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KDale

344th Engineers

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My father was Major Charles Finley Lewis of the 344th Engineers throughout WWII. They were in North Africa by late 1942, in Sicily and Italy, and went into the southern part of France after DDay.

 

Their most famous exploit was rebuilding the bridge across the Rhone at Lyon in only eight hours--while ducking a sniper's bullets and contending with the carnival atmosphere of the good citizens of Lyon who insisted on riding their bikes back and forth across the new bridge.

 

At the end of the war they were in Germany---and rebuilt the streetcar system in Munich with the help of German engineers who were POWs.

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My father was Major Charles Finley Lewis of the 344th Engineers throughout WWII. They were in North Africa by late 1942, in Sicily and Italy, and went into the southern part of France after DDay.

 

Their most famous exploit was rebuilding the bridge across the Rhone at Lyon in only eight hours--while ducking a sniper's bullets and contending with the carnival atmosphere of the good citizens of Lyon who insisted on riding their bikes back and forth across the new bridge.

 

At the end of the war they were in Germany---and rebuilt the streetcar system in Munich with the help of German engineers who were POWs.

 

Sounds like your father and my grandfather had about the same tour of duty of there. You'll like the site; lots of information. Welcome aboard!

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Welcome. I caught a moment in the hotel lobby to say hello. I am in Texas right now, so will post more later, but can put you in contact with several others.

 

If you haven't already, check out the list of search results for the 344th:

 

344th Engineer Search Results

 

Warmly,

Marion

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Well, hi sister Karen. Our father, Charles F. Lewis started WWII in the North Africa Campaign as a captain and I think company commander of "C" Company of the 344th. By the end of the war he was a Lt. Colonel and commander of the 344th. Karen did not mention that he was awarded the Croix 'de Guerre by the French for linking the people on either side of the Rhone at Avignon after all the bridges there had been destroyed by the Germans. I recommend to all those interested in WWII history to read Rick Atkinson's Trilogy. The third one on continental Europe was just released in May.

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Hi:

 

We talked a bit via email. Nice to see you here.

 

I do have the Atkinson's Trilogy. I have not read the second or third books yet. Someday will get around to it. One of my veteran friends is reading the third book right now and is really enjoying the read about the invasion of southern France.

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I am new to this site and forum. My Great Uncle, Jerome J. Massoth served in the 344th E Company. He had told my parents in his last years about being under sniper fire while building bridges, that is how he became a Staff Sergeant. He got a battlefield promotion after his Staff Sergeant was killed on a bridge by a sniper. As he had told it many of the men in his company were killed that way. He suffered from battlefield fatigue from watching everyone get killed and they couldn't fight back, they just kept sending out more men to keep building bridges. As he explained it, one day he went to his superiors and said he wasn't going out there anymore. He was shipped back to the states around March-April 1945 to be processed out with an honorable discharge. What I found interesting was he was originally with the 113th Engineers 38TH Infantry Division "Cyclones" of the Indiana State Guard. They were sent to Ft Shelby for training but he didn't stay with that unit which went to the Pacific. He was moved to 344th with the VI Corps while at Ft Shelby and stayed with them until early 1945. I am starting to build a shadow box to honor him-he passed a few years ago. My mother was going through his belongings and found the Book "the 344th goes Traveling along with a map showing everywhere they went, how long they stayed at each location, how long they spent on a ship between each location and that on thanksgiving day one year at sea they only ate K Rations the whole day. She also found his own personal Photos of the battlefields and bridges, his original ribbons and his 344th Unit Pin. Also have his 38th Infantry division Annual from Ft Shelby before he joined the VI Corps. A lot of information to go thru when I can get up to Indiana.

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Welcome to the forum.

 

Ya, these men went through hell, not only did they have to build bridges, but they built them under fire. While there are only a few, I have gotten mad at some infantryman who kind of poo-pooed combat engineers. Of course I vehemently defend them and let them know in no uncertain terms what these men had to endure. Many of the men also fought as infantry and they were always at the front, either fighting or preparing the way for tanks and infantrymen, etc., etc.

 

Sounds like you have a lot of fascinating information to filter through. Can't wait to hear more and see what you have.

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Hi:  Welcome to the forum. However, I am going to move your posts to their own topic, listed as the 113th, since this is the 344th section. Thanks! Hopefully I will have that done this morning.

Glad you found us too and happy to see that you have a photo to share with us. 

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Oh I see. Yes, then this is in the right place. Love the photos!!!

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Oh gosh, post as many as you wish. WE love it!

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Hi Brock,

I am sure our Uncle knew each other both coming from the Indiana State Guard.  Lots of History with them.  My motber has all of,her Uncle,photos and the 113 and the 344th annuals,with the entirw geoup photos bwfore deployment.  I have his map that he wrote on that details all their travels, time in each country, specific routes, time,onboard ships and even what the ate for,thanksgiving dinner.

 

Roger

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What a great development. Looks like the two of you have lots to share and discuss. Happy to have both of you on the forum. 

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My email is repbrock@msn.com.  I would love to trade information and documents.  I am most happy to send all the information I have.  One of the more interesting artifacts I have is a homemade knife with the initials "RSW"  It has the name of the town, which I can't read completely "???sheck, Texas and then it has all the places this person was at starting with Nova Scotia, Scotland, England...Germany"  You can read them if you look closely.  It also has some writing on the back that I can't read.

 

Would be great to know who RSW was.

2013-02-18 18.43.18.jpg

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Can you possibly look through your photos and information to see if Tony is any of them.  His real name was Alfred Coesens, but he went by Tony.  Unfortunately had PDSD and never really recovered after the war.  Given some of the photos I have, I can understand. 

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