James R Bird, 45th Infantry Division

I received an email from James Bird in early April of 2005. He introduced himself as a friend of Russ Weiskircher and Albert Panebianco, also fellow veterans of the 45th Inf Div. He was an artillery veteran of all eight campaigns including Anzio, and has been involved with the Anzio Beachhead Veterans Association for more than fifteen years. He also relayed that during many of the reunions he has had a chance to meet veterans of the 36th Combat Engineers.

Below are James' extensive recollections of his years spent during and after the war and are based on his personal memories, his previous memoirs and the written history of the great 45th, the Thunderbirds.

Please take a pause from your day to read his history and I guarantee you will walk away with a little more knowledge, a better understanding of the war and a fine appreciation for the man that lived to tell his tale.


I regret to inform everyone of Jim's passing. He will always be remembered. My condolences to his family and to the men who fought beside him. I shall miss you.




Long ago and far way.
A skein of recollections by
James R Bird
57 Bella Road
Lumberton NJ 08048 4301
Formerly of the
45th Infantry Division in WW II
[See addendum 6]

TOM CLANCY, “If it’s not written down it never happened.”
“Quod on in actis. non est mundo.” Anything not written down is nonexistent.
“Scripta manet,” what is written down endures.
“Armies are strange human societies-ruthless, wholly self contained, creating derisive legends and folk tales as they tramp along toward death and destiny.” Bruce Catton.
“That he which hath not stomach to this fight,
Let Him depa’t... We would not die in this man’s company
that fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day and comes home safe
Will stand a-tiptoe when this day is named
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day and see old age
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors
And say “Tomorrow is St. Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say, These wounds I had on Crispian’s Day.”
Old men forget, yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day...This story shall the good man
Teach his son, From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered -
We few we happy few, we band of brothers.
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother...
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap while any speaks
That fought with us upon St. Crispian’s Day.” William Shakespeare


(WW II war memories) are based on;
1. Personal recollections, many came to the surface of my mind like frost heaved stones in a New England pasture
2. Writings from my previous letters letters and reports
3. Excerpts from books and records (see addendum 1 & 2)
4. Items may not be in sequential order since I did not record them as they occurred.
5. Related web sites on the 45th Infantry division: (11 Aug. 03)

www.45thinfantrydivision.com - (Al Panebianco's site)

I thank God, and ever grateful that I was able to go through the war with Battery A 160th field Artillery Battalion, 45th Infantry (Thunderbird) Division. The core of this division were mostly from Oklahoma, but the states of Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico made great contributions to this Division. Many American Indians from at least twenty tribes from the South West were members of it. From whichever state these men came from, they were highly trained citizen soldiers who wanted to “get the job done” and go home. At the end of the war in Europe General George S. Patton, Jr told us, “The 45th is one of the best, if not actually the best division in the History of American Arms.”
By the end of the war, members of this battalion had been awarded three Distinguished service Crosses, three Legion of Merit Medals, twenty-seven Silver Stars, one Soldiers Medal, eighty-one Bronze Stars, one distinguished Flying Cross, nine Air Medals, ten Air Medal Oak Leaf Clusters, one-hundred-ninety-eight Purple Hearts, one Military Medal (British), and ten given battlefield appointments to 2nd Lt.
Summation: I spent three and half years in the army, two and one half years overseas and survived more than five hundred days of combat through eight campaigns (Sicily, Naples - Foggia a.k.a. Salerno, Anzio, Rome - Arno, Southern France, Ardennes - Alsace, Rhineland, and Central Europe.) Awarded a silver Star and two Purple Hearts.

PEARL HARBOR Sunday December 7th 1941 -M Monday 8 December 1941 - Philadelphia PA, summarily rejected at navy, coast guard and air corps recruiting stations because I was wearing glasses.

FT DIX NJ Four months to the day after Pearl Harbor, on April 7th 1942
I was inducted and processed into the army at Ft. Dix NJ. I have little memory of that experience, but that my first meal in the army was ground meal(?) in white gravy on toast.
FT BRAGG NC Trained in the use of surveying instruments, range finders, slide rules used for triangulation and ballistics, and minimal operations of the French 75mm field gun and the 105mm gun/howitzer. A Lt. Shaeffer (son of my high school English teacher) was the CO of our training unit.

FAYETTEVILLE NC was the closest town to ft. Bragg. The Victory Grill was operated by the family of one of my Italian classmates and we spent a lot of time there. Another GI watering hole was the Town Pump. At that time both the 9th Infantry Division and the 82nd Airborne Division were based at Ft. Bragg. Camel Cigarettes had an ad on the back of many magazines depicting a paratrooper coming down in a parachute with a balloon stating “Geronimo! I love Camels.” One day a GI from the 9th Division called out in an effeminate voice, “Geronimo! I love Camels” and the s*** hit the fan. GIs from both the 9th and 82nd created a riot - even the fire company was called out to hose them down.

After a train ride in ancient passenger cars from the late 1800s from Ft. Bragg to Camp Sutton I joined the 141st FA Battalion at Monroe NC. This was a unit of the Louisiana National Guard from New Orleans LA known as the Washington Artillery.
We lived in squad tents and used sleeping bags, went to Ft Bragg NC to use the artillery range. Ancient Schneider French 155mm single trail guns were still in use. we were using old ammunition left over from WW I, including shells filled with round balls.

Each payday the mess sgt. collected $.50 from each person and sent back to New Orleans for Cajun French condiments to dress up our food.

We went to Pageland SC to a rifle range. Located at a local cross road intersection near there was a beer hall with a sign over the bar - OUR BEER IS FULL OF VITAMIN P.
The 141st FA Bn moved to Florida, but we still lived in tents. After a few weeks there I was selected to go to Officers Training School (OCS) at Camp Davis. NC. I didn’t last long and was transferred to the 78th Infantry division at Camp Butner NC.

78th Infantry division, Camp Butler NC. I was in an infantry unit for about two months and then transferred to Headquarters. 109th FA Bn, 28th Infantry Division at Camp Gordon Johnson FL.

Spent several months with the 28th Division taking amphibious training and survived a hurricane. One Saturday morning,1st/Sgt. French called me and several others out and said, “Pack up your leaving.” Several truck loads of men from the 28th Infantry Division were taken to the railroad station in Tallahassee FL and sent north to Camp Picket, Blackstone VA.

CAMP PICKET VA We were absorbed by the 45th Infantry Division, and I was assigned to A Battery 160th FA Bn, and within a few weeks we went to Camp Patrick Henry, Newport News VA for embarkation.

NEWPORTNEWS VA LTC Jess Larsen, commander of the 160th Artillery battalion made a rousing speech that was too bombastic revealing he was too full of himself.
We loaded on the APA12, USS Leonard Wood, a former American Fruit Co. ship, this ship was crewed by Coast Guard officers and sailors. It was a long zig zag trip with large convoy arriving at Oran, North Africa sometime in June.

On the trip over two things happened to me that were lodged in my memory. One of our sgts. helped some members of the ship’s crew distill alcohol from fermented garbage. On one occasion he came back to our compartment at night drunk and chucked up all over me. A fight started, luckily I couldn’t find my trench knife other wise he would have been dead and me in the clink. Some time later after invading Sicily we became fairly good friends. One night I awoke with a very painful earache and went to the ship’s dispensary for help. A Navy doctor diagnosed my problem as otitis media and lanced the infection - what a relief and what a stink.

We wore the same OD wool clothes a 100% of the time - even sleeping in them - we also wore a deflated life belt at all times - to inflate them a trigger was squeezed to release CO2 from two cartridges.

We were fed twice a day - I don’t remember what else was served, but baked beans were dispensed every time. Our sleeping quarters were very tight and confined - so sometimes “ bean gas” was overwhelming.

I don’t know when we arrived at Oran in June, but we left port on the 5th of July in preparation of invading Sicily on the 10th. General George Patton was in command.

About 1960 I attended a dinner meeting of weights and measure officials in New York City. The discussion got around to WW II when some of us related experiences and I learned one of my table mates, Rhinehardt Hoffman had been the executive officer on the Leonard Wood, he told me they eventually ended up in the Pacific area.


On the way in to the beach in a small landing craft loaded we entered via rope nets, one of the sergeants ask the executive officer (XO) Lt. H. Vanderhoof, “should we load our weapons now?

A Battery 160 FA Bn was recorded as the first allied artillery unit on shore in the invasion, and the first to fire against the German army. Privates Jerry Boyles and Leo Bell (both country/western guitar playing prairie troubadours) were the first of our comrades to die - they never made it off the beach because of a mine.

The first night we slept in a vineyard, the next morning two buddies couldn’t get up. One of our medics, ‘Doc’ Hunkler (he had been a pharmacists before being drafted) examined them and called the battalion doctor and told him he thought these men had meningitis. The doctor arrived and confirmed the diagnosis, two observation planes were sent and landed on the road and took them aboard - we never saw them again but the medics took our temperatures for several days.

Later on, I was eating grapes and chewed down too hard on a grape seed and compressed a filling. I was able to find an army dentist who had a drill powered by a GI pedaling a wheel. What a relief when he got that filling out.

Some time later LTC Larsen left and Major John Embry assumed command. Later after the war Colonel John Embry compiled a history of the 160th Field Artillery Battalion. (Available at the 45th Division Museum, Oklahoma City, OK)


A small Sicilian town with a warehouse filled with barrels of white wine. this was a highly potent wine used to fortify other wines and almost lethal to drink straight, this wine was highly “potent” and made many GIs sick.


This town was the center for Italian Brown Shirts. It had been bombed by Allied aircraft and severely damaged - the stink of death was prominent.


This was a mountain top town and accessed by an old Roman road, it was made in steps and we were barely able to get our gun trucks ups this ancient road, but we were able to fire into the back door of German defenders. Some old men in this village were retired railroad workers and had worked on the Pennsylvania RR, Reading RR and the New York Central RR and brought out ancient bag pipes and played old tunes for us. I learned from the locals that Roman soldiers had brought bag pipes with them to Sicily from Persia hundreds of years before.

Sometime during the Sicilian campaign we heard German radio programs and learned about the song Lili Marlene (see addendum 6). We soon picked it up and some of us also learned the German words. It became one of the most popular war songs ever. We also had a few prairie troubadours, guitarists, accordionists and a violinist - some of their songs on our battery hit parade were Sweet Fern, Down in the Valley So Low; One Dozen Roses, Jingle Jangle Jingle, No letter Today, Love Letters in the Sand and You Are My Sunshine.


One of my buddies left Palermo as a young teenager. He took some of us to a family restaurant where we were served brown spaghetti with either a chopped squid or octopus sauce. I’ve never again seen brown spaghetti, but it was good.

We saw Bob Hope and Frances Langford twice - both times riding from Termini Emerese, we went through thunder storms and were soaked to the skin.


There is an ancient Italian army barracks on the water front where I spent two weeks as a POW guard of both Italian and German prisoners of war. Of course the Italians were very friendly, but the Germans were stoical. Each evening the Italians had a song fest which was always enjoyable. Any visitor to Sicily and gets to Cefalu must visit the church and see the mosaics and a white marble statue inside. (see addendum 3)

Shortly after the campaign ended, General Patton spoke to a large ‘congregation of Thunderbird officers and non-coms and told them ”...Your Division is one of the best if not the best division in the history of American arms. I love every bone in your f****** heads....”


I learned there was a long standing agreement between enemies in the Mediterranean area for centuries not to cut down any of these trees because they are very slow growing. I’ve since learned olive trees are evergreen, the fruit doesn’t ripen all at once and that there are quite a few varieties.


We landed at Paestum in the dark of night - someone asked, "Anybody here from NJ?" Years later at a YMCA, in Paterson, NJ a group of us were “talking war stories.” The odds were tremendous, but one of the men there was the GI who asked the question and learned he served in the 36th Infantry Division.


We were backed into a lemon grove behind a willow brake along the Sele River and hit hard by some German tanks. We lost one gun and a few trucks, were almost out of 105mm ammunition when the tanks turned around and left.


Went to the beach with a group to get 105mm ammunition, I had the “GIs” and was ready to go to the toilet on the beach when red alert was sounded so went to a sand bag bunker. While in the bunker I had an “accident” and when the red alert was over, I stripped down and was sloshing my pants in the surf - a sgt. called to me and and told me he had extra clothes, and put them on. Several years after the war I learned Sgt. Lee, the husband of a class mate, Charlotte Coe was the GI who gave me the pants.


October - Wesley Bell and myself went reconnoitering for eggs/chickens and found a spring house near a farm. We looked inside and saw a jerry can sitting in the water. Wes opened the can and found it filled with wine - this was completely out-of-place so we attached a rope to a handle and pulled on it from out side the building - a resulting explosion lifted the roof completely off the spring house.

In the battles up on the Volturno River there were never enough forward observers (FOs), so sgts. were used and in one case a FO was PFC Lonnie Johnson. Lonnie was later given a field commission to 2nd Lt. along with two others from my battery.

On one occasion hot food was brought up to us in thermal cans. The cans were dispersed in a line along a dry water course and the Germans caught onto what we were doing and shelled us. No one was injured but our food was loaded with gravel and junk thrown about by the explosions. A few days later a German chow line was observed , the fire direction center remembered our being shelled and assigned the new target to our battery. We put out hearts into ‘delivering mail’ to those Germans I have no recollection of what damage we may have done to them.

A Sgt. Tate was in charge of two half tracks assigned to our battery for anti-aircraft
protection. Each unit had four 50 cal. machine guns mounted in a turret. One afternoon several German planes flew over us quite high and disappeared behind a mountain. Each of these half tracks always had at least one crewman on the turret at all times. Tate called for full crews, and in addition a few of our men manned the single 50 cal. gun ring mounted on our own 6 x 6 trucks and waited. Four German fighter planes came back at us through a notch in the mountain thinking they would catch us with our pants down. Our barrage caught them flat footed - two were hit and crash landed several miles down the valley from us.
On one occasion Nisei troops moved up through us - what a spiffy bunch they were - still
wearing tailored uniforms. Any who came through when our kitchen crew was working were fed - a few of them volunteered to be on our gun crews for a short time - they got a big kick out of it.

For a period of time in the Italian mountains water was in short supply so we let our beards
grow, mine came in red and curly. A week or so after the beards became noticeable a one star general came through the area and complained loudly that if we had a gas attack we couldn’t wear gasmasks properly and ordered us to shave. Shave we did, but he didn’t know we had discarded our gasmasks long before.

One rainy day Vince Miller and I were sitting on a log, facing each other eating a meal and each of us complained at the same time the other was kicking up mud. Actually it was a stream of spent 50 cal. bullets from a distant anti aircraft unit landing between us.


On one occasion two truck loads of us went down to Naples from Venafro for a day and were required to check the trucks into a MP compound and were given receipts. When we returned one of the trucks was missing and the MP in charge said, “Tough s***.” We scouted around and found an unattended navy truck painted in gray and “took title to it.” This truck had a full cab and ours were open cabs equipped with a 50 cal. machine gun ring mount. The next morning the truck had been painted OD with the regular truck numbers etc. painted on the bumpers. When Captain Brown saw it he just looked hard at it for a few minutes, but never said a word. Some time later the motor sgt. was able to swap it for a regular artillery truck.
Another time some our crew was picked up in Naples “without wearing ties” and taken into custody. When the word came back to the battery Lt. Vanderhoof gave me his flat cap with a bar on it and sent me and another buddy to Naples to get them. I signed them out as Lt. ‘Joe Doakes’ and we never heard another word.


Armistice Day - 11 November 1943. During the night of November 10/11, I was part of a group of 14 - 15 GIs who went up a mountain to establish an artillery (OP) east of Cassino. Late in the afternoon we were shelled hard and I was seriously wounded, my buddy, Pvt. John F. Anderson was killed. Our first born son was named John Anderson Bird, he was born on Christmas 1950 and died in an accident on Easter 1980.

I was brought down from the mountain unconscious and woke up in a field collection station, was transferred to 38th Evacuation Hospital where multiple shell fragments were removed. Taken to the 300th General Hospital in Naples and prepared for shipment to North Africa. Arrived in Ferryville, Tunisia and handed over to the 37th General Hospital where I recuperated. The 38th Evac. was much like M*A*S*H - The tents were ‘holy’ and leaked like a sieve, so they covered us with shelter halves, the folding wood and canvas cots sank down into the mud to the cross members - some nurses put bowls of coffee along side us and gave us a short rubber hose to suck up coffee as much as we wanted. We soon learned to be frugal with coffee because you couldn’t get quick attention when your bladder filled up.
While at the 300th General Hospital I was able to write a letter home telling about my circumstances - fortunately, my letter arrived at my home a day before my mother and father received a telegram from the army on December 9th 1943 informing them I had been severely wounded.


The 37th General Hospital was a tent-city affair with gravel streets and board walks, the tents were heated with small liquid fuel stoves.

One of our tent mates lost both feet from a shell explosion. A new “young” nurse was assigned to our ward and learned he had been a military policeman and commented, “I didn’t know MPs got that close to the front. She was told in no uncertain terms that he had been a division MP and was controlling traffic at an intersection when Germans shelled the cross road and a shell landed at his feet. He was from Punxitawny PA and was known forevermore as “Groundhog.”

Our Christmas turkey dinner caused everyone in the hospital including the staff to become very ill because the turkeys had spoiled - we all were ‘going’ at both ends. Former Italian soldiers were brought in some of these Cobees (cobeligerents) walked around the area with burlap bags containing lime to shake on the ‘brown spots’ on the ground.

A badly burned tank crewman was brought into our ward and curtained off. Another tent mate started to complain about the stinking odor. Immediately we told the complainer to shut up and pray for the poor guy. When we woke up the next morning the burned patient was gone.

One of the other patients in my ward was an enlisted man in the 3rd Division. He was known as “Frenchy” from upstate Maine. We up and asked him why he had enlisted instead of waiting to be drafted. He told us he and a cousin were blowing out stumps on his uncle’s farm and decided to see what would happen if they put a stick of dynamite up a bull’s ass. They did, the bull blew up both drove south in a hurry to Portland and enlisted.
Later, when able to navigate I was able to go to Carthage with a group of GIs. Nothing there in the way of buildings etc. but the local guide brought ancient history alive.
The navy had a facility at Ferryville and I quickly learned I could eat there provided you were wearing a white navy hat and told the ‘checker’, “receiving ship.” There were three chow lines, beef, ham and fish - take your choice. I could "eat high on the hog" at the navy mess hall, no matter how you were dressed you could eat if you wore a white navy hat.


I returned to the unit in April 1944, our battery clerk met me at the landing and the first words out of his mouth were, “Jim did you know you were a F•••••• hero?” He told me I had been awarded a Silver Star. Within a day or so mail was catching up to me and it included a newspaper clipping from home which announced to my neighbors back home, that I had been awarded the Silver Star.

The epithet “rear echelon commandos” did not exist on the beachhead of Anzio - everybody on site and off-shore were vulnerable.

About this period of time I think we started to be supplied with “proximity” fuses. These fuses were designed to explode the artillery shell about thirty feet above ground as it was landing. These fuses were seventy percent effective, that is seven out of ten exploded as designed, some only when they hit the ground and the rest at the top of the apogee as they began their down hill drop. It was quite a sight at night to see a few exploding way up in the sky as they began to fall. Later in life I met one of the inventors, Dr. Alan Astin at the National Bureau of standards and Col. Alfred J. Reese, who as a sgt. at Aberdeen Proving Grounds assisted in the testing of these fuses. (See addendum 3.)


Fifth Army Commander General Mark Clark's vainness was costly. Instead of shutting off all avenues of retreat for the Germans he wanted to be regarded and photographed as the “liberator” of Rome. Consequently, many German soldiers escaped north to fight us again.
I hitched hiked a ride on a donkey cart into Rome and was left off at the Italian War Memorial and gawked at it for a few minutes then headed off to St. Peters Cathedral.

I was walking through St. Peters ogling the place when a priest beckoned to me and several other GIs and we went into a small alcove. A few minutes later a jeep stopped nearby and we were herded to it and old man stood up. It was Pope Pious, who spoke to us - I don’t remember a word he said or if it was even in English.

A short time later MPs were garnering all 45th ID people and sending them back to their units because we were moving south to prepare for the invasion of southern France.

While we stationed and trained in the area preparing for the invasion of Southern France some of us had the opportunity to fly in small bombers. As I recall the unit was a Tennessee National Guard unit with A20 attack bombers manned by a three man crew. They were flying low level bomb runs to Civitavecchia, a rail yard. When doing pattern bombing three planes would fly in formation and the bombardier in the first plane would tell the others when to drop their bombs. Some of us were allowed to sit in the vacant bombardier seat and go for the ride. Once was enough for me because there were no fox holes to crawl into when anti aircraft fire erupted.

A few years ago a bus load of we Anzio veterans were touring the Citadel in Charleston SC and the tour guide was expansive about General Mark Clark being buried on the campus. He was shocked and nonplused when we told him in no uncertain terms how we despised him as the Commander of the Fifth Army in Italy.


I arrived at Ste. Maxime on a (LCI) landing craft infantry with the 179th IR combat team and the first thing that ‘hit me between the eyes’ was a dead girl (probably a teenager) lying face down in the road. Her whole back was blown out and we could see through to the front part of her rib cage.


We were set up as battalion combat teams and drove north with a light observation airplane flying back and forth ahead of us. Whenever they located a target we would be notified - two 105mm guns were pulled off on each side of the road and ‘centered’ on a church steeple etc. and fired the mission and then a (CSMO) and moved on. On one such occasion we were stopped near a small quarry, Cpl. Jamison went behind a rock with his shovel etc. when he came out he had a gaggle of 23 Germans from several units. They were waiting for Americans because they did not want to be taken by French FFI.

On one ‘pit stop’ as we headed north a canal was on the left side of the road with a retaining wall of cut stone. I was ‘flaked out’ on the wall when a ‘condition red’ warning came down the line. By reflex action I rolled to the left and fell into the canal. When I was able to get out I found that had I stayed on the wall or rolled to the right into the road I would have been chopped up by a steam of bullets.

The battalion combat team stopped one night in the middle of a small farming village - when supplies were brought up, a few infantry replacements came with it. One of these new men was placed on guard duty on one of the night shifts. A group of Germans with a few trucks and a tank came through the village going north. Unofficial policy was to let groups like this go through knowing they would be picked up later. The newbie stepped out in back of the tank as it went through the one street village and fired a bazooka at it. The tank was disabled and a shard came back and hit the kid in the arm - less than a day in combat he bagged a tank, a wound and a Purple Heart.

Along the way north we came across a girls’ boarding school where everyone had been evacuated. There was a spring fed pond containing trout - enough trout were ‘liberated’ with an explosive for everyone to have fried trout for supper.


We moved into this town late one afternoon with the supposition it had been cleared. The next morning some Germans attacked but were overwhelmed by an infantry unit - a few shells lit it near us but not close enough to do any damage.


In a letter from my mother, she mentioned my youngest brother was somewhere near me in the 3rd Army. We were in a static situation for a few days so asked 1st/Sgt. Drigo if could go and look him up. Permission was granted provided I took a buddy along. Wesley Bell and I headed north crossing over from the 7th Army into the 3rd Army to find Tom. 3rd Army MPs were notorious for nit-picking so whenever we saw one we went right up to him asking for directions etc. - in fact the first night out 3rd army MP’s provided us with a place to sleep and breakfast the next morning. At that time both of us were replicas of Mauldin’s cartoon characters Willie & Joe, each of us toting an M1 Garand rifle.

We found Tom and his unit that morning and had a social time with him, we left the next morning. Tom’s company commander told him he could use a jeep to take us back to our unit - which was much faster than the trip out.


Apparently, this town was a hard nut to crack - so a (TOT) time on target by more than twenty-five artillery battalions was laid on it. I believe this was one of the largest TOT’s in our part of the war. The next morning Sarreguemines was just a pile of broken bricks - but some Germans did survive the barrage. Bull dozers were brought up to clear the streets so we get our trucks through. [Recollections can be faulty - recently learned the 45th Infantry Division was never involved with this town. I’m searching to locate which town we were involved with.]

Some time during this period we were off-line for a few days and formation was held and some medals distributed. I received my Silver Star along with two French medals and sent them home. I only learned in 1993 what the French medals were, a Croix du Combattant and Nacionals du Combattant.

My recollection is that my 160th Field artillery Battalion was the first of the 45th Division to enter Germany some time in the middle of December.



We were off line a few days cleaning up etc. when we received a (CSMO) ‘close station move out’ to move out and went up to the Rhine River and loaded our guns and equipment on DUKWs And crossed the river in daylight without any trouble. A short way further we came to a German message center that had been bypassed. There was a gaggle of German WACs or whatever they were called - we fed them and within a short time MPs arrived to take them off our hands. They were a scruffy looking bunch.


As we drove through the town I was sitting on top of loaded ammo truck and were stopped while the trucks ahead of us tried to negotiated sharp turns in the narrow streets. The houses were shingled with orange tiles and one of them next to me was suddenly shattered by a bullet. Grover Warick was manning the 50 caliber machine gun on the cab ring mount, he reacted immediately and laced a church tower in the next street with bullets - we don’t know if he hit the sniper but he didn’t fire again while we were there.


NORDWIND was the 7th Army's “Battle of the Bulge” when the German Army made its last big effort. Flint Whitlock wrote extensively in The Rock of Anzio about this battle during the coldest winter in many years in that part of Europe; and in Chapter XXVII , Riviera to the Rhine, Jeff. J. Clark and Robert Ross Smith wrote extensively about this battle. A must read book about this period is SPARKS, Emajean Buechner.

During this period beginning on New Years Eve we shot quite few Roe (small) deer - we cut them up ground the meat and made deer burgers. Later in the spring we were reminiscing and Jake Stembridge said, “I ate so much deer meat my ass got so wild I couldn’t wipe it.”
One of the very cold nights I was on an outpost with a BAR and saw motion out the corner of my right eye - by the time I swung around I saw it was Jake Stembridge turning on aiming stakes lights, had he been on my left side he might have been blown away.


NÜRNBERG We set up in a field near homes and fired extensively. The next morning we heard aircraft engines starting and several German fighter planes took off in a hurry from a street immediately behind us.

First Sergeant Napoleon (Nip) Drigo was the last person in our battery to receive a Purple Heart. Nip’s face was filled with glass shards when a shell exploded outside the house where we had our CP and blew out all the windows.

Someone located a wrecked freight car on a siding that was loaded with boxes of canned Portuguese sardines in olive oil - for about a week or more we ate sardines until they ‘came out of our ears.’

I had the privilege of watching army engineers blow the large swastika off the top of the Nurnberg stadium.

ULM. We crossed the Danube here, the city was a German hospital area and when we went through it hundreds of German soldiers recovering from wounds stood on the streets or looking out of windows watching us as we passed.

DACHAU 29 April 1945

The 3rd battalion of the 157th Infantry Regiment was the primary liberators of the Dachau Camp. I visited this horrible place on 30 April 1945, and was considered a ‘liberator’ because [according to Army policy] I had arrived at the camp within 48 hours after the actual liberation .(See addendum #5). About seven years ago, I was was invited and began to attend annual reunions of the 157th Infantry Regiment, I’ve since became well acquainted with some of those who were involved.


There was curfew set. People caught out after that time who were riding a bicycle had it confiscated and it was thrown on a pile in front of the bombed out railroad station - within a day or two the stack seemed to be a mile high.


This was only time in the ETO [European theater of operations] when I was part of a formal parade. It was an impressive experience.

MEMORIAL DAY, ANZIO ITALY 1945 as reported by Bill Mauldin in his book THE GOLD RING.

“General Lucian Truscott turned his back on visitors and VIPs and spoke to the dead. He apologized to the dead for their presence here. He said everybody tells leaders it is not their fault that men get killed in war, but that every leader knows in his own heart this is no altogether true. He said he hoped everybody here [deceased veterans] through any mistake of his would forgive Him, but he realized that was asking a hell of a lot under the circumstances. Truscott did say he would not speak about the glorious dead because he didn’t see much glory in getting killed in you late teens or early twenties. He promised that if in the future he ran into anybody, especially old men, who thought death in battle was glorious, he would straighten them out. He said he thought that was the least he could do.”


We were stationed near a brick yard and a railroad yard next to a slave labor camp containing Eastern Europeans. A few of our buddies could speak their language and we went there to visit. One night they were have a gigantic party fueled by alcohol taken from tank cars on a siding - the stuff was buzz bomb fuel. The party became riotous and several fights occurred. One fight ended in a casualty when one fighter stabbed another through the ear with knife - it wasn't a pleasant sight.

During this period our trucks were used to haul DPs [displaced persons] back to Eastern Europe. We drove them to a demarcation line where they left us and went over the line to the Russian army. The Russian soldiers treated them abominably - we couldn’t do a dammed thing about it.


Sometime in August a bunch of us high pointers were transferred to the 103 Infantry division and were dispersed in small towns in the Austrian mountains - not much to do but listen to cow bells. I do recall a trip to Salzburg - when walking around a college campus I heard an organ being played and tracked it down to a small auditorium. The organist was a Black GI and I sat there quite awhile listening to him - when he finished there were about 15 of us there and gave him a great hand - he was very good.


I was in a cigarette camp (departure camps named after brands of cigarettes) and scheduled to come home on a liberty ship named the Marine Fox. Some of our people were on the ship preparing chow lines etc. when it was announced the ship couldn’t leave because it was having engine problems. This pissed us off, but the next morning we were called out and taken to an army troop transport named the USS General Anderson. Instead of a seventeen day trip on the Marine Fox to Charleston NC we only took a five day trip to New York. When we arrived at New york, the ship was moored/anchored in the Hudson River and we were take ashore via ferry boats to Camp Shanks, NY. They had chow lines on these ferries with steaks, all the milk you could drink and all the ice cream you could eat.


I have two recollections of the trip home. The weather on the North Atlantic Ocean was frightful. So many of the troops were seasick that those of us who weren't didn’t have to stand in any long chow lines. The second was that I heard about a ‘big’ poker game going on down in the bowels of the ship and went to investigate. I was quite surprised to find “Diamond Jim H*****, on of my buddies operating the game. Jim had been drafted along with a few others in by battery as replacements for the losses in the Battle of the Bulge - we had heard on the grape vine he had been killed. When he looked up as saw me he said, “No I ain't dead yet.”



My parents were the only family in our neighborhood who posted a flag with three blue stars on it - the three Bird Boys were all in the army and served in Europe.

General Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, who commanded all German forces in Italy was questioned after the war. He made the statement during interrogation, "The 45th Division is one of the best two American Divisions I have encountered. The other was the 3rd Infantry Division.” He had also asked to see the 45th's semi-auto Field Artillery pieces! The Germans did not know about "Time On Target" (TOT), that and the 45th FA's accuracy lead him to the conclusion that the 45th had semi-automatic guns!

Arrival home after the war was not ‘certified as valid’ until a veteran checked-in at two stops. The first was Mrs. Tram’s kitchen where many of my friends had played pinochle and talked. The second was the Baker family's cellar where the Penncrest Boy's club met for many years prior to the war.

A few days after I arrived home our local mail carrier, Mr. Ralph Larson stopped me on the street and thanked me. He informed that he delivered at least one letter each week to my parents from either me or one of my two brothers. He told me it bothered him when many weeks or months went by before some of the other local men in the service would write their parents or family.

Shortly after the war Ann and I went to the Savar Theater, Camden NJ to see a black and white movie about the infantry in the Italian Mountains. the sound of 88mm German shells was realistic, and my reflexes were still strong causing me to slide to the floor. Sometime later when in Philadelphia a trolley released its air brakes the sound (like a heavy shell arriving) caused me to reflexively “hit the dirt” on the sidewalk. a traffic cop was looking at me and grinned when I got up.

At our wedding on 8 June 1946, while walking up the aisle of the church, Mrs. Nellie Trainor an eighty year old neighbor lost her panties- she just picked them up and tucked them under arm so quickly few people knew what happened.

I joined the Disabled American Veterans Chapter in Camden and later started the first of five DAV chapters [life member] in Burlington County. I also became life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, The Anzio Beachhead Veterans Association; The forty-fifth Infantry division Association, the 160th Field Artillery Battalion Association and the 157th Infantry Regiment Association.

For a few years after the war I helped local veterans write letters to the Veterans Administration. Sometimes when we came home from church there were one or two veterans waiting for me to write letters to the Veterans Administration for them.

I retired from state service in 1983 and began to be more involved with veterans organizations. One of the most important to me is the Anzio Beachhead Veterans of WW II and I have attended many reunions. Ann and I attended the Christening Ceremony for the CG-68, USS Anzio at Pascagoula, MS in 1990 and for change of command ceremonies [an impressive ceremony] of this ship at Norfolk VA.


Shortly after after the “police action” began in Korea I was having coffee and a muffin in a diner near Ft Dix NJ, and saw an officer at the counter wearing a Thunderbird shoulder patch who had a familiar appearance. I asked, “Are you Captain Counter?” He said, “ Yes, but I’m a major now.” After a half hour discussion about the “old days” in the ETO he asked me if I would like to re-up. He told me he was at Ft Dix preparing to reactivate an artillery battalion and said, “If you come back, I'll make you my First Sergeant.” I declined and later at lunch when I told my wife she turned white and asked, “You're not going back are you?” I told her, “No, do I look like I have a hole in my head?”

The 45th Infantry Division was one of four national guard divisions called up to serve during the Korea conflict. Only two were sent to Korea, the 45th ID and the 40th ID from California.
1978 Ann and I went to Italy with a group and went through Sicily and parts of Southern Italy. Much of the trip was through areas where I had fought - not much had changed. We did go to Monte Cassino where I had an ‘out-of body’ experience. I was standing on the stone wall looking east towards the mountains where I had been wounded when suddenly I could hear sounds, see faces and actions of long ago as if someone had put a coin in a slot and started my memory going. A couple of elderly women in our group asked me how I felt - they could see something had happened to me.


1:00 p.m. June 11th 1994
by James R Bird


It is my privilege to represent the Burlington County Boy Scouts on this occasion, because our organization has helped thousands of boys mature as patriotic and fruitful Americans, probably a few served at Normandy.

The fiftieth anniversary of the Invasion of Normandy ,
termed the Mighty Endeavor by President Roosevelt, and
Crusade in Europe by General Eisenhower,
was a day of commemoration - not a celebration as a few implied.
I liken this service to the echoing of TAPS from Monday’s salute
to the fallen.

How could we celebrate the deaths of thousands of Americans
who died there?? Or in any battle??
Whenever I hear the strains of TAPS, at the American Cemetery in Colleville, France,
When President Clinton eloquently saluted veterans of Normandy
On behalf of all Americans.

the British army's THE LAST POST
or the German's I HAVE A COMRADE,
I cry for my friends and buddies who have gone on. ***

Although the invasion of Normandy was a major victory,
termed the beginning of the end,
it was but a link in the chain of many battles against the Nazis.
It may be looked upon as a 7th-inning batting rally --
there were many battles before it
and many more hard won battles afterwards.

Michelangelo’s statue, The Victor looks into the future with sadness,
No one enjoys a victory - it’s over as soon as it’s won.
The beachhead was won at tremendous cost-
then row after row of impervious hedgerows
had to be captured, again at tremendous cost.

Nor is a war over when the shooting stops -
it lasts in the memory of those who lost comrades,
friends or relatives,
especially by mothers (then known as Gold Star Mothers)
and wives,
in the pain of the disabled and the bereaved.

Each battle of each war creates a new “Band of brothers”
for as William Shakespeare wrote:
“For he today that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother.”

Almost a year before, I was numbed when Jerry Boyles and Leo Bell
were the the first of many buddies to die
when we invaded Sicily on July 10th 1943.

Then, like Jerry Boyles and Leo Bell,
thousands of allied soldiers, sailors and airmen
died on D-Day June 6 1944
and thousands more were wounded.

Two of my boyhood friends
were among those who died on that beach.
They were old enough to be drafted,
old enough to die for this country,
but neither was old enough to vote.

It would be twenty-nine years before 18 year olds could vote,
and many Americans take this right for granted
because it has never yet been in jeopardy.

Patriotism is more than being stirred by adrenaline upon hearing
John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes For Ever,
Semper Fidelis and watching the American flag whipping in the breeze -
it is primarily being a good citizen.
Jerry Boyles, Leo Bell, and my friends
along with many others died in faraway and lonely places around the world .
They who died, and they who survived fought
to protect this republic and our right to vote.
After the Wall came down in Europe and the Cold War ended,
Baltic nations held parliamentary elections, and ninety percent
of eligible voters went to the polls,
while only fifty percent of eligible Americans voted
in the 1988 presidential election.
Recently millions of South Africans lined up to vote after
350 years of waiting.
My comrades and friends paid with their lives,
and I still pay with constant pain for the right to vote.
You can best honor Jerry, Leo, Bill, Grant
and all the rest by insuring your vote -
If you don’t use it you could lose it.

Long ago, William Tecumseh Sherman,
a Union Civil War general said,
“I am tired and sick of war.
Its glory is all moonshine.
It is only those who have neither fired a shot
nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded
who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance more destruction.
War is Hell!”

When you have been in an army hospital as I have,
and smelled the odor of a badly burned tank crewman
or the odor of gangrene from a GI with trench foot
you will not soon forget their misery -
nor would you be anxious to ever again commit our troops,
unless in the defense of this country.

Notwithstanding that war is hell,
war is not all bad -
many of us who spent long months, even years overseas
had a learning experience,
beneficial and helpful towards making this world a better place.
I know of at least four combat soldiers,
three living in this area
who became successful ministers or priests,
two of them served with me at Anzio.
Many more, like myself became volunteers to serve
our communities in the Boy and Girl Scouts,
fire companies, PTA and church activities.
We raised families and turned this country
into a strong nation - the only super power
still in existence; let us not abuse that power.

Heroes one - heroes all - often unsung, except to God.
In Normandy, the infantry
(sometimes referred to as the queen of war)
took the brunt of war, but at places like Anzio,
on the Atlantic and Pacific oceans - everyone was vulnerable.
Many of my generation knew of Audie Murphy, a kid from Texas
who became the most decorated soldier in WW II for exceptional bravery.
But, those young men who served at Dunkirk,
in the air battle of Britain,
(one of my school mates disappeared in that battle)
in the lonely reaches of the North Atlantic,
at Corregidor, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Kasserine Pass,
Sicily, Anzio, Cassino, Normandy, St Lo, Rambervillers,
Battle of the Bulge,
Achaffenburg (where we fought children and old men)
in the air, on and under the sea,
were heroes all,
because they did the work required of them.

Till we meet again on that far shore:
We Shall Remember Them.
"They shall not grow old,
as we that are left grow old,
age shall not weary them,
nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun
and in the morning we will remember them."
Laurence Binyon

On Tuesday the COURIER POST displayed a headline
“We must never forget!”
Remembering is not enough -
so taking a phrase from

We Shall Remember Them
"They shall not grow old, as we that
are left grow old; age shall not weary
them, nor the years condemn. At the
going down of the sun and in the
morning we will remember them."
Laurence Binyon

Early in 1997 I was attending the Mid-Winter meeting of the DAV (Disabled American Veterans) I was sitting in the lobby of the hotel in Crystal City VA and a man came up and stood in front of me. He asked, “Are you Jim Bird?” It became old-home-week when I learned he was Henry Kaufman and had been captured at Anzio. We developed close ties for a few years until his death in 2000. Henry wrote a book about his experiences - POW -Vertrauensmann: Man of Confidence.


For several years I’ve participated with the Jewish Federation of Southern NJ Holocaust Educational Center, Cherry Hill, NJ to speak of my experience at Dachau on 30 April 1945. This organization has a small but very effective museum about the Holocaust. At various times school classes go there to visit the museum, to see films about the Holocaust, and to hear the experiences of both survivors and liberators of the German concentration camps. This is an interesting experience, I find smaller classes seem to be more responsive that large ones.
Claude Huard The day before Thanksgiving 1999 I received a telephone call from this man, a Frenchman who wanted to thank me. He had been an inmate of the Dachau Concentration Camp and was liberated on 29 April 1945. He told me he had learned my name via the internet and that I was the first American soldier he could thank in person. I told him how I arrived there on April 30th, was considered a ‘liberator’ because of the Army 48 hour rule. I did put him in touch with men I knew who had personally been involved. A few months later I received an E-mail from his wife that he had died from a heart attack and that he was happy to have gotten in touch with some of these men.


1. I have a dedicated copy of THE ROCK OF ANZIO by Flint Whitlock which I cherish. This book covers the activities of the Thunderbird Division through eight campaigns from the invasion of Sicily. I became acquainted with Vere Williams - the ‘point man’ for this book at several reunions and corresponded with him until his recent death from cancer.

MEDFORD NJ O8055-4201
609 267 5520

MAY 1998
Flint Whitlock
6840 Richthofen Parkway
Denver, CO 80220

Dear Mr. Whitlock:

THANK YOU! Your book, THE ROCK OF ANZIO is the cenotaph for many Thunderbirds and for many other young men who “held the line” at Anzio. Michelangelo “knew war” when he prepared his statue, the Victor looking into the future with sadness because a “victory” is over as soon as it is won.

Long ago, William Tecumseh Sherman, a Union Civil War general said, “I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance more destruction. War is Hell!”

Politicians promoting a constitutional amendment “protecting” the flag don’t understand that soldiers don’t fight for the flag - they fight for each other.

It is apparent that “We band of 45th Division brothers,” the 45th Division Museum, and other dedicated Americans such as Vere (TARZAN) William. David Israel, LTC (Et) Hugh Foster, Henry Kaufman and Curtis Whiteway provided you with solid bricks and mortar enabling you to build a written monument to those of us who proudly served in the Thunder Bird Division.

James R. Bird
c.c.45th Infantry Division Association, 157th Infantry Association, Anzio Beachhead Veterans Association

2. A letter to Geoffrey Perret commenting on his book:

There's a War to be Won
Mr. Geoffrey Perret 19 Oct 1993
201 East 50th Street
New York NY 10022

Dear Mr. Perret:


“Virtually everyone has at some time been moved by words to more
penetrating thoughts and feelings than he would have unaided.” your
words in Contemporary Authors V4.

Your book is like a nearly finished jig saw puzzle, and the assembled
pieces have given me a better view of “my war” so long ago and far away,
and caused me to wonder how and why we succeeded. I am not equipped to
criticize your work, but only able to offer comments and observations
from my point of view, a lowly field artillery corporal (see clipping.)
In the introduction you mention “chicken shit” and “real soldiers.” Of
course we needed professionally trained generals but some of those
generals didn’t measure up, and a few were more concerned with “chicken
shit” activities than getting the job done. I proudly served in the 45th
Infantry Division, a professional pragmatic citizen soldier division
from Oklahoma. This was a well trained, well led fighting force under
the command of M. G. Troy H. Middleton that was far from being “chicken
shit.” General Middleton insured that we were properly led, trained,
equipped and supplied; and that we were ready to ‘go’ when required.
This division (like the 25th Division in the Pacific) never received the
Presidential Unit Citation it deserved, but German Field Marshall von
Rundstedt expressed his belief that the 45th and the 3rd Divisions were
the two best divisions he faced in the war. (45th INFANTRY CP, Paul A
Cundiff, page 282).

Paraphrasing your comments by Zeno. Each war, each branch of service,
and each combat theater creates its own culture and camaraderie that
others not part of that experience can ever truly understand or
comprehend. And, in time of war a few of Cadmus’ left over dragon's
teeth hatch warriors who seldom succeed in times of peace, I believe I
knew one of them. Edwin Luttwak wrote that few combat troops suffered
the tension and anxiety that submarine crews, bomber crews and some
Marine units did - the 3rd and 45th Infantry Divisions were exceptions
to most army combat units in the ETO. The 3rd Division's score of combat
days was 533 through ten campaigns and that of the 45th Division was 511
days through eight campaigns - the artillery and engineer troops of
these divisions sustained another additional hundred days or more of

On page 187 you report that the 3rd Division produced twenty-two Medals
of Honors winners. The April 1993 issue of the 45th DIVISION NEWS
reports that the 3rd received thirty-nine (39) while the 45th received
only eight (8). Many veterans of the 45th believe the 3rd Division had a
professional word smith assigned to writing commendations. We were
partners for the long haul and I’m not convinced they had a greater
proportion of Dragon's Teeth than the 45th.

We all stand in the shadows of past leaders and I am glad that we had a
man like George Catlett Marshall as the architect of the American Army
of WW II. Notwithstanding that generals Leslie McNair and Mark Clark
may have been knowledgeable experienced officers their negative legacy
still haunts me. Max Hastings in D DAY reported General McNair evaluated
the debacle in North Africa and decided to continue using gasoline
engines in our tanks despite the fact that diesel engines used by the
Germans were safer. Many tank crewmen died of burns when their tanks
became “ronsons” when struck by German shells. McNair also ‘blessed us’
with the bazooka that even General Gavin despised as being impotent.
We veterans of the Fifth Army had little regard for Mark Clark - a man
we observed as being more concerned for parades and “chicken shit” than
for getting winter clothes up to the troops in the Italian mountains.
Should you talk to veterans of the 36th Infantry Division about Clark
you will get a ‘thumbs down’ for the Rapido River debacle. Moreover,
Clark’s MPs gave us a very hard time whenever we went to rear areas for
R&R etc. Clark may have been good with ‘school tactics’ but he never
held the esteem or respect of troops as Major Whittlesey did (page 18.)
“Liberating Rome” was more important to him than capturing Germans.
I served with A Battery, 160th Field Artillery which supported the
179th Infantry Regiment., and include two pages of the January 1992
issue of the 45th DIVISION NEWS with an article about these units. At
the conclusion of the Sele River battle we were backed into a lemon
grove and screened by a willow hedge, down to three guns, several rounds
of smoke shells and one AP shell per gun left. Several German tanks
approached our position, and without rhyme or reason they turned around
and left us alone. We landed early in Sicily and was the first allied
battery to fire against the Germans (A TIME TO HONOR, by Colonel John
Embry.) We also had several FOs trained to work with the Navy and for
several days we registered for navy cruisers. Later in the Sicilian
campaign we took our 105mm howitzers up to Castle Buono, a mountain top
village that never had a motor vehicle in it before. The access was an
old Roman stair-step road that was not wide enough to accommodate the
outside tires of the rear duals on the gun trucks, and they overhung the

In Southern France battalion combat teams were set up and we traveled
up the roads until we encountered Germans. An artillery observation
plane (page 45) went with us and scouted ahead - when they saw something
we would set up our 105’s on each side of the road, register and fire
for effect within a few minutes.


I trained on French 75’s and 155’s (these were single
trail pieces and the elevation was set with a quadrant (I recall they
were known as Schneiders). We used the new 105mm gun/howitzers in our
160th FA BN, semi-fixed ammunition was used with seven charges to adjust
ranges. As I recollect the tube-life of a 105 was about 6,000 rounds and
when we left Anzio far more rounds had been fired than that. At Anzio
and a few other places where we fired reduced charges (3 & 4 etc.) we
used a short lanyard and could fire many shells before having to wait
for the barrel to go back up into battery position. At ANZIO we had
revetments attached to the gun pits where prepared shells were stored
with various charges for quick responses to a fire mission. And at
night, when assigned indeterminate harassing fire we often added a an
additional charge seven to the case and extend our range, of course
ordinance people only learned of this long afterwards. Whenever the
infantry was brought off the line for R&R etc. we often were assigned to
support other divisions and units - for a time we provided direct
support to the Rangers at Anzio. I don’t think you mentioned the
proximity fuse that began to be issued to us in lieu of time fuses. We
found them very effective against troops etc. This fuse was developed by
Dr. Alan V, Astin of the National Bureau of Standards and extensively
tested at Aberdeen, MD Army Proving Grounds.
RE: TOT. We had very effective TOT’s at Anzio and a very large one at
Sarreguemines (???) France when 27 battalions of artillery of all sizes

RE: AAA artillery Half tracks with turrets of quad-50 caliber machine
guns were often used in support of infantry.

RE: ANZIO ANNIE One of the German railroad guns used against us at
Anzio is now at the Aberdeen Army Museum in Maryland (see clipping).

RE: M.G. Robert T.Frederick. It was widely believed by 45th Division
GI’s that General Frederick would “go up front’ etc. and whenever he
found enlisted men functioning as an officer he was given a field
promotion on the spot. There was a widely believed rumor that shortly
after the end of WW II the general was in a West Coast bar and was
accosted by a cop. The officer thought he was too young to be a general
and believed he was an impostor - the story goes that the general ‘cold
cocked’ the cop and put him out for the count.

RE: Combat history and combat historians (pages 537 -540). Curtis
Whiteway a researcher for the U S Holocaust Memorial Museum has learned
the hard way that many after action reports were compiled by rear
echelon people, who more or less fictionalized these reports.

RE: steel helmets (page 541). In addition to use as a cooking utensil,
we used them to dig holes, a place to keep dry socks, and occasionally
as a commode.


1. You mentioned the 45th Division had the first division newspaper.
Within a day or so after we invaded Sicily they were back in
operation/production and the news is still being issued on a quarterly
basis. I still have several copies of WW II issues.

2. The 45th moved up into the 3rd Army area to cover for divisions
General Patton moved up to the Bulge. It was slow going and we often
stopped for lengthy periods so, to keep warm we cut up and burned
utility poles which angered signal corps troops. During the period of
the Battle of the Bulge we shot local deer and ground up the meat to
make deer burgers - much later a buddy, Jake Stembridge said he had
eaten so much deer meat his fanny got so wild he couldn’t catch it to
wipe it.

3. Very few combat GIs ever carried a gas mask more than a few days
after entering a combat situation.

James R Bird
57 Bella Road
Medford, NJ 08055
C.C. 45th Division Assoc.

3. Lili Marlene, Norbert Schultze was the composer, based on a German poem of 1915, this song became the favorite of troops of every tongue and nation during the Second World War, both in translation and in the original German. A curious example of song transcending the hatreds of war, American troops particularly liked Lily Marlene as sung by the German-born actress and singer, Marlene Dietrich. We picked up this song early in Italy and hung on to it throughout the war.

”Underneath the lantern
By the barrack gate,
Darling, I remember
The way you used to wait,
'Twas there that you whispered tenderly,
That you loved me, you'd always be,
My Lili of the lamplight, my own Lili

Time would come for roll call,
Time for us to part,
Darling, I'd caress you
And press you to my heart,
And there 'neath that far off lantern
light, I'd hold you tight, we'd kiss
"good-night," My Lili of the lamplight
my own Lili Marlene.

Orders came for sailing
Somewhere over there,
All confined to barracks
Was more than I could bear;
I knew you were waiting in the street,
I heard your feet, but could not meet,
My Lili of the lamplight, my own Lili

Resting in a billet
Just behind the line,
Even tho' we're parted
Your lips are close to mine;
You wait where that lantern softly gleams,
Your sweet face seems to haunt my
dreams, My Lili of the lamplight, my own
Lili Marlene.”

BOX 8089
St Paul MN 55108
4 August 1995

I met Colonel Alfred J. Reese, Jr. selected by the National Welsh-American Foundation (NWAF) to receive their Foundation Heritage Medallion on October 21st 1995 about five years ago at a functions sponsored by the Welsh Society of Philadelphia, and came to appreciate him as a person of integrity, a dedicated Welshman, and as an influential American.

Unbeknownst to either of us, Colonel Reese had a great impact on my life as one insignificant artilleryman in Europe over fifty years ago. Sometime early in 1944 we were issued a new artillery fuse much more effective than customary impact and time-delay fuses we had been using. This new “proximity” fuse used a RADAR type system to cause the shell to explode within about thirty feet of the ground, and was very effective against enemy personnel and vehicular equipment. Since meeting Colonel Reese I learned he was part of the Army Ordinance Corps team that developed this new fuse. Oddly enough, about forty years ago I had met one of the inventors of the proximity fuse, Dr. Alan Astin, former director of the National Bureau of Standards in conjunction with my activities with the New Jersey State Office of Weights and Measures.

However, Colonel Reese’s service as an army logistician may have been far more important. Its been said, “ an army marches on its stomach.” If it is not properly supplied with equipment, spare parts, proper clothing, food/medicine, fuel and ammunition as required the old story “For lack of a nail the shoe was lost etc.” will probably apply. Russian winters defeated Napoleon's army and the German army because neither army was equipped to withstand the cold harsh Russian winters. Although desperate measures were required, many allied soldiers suffered greatly during the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest and the Battle of the Bulge because they were sent into combat in summer clothing.

Colonel Reese well deserves this recognition by the NWAF and I hope to be on hand to applaud him.

James R Bird
57 Bella Road
Medford, NJ 08055-4201

5. Dachau - Although it was many years ago, I recall the weather was blustery with snow flurries. When we arrived at the main camp (several satellite camps were also known as Dachau) we noticed a penetrating odor that I cannot now describe. I recall there was a railroad siding on which a train of 40 & 8 type railroad freight cars was parked. These cars contained bodies clad in black and white striped clothing, the side doors of the cars were open and piles of bodies also lay below the open doors alongside the track. Inside the camp I saw piles of clothing and shoes, apparently taken from the victims, and in rooms near the furnaces were naked bodies stacked like cordwood.

I recall seeing the ovens used to burn bodies and recollect there was still some partly consumed bodies in some of them. One of my buddies photographed many scenes there, and later provided us with copies. I do not have them now because I have reason to believe my mother destroyed them since they were beyond her belief. Within the past two years I did get copies of other pictures taken by Donald J. Madison, 122 N. Walnut St. PO Box 335, Toluca Il 61269 who served with I Co 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division.
I have a faded recollection of seeing living prisoners wearing the same black and white stripped clothing, but the piles of dead bodies is the prominent feature of my memories of Dachau. Time erodes memories and it is not now possible to recollect my feelings, or remember the feelings of my buddies of this visit.

I do recall seeing a German soldier's body in one of the canals flowing through the camp. I recollect being told that he had been killed by prisoners, the body was lying on its back, stomach torn open with his entrails flowing downstream from the body. I also have a vague recollection of bodies of some German soldiers lying in the area.

I recollect this camp was liberated by members of the 45th Infantry Division. and some from the 42nd Infantry Division; but do not know who was in charge when I visited this camp. But recently learned veterans of several units are vying for the honor(?) of ‘liberating’ this awful place.

Within the past year a controversy has surfaced because members of other units purport they were the ‘liberators’ of Dachau causing me to check reports and publications which convinced me that portions of the 45th Division Recon troop, the 157th Infantry Regiment and the 191st Tank Battalion were truly the main liberating force. And, offer the following documentation:

1. The 45th DIVISION NEWS published May 13th 1945 has an extensive article by Bill Barrett on the capture of Dachau by the 157th Infantry Regiment

2. TIME, May 28, 1945, in an article, MARK OF THE FIGHTING MAN, credits the 45th Division with liberating Dachau.

3. The 45th DIVISION NEWS published June 10th 1945 sums up division activities and reports the 157th Infantry Regiment captured Dachau.

4. BEACHHEAD NEWS (started at Anzio), June 17th 1945 summed up 45th Division activities and reported the 157th Infantry Regiment captured Dachau.

5. THE 45th DIVISION ARTILLERY, a compilation of actions passed by SHAEF Field Censor and printed by F. Bruckmann, Munich, Germany in June 1945. noted the division captured Dachau on April 29th.

6. THE FIGHTING FORTY-FIFTH. Compiled and and edited under the supervision of the Historical Board by Leo V. Bishop, LT Col.; Frank J. Glasgow, Major; and George A. Fisher, Major and published by the 45th Infantry Division in 1946. This division history records on April 29th, “The 157th Infantry, with the 191st Tank Battalion in support, captured the prison (Dachau) camp shortly afternoon.”

7. DACHAU, The Hour of the Avenger by Col. Howard A. Buechner (an eye witness account) published in 1986 by Thunderbird Press, Matairie, LA. Dr. Buechner was a doctor assigned to the 157th and documents this book lists both written and verbal statements of soldiers who liberated Dachau.

8. Dachau and Its Liberation by B.G. Felix L. Sparks, retired published by the 45th Infantry Division Museum, Oklahoma City, OK in January 1990. This is a personal report of Then Lt. Col. Sparks CO 3rd Bn 157th Infantry Regiment.

9. The Inspector General of the Seventh Army conducted an investigation on 8 June 1945 and reported Dachau fell to the 157th Infantry Regiment along with a small party of the 42nd Division.

10. I have personally talked to two men who testify they entered Dachau with liberating forces on the 29th of April 1945, they are: The Reverend Alex Dryden who was a member of the 45th Division Recon Troop. He served at Bishop Eustice Prep School, Pennsauken NJ 08109. The second person deleted at his request.

11. NEW YORK TIMES, 1 May 1945; article by Marguerite Higgens. “while a United States 45th Infantry Division patrol was still fighting a way down through the S.S barracks to the North our jeep and two others from the 42nd Infantry drove into the camp enclosure through the southern entrance.”

6. Subject: The Infantry: Hugh Foster III, 26 April 2000
(With permission)


The basic weapon of the US Army has always been the individual infantry soldier with his rifle. He is the ultimate weapon. He meets the enemy eye-to-eye, defeats him on the battlefield, and occupies terrain. The structure of the entire US Armed Forces is designed to support this man in the accomplishment of his mission.

In World War II Generals Marshall (Chief of Staff of the Army) and McNair (Commander of the Army Ground Forces) “shared a common mental picture of how the enemy would be defeated. They imagined a comparative handful of men picking themselves up from the dirt and mud after spending hours lying on the ground; these were men who were wet, probably men shivering with cold; thirsty, hungry, tired and afraid, mentally scarred by the deaths of friends and by witnessing sights that would haunt them for the rest of their lives, they would move forward under machine gun and artillery fire. Some would fall, but the survivors would close with the enemy and kill him in a foxhole or a bunker, a building or a ditch, or die in the attempt. All the machinery the Army possessed came down in the end to that one-act drama. And it was that moment, repeated a million times over, that Army Ground Forces was created to produce.”1

It was during World War II that the Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB) was instituted, at the suggestion of General Omar Bradley. The “Soldier’s General” felt strongly that the very special nature of infantry combat deserved unique recognition. Awards of the CIB and its only companion, the Combat Medical Badge (CMB), awarded only to aidmen assigned to infantry units, began in 1944. These are the only such “combat” badges authorized. Regulations prescribe that these badges be worn above all other awards and decorations, including the ribbon of the Medal of Honor. Describing why he felt infantrymen should receive such an award, Bradley wrote: “The rifleman fights without promise of either reward or relief.
Behind every river there’s another hill -- and behind that hill, another river. After weeks or months in the line only a wound can offer him the comfort of safety, shelter, and a bed. Those who are left to fight, fight on, evading death but knowing that with each day of evasion they have exhausted one more chance for survival. Sooner or later, unless victory comes this chase must end on the litter or in the grave.” All the other branches of the Army and the other branches of the Armed Forces are indispensable in war; it is the combined effort of the whole that brings victory, but it is the infantry that determines victory. The simple soldier with his rifle and bayonet are at the head of the Army. He is the first to pierce the enemy line, and his final position marks the limits of ground actually taken. The infantry leads, the others follow. “If the bayonet could speak, what could it say but ‘FOLLOW ME.’

THE INFANTRY DIVISION (Authorized Strength, 1943-44 - 14,253):

The infantry division was the smallest Army organization deemed capable of conducting independent combat operations, as virtually all ground combat and support capabilities were possessed by units assigned to the division. (This is a very nice statement, but the fact is that divisions never operated without “outside” support and reinforcement.) The World War II infantry division was a “triangularized” division, its combat and support power based on groupings of “three's,” beginning with the primary fighting organizations of the division -- the three infantry regiments. Other elements of the division, all designed to support the combat operations of the three infantry regiments, were grouped into categories known as “Division
Artillery” and “Division Troops.”

Each division contained three battalions of light artillery (generally 105mm howitzers) and containing three 4-gun “firing batteries,” generally operated in direct support of one regiment, and the affiliation of a particular light artillery battalion to an infantry regiment generally became habitual. The medium battalion operated in general support of all three regiments, shifting its heavier, longer range firepower where need was greatest. The 105mm howitzer of W.W.II could fire a 33-lb high explosive projectile to a range of about 7,000 yards. To unprotected soldiers on flat terrain, a 105mm round was lethal to most soldiers within 30 yards of its impact, and could wound men to a distance of 500 yards. The 155mm howitzer fired a 95-lb projectile to a range of about 12,000 yards. Its killing radius was about 60 yards and its wounding radius was about 600 yards. Artillery was (and remains) the greatest killer on the battlefield. The remainder of divisional organizations -- Division Troops -- provided the combat support and combat service support needed to sustain the division in both combat and administrative functions. These organizations were as follows:

- Division Headquarters Company
- Engineer Combat Battalion
- Medical Battalion
- Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop
- Ordnance Company
- Quartermaster Company
- Signal Company
- Military Police Platoon

Division Artillery and Division Troops accounted for nearly 5,000 of the division's 14,253 soldiers. Much of this organization operated “well forward” in the battle area, and in fact many support troops operated within the regimental areas. (It should be pointed out here that artilleryman DO NOT consider themselves “support” troops in any sense of the word; they consider themselves “combat” troops, on an equal par with infantry and armor soldiers. [This despite the fact that the author has NEVER seen a bayonet lug on a howitzer barrel -- or a tank main gun barrel either, for that matter.]) All of the above mentioned structure, including the regiments, was organized to support the relatively few riflemen who actually defended ground and seized it from the enemy -- the 2,916 men in the 243 infantry rifle squads of a division.

THE RIFLE SQUAD (Authorized Strength - 12):

Twelve infantrymen formed the rifle squad, the basic combat unit of the Army. Eleven of these soldiers were armed with the .30 caliber, semi-automatic M1 Garand rifle; one man ammunition as the M1. A staff sergeant (squad leader) was in charge of the squad, and he was assisted by a sergeant (assistant squad leader). While both NCOs (Non-Commissioned Officers) were considered “shooters” they also had major duties to perform in leading the squad as a whole or parts of it, when the squad was divided into teams. In both defensive and offensive operations, the squad's actions were geared to the BAR, which provided the squads primary firepower. Two of the squad's riflemen were assigned to support the BAR gunner, one as an assistant gunner and one as an ammunition bearer. In combat, the squad leader and his assistant directed the actions of seven riflemen and the three-man BAR team.

THE RIFLE PLATOON (Authorized Strength - 41):

Three rifle squads and a small headquarters cell together comprised the infantry rifle platoon, which was commanded by a lieutenant -- for as long as he survived. In addition to the platoon commander the headquarters was authorized a technical sergeant (platoon sergeant), a staff sergeant (platoon guide) and two messengers (privates), who were also called “runners.” The rifle squads were numbered 1 - 3, as were the rifle platoons. It was at the platoon level and above that “attachments” to the authorized strength and structure were commonly found. Each platoon normally was augmented by a medical aidman from the Regimental Medical Detachment. A mortar observer or observation team from the company's weapons platoon or the battalion's heavy mortar platoon might be attached for specific missions. In a similar fashion one or both of the company's two light machine gun (air-cooled .30 caliber) teams or a heavy machine gun section (two water-cooled .30 caliber machine guns) might be attached to the platoon from the battalion's heavy weapons company. The company commander also had five 3-man antitank rocket (“bazooka”) teams at his disposal, and he attached them to platoons as he saw fit. Under more rare conditions, engineers from the division's engineer combat battalion might be attached.

THE RIFLE COMPANY (Authorized Strength - 193):

Three rifle platoons (1st, 2nd, and 3rd), a weapons platoon (sometimes called the 4th Platoon), and a company headquarters formed an infantry rifle company of six officers and 187 enlisted men, commanded by a captain. The weapons platoon (authorized strength - 1 officer and 34 enlisted men) contained two light machine gun squads and three 60mm mortar squads. (The 60mm mortar could lob a projectile about three times as powerful as a hand grenade out to a range of 2,000 yards. The great benefit of the mortar is that since its trajectory is very steep, it can be used to drop rounds behind hills, houses, etc. where the enemy would be protected from direct fire weapons.) The weapons platoon commander advised the company commander on disposition of the machine guns and mortars, which could be positioned to support the whole company generally, or to reinforce fires in a particular area of concern. Usually, the three mortars were grouped together in a single firing location. The two machine guns were doctrinally employed in “pairs” so that the fields of fire converged to cover as much of the company front as possible -- but this could be done with the machine guns positioned quite some distance apart. The rifle company was the lowest level at which the unit was usually fielded in echelons, with components of the company not in physical contact with others. The rifle company normally operated in three echelons: the three rifle platoons and a portion of the company headquarters, including attachments; the three light, 60mm mortars of the Weapons Platoon, which tended to operate slightly to the rear of the “front line;” and the administrative portion of the company headquarters (cooks, clerks and supply personnel, totaling about 12 men) which usually operated from positions well to the rear. At this level, too, attachment of outside resources was habitual. Routine attachments included platoon aidmen for the rifle platoons, one or more heavy machine gun sections from the battalion's heavy weapons company, a forward observer party (normally a lieutenant and two men) from the supporting artillery battalion, and a forward observer party (one or two men) from the mortar platoon of the battalion's heavy weapons company. On occasion, antitank guns from the battalion's antitank platoon or the regimental antitank company might be attached to a rifle company. The rifle company was also the lowest level infantry organization to employ a reserve force, usually one rifle platoon. It was at this level that the doctrine of “two up and one back” began (two thirds of a combat unit engaged and one third in reserve).

THE INFANTRY BATTALION (Authorized Strength - 860):

Three infantry rifle companies, a headquarters & headquarters company, and a heavy weapons company together made up the infantry battalion. The headquarters & headquarters company was referred to by that name, or as “HHC”. The other companies of the “letter companies” ran consecutively through the three battalions of the infantry regiment: 1st Battalion contained A, B, and C Companies (rifle companies) and D Company (heavy weapons); 2nd Battalion contained E, F, and G Companies (rifle companies) and H Company (heavy weapons); 3rd Battalion contained I, K, and L Companies (rifle companies) and M Company (heavy weapons). The letter J was not used, as it could be confused with the letter “I” when handwritten. An infantry battalion headquarters & headquarters company (authorized strength - 126) contained the battalion's headquarters cell, a company headquarters cell, a communications of this company operated all over the battle area in support of the battalion's forward and rear command strength - 166) was designed to allow the battalion commander to add combat weight to the battalion in general, or to specific companies or parts of the battlefield. In addition to a headquarters cell, the weapons company contained two platoons of heavy machine guns (four .30 caliber water-cooled guns per platoon) and one 81mm mortar platoon of six guns. The 81mm mortar of WWII could lob a 15-lb high explosive projectile to a range of about 3,200 yards. The battalion commander generally apportioned the heavy machine guns to support particular rifle companies as he saw fit for specific situations, but usually retained the mortar platoon under the direct control of the battalion's command group.

THE INFANTRY REGIMENT (Authorized Strength - 3,118):

An infantry regiment of an infantry division was composed of three infantry battalions (1st, 2nd and 3rd) and “regimental troops” consisting of a regimental headquarters & headquarters company, an antitank company, a cannon company, a service company, and a regimental medical detachment. Regimental identification was numerical, e.g., “15th Infantry division. Through a very complex and convoluted regimental assignment system, the regiments of a Regular Army division in W.W.II were never consecutively numbered, some of the regiments of a National Guard division were consecutively numbered, but all of the regiments of an Army Reserve division were consecutively numbered. For instance:
- The 3rd Infantry Division (Regular Army) contained the 7th, 15th, and 30th Infantry Regiments - The 45th Infantry Division (National Guard) contained the 157th, 179th, and 180th Regiments - The 100th Infantry Division (Army Reserve) contained the 397th, 398th, and 399th Regiments The regimental headquarters & headquarters company (authorized strength - 108) contained the regimental headquarters cell, a small company headquarters cell, communications platoon, and an intelligence & reconnaissance platoon. The regimental antitank company (authorized strength - 165) contained a large company headquarters, three antitank platoons of three wheeled 75mm cannon each, and an antitank mine platoon of three squads. The regimental cannon company (authorized strength - 118) contained a headquarters section and three cannon platoons of two self-propelled (tracked) 105mm howitzers each. The Cannon Company usually operated from a single general location in support of the regiment, and was customarily grouped with the supporting field artillery battalion. The regimental service company (authorized strength - 115) contained a company headquarters, a regimental headquarters platoon containing the regimental staff, and a transportation platoon that fielded 29 cargo trucks. The trucks were used to carry supplies and/or troops, but were not sufficient in number to move the entire regiment in a single lift. The regimental medical detachment (authorized strength - 135) consisted of a headquarters section and a “battalion section” for each of the three infantry battalions of the regiment. The battalion sections established a medical aid station in each battalion sector and provided medical aidmen to each rifle platoon and each heavy weapons platoon in the battalion. Litter teams were also assigned to the battalion sections, to evacuate the wounded from front-line areas to the aid station. Evacuation from the battalion aid stations was accomplished by ambulances sent forward from division.


Divisions were normally grouped into corps, also commanded by major generals, for commitment to combat. A corps consisted of at least two divisions, but usually contained several, at least one of which was an armored division. Divisions were “attached” rather than “assigned” to a corps and were frequently moved from corps to corps as the combat situation dictated. In theory, the corps was merely a tactical headquarters designed to carry out combat missions with whatever units were attached to it at any given time. In practice, however, a number of combat support and service support units were attached to each corps for such long periods that the “attachment” became de facto “assignment.” A corps usually commanded large components of heavy artillery, engineers, separate tank and tank destroyer battalions, quartermaster, ordnance, and medical facilities. The corps commander apportioned his assets to support his divisions in combat operations as the situation dictated, but each infantry division usually received attachment of a corps tank and tank destroyer battalion -- and the attachment of specific battalions soon became habitual with each infantry division. In keeping with the “two up and one back” doctrine that applied from infantry company upward, a corps tried to keep one division in reserve. Corps were grouped under an “army” commanded, usually, by a lieutenant general. An army operated like a corps in that subordinate units were “attached” as required. Corps moved among and between armies, but the attached combat support and service support units attached to an army generally stayed with that army. An army sought to keep a corps in reserve, but was rarely able to do so. When the number of corps and armies in a theater so dictated, armies were grouped into Army Groups of at least two armies. In western Europe, the forces under Eisenhower were arrayed in three army groups: the XXI, under Montgomery, in the north; the XII, under Bradley, in the center; and the VI, under Devers, in the south. Eisenhower commanded the European Theater of Operations, controlling not only the three army groups, but the naval and air components supporting them. Operations in Italy fell in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, commanded by a British officer (he did not answer to Eisenhower). The theaters of operations, including those in other parts of the world (such as the Pacific) were commanded and controlled by the Combined Chiefs of Staff -- and at this point I have exceeded my knowledge and interest.


In W.W.II the individual riflemen was supported in his mission by a seemingly overwhelming amount of combat and support power. But from his foxhole in the forest or jungle he could see only a few yards in any direction, and the vast majority of this support was not apparent to him. His squad was always short a few men, and he knew full well why those men were not there. His own machine guns, mortars, artillery, tanks and close air support were a sometimes visible comfort, but they did not preclude him from having to advance with his rifle to meet the enemy -- who also had the support of machine guns, mortars, artillery, tanks and airplanes -- and defeat him “up close and personal” in encounters that left the survivors exhausted and shocked, their skin, clothing and equipment darkened by the accumulated grime of dirt, sweat and gunpowder. The men in the combat elements of a rifle company faced a bleak future in which virtually everyone would be killed, wounded, injured, taken prisoner or felled by illness. That the soldiers who served the cause of freedom and fought so nobly for mankind and their comrades KNEW this dismal reality, yet soldiered on in spite of it is a wonder and a great testament to the character of the American GI of W.W.II, whose footsteps I followed with awed and great pride.

Carlisle, PA


I’m forever grateful our political forefathers bequeathed us a tripartite representative republic and not either a theocracy or a parliamentary system of government. I paid dearly in pain, blood, sweat, tears, time and pain for my First Amendment rights and cringe whenever political and religious zealots want to break down the long standing separation of church and state by law which they can't do by persuasion.

“...Any move to abridge the rights of the individual under the Constitution-no matter what form - is a danger to the freedom of all. *** Harry S Truman.

I’ve read The Federalist Papers; The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution by Bernard Bailyn; The Birth of the Bill of Rights by Allen Rutland and the Declaration of Independence and found the framers were determined to keep church and state separate.

I close with a poem by a friend:


Louis A. Cavagnaro, Gunnery Sergeant USMC Ret.

April 13th, 2006

Hi Marion,

On your page:


You refer to the The 45th DIVISION NEWS published May 13th, 1945, and its extensive article by Bill Barrett on the capture of Dachau by the 157th Infantry Regiment.  My late father, Felix A.Cizewski, was in the 45th Signal Company at the time and saved his copy.  I have posted it at: http://www.ibiblio.org/cizewski/dachau/dachau.html

Yours, Leonard H. Cizewski
Madison, Wisconsin
son of the late PFC Felix A. Cizewski, 45th Signal Company