Gilsdorf Bridge, April 1945 and Christmas, 1944
#1

Here are some more scans from my grandfather’s notebook. I interesting how much one can learn form just notes taken for that day’s activities. Also, you can tell something from what is not there as well. Notice what is written for Christmas Eve of 1944. "Ask Fred about guard", "See about scotch tape", "AP mines to be laid at 125E?" Nothing much said about the holiday.

 

Finally, I assume that the Gilsdorf Bridge entry is 1945 as there probably aren't as many "Gilsdorf" Bridges in Italy or N. Africa as there would be in central Europe. Looking at the notebook would answer that for sure, but I scanned these a while ago and I'm at work right now!

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#2

Capt O, isn't it great that you have your grandfather's notebook!

 

Gilsdorf bridge was a treadway bridge over the Sauer.

 

Check out this link

 

http://www.150th.com/rivers/sauer.htm

 

all the best to you!

 

Mary Ann

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#3

oh - and the 150th Combat Engineer Battalion was formed in 1943, mostly from draftees

from New England. They did their basic at Ft Devens and made the first assault crossings of the Rhine.

 

M1 has their link up on the main site.

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#4

Hi Capto and everyone,

over here in Luxembourg we have a town with the name of Gilsdorf.

 

By the way I got a very good dvd last monday from Germany about the Hurtgen forest the name is "You enter Germany" very informative and Tony Vaccaro is speaking in the movie don't know if anyone you of know him he made a lot of photos during the war he is a very kind man, I had the privilege to meat him once here in Luxembourg.

I will not make advertisement but this dvd is worth it but see for yourself, you can see some small movies from the dvd in english.

 

http://www.konejung-stiftung.de/You_Enter_Germany_EN.htm

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#5

More great stuff Todd. You're the greatest!

 

I especially like the line (second set), "At who's order do we revert to TF control as infantry?" For newbies, TF refers to task force.

 

I checked the records for 24 Dec 1944 and am listing all the actual cities for both battalions:

 

Lembach

Wingen

Hiedbronn

Liebanthal

Hirschthal

Woerth

Neiderbronn

Berthelming

Melch

Merkwiller

Zigelbourg

Zinswiller

Baerenthal

Schmalenthal

Phillipsbourg

Gumbrecthshoffen

Reichoffen

Ninterfeld

Griesback

Froeschwiller

Baubach

Marsbronn

Ingwiller

 

All above towns, villages and cities are listed as being in France. This is three months before the 540th crossed the Rhine.

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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#6

Rennog:

 

Yes, they certainly wouldn't be in Germany at that time. Way too early. :armata_PDT_37:

 

Todd, oh I see, the one entry could have been from much later. Got it. Still, Rennog's area looks like a likely candidate since the 540th were directly east of there later. I promise to look up April 45 when I get a chance. Would do that too tonight, but am getting tired. I think it's time for a relaxing crossword puzzle while lying in bed. Sounds good. Gotta put my feet up.

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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#7

CaptO

Thanks for your most interesting post from your Grandfather's log book .

I look forward to following subsequent entries .

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#8
As do I, for they are all treasures from heaven, as far as I am concerned.
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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#9

Well I looked into my grandfather's notebooks (one is more engineering oriented and the other is normal day-to-day army life) to try to date the Gilsdorf Bridge definitively. The engineering notebook, from which the Gilsdorf entry is taken, has dates with years in the begining - Dec 5 through Dec 22, 1943. Then there are about 3 blank pages followed by an entry dated 24 February. I am led to assume that this is 1945 (he didn't use it for more than a year?) due to the fact that the dates go through 3 May (Heillbronn Bridge) and then goes into his trip home. The journal of his trip home (July 14 - August 6) is interesting and have those scanned for future entries.

 

The entries that flank the Gillsdorf Bridge are the Heilbronn Bridge on 22 April (which as I mentioned before is discussed again in May) and Gailsdorf Bridge on 30 April.

 

I wish I had an engineering background so I could make sense of some of these entries, but alas it's not to be. Looking through the other journal does lead me to believe, however, that there are a lot of similarities between the normal day-to-day then as there is now. I only wish I were as organized as he was! The other journal (from which the Christmas entry is taken) begins June 5, 1944 and goes through April 3, 1945.

Maj Todd O. USMC, Retired
Grandson of LTC John O'Brien
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#10

Took the liberty of copying just the WWII entries regarding the link you left for us.

 

On November 10, 1938, the Heilbronn synagogue was destroyed and during 1939 the Jewish community was all but eliminated.

 

Starting in 1942 during World War II, the salt mines in and around Heilbronn were used to store art and artifacts from Germany, France and Italy. Similarly, important producers of the war industry were moved into the mine shafts. The expansion of the shafts was undertaken by labour brigades of the concentration camp branches in Kochendorf and Neckargartach. From Heilbronn all the way to Neckarelz numerous subterraneous complexes, some of them gigantic, were constructed and as of November 20, 1942 the Heilbronn Bureau of Labour had 8,000 forced labourers registered in its district.

 

In 1940 allied air raids started and the city and its surrounding area were hit about 20 times with minor damage. On September 10, 1944, a raid by the allies targeted the city and, specifically, the Böckingen train transfer station. 281 residents died as a result of 1,168 bombs dropped that day. The city was carpet-bombed from the southern quarter all the way to the Kilianskirche in the centre of town. The church burnt out.

 

The catastrophe for Heilbronn was the bombing raid on December 4, 1944. During that raid the centre of town was completely destroyed and the surrounding boroughs were heavily damaged. Within one half hour 6,500 residents perished. Of those, 5,000 were later buried in mass graves in the Ehrenfriedhof (cemetery of honor) in the valley of the Köpfer creek close to the city. To this day, a memorial is held annually in memory of those that died that day. As a result of the war Heilbronn's population shrank to 46,350 (see Bombings of Heilbronn in World War II).

 

After a ten-day battle with the advancing allies over the strategically important Neckar crossings World War II ended for the destroyed city on April 12, 1945 with occupation by US troops. Local NSDAP leader Drauz took time for numerous courts-martial while on the run from the allies and was hanged on December 4, 1946 in Landsberg because of executions of American prisoners of war he had ordered in March 1945.

 

Bless all the men who took time to document all of this. Journals are just the greatest!

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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