151st Armored Signal Company
We pay tribute to our dead ROBERT C. PACKER, killed in action at Meisenheim, Germany, 21 March,1945.
In the year 1942 when the black Axis war clouds were reaching across Europe like hungry tentacles, about to crush the World in the grip of Nazism, the rest of the World began making preparations to strike back at the Axis partners and stop their advance of destruction against humanity and civilization.
Uncle Sam, having awakened to the ultimate dangers lurking at his back door, was also in the process of expanding his Armed Forces to gigantic proportions. Never before in the entire history of the world had any military scheme, so tremendous, been undertaken.
In order to successfully wage an offensive war against the Axis criminals, the Armed Forces were being rigidly streamlined to meet the demands of our military experts.
For this purpose it was necessary to organize fast moving combat units with a terrific firepower. The result was eight Armored Divisions.
These divisions were tested in hard, rough, and under what we call, impossible conditions.
The lessons learned, and the valuable experiences gained by these tests, caused our experts to streamline these divisions further and reduce the size to bare necessity to obtain greater mobility with the same firepower.
Further tests proved so conclusively the need for this type of combat division that more of them were organized.
Out of this new group came the ELEVENTH ARMORED DIVISION, commanded by Major General Edward Brooks, who saw the activation of this new “THUNDERBOLT".
This August 15, 1945, the Signal Company will be three years old. In that time we have made and lost friends, made new acquaintances and lost track of many old ones. The cadre that made up the 'instructors' in the do's and don’ts of the Army came from three other Armored Divisions, the Third, Seventh, and Eighth. Some of the old timers, that some never knew, and that others wished they had not known at times, are now elsewhere in this man's Army —remember Sgt. Houstin, C. Green, Sgt. Yonan, Sgt. Rocanova, and Sgt. Bouril? As a matter of fact, there are just about a dozen left out of the forty or so that made up the Cadre.
This brings us up to the day when "we' started arriving in the 151st Armored. Signal Company. A rattling troop train, antique day coaches smelling of mothballs, and a bunch of pessimistic guys realizing that they were in Louisiana -- not much of an outlook. Leesville -- not much of a metropolis, pine trees, sand, swamps. Debarkation — a complete physical check up (?), an interview. "l know anything about radio?' "No Sir, not a thing". At the Signal Company the new guys soon found that the cadre was made up of specially picked, indefatigable, inhuman bastards that specialized in making life miserable.
"Fall out in ten minutes in leggings and full field equipment.'' The formation was out there in ten minutes. — all but John Dehlin, and he barrel-assed out the door, conspicuous as hell,— a ragged looking cadet. ''Adjust your equipment." That took the best part of the morning and we fell out for chow.
Basic training was well under way and we learned that the hooks go on the outside of the leggings. "Huey Long" Weimar found this out the hard way, — doing a "Red Skelton'' flat on his face in some of his own beloved Louisiana dust.
The most unforgettable night. A road march with ''full field" and we bivouacked only to get the order "we are moving out", further back into blackness. It was raining now and a new site was picked. A gully — seemed like the SCOUT MANUAL said something about bedding down in a low spot but this was "war" and we had to get tough. Ghiloni cussed out the C. O. in the dark—something about the ''sunufabitchin lame brain who picked this spot." Next morning nobody could recognize the guy next to him and Lycan looked like a character out of a horror movie. Sick call wound around the orderly room three times.
In three years so much has happened it is almost impossible to make a complete history or men and events. There are a few unforgettable characters, some gone, some still with us, and some instances that are humorous to remember. Sgt. Houstin Green, I believe, is near the top of the list. "I'm a sad bastard"; more than once Houstin’s patience and understanding would give out on him.
After basic came our "specialized training," radio operators, radio maintenance, motor maintenance, wire, message center, supply, and administrative force. Some were fortunate enough to go to Fort Knox for their training. From the stories I heard, most of the boys, particularly on Monday mornings, did a bit of sleep walking — I seem to recall one man marching down the street in an officers formation going to school, and for some reason not aware of it. One man, that, I am sure, gave many a platoon Sgt. a gray hair or two, was the man who always appeared out of step — Earl Middlesworth, an easy man to pick out of any marching group, his feet were in step but his body out of step.
LOUISIANA MANEUVERS. Consensus of opinion had it that the French gave us a "Rooking" and if they wouldn't take it back, we should pull out the cork and let the whole damn state drain into the Gulf. It was there we learned the meaning of true love. "Through the black of night, I gotta go where you are.” Any guy, who would pound his way through the black of night looking for the old witch Chloe, is either in love or out of his mind, — cause Chloe is no chicken anymore.
The first thing that comes to mind at the mention of those maneuvers is "scratching” chiggers. Oh, there were snakes, ticks and other things too, but I think chiggers took first place. Again there were many interesting incidents — a few I can remember, such as a certain driver trying to wake "Smokey" for K. P. Watermelon was an important item, and I remember occasionally a little "M. R.'' (midnight requisition) was done on them. Charlie Muller was somewhat of an expert in that line, although listening for the crack of a shotgun made a fellow a little nervous when Charlie tapped the end of a melon and said "No, that one is not so good.'' Another incident I recall, when Frank Cowan was guarding the entrance to the bivouac area of CCA with orders to stop all vehicles and make the occupants walk into the C. P. - all except General Kilburn and Col. Bell. Well .... One evening about dusk a peep pulled up, Cowan saluted the officer, and informed him that he would have to dismount and walk into the C. P., only the General and Col. Bell could take their peep in. The officer took off his driving goggles and said "Who the hell do you think I am?" It was General Kilburn.
Camp Barkeley was our next stop. This spot was a nice place when you could open your eyes to see it. We stood formations in goggles and dust respirators. The "Hot Rock'' who sold the respirators to the Army knew Texas.
We took off on desert maneuvers in the finest equipment the Army had and raised dust from Yuma to Goffs. Came back to Ibis, blitzed the tracks and trucks, loaded them on flat cars, hauled them to Cooke and donated them to the scrap drive.
Camp Cooke is situated out on "Point Pneumonia", where the Chamber of Commerce says "The climate is ideal". O. D. uniforms are worn year round. Reveille sounded like a consumptives’ convention and the First John's voice would come out of the fog: "You guys ain't gettin' out here fast enough.'' Marcone fell in love in Santa Barbara with a Great Big Marine, but the romance was torpedoed and his theme song was, "Somebody Stole My Gal"
Of the two towns close by, Santa Maria and Lompoc, Lompoc held a slight edge on popularity — maybe, for those who rode the bus, the 30 cents roundtrip appealed more than the 90 cents to Santa Maria. Those with cars got a remarkable mileage on an "A" book. Right, Marcone? There were, of course, many interesting incidents at Cooke, but I think the mention of a few will suffice. Most of them concern our P. O. M. qualifications; our infiltration course, where one or two of the men got hung up on barbed wire; our tough P. O. M. physicals that dropped SO many men. One man even started reading up on heart trouble.
After eight months at Cooke the rumors started to flow like wine. From the last few weeks there to the eventful day of the train ride to the P. O. E., the company was just "Hubba Hubba." As the time drew closer, the men began to react to the world around them and many comical events took place. One morning, as the C. Q. came through the Radio Section barracks blowing his whistle and crying "Hit the floor dog-faces, it's time for the races!" A peaceful G. I. raised his head and commented, half asleep, "Don't be so rough honey.” Yes, the truth came out, the fellows really were going to miss the semi-civilian days with their wives
It was rough going the last few days, and as the C. O. put it, "The fun is gone for awhile boys, it is all work from now on."
We worked like fools, and finally came that sad day to board the train. It was a long cramped ride, a whole seven days of it, but the kind hearted officers saw to it that the boys were always in good trim. They gave us 15 or 70 minutes of calisthenics every day, it made no difference where we stopped. The desert of California, the stock yards of Chicago, or the grassy plains of New Jersey. Every time we fell out to do our jumping around, there were comments from the fellows like, 'Where the hell do they think we are going, to a show?” "I wonder if we are going to do the same when we swap lead with the krauts?" "The kind of exercise I need is done in my bunk."
Finally we came to the Eastern section of the states, and if you could have seen the expressions on the faces of the fellows as they passed by their home towns and cities, it would have touched you deeply. Only GOD above knew who the fortunate ones were who would some day come back over the same tracks and laugh at the same things. The only state that was perfect was the home state.
On arriving at Camp Kilmer, the boys were anxious to put their feet on solid ground for awhile. A ride was expected to their new quarters, but the laugh and groans came when they had to walk two miles with full field pack. Yet, it was good to see the familiar sight of the barracks after the train ride.
Things moved fast, and the time was short. So the company, entering into the spirit, turned up with short hair cuts. One fellow started the style and in no time the whole company was making comments. “Egg Head, Coconut Bob, Andy Gump, Baldy, Flat Top," and such were quickly attached to the men.
To get out of Kilmer, for that last fling, was what all of us sweated out. We finally got twelve-hour passes, and the excuses the officers got for them were terrific. One G. I. claimed that his mother was sick and he did not get to see her on the pass he had had last night.
The rest of our six days was spent in classes, training, boat loading and unloading, climbing down rope ladders, use of emergency rations, life rafts, how to act in case of fire at sea. Little did we dream some of it would come in handy.
We cannot forget the physical they gave us. We stripped and went before the medical officers. One would look in your mouth, another in your ears, and any warmth shown in the body passed you with flying colors.
On the sixth night, September 28, 1944, we were ready. We had our orders, and were waiting for the cover of darkness for the first lap of our journey overseas. We marched to the dock, and a SLEEK steamer was there awaiting us, the HMS SAMARIA.
We filed aboard into the holds, everyone was assigned to a hammock, and it was his for better or for worse. The first morning at sea found us all hungry. Ham, bacon, eggs and potatoes were awaited. Of course we knew not that our ship was English. As we stood around, in walked a small Limey with a handful of tickets for the first fellow at each tab1e. He was to get the food for the rest of his table. About ten minutes later he came with our meal: smoked herring, potatoes, hot prunes, and hot colored water, called coffee.
It was a tedious trip. All we did was play cards, write 1etters, swap yarns, run for the rail, boat drills, and try to down the food. Finally on the 13th day, October 12, 1944, it was time to disembark.
Our boat pulled up to the dock, and we collected our gear for the march to the train Not to be forgotten, one poor little fellow came up on deck loaded like a pack horse, wearing a wool cap instead of his steel helmet. From the other end of the deck, a loud voice called out "Applebaum, put on your helmet." He did not have a liner and the helmet dropped around his ears. All the tension was broken and the best laugh was had by all since we had left the States.
We trooped off the ship through a dark passage-way, and loaded onto cars that, in the dark, looked as though they were for cattle. That was our only view of Liverpool, for from there we were whisked to a little town in England called "Erlestoke."
We were moved into little apartments with double bunks, six men to a room. We had a fireplace, table, chairs and a nice grassy background. After a few days of cleaning, we settled down to living. This did not last long however, because a General came by and found that it was an ideal spot for his men. Out we went to another place, large lawn, big mansion, and a lot of little Nissen huts, the mansion being for the officers.
This was called "Stockton House." We went to work again and cleaned it up, put up a white fence, flag pole for retreat and this place was soon livable.
Then the passes started. To London for a weekend. It was a wild time for a few, bruises for others. Bikes became the fad, and nearly everyone had to have one, regardless of cost. The fancy figures should not be mentioned.
During our stay in England, we had our favorite sports: football, baseball and many others. These two months, we can truthfully say we had a good time. Dances every week, with the Division hand as our source of music. Trucks ran around the countryside, picking up lovelies for partners. We had girls in civilian clothes and girls in uniform.
Every good thing must come to an end. On the first of December we were alerted. Last minute preparations, twenty-four hour shifts. details, and all had to be accomplished to get the Company- ready for the battle.
After enjoying our stay in England, the day arrived for us to leave. For the rest of the tale, a diary is preferable to a story, so here goes.
December 16 - 21:
Embarked LST 510, 1300. Excellent essen, long layover, gentle journey, sudden
stop, cracked keel — Left leaking ship, charged Cherbourg, borrowed ship,
slept sound, debarked in the morning.
December 21: Arrived house near Bricabrac, prepared vehicles and equipment for a long move.
December 22: Convoy cleared area 0630, cleared Normandy, headed S. E.
December 23: Arrived Damville 0600. Departed Damville 0900. Arrived Soissons via Paris 2400. Slept on cobblestones.
December 24: Cleared Soissons 1130, arrived Sissone via Rheims 1630. Spent Christmas Eve in permanent French barracks. Camp Sissone, B-rations, running water, cots, lights, mail call.
December 25-26: Enjoyed
big Christmas dinner — cleared Sissone 1330. Arrived Poix-Terron 1800.
Atmosphere tense, weather cold, food low, mail plentiful, reveille none.
Dec. 27 - Jan. 2 Cleared Poix-Terron, Guinicourt Area 0900. Arrived Longlier, Belgium via Sedan, France. Enemy air activity on road, bitter cold.
January 2-10: Arrived Vaux-Les-Rosieres, continuous artillery, cold and snow.
January 10-19: Moved from Vaux-Les-Rosieres to Sibret. Dead Germans, wrecked vehicles, destroyed homes.
Jan. 19 - Feb. 5:
Traveled to Chateau on outskirts of Bastogne. Good food, movies, first thaw,
Feb. 5 - Mar. 5:
Journeyed in convoy to Wilwerdange. Different language, A.P. mines, G. I.'s.
last legal fraternizing. First legal liquor ration.
March 5-9: Entered Germany, Hqs. And billets in Rommersheim.
March 9-11: Arrived Mayen, city half destroyed, excellent opportunity for “Looters.”
March 11-18: Moved north to Nieder-Mendig. Endless stock of Rhine wine, acute shortage of Bromo.
March 18-19: Moved south to Lutzerath. Limited stock of Moselle wine. Slight shortage of Bromo.
March 19-20: Advanced to Kirchberg across Moselle. Found German stock of Bromo. Everything cleared up.
March 20 - 22: Billeted in Meisenheim pocket area: Little liquor or loot.
March 23 - 29: Moved to Alzey. Great supply of wine. Alzey voted place most likely to succeed in getting the Third Army soused.
March 29: Crossed the Rhine at Oppenheim, proceeded via Darmstadt to Grossauheim, south of Hanau. Big rail guns, dead SS in station.
March 30: Next stop Langenselbold — preparation for big drive.
March 31: Long drive to Crainfeld, nearby towns and wreckage still burning.
April l - 2: Record drive to Unterweid via Schlitz, Hunfeld, Morles. Dead and dying lined roads, houses and vehicles still blazing. Droves of prisoners marched to the rear. Furthest division east, cut off.
April 3-4: Drove in convoy to Steinbach - Hallenberg. Many liberated D. P.'s welcomed our entrance. Snipers in surrounding hills also planned reception. Signal men collaborated on true story “A Night in the Polish Barracks."
April 5-8: Pushed on to Zella-Mehlis— Pistols, cameras, pistols, field glasses, pistols, rifles, pistols, good wine, and pistols. Wotta town! Voted as place a G.I. would love to be left behind to guard duffel bags.
April 8 - 9: Arrived in Themar 1900. Good beer for all. Town badly battered.
April 10-11: Entered Rodach—Toy tanks and cigarette lighters. Also plentiful multicolored Champagne (Pink & White).
April 12: Arrived at Gestungshausen. Faced on two sides by Germans. Continuous S/A fire. Watched air support in action till C-rations were hot.
April 13-17: Moved to Mainleus—set up beyond CCB Hq.
April 18-19: Entered Bayreuth, home of Wagner and large supply of typewriters. The typewriters were still there. Town largely destroyed.
April 19 - 21: Arrived in Grafenwohr. Dismal and damp, destroyed.
April 22: Arrived Schnaittenbach. No liquor, no loot, no lush deals, no comment.
April 23: Arrived Stamsried — witnessed the surrendering of Hungarian forces as well as the death march. Mess appropriated 1000 eggs. Shared our chow and vehicle rations with the victims of the SS.
April 24: Set up in Patersdorf. Egg diet, liquor diet declining, bromo unneccessary. Hungarians still moving back, harems included.
April 25: Entered Schonberg. City ablaze, blasted building, burned all night. Hi! Ho! Silver Star.
April 26 - 30: Moved to Freyung—prosperous city. Gave supporting Infantry Divisions chance to catch up — Mortar fire on motor pool.
April 30: Arrived Somlen. “We should have stayed in Freyung," is consensus of opinion. Snow flurries began.
May 1: Entered
Wegscheid — less than a mile from Austrian border.
May 2: Traveled in convoy over Austrian border to Rohrbach. Egg diet on further rise — taste of powdered eggs only a memory.
May 3: Set up in Neufelden, steady rain. One steady thing Austria offered us.
May 4: Arrived Oberneukirchen. Heard artillery in distance, pounding Linz, the gateway to the Russians and Victory.
May 5: Arrived Hellmonsodt — Linz fell—Leaders of 250,000 SS, Wehrmacht and enemy Russians drove by to headquarters to surrender. WARENDED) MAY 8, 1945. The whole damned outfit! Dead drunk!
May 11: Moved to Linz — Beautiful women, movie house, German K.P.’s, "and lest we forget," Mauthausen/Gusen.
May 18: Moved to Urfahr — Apt. Building — Swimming Pool, separate movie house, circus, balmy weather, rest. Hell!
June 8: Set up in
Gmunden. Eternit Zement factory, beautiful scenery, short move to flying school,
cold spot, beautiful view, everyone settled, then REDEPLOYMENT!
To the Men of the 151st Armored Signal Company
Three years of living, working, and fighting with you men has done something to me. It has made me proud to be a member of the 151st Armored Signal Company, and I have even a greater feeling of pride to be your company commander. I’ve learned a great many things from you men, and I’m happy to have had the opportunity to soldier with you. I am very proud of every one of you for the men that you are, and for the magnificent job you have done in combat. When I see you leaving the outfit, it puts a big lump in my throat that isn’t easy to swallow. God bless you and good luck to you, wherever you go and whatever you do.
John F. Foss
Under the provisions of AR
600-45, as amended, and in accordance with the authority contained in Circular
No. 6, Hq Third United States Army, 26 April 1944, the Meritorious Service Unit
Plaque is awarded to the following named unit:
MERITORIOUS SERVICE UNIT PLAQUE
ARMORED SIGNAL COMPANY, 11th Armored DIVISION;, United States Army. — 19
December 1944 to 19 February 1945. From the time it was forced to abandon ship
in the English Channel to the successful assault upon the SIEGFRIED Line by the
division, the personnel of SIGNAL COMPANY have performed their duties in a
superior manner in spite of adverse weather and hazardous tactical situations.
Line men, messengers and signal center operators were called on to work long
periods under the most difficult conditions, and have uniformly accomplished
their tasks with outstanding devotion to duty. The standards of exacting
accuracy necessary in the sending and receiving of vital messages on a 24-hour
basis were met throughout the period in a superior manner. Although the
difficulties of signal maintenance and supply of the division were greatly
multiplied by distances from depots up to 300 miles, signal equipment was on
hand when needed, and no vehicle or piece of equipment was out of action in the
Company for more than 24 hours. The achievement and maintenance of a high
standard of discipline is evidenced by superior military courtesy and appearance
of personnel, installations, and equipment; and by a record during the period of
no cases of venereal diseases, no disciplinary action, no convictions by
courts-martial, and no unauthorized loss of time whatsoever.