160th Engineer Combat Battalion WW II ( new member)
#31

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.


 


 


 


 


 


 



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#32

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

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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#33

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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#34

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

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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#35

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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#36

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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#37

He has a likeable face! :pdt12:

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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#38


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#39

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!

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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#40

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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