1264th Engineer Combat Battalion
#1

My dad, Capt. Robert (Bob) Payne, served in the 1264th Engineer Combat Battalion from inception at Camp Bowie at Brownwood, Texas in 1944. The 1264th ended up in the 1110th Engineer Combat Group, at Bad Godesberg working mostly on the Western approach. Other units in the 1110th included the 148th and 207th Engineer Combat Battalions, the 1368th Dump Truck Company, 631 Light Equipment Company and 329 Harbor Craft Company part of "First American Army" commanded by General Hodges, under General Bradley's 12th Army Group.

Dad died in 1999 and to honor his memory I am searching for information to flesh in the details of his stories. I have the unit history and the report on construction of the Hodges Bridge at Bad Godesberg as my starting point which I will share as I can.

John Payne

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#2

Dear John:

 

Welcome to the forum. We will do our best to provide you with further information. Would love to see the info regarding the bridge.

 

If you go to the main site and type "Hodges Bridge" into the search box, you will come up with a number of links. I'm sure you will be interested in these.

 

I can put you in touch with several of the men mentioned in those links. Just let me know.

 

Also have info on several of the units you mention:

 

148th, 207th, 631st, etc. Once again, go to main site and type those in the search engine. Will bring you to pages of info, including men who served in the units.

 

 

Warmly,

M1

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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#3

Hello

My Father was also in the 1264th Combat Engineer Battalion. He also went through Fort Hood Tx. his name is William Edward Wells. We are so fortunate that he is still with us and in great health, despite what the Germans did to him. He will be 87 on Dec 7th of this year. He was originally in the Army Specialist Corp which sent 200 men to the University of Dayton to study engineering for the rebuilding of Europe after the war. Once things escalated he was transferred into the 1264th. He was wounded in the Rhineland campaign and spent 14 months in the hospital. He was out before the bridge at Remagen. He does not speak of it at all with the exception of an occasional funny story. He still has nightmares but is the best example of a good man I have ever known. I'm sure the same thing can be said for your Father. Those men were cut from a better cloth. Our Father's served together and might have known each other. If you would like I will ask him. I also bought a book that was written by men in that unit and was printed in Germany in 1945. I found it in an antique bookstore in FLA. I read the forward and cried. They said " We are not writing this for us because we would like to forget what we saw here." We are writing to the future children of these men who will inevetibly ask, Pop what did you do in the big war?" They went on to say that" ..."And he will never speak of it." They wrote that book to me and you. I gave it to my Dad and the only thing he said is." Whoever said time heals all wounds never saw this stuff, cause some just don't heal. If you want any info from the book I would be happy to get it for anyone. I would love to hear more about your dad.

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#4

Dear Proud Son:

 

Welcome to the fold and BIG hello to your father. Tell him ESSAYONS from me!

 

I got your email and must admit, I shed a few tears while reading. It was so touching. I am glad you found us and maybe, just maybe, we can coerce a few stories from your father, since there are other veterans here too.

 

Regardless, I hope we can shed some more light on the subject.

 

In the meantime, all my best to you and your father.

 

Marion alias M1

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
Hello

My Father was also in the 1264th Combat Engineer Battalion. He also went through Fort Hood Tx. his name is William Edward Wells. We are so fortunate that he is still with us and in great health, despite what the Germans did to him. He will be 87 on Dec 7th of this year. He was originally in the Army Specialist Corp which sent 200 men to the University of Dayton to study engineering for the rebuilding of Europe after the war. Once things escalated he was transferred into the 1264th. He was wounded in the Rhineland campaign and spent 14 months in the hospital. He was out before the bridge at Remagen. He does not speak of it at all with the exception of an occasional funny story. He still has nightmares but is the best example of a good man I have ever known. I'm sure the same thing can be said for your Father. Those men were cut from a better cloth. Our Father's served together and might have known each other. If you would like I will ask him. I also bought a book that was written by men in that unit and was printed in Germany in 1945. I found it in an antique bookstore in FLA. I read the forward and cried. They said " We are not writing this for us because we would like to forget what we saw here." We are writing to the future children of these men who will inevetibly ask, Pop what did you do in the big war?" They went on to say that" ..."And he will never speak of it." They wrote that book to me and you. I gave it to my Dad and the only thing he said is." Whoever said time heals all wounds never saw this stuff, cause some just don't heal. If you want any info from the book I would be happy to get it for anyone. I would love to hear more about your dad.

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#6

Hi and thanks for your post,

I am glad to hear your dad is in good health at 87. Dad didn't talk much about men being killed or injured so I was surprised to hear about your dad being wounded. I thought the battalion only came close to combat a couple of nights when they were subject to raiding parties from the German garrison stuck on an island off the French coast. If he cares to share how it happened I would like to hear about it. I'm glad he survived but sound like it was a very close thing.

I think I have a slightly different edition of the battalion history than the one you quoted -it was printed in September 1945. If so we may have information and pictures to share - would be interested to know as the forward in mine indicates it is a work in progress as they did not know how it would end - stay in ETO, on to the Pacific or home. I found your dad listed in Company B.

John Payne

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#7

My father was in the 1264th. I don't have the exact dates he was drafted and reported, but it was April & May 1944. I have a couple of pics of him, one alone (no rank or insignia on uniform) and one in khakis with 4 other men. No rank/insignia on that one, either.

 

He isn't listed in the copy of the history book I looked at, but he was in Company C. His name was Glen Wilson. He was a SP5 when he seperated in 1946. I have his "Fundamentals of Electricity for those preparing for war service" book...excellent resource.

 

I am also fortunate enough to live six blocks from another 1264th member, SP5 Rex Pierce, now 92. He's full of stories. One involved him and his driver, 'Wormy', crossing the Hodges Bridge without permission.

 

I'll post more info later on after I find the few records I have. I know I have info on completion of the bridge on April 5, 1945. Also have seen some pics Mr. Pierce took while over there.

 

-Sam

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#8

Dear Sam. This is SO cool. Especially the part of another 1246th'er living in your area. Can't wait to hear and see more. So glad you joined our family. A very warm welcome and and hi to Mr Pierce from me.

 

Smiles,

Marion

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

Here's a couple of pictures I have. The man standing alone in the one picture is my father. In the other picture, he is in the back row, 2nd from the left. I have no idea yet who the other men in that picture are. scan0002.jpg

 

OK, as promised: More information. Please forgive me as I was making these notes in a hurry, and they jump around a lot, and are out of order.

 

My father was drafted 29 March 1944, reported to Camp Bowie for training on 13 April 1944. On 1 May 1944, General George Marshall reviewed the trainees. On D-Day, the 1264th (at least C company, and likely the entire unit from what Rex Pierce has said), was training on the Brazos river. Mr. Pierce told me that the water from the Brazos was undrinkable. He and some others found a spring about a mile east of the river that had fresh water fit for consumption, and set up three pumps to move that water to camp.

 

I believe the commander of the 1264th was named Lahlum.

 

 

From 19 June 1944 - 9 September 1944, those who were studying electrical took a course at a trade school in New York City. I do not have the name at this time.

 

11 October 1944, they were transported via train to Camp Kilmer, NJ. At Camp Kilmer troops sent personal effects home, received medical injections and the supplies needed before loading onto transport ships for travel to the ETO. Link to postcards from Camp Kilmer: Camp Kilmer Postcards

 

24 October 1944, the 1264th boarded the Dominion Monarch, destined for the posrt of Plymouth, England, arriving on 2 November 1944. Here's a link with some info about the ship, but the 1264th isn't mentioned: Dominion Monarch History

 

Training for some of the 1264th's men continued in England. I didn't catch all the information about this, but will try to obtain more later this month.

 

On 13 December 1944, the troops boarded the Empire Lance. This ship was used on D-Day. It left Southampton bound for Cherbourg, France. From there, they boarded a "40 et 8" (40 and 8), a boxcar so named because it could carry 40 men or 8 horses, destined for Epernay, France. From there, the 1264th became partof General Omar Bradley's push into Belgium - what is commonly known as "The Battle of the Bulge".

 

For some reason, I wrote down "1260 horse battalion". I have no idea what this is in reference to. I will try to find out this, also.

 

On 14 March 1945, the 1264th was about 30 miles SW of Cologne, France.

Bruecke_von_Remagen_1945_3.jpg

This is a picture of the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen, Germany. Many US soldiers died when this span collapsed.

 

I was told the 1264th helped build 2 spans across the Rhine at Remagen. I have no more info on this.

 

It is my understanding that the 1264th built a bridge over the Rhine at Bad Godesburg, completing the bridge on 5 April 1945, and 5000+/- vehicles crossed this bridge in the first 24 hours.

 

On 1 April 1945, many of the men from the 1264th attended Easter services in Rhineland.

 

Here is where my info gets a lot spottier...

 

The 1264th was deployed to Eisenach, then relocated from there to Salach, located east of Stuttgart. Apparently, this was sometime in April or May of 1945, as my father was wounded somehow (the stories are vastly different...my oldest brother believes it occured after cessation of hostilities, but I have no proof either way). My father had a gunshot wound to the right knee, and was sent to the 203rd General Hospital, Paris, France. He was there from May until August, 1945. He seperated 19 January 1946 at Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, MO.

 

Apparently, he spent 2 months as a private, and five months as a Tec5. (electrical) He had experience as a machinist while working at the Curtiss-Wright plant in St. Louis. Apparently, this experience was put to use while he was in the Army. Somehow, he was attached to the Headquarters of the 379th Infantry Regiment...possibly for discharge, I am not sure.

 

I have a few things that were his from WWII. One is his Class A jacket. It has a 100th ID patch...not sure how he ended up with this. There are a few more oddities about this uniform, as well. I also have a pair of Zeiss binoculars, apparently they once belonged to a German sailor, and were made in 1908. I also have a J.P. Sauer & Sohn model 38h semi-auto. I have verified it was a Luftwaffe version, not the more common police version. My father carried it as a backup weapon (he was a law enforcement officer for 33 years after leaving the army) for many years. It was improperly stored for many years, and was damaged. I cleaned it up, and have fired the weapon several times in the past few weeks. It still works as good as a brand new weapon.

 

Sadly, my father passed away on November 3, 2004, a victim of Alzheimer's disease. He never spoke much with us about what he did during the war...but from what I have learned about the things these men saw, I can understand. His records were among those lost during the fire at Jefferson Barracks in the 1970's, so I am unable to obtain information through there. I am glad that I found Mr. Rex Pierce, my neighbor, who was also in the 1264th. I have two daughters, 10 and 17, and a son, 26, who can have the chance to speak with someone who lived through the same things as their grandfather. My youngest has even developed a bond with Mr. Pierce...one that I think will be good for them both.

 

I would still like more information if anyone has it. I have my father's serial number, etc., if anyone can help me search that way.

 

Thanks,

 

-Sam

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#10

Dear Sam:

 

Great facts to begin with.

 

You can most likely obtain his discharge papers from the local Veteran's Admin (home state of your dad). If he ever had any medical care from the VA, they will have a copy of his paperwork. This is how I obtained a copy of my father's discharge papers, a few years ago. Give them a try.

 

http://www2.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp?isFlash=1

 

You and Mr. Pierce can obtain further information too, from the gentlemen who also posted in this topic. Whenever you are logged in, simply click on the USER NAME and contact them via personal messenger. I'm sure they'd love to talk with both of you. Looks like John has the unit history, so that would be a real plus!

 

I love the images you posted. What a great group of guys. Looks like they were having some fun that day.

 

Glad to hear your youngest has formed a bond with Mr. Pierce. That is so lovely and so inspiring.

 

Marion

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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