWII photography online, placed a bid, and soon awaited the arrival of a new group of 200+ B/W photos from a seller in Pennsylvania.

The photos contained some interesting content; typical European Theater post-combat photography complete with knocked out German armor, captured enemy weapons, snapshots of friends and family as well as the occasional scenery photo.  Judging by the rainbow shaped shoulder insignia worn in many of the photos, I soon came to realize that the photos were from a member of the 42nd Rainbow Division.  Shots of trucks and jeeps provided the regimental and company designation.  The 222nd Anti-Tank Company of the 42nd Division.

It’s uncommon to narrow down a photo grouping to a specific regiment, let alone a company.  I quickly emailed the online dealer who sold the photos and asked for more information regarding the collection.  He provided me with the name of the veteran who took the photos as well as an offer to purchase all of the original negatives from the collection.  One week and $125 later I had the negatives and a copy of the veteran’s obituary.

Edward “Eddie” Majchrowicz of West Hazleton, PA served with the 222nd Anti-Tank Company of the 42nd “Rainbow Division” during WWII.  He was a professional football player, police chief, and private detective who was an active member of his local VFW.  His collection of WWII memorabilia was broken up when he passed away and I was the lucky recipient of his photography collection.

Armed with his name and unit designation (222nd/42nd Division) I tracked down the membership coordinator of the 42nd Division Association who provided me with a list of living members of the 222nd Anti-Tank Company.  On a whim, I wrote six letters to six members of the company in hopes of learning more about Eddie and his wartime exploits.  After a few weeks of hopeful waiting, a letter arrived in my mailbox penned by one of the 222nd Anti-Tank veterans.  Success!

That initial letter opened a floodgate of information and context to help me decipher the photograph collection.  My new veteran friend provided me with personal identifications of the men pictured in the collection, as well as stories and anecdotes to go along with the photos.  The personal stories he shared with me range from the comical to the tragic, but each was even more “real” with a photograph for reference.

This case study is a perfect example of how context and background can add important texture to a collection.  Finding a living link to a historic photo is the goal of every historian.  Dig out those old photos and start doing some research!

Photos in Context

Without any background knowledge, the above photo would appear to be a mundane image of a snow-covered field with a distant tree line.  After tracking down a living veteran from the 222nd Anti-Tank Company, I was able to add some human interest to the image.  On his first night of front-line combat duty, Bud Gahs tried chewing tobacco for the fist time.  His foxhole comrade, Hickey, convinced Bud that the tobacco would take the edge off.  With the German lines only a thousand yard away, Bud spent the entire night nauseated and vomiting in his foxhole.  It was his first and only time trying tobacco.  This photo was taken only yards from his post that fateful night.

Late April 1945, Near Munich

The low drone of an approaching German Me-109 fighter plane could just barely be heard above the snoring coming from the back of the Dodge WC-54 truck at the camp of the 222nd Anti-Tank Company.  As the fighter plane swooped in on a strafing run, the men of the 222nd AT jumped out of their sleeping bags and dove for cover.  Everybody except for Swanson, who arose only after the wing of the Me-109 swept the protective canvas off the back of his truck.  He had been only ten feet from the plane as it swept over the camp.  Coming in for another strafing run, the inexperienced pilot clipped his wing on a tree and crash landed only yards from the camp.  The smell of vaporized airplane fuel hung over the camp for hours.  The plane was smashed to bits, and the pilot was killed instantly.  In this above photo, the lifeless body of the pilot can be seen resting on the ground, with plane wreckage strewn about.

The kicker?  When visiting with my 222nd veteran friend, I was handed a piece of the wreckage.  Bud has kept it with him for the past 65+ years as a reminder of that memorable morning.

Eddie can be seen proudly sitting in the back of one of the Dodge trucks used to tow the 57mm guns of the 222nd Anti-Tank Company.  The best part is that the truck was driven by none other than Bud Gahs, my new found WWII buddy.  The photo sat in my collection with no story behind it until Bud came along and enlightened me.  The name of the truck was the Coughin’ Coffin – a name derived from the tendency of the truck to sputter and almost die out while towing a huge arsenal of shells.  One hit from a German 88 would put Bud and his crew in the ground, hence the Coffin moniker.  Here, Bud drives the truck across a nondescript German field.  Note the small German eagle proudly displayed as a war trophy on the camo netting of the gun.

At a recent get together of the 42nd Division, I presented Bud with a poster sized mounted photo of his truck.  He had a great time showing it off to his Rainbow buddies.

Without a knowledge of the background of the soldier who took the photo, the armchair historian only have a vague idea that the men in the above photograph were possibly concentration camp prisoners.  Since I know that the 42nd Division liberated the Dachau concentration camp in 1945, I know that these three men were from Dachau.  Also, I know that Eddie spoke Polish, and that he was able to converse with many of the liberated Poles on that fateful day in April of 1945.

Stay tuned for more photos and stories from this collection……………