USS. General George O. Squire AP-130

The men left Camp Kilmer on the 13th of October, first by train to the shores of the Hudson River, then ferry boat to the docks in New York City.  It was late at night  and raining, as the men waited for there name to be called off to board the ships,  A army band was playing tunes and the Red Cross handed out coffee and doughnuts to the men.  He sailed that October on the General George O. Squire it had nearly 4000 men on the ship for this voyage.  

The weather for the trip was pleasant for that time of year,  bright and sunny dad recalls.  Many men got seasick but Dad did not although he came very close. There was 2 meals served a day on the trip.  At sunrise and sunset the men had to go on deck for submarine alert, this was the time when ships were most vulnerable to attack.  The Squire sailed in a convoy of almost 200 ships,  zig zagging all the way to England, while Canadian Corvettes and American Destroyers patrolled the sea along side them.


Dads ship landed in Plymouth England about 3:00pm on October 25, after nearly 4 hours of unloading the ship they boarded a train for Bournemouth arriving there about 2:30 am.  Dad was billeted in the Hotel Carlton room 92.  The hotel was old fashioned as far as American standards.  He recalls the elevator or lift as the English call it looked like a bird cage on a string.  

While at Bournemouth, the men were very busy preparing to cross the channel, Dad says he can't hardly remember what the city looked like, they were two busy to go anywhere during the day, and at night the city was under blackout conditions.

On November 12-13 he received a pass to London, he took a sight seeing trip and saw  the sights of London, he recalls the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, and Madam Tausad's Wax Museum were his favorite. 

That night while he was sleeping two V2 Rockets hit near the hotel, Dad slept right through the blasts,  he found out about them the next morning from the hotels maids.



A Picture postcard from Piccadilly Circus

On the 17th Of November the division left Bournemouth for France.   Dad was assigned as a guard on one of the trucks, and they rode in a convoy to Weymouth were they boarded LST's.  Men not riding it trucks crossed the channel in British Channel Transports. Dads truck and two others were loaded onto LST 261, which left the docks and went about 1 mile out to sea were they chained it to 3 other LST's which were at anchor there, here they sat for almost a week. For the first few days Dad got seasick, he only felt good when he was lying down in the back of the truck. 

After a few days he felt better and was able to climb around from one LST to the other where they were showing movies. He had is Thanksgiving dinner on the LST but says the Navy was skimpy with the food, they claimed they only had enough food for there crew and the men of the 78th were 10 men to many. He found out later though he was better off than the rest of the men of the division, they were bivouacked in a muddy field in France and ate there dinner in the rain.


Dads position from November 17, 1944 to February 8, 1945

On the 22nd They finally crossed the channel, and entered the harbor at La Havre, France.  They then sailed up the Seine River for about 100 miles and landed at Rouen on  the morning of the 24th. In the afternoon Dad and the trucks finally caught up with the 78th division in Yvetot were the division HQ was already set up. 

The Division HQ was set up in Yvetots city hall , Dads office was in the courtroom there.  While in Yvetot he got introduced to  the French custom of men and woman using the bathroom at the same time.  He also bought a bottle of perfume which he sent home to his mother.

On the 26th of November, they left for Belgium,  they traveled by railroad riding in box cars, there were 38 enlisted men and 1 officer in his box car.  They pilled there duffle bags in one end and sat on there backpacks in the other.  They had a can of water and a couple of boxes of K Rations for food.

Dad recalls two things about the trip,  it was very cold in the boxcars and going to the bathroom,  they stopped every few hours to go and it did not matter where it was, sometimes it was in the country and other times it was in a city,  they then hopped out and did there job, sometimes with the Belgians watching them.



Dad arrived in S'Heeren Elderen Belgium a few days after leaving Yvetot, Dad recalls the town being a small farming  town.  All the farmers houses were in the city, and there fields were out in the country,  the houses had no running water in them,  every so often on the city streets there was a water fountain, the people had a wrench like key to turn the water on and off with, the men of the 78th had to ask the townspeople for the key when they wanted water. He says the people were very friendly and would bring the men warm water from there houses when they wanted some.  While in S'Heeren Elderen, Dad made a trip to Tongeren Belgium, there he bought a pair of barber shears, and a pair of wooden shoes.  He recalls all the GI's in Tongeren were buying wooden  shoes to send home.  He also made a trip to Maastrich, Holland to take a shower.



Dad  somewhere in Europe.


Picture postcard Dad bought of Raeren, this street was Adolph Hitler Strabe



On December 9,  they moved again by truck convoy to Raeren Belgium, as the troops left S'Heeren Elderen, the towns people waved and cheered them goodbye.  

Raeren is a town right near the German border, Dad remembers the  main street through the town was Adolph Hitler Strabe. The men set up there HQ in an apartment house there, and this is also where they slept.  All the while they were in Raeren V1 Buzz Bombs kept going over there heads they were on there way to Antwerp, as they flew the anti aircraft guns would fire on them and were able to knock some of them down.  A few V1's did land in the 78th's   area.



On December 13, the 78th finally went into action, there objective was to be the capture of the Schwammenauel Dam on the Roer River.  Capturing the Dam was a vital mission to the allies as they felt that the Germans would let the water out of the dam washing out the bridges needed to cross the river.

During the next 3 days the 78th made good progress for a new unit. They captured several towns on there push to the dam when on the 16th of December the German made a surprise attack on the American Divisions in Belgium area.  This attack is what we now call the Battle Of  The Bulge.

For the men of the 78th, the onslaught of German troops forced them in to defensive positions, the division was surround by the enemy on 3 sides and the 78th was ordered to hold there positions, they could have been cut of easily,  but the GI's in the front did there job and held.

Dad and the other men in Division HQ were also pressed into action, they too shouldered there rifles and carbines. On the evening of the 16th paratroops had been dropped behind the 78th lines, the next day Dad and other men searched every house in Raeren for these troops.  That night there was no sleep for Dad, he and 8 other men patrolled the country side in 2 jeeps waiting for paratroopers, while on patrol enemy planes approached, and dropped flares lighting up the snowy countryside,   The  men were really scared,  Dad says as they thought the Germans were dropping troops on them and there was only  8 of them to fight them. Much to there relief the planes continued on and dropped bombs not troops a mile or so away. 

On the evening of the 19th the Germans bombed the HQ area, Dad slept through these bombs even though they were only a few hundred yards behind the building they were sleeping in, he says there was heavy artillery that day and he had gotten use to the load noise.  In the morning he went to look at the craters and remembers them being about 12 feet across and about 4 feet deep.

On the 20th  Dad was sent to Eupen Belgium, this was a special mission, The Colonel had ordered Dad to start cutting  the hair of recently arriving replacements, Dads barber shears were dull and he had to get them sharpened. He remembers passing lots of armor units moving towards the front.

The Replacements arriving at the  78th,  were kept at a castle about 1 mile from Raeren, he remembers the castle being made of stone with a moat around it too. 

On the night of the 22nd Dad and another man had to go out and guard a intersection in the road. German troops dressed in American uniforms were thought to be behind the lines, there job was to stop every vehicle that came down the road and ask them a password, if they answered the password correctly they then asked them question that only Americans would know, like What team did Babe Ruth play for, or What is Mickey Mouse's girlfriends name.

During this period the weather was cold and it snowed about 1 foot, many men were coming back from the front with trench foot, Dad also worked at the Aid Station there filling out paperwork and helping the medics any way he could.

Picture post card of Castle in Raeren, where newly arriving replacements were kept.

Dads friend Bennie Sacco,  in front of Castle in Raeren,  Dad taught Bennie how to Cut hair in the army. 

Frances Farrell, Dad, Edwin Edlemann  

Raeren, Belgium 1944

During the last week of 1944 the German drive was halted, and the men remained in there defensive positions,  On Christmas Day the men in both the rear and forward areas were feed turkey dinners with all the trimmings.  Dad remembers Christmas well, he recalls one soldier brought back from the front, his brother had been killed that day and this man was ranting and raving uncontrollably, he was swearing at the German and  yelling he was going to kill them all.  the man was sent to a hospital the next day for treatment.


Dad Raeren Belgium 

Bullet Dad retrieved from strafing German plane December 27, 1944 bullet picture is actual size

On the 27th Dad was walking down the street in Raeren  when a German plane appeared suddenly and began strafing at Dad, he was able to dive into a door way of a brick building and escaped injury.  One bullet from the plane hit near Dad and spun around on the ground like a top. After the coast was clear he retrieved the bullet for a souvenir.



Dad finished out the year in Raeren, he had spent his third Christmas in the army, and was thankful he had been kept safe so far,  follow us on to 1945 and see what this year bring for Dad and the other men in the 78th Division.


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