Talked to a 39th'er today - You gotta read
#1

I posted a thread several days ago regarding the letter I got from Alice and Paul Knudson (39th Combat Eng). Well Alice was kind enough to give my name, number, etc. to some of the remaining guys from the unit and I got to speak with a gentleman today named David Wagner.

 

He is going to send me a history of the 39th and it is approximately 45 pages long. Won't that be a fine addition to my collection? I can't wait. He is also sending me a personal story regarding Anzio.

 

As soon as I get them I of course will work full-tilt boogy to get them uploaded to the site so I can share them with all of you.

 

David told me that there are only about nine of them left and that is why I've had such a hard time getting in touch with anyone from the 39th CE. They are having their last reunion this fall in Missouri over the Labor Day weekend and invited me down. I don't know if I will be able to make it that weekend, but I sure appreciate the invite and will see what I can do.

 

Stay tuned. The hits just keep on comin'... :D

Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
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#2

He sent me the Anzio story tonight through email. Tell me this isn't a precious and one of a kind moment from the war??!!! :lol::D

 

Dear Marion,

 

 

It was great speaking with you today and I'm sending you the Great Stakerace now before I get to copy the history which should be done in a couple of days.

 

 

THE GREAT STAKE RACE AT ANZIO DOWNS

OR

THE MARE'S TALE

 

 

About the fourth day after landing on the Anzio Beachhead we

relieved the 179th infantry and took up their positions. After about

five or six days we were relieved by the SSF ( First Special Service

Force) and dug in a defensive line along the Mussolini Canal.

 

 

The Mussolini Canal was dug to drain the Pontine Marshes so that

the land could be used for farming and small towns. The earth that

was dug up was piled on one side of the canal and created a bank

or a berm which was about 9 or 10 feet high and about 15 or so

feet thick.

 

 

Two men would dig a dugout which was shored up by whatever

fenceposts or other wood that we could find and had a roof of about

5 feet of earth which protected us from anything but a direct hit.

Tony and I dug ours and even lined it with burlap. We slit open

sandbags and used the material like wallpaper.

 

 

Close to our dugout was one which held Fred Stuart and Danny

Stiglitz. Now Stuart was a bit older than Tony and I and he liked

Tony. One day he asked me if I would object if Tony and Danny

traded places. I didn't mind so we swapped partners. Fred Stuart

had two gold teeth in the front of his mouth and we jokingly took to

calling him "Copper Tooth." He had a sense of humor and didn't

seem to mind.

 

 

One of the guys in the company found this horse, a brown mare

with only one eye. Old Coppertooth ( he must have been about 28)

was a farmer and knew how to care for animals so he was given

the horse.

 

 

As long as we were down behind the bank the Germans couldn't

see us so he used to ride the horse when he had a spare moment.

He told us that the horse could run like the wind. He used the

company's commander's jeep to measure off a 1/4 mile stretch and

drove a fencepost to mark the end. He used to run the horse there

and the horse knew just where to stop and turn around.

 

 

The SSF which was just off to our left had also found a horse.

Their horse had a 50 caliber slug in him which some of the

farmboys got out and nursed him back to health. Since we used to

go out on patrol with the SSF the word got out that we had a

racehorse. The SSF boys thought that their horse was much

faster than ours.

 

 

So...........................one day one of them came over and

challenged us to race our horse against theirs. Coppertooth

conferred with Tony and they thought that with our horse we could

win very easily and make some money ( We hadn't been paid for

several months ). So Tony came over to me and said, "Wag,

you're a darn good talker so you go around and collect the bets

from all the men in "F" Company.

 

 

I did and collected over $500 that would be bet on the race. That

was a lot of money.

 

 

When the race was all set to go off, the guy from the SSF insisted

that a 1/4 mile run was not long enough and should be at least 1/2

mile long. So a jeep was used and 1/2 mile was measured off.

 

 

The two horses were at the starting line and one of the guys pulled

his .45 and fired the starting shot. Our mare took off like greased

lightning and left the other horse behind. We ( F Company ) were

already counting our winnings and congratulating one another.

 

 

However......strange things happen and they surely did that

morning. Our horse had a fantastic lead but when he got to the

place where he stopped every day and turned around, he just

stopped and refused to go any further. The SSF horse just

breezed on by and won the race.

 

 

With a heavy heart I had to turn the money over to the SSF. And

when all the guys in F Company complained to me I told them to

go talk to Coppertooth and Dickherber, I was just a bookkeeper.

 

 

This story has been told and retold at our annual reunions for

many, many years. It was just one of the crazy things that Tony

Dickherber and I got involved in.

 

 

David N. Wagner

Co.F

39th Combat Engineer Regiment

Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
Reply
#3

Marion,

 

That is truly one funny story, although I am surprised that anyone who claimed to know animals could not have expected that horse would stop on a dime at the quarter-mile mark, just as he had been doing all along. Now, if Coppertooth had been, say, a dude, like maybe some eastern boy from back east...someone who had never seen or been around a horse... but he was a farmer, one who claimed he knew animals! Oh, well, perplexing, but still, very funny when you picture that horse skidding to a stop! Which conjures up yet another picture, equally funny in its own funny-sick kind of way: That of the rider being pitched forward over the horse's neck and through the air when the race came to an abrupt end. :o:lol:

 

Marilyn

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#4

Good morning Marilyn:

 

You may have already seen my posting in WBG's Forum, but as I was saying what made this story even more precious was the fact that it was done under such horrendous conditions. Anzio was one of the worst hell holes during the war. There was daily shelling that went on for MONTHS. It's amazing that anyone survived and eventually made their way to Rome. I'm sure the other vets who visit this forum would whole-heartedly agree.

 

Hey maybe that farmer wasn't as savvy as he claimed to be! :lol:

 

I think this story will go on to be one of my all time favorites. This one will definitely make it's way into my book! ^_^

Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
Reply
#5

Marion

 

Yes, you are quite right in all of the above and I was being too analytical. But, I am still laughing at the thought of that horse screeching to a halt! :lol: Marilyn

Reply


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