A series following the story of my father in World War II 75 years ago. This updates the series Following the 10th Armored that I did five years ago. The beginning posts set the stage for 1944 and 1945 when he was in Europewith the 10th Armored Division's 80th Armored Medical Battalion.

#36- The Final Waiting

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    3 November 1944 - 8 November 1944
Waiting for the Green Light

After arriving at the staging area at the end of October and knowing their place in the battle line, they waited! Buddy’s Company C of the 80th Medical Battalion stayed at Lauchassee, near the 10th Division’s HQ at Mars la Tour.

    ◆    9 November 1944 - 15 November 1944
The Encirclement of Metz Begins


    ✓    9 November 1944
    ✓    Company C Morning Report

Left billeting area Lauchaussee at 1545. Traveled 46 miles by motor convoy to Audun-le-Tiche. Arrived 2345 (11:45 pm)
    ✓    10 November 1944
Established clearing station at Audun-le-Tiche and evacuated patients.
Buddy's Company was still assigned to the reserve combat command for this period. Their nearness to the division HQ continues to show that.

The 10th Armored Division was to be part of the encirclement of Metz. On November 9th they were assembled in the area around Ottange, far enough west to be safe from enemy observation. There they waited for General Walker to give the order committing the division east of the river.

The terrain in the zone assigned for the 10th Armored Division drive had little to recommend it to an armored force. The road net was limited. … Any cross-country movement would be most difficult, particularly after the autumn rains had beaten into the clay soil characteristic of this country.

On receipt of the order from the corps, it was supposed to cross the Moselle in two columns, pass through the 90th Division bridgehead wrested from the  Germans and strike quickly to effect a deep penetration. The capture of this sector would give the Americans command over one of the main corridors through which German reinforcements might be sent to Metz, or through which a retreat from that city might be made.



For five days … the 10th Armored waited for the word to cross the Moselle.  The five days were marked by orders and counter-orders, new plans and estimates--all contingent on the caprices of the flooded river and the degree of success achieved by the enemy gunners shelling the American bridge sites. At this point, the floodwaters of the Moselle were constricted by two relatively high retaining walls, and the stone piers of an earlier bridge still stood.



The 1306th Engineer General Service Regiment set to the task of building a Bailey bridge on 12 November, under orders to continue on the job regardless of enemy fire. German mortars and field guns threw in one concentration after another. Once, during the late afternoon of the 12th, work had to be suspended for a couple of hours.



On the morning of the 13th, the wind shifted, blowing away the covering smoke. German gunners laid their shells within a hundred yards of the bridge but could not get a direct hit. This time work on the Bailey continued, the engineers climbing into the superstructure clad in flak suits.

Moselle River crossing at Thionville (B)

Finally, at 0930 on 14 November, the Thionville bridge was ready--the largest Bailey bridge in the European Theater of Operations. On the afternoon of that day, CCB (Combat Command B) began the move across the Moselle, the head of the column winding along the east bank northward to the 90th Division sector. Before daylight on 15 November, the whole combat command had assembled near Kerling (about 10miles NE of  Thionville) behind the screen formed by the 359th Infantry.



From US Army in World War II, The Lorraine Campaign by Hugh Cole

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
So what's a Bailey Bridge? According to Wikipedia:



The Bailey bridge is a type of portable, pre-fabricated, truss bridge. It was developed by the British during World War II for military use and saw extensive use by both British and American military engineering units.

 A Bailey bridge had the advantages of requiring no special tools or heavy equipment to construct. The wood and steel bridge elements were small and light enough to be carried in trucks and lifted into place by hand, without requiring the use of a crane. The bridges were strong enough to carry tanks.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
What's a Combat Command? Again, according to Wikipedia:


A Combat Command was a combined-arms military organization of comparable size to a brigade or regiment employed by armored forces of the U.S.  Army from 1942 until 1963. The structure of combat commands was task-organized and so the forces assigned to a combat command often varied from mission to mission.

The combat command was a flexible organization that did not have dedicated battalions. Instead, tank, armored infantry, and armored field artillery battalions, as well as smaller units of tank destroyers, engineers, and mechanized cavalry were assigned as needed to accomplish any given mission.

This Combat Command organization would become very helpful to all concerned within the next six weeks when the Germans made their last push in what is known as the Battle of the Bulge.

#35- Entering the Battle

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    2 November 1944
The 10th Armored Division officially joined the front line forces.

The 10th Armored and attached troops have now been on the Cotentin Peninsula for a month. They have trained, planned, waited, and watched the weather. The troops were no less frustrated than Patton himself was. They were in Europe, but not yet in the war.

As October ended it became time to move.

The 80th Armored Medical Battalion, Company C, consisted of 18 officers and 104 enlisted men.

    ✓    Company C Morning Reports- Record of Events
    ✓    26 October- Departed bivouac area 2.1 mi NW of Quettehou [at] 0405. Traveled 127.2 mi via motor convoy to bivouac 1 mi east of Falaise arrived 1715. (MR)
[13 hours travel. 9.8 mph]
    ✓    27 October- Convoy left bivouac area 1 mi east Falaise [at] 0905. Traveled 74.7 mi to bivouac area 1/2 mi east of Damville. Closed bivouac 1830 (MR)
[9 1/2 hours travel. 7.9 mph]
      • Charles M. Province in the book Patton’s Third Army, reports that During this week the “10th Armored continued to move toward the XX Corps assembly area."
    ✓    28 October- Departed area 1/2 mi east of Damville at 0906. Motor convoy arrived at bivouac sire 1/2 mi west of Claye Souilly at 1725. Traveled 83.4 mi  (MR)
[8 1/2 hours travel. 9.9 mph. Co.C most likely passed around or through Paris on this day.]
    ✓    29 October- Departed area 1/2 mi west of Claye Souilly at 0907. Motor convoyed 69.2 mi to bivouac 1 1/2 mi east of Bar Le Duc. Closed bivouac 1632. (MR)
[7 1/2 hours travel. 9.2 mph]
    ✓    30 October- Left Bivouac vicinity of Ba Le Duc 0907. Traveled via motor convoy 98 mi. Billeted company in village of Lachaussee.  Arrived 1700. (MR)
[8 hours travel. 12.3 mph]
They have traveled 452 miles in 5 days, on the road for 46.5 hrs, with an average speed of 9.7 mph. Today that trip could be made in 8 1/2 hours (with tolls).

    ✓    31 October- Set up clearing station and evacuated patients. (MR)
They were assigned to the Reserve Combat Command (CC R) and were located 8 miles south of the 10th's Division HQ at Mars Le Tour and about 20 miles southwest of the fortress city of Metz where they would soon be engaged in their first battle.

They were bivouacked in an area that was unfortunately too small for movement. Then it rained and rained  providing a very muddy, but relatively quiet few days. Nichols in Impact says that it was perhaps the worst bivouac area of war for them. Their purpose was to assist XX Corps in the containment of enemy troops in preparation for the attack on Metz. They were to move around behind the forts and cut off the retreating enemy.



The 10th was to fall into line, one-by-one behind the 90th Infantry then move through providing support and cover. From all that was reported, it was not particularly  good geography (or weather) for the tanks, but the 10th managed and found its place.



This was part of what Province in Patton's Third Army says was the continuing practice of rotating and regrouping Third Army units in contact with the Germans. It had two purposes. One was to give as much rest as possible to those troops in extended contact with the Germans for the greatest amount of time. The other was to keep the enemy guessing as to the plans of the Third Army.

When November and time for the battle around Metz came, the XX Corps (part of the Third Army) under General Walton H. Walker had a total of 30 infantry battalions, 500 tanks, and more than 700 guns. Their  plan had two phases. One was to destroy all German forces around Metz and then to switch the advance to the northeast to catch the enemy as they pulled out of Metz.



On November 2, 1944, the 10th was pulled into place and had their first awareness of combat. It was a generally quiet area and not much else was to happen for the next two weeks, but the enemy had been engaged for the first time.

War was now a reality.


#34- Metz Before the 10th Arrived

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    25 September to 31 October 1944
The Battle of Metz stalled due to material and fuel shortage.

The battle for and around the ancient city of Metz began well before the 10th Armored entered the fray. The Third Army, under General George Patton had been activated in August in Normandy. Then, beginning in late July the swept across 400 miles of France in one month. It got to the Lorraine region where it met the German First Army intent on defending the line along the Moselle River. This began the Battle of Fortress Metz.

Here is a summary of the battle for Metz prior to the beginning of November. It is abridged and adapted from the Warfare History Network.

Metz before the 10th Arrived
    The 12th Army group was running short on fuel. On September 25 12th Army Group commander Lt. Gen. Omar Bradley had ordered Patton to go on the defensive. That meant that Patton was unable to follow up his plan that might have allowed his troops to reach the West Wall before the onset of bad weather.
    Patton was too impatient to sit idly by with German forces within striking distance and no amount of  grumbling would help. At the end of September 1944 fuel wasn’t the only commodity in short supply for the Third Army. Patton’s men also lacked howitzer ammunition, rain gear, blankets, and sufficient rations. Morale dipped as a result, and Patton set about finding a way to keep his troops in the fight––regardless of the dismal supply situation.

    [He] submitted to Bradley a plan …to continue limited offensive operations. “The whole plan was based … on maintaining the offensive spirit of the troops by attacking at various points whenever my means permitted it,” Patton wrote in his memoirs. In addition to keeping his various units in fighting trim, these limited attacks were meant to adjust the Army’s line in key places so as to give the units favorable departure points for resuming full-scale offensive operations once more fuel became available.

    Meanwhile Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force General Dwight D. Eisenhower and his staff envisioned a two-pronged offensive to capture the Ruhr and Saar industrial regions that fed the Third Reich’s belly. … First Army and Ninth Army would lead the primary attack against the larger Ruhr in the north, while in the south General George Patton’s Third Army would strike at the smaller Saar and therefore face Metz.

    Metz was an  ancient, 1500-year old fortress town on the Moselle River. It had been virtually  indestructible over the previous millennium with defenses that had prevented any army from conquering the city since Atilla the Hun in 451 AD. The sprawling fortress system spread six miles west of the River and reached back another four miles to the east of the old city. Metz was therefore the most heavily fortified city in Europe at the time, consisting of 43 forts arrayed in an inner and outer belt that together mounted 128 heavy guns.

    Bradley arranged for Patton to receive three fresh, untested divisions for the upcoming offensive…  [One of these was] Maj. Gen. William Morris’s 10th Armored Division, which did not take up its place on Walker’s left flank until November 2. Patton waited as the battle went nowhere for a month and a half.

    The fuel began arriving the first week of November. The only thing holding the Third Army back now was the inclement weather- neither the first nor last time that the weather would have an impact. Heavy rains transformed fields into quagmires, swept bridges off their moorings, and made existence miserable for GIs who lacked the most basic foul-weather gear. Shortages of galoshes and waterproof shoepacs caused an epidemic of trench foot.

It was in this stalled offensive that the 10th Armored Division would soon get its introduction to war.

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    25 October 1944
        The 10th Armored Division and Buddy’s 80th Armored Medical Battalion were spending their last day on the Cotentin Peninsula. Tomorrow morning at 0405 they will start their move toward the war.

#33- Patriotic Music

Back in July I posted about the popular music of 1944 and its place in the home culture during the war. It is interesting to note that there were two ways music added to the war culture. One was the popular music. Some of the pop songs were aimed at the moods and emotions of wartime and others were the tunes heard by the troops as reminders of home and those they were missing. Since 1941 these included reminders and longings of everyone:

Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (1941)


Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (1942)
American Patrol (1942)
Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition (1942)


I’ll Be Home for Christmas (1943)


G.I.Jive (1944)
Sentimental Journey (1944)
(Link)

Other pieces were written by “classical” and other composers to inspire and uphold the values of the United States. They were not pop culture as much as they were ways of maintaining the morale of those at home.  One example is Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man (1942).


One song has inspired me since the first time I played it in band more than 50 years ago. It was based on a war-related song written long before World War II- When Johnny Comes Marching Home. According to Wikipedia it was “a popular song from the American Civil War that expressed people's longing for the return of their friends and relatives who were fighting in the war…. [It]was immensely popular and was sung by both sides of the American Civil War." (Link)

Morton Gould (1913-1996) was an American composer, conductor, arranger, and pianist. He did everything from symphonies to Broadway. His range and ability to cross styles and genres made him a remarkable musician. In World War II he was called upon to write a piece for inspiration to America. He chose When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again and titled it, American Salute. I have played it countless times and it never fails to move me. Here, talking about his ability, is a description from a U.S. Marine Band booklet on Gould.

Nowhere is [his skill] more evident than in his iconic “American Salute,” based on the tune “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.” Written in 1942 in the early days of World War II, it was composed at the request of a government radio program producer who wanted a “salute to America.” The composer insisted that he had no idea that the work was destined to become a classic: “It was years before I knew it was a classic setting. What amazes me is that critics say it is a minor masterpiece, a gem. To me, it was just a setting. I was doing a million of those things.” A million may be an exaggeration, but not by much. The pace of Gould’s schedule in those days is astounding. By his own account he composed and scored “American Salute” in less than eight hours, starting at 6 p.m. the evening before it was due (with copyists standing by), and finishing at 2 a.m. Although the ink couldn’t have been dry, the score and parts were on the stands in time for rehearsal the next morning and ready for broadcast that evening. (Link)



Throughout the years I have been researching, reading, and writing on my Dad and World War II, I have attempted to keep the music and atmosphere of the times in mind. Beula, my grandmother, talked very little about the popular culture of the day simply, at times, mentioning that they went to "a show." Underneath it all was often the music of the day. As I listen I can feel the connection of culture, longings and fears, and the hopes of those times 75 years ago.


#32- Battalion Preparations

    •    October 2, 1944
1st Letter from Buddy. He arrived in France all OK. Said he had a nice trip going over. Dora called and said she received a letter also
— Diary entry, Beula Keller Lehman
In general, as applied to infantry units,
The Medical Battalion was a Divisional medical unit developed to furnish medical support for the Infantry Division. Its primary mission was to organize and conduct the necessary evacuation and medical care for casualties of the Division. Because of the high mobility of the Division, the installations of the Medical Battalion had to be of a more temporary nature and possess increased readiness and ability to maintain contact with the different units of the Division. The Medical Battalion was thus charged with the evacuation of ALL casualties from the Infantry Battalion and Regimental Aid Stations. If for any reason, casualties could not be gathered at the Aid Stations, the Collecting Companies would remove casualties directly from the field.
 The Medical Battalion was organized as a kind of ‘miniature’ medical organization in order to maintain the best operative coordination of all the existing facilities and to give flexibility to a possible expansion of the medical service when necessary. It always accompanied the Division in the field! (Link)
 Armored medical battalions were training slightly differently in light of armored movements being different from infantry. They also looked at other special issues, such as extricating the wounded from tanks! There was a unique field manual for the armored medical battalions. The schematic shows the idealized view of how they were to be set up.

(P. 2; Armored Med Units Field Manual 1944)

Like the infantry battalions, the armored battalions needed to be ready to move at quick notice. The Armored Medical Units Field Manual, 1944 has specifics about how and what to do in advancing or “retrograde” movements.  It also gives these details about the general organization of the companies of the medical battalions:

  The armored medical battalion is a flexible, highly mobile unit capable of accompanying combat elements of the armored division. It is composed of a headquarters and headquarters company and three identical medical companies.

21. FUNDAMENTALS OF EMPLOYMENT, a. The medical battalion provides second echelon medical service by the collection, treatment, clearing, and evacuation of the sick and wounded of the division. It is self-contained administratively and technically, having its own maintenance, administrative, and supply organization.

b. Flexibility of the medical battalion is always maintained. The battalion is organized to be responsive to any demand made upon it for reinforcement or support. It can function as a unit, or its several major components may be broken down into lesser elements to support tactical groupings. In combat, usually one medical company supports each combat command. (p. 25)
 Undoubtedly they had received a great deal of training on this in the States prior to leaving. Here they bivouacked and most likely learned the ins and outs. It had to become second nature, I am sure, to be able to do what was needed in difficult and dangerous circumstances. This was all preparation time. After they had set up the bivouac in the rain on 23 September, the morning reports through 25 October simply say:

✓    24 September 1944- 25 October
  ✓    Company C Morning Report
Field duties at bivouac site. (MR)

Meanwhile, since the 10th/80th had arrived in the European theater:

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    25 September 1944
Operation Market Garden ended. It had begun on 17 September when Allied paratroopers landed in the Netherlands and Germany. They did not cross the Rhine and ended with an Allied defeat.

    ◆    27 September 1944
The Battle of Metz began. It would stall and then not be finished until Patton, the Third Army, and the 10th Armored joined later in the fall.

A piece of family “lore” comes to mind as I work on these early days in Europe. My aunt, Buddy’s sister, Ruth, told me a number of times that the family believed that when he went overseas he was actually too old for the deployment into battle. In October 1944 he was actually about a month shy of 39 years old. It is important to also remember that Buddy had lied about his age when he first enlisted in 1940, saying he was a year younger than he was. As far as the army was concerned, as he bivouacked in France he was not even 38 yet. I was told that Dora and the family tried in vain through letter writing to get him discharged prior to his deployment. They were told by one of his superiors, however, that he wasn’t going to let a medic as good as Buddy be discharged.

Whether he was too old, should have been there or not, Europe was where he was- a medical corpsman with Patton’s Third Army and the 10th Armored Division about to be part of the last seven months of the war in Europe. In pictures that I have of that era, he almost stands out like someone who shouldn’t be there. He is clearly older than most of the guys around him. He is an elder among his band of brothers.

#31- The Trip Over

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    14 - 23 September 1944

10th Armored en route to and arriving in Europe.
    •    September 16, 1944
Dora came to visit.  (Diary)
Dora arrived only 3 days after the 10th was on its way. Did Buddy say to her, “Go spend some time with my mother. She will be at her wit’s end?" Had some kind of connection been made between Beula and Dora in that brief visit at the end of June? Did Dora know that for the marriage to work in the long run she needed to find out more about Buddy’s family and what the future might hold? Just by the fact that she had been living in Georgia, was doing things that introduced her to a wider-than-just-Jewish group of people, and then found one she married, would reinforce the idea that she had moved beyond her closed-off Brooklyn upbringing. Whatever the case, it is interesting  that she was open to this visit.

On that same day, Nichols in Impact! Reports that the 2nd ship (the USAT Brazil) caught up to the whole convoy and experienced some type of storm, possibly a hurricane. (Nichols)

    •    September 18, 1944
Went to visit Mabel together and then a show (Diary)
Attacked by U-boats, destroyers ran them off. One of convoy’s tankers torpedoed. (Nichols)

“Appetites dwindled” as ship constantly shifted positions zig-zagging maneuver (Nichols)

    ✓    20 September 1944
    ✓    Company C Morning Report

At sea aboard Brazil enroute to European theater. Weather favorable. (MR)

    ✓    22 September 1944
    ✓    Company C Morning Report

Dropped anchor at Weymouth Bay England (MR)

    ✓    23 September 1944
    ✓    Company C Morning Report

0730- Sailed for France
1945- Debarked Brazil via LST
2005- Arrived. Truck convoy to 2.1 miles NW, Quettehou, FR
2350- Set up bivouac. Weather rainy.
(MR)

        •    September 24, 1944
Dora left on 2.15 train (Diary)

    ✓    24 September 1944
    ✓    Company C Morning Report

Began field duties at bivouac site. (MR)
Quettehou is on the eastern coast of the Cotentin or Cherbourg Peninsula. The headquarters of the 10th Armored Division was about 4 1/2 miles west of there in Teurtheville. It would make sense that the whole area was an extended bivouac for the newly arriving troops. Company C would remain at Quettehou until the end of October.

[Diary= diary entry from Beula Keller Lehman
MR= 80th Medical Battalion, Co. C Morning Reports
Nichols= Impact! The Battle Story of the 10th Armored Division]

#30- Embarkation

    •    75 Years Ago
•    10th Armored Division/80th Armored Medical Battalion leaves New York- twice

    ✓    11 September 1944
    ✓    Company C Morning Report

Departed at 2120 from Camp Shanks, N.Y., for NYPE…via rail and ferry. Embarked 2320 to USAT Edmond B. Alexander for Overseas destination and permanent change of station. (MR).

USS America (ID-3006) was a troop transport for the United States Navy during World War I. She was launched in 1905 as SS Amerika by Harland and Wolff in Belfast for the Hamburg America Line of Germany. As a passenger liner, she sailed primarily between Hamburg and New York. … In April 1931, America ended her service for the United States Lines and was laid up for almost nine years.

In October 1940, America was reactivated for the U.S. Army… renamed USAT Edmund B. Alexander. … and was refitted for use as a troopship for World War II duty. At the end of the war, Edmund B. Alexander was converted to carry military dependents, remaining in that service until 1949. She was placed in reserve until sold for scrapping … to the Bethlehem Steel Company of Baltimore, on 16 January 1957 and was broken up a short time later. (Wikipedia)

    ✓    12 September 1944
    ✓    Company C Morning Report

Sailed on USAT Edmond B. Alexander at 0300. Ran aground while leaving harbor. Debarked at 1330 via harbor boat for transfer to USAT Brazil. (MR)

It was high tide, Nichols reported in Impact!, with heavy fog as they “slipped from the pier” and ended up stranded on a sand bar 200 yards from land

    ✓    13 September 1944
    ✓    Company C Morning Report

Sailed on USAT Brazil at 1730 for PCS [permanent change of station] and overseas duty. (MR)
SS Brazil was a US turbo-electric ocean liner. She was completed in 1928 as SS Virginia
Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation's 56th St Shipyard in Brooklyn, New York undertook Virginia's refit in 1938, then renamed Brazil.

From 1942 to 1946 she was operated by the War Shipping Administration as a troopship. In October 1944 she arrived in Boston carrying US Army personnel and prisoners of war from Europe. [This was most likely the return trip that had taken Buddy and the 80th Medical Battalion to France.]

She was laid up in 1958 and scrapped in 1964. (Wikipedia)

#29- The End of Peace

• August 31, 1944
Card saying Buddy was leaving. It is terrible
• September 1, 1944
Letter from Buddy and Dora. I am just sick
— Diary Entries, Beula Keller Lehman
I sit and stare at these entries and the ones to follow from late summer 1944. Over these past years of researching World War II and my Dad’s involvement, I have had some of the emotions that may have been a part of those days for my family members then. Having none of the letters they sent, and never having talked to any of them about it, all I can do is guess what it might have been like. The 75 years that have passed give the remembrances a glow that I am sure didn’t have at the time. Most images of World War II are either in black and white or that sepia tint of old pictures. Everything is frozen in time; each event is a unique moment in time. But they were connected- one flowed into the next. I have been discovering that for myself as I have gotten closer to today when peace, in whatever way Army training can be peace, was about to come to an end for the 10th Armored Division and their families at home.

• September 7, 1944
Canned pears. Sent some to Buddy. (Added later)- but he did not get them.
— Diary Entry, Beula Keller Lehman
We also live in a world that is so incredibly hyper-connected that it seems like ancient history to think about families who didn’t know what was happening to their loved ones. The Vietnam War was the first TV war. Even though it was delayed by a day or so, we could watch Walter Cronkite or Huntley and Brinkley bringing us the latest from halfway around the world. When the Iraq War started we all sat around the TV and watched the bombing of Baghdad live. Beula couldn’t do anything like that. So she just went on with her life. It was all she knew. Canning pears- and sending them to Buddy; putting money in an envelope for him to spend. Just normal and everyday behavior. Life was already disrupted. There are comments about getting ration cards or about gas rationing. Everything was uncertain and unknown. The best way to cope was to keep the feelings and fears as far below the surface as possible. To do that was to keep normal routines.

For Dora, only married four months, she celebrated her 31st birthday on September 10 as her new husband was boarding a troop carrier.

• September 8, 1944
Wrote to Buddy and sent him some money
— Diary Entry, Beula Keller Lehman
I have been surprised over these months and years of working on this story. It began as a way of honoring my Dad’s service and making some distant connection with a man I hardly knew. I discovered that many of the family stories and myths were true. At the same time, the diary entries hide as much as they reveal. I have been a pacifist for the past 50 years. I have wrestled with my interest in the war and how it was fought. I found myself intrigued as I dug into the stories. The events that were about to happen at this time 75 years ago changed my dad, I am sure. They changed who we were as a nation, first for the better, and then…?

In recent months I have also been challenged to figure out what these all mean for me. It is one thing to simply recreate a world that ceased to exist when the war ended. It is another entirely to discover what the personal impact of all this might have been - or has been - on me. How did this world-shattering war impact who and what I have become? I do not want to take anything away from the story I am attempting to recreate. It stands on its own. It is the story of Beula and her son, of my dad and my mom. It would be less than 20 years after these events that all those connections would be gone for me. All that would be left would be pictures and some words in diaries.

• September 12, 1944
Letter from Buddy and Dora. I think Buddy has left NY
— Diary Entry, Beula Keller Lehman

#28- Arrival at Camp Shanks

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    1 September 1944
Arrived Camp Shanks, NY, 1430 via rail from Camp Gordon, GA for permanent change… Distance traveled 384 miles. Discipline excellent. (MR)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Through the next year there will be many references and quotes from the daily Morning Report of Company C, 80th Armored Medical Battalion, Buddy’s unit. The screenshot here is from two days ahead in October. The top locates the company and then lists any changes in personnel followed occasionally by a record of some events. The bottom section is an accounting of numbers of personnel in each of the categories, officers first, then enlisted men. Different units had slightly different styles of morning report forms, though they were all for the same general purpose.

Jennifer Holik at the WWII Research & Writing Center has a couple of good articles explaining both their use in the military during World War II and their value for researchers.
Company Morning Reports
A Morning Report was created each day outlining events of the prior day for the events of a Company. …Morning
Reports listed many details about the company which include:
    ◆    The location of the company for the date of the report.
    ◆    Strength of the unit in numbers of men
    ◆    Details of those entering and leaving the company
    ◆    Names of those declared AWOL, Missing In Action, Killed In Action, or wounded.
    ◆    The reports also provided information on the day’s events. Some clerks reported weather conditions, in addition to the usual information on where the unit was fighting, and other enemy encounters.

The companies were required to report numbers of men at each meal, which provided information to the Army, who then was able to provide food and appropriate supplies for the soldiers. These numbers also alerted headquarters when the ranks were depleted and replacements were needed. (-Link)

I have been able to obtain the Morning Reports for Co. C for the entire time in Europe beginning with today, 1 September 1944. They have given me invaluable information on where my Dad’s company was every day and, when appropriate, a record of events. Whenever I use one of the reports I will note it with (MR).

#27- Almost Ready

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    6 June - 21 August 1944
D-Day to D-Day+76: Allies moving south and east across France after D-Day.
The Normandy landings were the first successful opposed landings across the English Channel in over eight centuries. They were costly in terms of men, but the defeat inflicted on the Germans was one of the largest of the war. Strategically, the campaign led to the loss of the German position in most of France and the secure establishment of a new major front. In larger context the Normandy landings helped the Soviets on the Eastern Front, who were facing the bulk of the German forces and, to a certain extent, contributed to the shortening of the conflict there. (-Link)

It was not a smooth and easy invasion. In fact, through the month of June and most of July, the Allies made very little progress. They needed a breakthrough- a breakout from the Normandy peninsula and get moving across France. It came from July 25-31 in Operation Cobra.

Operation Cobra was the codename for an offensive launched by the First United States Army (Lieutenant General Omar Bradley) seven weeks after the D-Day landings, during the Normandy Campaign of World War II. The intention was to… break through the German defenses that were penning in his troops… (-Link)

As seems to be the story of the invasion and much of what would happen over the next months, the operation was delayed at first- by the weather. When it did begin on 25 July, it proved as decisive as Bradley and the Allies hoped. Within the next few days, the Allied forces managed what has since been referred to as their “breakout. “

The immediate aftermath was the ability to expand the forces and put further plans into action.
At noon on 1 August, the U.S. Third Army was activated under the command of Lieutenant General George S. Patton. Lieutenant General Courtney Hodges assumed command of the First Army and Bradley was promoted to the overall command of both armies, named the U.S. 12th Army Group. Patton wrote a poem containing the words, 
So let us do real fighting, boring in and gouging, biting.
Let's take a chance now that we have the ball.
Let's forget those fine firm bases in the dreary shell raked spaces.
Let's shoot the works and win! Yes, win it all! (-Link)

The U.S. advance following Cobra was extraordinarily rapid. Patton and the Third Army were hell-bent for leather rush across France as can be seen below. This is an animated series of maps showing

An incredible series of maps from June 6 - August 21, 1944. About 10 weeks into the invasion. It is interesting to note that the Allies were relatively slow until the very beginning of August, then they seem to explode across France. Click on map if it is not moving. (-Link)

Animated maps, 6 June to 21 August
Three days after the final series of maps above, the "Battle of Paris" ended with Allied troops liberating the French capital.

The 10th Armored Division, one of the key elements of Patton’s plan for the Third Army, was now at Camp Shanks, NY, waiting to board a ship. Within three weeks they will be heading east among the first divisions to travel directly from the United States to the mainland of Europe.

#26- Movement Begins

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    July 31, 1944

The 10th Armored Division left Camp Gordon for Camp Shanks, NY, point of embarkation
With six-weeks left until embarkation, the 10th Armored Division, along with Buddy’s 80th Armored Medical Battalion, left Georgia. The training was done; Tiger Camp was closed; they were ready to become active participants.

Orangeburg, NY, 19 miles north of New York City, was home to Camp Shanks, known as "Last Stop USA," the largest World War II Army embarkation camp. 1.3 million US service personnel en route to Europe were processed at a sprawling camp that covered most of the town. On the western shore of the future site of the Tappan Zee Bridge. (— Link)

Memorial at the site of Camp Shanks
The area was served by two railroad lines; it also had quick access to piers on the Hudson River which could handle large military ships, so troops could get in from bases across the country and then back out to New York — and on to Africa and Europe.

As only the Army can, 17,000 workers were mobilized to transform Orangetown’s farms into a city of nearly 50,000; the base included Quonset hut barracks, headquarters buildings, stores, chapels, a theater, a laundry, a bakery, and a hospital. “In three months, they built more than 2,500 buildings,” says Donnellan. “You can’t put a deck on your house in three months now.”

Named after the general who commanded New Jersey’s Camp Merritt during World War I, Camp Shanks opened in January 1943. Here soldiers would be “staged” — inspected for proper equipment and supplies and made ready for deployment. “After being trained all over the country, they came here to make sure their rifles worked, that they had the proper boots, then they got their orders and were put into units,” Donnellan says. There were seven staging areas, including one for the Women’s Army Corps — and one for African Americans. The military was still segregated, Donnellan says, and blacks were at times treated worse than prisoners of war, who also were housed at the camp. “The WAC area was near the POWs, but the blacks were kept all the way across the camp,” he says. (— Link)
Shanks was part of the New  York Port of Embarkation (NYPOE).

The NYPOE was the largest of eight Port of Embarkation commands, the second largest being the San Francisco Port of Embarkation and the second largest on the East Coast being Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation. By the end of the war 3,172,778 passengers, counting 475 embarked at the Philadelphia cargo port, and 37,799,955 measurement tons of cargo had passed through the New York port itself with 5,893,199 tons of cargo having passed through its cargo sub-port at Philadelphia—about 44% of all troops and 34% of all cargo passing through army ports of embarkation. (-- Link)

How does one prepare for going overseas to war? Or more to the point, in the midst of what may be an unprecedented expansion of overseas troops, how does the Army prepare so many people in such a short time? In 1943 as the Army was putting the finishing touches on its post-Pearl Harbor buildup, the Medical Field Services school in Carlisle, PA, published a thirty-page pamphlet for officers on what to do before leaving for war. Most of it was what you would expect with the possibility that the reader wouldn’t make it home.

The introduction began:
Personal affairs of your family become personal problems only when they remain unsettled. Over here, you have the time and facilities; over there, you may not.
The Table of Contents
    I.    Wills
    II.    Powers of Attorney
    III.    Survivorship Bank Accounts
    IV.    Class E Allotments
    V.    National Service Life Insurance
    VI.    Certification of Officers
    VII.    Designation of a Beneficiary
    VIII.    Clothing & Equipment for Overseas Duty
    IX.    Pensions
    X.    Checklist for Personal Identification

It told you what the Army would provide (gas mask, tent, tent pole, canteen, etc.) and what you would need to provide (belt, shirt, soap, socks, towels, etc). And then gave a postscript of the things they might wish they had when they got overseas.
The pamphlet concluded with a one-page summary and well-wishes.

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    August 4, 1944


Military ID issued to Harold K. Lehman