The history of Troop B, 125th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron is different then that of the other units within the 113th Cavalry Group.  While the 113th Cavalry Group spearheaded the XIX Corps through France, Belgium, Holland and Germany, this Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop was assigned to the First U.S. Army Headquarters. 

 
 
 

TROOP B

 
125TH CAVALRY RECONNAISSANCE SQUADRON

 
 
EARLY HISTORY
 

This brief history of one of the units composing the 113th Cavalry Regiment Mechanized and later the 113th Cavalry Reconnaissance Group Mechanized, begins at Camp Hood, Texas in December 1942, rather than in Iowa, the place of the Regiments mobilization into Federal Service from the Iowa National Guard, because it was at Camp Hood that many of the men of this troop joined the Regiment commanded by Colonel William "Wild Bill" Chase, later, in March 1943 to be commanded by Colonel William S. Biddle. The Regiment was then an 8th Corps Unit.

 

In late December 1942 and early January 1943 some 600 new men were assigned to the Regiment and further assigned to the various troops where they received their basic (recruit) training. Few men will ever forget their recruit training and this group of men have every reason to remember theirs. There was Military Courtesy and Discipline to become acquainted with, there was Close Order Drill in the cold and the rain, there was a rough obstacle course to challenge the physical condition of these men and there were endless "dry run" firing days in preparation for range firing, and many long tiresome marches in the sultry Texas heat. 

 
Those days will be forgotten by very few, if any, of those new men nor will they be forgotten by the old men of the Regiment whose duty it was to train these men, their future comrades in arms. For the old men it was a repetition of things long past for them but it was a duty to be performed to the best of their ability for the future good of all concerned.
 

During the Regiments stay in Camp Hood from December 1942 to August 1943 its primary mission was to act as "school troops", opposing the Tank Destroyers in order to make workable the Tank Destroyer tactics. This not only gave the Tank Destroyers the desired training but helped to perfect team work in the units of the Regiment.

 

Camp Hood days are remembered for the trips to Buchanan Dam to train with the "Amphibious Jeep". Much training and enjoyment came from those trips.

 

The latter part of August 1943 found the Regiment in its new home at Camp Livingston, Louisiana. There was much housecleaning to be done before the quarters were made livable at that camp. It was here the Regiment was reassigned and replaced the 8th Corps patch with 3rd Armored Corps patch, Major General Crittenberger commanded that Corps.

 

The stay at Camp Livingston was short lived and in September 1943 they took part in the Louisiana fall maneuvers. It was during these maneuvers that the art of driving blackout was found to be a hard one to master, many men had their first try at living in a pup tent, sleeping on the ground and eating "C" rations.

 

Before the maneuvers were completed the Regiment was alerted for overseas service and moved to Camp Polk, Louisiana in October 1943. It was here the Regiment received its finishing touches before being sent overseas. There was range firing and familiarization with all weapons, and there was an infiltration (battle conditioning) course to acquaint the men with overhead fire of machine guns and to test their ability, mentally, to stand up under fire. There were "Combat Intelligence" tests, scouting and patrolling tests, ect. It was here that we were introduced to the M8 Armored car, the speed demon of the Cavalry with its six powered wheels and 37mm Gun. The inspections were many and the Inspector General gave out with a good one.

 

Leaves and furloughs were granted for the last time in the States and some men had to be recalled when the Regiment was alerted for movement to the Port of Embarkation on 6 January 1944.  This move was made by rail with the Regiment being divided into four groups, each of which took a different route to the Staging area.

 
 

BOSTON PORT OF EMBARKATION

 

The route traveled by most of the men to whom this history pertains took in such towns and cities as: Shreveport, La., Texarkana, Texas, Little Rock, Ark., Memphis, Tenn., Bowling Green, Ky., Louisville, Ky., Cincinnati, Ohio, Wheeling, W. Va., Pittsburgh, Pa., Philadelphia, Pa., Trenton, N. J., through the Holland Tunnel to New-York, Hartford, Conn., Providence, R. I., Worcester, Mass., and arriving finally at Camp Myles Standish,  Mass., generally  referred to as Camp Military Secret, due to the secrecy surrounding the movements made in and around the Camp.

 

It was here the Regiment received a complete overhaul in personnel and personal equipment. Inspections were made of everything from the steel helmet to the shoe soles and heels. A shoestring here, a tent pin there, a field jacket with a frayed cuff or a shirt with a slightly worn collar were all replaced with new equipment capable of withstanding the rigors of combat. Lectures o Insurance, Allotments, Bonds, Power of Attorney, and Last Will and Testament, were heard and heeded. No one complained about the chow at this Camp because it was good and plentiful. "The condemned were well fed" was an expression commonly heard at Camp Myles Standish.

 

Then on 17 January 1944 the first unit, Troop "D" and part of Regimental HQ Staff, moved by rail to the Boston Port Of Embarkation and boarded a comparatively small ship, the Elizabeth C. Stanton. This advanced detail was to supervise and control the loading of the Regiment and an MP Battalion. Troop "D" was to act as ships guard during the voyage, the only unit to have duty during the trip. 

 
 

"GOING OVER"

 

On 18 January 1944 the Regiment boarded the ship and the next day the "Lizy C" left the B.P.O.E. to join up with ships from other ports and form a convoy for the memorable Atlantic trip to Europe. It was with some surprise that the men found there little ship to be the "flagship" of the convoy.

 

The convoy, composed of 79 ships, including Cargos, Tankers, Troop Carriers, Aircraft Carriers, Destroyers, Cruisers and the Battleship Arkansas, was formed off Newfoundland and head for Great Britain. Many tragic, amusing and confusing incidents occurred on this voyage, such as the precautions against submarines and air attacks, the ships anti-aircraft firing practice, the loss of men washed overboard from destroyers during the rough weather, the exercise and calisthenics on the deck of a tossing ship, the mess kits and canteen cups, the overcrowded quarters with the bunks six high and so close together it was difficult to get in or out of them, and the all day, all night gambling games.

 

Land was sighted for the first time in ten days when on 29 January 1944 the convoy passed the shores of  Ireland and steamed on to Scotland. In the afternoon the "Lizy C" entered the mouth of the Firth of Clyde and anchored at Gouroc, Scotland where the Regiment disembarked on 31 January 1944. 

 
 

"ENGLAND AND CAMP LOPCOMB"

 

From Gouroc the Regiment moved by train to Middle Wallop, Hampshire England arriving there on 1 February 1944. For most men of the Regiment it was their first trip outside the States and most everything was of interest. There were the trains with their small coaches and goods wagons, "box cars" to a yank; the individual compartments on the coaches, each with a door opening onto the platform; the small civilian cars, the many chimnied apartment houses, and thatch roofed houses.

 

The Regiment moved into its new home at Camp Lopscomb with its Nissen Huts, cider walks, and "honey buckets". The one small stove in the huts made a noble attempt to warm the hut but never quite succeeded. Most notable among the many shortcomings of this camp was the shortage of "chow". There is no doubt that this was the most miserable camp the regiment ever had the misfortune of settling in.

 

It was here that they heard enemy bombers for the first time and saw searchlight and anti-aircraft batteries go into action. It was difficult to realize they were within bomber range of the enemy and due to the fact that few enemy planes were over this area, it was quite a novelty when they did come over. 

 
 

THE BIRTH OF TROOP B 125TH CAV RCN SQ MECZ

 

On 6 February 1944 an order reorganizing the Regiment and making it a Group was put into effect. The 113th Cavalry Regiment was composed of Regimental Headquarters and Headquarter Troop, Service Troop, Troops "A" "B" "C" "D" Reconnaissance Troops, "E" and "F" Troops, Tank Troops, 1st Squadron Headquarters and Detachment, 2nd Squadron Headquarters and Detachment and Medical Detachment. 

After reorganization the 113th Cavalry Group was composed of Group Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, the 113th Cacalry Reconnaissance Squadron and 125th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, each of the Squadrons being composed of Squadron Headquarters and Headquarters & Service Troop, Troops "A" "B" "C", Reconnaissance Troops, Troop "E", Assault Gun Troop, Company "F", Tank Troop, and the Medical Detachment. It was but a short time till the shuffle of Troops was over and the Group settled down to train under the new set up. The Group was now attached to XIX Corps under the command of Major General Charles H. Corlett which was assigned to First Army.

 

6 February 1944 therefore was the birth date of Troop "B" 125th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron Mechanized. The greatest majority of the men from the old Regiments Troop "D" and men from several other of the old troops were transferred in to form the new Troop. Officers of the Troop were:

1st Lieutenant James H. Lee, Commanding,
1st Lieutenant. John D. Anderson, Executive Officer, and 1st Lieutenant Anthony D. Kelly, 1st Platoon Leader.

Key Non-Commissioned Officers were:

First Sergeant Glenn R. Murphy.
Staff Sergeant Robert J. Stirling, Motor Sergeant.
Staff Sergeant Bartlett H. Gregory, Maintenance Crew Chief.
Staff Sergeant Wilbur D. Wright, Mess Sergeant.
Staff Sergeant Robert A. Truman, Supply Sergeant.
Staff Sergeant David W. McMillan, 1stPlatoon Sergeant.
Staff Sergeant William J. Longer, 2nd  Platoon Sergeant.
Staff Sergeant Cyril James, 3rd Platoon Sergeants.
Sergeant Donald R. Miller, Headquarters Platoon Sergeant
Sergeant Harry E. Ailey, Communications Chief.

 

During the next six weeks the troop trained in road marches, mounted and dismounted, scouting and patrolling, compass reading and range firing. Many changes in key personnel were made during this time and when on 10 March the troop was notified it had received a special mission and was alerted for movement, 2nd Lieutenant George A. McDowell and 2nd Lieutenant Ernest V. Price were assigned for duty with the troop, Mitchel Sjeklocha was First Sergeant, Ronald D. Lafferty was Motor Sergeant, Warren C. Van Blarcom Jr  was Supply Sergeant, and Robert A. Truman was 2nd Platoon Sergeant. On 16 March 1944 the Troop was ordered to report to First Army Headquarters for duty.

 
 

THE TROOP GOES TO FIRST ARMY HQ

 

Lieutenant Kelly with the 1st Platoon left Camp Lopscomb on the morning of 17 March and proceeded to Ashton Court (Lady Smythe's Estate), Bristol, England, a move of 66 miles, to ready the camp for occupancy by the entire troop. The platoon was met on the outskirts of Bristol and escorted through the city to the camp by Staff Sergeant McMillan who had left the day before to locate the new area. The camp site was on a hillside necessitating terracing for the tent floors. Tents were pitched and lights and stoves installed and a hillside was cut away and leveled for a Motor Pool. On 20 March 1944 Troop B bade farewell to the 125th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron and the 113th Cavalry Group and moved to its new station to take up training in its newly assigned mission, local security for Lieutenant General Bradley's First U.S. Army Headquarters.

 

A vehicle waterproofing school was being conducted on the North Coast of England and on 23 April Lieutenant Anderson, Sergeant Kenneth A. Howe, Staff Sergeant Cyril James and Technician 4th Grade Ralph W. Tews left to attend this school. Upon their return they instructed the troop in the ways of waterproofing vehicles.  Waterproofed vehicles were tested in a nearby pond and much to the surprise of the many onlookers and observers the vehicle which had been thoroughly waterproofed operated very well under water while the one which hadn't been so well waterproofed drowned out and stalled. It is needless to say the troop vehicles were carefully waterproofed for the invasion after witnessing this demonstration.

 

The troop found a home at Bristol for the next 2 ½ months. It was here we acquainted ourselves with the English Pubs and warm beer and ale. Fish and Chips was the usual snack after a dance, party or show. Here it was that the Troop underwent extensive range firing with all types of weapons in the Troop, 37mm Gun with coaxial 30 Cal MG on the M8 Armored Car, 50 Cal MG from pedistal mounts on ¼ Ton Trucks (Jeeps), 60mm Mortar Rocket Launchers (Bazookas), Thompson Sub Machine Guns (Tommy Guns) Cal 45, 30 Cal Carbines, Cal 30 m1 Rifles, and 50 Cal MG from ring mounts on the M8 Armored Car and Half-tracks. Much time was spent training radio operators acquainting them with the CR 510, 506 and 508.

 

The problem of equipping the troop with TO & E allowances was met with no little difficulty. Having no parent unit to look of for supplies it was an every day occurance for several vehicles to be dispatched to all parts of the United Kingdom to pick up supplies for the Troop. Some deports were as far as 280 miles from Bristol necessitating men and vehicles being away for two and three days at a time.

 

The maintenance crew, Technical Sergeant Lafferty, Staff Sergeant Gregory, Technician 4th Grade Tews, Technician 4th Grade Sutton, Technician 5th Grade Atkinson, Technician 5th Grade Gowen and Technician 5th Grade Sears, the Welder, spent long days and nights modifying the Armored Cars by adding ring mounts and ammunition boxes, and armor plating the floor around the drivers and assistant drivers seats. Pedistal mounts were put on all vehicles and trailers. The vehicles were painted and letters and numbers stenciled on. It was a job well done, for Major General Kean commented on the remarkable appearance of the vehicles when he inspected the troop on April 29th. This was the most thorough inspection the troop ever had undergone but the Generals comment was "Excellent". Lieutenant  Lee was promoted to Captain in April 1944.

 

With the range firing completed and major items of equipment supplied the troop dance was held and the Belles of the village were invited. The troop was well known in and around Bristol as "that Cavalry Outfit at Lady Smythes" and the dance made many new friends for the troop.  Other dances were being planned but all plans were cancelled when, on 25 May 1944 the troop departed from its home and friends at Bristol and moved to the invasion forces marshalling area at St. Stephan, Cornwall, England, a distance of 163 miles from Bristol. Detachment "A", Company "C", 509th MP Battalion was attached to the troop at this area on 31 May.

 
 

THE MARSHALLING AREA

 

Here once again the troop was treated to the best of food in the ETO and as much rest as was wanted. And once again the saying "The condemned ate a hearty meal" was heard as at Camp Myles Standish. The stay at that area was short. On 1 June 1944, along with the Command Echelon of First U.S. Army Headquarters, the troop moved to the loading area near Falmouth, England, 25 miles from the Marshalling Area, and from Hard No. 6 loaded o LST's No. 59, 390 and 391. The troop had been divided into three separate groups, as had First Army Headquarters Command Echelon, so that in case one or possibly two ships were sunk before reaching the invasion area the remainder of the unit could perform the necessary missions. This proved to be an unnecessary precaution however, as all arrived safely.

 

For the next four days and nights the bay at Falmounth and the waters around were choked with vessels of all types and classes. When D-Day would be no one knew for certain but there was much speculation. The weather seemed to be the deciding factor. Maps were being studied by Officers and Non Coms alike. The troop had been given a mission to be accomplished on land which no member of the troop had ever seen, but everyone was learning each inch of the first few thousand yards of that land by studying maps which had been prepared from information obtained from every source at the disposal of the Army. Enemy gun positions were memorized and mine fields were indelibly imprinted on the minds of every man studying those maps.

 
 

OMAHA BEACH - FRANCE

 

The huge flotilla got under way on the night of 5 June. Every man aboard had been oriented and briefed by the senior officer aboard ship. D-Day would be 6 June, H-Hour would be at 0700 for the main invasion forces, but Paratroops and glider troops would start the show at 0100  in order to make the way easier for the beach landings. The Air Corps would bomb the enemies vital installations all through the night of  5 June and the skies would be full of fighter planes during the landing. The time had come.

 

On the morning of 6 June 1944 the convoy was off the coast of France and every man was on deck watching the greatest show ever witnessed. Ships filled the waters as far as the eye could see. The skies were full of barrage balloons anchored from every ship as a precaution against straffing by enemy aircraft.

 

The first ships to reach France had discharged their loads and were on the way back to England for more fighting men and equipment. hundreds of black and white striped planes filled the air, giving comfort and assurance that the Germans would not interfere with landing operations.

 

The Rangers had apparently done their job in true Ranger tradition for there was very little shelling of the transport area. Powerful telescopes and field glasses were used to watch the landing operations o Omaha Beach.  Something had gone wrong and the initial landing forces were not making the expected gains.

 

The beaches were cluttered with wrecked and burning landing barges, vehicles and tanks. The beach exits were being literally blown from the face of the earth by enemy artillery. Men were dying like flies. Progress was slow and costly.

 

The troop was to land the morning of D+1 to secure a prearranged Army Headquarters CP are but due to the strong unforeseen resistance of the Germans only a small group of officers and men went ashore to reconnoiter the CP area and found it to be still in enemy hands. The days and nights of June 6, 7, and 8 were spent aboard the LST, sitting like dukes on a pond, unable to do anything about it. The days were spent watching progress of the landings and the nights were spent sweating out German bombers which were overhead every night without fail. Anti-aircraft fire all during the night foiled any plans for sleeping. Lieutenant. Turnbull, of the MP Detachment, was wounded by flak on June 8 and was returned to a hospital in England.

 
 

THE TROOP IN FRANCE

 

A detail of men under command of Staff Sergeant McMillan went ashore on 8 June 1944 and the remainder of the troop landed the next. The lading losses of the troop were suffered by the First Platoon. Lieutenant Kelly and his car crew Technician 4th Grade Parlett, Technician 5th Grade Whitaker and Private First Class Warra, lost their Armored Car to the waters of the English Channel when it dropped out of sight in ten feet of salty water. Attempting to aid the Armored Car crew, Technician 5th Grade Holobinko and Private First Class Nearhoof drove their M29 (Weasel) into the channel water but their efforts were in vain. The incoming tide and waves proved to much for the "Weasel" and it was swamped and sunk before reaching the Armored Car crew.  A navy "small boat" picked up the Armored Car crew, while Nearhoof and Holobinko swam ashore.

 

On 9 June 1944 First U.S. Army Headquarters Command Echelon set up for operations in an apple orchard at St. Pierre DuMont, near Point de Hoe, six miles from the point of landing on Omaha Beach, with the troop as security. Sniper hunting, cleaning the CP area of dead Germans and Americans, and keeping the civilians from the CP area kept the troop busy for the first few days after landing. The most interesting and spectacular sight was the "Ack-Ack" fire at night, for "Herman the German" was over every night at 2300 hours sharp. The AAA boys proved their worth and kept the Germans from causing too much damage. Corporal Harvey's Half-track and crew, Colen and Wishousky were well shaken up when Jerry dropped a bomb about 50 yards from their position on the evening of  14 June 1944 about 2230 hours.

 

From St. Pierre Du Mont to Haute-Chemin was the next move, 13 miles, which was made on 2 July 1944. It was here that the troop had its first "Gas" alert. Fortunately it was a false alarm but the men discovered how fast a gas alarm could travel and how difficult it was to stop it.

 

On 22 July Captain Lee left the troop to take a job with the Provost Marshal Section of Army Headquarters and Lieutenant Anderson took over the troop and carried on where Captain Lee left off. on 25 July 1944 Lieutenant Turnbull returned from the hospital.

 

During the concentrated aerial bombardment of the St. Lo sector, in preparation for the breakout of the beach-head, Lt. General Leslie J. McNair was killed by fragments of one of our own bombs. A firing squad consisting of Sergeant Joseph Astrolko, Sergeant Kenneth Hahn, Sergeant Philip Stemper, Technician 4th grade Randel Parlett, Corporal Sherman Kuhn, Corporal S.P. Stackarewski, Corporal John Stanton, Coporal Irwin Voglesong, commanded by Lieutenant John D. Anderson had the honor of firing the rifle salute at the grave of this great soldier who had done so much toward the prosecution of the war.  

 

On 1 August 1944, General Bradley left to take command of the 12th Army Group and General Hodges took over 1st Army Command.

 

On 2 August the troop moved to Canisy, a move of 24 miles. From here the 3rd Platoon, under command of Lieutenant McDowell, moved out with TAC Echelon to St. Freres on 7 August and on 8 August, Staff Sergeant Cyril James and Sergeant Joseph Astrolko tangled with a mine and both went to the hospital.  Staff Sergeant James returned to duty three day later. They were the first two men of the troop to receive awards, "The Purple Heart".

 

The next move was made on 12 August, to Coulouvray-Boisbenarte, near St. Pois, 31 miles from Casiny. It was here that orders were received for the entire troop to join TAC Echelon and the Third Platoon, stripped for action and fast moves. On 21 August the troop joined TAC at Haleine, 41 miles from St. Pois, and in the next 27 days the troop covered 474 miles. During these moves with TAC Echelon the kitchen crew was given the job of feeding from 350 to 400 men from a 150 man kitchen, Technician 5th Grade Raymond F. Edwards and Staff Sergeant Wilbur D. Wright drove hundreds of miles for rations and Technician 4 Grade James Williams, Technician 4th Grade Henry Hunsberger, Technician 5th Grade Earl J. Mottin, Technician 5th Grade Carl W. Schmidt, Private First Class Tony Fiala and Private First Class Meyer Navis spent long weary hours at the stoves.

 

From Haleine they moved on 23 August to Maillebois, a trip of 89 miles, and then on to Auffargis for another 46 miles on 27 August. Here the Headquarters set the CP in the Rothchilds Chateau, a beautiful place and reportedly one of the largest estates in France. Lieutenant David Wick joined the troop at this area. The Next move, on 1 September, took them through Versailles, where the treaty of the First World War was signed, into and through Paris, where everyone treaded the Parisians to cigarettes, gum and candy, and in return received kisses, wine and champagne, and on to Senlis, a forty nine mile move from the Rothschilds Chateau at Auffargis.

 

While at Senlis Lieutenant Anderson became Captain Anderson on 3 September, and the troop witnessed its first V-1 (buzz bomb) in flight on that morning at about 0530 hours. There was a doubt in everyone's mind to what that "noisy ball of fire" could be, but when at about 0545 two more "noisy balls of fire" came over, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that they were seeing Buzz Bombs for the first time, and hoped that it was the last. The trip from Senlis to Villequier, 52 miles was made on 4 September.

 
 

THE TROOP IN BELGIUM

 

The reconnaissance party left Villequier on 6 September to locate and secure a CP area in the vicinity of Ham-Sur-Hure, Belgium. A large Chateau on the edge of the village was chosen as the next CP. Three armored cars and two jeeps were assigned to guard the Chateau and clear the area. The next morning civilians reported to the guards that there were German soldiers in the village. Sergeant Harry Ailey with Corporal John Stephan, Technician 4th Grade Raymond Glasgow, Technician 5th Grade Delongis and Private First Class Paul Lynch started a search and with the aid of a civilian, three "Jerries" armed with "Burp" guns were located in an old pidgeon loft. A few rounds from a fifty calibre machine gun persuaded the Jerries to throw out their weapons and surrender.

 

The Signal Corps men were laying wire to the Chateau, but their work was being continually interrupted by snipers. A patrol was sent out and found the "Krauts" in a large barn by a lake. The call to throw out their arms and surrender was answered with "Burps Gun" fire. Firing incendiaries from the fifty, the barn was soon set afire and the Jerries surrendered. There were nineteen prisoners in this group. In the patrol capturing this group were Sergeant Ailey, Technician 4th Grade Parlett, Technician 4th Grade David Brinning, Technician 5th Grade Whitaker, Private First Class Barlow and Private First Class Warra.  Nine more prisoners were taken  by Ailey, Parlett and Barlow, when another barn was set afire and the Jerries flushed out. On September eight the troop moved out of France into Belgium, stopping at Ham-Sur-Hure, near Charleroi, a move of ninety-six miles. Still another fifteen prisoners were taken at this location, eleven enlisted men and four officers. They were in a woods near the CP. This patrol was led by Captain Lee. With him was Captain Anderson, Lieutenant Price, First Sergeant  Sjeklocha, Staff Sergeant James, Sergeant Miller, Technician 5th Grade Wooddy, Private First Class Panza, Technician 5th Grade Brinning, Technician 5th Grade Bealer, Technician 4th Grade Keene, Technician 5th Grade Bond and Technician 5th Grade Mitzel.

 

Communication lines were stretching to the breaking point due to the fast moving front and to ease this situation, First U.S. Army Headquarters set up radio link stations, to relay messages back from lower headquarters. The link station was set up near Marche, 9 September 1944, with one armored car as security. The men on this security detail were Sergeant Dale Earll, Technician 4 Grade Omer Palmer,  Technician 5th Grade Lysander Courtney and  Technician 5th Grade Abram Wells. They returned back to the troop on 20 September.

 

From Ham-Sur-Hure to Haute Sarte near Huy, was a move of 52 miles, on 11 September. Then on 17 September, the troop moved 40  miles to Maison-Bois (Verviers). They stayed six weeks in that area. The maintenance section moved into a garage nearby because of the mud around their out door shop. On 6 October 1944 2nd Lieutenant McDowell was promoted to 1st Lieutenant.

 

The good Lord was with the maintenance crew, for on 26 October the troop moved 11 miles to Spa, and on the 27 September a Buzz Bomb destroyed the building that the maintenance crew had been using as quarters and a workshop.

 

While stationed at Spa, one of the troops jobs was to chart the course and record the time of all Buzz Bombs over the Spa "Buzz Bomb Alley" area. All explosions in the area were recorded and investigated. First aid was given to many Buzz Bomb victims, invariably civilians. All crashed planes, enemy and friendly, were located and guarder until Army Air Intelligence arrived. The guard on crashed planes was necessary to keep souvenir hunters from removing parts of planes.

 

As the weather became colder with the coming of winter, tents were obtained for all outposts and Troop Headquarters set up in a hotel. This was the first time that any part of the troop had lived in buildings since being assigned to Army headquarters. It was while at Spa that, on the thirteenth of November, 2nd Lieutenant Price received orders of his promotion to 1st Lieutenant, and on November fourteenth Sergeant Astrolko returned to duty with the troop, after an absence of about three months.

 

On 16 December 1944, the German Counteroffensive started and the troop was alerted and doubled the guards at the First U.S. Army Headquarters. At first it was decided that the First U.S. Army Headquarters would not move out, but as the counteroffensive gained momentum, the decision was changed and First U.S. Army Headquarters with the Third Platoon as march security, moved to Chaude-Fontaine, 18 miles from Spa to the northwest, on the 18 December. The troop, less Third Platoon, remained in Spa to run patrols and reconnaissance missions, and to guard an enormous gas dump in the vicinity of Spa. Patrols were run to Malmedy, Stavelot, La Gleize, and other places on the north flank of the German forces. The troop returned to duty with the First U.S. Army Headquarters on 20 December at Chaude-Fontaine, and was quartered in the railroad station depot. Once again lady luck smiled on the troop, for on 22 December the outfit moved 44 northeast to Tongres and on 23 December German planes bombed the railway station, blowing in the front of the depot building.

 

At Tongres the German Air force came out to try its luck once again but failed to harm the headquarters. The troop was given half credit for a Jerry fighter, an ME 109, which was shot out of the sky after strafing the headquarters.

 

Christmas Day was Purple Heart Day for Technician 4th Grade Sutton,  Technician 5th Grade Gowen, Private First Class Napoliello, Private First Class Wishoudky and Private Voglesong. A "Buzz Bomb" landed and exploded about a hundred yards from the CP shattering all of the windows in the building. The flying glass and splinters accounted for the Purple Hearts. 25 December 1944 was truly an unhappy Christmas.

 

The "Battle of the Bulge" proved to be a miserable failure for the Germans and First U.S. Army Headquarters moved back 44 miles to Spa on 19 January 1945. The Third platoon moved back on 18 January 1945 as advanced security. Winter had settled in and all outposts were quartered in buildings since leaving the Squadron.

 

On 30 January 1945 Private Mazzotta and Private Truman transferred to the 18th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron of the 14th Cavalry Group. 2nd Lieutenant Wick made 1st Lieutenant 16 February 1945 and  Technician 4th Grade Adam Borkowski went to Infantry OCS in Paris on 20 February.  Word was latter received that Mazzotta transferred from the 18th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron to an Engineer Railway Battalion and Lieutenant Borkowski had been assigned to an Infantry Division bound for the Asiatic Theater via the U.S.

 
 

THE TROOP IN GERMANY

 

Though most men of the troop had been in Germany on various missions long before 4 March 1945 that was the official date the troop entered Germany when it moved to Vicht, Germany near Stolberg, 42 miles northwest of Spa. 4 March 1945 was also the date the troop received its first quota for 1 man to spend a 7 day furlough in England. Private First Class Frank Lehman was the lucky man picked to fill that quota, thereby becoming the first man in the troop to receive a furlough in Europe.

 

The CP at Vicht was located in an old Chateau atop a hill overlooking the town and surrounding countryside. The daily rains soon made a lake of mud and slush of the area so on 10 March 1945 the heavily bombed and shelled German garrison at Düren 23 miles from Vicht became the next CP. The next move was to Euskirchen, a 20 mile move on 13 March 1945.

 

Private Frank Szymanowsky transferred to the 106th Infantry Division on 18 March, Private First Class Frank Lehman returned from England, after having spent 19 days on a 7 days furlough, on the 23rd, and First Sergeant Sjeklocha and Staff Sergeant McMillan left on a 7 day furlough to England on the 24th. Lieutenant Kelly left for England on the 28th and on the 30th the troop moved to Freilingen, a 66 mile move, crossing the Rhine at Nieder Briesig, a small village on the west bank of the river about 10 miles south of Bonn. Two days later on 1 April, the outfit moved 57 miles to Marburg. On 4 April 1945 Lieutenant Kelly returned from England and Lieutenant Price left for England. On 9 April 1945 Private First Class Welby Reid took the troops quota of 1 man to the Riviera for a 7 day furlough. On 12 April Lieutenant Price returned from England ad Sergeant Miller left for the hospital.

 

First Sergeant Sjeklocha and Staff Sergeant McMillan returned from England on 13 April and Lieutenant Wick transferred to the Military Government that same day. April 14th the troop was reinforced with a platoon of medium tanks from Company "C", 738th Tank Battalion under command of 1st Lieutenant  Caldwell and the following day the CP moved to Bad Wildungen, 48 miles from Marburg. April 18 found Captain Anderson on his way to the Riviera for a 7 day leave. Private First Class Reid returned from that haven of rest on the 21st and on the 23rd Sergeant Otis Messenger flew down in a C-47 to enjoy this change from routine Army life. The troop moved to Weimar the 24th, 137 miles from Bad Wildungen and Captain Anderson returned from the Riviera the 26th.

 

Accidents will happen and usually do to the least suspecting. On 29 April 1945 Private Voglesong accidentally discharged a German weapon while cleaning it and the slug put Technician 5th Grade Walter Wlazelek in the hospital for treatment of a bullet wound in the left chest. He returned to duty with the troop on 12 May.

 

Corporal Joe Carrico chose England in preference to the Riviera as the place for his furlough and left on 2 May for seven days on the Island. Sergeant Messenger returned from the Riviera on 3 May very well pleased with his furlough. Technician 4th Grade Hunsberger was lost to the hospital on 7 May. War neurosis had claimed another man and a hospital rest was in store for him.

 

8 May 1945, the date the European War was officially declared over, was celebrated at Weimar, Germany in a German garrison and with German liquor. The non-fraternization policy prevented the presence of women for a troop party but the celebrating was well done up by small groups of the men having their own V-E day party.

 

The Tankers had been with us just a month when they were ordered back to their unit on 16 May.  Captain Anderson, Technical Sergeant Lafferty, Staff Sergeant James, and Staff Sergeant McMillan were awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the troop left First Army Headquarters  at Weimar and rejoined the 125th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron at Frien Seen 140 miles from Weimar, on that same date. The Squadron was now assigned to 9th Army.

 
 

THE RETURN TO SQUADRON

 

It was a sad day for the troop as they bade good-bye to members of First Army Headquarters with whom they had been associating for the past 14 months. The Headquarters was returning to the States for reorganization and further duty in the Far Eastern War with Japan. A request had been made to higher Headquarters for the troop to accompany First Army Headquarters on its new assignment but the request was rejected, much to the sorrow of many of the officers and men of the troop, and the familiar  "Main Mast" sign was put away and replaced by "Antic Baker" 

 

Returning to the Squadron and renewing old acquaintances, which was the occasion for many small parties, soon displaced the sorrowful thoughts of not accompanying First Army Headquarters and the troop took up its role of Antic Baker with vim and vigor.

 

The German garrison at Friedberg 45 miles from Frien Seen was chosen as a good home for the Squadron while awaiting shipment to the States. Being placed in category No. 4 meant the troop would have a long wait before it would be sent home.

 
 
 

  

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