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160th Engineer Combat Battalion WW II ( new member)

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Easy-peasey! :14_2_107:

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Account from Edwin N. Blasingim,First Sergeant, B Company, 160th Engineer Combat Battalion, as told to his son.

From Utah Beach, August 12, 1944, it took the 160th Engineer Combat Battalion eleven days to reach Fontainebleau, about 270 miles by their route of march. They went through towns where the 5th infantry division had just been, there were destroyed buildings and burned out vehicles that were still smoldering. When they reached Fontainebleau they were with the 5th facing the German front. Company C was in Fontainebleau getting the 5th across the Seine. B Company was about ten miles south of Fontainbleau completing a treadway bridge across the Le Loing River ( a tributary that flowed into the Seine just east of Fontainebleau ). It was August 24, 1944. A new Sherman tank, temporarily assigned from another outfit, was parked just above B Company guarding them as they built the bridge. This crossing was in the vicinity of Nemours and the 989th Engineer Treadway Bridge Company was working with B Company. There was a small deserted town across the Le Loing, up a gradual hill and about a half mile or so away. The town consisted of a few houses, a couple of buildings and a church. B Company was taking fire from a mortar position somewhere out of sight behind the town. They couldn't spot him but they figured that there was a forward observer in the town because the mortar fire was very accurate. Good ears could usually tell when the mortar fired but the fighting in Fontainebleau sometimes made it difficult to be sure, sometimes the whistle was the only warning but when you heard "incoming" you scrambled for the nearest foxhole. This was the first time these men had worked under fire and they were nervous, they were scared. Suddenly there was a huge explosion and everybody hit the dirt, scared to death and expecting the next blast. Men close to foxholes crawled in and men too far away hugged the ground in the lowest places they could find. There was silence until a 76mm shell casing rattled off of the side of the tank and fell in the dirt. The church and and it's steeple were gone, the old highest point in town. The tank crew had zeroed in on the church and fired one round, without telling anybody. The mortar fire stopped, for a while.

 

Pfc.James N. Corley, classified as a Demolition Specialist, was working on the bridge that day. He was assisting the 989th with inflating ponton bridge sections. Pfc. James H. Young was nearby when James Corley was hit with shrapnel. James Young told his son that there was a loud explosion and he turned to see James Corley on the ground. James Corley took a piece of shrapnel in the shoulder that resulted in the loss of the use of his arm. James N. Corley and James H. Young were awarded Purple Hearts, they have both passed but this account is remembered and shared by their sons. James Corley's son Keith has been trying to learn all that he can about his Dad's service in World War II. We made contact through Marion's website. Keith sent this picture of his Dad.

 

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James N. Corley, Pfc.

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Great recounting of that incident. Gives us a good perspective of what they saw and felt.

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Fort Ethan Allen was the nicest place that the 160th Engineer Combat Battalion was stationed and trained. The fort was just inland from the west coast of Vermont, close to Burlington and on the Winooski River. The 160th was there in the Summer-Fall of 1943. The river was a great place to train for assault crossings and bridge building. Dad said that he took the longest march that he took in the Army while he was at Fort Ethan Allen.These are a few pictures of the fort in 1943. In this case, it was something to write home about.

 

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Thelbert O. Kallam, Sgt., Herman S. Landrith, Ssgt., and unknown in front of barracks, Fort Ethan Allen summer 1943.

 

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Barracks from front door.

 

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From front porch.

 

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B company barracks. Came from Fort Meade where there were no lawns, only sand.

 

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From front porch.

 

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Robert N. Weigand, 1stLt.

 

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Edward J. Dawgiello, Pfc.

 

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Unknown at Fort Ethan Allen.

 

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Frank W. Prinz, Tec5.

 

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O.G. Anderson, Tec5.

 

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O.G. Anderson, Tec5.

 

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O.G. Anderson, Tec5.

 

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O.G. Anderson, Tec5.

 

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Winooski River.

 

 

 

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Great to see the pics from training camp too. Merry Christmas!

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Account from Edwin N. Blasingim, First Sgt., B Company,160th Engineer Combat Battalion, as told to his son.

The 160th Engineer Combat Battalion had just spent the winter on maneuvers in Tennessee, sleeping on the ground in tents, freezing their tails off and training hard to prepare to meet their enemy. They left Tennessee and convoyed to Camp Rucker, Alabama where they got to see some of them. There was a p.o.w. camp across the road from the 160th's barracks. The p.o.w.s had been sleeping in dry beds in new barracks, eating warm food and they did little work that anyone could see. Every Sunday afternoon about a hundred of them would be marched off post for a few hours. It was the spring-summer of 1944 and these p.o.w.s were the enemy that caused the men of the 160th to leave their homes and families and go through rigorous training and then to fight in a bloody war. In a couple of months the 160th would be in Europe and some of them would be killed by these p.o.w.'s fellow soldiers. It was tough to have to see them every day and there was extreme resentment, " We thought that these prisoners were treated a lot better than they should have been".

 

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German P.O.W. camp, Fort Rucker, 1944.

 

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German P.O.W.s working on road outside 160th barracks, Fort Rucker,1944.

 

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M.P. barracks for German P.O.W.s, Fort Rucker, 1944.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by glen blasingim

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Believe it or not, most people aren't even aware that there were POW camps here in the United States!

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Marion, I learned that there were p.o.w. camps in the United States but I did not realize that there were so many. Whenever I am looking at a fort or camp's history it seems that there was a p.o.w. camp there, and some very early in the war. The 160th was there when prisoners were taken. After they crossed the Rhine the 160th stayed south of Berlin and went south following the eastern border of Germany into Austria. Many times, as they headed east there would be a march of surrendered German soldiers headed west, single file along the road side their columns stretching for miles. Sometimes it seemed they were on their own. If they knew they were going to be prisoners, the Americans were the first choice.

I remember that there was a young German couple with a young son in our neighborhood. My first memory of them is from about 1952. They spoke very little English and what they did speak had such a strong German accent that I could not understand it. I remember how friendly my Dad was to them and I could not understand how he could do that ( even at my age I knew something about what had gone on in the war). I recently learned that Karl made our kitchen cabinets there at our old house. Dad would stop and visit them and have long conversations. I even asked him if these weren't the same people that he fought against in the war. He said the war was over. My Dad visited them occasionally up until he quit driving a few years ago. They were Karl and Hedwick, they raised two sons and they still live in the old neighborhood.

 

Glen Blasingim

 

 

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Bless your dad. He had an open heart and mind!

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Towards the last of the war the Germans saw their war was lost and surrendered to p.o.w. collection points in huge numbers. The 160th assisted with handling the prisoners, they had to be guarded, searched, documented, fed, watered, and marched to p.o.w. camps. These are a few pictures from the 160th Engineer Combat Battalion book. These pictures were taken April 1945.

 

Glen Blasingim

 

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I asked Dad if he remembered Archie Mayes," Oh yeah, Captain Mayes, I remember him". I told Dad that Archie S. Mayes had been enlisted for a couple of years, went to OCS and received his commission and served with the 160th during World War II. After the war he transferred to the U.S.Air Force and retired as a Brigadier General after 35 years of service. Dad said, "If any body deserved to be a General, it was him. He was a man who knew how to do things, and was a likable kind of person too". I told Dad that General Mayes passed away this September. Dad knew him as Captain Mayes and he only had good to say about him. So I couldn't not tell this.These are a few pictures of Archie S. Mayes, Brigadier General. U.S.A.F.

 

Glen Blasingim, son of Edwin N. Blasingim, First Sergeant, Company B, 160th Engineer Combat Battalion

 

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He has a likeable face! :pdt12:

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These pictures of men of the 160th ECB, Company B, were all taken at the same place in the summer of 1945. We know who they all are but we don't know the place or exact date these pictures were taken.They appear to have been taken adjacent to a parade ground which could indicate a camp in the United States. We would be pleased to know if someone recognizes this place. Kallam, Blasingim and Baxter are wearing insignias of the rank that they were discharged with. If anyone recognizes any of the men in these pictures we would love to know something about them. I have been thinking that these pictures are the last ones taken of these men together as they prepared to part ways.They are:

 

Oscar G. Anderson, Tec5 Indianapolis, Ind

Harold G. Baxter, Tec5 Pittsburg, Penn

Edwin N. Blasingim,1st Sgt. Chattanooga, Tenn

Joseph W. Bolek, Sgt. Hammond, Ind

Thelbert O. Kallam, Sgt. Stonefield, N.C.

Herman S. Landrith, SSgt. Walkertown, N.C.

Frank W. Prinz, Tec5 Indianapolis, Ind

Oscar Anderson's cousin(name unk.,not in 160th),TSgt Indiana

 

Glen Blasingim

 

 

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Top l-r, Prinz,Landrith,O.G.'s cousin, bottom l-r Baxter,Anderson   post-2453-0-52796300-1452729964_thumb.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

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Baxter  post-2453-0-87550300-1452730175_thumb.jpg

 

 

 

 

Blasingim   post-2453-0-38923400-1452730249_thumb.jpg

 

 

 

Bolek  post-2453-0-99461500-1452730272_thumb.jpg

 

 

 

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Landrith   post-2453-0-54940900-1452730342_thumb.jpg

 

 

 

Prinz   post-2453-0-06710100-1452730377_thumb.jpg

 

 

 

O.G.'s cousinpost-2453-0-96686200-1452730431_thumb.jpg

Edited by glen blasingim
No picture captions

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Oh you know that I love seeing these!!!!! Thank you for all your efforts. I know that while we may not have a not of people posting (like in the "old" days), we have tons of readers/visitors who benefit greatly from member posts!

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Account from Edwin N. Blasingim,First Sgt., Company B, 160 Engineer Combat Battalion, as told to his son.

 

On August 12, 1944,the LST that carried Dad and many of the men of the 160th anchored off of Utah Beach and the men with their rifles and full packs went over the side into smaller boats that took them ashore. Dad said that he didn't even get his feet wet. Utah Beach was a huge confusing traffic jam, thousands of men, hundreds of vehicles, LSTs lining the beach and three roads out.These men of the battalion started their journey across France on foot. They marched about three miles west from the beach, about half way to Sainte-Mere-Eglise, to a large field where the 160th was forming a convoy. They pitched pup tents and spent two days there while the rest of the men, supplies and equipment arrived. The completed convoy headed out for the Seine River and the German front. These were the last days of " Operation Overlord ", this phase of the war would be over when the Germans had been pushed back across the Seine.

The 160th convoy was organized by companies with Headquarters and Service company in the lead.The convoy moved like an accordion. One minute you were stopped in traffic and the the next you were trying to catch up. Your foot was either on the gas or the brake. The convoy made an effort to bypass towns but when they couldn't they breezed right through. The 160th traveled as far as they could each day, one day they covered about seventy five miles. They went through places that had been destroyed by recent fighting and they skirted the fighting at the Falaise Gap when they convoyed from Avranches to Alencon. They did a few small assignments like providing security, making small road or bridge repairs or even blowing a bridge that was of use to the enemy. The big assignment was to get to the front quickly.

Dad sometimes rode in a jeep and sometimes he was a back-up driver for a 6x6, " the best driving vehicle the U.S. Army had ". When the convoy was moving they often yielded the right of way to vehicles that were trying to pass them. Some of those vehicles were gas trucks, 6x6s loaded with "Jerry cans" of gasoline. Somewhere ahead of the 160th was an Armored Division with a lot of thirsty tanks.

Each afternoon H&S would send a few vehicles ahead to secure a place for the night, big enough to park a battalion convoy and usually close to water. The area was patrolled and secured and a perimeter guard was set up that changed every four hours. Water points were set up and and rolling kitchens started preparing the evening meal. Sometimes the men would get into the nearby stream and wash off and even rinse out some clothing.

The men were not told what route they were taking or what their destination was. Dad said that things always seemed to be in a state of confusion, but they managed to move six hundred and fifty men with equipment to build roads and bridges, clear mines and fight like infantry across France in eleven days.

 

Cartoon drawn by Paul E. Tuttle, SSgt., H&S Company, 160 ECB from Morristown, New Jersey. His impression of a 160th convoy ( from 160th Battalion book).

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Map of convoy route.

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Gas Truck.

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One reason the Engineers are in a hurry to get up front.

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Account from Edwin N. Blasingim,First Sgt., Company B, 160 Engineer Combat Battalion, as told to his son.

 

The Germans marched into Echternach in May of 1940, occupied the town and took vicious control of the entire country. The U.S.Army liberated most of Luxembourg and Echternach in September of 1944. In the Battle of the Bulge the Germans penetrated Echternach again and there was heavy fighting there until the Germans were pushed back across the Sure ( Sauer ) River in early January of 1945. Americans held the town now but the men thought that all of the Germans were not gone. There were still a few hiding and observing and passing what they learned to their friends across the river. Read this interesting account by Earl R. Stonefield,Sgt.,of the 160th, Company B. It is in the February 1999 issue of Bulge Bugle on page 9. His account is titled " Road Block ". Try this link. http://www.veteransofthebattleofthebulge.org/vbob/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/1999-Feb.pdf

A few days before the assault crossing preparations were being made each night. Under the cover of darkness, boats were quietly hand carried into positions north of town along the river close to their launch points. Along with materials and supplies they were hidden behind whatever cover was available so that nothing could be seen from the far side of the river. Artillery was moved close to where it would be needed and placed out of sight so that it could easily be moved into firing position.

When the assault started in the early morning hours of February 7, Dad said that about the time the boats started launching the Germans lit the place up with Flares. " It was like daytime and we were all scared".Dad said that some men were hit before they could get into their boat. German artillery started two large fires on our bank that back lit the men crossing the river. They discovered that the Germans knew a lot more about what was going on than they thought.

The helpful people at the U.S.Army Engineer History Office sent me this account, I am not sure of the author but it is from someone from the 160th. I thank them and would like to share this with anyone who is interested in our engineers.

 

 

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The first photograph is a picture of Echnernach and the Sure River. This view is looking east and Echternach is the town in the upper center of the view that has several spires. The first crossing point is just northwest of town.( this is a pre WW II photograph that shows the lay of the land )

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The second photograph is of Echternach before WW II.

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The third photograph is of Echternach while the 160th was there.

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These photographs are of the Echternach assault crossing area taken after the action. The river is almost back to normal. The photographs are from the 160 Engineer Combat Battalion book. Notice the barbed wire on the far shore, it was under water when our men were fighting to cross it. The 160th was never able to complete a bridge at Echternach.

 

Glen Blasingim

 

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I am thrilled to see all this on our forum. Thank you again for your diligence and dedication. So many will appreciate your efforts, including ME!

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Marion, thanks for the " attaboys ". I appreciate that you like this. I am grateful to be a member of your forum where these posts get viewed by so many interested people. The 160th posts we have made have been viewed over a thousand times since last fall. I do wish that someone from the 160th or someone who has a relative or friend who served with them and reads this would contact us. Maybe they have something to add, a picture or a memory. That would make my day.

 

Glen Blasingim

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My thoughts exactly! Proof this week elsewhere on the forum, where a member resumed posting after numerous years. Every time this happens, it brings me so much joy and hope. Things come full circle and you never know when and if it may happen.

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From everything I can read, my Dad who was on the shore of the Sure river at Echternach on February 7 and 8, 1945, should have been able to wear the Distinguished Unit ribbon. Everything I read says that each member of the unit is entitled to wear it if he was in the unit at the time of the award and can continue to wear it after he leaves the unit. I have never seen it and my Dad does not know anything about it. Dad's medals have been replaced and it could have been in the originals but he did not receive it with the replacements. He was in 160 ECB, Company B. Does this document authorize wearing of that ribbon?

 

Glen Blasingim

 

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Oh absolutely!

DUC Background:

  • The Distinguished Unit Citation was established as a result of Executive Order No. 9075, dated 26 February 1942. The Executive Order directed the Secretary of War to issue citations in the name of the President of the United States to Army units for outstanding performance of duty after 7 December 1941. The design submitted by the Office of the Quartermaster General was approved by the G1 on 30 May 1942.
  • The Distinguished Unit Citation was redesignated the Presidential Unit Citation (Army) per DF, DCSPER,
  • The emblem is worn by all members of a cited organization and is considered an individual decoration for persons in connection with the cited acts and may be worn whether or not they continue as members of the organization. Other personnel may wear this decoration while serving with an organization to indicate the unit has been awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.
  • Order of precedence and wear policy for unit awards is contained in Army Regulation (AR) 670-1. Policy for awards, approving authority, and supply of the unit award emblem is contained in AR 600-8-22. The policy for display of unit awards on guidons and flags and supply of streamers is contained in AR 840-10.

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Oscar G. Anderson, Tec 5, fought with the 160 Engineer Combat Battalion, Company B in France, Luxembourg, Germany and Austria in 1944 and 1945. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge that winter. Like all Combat Engineers, he did whatever he was ordered to do but his official duty was operating a utility truck. His truck was like a weapons carrier and carried tools for use by the engineers to make equipment repairs in the field. He worked with supply and brought needed parts to men in his company. In the performance of his duties he interacted with most of the men in B Company and many others. O.G. was very sociable and had a likable personality, " a real talker " as Dad would say.

O.G. called his wife Lucille " 'Cille " and she affectionately called him " Red " for his light reddish hair. Lucille was a great cook and every few days she sent a batch of homemade goodies to her sweetheart. O.G. would always share them with Dad and O.G.'s other buddies. Dad always sent his compliments to the cook.

O.G. was the only friend from the 160th that Dad socialized with after they came home from the war. My Mom and Dad visited O.G. and Lucille in their home in Indianapolis, Indiana and O.G. and Lucille visited them at our home in Florida. When they visited Mom and Dad they sat at the dining room table and talked and drank coffee until the wee hours.

In the 1960s Dad met O.G. and Lucille at a cabin on Lake Harris in Florida for a couple of days of fishing. O.G. and Dad fished and talked together for two days. I would love to have a recording of those " war stories".

O.G. retired from the city of Indianapolis and started a fishing reel repair business on his property, more of a labor of love and a means of socializing than a way to produce income. He ran that business until he passed away some years ago. O.G. was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star during his service to his country. He was a good friend of Dad's and Dad has not forgotten O.G., he still tells me about his old friend.

 

O.G. at Fort Ethan Allen

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O.G. at Mainz, Germany

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O.G. at Reims, France on the way home

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O.G. about time of discharge

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Note from Lucille after O.G. passed

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Sounds like such a wonderful human being. So nice that they remained friends after the war. Wonderful memories.

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