If anyone has information
94th Infantry Division Historical Society
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Mail to: John Clyburn,1103 Timberbrooke Drive, Bedminster, NJ 07921 Phone 908-781-1406
WWII vet recalls end of war as prisoner
Bill Baumann was an Army infantryman in World War II in Europe, and spent his last weeks in the service in 1945 as a prisoner of war of the Germans in southern Germany.
Posted: Saturday, December 8, 2018 12:00 am
Bill Baumann, now of Kerrville, was a junior in Columbia High School, Pennsylvania, in December 1941 when Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was bombed by the Japanese, thrusting the United States into World War II.
He was due to graduate in 1943.
He entered the military in 1943 and ended his military service in Germany as a prisoner of war in 1945, liberated by American troops.
At home, 1941
“None of us students had cars. We were lucky if one of our parents had cars. I had a buddy who had his dad’s car. Three of us were driving around that Sunday when we heard the announcement about Pearl Harbor on the radio,” Baumann said.
He said he had friends who left high school to join the U.S. military right away. One of them was another “farm kid” named Sam who foresaw himself always being a farm kid.
Baumann said he stayed in high school, but tried to enlist either in the U.S. Navy or Air Force the next school year. He and a friend went to the nearest town to a recruiting office and took the qualification test and medical check.
Baumann said he passed except that he still had his tonsils, and the recruiter turned him down. He went to the Army recruiter next.
The recruiter said they were getting so many volunteers in 1942-43 that they could be more choosy about new volunteers. So he signed Baumann up “provisionally” and said to return to high school and wait for a letter with a report date.
That letter came the next July about when he turned 18, and he reported for duty.
Baumann said, “You have to remember I was a kid from Pennsylvania. The Army sent us on a train to North Camp Wood, now part of Fort Hood, Texas – in July. I don’t believe there was a Texan in the bunch, about 10-15 of us. They made me ‘lead;’ there was no officer. There was an Army sergeant waiting for us at the train station, I think in Waco.”
Baumann was assigned to the Army Specialized Training Corps. He said the Army tried to send college-ready recruits to a university in Florida, but American losses in the war made them change that plan. So he was sent to Camp McCain, Miss., and then to Florida. But that program ceased after three months.
Baumann was reassigned to the 94th Infantry Division.
“When I think about it, I don’t recall serving then with anyone who had been drafted. They were all volunteers. Later in Europe, when our troops were depleted, guys got drafted.”
They were sent to a New York port to board the Queen Elizabeth ocean-liner-turned-troop ship on Aug. 6, 1944 to travel to Europe.
“I think there were about 20,000 troops on board, stacked in bunks eight to a stateroom. And the British crew only fed us mutton. I remember mostly staying on a deck.”
The D-Day invasion at Normandy had already happened. Baumann said the 94th relieved another Infantry division in western France; and their major duty was containing the Germans guarding German submarine bases on that coast, to keep them from breaking out to go inland.
The enemy had about three times the number of American troops, he said. The Americans worked with the Free French patrolling that area.
Then the Battle of the Bulge occurred in December 1944. His unit relieved some troops that were overrun in Belgium; and later the 94th was transferred to eastern France to General George Patton’s Third Army.
His unit was sent to the “Sauer/ Mosel (River) Triangle” at the border with Germany. Baumann said, “That area is famous for wine, but in the war the Germans had machine guns in the vineyards. There was lots of back-and-forth fighting and almost one whole company of infantrymen were killed there. It was a fluid situation.”
He said not many war movies of that time or after matched the reality of combat, except “Saving Private Ryan.” “I waited a long time before I saw that one; and I almost got up and left when there were scenes about American infantry waiting for German tanks to come.”
Baumann said he and other troops were captured after they crossed the Sauer River to the town of Kumlerhof. “There were six houses and a church in that farm village. The Sixth Mountain SS Division overran us; and captured I think 19 of us. We had run out of ammo. I was a prisoner for a couple of months until the end of the war.
“I used to think we had a hard time as prisoners, until I talked to some survivors of Bataan. The Germans made us walk across southern Germany and the Rhine River, I guess toward Munich. There were about 1,000 Americans and the same number of British and some Hungarians and Russians, in a long line,” Baumann said.
He also recalled some East Indian Sikh who were POWs from Africa. One of their officers said there were about 300 of them when they started. Baumann remembers about 30 men in that group.
“The Germans said they were going to put us in box cars on a train, but our side always blew them up before we got there,” he said. “There was almost no food on either side, and sometimes we’d eat sugar beets raw out the farm fields. That probably wasn’t good for us but we didn’t have much else. Most of the German guards were older and didn’t treat us meanly; and they weren’t much better off than we were, and were marching every day along with us. When it rained there was no shelter; we all slept in the fields.”
When they were walking through German towns on April 12, 1945, the German guards told them President Roosevelt had died, he said.
“I spoke a little German then, from my family roots. I could understand them better than they understood our English.”
At the end, Baumann said they had finally found a farm community with some buildings still standing at Kimmlerhof the mid part of May 1945 and were sleeping in a barn the morning the 14th American Tank Group liberated them. The German guards had deserted their posts and disappeared.
“The Americans had an Italian cook and they fed us spaghetti, but I couldn’t keep anything down. Most of us they ran through a hospital to be checked out – me, too. We were all enlisted, no officers.”
Baumann was discharged as a tech sergeant.
Baumann said he was introduced to geology at a Pennsylvania university after the war. He called the “G.I. Bill” a real success story for himself, and eventually had a professional career with the U.S. Geological Service in mining engineering after going back to college in 1950.
He met his wife Gwen in Carlsbad, N.M., while working in the area. His family includes her daughter and son, two more daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Gwen is deceased.
Over the years he worked in Colorado and New Mexico, then Uvalde and Karnes County, Texas, and Wyoming where he retired.
He is a VA Medical Center patient here and a life member of the VFW. And at age 92 he still makes Meals on Wheels deliveries, something he started in 1996 and has had weekly routes since 2000.
Since the war, he’s been to military reunions, one in Buffalo, N.Y., when their former company commander attended, and two other of Baumann’s good friends from New York. At a St. Louis reunion he met a younger man who traveled to old military sites in Europe and had found a U.S. metal mess kit with initials and last name Scobbo. They were reunited with his buddy at the meeting.
Date: Fri, 7 Dec 2018
I recently got access to a couple boxes that my Uncle had saved. Among them was the following letter. Not sure if anyone else will find it interesting.
Letter home, from Marion R. Neely, to his mother, Frances Neely of Iowa Falls, Iowa.
Service at this time: 94th Infantry Division, Military Police Platoon, January 1945 through August 1945.
One of the fellows managed to aquire a typewriter and so I'm trying out my former skill. There's just one trouble though. The z and y are just turned around some of the other keys are in different places too. (I've got to have some excuse don't I) Anyway It's a change.
Right now I'm sitting out on the back porch of my apt. basking in the warm! sunshine. Without a doubt I'll have a sunburn to-morrow but it's worth it. To-day I went swimming in a mammoth outdoor swimming pool. It's all of a 100 yds. long, and is equipped with wonderful dressing rooms and a set of seats for the gallery. Aside from the Swimming pool there is a huge track and fields for playing any kind of sport, and last but not least there are a large number of tennis courts in good shape. Of course they have some civilians keeping up the place which means it gets good care. Now that things are quiet here in Europe things won't be so bad if wer'e lucky enough to stay here.
Of course as soon as they put out this point system I figured mine up. It seems after much manipulation of figures I could get no more than 50 out of mine so I guess I'm stuck for a while. Another 17 months overseas would do it if they didn't lower the standerds. What a thought, I'ts revolting isn't it. Oh well at this stage of the game there isn't much you. can do about it is there. The married men with kids are certainly getting the break this war. Their are some fellows in this outfit who have enough points to get out but they're few in number let me assure you. It's a great topic for conservation but I do think that most of the men are resigned to their fate.
I just got a letter from O.E. and although he was bound for a port of embarkation he suffered a cracked rib and he's been in hospital in Ft. Mead Md. It seems he may get a chance to get assigned to the staff of newspaper of the hospital while he's there. Considering the point system he might as well stay in the states as long as he can. He seems to be enjoying married life and I do hope it works out alright. He is just like I was before I came overseas but I wouldn't have been happy unless I had and I guess he feels about the same way. Oh well as an old army man once told me. Everyon knows that they shouldn't go over but you have to go over to find out for your self. No matter what anyone says and they all say that you shouldn't you still want to.
Did You get that Mother's Day greeting from Gen. Malony with his "personal" greeting on it. Here it is almost the last of May again my how time does fly. This country reminds me more of home than any other country that I've been. The towns (What's left of them), and the countrysides, the people themselves.
I-do hope that you will pardon the stationary I'm using but it is a litle hard to obtain. IN fact I could use some. Well as I slowly feel myself turning into a firy ball I'll close.
all my love,
[your Son Marion]
Notes: Marion's (my dad), own biography of his time during WWII [partially published in The Attack in 2003], says he was stationed "after the war ended," at Strakonice, a town in the SW region of what is now the Czech Republic. He definitely had many fond memories of that place and people. He was in Czechoslovakia, through most of August, prior to reassignment that would send him to the Pacific. But, the War ended and the "points" required to be sent home dropped. So he was home by January 2, 1946 and enrolled at the University of Iowa for the second semester a few weeks later.
Sol Fineblum, A Soldier Who Found Opportunities In War For Altruism
September 06, 2017
Sol Fineblum’s moral education began early. When Depression-era men, drunk and desperate, stumbled into his family’s Baltimore store, his father refused to sell them bottles of Four Roses bourbon. Instead, Sol led them across the street to a restaurant that fed and sobered them up. The family paid the tab.
By the time Sol was 8, he was shooting Hitler with a wooden gun in his yard — practice for what came next. His wife, Dr. Carol Fineblum, knew all his war-time stories. They’d met when she was only 4, living across the street. Now Sol was 18, heading to Army engineering school.Sol Fineblum (Courtesy Rafi Finegold)
“He was on this train on his way to the University of Maine,” Carol recalled, ‘and two MPs got onto the train, said, 'buddy, you are no longer on your way to college, you are in the infantry now!' "
Rifleman: Company A, 301st Regimen, 94th Division. Sol arrived at Omaha Beach two months after its invasion. He fought his way across France, eventually earning a Chevalier de France: Knight of the French Empire. He slept in barns, and found his bunkmate cows comfortingly bucolic.
One day, a platoon brother — in the midst of chaos, they had conversations about about Greek philosophy — was hit by machine gunners.
“And Sol looked back, saw him, turned around, came back to give him first aide — that’s what you do, you give first aide to your buddy,” said Carol. “He turned back, and they were shooting at him when he ran back. He got to him, picked him up, cradled him. And suddenly, there was quiet. Quiet. No machine guns. He looked up in the woods, and there were four men standing beside their guns, watching him. They wouldn’t shoot him.”
No nation can be judged evil in its entirety. Sol and his wife often talked about this moment afterwards.
“In 1944-45 there were no more SS,” she explained. “These were old men who were drafted at age 45, 50. That’s what he said: ‘they saw in me their own sons. How could you shoot a kid who’s taking care of his buddy?’ They couldn’t. Even if the Fuhrer told them they had to, they couldn’t.”
Sometime later, Sol’s platoon was captured in Germany. Marching north to Stalag 11B, he passed more proof of the kindness of individuals. In towns along the route, German citizens offered food to the unshaven, debilitated soldiers. One schoolboy offered his lunchbox.
Sol spent three months and a day as a POW before being liberated by the British on his birthday. He carried the certainty of evil and the certainty of kindness back with him to Baltimore.
“He never once complained,” Carol marveled. “That’s the remarkable thing about Sol Fineblum. He never complained. He considered that experience a learning experience — it strengthened him, it made him understand people. He took away from it a positive kind of message. It was just amazing. He never hated. And for good reason."
Sol Fineblum, who mastered the care of strangers in early childhood, practiced and received it, practiced and received.
From: mariebacton <firstname.lastname@example.org>
From: Arnold Dunn <email@example.com>
I am looking to get information about my father Pvt Doyle D. Dunn who was a medic in the 94th Infantry Division 319th Medical Battalion that’s basically all I know.
He passed away in August 1989 and never really talked about being in the military in WW2. I have his medals and have been trying to get proof of his service so he could get the combat medic badge.
All his records were lost in the fire of the archives in St Louis,Mo. If anyone knows how to go about proving he was a medic please let me know. I can be reach by email at firstname.lastname@example.orgThank you
Arnold Dunn - Son
From: Sarah Woodcock <email@example.com>
I was wondering if you had any photos or information on my grandfather Richard E. Collins"Dick" who was born on May 14, 1926.
I would be interested in any articles or photos.
My Grandfather, Hilton Wood, who raised me was in the 94th Infantry Division. If I recall correctly, he was in Company C. He was the Sergeant. I recall a few gatherings. I have many letters to him from those in the 94th. I was pondering through his wallet tonight and came across a 94th Infantry Division Association that he dated 11/20/2000. Making him in good standing until the 53rd annual reunion on May 30th 2002 in Knoxville TN. Harry N. Helms, Jr. was the Secretary-Treasurer listed on the card who lived in Downingtown, PA. Hilton was from Macon, GA. He passed in March 29, 2001.
I would love to talk with anyone that knew him or was in his company. I’d love to upload the notes his men wrote him. I would love to learn even more.
From: Patrick McCue <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I’ve been visiting a 97 year old gentleman by the name of Chester E. Bishop every Thursday for 3 years now.
He is basically another grandfather to me as we have become very close. He served as a rifleman and ammo bearer with a machine gun team in Company I, 376th Regiment, 94th ID. He’s doing great and thought I’d share this portrait I took of him last month. The 376th regiment's photo on the wall behind him was taken in Mississippi at Fort McCain.
Good afternoon! My great grandfather was in the 94th infantry, 376th regiment, I company. I was just curious if you had any other documents or if there are other 376th veterans that may have known him. His name was Hoyt Johnson. Thanks!
From: Stephen Carter <email@example.com>
I am researching Lt. Col. George F. Miller 301 Infantry who was KIA 20 Jan 1945.
My husband and I visited the Luxembourg American Military Cemetery last year where I took a photo of the Lt. Col.'s marker hoping to learn more about him and his sacrifice.
Any information would be appreciated.
Subject: My uncle, T5 Arthur Ouellette
My uncle, T5 Arthur Ouellette (6139056) was a member of the 94th. His records at Luxembourg American Cemetery state that he was KIA on March 3, 1945. Would there be any more information about the location of the outfit on that particular date?
I notice that he had a seven-digit service number, while most of the other names in the lists had six digits. Why might that be? He was 30 at the time of his death, and might have been in the Army twice (old family recollections).
From: "Jim" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Seeking information about my Dad who died when I was 14.
From: Pauline Heck <email@example.com>
I am the daughter of, now deceased, Sgt. William L. Labate(10-19-1919). He was one of the survivors of
I was only 3 years old when he came home so I don't remember anything about how he looked.
I hope you can help me. I was hoping that you had the list of the men that survived Berga, and that his name wouldn't be on it. But I'd sure love to know how he made it out.
Thank you, any help is appreciated,
Pauline Labate Heck
I am the closest living relative to my step father Francis Rhame of Clarendon County South Carolina.
He spent Christmas 1944 in a foxhole in Germany, and I would like to know anyone who might have known him.
From: Peter Farina <firstname.lastname@example.org>
As per your FB group's message, I just wanted to send a quick email to share the following page with you
Basically, last year I had my first child – who I named after my late Grandfather Nichoolas M Galeazza of Amsterdam, NY.
I never knew more than the fact that he was a radio operator in WWII so, this winter, I decided to uncover more, getting out the approx. 300 photo he took during the war.
The project started because I wanted to preserve his story for my son, but it soon developed into something so much more... as thanks to some research and the names on the photos, I've been able to reach out to the children of the people he served with and (in one case) someone still alive who served with the 94th.
It has been incredibly rewarding, as many of the people I've found didn't have photos of their dads from the war... so the photos I shared with them were the first they saw.
Anyways, I wanted to share the link with you. I hope you (and others) follow the page.
In addition, I wanted to know if there will be a reunion this year as well?
Thank you in advance for your reply,
(518) 853 - 3650
Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2018
I am trying to find out more information on my grandpa. Sadly my aunts and uncles don't have much information and some of what they remember is contradictory. It's a long shot but I want to see if anyone in your group may have records or rosters for the 376th or know where I should look? I keep hitting dead ends. I found a copy of the History of the 376th and am reading it now. However I scanned it and don't see my grandpa's company mentioned in the book nor is he listed in the back as a Bronze Star recipient although his Form 53 says he received 3. The form says grandpa was a Machinists Helper 431. I would love to find someone that knows what a Machinists Helper did too. What I find on line is scant...I don't know how a soldier is an infantryman and also working in a machine shop! My dad has grandpa's Combat Infantry Badge so he saw hostile fire?
Anyway, any leads or information you can send my way I would appreciate so much. I'm sick that I waited until I was 50 years old and my grandpa gone 15 years before I began wondering about and trying to honor him.
From: Jeff Boldt <email@example.com>
My name is Jeff Boldt, and I live in Colorado.
In December, 1945, my father was an eleven-year-old German boy who had been evacuated to Marianske Lazne, Czechoslovakia (or what was then Marienbad, Sudetenland, German Empire.) On the last day of the American occupation of the area, he and my uncle and grandmother were smuggled out by African-American US soldiers in supply trucks as they left for good to the American Zone in Germany. The Czechs wanted them to stay behind for retribution and work in labor camps, but these generous souls showed them pity, even after all the horrors the Nazi German government had inflicted on the world.
I'm trying to learn which division or battalion these soldiers could've been part of. I've learned the 94th Infantry was responsible for the area, and (unless I'm mistaken) African-American soldiers were commonly relegated to Quartermaster and General Services battalions. I'm trying to learn specifically which members of the 94th Infantry would have been driving supply trucks as the occupation of Czechoslovakia ended in November / December 1945.
I would be forever thankful for any help you can provide me.
From: Stephen Thompson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
My father was Dempsey C. Thompson of Company B 301st Regiment 94th Division from 1942-1945.
He never talked about the war. But I would like to know everything that he went through.
From: Scott Bockhorst <email@example.com>
Good afternoon Gentleman,
My Grandfather Herman Oliver Bockhorst served in the 376th infantry and he went on to serve as an MP in Nuremberg.
I do have copies of some of his personal photos from over there but no stories.
Subject: Tech/5 Glenn G Sanford
Looking for information on Tech/5 Glenn G Sanford. He is a member of the Madison County Hall of Heroes by virtue of his Bronze Star medal. His records show he was a member of Company B/319th Engineer Battalion.
I have nothing except his discharge paper.
Our website is at: www.mcmhc.us/?page=profile&hero=271
From: Kevin D <firstname.lastname@example.org>
My Grandfather Joseph. E. Roza was in the 94th Infantry Division during World War Two. He was Awarded a Silver Star, and a Purple Heart. Like many Veterans who have seen combat he didn't talk about his experiences. He passed in 2013. I've been trying to follow were he went through Europe. Using the dates maybe I could narrow down where he was at when he was Awarded his Silver Star. I do have a copy of his discharge papers and paperwork on his Silver Star. Unfortunately I haven't been able to to find much information.
From: Michael Tessler <email@example.com>
My name is Michael Tessler, I'm assisting my cousin with discovering where her father was stationed during WWII. He was a member of the 94th Infantry Division.
He began his career as a private but ended up becoming a sergeant. His serial number was 33909369. He was born May 19, 1916, in Ohio. His name was Charles Hoyt Mace. Any chance you could assist me in finding what company he was in and where he would have been during the war? Thanks so much!
From: John Hollister <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Attached are various photo’s of my father, Jack Hollister (whom we called “Cat”). Also can send you complete “The Attack” newspaper from September 9, 1945. Let me know.
Date: Sun, 21 Jan 2018
The limited Division history which we have found suggests that he was probably killed during the battle for Lampaden Ridge, but we would greatly appreciate any confirmation and additional information.
We live in a retirement.community which recently established a program recognizing veterans, and that has renewed interest in the veterans' military histories.
Jack L. Evans
(I served in Co. K, 357th Infantry, 90th Division, and was first wounded on 10 July 1944, and received the Distinguished Service Cross for actions at that time.)
please contact person direct by Email or Phone