HISTORY

606 ARMY ENGINEER CAMOUFLAGE BATTALION

COMPANY "B" HISTORY

This is a verbatim transcription of what is on the back of the map.
You may click here to go to the history for Company  "A"   "C"   "D"  or Headquarters & Service Co
or the more serious history for the battalion as a whole.

  
     “Baker Company, let’s go” a loud voice was shouting in the darkness as we staggered down the gang plank one night at the end of January ‘45.  Those who opened their eyes against the freezing wind caught a few glimpses of shuttered windows strange-reading signs like “Bijoutrie” & “Patisserie” as the headlights of the open trucks swung down narrow streets.  But for most the first view of Europe revealed endless rows of pyramidal tents, flapping or collapsing, empty, snow melting on the ground.  The chills and frost-bites disappeared slowly that day from the battalion’s feet and hands.  Somehow we had fumbled our way into a newly set-up receiving tent camp, the wrong tents, to be sure, but the right camp anyway.

     After the first month of mud and rain in Camp Lucky Strike we moved to the comparative luxury of a nineteen-room chateau in Les Grandes Ventes.  While at the chateau we cleared timber from bombed out V-Bomb sites.  James saw to it that good American apple pie came out of the old French kitchen.

     With the aid of Gagney, Betit, and Gold we learned enough French to bargain with the local “merchants”.

     When we first took over the chateau it had no plumbing or lighting facilities.  Sgt. Dunn put electricity in every room, Slifko installed a four-head shower, and some unnamed heroes dug the all-important plumbing fixtures.  Carpenters Clayton and Gosink gasve this lat item deluxe appointments.

     It was here also that the company acquired its first non T.O. weapon.  It took eighht machine guns from a wrecked American bomber to make one good fifty caliber.  The new gun doubled the automatic weapon fire power of the company.  Sgt. Evans and Lt. McRae did most of the work on the gun.

     The artists of the company had a field day when spring came.  Lt. Glass and Sgt. Liberi recorded many scenes from the surrounding country in excellent water colors.

     Vosburgh added his expert touch to the flowers already in our yard, and improved them considerably.  

     All this time the rumors were coming thick and fast from a certain spot out in the back corner of our garden.  

     When the drivers were sent to Brussels to pick up our trucks we knew that we would soon head for Germany .  It was on this trip that hard luck first started hounding Satierfield.  “Slats” caught pneumonia from the ride to Brussels and spent several weeks in the hospital.

      Soon after we got our trucks we got orders to move to Munchen-Gladbach by way of Charleroi , Belgium , and Maastrich, Holland .

      The transition form “oui” to “ja” was not too difficult, but it didn’t matter anyway since the non-frat policy discouraged the study of German.

      From M. Glabach we moved on to better looting in Bielefeld and Depot twenty.  Here headquarters platoon took over its duties with another depot company.

     After one day of rest the line platoons moved on to other parts.  The first and third platoons went to Dorstend to run a depot at the Ruhr pocket.  In their spare time they collected what is probably the greatest collection of foreign weapons every gathered by such a small unit. It was here that Olsavski seriously injured his hand and had to be evacuated.  It was a tough break for the company as well as for Olsavski.

     The second and fourth platoons went to Oschersleben where they ran Depot No. 21 for units trying to maintain a bridge across the Elbe near Magdeburg .  For the first two weeks they lived almost entirely on K-rations.  During this period they loaded more trucks with more bridge equipment than the average Pfc. has ever seen.

     Lapierre, who also speaks French displaced a motor bike from a displaced Frenchman.  Lainhart and Perrone acquired musical instruments, and furnished entertainment.  Klein, Rowzee, Deacon Jones, and Adams kept up the morale as usual.  Molovinski and Prata maintained close contact with the Polish village, while Glaser, Chandler , O’Meara and Aleka led a more staid life in and around the depot.  Long and Bradley put out their shares of work, and then put down their several shares of German beer.  Serpa, that Jack of all trades took over a German forge unit and kept the crane rigs in good shape.  James and Johnson dished out the K’s and also cooked the deer.  Hollenger soon had the company’s largest collection of trophies.  La Berge, Madison, and Koblinski kept the Autobahn hot driving back and forth to Bielefeld .

     Captain Havill came up to see how things were going, and then with Ward and Angier  drove over to Magdeburg .  If they hadn’t kept as carefully abreast of the news and the exact position of the Army’s front lines that week as they usually did, they were quickly straightened out with a first-rate class in orientation.  Our bombers reached Madgeburg that morning just after the “B” Company jeep.  Just after that the jeep left fast.  Then the rest of the day, this self-appointed spearhead watched the taking of Madgeburg from a nearby hilltop.  

     Soon after V-E day the company reassembled in the drafty halls of Depot 20, where Contreras was still dishing out the details.  Life in “Outside storage” was by this time brightened with a few American touches, Gold’s pink and blue theatre with the hot and cold running dressing rooms, Lt. Myhrum’s “Café Noir” for officers and painted poles, and the new day room where liquor was rationed with small success at the Swiss Cheese Bar (closed during duty hours).  Bing & Sudvarg hunted all day long for a pretty slippery  crew of Germans on the police detail.  Sgt. Addy and Hirneise left the trails of the supply business just long enough to celebrate the liberation of Holland with the Hollanders.   Keller operated the largest beanery of his career. 

    Those who came back from Dorsten tell of the midnight ride of Phelps and Vosburg on a motorcycle.  It was said that Dunn and Chicken Meeds had liberated several trophies from Dusseldorf some time before Dusseldorf , itself, was liberated.  Gamblin’ Guimont and Bedbug Gillam justified their nicknames by indulging in their favorite sports.

     Most of us still wonder why Mayall never mailed any of those letters hhe wrote; he surely wrote enough of them.  When all the scores were in it was found that Platt, Marusiak, and Robison had as large collections of things for Betit to send home as anyone; nice weapons, too.  All reports indicated that Clark and Basso were providing enough better-than-average food to sustain all of this extra-curricular activity.

     Lt. Bangs came into possession of such a number of weapons and cameras during this period that he had a very respectable amount of baggage upon leaving Europe .

    At Korbach, a small and very ancient town, the Bn. came back together for the first time since we left Lucky Strike.  Here, in the style to which we would like to be accustomed, we lived in a modern suburb, each platoon with its own two-story house and each house with its garden and big, ripe strawberrys. Trotta added his last snapshots to a sizeable collection of views of the Reich.  Eckberg had some photos, too.  There was a company partly occasioned by the departure of Ward and Meeds, the first men to leave on points.  It was a very successful party; Barker, Lumpkin, Hanwell, and Contreras were particularly successful; Addy, as a paratrooper, less so.  Fortunately Van der Horn and Pekar,  retained enough of a grip on the situation to see everyone back to the billets.

    Our departure from Korbach was sudden.  One long night of loading out all the equipment and we headed back toward Lucky Strike.  On this trip our only fatality occurred when Holly was killed in a truck that skidded on a slippery pavement and hit a tree.

    Back at Lucky Strike there was a week of long chow-lines, drafty tents and the long hike down to the latrine.  We left in the dark and early hours for Le Havre ; this time the truck t rip was not as cold as another we remembered.  The. S. S. General Gordon was a welcome sight, and going up the gangplank was a better feeling than the coming down to this same dock had been sic months before.  She was much larger than the Santa Maria .  This was good too, for she carried us nicely thru the two-day hurricane that climaxed our return voyage.  Betit was sick again.  But the last day out was calm; evening, and orange sky, plowing up the harbor between New port News and Norfolk .  Was it at Newport News or Norfolk that we landed?  Who cars?  Home, for thirty days, July, 1945.

 

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