I met Larry Parker, George's nephew, through our VI Corps Forum. Our friendship began after he left the following post:
I have always been a history buff and am especially interested in the Great Depression and WW 11. I knew my Uncle George was killed in the war and from what Mom said he was killed on some bridge in Germany. You see I now know that my Uncle was a proud member of the 341st Engineer General Sv Regt., Company A, and helped build the AlCan highway. Once that project was finished he got to come home on leave before undergoing more training and being sent on to England. He came ashore in France at Normandy a couple of weeks after D-Day and was trapped in the Battle of the Bulge for a time. At the time of his death he was helping make repairs to the Ludendorf Bridge at Remagen on March 17, 1945 when the bridge fell into the Rhine. His full name is was George N. Chandler from Texas he was a Tec 5 and his service no. was 38079495. His body is buried in Holland.
Just before Christmas last year I made contact with Mr. and Mrs Oberbeck. Mr. Oberbeck was a Captain and my Uncle George's Company Commander from Alaska to Germany. All I can say is wow. Mr. Oberbeck is 90 years young and as sharp as a tack. He and his wife are just great people and I have enjoyed our conversations.
If anyone has any information or would just like to chat I would be happy to hear or to help in any way.
Thanks for your time,
My Uncle George N. Chandler was raised on a cotton farm in North East Texas. When the War broke out he was not unlike many others who felt the call of his Country but also and maybe more importantly the call to adventure and enlisted in the Army early in 1942. After his training he was assigned to Company A 341st Engineer General Service Regiment. This Regiment was activated March 10, 1942 at Ft. Ord California and arrived at Dawson Creek Canada April 29 1942 to start construction on the AlCan highway out of Ft. St. John. Upon completion of their part of the highway the Regiment was sent to Camp Sutton N. C. August 5th 1943. My Uncle was granted a short leave en route. The Regiment was then staged at Camp Shanks N. Y. the 10th of October and departed New York October 21, 1943 on the USS Siboney and disembarked at Cardiff, Wales, England, on November 2nd 1943. The Regiment stationed it’s Companies at different locations throughout Southwest England where the men received additional training. Some operated an “Assault Battle Range” at Slapton sands until the invasion June 6th 1944.
The 341st landed at Utah Beachhead on June 23, 1943 and along with the 95th undertook the first ADSEC highway repairs performed on the Continent, beginning South of Cherbourg the 7th of July. Because of the experience on the AlCan they were well seasoned in road construction and to it went the difficult task of reconstructing N-13 running Southwest from Cherbourg to Valognes, and N-800 to Bricquebec. These roads were sorely needed to move men and supplies to the front. Not having all their equipment they improvised by using captured German equipment to assemble asphalt batching plants and a German cook wagon to heat tar. (1)
Following the breakout at St. Lo and the formation of Third Army on 1 August the 341st stayed close behind Third Army repairing roads around Periers and the narrow bottleneck in the Coutances-Avranches area. In Mid August the 95th and 341st mission changed from highway to railroad repair which had become a priority. On August 27th the group received an urgent mission to open immediately a single-track line between Rambouillet and Versailles, the first line into Paris. The day after completion Lt.Col Heilig of the 341st and his driver, Pvt. Harry Smith, were hailed by great crowds as the first Americans to enter Versailles on the heels of retreating Germans. (2)
Several Companies were trapped behind the lines for a short time when the Bulge started. Then Captain Oberberck, Commander of Company A recently told me that Company A was for a short time 3 miles in front of the infantry and had blocked a road with timbers in an attempt to slow the advance. Later that night they captured a small German patrol which they turned over to the infantry the next day. He said that was their only “Claim to fame”.
For the next three months I have very little information as to the mission or movements of the 341st except that my Uncle was among those trying to save the Remagen bridge when it fell into the Rhine March 17, 1945. He is buried in the Netherlands.
Campaigns: Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, Central Europe. Ended up in Mehlen Germany August 1945. (3)
(1) History 341st Engr GS rgt. 1944
(2) Itschner, “Reconstruction of W European Railroads”
(3) Order of Battle Shelby L. Stanton
Larry informed me that a gentleman named Nick Pieper, adopted George's grave this summer. Nick said,
"...Last week I got some interesting mail from the Department of the Army, Human resources Command. They sent me a disc with some digital documents about your uncle George..."
While it's wonderful to have additional information regarding George, the documents are nonetheless sobering and disturbing, since they deal with his death in Germany. Note: Many of the pages were scanned on both sides.
Margraten Cemetery - Netherlands
Here are some additional links of interest: