Monday, January 24, 2011

History of the 517th Port Battalion in WWII, part 2

The WWII historic data reports housed in the National Archives vary in their detail. It was up to the individual unit to decide what it wanted to record of its operations. I was fantastically fortunate that my grandfather's 519th Port Battalion provided a detailed description of every month of its service. The 517th records, unfortunately, say little about its time in Normandy. There is a map of its camp on Omaha Beach, and an official date of when they arrived, but that's it. The 517th port company men performed the very same work as my grandfather's unit, so you can use my book as a guide. After the Normandy beaches closed down supply operations the 517th moved to Antwerp. The men were housed in the very same apartment building as my grandfather. So, once again, my book Longshore Soldiers fills in a gap in the historic record.

For the 517th's time in the UK read PART 1.

June to November 1944
The 517th Port Battalion set foot on Omaha Beach on June 8th, 1944. For the two days prior the port companies had been unloading the supply ships which had transported them across the channel. The companies of the 517th were scattered in separate camps surrounding St. Laurent-sur-Mer. As with my grandfather's battalion, the men of the 517th first lived in simple foxholes, then built little shacks made from "dunnage," wooden boards used as packing material in ship holds. The battalion's medical staff were housed in an abandoned German headquarters building in town.

The day-to-day work of the port companies involved unloading supply ships anchored a few miles at sea. DUKWs (amphibious trucks), barges, and landing craft were filled with material and motored back to shore. In the first week the men worked anxiously with the expectation of a German counterattack (which thankfully never came). The very real threat of German artillery barrages and Luftwaffe fighter-bomber attacks persisted for several weeks. The pace of work was so frantic there was no time for recreation. Rough winter seas ended supply operations in November.

The above map shows where the 517th's port companies were camped on Omaha Beach on D+3. The units marked "AA" are antiaircraft artillery positioned to fend of German planes. (click on map image to view larger version)


November 1944 - June 1946
Morale was lifted when the port company men were notified of their transfer to Antwerp. They felt they were being rewarded for their splendid work on the beach. On November 24, 1944 the 517th boarded trains at Isigny, France. They arrived in Antwerp on the 29th after an uncomfortable ride in the cramped "40 & 8s" (WWI-era train cars built to hold 40 men or 8 horses).

The battalion moved in to Tampico Flats, located near the docks. The affect of the Germans v-weapon barrage is described in chapter 11 of my book. The 517th Port Battalion Medical Detachment report from August 1945 adds further detail on the danger:

"The conditions in this sector were a little different than before, and the men had to be trained for another type of warfare. The most serious problem became the psychosis problem. The men in the battalion could do nothing to combat this menace except seek shelter, and the psychological reaction was great. Many men had to be hospitalized because of V-1 and V-2 bombs as psycho-neurotics.
The greatest catastrophe to befall the battalion and in which the medical detachment did great work was in a V-2 bombing of a theater in Antwerp, The Rex Theater. The battalion lost fourteen men dead, and a greater number in wounded men. The detachment was dispatched to the scene of the incident and carried on rescue work all day and night, doing yeoman work. There were other occasions when the detachment was called upon to do rescue work, but this was the greatest."

The battalion's port companies performed specialized work in the city. These are all the same duties performed by my grandfather's 519th Port Battalion. My book provides greater detail on their work and offers a few interesting anecdotes.

The 797th, 798th, and 799th, and 285th port companies duty was to supervise the Belgian civilian stevedore's discharge of Allied supply ships, the storage of cargo, and the outloading of cargo onto trucks, trains, barges.

The 800th and 284th port companies provided guards for trains heading to the front lines, they served as guards in Antwerp's North Yards, and several specially skilled personnel worked as crane operators and warehousemen.

In March of 1945 the 798th Port Company left dock work and was reassigned to guard duty on trains and in warehouses. The port company men serving as guards were put under the operational control 793rd Military Police Battalion.

Above photo: Rex Butler and John Haren on the snowy roof of Tampico Flats in 1944, courtesy of Jack Haren.

June 1945
In June 1945 the 185th Port Company was attached to the 517th Port Battalion. It was responsible for discharge of supply ships, checking, outloading supplies onto trucks, trains and barges, and the storage of cargo in warehouses. On June 28 the 284th Port Company was detached from the 517th and sent to Bremerhaven Germany under the command of the 487th Port Battalion.

The end of the 517th
Sometime by December 1945 the battalion had been moved to the Luchtbal Barracks, north of Tampico Flats. Men who had been with the battalion since activation were slowly sent home. The historic record does not say when the 517th was deactivated, but it was probably around the same time as my grandfather's battalion: the winter of 1946.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

History of the 517th Port Battalion in WWII, part 1

February 1943
The 517th Port Battalion was activated at T Camp in Seamills, England (a suburb of Bristol) on February 18, 1943. This is interesting, because the five other port battalions have researched were all activated in the US. Initially titled the 2034th Port Battalion, the unit was renamed the 517th in June 1943. The first commander was Major Donald N. Cerefice. The battalion was composed of Headquarters (the officers), HQ Detachment (enlisted men assisting the officers), and A, B, C, D companies.

The enlisted men all came from replacement depots in England. So, basically these GIs were shipped to the UK after their basic training in the States. These guys were shipped to the UK not knowing what kind of unit they would end up in. The uncertainty leading up to their assignment in the port battalion must have been frustrating. The port battalion's companies were distributed over several English and Welsh ports and towns. They were shifted around quite a bit before the Normandy invasion. I hope my description isn't too confusing.

A Company was commanded by 1st Lt. James J. Powell. The enlisted men came from the 10th Replacement Depot in Litchfield, England. The company's first duty was to maintain railroad tracks and road beds in the US Army depots at Newbury, Thatcham, Aschurch, Sudbury, Highbridge, and Burnham-on-the-Sea.

B Company, commanded by Captain Russel J. Morton, was composed of enlisted men transferred from the 761st Engineer Railway Operating Battalion and the 10th Replacement Depot. This company's duty was to operate railway engines at all the same US Army Depots as A Company, along with the depot at Burton-on-Trent.

C Company was commanded by 1st Lieutenant George Gilman. Jr. All personnel came from the 10th Replacement Depot.

On February 28, 1943 HQ, HQ detachment, and C Company moved from T Camp to the newly built Camp Seamills (previously occupied by the 2034th Port Battalion).

D Company was created on February 29th, 1943. It was commanded by Captain George Oliver. Once again the enlisted men were supplied by the 10th Replacement Depot. It was posted to Camp Seamills.

March 1943
On March 25, 1943 C Company moved from Camp Seamills to Hayes Lane Camp, Barry Glamorgan, South Wales. Here the company discharged cargo from supply ships at the Port of Barry.

June 1943
Battalion redesignated as the 517th Port Battalion.

July 1943
On July 19, 1943 the scatted detachments of A Company relocated to Manchester, England. The company unloaded cargo from supply ships at the Manchester Ship Canal.

On July 19, 1943 the scatted detachments of B Company relocated to Camp Seamills, in Seamills, England to unload ships at the Avonmouth Docks.

On July 30, 1943 D company moved to Barry, Wales. The company unloaded ships at the Port of Barry. This seaport was under the jurisdiction of the US Army 11th Port of Embarkation.

September 1943
On September 9th D Company moved to Cardiff Wales. It unloaded supply ships at the Port of Cardiff.

On September 12th HQ, HQ Detachment, and B Company moved to Hayes Lane Camp, Barry, Wales. B Company unloaded ships at the Port of Barry, while HQ managed administration and supply to its four companies.

On September 13th A Company also moved to Hayes Lane Camp. It too unloaded ships in the Port of Barry.

February 1944
On February 10th the command of C Company was turned over to Captain Philip V. Dunbar. on the 18th the company moved to the Transportation Corps Training School at Mumbles, Wales for training in amphibious operations with the 1st and 5th Engineer Special Brigades.

March 1944
On March 12th C Company finished training and returned to Barry, Wales.

On March 13th B Company moved to Torquay for amphibious trainign with the 6th Engineer Special Brigade.

April 1944
On April 7th Major Cerefice was relieved of command and was replaced by Lt. Colonel Harold E. Bonar. Bonar had been in command of the African-American 490th Port Battalion. Some time in or after April the A, B, C, and D companies were re-named as the 797th, 798th, 799th, and 800th port companies.

Below is a quote from the 517th Port Battalion Historic Data report, which I received from the National Archives:

During this period there was constant talk of invasion, not alone by the military, but newspapers, radios, people in the street, the air war was being stepped up, and the American 8th Air Force was hammering the Pas de Calais are nearly every day. With two companies undergoing amphibious training, there was a growing awareness that the 517th Port Battalion was to take part in the Invasion of Europe. It was on the 10th of April that this organization received notification that it was alerted and was attached to the First United States Army for operations with the 6th Engineer Special Brigade.

May 1944
Two additional port companies, the 284th and 285th, were attached to the battalion. The 517th then moved to Perth, South Wales, where it remained until the 30th.

June 2, 1944
The 517th Port Battalion boarded ships of the Allied invasion fleet.

The 517th joined the 6th ESB for its invasion of Omaha Beach. When Normandy supply operations closed due to winter weather the battalion moved to Antwerp. That part of the 517th story is told in PART 2.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Elizabeth Kennedy, British War Bride

Left to right are: Miss Anne Jessyn, Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS); Sergeant Joseph Brescia, US Army 13th Major Port; Master Sergeant George F. Kennedy, 13th Major Port, Elizabeth Mary (Brown) Kennedy, WRNS; Jack Brown, British Army; and Miss Sheila Brown. The wedding took place in Dumfries, Scotland, 24 April, 1945.

Richard Kennedy found my blog recently and sent me an email. His dad, George, had served in the 13th Major Port. George married a Scottish girl who was serving in the Women's Royal Naval Service. Richard tells the charming story:

"My parents met in Plymouth late in '43 or early '44. Mom was assigned to HMS Drake, which is not a ship but the Royal Naval base at Plymouth. At the time, Mom was seeing another GI, a friend of my dad's. They were all attending a hop that night, I think. Mom said the first thing Dad said to her when they were introduced was 'Hiya, Jackson! Whadda ya hear from the mob?' One can take the boy out of Brooklyn, but... A few nights later, Dad's buddy was going to stand my mother up on a movie date, and when he told my dad that, Dad said 'The young lady expects to see a movie. If you're not going to take her, I will' And so he did. The buddy never got a second shot.
In April of '45, They were married in St Michaels Kirk, Dumfries, Scotland, to the great pleasure of my grandparents on both sides of the ocean. Mom said they had the first real wedding cake that had been baked in the town since before the war, because my Grandmother had been hoarding her sugar ration for months in anticipation. a week's leave for the wedding trip and they were both back on duty, she in Plymouth, he back in Antwerp for another year or so. Mom separated from service in July '45 and sailed for the States in September."

Richard stressed that his mom considered herself a "War Bride" and not the common term "GI Bride," adding "That expression used to really aggravate her."

Glenn Booker researches the history of war brides during WWII. Check out the website The American War Bride Experience for articles, photos, and books on the subject.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

ALCO Time Capsule Opened

The first chapters of my book talk about Schenectady, NY during WWII. My grandfather worked as a welder at the American Locomotive Company. In 1943 there was a huge parade and celebration to honor the company for its work in building a secret weapon, the M-7 "Priest." During the ceremony a time capsule was buried in the little park in front of what is now Schenectady County Community College's Elston Hall. I was wondering if the time capsule was opened since then. My mom recently found an Aril 1993 article showing that it was. After 50 years the items had been ruined by water damage. Tools, photos, blue prints and a flag were all destroyed. These would have been great historic objects. Too bad they weren't simply preserved in a museum or library, rather than being buried in the ground!

Above photo: M-7 Day speeches and time capsule ceremony held in front of what was then the Hotel Van Curler, Schenectady, NY, April 10, 1943.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

History of the 490th Port Battalion in WWII

I've been speaking to Charles Sprowl, a veteran of the 490th Port Battalion. You can see him interviewed in the documentary A Distant Shore: African Americans of D-Day. In December I requested copies of the National Archives' historic data report for the 490th. I've outlined the battalions history here.

The 490th Port Battalion, US Army Transportation Corps, was activated on January 25, 1943 a the Service of Supply Unit Training Center, New Orleans Staging Area, Louisiana. Major Harold E. Bonar assumed command (Bonar was later to take command of the 517th Port Battalion). My records show the names of eight other officers:
Captain Joseph D. Bayle
Captain Paul Forrest Mielly, Adjutant
2nd Lt. Barron Bridges, Assistant Adjutant
1st Lt. Avery E. Kolb, Adjutant
1st Lt. Herbert S. Butterworth, commander of A Company (later 226th Port Company)
1st Lt. Albert S. White, Jr., commander of B Company (later 227th Port Company)
2nd Lt. John C. Cullum, commander of C Company (later 228th Port Company)
2nd Lt. William R. Elliot, commander of D Company (later 229th Port Company)
Non-commissioned officers came from the 381st, 386th, 393rd, and 485th port battalions.

APRIL 1943
The battalion companies A,B,C, and D were redesignated as the 226th, 227th, 228th, and 229th port companies. The Medical Detachment was activated and added to HQ and HQ detachment. Companies trained on landships at Unit Training Center at New Orleans.

MAY 29, 1943
Arrived at Charleston Port of Embarkation. There was no functional training in stevedore skills except for riggers. Winchmen and signalmen had some additional training on a landship, but it was often out commission.

August 11 left Charles Port of Embarkation by rail and arriving at Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia on August 12. On August 20, 1943 left Camp Patrick Henry aboard the transport ship Argentina.

Arrived in Liverpool, England on September 4, 1943. Preceded by rail to barracks in Maghull, Lancashire, England. Conducted first live port battalion duties under the command of 4th Major Port and later the 15th Major Port. Worked with civilian British stevedores unloading ships in Liverpool.

226th Port Company was sent to Transportation Marine Operations Division School at Mumbles, Swansea, Wales on March 11. The 226th trained with amphibious truck companies. Left Mumbles on May 7, 1944 for Penarth, Cardiff, Wales.

Lt. Colonel Harold E. Bonar left the 490th to take command of the 517th Port Battalion. I don't know who replaced him.

227th Port Company left on April 11 to Par, Cornwall for duty with the 1st Engineer Special Brigade. The 227th participated in the ill-fated training exercises at Slapton Sands: during Exercise Tiger the Allied ships were attacked by German E-Boats. May 7 left Par, Cornwall for Penarth, Cardiff, Wales and arrived on May 8, 1944.

HQ and HQ Detachment, 228th, and 229th port companies left Maghull via rail for Shirehampton, Seamills Camp on April 28, 1944. (my grandfather's 519th Port Battalion was also based on Seamills). Left Seamills on May 16, 1944 and arrived at the invasion marshalling area at Harpton Court, New Radnor, Radnorshire on May 19, 1944.

226th and 227th port companies arrived at Penarth, Cardiff Wales on May 7 and 8 respectively. Both companies worked the sub-port loading coastal ships with ammunition, some of which was later unloaded on Utah Beach by the same units. Both companies left Penarth on May 19 and rejoined the other 490th Port Battalion companies at Harpton Court, New Radnor on May 19, 1944.

At New Radnor the companies prepared equipment for the invasion. There was not enough impregnated anti-gas clothing for all the men to be fully suited. Thankfully, the Germans did not resort to the use of poison gas.

JUNE 2 - 5, 1944
Major Robert J. Reynolds takes command of the 490th Port Battalion. On June 2 the full battalion left new Radnor and boarded transport ships at several embarkation areas. On June 5th their ships joined the invasion fleet destined for Normandy.

JUNE 6, 1944 D-DAY
The 490th Port Battalion hits the beach at Utah Beach, under the command of the 531st Engineer Shore Regiment, part of the 1st Engineer Special Brigade. There was one man killed on D-Day. Sergeant Willie R. Collins, 228th Port Company was killed by German Artillery. Five men were wounded, all in the 227th Port Company: Pfc. Curtis C. Hamblin, Pvt. Willie G. Harrison, Pvt. Edward Pitts, Pvt. Norwood B. Nickens, and Captain Glenn D. Cohee. One man was honored for his bravery. Staff Sergeant Arthur W. Jackson of the 228th Port Company earned a citation from the First US Army and a Bronze Star for his "refusal to stop working an ammunition ship under close enemy artillery fire until the ship master stopped the steam on the winches and orders were issued to abandon ship."

JUNE 6 to NOVEMBER 21, 1944
The port companies unloaded supply ships off the Uncle Red section of Utah Beach. See my book Longshore Soldiers for a detailed description of the dangers, work, and life on the beach.

November 1944
The battalion left Normandy by boat on November 21, 1944 and reached Le Havre, France on the 22nd. From here it drove to Rouen by truck, arriving later that same day. Camped in a race track. Worked in the river port at Rouen unloading supply ships and guarding German prisoners.

December 1944
During the Battle of the Bulge 490th men were detailed to guard certain areas in the city. Some of the port company men volunteered to leave the 490th and join the first integrated combat infantry units.

JULY 2, 1945
259th Port Company attached while in Rouen, France.

August 1945
The 226th, 229th, 259th port companies left Rouen by truck for Chanor Training Headquarters, Camp Lucky Strike, St. Valery-en-Caux, France on August 17, 1945. 821st Amphibian Truck Comapny attached to battalion on August 22. These companies began training for deployment to the Pacific Theater. The 227th, 228th, and 259th port companies were detached from the 490th Port Battalion and remained in Rouen to continue port supply work there.

226th, 229th, 259th port companies left Camp Lucky Strike by truck for Motteville, France on September 17, 1945. While at this camp the 490th disbanded. Enlisted men were separated into a variety of different units and shipped back to the States.

The battalion was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with palm. 490th Port Battalion men received the bronze arrowhead for it's part in the D-Day invasion and two campaign stars for Normandy and Northern France.

Black Soldiers in WWII US Army Transportation Corps

This weekend I found a June 1945 magazine article about African-American soldiers in the US Army Transportation Corps in WWII. The first page is devoted to the 502nd Port Battalion, which worked on Omaha Beach. Click on the page images to view a larger version.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Distant Shore: African Americans of D-Day,
DVD directed by Doug Cohen

The 490th Port Battalion was an all-African-American unit, commanded by white officers. In fact, 75% of all US Transportation Corps units were composed of segregated black troops. I became interested in the 490th when I learned that it served on Utah Beach along with my grandfather's own 519th Port Battalion. After a little Googling I discovered A Distant Shore. I had been speaking to Charles Sprowl, a veteran of the 490th. When I asked him if he knew about the film, and he told me "Yeah, I'm in it!"

I ordered the DVD and was very impressed. This History Channel Documentary interviews Sprowl and several other black port battalion veterans and shows rarely seen film footage of supply operations on the Normandy beaches. Few people realize that almost two thousand African-Americans took part in the Normandy invasion. The war was rough on everyone, but these black troops had the added challenge of serving in a segregated army. With so little written about the black experience in WWII, this film is a must-see.

On you can listen to a 9 minute 2007 radio interview with the director and port battalion veteran David Brown. They discuss the film and Brown describes his experience in the war.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

13th Major Port roster, part 3

Three chapters of my book deal with WWII Antwerp. In overall command of the American supply operations in this city was the 13th Major Port. The 13th had also been managing port operations in England during the build up to Normandy. To help those researching their family history I'm posting names from a 1946 unit roster here and in two other posts. If you see your dad or grandfather in the list feel free to get in touch. Also, be sure to see my other 13th Port history articles.

William J. Antol • Philip J. Avila • Victor E. Bergstrom • Emanuel Bookbinder • Harold L. Bressler • Charles A. Bucklar • Thomas D. Bumbaugh • James J. Cordani • Morton Dannenhirsch • Rev. Martin S. Durkin (chaplain) • Charles H. Heed • Robert J. Gallagher • George Gavula • James A. Keane • Michael A. Laske • Walter D. McCord • Harry B. Mole • Edgar M. Murray • Jesse E. Hawk • William R. Haynes • Albert E. Jackson • Charles J. Jaracz • Browney R. Joxz • Leonard S. Kamp • John A. Kiesel • Francis A. Kremer • George Lashinsky • Joseph W. Moshinski • David I. Nevling • John W. Orum • George Polensky, Jr. • Romanus Peters • Kenneth J. Smith • Peter VanSovich • Joseph Weiss

Edward C. Forsythe • Dominico Caporal

Frederick D. Biggs • Charle L. Cain

James E. Keegan

Wallace Adams • Charles V. Fyke • W. E. Long

Durward E. Ashworth • Charlie A. Baker • Carl Biehl • John T. Cleghorn • Edwin D. Depew • Theodore R. Duchamp • Leonard W. Moreland • Dougal C. Pope • Daniel Teran • Bertrum A. Vigeant • Steward E. Young

Dr. Harry R. Lancaster • Thomas Ford, Jr.

Richard A. King • John A. Craig

James C. Sherman • William W. Face • Floyd M. Thornburg

George F. Heaney • Paul Lucien • Harry L. Mills • Hunter H. Morrison • Paul M. Roberts • Edward H. Tate • Will Thomas

Norlan L. Beitz • Anthony L. DeRenzo • Harry R. Harless • Eugene B. Hosaflook • Lankford H. Johnson • Joe Messineo • Charles W. Pennybacker • Ralph D. Persinger • Ronald R. Sharps • Elmer W. Tabor

Richard Bernstein • Ralph W. Cooke, Jr. • Frederick E. Pietzuch

Grimsby, Lincolnshire
Arthur Storey
I am guessing that this English guy was not an official member of the 13th Port, but was maybe a liason that worked with the Americans.

An Indignant Book Review of the 1945 Pictorial Handbook of Military Transportation

I've scanned some 1945 documents recording a lively exchange of letters regarding the book Pictorial Handbook of Military Transportation. Basically, it amounts to an entertaining book review. It's an example of ignorant decision makers at the top excluding the important efforts of the little guys on the ground. Click on the document images in this post to read larger versions.

In order for you to fully appreciate the letters, allow me to give a little back-story. I wrote a book about my grandfather's US Army port battalion in WWII. I interviewed him and a dozen other veterans. These guys unloaded supply ships in Normandy and various European ports while under direct fire from the Germans. Port battalions were part of the the US Army Transportation Corps (TC), which also included truck companies, railroad battalions—any units to do with moving troops, equipment, and supplies. A few months after the war the TC published a book to commemorate it's efforts in Europe. Lt. Colonel Harold E. Bonar of the 517th Port Battalion in Antwerp was eagerly awaiting his copy, and was frustrated to find the book made no mention of port battalion troops. The first image is the angry letter he wrote to the Chief of Transportation, publisher of the book. If I may paraphrase, Bonar's letter says something like "Dude, we transported like ALL of the war supplies in Europe, and you didn't even mention us. Thanks for nothing."

Since this is the Army, the letter had to go through the proper channels. It first went to the Colonel Edward C. Forsythe, commander of the 13th Major Port, which was the headquarters unit managing all supply operations in Antwerp. He forwarded the letter along with his own note of support (see 1st Ind. in image at right).

The next level of command passed the letter on to the desk of L. Colonel Abraham J. Rosenblum, the Chief of Transportation responsible for the book. (see 2nd Ind. in image at right).

Rosenblum then writes back, saying there wasn't room in their book to include the port battalions, there isn't reader interest, and quit yer belly-aching. (see 3rd Ind. in image at right).

He ends his response by saying "You guys have nothing to complain about, so forget it." (see top of the letter in image at right) Forsythe, the commander of the 13th Major Port back in Antwerp responds by saying something to the effect of "I guess we all have our opinions. Still, you shouldn't have ignored the port battalions, They are an accomplished group. You stink." (see 4th Ind. in image at right)

Forsythe then forwards the lame response from the publisher back to our boy Lt. Col. Bonar at the 517th Port Battalion. (see 5th Ind. in image at right)

Finally, Bonar addresses his port battalion troops, saying "The TC isn't sorry, but at least we told 'em off."

Sunday, January 9, 2011

13th Major Port roster, part 2

Three chapters of my book deal with WWII Antwerp. In overall command of the American supply operations in this city was the 13th Major Port. The 13th had also been managing port operations in England during the build up to Normandy. To help those researching their family history I'm posting names from a 1946 unit roster here and in two other posts. If you see your dad or grandfather in the list feel free to get in touch. Also, be sure to see my other 13th Port history articles.

Robert S. Basker • Michael J. Bosinger • Harold Breslow • Vincent Cihanek • Howard Cohan • Harry J. Daniels • Theodore S. Eichengreen • Albert C. Eisen • Irving Friedlander • David J. Gamache • Thomas A. Gentile • Harry G. Goodwin • John P. Graebner • John J. Gray • James J. Hertenstein • Abraham Jacobs • William A. Joyce • Israel Kamil • Hyman Kaplan • David Kassman • Louis F. Lanuto • David Lerner • David Levine • John J. McCarthy • John J. McAvoy • Fred R. Markert • Patrick O'Connell • Raymond L. Quinn • James F. Rahilly • Patrick J. Regan • Morris Rutansky • Cyril A. Sampson • Sidney Sidelman • Robert M. Southard • Morton A. Stiller • Karl H. Sturtevant • Sidney B. Wolfish

Frank J. Annecchiarico • Albert Arone • Stanley Becker • Alvin W. Beigel • Alfred J. Bentzig • Theodore Berman • Joseph E. Brachocki • Richard J. Calatchi • John J. Carr • Salvatore De Augusta • Leonard F. Felio • Frank H. Forte • Joseph P. Geraldis • Irving Gold • Edward M. Goldstein • Henry J. Hildebrand • James V.Hornberger • Irving Johnson • George F. Kennedy • Robert Kirsch • Irving Levine • Irving B. Lubitz • Vincent J. Lucas • Joseph A. Macaluso • James J. Mackin • Jerome Markowitz • Eugene L. Meade • Vincent C. Noto • Christian C. O'Connor • Dominic Pitera • William E. Richardson • John J. Rizzo • Nathan Romanoff • Abe Rosen • Benjamin Rubin • Delsford B. Suave • Raymond Schwartz • Marcus Scharps • Nathan Semel • Julius Sherman • Ben Slatkowitz • James G. Vanderet • Charles Weinreb • Alfred Wolfarth • Steve P. Yakimo

Thomas A. Beatty • Harold Benjamin • Bruno J. Biaggi • Robert L. Chappelle • Edward W. Crowley • John L. Daneri • Joseph DePalo • William H. Dewart • Joseph C. DiTomasso • Nicholas J. Ditomasso • Charles S. Dodge • Joseph C. Donoghue • Edwin F. Drangel • Miss Louisa Farrand c/o American Red Cross • Max Freed • Anthony E. Galietta • Jack Gisehaltz • William Hornung • Harold V. Johnson • Burton A. Koffler • William H. Laird • John B. Lininger • William J. Marquette • John S. McCarthy • Robert M. Maidman • Thomas Malave • Arthur F. Mehling • Aime L. Pichly • Lewis M. Polac • John F. Ronan • Michael A. Roina • Onofrio M. Ronga • Harry Rudnick • George A. Spohrer • Richard B. Sweetser • Harry Tanenbaum • Alfred R. Tricarico • Octavius Tutoli • James V. Valvo

Carmino C. Atanasio • Bernard Cohen • Michael J. Donahue • Martin N. Gerstel • David J. Graham • Anthony J. Gruneisel • Francis P. Gunn • Harold R. Jacobs • George P. Kipgen • Peter Kobel • George Levine • Harry P. Polhemus • Joseph J. Roehrig, Jr. • Donald E. Smith • Dr. Edwin Y. Stanton • Albino Yasa

Other NY towns
Reuben H. Bergman • Irvin Bisnoff • Frank P. Brady • Jackson D. Burke • John W. Calnon • Frederick W. Coykendall (this captain had also served in my grandfather's port battalion) • Michael P. DeMurio • Perry C. Euchner • Frederick W. Frearson • Ernest M. Goglia • John W. Gothard • Paul C. Grening • Linn L. Hopkinson • Thaddeus Hyatt • Emil M. Keen • Philip Kuritzky • Franics F. Maye • Walter C. McClure • Antonio Musolino • Irving A. Nichols • Curtis A. Noble • William C. Noble • Francis M. Noonan • Ira C. Partelow • John C. Partridge (I speak to John) • John C. Pinkerton • Raymond L. Porrata • Charles D. Reidpath • Henry S. Rogicki • Frederick W. Seely • Robert V. Simons • Louis Testa • James A. Traynor • Victor F. VanWagnen • George J. Vetter • Frank G. Wise • Martin N. Zwitzer

William J. Spake • James T. Jenkins • James A. Grindstaff • Arden C. Wiggins • Winston G. Griffin

Billy A. Anderegg • William A. Anderson • Herbert C. Awe • Balazs Balla, Jr. • Richard H. Bauman • John J. Bill, Jr. • Manuel L. Block • William R. Carroll • Michael Cerrato • Donald C. Cline • Orla Coakley, Jr. • Robert C. Cook • Robert S. Cooney • Marion E. Davis • Charles P. Dissinger • Frank J. Dix • Richard H. Donahue • Paul F. Ehrle • Robert P. Elking • Henry F. Froehlich • Joseph P. Gerac • Robert E. Getz • Frank Glump • Urban J. Goeke • Vernon G. Greber • Richard A. Grothaus • Forrest H. Gwinn • Earl F. Haas • Robert L. Haffner • Howard E. Haney • Vincent C. Husak • Clyde Hefner, Jr. • Victor V. Hengstler • Allie L. Holtzapple • Frank E. Hyer • Eugene G. Jergens • Raymond Kaser • Louis C. Kopf • John M. Larson • Adam Lewandowski • Joseph R. Lynch • Donald B. Marquart • Ralph E. Masten • Robert N. Meeker • Ralph E. Morgan • Robert E. Mrava • Neil E. Neunhertz • Michael Pawlosky • Robert L. Peart • Joseph L. Pekar • William B. Pendleton • Gail L. Priest • Robert S. Pruden • Thomas L. Raley • Donald H. Rank • Walter W. Reed • Harley A. Rice • Donald E. Ross • James L. Roberts • Charles V. Sexton • Harry R. Shirk • Gerald E. Slorp • Milton H. Stewart • Elmer F. Struke • Joseph J. Szekely • Joe A. Tarka • Irvin B. Thiele • Albert Turrin • Albert A. Vartorella • Robert A. Waldo • Lloyd D. Walkey • Edwin A. Walter • John C. Wentzel • Elwin R. Whittier • Harold W. Wilson • Lonas Wright

More names to come...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Utah Beach German Gun Emplacement
Then and Now

In 1944 somebody on Utah Beach with my grandfather snapped the above picture of a German gun emplacement. In December 2010 my friend David Ashe took some photos at the very same spot. The 519th Port Battalion had it's headquarters in a German bunker on Utah Beach, but I don't believe this is the one.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tonight We Die As Men, review

This past September Osprey Publishing released the paperback version of Tonight We Die As Men: The Untold Story of Third Battalion 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment from Toccoa to D-Day. Of course, it was another battalion from this same regiment that was made immensely famous in Stephen Ambrose's Band of Brothers.

History benefits from the publication of Tonight We Die As Men not simply because of the new attention paid to the equally deserving Third Battalion, but because the scholarship was approached with such care. Local historian Roger Day lives a few miles outside the English village of Ramsbury, which is where Third Battalion was stationed in the build up to the Normandy invasion. Coauthor Ian Gardner is a retired British paratrooper. Their personal connections granted a passion and an interest that might be lacking in other authors. In addition to their textual research Gardner and Day interviewed multiple Third Battalion airborne veterans as well as English and French civilians who encountered them during the war. These individual perspectives are what really make the book.

The airborne veterans recount stories of training in the States and life in England, including charming anecdotes of their pre-invasion antics. In Normandy the mission of the battalion was to secure a pair of bridges. The battle narrative reminds readers that confusion and frustration can be a part of the reality of combat. Several of the veterans had been captured by the Germans. Some escaped, while others spent the duration of the war as prisoners.

Tonight We Die As Men is a valuable addition to the greater WWII airborne saga and a darn good read.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

African-American Army Port Company Article in WWII Stars and Stripes

(click article image to enlarge)

519th Port Battalion veteran Dave Weaver saved a May 20, 1944 article clipping from The Stars and Stripes. It describes the scene in an unnamed British port and the African-American port company that worked there. The unit and place were kept secret to protect the Normandy invasion plans, but I recently discovered these hidden facts. I've been talking with Charles Sprowl, a veteran of the 490th Port Battalion. It was his own 229th Port Company working in Bristol, England. In the second to last paragraph a 1st Sgt. James W. Wanza was quoted. When I shared a copy of this article with Charles he recognized his sergeant's name immediately.

I have been speaking with Charles, James Baker (another black port battalion veteran), and other port battalion vets from Omaha Beach. My plan is to write a magazine article about the supply work at both of the American-controlled beaches in Normandy.

Monday, January 3, 2011

13th Major Port roster, part 1

Chapters 11 to 14 of my book deal with WWII Antwerp. In overall command of the American supply operations in this city was the 13th Major Port. The 13th has also been managing the port operations back in England during the build up to Normandy. John Partridge, a veteran officer of the 13th, supplied me with a 1946 unit roster. I'm including the names in this post to help those researching their family history. If you see your dad or grandfather in the list feel free to get in touch. Also, be sure to see my other 13th Port history articles.

Johnny C. Fricke • James L. Boyd • Doswell Gullat

John H. Sheely • Alfonso Lorona

John G. Calhoun • James R. Owen • P. L. Wells • Myron H. McAfee

Tony Diaz • Gustav Espen • Earl R. Flint • E. M. Florcyk • Jack K. Hansen • Scott O. Howatt • Charles H. Hurst • Orval R. Kual • Leonard Ledbetter • Francis R. MacDonald, Jr. • Herman E. Olave • Saul Ross • Hyman Silverman • Buford V. Smith • Charles F. Smurr • Charles R. Stapleton • Harol R. Weetman • Bernard S. Worst

Joseph A. Balmer • Floyd R. Byington • Thomas Lyden, Jr. • Leo F. O'Meara • George K. Talbot • Harry W. Zaleski

David B. Foresman • James A. Gooding • Thomas F. Massiano • Arnold D. Smarte • Francis L. Smith • Richard A. Steele • Roy Wilcutts

John A. Cook • Donald C. Dickinson

Marion P. Newton • Arthur R. Savage

Mites Berousek • Hughlon T. Brannon • Harry L. Boss • Edwin T. Bowden • Carl Charlick • Mathew F. Hennesy • Marvin Jones • Fredrik L. Knudsen, Jr. • Grady R. Morris • Russell A. Schopf

Harold L. Beamish • Charles Broj, Jr. • David R. Brower • Millard B. Doty • John L. Fox • Jesse E. Haddon • Mitchell G. Julinssen • John A. Lawhead • Albert M. Lavenau
Raymond F. Marrs • Robert J. Quinn • John R. Reilly • Glen Ruffner, Jr. • Cornelius Shanahan • Robert B. Schroyer • John F. Simmons • John Ursini • Dwight Winchester • Carl J. Wold • Donald H. Worthey

Carl E. Anderson • Louis F. Bradley • Robert E. Brenizer • Wesley Carroll • William F. Church • John G. Clerkin • Marvin F. Collins • Nicholas J. Connor • Albert H. DeHart • Robert O. Delp • Paul E. Doddridge • Wendell B. Donelson • Robert A. Fife • Paul E. Fink • Robert S. Fisher • Claude R. Floyd • Harold H. Gernon • John E. Hacker • Millard F. Hall • Robert D. Hardin • Robert B. Heath • Lyle J. Hill • Emmet M. Hough • Carl R. Humphrey • Norman E. Irelan • Gerald L. Jeffries • Delbert D. Johnston • Rex V. Keller • Bernard A. Lee • Arthur J. Lynch • Robert R. Maliszewski • Joseph A. McBane • John C. McDaniel • Jack B. McKinzie • Donald W. Miller • Harry E. Miller • Nelson G. Miller • William E. Miller • Richard G. Montgomery • Frank E. Nay • Wayne E. Parker • Jack E. Peek • Dwight H. Robbins • Rolland R. Rork • Adam A. Ruckregle, Jr. • Royal A. Sallee • Robert E. Schmidt • Dorman Sklarewitz • James E. Smith • Willis G. Smith • Max E. Stultz • Everet Trukock • Ronald G. Weir • Oscar J. Weber • Kenneth M. Williams

Claude E. Lane • Carl T. Malmstrom

Paul R. McMichael • William E. Mabry • Ralpf D. Gleason • John H. Arkenberg • Evans Ray

William G. Corcoran • Ralph Downs • John E. Eison, Jr. • Joseph L. Ethington • Bruce Fowler • Paul W. Fraysure • John B. Frounfelker • Joseph M. Heilman • John H. Johnson • Milton Kersey • Horace H. Knight • Charles J. Krekel • Jesse L. Meier • William J. Naber • John W. McClure • John W. Musselman • Boyd A. Pearce • Arthur E. Poland • James A. Riddell, Jr. • Cortes Schmidt • John B. Taylor • Richard H. Taylor • James W. Wadell • Rev. John J. Walsh (chaplain) • Robert E. Webb

Frank T. Davidson • Adolf F. Ressel

Frank P. Dobbins • Dell L. Mayse • Rev. John P. Young (chaplain)

Richard B. Carpenter • John W. Fillius • Raymond J. Heilman • Joseph L. Klingenberg • Abraham Meisel • Joseph F. Moore • Glen B. Olp • John W. Tottle • William T. Wilson

Richard M. Daley • David E. M. Duane • John C. Ferrante • John W. Forrester • Francis J. Haussler • William H. Harrison • Francis L. Kiley • Peter V. Pano • Felix P. Parcella • Byron S. Scilos • Wallace M. Snow

Leon V. Chaplin • Kenneth G. Davis • Clifford A. Eysinhart • Frank E. Graczyk • Santos L. Gutierrez • Roy D. Hiltunen • Alton D. Hoover • Lawrence Krieger • Leonard D. McNeill • Jack L. Sanderson • Joseph Schilmiller • William E. Stone

John R. Boyd • James Day • Cornell Jensen • Stephen W. Maiden • Wilbur F. McClean, Jr. • Edward W. Sears

Philip R. Ferris • Robert N. Kinnaird, Jr. • John J. Smith • Delmar J. Starr • Boyce L. Thweatt • Thomas C. Wilson, Jr.

John H. Argus • Cicil C. Van Booven • Donald Brewer • Dr. Hubert H. Earp • John D. Hare
William J. McCormick • Roger T. Rawlings • Laurence E. Saddler • Herbert G. Williams

Michael Cohen • Henry G. Longeon

Raymond P. Adams • Robert C. Ahearn • Frank Alber, Jr. • Edward P. Bannon • Richard M Bennert • John G. Beyersdorffer • John T. Bognar • Charles W. Bolden • Frank R. Bonacolta • Joseph A. Brescia • Francis N. Bruno • Edwin S. Cansdale • Leo F. Carroll • Sol J. Chasnoff • Benjamin H. Chodash • Sylvester J. Collyer • William J. Communale • Paul J. Chrisler • George W. DeLong • Edward F. Deptula • James Dickie • Francis E. Elliott • Francis J. Emerick • Carl W. Finn • Harry Glickman • Nathan Goodman • Frank C. Grausso • Fred C. Grill • Henry G. Gulick • John W. Hagedorn • Harry J. Haeffner, Jr. • Charles W. Hampshire • Gerhart H. Hansen • Robert M. Hansen • William Heitsche • Sidney Hertz • Fred E. Hill • Charles Hillabrant • Isidore Hornstein • John E. Jeffries • Ragner M. Johnson • Robert W. Johnson • George Karaffa • Leroy V. Kremen • Harold J. Kiehl • Alexander Koltowich • John L. Lee • Charles E. Lehr • Frank J. Luvera • George Lynch • Edwin E. MacElroy • William B. Maloney • Lenard H. Mandel • John D. McEwan • Edwin F. Meaney • Ray E. Moon • Frank E. Nealy • William O'Connor • George E. Paglia • Vincent Pandise • Ernest G. Pfranger • Albert W. Philopawez • Morton H. Pickering • Philip E. Pons • Harry Portnoff • Joseph R. Pouncey, Jr. • Floyd A. Preziosi • Herbert J. Reeves • Kenneth A. Rose • Irving Rosenfeld • Walter C. J. Rozycki • William R. Schultz • Arthur L. Schwartz • Chalres G. Sherer • John L. Stebner, Jr. • Guy C. Swan, Jr. • Harold C. Thompson • Frederick Tomer • Vito D. Valenti • Thomas W. Veach, Sr. • Stephen Visakay • Stanlay J. Walsh • Robert I. Weiner • Anthony P. Welsh, Jr. • Earl E. Wright • Robert H. Wurtz

Robert E. McKenzie • Richard D. Wilson

Note: Names from New York to Wisconsin will follow in a later post.