HISTORY

606 ARMY ENGINEER CAMOUFLAGE BATTALION

COMPANY "D" 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"   "B"   "C" or Headquarters & Service Co
or the more serious history for the battalion as a whole.


    
After being in France for a couple of weeks and slopping around in the mud at Camp Lucky Strike, Company D promoted a little deal.  In exchange for the sweat of honest toil we were billeted in a chateau in Torcy le Petit.  The chateau was about a fifteen minute walk from the nearest café, presided over by a winsome French maid named Christine.  Here Sgt. Johnston displayed his ability as a carpenter by building a table for Christine.  He was the butt of many jokes as we watched him work, but the last laugh was his, for the cognac which cost us many francs was his for the asking.

     Passes to Dieppe were frequent, and the Celtic Bar became the favorite stopping place for some of our men.  One day Sgt. Sprankle and Sgt. Zala ran into Lt. Naughtin and Lt. Wilkeson there, and after a series of rounds prevailed upon the proprietress to get them some food.  She was very obliging, and in a short time returned with four plates of meat which she assured them was beefsteak.  It was then they had their first experience with horse meat “a la filet mignon.”

     After almost a month at Torcy, we were ordered to Germany for our first assignment.  We were all elated at being the first company of the battalion to be committed to action.  Our first night on the road was spent at Charleroi , Belgium , where no preparation hhad been made for our coming.  The problem was solved by some very obliging young ladies who had been persuaded by Lt. Brice’s fluent French and charming personality to get us some billits.  It was very amusing to see a young lady followed by a half-dozen dirty tired soldiers, carrying bedrolls and packs, marching down the street.  At each house the young lady would knock and arouse the occupants.  Then she would ask them how many “soldats” they could accommodate.  She never asked them if they could take us in, only how many.  These people opened their hearts and homes to us.  When Sgt. Morgan, in his “G. I. Book” of French asked his hostess if it was possible to take a bath, she immediately began frying eggs for him.  He never did have much faith in the book after that.

      Our first assignment at the front was to camouflage the equipment and materiel in preparation for the crossing of the Rhine River .  The British, after long experience, had become experts at living off the land.  We were quick to follow their example.  However, we went even further, and added insult to injury, when Pfc. Berube not only obtained some chickens from a German farmer, but also convinced him to kill and dress them.  Unfortunately for the farmer, a pig strolled around the barn at an opportune moment and was added to our larder.  The 3rd and 4th platoons, who had been assigned to the 30th Corps, were fortunate in that they were working in cattle country.  Veal steaks were the order of the day.

      The men all acquitted themselves well while working under fire, and we were fortunate to suffer only one casualty.  This occurred when Sgt. Wood discovered that “hitting the dirt” didn’t evade low flying shrapnel.

     Our next assignment was to work with the artillery which was engaged in reducing the Ruhr Pocket.  We were billeted in the town of Osterath , half of which had been cleared of civilians.  This part of the town offered great opportunities for souvenir hunting.  Cycling became a favorite sport, for bicycles were plentiful.  A little excitement was added one night when snipers took a few pot shots at T/5 Lehn, who was on guard.  The snipers were dispersed when Capt. De Lucia led a small patrol against them.

     Our next move was to Idar-Oberstein, where we set up and operated a Corps Map Depot and Sign Shop.  We were very fortunate in obtaining excellent billets in the form of two apartment houses that had been formerly occupied by the families of German officers who had been attending a Gestapo School there.  Our Map Depot and Sign Shop were set up in a large Hitler Youth building..  From the roof of the building where the sign shop was located, our painters spent many happy hours studying the anatomy of the frauleins who practiced sun bathing on a high cliff across the river. It was in this town that the fraternization ban came in for thorough discussion by the members of the company, for the frauleins offered considerable temptation.  Lt. Naughtin, on the prowl for fraternizers, flushed a covy in a nearby building one day.  The building, however, had too many exits, and he was unable to bag his game. The result was a lecture by Capt. De Lucia after duty hours, on the evils of fraternizing.  Work was easy and life was pleasant, for at that time for confiscation of German liquors became legal, and we came in for our share of the spoils.  Our life was made easier when we engaged five Russian displaced women to do our laundry and KP.  Sgt. Crannell displayed extraordinary taste in selecting these women.  He made certain that they were efficient rather than sightly.

      After the war ended, we were ordered to Isselhhorst, where we joined C Company.  Having no specific duties, we spent most of our time engaged in athletics.  The evenings were devoted to the beer garden, jointly operated by C and D Companies.  The beer garden was the scene of much revelry, and without a doubt added greatly to the pleasure of our stay.

     Shortly thereafter, we were ordered to Korbach, where for the first time since February, the battalion was assembled as a unit.  Here for the first time too, the unity of D Company’s “Big Three” was disrupted.  This was brought on by Sgt. Brueck’s refusal to share the spoils of was with his cohorts.  A fatal break was avoided when the incident of the locked door was satisfactorily explained to Sgts. Sprankle and Zala.  After a short stay at Korbach we were ordered to return to Camp Lucky Strike, where we were processed for that most welcome boat ride home.

 

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