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Walt's Daughter

253rd Engineer Combat Battalion

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Dear Mrs. Chard:

 

I happened to come across your fine web site tonight while searching for

information on the 253rd Combat Engineers. Unfortunately, I can't find this

unit listed anywhere. I'd like to find some vets from that BN because I have

a 30 minute 8mm film of their tour of duty. The film was shot by one of the

vets during his time with the BN. I bought the film on ebay last year and

have transferred it to video and would like to give free copies to anyone

from that unit that I can locate.

 

Dr. Michael Brodhead at the USA CofE Office of History looked the unit up

and sent me the following information:

> The only information I could find on the 253rd Engineer Combat Battalion is

> from a reference work entitled Order of Battle, U. S. Army, World War II, by

> Shelby L. Stanton, p. 574; The battalion was formed 15 October 1943 at Camp

> Crowder, Missouri; sailed from the New York Port of Embarkation 31 October

> 1944, arriving in England 8 November 1944; arrived in France 26 December 1944;

> participated in the Alsace-Ardennes, Central Europe, and Rhineland campaigns;

> was at Ulm, Germany in August 1945; arrived in the U. S. at the New York Port

> of Embarkation 9 April 1946 and was inactivated there the following day.

 

The film begins with scenes at the camp where these men went through basic

training and then follows them on weekend passes at (I believe)

Hopkinsville, KY. It then shows camp scenes but I don't know which camp. If

the town was indeed, Hopkinsville, KY, then Camp Campbell, KY would make

sense.

 

Then, the film shows the men in Europe. Some scenes are at Ulm, Germany and

that fits with the description above. Other locations include the Danube

River, Heidelburg, and Paris, where the unit was getting ready to come home.

There are scenes of guarding German POW's, a crashed airplane, traveling in

convoys, and several small towns where they stopped for chow, etc. It's

actually one man's film of his buddies and their travels in WWII.

 

The seller I bought it from on ebay had no idea as to the original

photographer so the trail was cold right from the start. This isn't an

academy award winner but I'm sure any living vets of the 253rd Combat

Engineers would love to have a copy.

 

Any assistance you can provide about that unit would be a great help.

If you can find any information, I'll send you a copy.

 

Thanks for your consideration.

 

Sincerely,

 

Jim Herron

Email: hrvideo@mindspring.com

Address: 2016 N. Village Ave., Tampa, FL 33612

Phone: 813 932-3887

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Dear Jim:

 

Well this looks like a tough one indeed. I have searched through some of my research materials, etc. and the only reference I can find at the moment is this one. It's from a grave marker in:

 

LITTLE VALLEY RURAL CEMETERY

Route 353

Little Valley, NY

 

MATTHIES, Robert H. spouse of Ruth Marie died 8-25-2003 age 82 - US Army 253rd Engineer Brigade WW II

 

You may want to contact someone in that town to see if he has any living relatives or friends.

 

I will continue to search and of course if I come across anything at all, I will contact you immediately. In the interim you may to contact NARA in St Louis for morning reports, etc and NARA in College Park Maryland for after-action reports, etc. I have all the contact information in my forum section here:

 

http://www.6thcorpscombatengineers.com/engforum/index.php?showtopic=23

 

There is also a contact for a Richard Horrell from WWII Connections who does private research on units. If you do visit his site and contact him, please tell him I sent you his way.

 

Sounds like you have very rare footage there. A real treasure. Of course it would be more meaningful if you could attach some names and faces to it. I would love to see it myself. Are you planning on placing the media on DVD's etc., to make it more accessible?

 

I am going to place your letter in our Lost and Found section in the hopes that someone will run across it while performing a search on this unit. It's amazing how many people have found my site in the last year and have been able to reunite with old buddies, etc. That is the best part of all this and oh so rewarding.

 

Please stay in touch and I will do the same.

 

Warm regards,

Marion J Chard

Proud daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek

540th Combat Engineer WWII

Edited by Walt's Daughter
updated old forum link

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Received this later the same day:

 

Dear Marion-

 

Thank you for your reply.

 

Strangely enough, I ran one last attempt at a web search for "253rd

Engineers" and up came two names. One was the cemetery you listed and the

other is a man in Utica, NY who is alive and well. I called him today and

hopefully he will be able to come up with some names, although he says his

memory has slipped and he can't recall any names. I'm sending him a copy of

the video today which I hope will jog his memory. He did seem very alert and

interested in the film.

 

I did get one bit of information from him that the unit had gone on

maneuvers at Camp Campbell, KY in 1944 and that explains why there are

scenes of the men on a pass in Hopkinsville, KY. The unit was activated at

Camp Crowder, MO on 15 Oct 1943.

 

If you will give me your mailing address, I'll send one to you, also.

 

Thanks for your help.

 

Sincerely,

 

Jim Herron

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I have pictures of Robert Matthias, along with a few of their buddies, on R&R in Innsbruck Austria, from my dad's collection, and at Campbell.

 

Jim, in my email to you, I forgot to ask if you could pass along the contact information for the person in Utica. These men are all in, or about to be in, their 80's so we need to get what information is available soon or it will be lost for all time.

 

I've attached one of the great pictures. This is labeled:

PFC Joseph Moriarty

PFC Frank Perlberg

PVT Matthias

PVT Zolendy

PVT McGoldbrick

Corp Moran

PVT Edward Hollis

From top, taken Camp Campbell Aug. 4, 1944

 

 

Thanks

Gary

post-3-1151063034_thumb.jpg

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Here is more info provided by Richard Horrell of WWII Connections.

 

 

Dear Ms. Chard,

 

Commanded by Lt. Col. T.P. Hughes, the facts I have is that the 253rd was a part of Ninth Army. Not in my list for XIII or XVI Corps, so they must have been at the Army level.

 

Rather atypical for a unit of Ninth Army to have an Ardennes-Alsace Campaign credit, so they must have been in First or Third Army for a brief time before ending up in Ninth Army.

 

I will keep you up-to-date if I find further facts.

 

Happy July 4th Holiday,

Richard V. Horrell

WW 2 Connections

 

More info by Richard. This is an excerpt from his email to me:

 

Dear Ms. Chard,

 

Just a few more facts as per the 253rd.

 

Departed Boston Port of Embarkation, October 31, 1944

 

Sailed on the USS West Point AP-23

 

Arrived at Liverpool, England, November 8, 1944

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Marion,

I can't keep up with all the engineer battalions but I thought this one sounded familiar----guess not.

I checked my handy refererence book and it confirmed the 253rd Engr served in the 3 Campaigns that Jim mentioned. It lists them as serving occupation duty in Germany from 2 May until 31 Oct 1945.

 

Steve

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Hey, at this point as everyone can tell, every little tidbit is a juicy morsel. Thanks for everyone's contributions. B)

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I can't keep up with all the engineer battalions but I thought this one sounded familiar----guess not.

 

Hey! I was correct. Only 2 threads earlier, Gary Olin submitted a discussion about the 253rd Engrs.

 

Marion----are you trying to see if we are paying attention?!?!

 

<_<

 

Steve

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:lol::lol: They'll be a pop quiz in 10 minutes. -_-

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I just received letter back from my inquiry to the National Archives for 253rd unit information. When I did this about two years ago, the documents they listed had no obvious connection to the 253rd Engr C BN. THIS time, however, they came back with a list which includes the units history for 1943, 1944, 1945 through V-E day, and then still another for the remainder of their activation period. In addition, they listed after action reports for 1945. There was about $70.00 worth of pages in the listed materials.

 

Obviously, I intend to order the materials but it will take, according to their letter from 10-12 weeks to receive the material. I wish I lived closer to MD so that I could do the copying myself!

 

Once I get it, unless there are restrictions preventing it, I will attempt to share what I can with those interested.

 

Gary

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The documents will all be de-classified as mine were. I received over 2000 pages from NARA. I used a private researcher because of the volume of documents available on the 540th. A real lucky find.

 

Good luck with your search. Sounds like you are well on your way. Yes, thanks in advance for sharing. I know many will be looking forward to seeing them. B)

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Much to my surprise, I arrived home last evening and found the documents from the National Archives waiting for me, at least two months before I had anticipated getting them.

 

I received the 253rd Unit History documents for 1943, 1944 and through Sept 1945.

 

They have a lot of great information. There are also several unit photos.

 

After scanning them into PDF documents, they are quite large. Rather than break them up too much, I am going to attemtp to find a good spot on the web where they can loaded and easily found.

 

Suggestions are welcomed.

 

Gary

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I may have some space on one of my sites that I can rent to you for DIRT cheap. Let me get back to you this afternoon. You can upload them there and people can access them whenever they desire. Hopefully I'l send ya an email later when I get off of work.

 

Congrats. Ain't it exciting? :pdt12::pdt34:

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Hello,

I just found this site a few days ago, whilst searching for info on the 253rd, and have some to share. A member of my church was in the 253rd (A Co.), from inception through discharge in 1946.

 

Thomas Mowry, PFC, Truck Driver Light 345. He has told me about when they got to the UK, then over into the ETO. One thing he told me was that they were with the 7th Army, not the 9th. He was adamant on that point. I will get more details on the period leading up to VE day. Today we talked about getting out of Europe. He did not preform as a truck driver until after the war! He also said he was transferred to the 75th ID for the period involved with transporting troops from the interior of Europe, to coastal France. I am not clear if it was his unit, or himself that went to the 75th. The tone of the explanation suggests the latter. I will check.

There was a plan to use German PWs to assist in the enormous number of trucking assignments involved in shipping troops to Cherbourg, and other ports, for transit back home (I find this fascinating, for my Grandfather-in-law was an Estonian volunteer in the Luftwaffe, flying Arados in the Baltic...sinking Sov. subs...but ended the war in western Germany, and then 7 months as a PW, in France. I wish I had asked him more about things he did as a PW...). This was necessary because of so many men having points to get out, leaving fewer and fewer men to get the mundane jobs done. After a number of accidents, the Germans were moved to the right side, as observer/helper, and the GIs drove. He spoke of driving ALL OVER the ETO, picking up troops and getting them to the ports, so it was a much larger task than just moving his BN. As the operation was coming to a close, they would drive convoys of trucks to depots, where the bulk of the trucks were turned in and parked. Then the drivers would be loaded up into remaining trucks, and taken to the port for transit. His dates of departure and final ETS coincide with dates given by Richard Horrell, so he was reunited with the 253rd before shipping out.

He is going on an Honor Flight to Wash., DC, on the 21st of April, and I am fitting him out with a complete uniform for the trip. He never got involved with any Veteran's groups after the war, and now regrets that a bit. He spoke of looking for the name of a friend whose name may be on the memorial. He was atop a large shipment of explosives that detonated by accident, as he said "...left nothing, no truck, nothing." Anyhow, I have his rank, svc bars, and shoulder patch, am awaiting a set of ribbons and bolo badges, but have not found any unit crests, but he is thrilled with the fact that he can wear a complete uniform again. OK, he wears orthopedic shoes, but otherwise....

We took him to a WWII reenactment held that we (my sons and our "unit") participate in, at a train museum down here in Fl, and he had a good time there. Walked all over the place on his own...a very fit man!

Tom's two brothers were also in the Army, but one is deceased, and the other has no interest in any honor flights. This will be a high point for him, and if there is anyone else out there that has or knows of a remaining 253 man, do let me know. As I come up with more of his story, I will pass it on.

 

Michael Belanger

SFC (Ret), SF

St Petersburg, Fl

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https://youtu.be/7TlxjCiWDMs

 

253rd Video

Edited by Walt's Daughter
Sorry I am no longer able to post this video. See my reasons below, posted on June 15, 2016

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Sure enough! :pdt12:

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Unfortunately the video is no longer available as I forced to take it down, by the gentleman who provided it to me, God only knows why this action was taken, for as you saw (back in 2005), he offered to make copies of this CD for anyone who wanted one. Also note that this video was taken by a WWII veteran, and not the gentleman who offered to provide it to others.

 

I received a notice from YouTube that a note of protestation was filed by Jim against me, claiming I violated his copyrights, which affected my YouTube account, forcing it to shut down, which forced me to watch some silly video on copyright infringements. I then had to take a "test" on copyright laws, in order to restore my account. However, I now have a strike against my good name, and they also placed a six-month restriction on said account.

 

When my YouTube account was shut down, it affected dozens of WWII videos that I shared via my websites, including my No Bridge Too Far excerpts from my documentary, for no one including me could now view them.

 

Am I mad, you bet, for it not only was aggravating, but took precious time out of my schedule, trying to rectify this, but I now have a tarnished account/reputation.

 

:excl::armata_PDT_19::tearyeyed:

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Wow, some good news today, for I found this link in reference to another 253rd video. Sounds very cool. Would be happy to pay them to get this. :clappin2:

 

http://vintagefilmarsenal.com/stoll.html

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I appreciate the leads others have given me about the 253rd Engineers Combat Battalion.  It's helped me to put this history together.  The following information is based on your assistance, public records, and letter my father Pvt. Don H. Lafler, service no. 42019810 sent home to his family from induction until discharge.  Although specifics were not shared during censorship, he filled in some of the blanks after the surrender.

The 253rd started out as a unit of the 1142nd Engineers Combat Group activated on October 15th, 1943 stationed at Camp Crowder, Missouri. The battalion participated in the Tennessee Maneuvers in early 1944 as part of the 1142 Combat Group and was then stationed at Camp Campbell, KY as part of the Group. When the 1142nd Combat Headquarters Company sailed for England August 29, 1944, the 253rd Engineers stayed behind.  In October, the Battalion traveled by rail to Fort Miles Standish in Massachusetts, then sailed from Boston to England on the USS West Point, arriving there in early November. 

 

Company C of the 253rd Battalion was stationed at Camp Doddington in Cheshire near the railway centre at Crewe, England. On December 24, 1944 they were transported to the coast and shipped to France, arriving at the port of Cherbourg on December 29, 1944.  From there the company moved to western France to support U.S. Army troops in the Ardennes. The company was located at Sarrequimines on January 11, 1945. By January 18, 1945 he wrote his family that he was living under better conditions and eating steak, port chops and chicken.  In February 1945 they were located at Schirmeck attached to the 63rd Division running lumber mills, building bridges over the Saar River and clearing land mines. Don later lamented that he was deprived of points for discharge because their captain did not submit paperwork for participation in combat for which the 63rd Division was awarded a combat star.  Don reported that he did accumulate several months of combat time. Don was assigned a jeep and later wrote that he put over 10,000 miles on his jeep driving dispatched and personnel over a five month period.  In early March he made a trip to Nancy, France.  On March 30, 1945 the company crossed the Rhine River and entered Germany.  They accompanied the Seventh Army on its race toward the Austrian Alps.  Again, the company ran a lumber mill and secured supplies for bridge building.  On April 11, 1945 he reported that he had covered a lot of territory over the past few days and had passed through many towns were there wasn’t a complete building standing. Company C was stationed at Heidenheim throughout the summer and building bridges continued to be a high priority.  On May 25, 1945 he drove to Berchtesgarden (location of Hitler’s Eagles Nest).  Soldier were allowed to tour the site at that time.  On May 31, 1945 the company was participating in recreation, playing softball.  On August 16, 1945 he wrote that “we are operating lumber control points in railroad yards.  The company is spread over 250 miles now.”  On September 23, 1945 the company was broken up and he along with 35 others were attached to the Seventh Army 970 Engineers Maintenance Company stationed in Heidenheim and later outside Schwetzinger, ten miles from Manheim. On October 29, 1945 he wrote his family that “when I was in the 253rd Engineers we weren’t attached to any division.  We were Army engineers and worked under Army jurisdiction completely, only working with Divisions on certain things.” On November 18, 1945 he wrote that “we have changed to TSF (theater service forces) but are still under Seventh Army supervision” whose headquarters were in Heidelberg.

I also have photos of some of the soldiers in Company C and will be happy to share them.  I am including a list of soldiers identified below:

At Camp Crowder, MO (basic training)

George Collins

Al Marano

Bob Morris

Lee Salazzo

Steve Saraffin

 

At Gallitan, TN (April 1944)

Ameil Maattis (Yonkers NY)

Al Marano

Dick Passino (Gloversville NY)

Christ Vellucci (Brooklyn NY)

 

At Camp Campbell, Kentucky (July 1944)

Harold Mattison (Jamestown, NY)

Joe Priester (Buffalo, NY)

Al Smith (Lockport, NY)

Eddy Smith (Lockport, NY)

 

In Heidenheim, Germany ( Summer-Winter1945)

now serving with 970 Engineer Maintenance Motor Pool

21 Wild Strasse (former Panzer barracks)

            Peter Bleigh (Syracuse NY)

            Herb Hoak

            Dan Jipson

            Merril Kirkey

            Jack Minges

253rd Engr Combat BN.Camp Crowder 1944.JPG

253 Combat Engr Battalion pennant.jpg

253rd Engr Nashville-lunch on manuvers 1944.jpg

253rd Co C at Westminster, London Fall 1944.jpg

253_Engr_Co_C_after_retreat.JPG

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Excellent post and nice synopsis. Glad you joined our forum and was able to shed a little more light regarding the unit. It's nice that your dad was able to fill in the censored parts of his letter, so all wouldn't be lost. I'm sure everyone reading this post is grateful for your participation. 

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