Tuesday, May 3, 2016

May 3, 1945: German Forces in Holland, Denmark. Norway, Redoubt Prepare to Surrender

Something special and unique for today's edition sent in by reader John Miller. 
 This is his father, Chester Miller drafted December 1942, reading the report of Hitler's death in the 'Stars and Stripes' while stationed at Eisleben, Germany. 
He was a member of the 238th Engineer Combat Battalion as a company clerk at Battalion HQ.  He passed away a little over 8 months ago at the age of 96. John says his father landed at Utah on D-Day, was at the front of the St. Lo Breakout, substituted for infantry in the encirclement of Aachen, went back into Belgium for the Battle of the Bulge and built 66 bridges, including the Seine (6 hrs. 15min.), Roer (under heavy fire) and the Rhine at Bonn in 10 hrs. and 15 min.
John adds that the following pictures and records are part of what he copied while he visited the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.  He was even able to find the company reports written by his father. 
John says that the 238th was operating as infantry in the encirclement of Aachen in October 1944. They were holding the line to the south of the city. As engineers, they were also tasked with destroying German ordinance.  They found an entertaining way of disposal. To harass the Germans, they loaded up a streetcar with the explosives, placed timed fuses and booby traps, painted anti-Nazi graffiti, and rolled it down the hill into town.  They did this three times over four days. The third of four days was the dive bombing of the city. 
NOTE: for those that might not know - "V 13" is a play off the German V Rockets that caused death and destruction throughout parts of England. 

John would like to add one final note.  He says there were other men in the 238th ECB from the Johnstown area.  One in particular was Pfc. Tony Scenna of Co. C. He was killed when his platoon was at the front end of the St. Lo Breakout. A few months later, the Battalion dedicated a bridge in his honor in Weisweiler, Germany. He's buried in a cemetery in Ebensburg.
The Johnstown Tribune - May 3, 1945
Howard Miller
Norman Fyock
Janet Rowe
Mt. Sinai Baptist Church
Sgt. William Clark
2nd Lt. Alpheus Clark

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