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608 Engineer Light Equipment Co./Cpt. James L. Anderson

Discussion in 'Military Service Records & Genealogical Research' started by Clementine, Apr 11, 2011.

  1. Earthican

    Earthican Member

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    Hello Clementine,

    In another thread you mentioned your father landed in Normandie on D-Day and in advance of the rest of the 608th Engineers. I came back to this thread to refresh my memory and ask if you had any updates or additional information to share?

    Given that OVERLORD was such a detail planned operation it might be possible to find traces of your father's role. Just narrowing down whether he landed on OMAHA or UTAH Beach might be interesting.

    I recently came across a thread on another forum where we learned that a infantry company from a separate infantry regiment landed on D-Day attached to the VII Corps. Their role was a bit of a puzzle until the original poster mentioned the unit had a number of French speakers from Louisiana. An obvious helpful skill in performing rear area security.

    I am a bit fascinated by the logistic dimension to OVERLORD and the Engineers were a key part. With Port Battalions, Boat and Shore Regiments, the Special Brigades that organized the beachhead. I would be kind of interested to find out how many Light Equipment Companies there were. Come to think of it I would like to know how they were organized and equipped. You mentioned bulldozers, but every engineer outfit had those, probably dump trucks, maybe steam shovels (they didn't use steam then but still looked like their predecessor); were there front-end loaders during WWII?

    Previously you mentioned an interest in patches. If you would like a signature banner using the insignia and ribbons your father earned let me know and I might be able to gin something up.

    Hope all is well with you and your family.
     
  2. Clementine

    Clementine Member

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    Hello, Earthican,

    My father was on Omaha Beach. He was tasked with clearing the be beach, which is the source of his worst nightmares. He said that part of the "debris" he had to clear were bodies, and it has always haunted him because he always feared that some of those boys might still be living.

    I don't know about front-end loaders, I will ask my father. I know he said that he was quite the "hotshot" on the Quick-Way crane. I don't believe he used one on D-Day, but after.

    I would be interested in a signature banner. Thank you.
     
  3. Earthican

    Earthican Member

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    Wow that's chilling. But gives me a thought on why your father was detached from his unit. It's pure speculation so I will hold off posting anything.

    Some quick checking shows the overall command of running OMAHA Beach was the Provisional Engineer Special Brigade Group which consisted of the 5th and 6th Engineer Special Brigades. These were mixed units of Engineers, Quartermaster and Transportation which were supported by Medical and Signals. I looked at a fairly long list of units but did not see a detachment of the 608th Engineers. Any idea how many other men from his unit were with him? It seems likely they had some sort of attachment to another battalion if for no other reason than to be fed.

    I found pictures of the Quick-way crane mounted on trucks, for some reason I imagined them mounted on caterpillar tracks (like the power shovels).

    I sent you a PM on the signature banner.
     
  4. Clementine

    Clementine Member

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    It is my understanding from my father, and from other people I have talked to that this is how his unit worked. A couple of guys would be pulled off to work with this group and a few would go with another group. When my father began to talk about it, he would talk about it much, but one of the things he said was he volunteered to go on D-Day. I don't know if that meant he really did, I think it probably meant he was volunteered.

    When I have inquired, I have been told that because my father's unit did not go over on D-Day, it is credited. I am attaching a copy of a page of the unit history in which the CO mentions being reunited with some of the men who came over on D-Day, it doesn't say where they landed, but does say they came over on June 6 (it is the third paragraph). I am also attaching a list of some equipment from the same written history. I don't know if it will be of interest to you.

    View attachment 16992
     
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  5. Clementine

    Clementine Member

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    Okay, those attachments are very small. If you want to read them and can't let me know.
     
  6. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    My son has previously informed me that the current Army-ism is "voluntold", which cracks me up.


    If you open the attachment in a new window, you should be able to expand the image.
     
  7. Biak

    Biak Adjutant

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    Nice bit of paperwork. TD's right, I clicked the image then clicked the picture once it loaded clicked again and could enlarge.
     
  8. Earthican

    Earthican Member

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    Sorry if this sounded ominous. I really did have a spur of the moment thought and I wanted to do some research and mull it over.

    My thought was, for D-Day the army needed not just a bulldozer with an operator but multiple operators for each machine. I did some checking and learned that the Engineer Combat Battalions had no bulldozers -- a little surprise to me. Given the number of bulldozers landed, I imagine they culled every qualified operator they could find in theater and possibly had a crash training course for some men of the ECB's.

    I still need to research this more but I find LCTs landing the ECB's as early as H+60. Some of these LCTs were probably carrying the armored dozers (not to be confused with the tank dozers). One source said there were 16 landed on all of OMAHA. I have yet to find any information on the non-armored dozers that landed later.

    Just for reference, there were eight ECB's landed on OMAHA on D-Day. I imagine all the bulldozers operated under these outfits. They also provided all the manual work for demolitions, mine clearing, obstacle clearing, road work, etc. Not all the ECB's were under the Engineer Special Brigades but most were.

    I have to admit I still don't know much about the Engineer Light Equipment Company (the attachment helped) and the other special skills they may have contributed to D-Day. I have seen photos of quarry operations that were labeled as run by an Eng(LE)Co. So for equipment they may have had: power shovels, dump trucks, mobile rock crushers(?), cranes and dozers. (I have seen elsewhere that the power shovel was also called a crane in Army nomenclature.)

    Whether or not your father operated a dozer on OMAHA Beach, I appreciate the opportunity to reflect on the role they played. Eyewitness accounts of these guys are pretty common and very glowing.
     
  9. Earthican

    Earthican Member

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    I found a small trace of the 608th Eng (LE) Co. in the NEPTUNE documents (assault phase of OVERLORD). Attached is a page from Annex 9, Engineer Plans of the NEPTUNE orders. It lists engineer units tentatively assigned to US First Army and their tentative groupings. Since there were many changes once the operation started it is not likely any of these grouping happened exactly as stated. In fact many units were "to be determined" meaning they were not in theater yet.

    You know the 608th was ultimately assigned to the US Third Army and given they landed in July it is probable they were never assigned US First Army.

    Even so this is interesting for it shows how they grouped the different types of engineer units, unit numbers assigned to the groups (1100 series), and I see a few other sister Engineer Light Equipment Company's (numbered from 608 to 623).
     

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  10. Clementine

    Clementine Member

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    Thanks, I do already have that and know that they were attached to the Third Army. When Dad started talking about his experiences, he didn't open up much, but he did talk about Patton. He wasn't his right hand man, or anything, but he did work with him at times.

    When I spoke with the gentleman that posted about his father at the beginning of this thread, he recounted a story about the unit's CO and how they watched him talking to Patton one day and how he was just casually jingling money - or whatever a man in a war zone might have - that was in his pocket. The reason that so stuck in my mind, as insignificant as it may sound, is it illustrated how unflappable Cpt. Anderson was, and my dad does that same thing, so it was a image that really stuck in my mind. (I can't recall if he told it in this thread or in an email, I didn't look back.)

    I knew he was in the Third Army, but he couldn't recall a company, or regiment or battalion, which really threw me for a long time until some other kind souls explained about how engineer units, or at least some, were not attached at that level.
     
  11. Earthican

    Earthican Member

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    I imagine ole Patton learned by then to respect these citizen soldiers who were using their skills to keep 'his' army moving.

    I looked around to see if I could find a list of Engineer Combat Groups assigned to the Third Army. I found many but not a complete list. Did the 608th Eng (L) Eq. Co. history state what Eng C Grp they were assigned to? It might have changed over time but one mention might provide other areas to search.

    By Google search I found this one month AAR for the 1110th Eng C Grp in the First Army, V Corps. For anyone interested to see all the different tasks they managed.

    http://www.7tharmddiv.org/docrep/N-1110-AAR.doc

    Found here

    7th Armored Division Document Repository - World War II Documents of and related to U. S. 7th Armored Division


    It's a Word document, if you don't have MS Word I provided a link to the Google search. You can try the Quick View to view the document.

    "engineer combat group" aar - Google Search
     
  12. Clementine

    Clementine Member

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    Earthican,

    I haven't gone through all of the morning reports I have or made a comprehensive list, but it looks like the unit was attached to the 1107th Engineer Combat Group right after landing in Normandy in July 1944. Then there are references to various individuals being attached to different groups but in a quick overview I see the 1101st Engineer Combat Group listed the most.
     
  13. Earthican

    Earthican Member

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    That is interesting. The official history indicates the 1107th Engineer Combat Group supported the VIII Corps in Normandy when it joined the Third Army. They continued to support VIII Corps in Brittany where VIII Corps transferred to the Ninth Army. When Ninth Army moved to the Aachen area, VIII Corps moved to the Ardennes and was assigned to First Army. I have no information for when the 608th Eng (L) Equip Co left the 1107th.

    I have seen a reference to the 1107th Eng C Grp still with the VIII Corps when the Germans countered attacked in December 1944 -- Battle of the Bulge. I have no information that the 608th Eng (L) Equip Co was with the 1107th here.

    The 1101st Eng C Grp is interesting too because I have seen they supported Seventh Army late in the war -- 1945.

    Potentially the 608th supported Third, Ninth, First and Seventh Armies. Many units make the claim to being well traveled in Europe but the 608th might be at the top of that list.

    Thank you for the opportunity to learn about a facet of the US Army in WWII that I had not studied before. Its been fun for me.
     
  14. Clementine

    Clementine Member

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    Quick update, we are taking my father to have a bit of a mini-reunion with one of his fellow 608 Engineers in a couple of weeks. The man has an album of photos, please keep your fingers crossed that there might be at least one of my father in it, although I'll be quite pleased just to see any photos of the unit. I will post photos....I am so excited about this.

    I promised my father that I'd have flowers placed on the grave of Wallace Erali (Wallace was killed by a sniper while my father was standing right beside him) and I had flowers placed there on his birthday. And I want to say how very helpful people, perfect strangers, have been in helping me trace this young man, his family and his grave. I found an email for a woman in his home town who is trying to document all of the area graves of veterans and I told her what I was trying to do, she went to the grave and took photos for me and then went back and took photos of the flowers for us. My hat is off to these people.....

    View attachment 17689
     

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  15. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    Mine as well, Clem.
     
  16. Clementine

    Clementine Member

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    We just got home a little while ago from our visit with Mr. Robert Ament, he served with my father in WWII. I was hoping that somewhere amongst his photos he might have at least one with my father somewhere.....He had five!

    Mr. Ament lives in an assisted living facility and the staff could not have been any nicer to us. The director offered to take the photos we picked out and he is going to make copies of them for us, we obviously didn't want to ask Mr. Ament to part with them since he does not know us very well. So these are photos I took of Mr. Ament's photos - because I couldn't walk away without them...A few are not very clear, the originals were not great to begin with, but they are my dad. And I included a photo of my dad, Mr. Frank Cloyd, and Mr. Ament looking at photos (my dad was trying, he can't really see much anymore). It was a great day.

    View attachment 17782
     

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  17. 36thID

    36thID Member

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    You are so blessed to have that day, a once in a lifetime moment !
     
  18. Natman

    Natman Member

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    A great day indeed-and five pictures to boot! You must still be riding that high. I bet it was a lot of fun listening to those guys talking about "the old days". Those photos look pretty good to me.
     
  19. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member

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    Great photos, Clementine. It sounds as though your day was a total success; meeting a man who served with your father, and pictures, too. I hope the conversation between these two vets is something you'll remember and treasure.
     
  20. Clementine

    Clementine Member

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    I got to thinking today, I found an article some time back (I believe it is posted in this thread) from the Niagra Falls Gazette. It is dated Nov. 26, 1945 and it reported that the return of several troop ships on that day, including the USS Waterbury Victory which carried my father and Mr. Ament back to the States.

    It just occurred to me that our little reunion just happened to fall on the 67th anniversary of their return home.
     

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