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Grandfather's service - Third Army, 5th Infantry Division

Discussion in 'What Granddad did in the War' started by PeterY, Jan 15, 2014.

  1. PeterY

    PeterY New Member

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    I've been researching my grandfather's service in WWII and would like to get some feedback if possible on some questions I have. First off, I never met my grandfather as he passed just a few years after the war. My mother was only 5 years old at the time.

    I do know that he was a sergeant in "C" company, 1st Battalion, 10th regiment, 5th infantry division, Third Army. According to his discharge papers, he was wounded on 10 September 1944 in France. This would have likely been when his unit was at the crossing of the Moselle River.

    My aunt (grandfather's younger sister) said that she recalled the family receiving two telegrams. The first stating that he was MIA. The next stating that he had been found. She also said that he was wounded and left for dead. He was found by a French lady who assisted him, and eventually made it back to his unit after 3 months! I'm just not sure this story is accurate. I would be interested to know if this sounds plausible. Also, were daily records kept by each Company? If so, where can those be found? Unfortunately, my grandfather's personnel records were completely destroyed in the archives fire in St Louis.

    Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Natman

    Natman Member

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    There's a good account of the overall situation for the 10th IR starting on the morning of 10 Sept. They were in division reserve for a period before this date. Go to this link: http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/lorraine/lorraine-content.html and scroll down to the section titled "The Arnaville Bridgehead" page 141.

    I don't personally have any experience with infantry units, but I know tank destroyer battalions kept daily company records (Morning Reports) which detail info about unit personnel, i.e., KIA, WIA, MIA, sickness, etc. I'm pretty sure these were a standard requirement for all US units. These documents are located at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, MO. Unless you live close-by, hiring a researcher to collect the relevant files is probably the best way to go. Here's a listing of researchers who specialize in the NPRC: http://www.archives.gov/research/hire-help/st-louis-military.html Since you have detailed info on your grandfather and the date he was wounded, the cost may not be too bad?

    Good luck with your search and keep us informed of your progress.
     
  3. PeterY

    PeterY New Member

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    Thanks very much for the feedback. I will definitely look into the researchers!

    I'm somewhat disappointed that I've started so late in this process. If I would have started years before, I might have found someone that served with or remembered my grandfather.

    I've heard that sergeants had a special mark or insignia on their helmets. Is that true? I have a photo of him in France during the war but cannot make out what, if anything, was on his helmet.
     
  4. pistol

    pistol Member

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    Maybe you could post the picture on here
     
  5. Earthican

    Earthican Member

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    Are you saying he was with the French civilians for three months? behind German lines? That does not sound likely but anything is possible in war.

    This bridgehead held and expanded slowly so he may have been wounded, found by the French, helped for a day or so and later evacuated by a supporting unit such as engineers or tanks or TD's. His unit first reported him as missing and later they get notified that he was evacuated and in the hospital. They then initiate the 'found and wounded' notification. Three months to recover in the hospital is about right for a 'minor' wound that allows one to return to their unit.

    'Left for dead' might just mean his unit was driven back (or rapidly advanced) and did not recover their wounded immediately. This bridgehead battle was very intense and frenetic.

    A very detailed account of this battle is found here.
    http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-SS-Three/USA-SS-Three-I-2.html

    Plus maps
    http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-SS-Three/maps/USA-SS-Three-2.jpg
     
  6. PeterY

    PeterY New Member

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    Earthican, this is great info. Thank you. My aunt believes that he was found by French civilians and treated for injuries. She made it sound like he was with them for three months until returning to his unit. However, your account sounds more probable since I do have an official document listing him under "slightly wounded" (he was either shot in the neck or took shrapnel to the neck). Stories that I remember from my grandmother suggest that he played dead as the Germans were all around (this suggests that they may have been pushed back).

    How many men would have normally been in an infantry Company?

    I'll post the picture that I have a bit later. When I was young, I remember seeing all the German items he brought back from the war (arm bands, bibles...). Not sure where they are now though.
     
  7. Earthican

    Earthican Member

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    Welcome to the forum,

    By the official tables a Rifle Company could have 198 men and officers. Usually they had between 120 and 150 men to start an offensive. In the middle of a battle they could reach a low of 60 men or less.

    Three Rifle Platoons, each with three rifle squads (8 to 12 men each), and one Weapons Platoon with two light MGs and three 60-mm mortars.

    In training a rifle squad was led by a Staff Sergeant with a Sergeant for an assistant, though, in battle, promotions came slow and squads would often be led by Sergeants, acting Sergeants and PFCs.


    If your grandfather was an original with the 5th ID he should have spent some time in Iceland. Any family stories from there?
     
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  8. PeterY

    PeterY New Member

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    Again, thanks for the info!

    I believe he was Staff Sergeant but is listed as just a Sergeant on his discharge.

    He enlisted in 1940. He lied about being born in 1922 (actually was 1923) to get in. You are correct... he was in Iceland but I do not recall any stories from his time there.
     
  9. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    Sadly, you're not alone in that regard. However, the main thing is you are searching now. Find out what you can about his service and pass it on so that his service and sacrifice will not be forgotten.
     
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  10. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    Do you have his discharge papers? Anything you have will help determine what and where he was.

    Sadly, we've heard this many times. We all regret not starting our investigation earlier, but at least we began.
     
  11. PeterY

    PeterY New Member

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    Here is the photo I mentioned. My grandfather is the taller one on the right. I do not know the other fellow. The picture was taken in the gardens surrounding the Chateau de Chamarande just south of Paris near Etampes. There appears to be something on the front of my grandfather's helmet but I cannot make out what it is.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. pistol

    pistol Member

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    Being wounded in September and returing after 3 months, he might have been involved in the Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge) as well. 5th US Infantry Division fought in Luxembourg in January 45.
     
  13. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    My best guess is that it is a red diamond for the 5th ID. The dark spot in the center could be the rivet, or perhaps the shadow of the rivet.
     
  14. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    I've never heard of sergeants having markings on their helmets. My father was a staff sergeant during WW2, and no pictures I have of him show anything on his helmet.
    I've looked at the picture you posted til I was cross-eyed and have had no luck discerning what is on the front. Maybe it's the diamond of the 5th, but I really can''t tell.
     
  15. Earthican

    Earthican Member

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    Picture of 5th ID helmet and helmet liner. Marked for lieutenant with small bar in front and vertical stripe in back. NCO's could have a horizontal stripe in back.
    http://perso.numericable.fr/yvesjbel/wwiij.html

    Your picture looks like a helmet liner with diamond, possibly with a lighter border.
     
  16. PeterY

    PeterY New Member

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    Thanks very much for everyone's feedback. I think it is the red diamond on the front of the helmet.

    As suggested by Natman, I'm having a researcher in St. Louis locate any and all documents in the archives that reference my grandfather. Will report back the findings.

    I did find a painting of him in uniform after the war. He had seven bars on his lower left sleeve. I believe this indicates the amount of time served overseas.
     
  17. KJ Jr

    KJ Jr Well-Known Member Patron  

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    You never know. It is very plausible, especially in the ETO, but most likely it was not that long.
     
  18. Earthican

    Earthican Member

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    Sure its plausible, unlikely, but possible. The three month time frame does line up with the next lurch forward by the Third Army to the Saar River in December.

    If the time between the 'MIA' telegram to the 'found and wounded' telegram were separated by three months that would point toward the situation of an extended stay behind the lines.

    The Morning Reports could also clear up this story. Hopefully it doesn't cost too much to get each day between September through December.
     
  19. KJ Jr

    KJ Jr Well-Known Member Patron  

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    That's a good point, I didn't think of communication lapses.
     
  20. PeterY

    PeterY New Member

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    Starting to get some details from the Morning Reports. He was wounded on 10 Sept 1944 at Arry, France and sent to 109th Evac Hosp (anyone know where this was located?). So, he was not MIA at this time. He returned to his unit (Co. C, 10th Regt) with 53rd Repl Bn on 1 Oct 1944 (unit was then in Lorry, France outside of Metz). Promoted to S/Sgt (Temp) VOCC (spelling unclear?) 2 Oct 44.

    I'm assuming "Temp" stands for Temporary as he left the ETO as just a Sgt.
     

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