The Remembrances of:
William P. Blincoe ~ Gerald W. Van Cleve ~ Lawrence Andrew Andersen
William P. Blincoe
F Co. 2d Bn 290th Inf. Regt.
75th Infantry Division
24 25 26 Dec 44
If there is anything at all good about December 24th, 25th, and 26th it would be the fact that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day had slipped by and I realized late on the 26th that I missed them. This probably happened to a lot of G.I.'s, but I remember well what happened on those 2 days. F Co. was in reserve on the 24th.
F Co. (A Rifle Co.), had 2 jeeps pulling trailers. One attached to 4th PTL. (Weapons PTL) and the other was back with the cooks. I drove the 4th PTL jeep that carried ammo, machine guns and mortars. I was the captain's driver.
The weather had been bad - overcast around the 16th of December. But, about a week later, the weather cleared and the bombers and the fighter planes could see their targets. That was very encouraging to us.
We saw the American bombers going into Germany. Lord!! the sky was absolutely full of them! The first couple of formations had several shot down and we would very apprehensively call for parachutes, we saw several airmen jump and only 2 or 3 were able to jump from some of the bombers that were going down. German Ack-Ack fire was downing our bombers and our fighter planes knocked them out, because the rest of the formations proceeded probably up against deeper German Ack-Ack. After seeing bombers being shot down and our airmen apparently killed, those fox holes didn't seen too bad. This thought from an ex-air cadet. One of the sergeants said, "The ex-cadets quit bitching so much about being in the infantry after that."
We left that area and drove to a control point outside of Wy, Belgium where all the officer's were in a house going over maps and making plans for an attack on a hill named Roumiere, on the next day, the 25th of December. I stayed in the jeep thinking they would be finished at anytime. (I didn't sleep a wink. Man, it was cold!!).
Christmas Day was Co. F's Baptism of Fire! Capt. Stuart, (I've seen his name listed as Stewart also) ordered me to take my jeep and trailer up a narrow road and wait. I backed the trailer into the woods about 10-15 feet, got out and walked about 25 feet up the road to dig in and came across a dead German, who had obviously been captured and shot and was lying face down with his soft cap on instead of a helmet. I looked over to the left side of the road and saw 3 G.I.'s who had taken cover by some nearby brush and had been incinerated with a flame thrower. The G.I. taking the prisoner to the rear very likely shot him on the spot after seeing the grotesquely burned bodies. Another G.I., walking to the rear, saw the dead German and began screaming as he jumped up and down on the body.
There was some concern about the distance up the hill and the opposition they would encounter. A wounded medic came off the hill, into our lines and told Capt. Stuart he did not think the
opposition was too bad. He was right, but it seemed like the enemy all had automatic weapons. Being the Co. Jeep Driver I didn't have to jump off into an attack. I got mine later on March 9, 1945 when I hit an antitank mine with my jeep.
After the hill was taken, about dusk, I had to go up and dig in. A buck sergeant challenged me and I didn't know the password. I don't think he did either, after what had taken place in the last 3 hours I don't think there could have been one. By God, he was going to shoot me and man was he ever serious!!
Anyway, I didn't have to dig because I found a German fox hole that I could actually sit up in and my head was below ground level. Anther G.I. shared it with me, we sat facing each other. Best fox hole I ever had.
Later that evening, German artillery fell on us and I got the shakes. I thought it was from being cold! A few nights later, more artillery came in and another G.I. and myself were lying in another fox hole and I got the shakes again and realized in was mostly fear and cold and I didn't know in which order.
First Sergeant Sweeny told me later that F Co. lost 28 men Christmas afternoon, 7 killed and 21 wounded. We lost several men because of frostbite. Sweeny was killed the last part of March '45.
I don't remember a thing about December 26th except later in the afternoon someone told me that it was the 26th of December!!
William P. Blincoe
William Paul Blincoe, Jr., Age 18. Born Louisville, KY. Finished High School, June 11th, 1943. Drafted into Army July 6, 1943 Fort Benjamin Harrison, IN., sent to Fort Knox armored replacement center for tank basic.
Completed basic and applied for Army Air Force Flying Cadet School. Passed necessary examinations and sent to Godman Field, KY., then to Jefferson Barracks, MO. I was classified for pilot training and was sent to C.T.D. (College Training Detachment) for required college semester. Completed semester and was notified that men who had transferred into Cadets from previous outfits (tanks) had to return to them. This involved 30,000 cadets and 90% were sent to the infantry.
Arrived at Camp Breckenridge, KY. and assigned to F Company 2nd BN. 290 Regt. 75 Infantry Division April 1944 for advanced Infantry Training. October 1944 was sent to Camp Shanks, NY. and four days later boarded U.S.A.T. Brazil Flagship of a large, escorted convoy and sailed from NY harbor on October 22nd for Europe. Arrived Swansea, Wales and on November 3rd troops debarked and moved by train to billets in Porthcawl, Wales. On December 9th, the regt. that departed by motor for South Hampton, England crossed the Channel on L.S.T.'s to Rouen, France and didn't have any idea that our next move would be into the Battle of the Bulge.
F 290th had their baptism of fire Christmas afternoon 2 p.m. We lost 28 men (7 killed, 21 wounded) that afternoon.
After the Bulge we were attached to the French 1st Army in Colmar Pocket in Colmar, France. The division received a medal for being attached to the French 1st Army in that engagement. From Colmar we were sent to Venlo, Holland and then into Germany. We were flushing out pill boxes that had been by-passed in the German haste to cross the Rhine River.
We were using my jeep just east of Kaldenkirchen, Germany in farm country because the installations were so far apart. The date was March 9th, 1945, and we (myself, Capt. Stewart, Sgt. Salko and Sgt. Golub) had taken 4 prisoners that morning and went out again that afternoon and hit an anti-tank mine. Sgt. Golub was killed, Capt. Stewart was badly wounded, Sgt. Salko lost his right eye and I was hit in my right leg below the knee, broken ankle and right arm and mouth. Capt. Stewart later (4 years) lost his left leg and lived to the age of 75 or 80. I had four surgeries on my leg and am still using it with a slight limp. Returned to the states in the hospital section of the Queen Elizabeth. Arrived in New York, sent to Holloran General Hospital, N.Y., then to Thayer General Hospital in Nashville, TN., then to Wakeman Convalescent Hospital at Camp Atterbury IN. and received disability discharge August 22, 1945.
Medals received: Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct, E.T.O. with 2 Battle Stars, American Theater, Victory Medal, French Ist Army, and 2 more Foreign Medals that I haven't applied for.
Received Dental Degree, May 1952 from University of Louisville. Practiced dentistry 38 years. Retired 1990.
Rank achieved other than cadet was T/5.
Gerald W. Van Cleve
3d Platoon F Co 2d
Bn 290th Infantry Regiment
75th Infantry Division
24 25 26 Dec 44
This is a simple, plain description of my involvement at La Roumiere. Only through the eyes of an F Co rifleman, no directions, no battle plans, no heroes, no sad sacks, just a rifleman's first combat and a limited view while firing, moving and trying to survive. I guess the primary reason for the remembrance would be that as a combat involved person at La Roumiere, I did not see any military personnel other than F Co 290th and 3rd Bn 290th.
We (F Co men) had heard rumors of paratroopers in the area. To the best of my memory, I believe I heard something about paratroopers back at Regt. Hq. while on guard duty December 23-24 and while moving up to the front. I do not have any memory on the details, or conversation pertaining to paratroopers.
To the best of my memory, my part or should I say my F Co Platoon's part, in the assault on La Roumiere is as follows. We were briefed by our squad leader and knew what our platoon as a whole would be doing. Our platoon (3rd) was the first to cross the open field while one other platoon laid down supporting fire. There was also supporting artillery fire on the hill. I believe the distance from enemy (crest of hill) made the covering fire from other platoon nothing more than a nuisance. The enemy fire was very heavy mortar, rifle, etc.
My squad did not reach the base of the hill on the first try, we had to hit the ground or whatever cover we could find, just short of the base of the hill. The other platoons went through us to the base, plus some men went part way up hill before taking cover-. It was quite some time before anyone moved from those positions. Our platoon was to lay down covering fire while the other platoons attempted to move up hill (possibly one platoon at a time), my memory fails me as to which platoon moved in what order.
Several men were wounded in the open field before reaching the hill, but I cannot recall who. I do remember that on the hill, my best friend, Danny Buca (Chicago) ended up firing a BAR, and he was not a BAR man, so he must have taken a wounded mans place. *(After that time I did not see Danny for weeks). Explanation later. I remember Mike Mancilla (Los Angeles) close by me and firing quite rapidly, my memory on this is fuzzy but I think Mike ran out of ammo. I also remember Billy Ballard (Arizona) and Ken Miller (Maryland) going through us and up the hill in a crawl. Billy and Ken both transferred into F Co the same day I did (August 30,1944) from Cp. Van Dorne, Miss. Some men came in on the same day from Cp. Shelby, Miss. Ken was killed on the hill that day, December 25th. 1st Lt. Adcock was also killed on the hill. It was rumored from enemy fire before he was hit from behind with rifle and mortar fire. Sgt. Larry Olds was wounded in the assault also. I believe St. Olds got an award for his action on the hill. Lt. Adcock had only joined F Co a month or so earlier in Porthcawl, Wales.
My platoon did not reach the crest of the hill until the hill was already secured by other F Co
G. Van Cleve
Platoons and 3rd Bn Companies. Everyone held their positions until moved to defensive positions next morning. I remember Capt. Allen Stewart, F Co C.O., and other 3rd Bn and F Co Officers at the crest of the hill. F Co had four (4) KIA and seventeen (17) WIA total, for December 24-25-26, 1944.
I remember some talk of paratroopers in the area but I did not see any paratroopers or any Paratroop Colonel on the hill (87) on December 25 or 26. On recommendation of 2nd Lt. Weber, Capt. Stewart sent me back to 2nd Bn Hq. with a message for Col. Harris. He also asked me to look for a F Co messenger who was missing. He was thought to be back at Bn or Regt. Hq. I delivered the message to 2nd Bn message center, staying with it until Cpl. Samuels gave it to Col. Harris. I found the F Co runner on the outskirts of Soy in a building being used by 290th Hq. My memory places this building somewhere between Soy and Wy. He (the runner) was in a shell shocked condition. After a few days delay he was sent to the hospital (December 30), he did return to the Co quite some time later, probably a couple of months.
My next connection with F Co was on the 26th, late at night, possibly early morning the 27th, when F Co was once again called out to help with defenses by 3rd Bn. After that F Co was ordered to outpost the village of Wy. When F Co moved to the south of Wy to set up defenses, Capt. Stewart took me along as a Radioman, he had probably lost his regular Radioman on the hill. After moving most of the night and digging in, Capt. Stewart gave my foxhole to his dog robber and I was sent back as a runner once again. I continued as a runner during the rest of our combat in the "Bulge". I believe it snowed late December 26th and a heavy snow on December 27th. We were in the snow all through the Bulge.
I have attached the complete list of F Co 290th KIA and WIA taken from F Co Morning Reports. As a side note, I knew Lt. Adcock well for a few weeks as he joined F Co in Porthcawl, Wales. I knew Sgt. Olds well also and had the privilege, as a runner, taking him back to the Co after he returned from the hospital.
* Note: Danny Bucca was later wounded near Vielsalm on January 18th, and I did not see him until he returned from the hospital much later. (Probably Germany).
Gerald W. Van Cleve
Dubuque IA 52001
Van Cleve, Gerald W., Age 18, Height 5'6", Weight 127 lbs. Born - Humeston, IA; moved to Des Moines, IA; moved to Davenport;, IA; moved Io Bellevue, IA. Educated - Davenport and Bellevue schools. Inducted at Camp Dodge, IA. February 24, 1944, Serial Number 37 691 167. Entrained to Camp Fannin, TX. Assigned to Co. D, 66 Infantry Training Bn. Completed basic training and qualified as Expert Infantryman, served as Rifle Coach on firing range. Entrained to Camp Van Dorne, Miss; took advanced training. Assigned to 63rd Division. (6 weeks). Entrained to Camp Breckinridge, KY, August 30, 1944. Assigned to F Co. 2nd Bn, 290th Regt. 75th Infantry Division. Entrained to Camp Shanks, NY, October 14, 1944. Embarked for United Kingdom aboard the USAT Brazil, October 21, 1944, landing at Swansea, Wales November 1, 1944. Entrained to Porthcawl, Wales, November 4, 1944. Billeted at Miners Rest for training and duty. Entrained for Southampton, December 10, 944. Sailed from Southampton December II aboard the HMS Empire Lance; landed at Le Havre, France December 12, 1944. Billeted at Camp K14. Traveled by truck to Bivouac area December 14th. Entrained for Hassalt, Belgium December 19, 1944, traveled by truck to Tongeran, Belgium December 20th. rocket Bombs - U-2 passing overhead. The 290th Regt. was rushed into a gap at front near Mean, Soy and Wy, Belgium. The Germans made their last Northern thrust in the Ardennes. The Battle of the Bulge would be the largest land battle in WWll. F Co. 290th experienced their first combat at La Roumiere, a hill near Wy, Belgium, December 24-25-26, 1944. F Co. played an active part in stopping and defeating the German panzers and infantry at Wy, Magoster, Vielsalm, Neuville, Burtonville and other villages in Belgium. F Co. 290th moved by rail and motor convoy to Luneville, France, arriving January 28, 1945. F Co. 290th Regt. saw combat in the Colmar Pocket under the command of the French First Army. Driving the enemy out of Andolsheim and riding tanks into Weckolsheim along with other 2nd Bn units, to take the town, February 2, 1945 through February 6, 1945. F Co. moved by train and motor convoy to Kesseleick, Holland, arriving February 20, 1945. F Co. 290th with other 75th units helped mop up the remaining German forces in Holland and in Germany east of the Rhine, cooperating with British and Canadian troops. On the Rhine, F Co. was in defensive positions 14 days, occasionally patrols crossed the Rhine. March 26, 1945 crossed The Rhine into Ruhr Pocket (Valley). F Co. saw much combat in the area moving fast and helping to take Dorsten, Brassert, Schemof, Ickern, Ostrich, Marten, Kirchinde, Witten, and other villages until relieved April 14, 1945. F Co. relieved units of the 5th Division in patrolling area and conducting Military Government in the Sundern and Sewerte area until June 9, 1945. F Co. 290th was assigned to Camp Pittsburgh, Mourmelon Le Grande, France as Cadre. I served in security and numerous positions until September 1945. 1 transferred to Paris until March 29, 1946. Entrained to Le Havre, embarked from Le Havre aboard the Jonathan Wainwright (Liberty Ship). Arrived Camp Kilmer, NJ April 8,1946. Entrained to Camp McCoy, WI. Honorably discharged as PFC April 13, 1946. Received the following medals: Bronze Star, Combat Infantryman's Badge, Good Conduct, European African Middle Eastern Campaign with three stars, World War II Victory, Army of Occupation (Germany Clasp), Honorable Service and Sharpshooter Badge. Some of these medals issued years after discharge.
Gerald Van Cleve
Dubuque IA 52001
April 5, 1994
Note: I never was away from F Co. from our Cp. Breckinridge days through our combat days and cadre days at Cp. Pittsburgh, until transfer to 542nd. QM. Co.
PLACES, DATES AND EVENTS
OF WORLD WAR II UNITED STATES ARMY
PRIVATE LAWRENCE ANDREW ANDERSON
(August 11,1907 - March 29.1977)
The following is the Army chapter in the life of Lawrence Andrew Anderson as documented by his son, Robert.
October 20. 1943: Inducted into the United States Army at the age of 36 years at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. Being drafted at age 36 was no picnic, but Dad was raised on a farm and accustomed to hard work. Dad was in good physical condition and was an excellent shot with a rifle, two qualifications for the infantry.
November- December. 1943: Basic training at Camp Wolters, Texas January - February. 1944: Maneuvers in Louisiana
March - October. 1944: Assigned to the 75th Infantry Division, 290th Regiment, Company L, at Camp Breckenridge, Kentucky, for advanced infantry training. While stationed at Camp Breckenridge, his wife, Orral, was able to accompany him. She lived in Evansville, Indiana. During October of 1944, Dad received a weekend pass to stay with Mom off base. Upon returning from the weekend, he was informed that some of his gear had been packed and the 75th Division was departing - destination unknown.
October 14. 1944: Departed Camp Breckenridge; Four days at Camp Shanks; 40 mile rail trip to Weehawen, New Jersey; Ferry trip to Staten Island and boarded the USAT BRAZIL.
October 22. 1944: Departed the United States aboard the USAT BRAZIL.
November 2. 1944: Arrived harbor of Swansea, Wales.
November 3. 1944: Debarked the USAT BRAZIL, and moved by train and motor to resort town of Porthcawl, Wales. Stayed at the castle St. Donat's.
December 14-21. 1944: Crossed the English Channel and arrived at Le Havre, France. Transported by truck to field near Yvetot, France and camped for a few days. Departed via truck and train for Hasselt, Belgium. The truck Dad was riding in was involved in an accident whereby some soldiers were gravely injured when pulled out of the back of the truck by overhanging tree limbs.
December 22. 1944: Departed Hasselt, Belgium, by motor convoy for the ruptured American lines of the 1st United States Army, thus beginning the Battle of the Bulge.
December 23. 1944: Set up camp near Biron, Belgium.
December 24 and 25: 1944: Company L of the 290th Infantry Division's mission that Christmas Eve was to attack enemy high ground between Soy and Hotton, Belgium. During the attack of LA ROUMIERE Hill, Dad was hit with shrapnel and by the grace of God was blown into a hole close enough to the German lines that he could hear German soldiers talking. Unable to answer calls from fellow comrades concerned about his welfare for fear of giving his position away, Dad spent the night in sub-freezing conditions, wounded, trapped and hiding. Christmas morning Companies L and K of the 290th made another attack on the Hill and Dad was rescued. After being rescued on Christmas Day, Dad was taken to the first aid station and transferred to the 24th General Field Hospital in Paris, France and then flown to England for additional treatment of leg wounds and back injuries. Dad was awarded the Purple Heart at the 24th General Field Hospital.
December 26. 1944: 24th General Field Hospital, air transported to PLT Hospital #4102 in England for treatment and rest.
January 20. 1945: Assigned to the 161 RE PL CO 131 REPL BN, which was a replacement center for servicemen returning to service.
February - August. 1945: Assigned to the 843rd Aviation Engineers Company B. Crossed the English Channel and landed at Le Havre, France. Went through Paris, France, and joined the 843rd at Loan/Couvron, France. The 843rd was engaged in the construction and maintenance of 18 airfields in the area. Dad worked construction and was assigned guard duty. Was granted leaves after February 25th for trips into Paris.
May 1. 1945: Departed Couvron, France, for Munich, Germany.
May 1. 1945: Arrived Metz, France.
May 2. 1945: Arrived Strasbourg, France
May 3. 1945: Crossed the Rhine River and on to victory on floating barges to arrive in Ulm, Germany.
May 4. 1945: Arrived Munich, Germany and worked on runways at Munich-Riem. In the Munich area, Dad came across survivors who had been liberated from the Dachau concentration camp. During his time in the Munich area, Dad was involved in a break-in of a German payroll which netted the men "a wheel barrow full of worthless German Marks".
May 8. 1945: Germany surrenders and the War has ended in Europe. Dad expresses concern in letters home that his Unit may be sent to the South Pacific.
May 17. 1945: Company B of the 843rd was moved to Neubiberg, Germany to construct a 5,000 foot pierced steel plank runway, taxi-track, and hard stands for air fighter group. Dad was also assigned to guard Hungarian prisoners.
July 28. 1945: Went to Paris, France, on furlough.
August. 1945: Shipped four guns home; one German pistol, two Italian carbines and one machine gun. Postal Department confiscates machine gun.
September, 1945: The 843rd Aviation Engineers was demobilized and Dad was transferred to the 831st Aviation Engineers. The 831st Aviation Engineers are stationed six miles north of Mannheirs, Germany, working on runway construction. Dad is notified that he will be sent home.
September 24. 1945: Leaves Mannheirs, Germany for Compronge, France.
September 26. 1945: Arrives Compronge, France, and is assigned to a Receiving Company for processing.
October 6. 1945: Camp Lucky Strike. Living in tents waiting to go home.
October 23, 1945: Departed Le Havre, France at 0930 on the FREDRICK VICTORY.
November 3. 1945: Arrived Camp Shanks at 0830.
November 4, 1945: Depart Camp Shanks at 1530.
November 6. 1945: Arrive Camp McCoy, Wisconsin.
November 10. 1945: Date of separation from the United States Army. Depart Camp McCoy. Dad is reunited with wife, Orral. For most of their married life they lived in Crookston, Minnesota. They raised three children; a son and two daughters.
Serial no: 37 578 720
Battles and Campaigns: RHINELAND, ARDENNES^CENTRALEUROPE
Decorations and Citations: PURPLE HEART AND GOOD CONDUCT MEDAL
Wounds received in action: European Theater DEC. 44
Grade: Private First Class
Qualification: COMBAT INFANTRYMAN'S BADGE RIFLE S. - Two (2) Overseas Service Bars.
Military Occupational Specialty: Rifleman
75th Infantry Division, 290th Regiment, Company L
843rd Aviation Engineers, Company B
831st Aviation Engineers, Company A
SOURCES FOR INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN:
1. 290th Combat Infantry Diary
2. 843rd Aviation Engineers War Book
3. Personal letters sent home
4. First hand accounts as told by Lawrence Andrew Anderson
5. Veterans of the 75th Infantry Division
6. Veterans of the 843rd Aviation Engineers
Words cannot express my sincere gratitude for the personal sacrifices made by all who served our Country during this time in history. I am filled with pride by the contribution my father made during the War effort and that he earned the COMBAT INFANTRYMAN'S BADGE.
ROBERT J. ANDERSON
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