Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner in the 304th Port Co.

Dave Weaver (pictured at left) responded to my query about their Thanksgiving meal in Antwerp, 1944. Here's his email from Nov. 30, 2009:

"At Tampico Flats (Antwerp) our kitchens were up on the roof, using field kitchen equipment. Equipment and supplies were sent up to the roof on a dumbwaiter. A cook named Icenhauer [sic] from IL was killed loading supplies when crushed between the moving dumbwaiter and the brick enclosure.
The only time we ever got decent food was when unloading ships we could scrounge something to eat in the crews mess or the Navy gun crew mess. If we were lucky enough to be unloading PX or officers' supplies, of course we would break open [boxes] to sample candy bars, liquor, etc.!"

I must say I wasn't prepared for that disturbing news. Being crushed in an elevator accident somehow seems more tragic than being wounded by a German V-rocket. It's just so unexpected. I checked my records, and found a T/5 Richard M. Icenhower in the 303rd Port Company. Thankfully he wasn't killed by the accident. The battalion records show no deaths while in Antwerp, and a researcher found a death certificate for Richard Manuel Icenhower from 1950.

Irving Sugarman, also in the 304th Port Co, doesn't remember any kind of special Thanksgiving dinner in 1944. I knew the Army would not have provided anything approaching a family dinner, but I had thought that something a little special would have been dispensed to the troops—maybe some cranberry sauce, or canned turkey. Yet, the port of Antwerp had only recently been taken, the city was under V-Bomb attack, and there was lots of hard work to do. It just wasn't the time for holiday niceties.

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