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Larry Strawther

Need help finding my Uncle's exact WWII unit - 19th Engr, Algeria, Tunisia, Sicily, Italy

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I am trying to get info on my dad’s younger brother, Robert Earl Strawther, who served in the Army as an engineer from 1941-1945 .  His wife and children have all passed away and were not able to pass on information about him to me so I’m trying to reconstruct to do his service justice.  All I have are bits I have assembled over the years.

From his separation papers:

  • Inducted 11 June 1941 – (draftee, civilian occupation carpenter)  -- inducted at Jefferson Barracks, MO.  I assumed he went to Fort Leonard Wood, where ironically three of his older brothers were finishing building barracks. 
  • His separation papers list his unit as the 19th Engineer Regiment
  • Departed for Ireland on 31 Aug 1942, arrived 7 SEP 1942
  • Participated in Algerian, Tunisian, Sicilian and Italian campaigns

Per bits told to his wife, and his brothers

  • Landed on the coast of Africa  (my educated guess is Oran)
  • LST never made it to the beach… had to jump and swim to shore….
  • Somehow got caught behind enemy lines … went a number of days behind enemy lines without food… except for chocolate (they tied chocolate bars to his uniform).  Only ate chocolate for many days and he never wanted to eat it again rest of his life.
  • Re: Sicily “When Patton’s name came up, Bob was really upset… was in the infantry under him…  "he was a gloryhound… one time they were ready to cross a river, but they got orders to hold until Patton could get there …  While waiting, they watched the Germans re-fortify the town …"
  • Per his widow:  "When we visited Italy he showed me some of the places he was at… “  Anzio?  ”  “I think so.”
  • In Italy he “used to build pontoon bridges…”
  • Italians would blow them up and one time he didn’t get out fast enough… got his ankle smashed…  
  • His wife thought that during this same event one of his army friends got blown up and it traumatized him.  He reacted badly to loud noises for many years, but still had a tic for the rest of his life. 

He got a medical discharge in early 1945.    Separated out of Camp Hahn in Southern California

The photo below is the only one we have that shows a bit of his unit patch. 

Any help narrowing down his specific units and where he might have served in Sicily and Italy would be most appreciated.   

Thanks for any help.




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The patch seems the one of the Transportation Corps with the winged wheel. Please, check if in your papers there are some reference to the 19th Engineer Combat Group. It was formed by the 401st Engineer Combat Battalion and the 402nd Engineer Combat Battalion. I can retrieve some other info about this unit. Let me know.

All the best


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Andrea -- Thanks for the response.  His separation papers said he was with the 19th Engr Regt.  that landed in Northern Ireland, then was in Algeria, Tunisia, Sicily and Rome-Arno campaigns.  I did some research on the 19th , but some documents said this was like an umbrella regiment that supplied engineers to many units.  So your tip on the Transportation Corps is very helpful.  His wife said he didn't talk much about his war experience but he did say he built bridges.  


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attached here there are the extract from Engineer History 5th Army related to the 19th Engineer Combat Group.

  • Engineer history - 5thArmy - Med Theater_Vol-1-Sec3 related to Volturno river until May 11, 1944
  • Engineer history - 5thArmy - Med Theater_Vol-2-Sec6 - Arno river to winter 1944-45
  • Engineer history - 5thArmy - Med Theater_Vol-2-Sec8 - The Po river campaign

I hope you enjoy


Engineer history - 5thArmy - Med Theater_Vol-1-Sec3.pdf

Engineer history - 5thArmy - Med Theater_Vol-2-Sec6.pdf

Engineer history - 5thArmy - Med Theater_Vol-2-Sec8.pdf

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Hello and welcome. We have quite a bit of info on the 19th. Simply type "19th" in the search engine box located on the right hand side of our forum. Make sure you are on the Homepage of the forum, before beginning your search, as it will look through the entire site. 

Also visit the main site for VI Corps. Again, use the search feature there. It will include the memoirs from Ernest Wayne Warner - 19th Engineer, etc.

Happy hunting!

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