US Army stations in France during World war 2

My grandpa served in World War 2 as a technical Sergeant for the Signal corps (414 signal company). He kept a very extensive list of everywhere he traveled and I'm trying to put together a map of all of these places for him. One place he listed wasEcramarville. I've searched everywhere but cannot find a city with a name like this.

I'm hoping somebody out there knowledgeable in European geography, especially as it relates to World War 2, can help me out. The previous entry wasboarded boat at Southampton for France.This gives me a reason to believe the city is in France. The entry immediately following this isRennes, which is also in France.

Could your place be

Equemauville? Its on the coast, but not near Rennes.,+France/@49.403432,0.2092025,13z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x47e032e5d20e4639:0x434c62c2074eeb9

In Normandy you'll find Écrammeville, which a young GI who doesn't know French, when reading it from a half destroyed road sign, may well misread as something else.
From there Rennes may well be a next station.
P.S. Écrammeville is pretty close to Omaha Beach, so may well have been a staging area for units to assemble into marching formation after landing there on the Mulberry harbours.

Written By: Katie Holt An artist well known for his portraits of twentieth-century influential figures, Samuel Johnson Woolf spent four months in France during World War I with the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF). As an artist-correspondent for Collier’s Weekly, Woolf was embedded in the trenches along the front and behind the lines. Immediately upon returning &hellip

Written By: Eric Anderson For better or for worse, war often drives innovation. World War I, in particular, heralded the introduction of numerous formidable and terrifying technologies: flamethrowers, poison gas, combat aircraft, and tanks, to name a few. While the idea of an armored vehicle equipped with cannon can be traced as far back as Leonardo &hellip

80th Infantry Division Campaigns during World War II

The 80th Infantry Division was formed in September 1917, several months after the United States entered World War I, and served in military campaigns in France the following year. In 1942, the "Blue Ridge" division was reactivated for military service and deployed to Europe, where it landed on Utah Beach on August 3, 1944, less than two months after the Allied invasion of western Europe on D-Day (June 6).

Soon after arriving in France, the unit engaged German forces in combat in Argentan and other locales in Normandy. It subsequently drove eastward and reached the Saar region of Germany by early December. Later that month, the 80th was diverted to Luxembourg to blunt the German offensive into the Ardennes during the Battle of the Bulge. In January 1945, the 80th returned to the offensive and in the following months drove deep into Germany. After crossing the Rhine in late March, the division advanced through Thuringia, reaching Erfurt, Weimar, and Jena by mid-April. By war's end, the "Blue Ridge" division had advanced south through Bavaria and into Austria.

France’s military brothels: Hidden history of the First World War

Prostitution and war often go hand-in-hand. But this is perhaps most true of the First World War, where even the French government played a part in the sex industry – a legacy that continued almost to up to today.

“You could find anything you wanted in the brothels in the surrounding area and at the camps. It was a mêlée, a hard, dangerous and disgusting business. Fifty, sixty, up to a hundred men of all colours and races to see every day, all under the constant threat of air raids and bombardments.”

These are the words of Dr Léon Bizard in his memoirs of the First World War. He was describing the daily routine of a hidden army operating in the shadows of the one fighting on the front lines - the thousands of sex workers that catered to the soldiers of the Great War.

‘Where there are soldiers, pimps quickly follow’

Prostitution flourished from the moment fighting began in the summer of 1914 – supply rising to meet the demand of soldiers who, far from their families and plunged into the hell of war, found themselves in need of female companionship.

“You can die at any moment, from one second to the next. When there is the opportunity to respond to desire, there are no restraints,” explains Lieutenant Colonel Christian Benoit, author of a book on the military and prostitution entitled ‘The Soldier and the Whore’.

For centuries, soldiers and sex workers have shared history, he tells FRANCE 24. In fact, he says, they are inseparable.

"This is explained by the fact that the armies are groups of young, unmarried men who have the need occasionally to be with a woman, not always for sex by the way, but also for company.

“This mass of men provides clients for prostitution. Where there are soldiers, pimps quickly follow.”

With the mobilisation of vaster quantities of men than had ever been seen before, the phenomenon reached new heights in the First World War.

Prostitution became rife in areas close to the front lines, as well as in nearby towns and villages, says Benoit.

“Some of the inhabitants took up prostitution. Others were also brought in. These were apocalyptic scenes, real slaughterhouses.”

Disease quickly spread – an estimated 20 to 30 percent of men contracted syphilis during the war, including both soldiers and the civilian population.

France’s military-run brothels

Soon, the military doctors became concerned and during the summer of 1915, the French army began taking measures to stop the scourge, setting up clinics to treat infected men.

“The doctors took the opportunity to interrogate the men to find out who they caught the disease from so they could find the woman in question and treat her,” says Benoit. “But [the men] were often unable to remember.”

Eventually, the French state took an even more drastic step and began taking direct control of, or even setting up, brothels across the country.

Known as Military Campaign Brothels (BMCs), they had already been used by the French army in the previous century during the conquest of Algeria – but never before on home soil.

These appeared in particular near training camps, often set up in the countryside “where there was no regulated prostitution or medical screening”, says Benoit.

Not all of France’s allies took such a tolerant view. The US, for example, banned its soldiers from visiting brothels entirely.

“They preferred to control their soldiers with the following system: any man who had sex had to report it within three hours at medical station for prophylactic treatment. If they got sick without following this procedure, they were fined half their pay.”

This approach did not always have the desired effect: when the Americans landed in France at the port of Saint-Nazaire, their attendance of illegal brothels contributed to the spread of syphilis in the city.

A lasting legacy

The end of the combat in November 1918 inevitably brought a decline in prostitution. But the French military’s dalliance in the murky world of prostitution continued long after the last shots of World War One were fired.

It continued to operate brothels right up until the end of the 20th Century.

“It was outside the law of course,” says Benoit, “but the use of subcontracting – the army would start a relation with a local pimp who would supply the girls – gave the system its ambiguity.”

BMCs were used by the army in North Africa and Germany during the Second World War and, despite the outlawing of brothels in France in 1946, during the Indochina War of the late 40s and early 50s.

Right up until 1978, four BMCs were being operated in metropolitan France, serving the French Foreign Legion. The final state-run brothel -- in Kourou, French Guiana -- did not close its doors until 1995.

“A local pimp had filed a complaint for unfair competition,” explains Benoit.

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US Army stations in France during World war 2 - History

In 1939 when World War II began in Europe nearly all Great Plains Farmers wanted to stay out of the conflict. They feared the loss of life, particularly their sons, if the United States became involved. They also remembered the collapse of the agricultural economy after World War II. Still, many farm men and women considered the war an opportunity for the United States to sell surplus, price-depressing agricultural commodities to Great Britain and France. Wartime demands, they hoped, would increase farm prices and improve their income and the standard of living for farm families across the Great Plains. The editor of the Nebraska Farmer contended that a long war would bring prosperity to farmers because the belligerent nations would turn to the United States for agricultural commodities that they could no longer produce in order to feed their people.

Although agricultural prices, particularly grain and livestock increased during the autumn of 1939, most farmers anxiously awaited major price increases for farm products. By early spring 1940, however, the Nebraska Farmer reported that the war had not "lived up to the expectations of those who looked for a boom in exports of farm products." Britain and France continued to spend more for armaments than American farm commodities. As a result, by late 1940, only government buying, commodity loans, and export subsidies kept agricultural prices from falling due to a loss of foreign markets, primarily due to German and British blockades.

By mid-1941, however, increased British demands for food as well as an expanding U.S. military had substantially increased agricultural prices. Farmers now enjoyed 25 percent more purchasing power than during the previous year, and agricultural experts predicted another 25 percent increase the next year. In September 1941, Great Plains farmers became even more optimistic when Secretary of Agriculture Claude R. Wickard called for "the largest production in the history of American agriculture to meet the expanding food needs of this country and nations resisting the Axis." Farm income now out-paced expenses, at least for the moment.

As the nation drifted toward war, Great Plains farmers worried about government price fixing for agricultural commodities, if the United States became involved in the conflict. On the eve of Pearl Harbor, Congress bowed to farm-state pressure and approved liberal maximum prices for farm commodities while promising farmers that agricultural prices would not be targeted for control if war came and consumer prices escalated. Nearly everyone understood that agricultural production must increase to feed an expanding military. By the autumn of 1941 Secretary Wickard believed the European war and the needs of those nations fighting Germany would require record-breaking agricultural production. Wickard contended that American farmers would need to feed ten million Britain's and that seventy cents of each dollar spent for dairy products, butter, eggs, and cotton, among other agricultural commodities would reach the farmer. Soon people began speaking of "Food for Defense." In Kansas federal and state officials met with farmers across the state to encourage them to increase production by specific amounts.

Agricultural Adjustment Administration officials, who represented the federal government, visited farms and asked farmers how much they could increase production of various commodities. In October 1941, they asked Colorado farmers to increase hog production by 30 percent and cattle ready for slaughter by 18 percent. Across the Great Plains, however, wheat and cotton production still seemed more than sufficient to meet the nation's needs for bread and fiber. Most observers believed the new European war might end soon, and farmers did not want to produce too much and suffer price depressing surpluses and an economic depression like the one that followed World War I.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, ended the reluctance of most Great Plains farmers to increase production. Quickly, the army became the major buyer of flour from wheat and beef produced in the Great Plains. Farm prices sky rocketed by 42 percent while farm costs increased only 16 percent from the previous year.

Great Plains farmers met the challenge of the United States Department of Agriculture and other government agencies to increase production by seeding more acres, raising more livestock, and working longer days. They also took pride in their achievements and couched their work in patriotic terms as their contribution to the war effort. In July 1942, the Nebraska Farmer touted the increased productivity of farmers in the Cornhusker State noting, "On every Nebraska farm there is a dramatic story of sacrifices, hard work and long hours, often made by women and children who took the place of sons and brothers in the military." In Nebraska, like other Great Plains states, farm men, women, and children exhibited a "can-do" spirit for the sake of the nation's war effort. This patriotic sentiment, pride, and efforts to increase production continued until the war ended.

One Oklahoma editor contended, "The war has made the farmer almost the most important person in the county, and farming has become as essential a war-time business as the manufacturer of planes, tanks, guns and ammunition." By early 1942, Great Plains farmers knew the war would dramatically increase their income. In South Dakota farmers and livestock raisers anticipated wartime profits because approximately 75 percent of the state's farm income came from sales to allied forces and civilians through the Lend-Lease program. In 1941, gross farm income increased by $30 million.

Yet, as agricultural income increased, Great Plains farmers recognized a looming agricultural labor shortage as their sons and hired hands joined the military while the federal government expected them to increase production. By spring 1942, the U.S. Employment Service could not find enough workers for farm labor. Government officials recommended the employment of nonfarm women and men and boys and girls, and it urged businesses to close during peak agricultural seasons, such as harvest time, to enable employees to help local farmers. In Colorado, however, some people opposed the organization of school children for farm labor because it required too much regimentation. Many schools and civic organizations, however, provided volunteers to help farmers.

  • ["Urges School Boys to Fill Farm Jobs," Omaha World-Herald, February 7, 1942.]
  • ["Farms Will Draw on New Labor Sources for 1942," Bismarck Tribune, March 23, 1942]
  • ["City Lads Learn Farm Work to Help Meet Rural Labor Shortage," Omaha World-Herald, April 26, 1942]
  • ["Denver Area Fights U.S. Plan for Your Farmers Battalions," Denver Post, May 2, 1942]
  • ["Men for Harvest," Salina Journal, May 11, 1942]
  • ["Western Farmers Are Told to Solve Labor Problems," Denver Post, May 21, 1942]
  • ["Business Men, School Boys As Farm Workers," Salina Journal, September 14, 1942.]
  • ["Leave School to Help in Harvest," Salina Journal, September 23, 1942.]
  • ["60 Kiwanis to Pick Cotton Banker to be Water Boy, Daily Oklahoman, October 9, 1942]
  • ["Roswell High School Students to Pick Cotton," Roswell Daily Record, October 16, 1942]
  • ["Calls on Schools to Provide Labor," Salina Journal, August 24, 1943]

In June 1942, O. M. Olsen, Commissioner of Labor for Nebraska, surveyed the labor shortage in the sugar beet region of western Nebraska. He supported the recruitment and hiring of 700 Mexican farm workers to help farmers block, that is, thin sugar beets. In Wyoming, volunteers helped farmers thin beets to ensure a crop. Some farmers also hoped that Japanese evacuees from the west coast who were relocated to Heart Mountain, Wyoming, could help harvest sugar beets.

Great Plains farmers knew that agricultural machinery would help them solve the labor shortage, improve efficiency and production, and reduce labor costs. But, they could not purchase much equipment during the war because defense industry needs for iron, steel, and rubber had priority over agricultural machinery manufacturers. A farm implement shortage developed quickly, particularly for tractors, combines, and corn pickers, and forced Great Plains farmers to share equipment when an implement broke or wore out. During the summer of 1942, H. O. Davis, rationing director for Kansas, told farmers, "This is more than a question of 'neighboring' it is a question of patriotic service for the country." By autumn, E. K. Davis, president of the Kansas Farmers Union, urged members to share labor and machinery.

In September 1942, Secretary of Agriculture Wickard issued a rationing order for all farm machinery, effective in November. As a result, Great Plains farmers used only worn-out equipment during the war. Implement dealers often could not keep pace with the demands for repair work. Great Plains farmers could only make do with the implements that they had when the war began, while recognizing the potential problems ahead.

By 1944, Great Plains farmers experienced a severe implement shortage. With most iron and steel reserved for military purposes, few farm implement manufacturers built needed equipment. Great Plains farmers compensated by sharing implements, employing itinerant harvest crews, called custom cutters, and by hiring nonfarm workers for the corn harvest. Farm women also helped harvest crops. Some farmers, however, who lacked both corn pickers and labor, harvested their crop by letting their hogs graze it for later sale as pork. Throughout the war insufficient farm machinery and labor hindered the efforts of farmer's to increase production. Most farmers, however, confronted their problem and profited from increased productivity and high war-time prices.

While farmers endured the shortage of farm implements, they also contended with a labor shortage throughout the war. In Colorado Governor John C. Vivian appealed to Secretary of War Henry Stimson to release men in the military provided they worked on farms. He believed the induction of farm men into the military by the Selective Service contradicted government appeals for farmers to increase production. Governor Vivian argued that only farmers knew how to farm, not city men and women, who might be hired as agricultural workers. He feared lost crops and food shortages, if farmers continued to operate without their sons. The War Department ignored Governor Vivian's request, and Colorado farmers sought other solutions to their farm worker shortage, but not before Governor Vivian gained considerable attention for his plan in the newspapers.

During the war, the farm labor shortage became serious across the Great Plains. Farmers could not compete with defense industry wages, and the military took away many of their sons and hired hands. The construction of military bases and employment at the bomber and ordnance plants, airbases, ammunition depots, and flying schools further drained the agricultural labor supply in the region because the construction and war industries paid considerably higher wages than farmers. In Kansas, farmers paid approximately $50 per month with room and board for year-round help and $3 per day for seasonal harvest hands. By autumn 1942, however, they paid $5 per day for inexperienced workers, and they could not employ enough of them, in part, because the aircraft industry in Wichita paid wages as high as $12 per day.

Farmers continued to demand changes in the draft system, and the provision of military furloughs to ensure adequate agricultural labor, but the War Department staunchly opposed such policy. Early in 1943, Paul V. McNutt, director of the War Manpower Commission, and newly appointed Food Administrator, Chester Davis, also announced that they would seek mobilization of a 3.5 million volunteer "land army" for seasonal work on farms across the nation. Local extension agents would recruit workers not employed in defense industries and urge them to work on farms for "regular farm wages," even if below the pay of their regular jobs as a contribution to the war effort. In Colorado, Governor Vivian told Secretary Wickard that farmers could not meet their labor needs by employing teenagers from the cities and towns as the United States Department of Agriculture and President Franklin D. Roosevelt suggested, because they did not have the necessary experience. Even so, he urged school officials to release these students to help with spring planting.

In 1943, the state extension services and the United States Department of Agriculture began a major campaign to encourage farmers to employ boys and girls and men and women from the towns and cities to help meet their labor needs. The Kansas Extension Service reported that, "It may take two boys to make one man, or three businessmen to replace one skilled farmer but the help that is here must be utilized." The Extension Service also observed that, "It will take patience on the part of the farmer to train skilled help. It will also require that sacrifice be made by town people unused to farm work under the summer sun. All of this is incidental to getting the job done." In April, the Kansas State Extension Service appealed to the patriotism of town and country people alike to help solve the farm labor shortage.

State and federal agencies also provided information to teenagers in the towns and cities who might seek jobs on farms. The Kansas State Board for Vocational Education, for example, provided the following suggestions to help town boys adjust to agricultural work and daily instruction by farm men and women. The board also provided advice for farmers who employed town boys as well as county extension agents involved in the recruitment process.

By 1943, then, the United States Department of Agriculture sought to keep a force of experienced farmers and agricultural workers on the land and encourage the return of workers who were not employed in essential defense industries and who had agricultural experience on Great Plains farms. USDA officials also wanted to mobilize a "land army" or a "U.S. Crop Corps" of 3.5 million men, women, and children from the towns and cities for full-time, seasonal, and temporary farm work, particularly at harvest time.

On April 29, 1943, Congress passed Public Law 45 which established the Emergency Farm Labor Program. This legislation gave the Extension Service in each state the responsibility for recruiting, transporting, and placing agricultural workers. The Extension Service also would work with the U.S. Department of Education to recruit school children for "Victory Farm Volunteers" of the U.S. Crop Corps and enlist a Women's Land Army.

The agricultural labor shortage remained critical across the Great Plains during the war years. The Dallas Chamber of Commerce asked business leaders to release their employees for field work, but few businessmen or their employees volunteered to chop, that is, weed cotton fields with a hoe. Similarly, farm labor officials urged Cheyenne businessmen and their employees to spend their summer vacations on a farm within a fifty-mile radius of the city. In Nebraska, one county agent reported that interest among school boys and girls for farm work lagged, and a survey of high school students in Oklahoma City clearly indicated that most had no intention of working on farms for patriotic reasons because they could earn $100 or more per month in various city jobs. Few farmers could pay such high wages. In Kansas, for example, the average farm worker earned about $80 per month or $60 per month with room and board.

In Oklahoma and Kansas officials reported that farm labor needs could only be met by school boys and girls, businessmen, and "rural and town women," but when harvest time came for the wheat crop wages of $10 per day with room and board attracted few volunteers. Near Dallas, cotton pickers earned at best $5 per day, and few workers took that employment. School leaders informed agricultural officials and labor recruiters that their children would not pick cotton even if they were released from school.

Given the inability of many Great Plains farmers to meet their labor needs locally, they increasingly sought Mexican and Mexican American workers, particularly for work in the sugar beet fields for cultivating and harvesting as well as to chop and pick cotton in New Mexico and Texas. In 1942, many Great Plains farmers were encouraged when the federal government negotiated an agreement with Mexico to support the temporary migration of workers to aid farmers with certain needs and who met specific wage, housing, and working regulations. This agreement became effective on August 4, 1942. Soon, farmers and agricultural officials referred to it as the Bracero Program.

Mexican workers, called braceros, proved good workers in the Great Plains sugar beet fields. Sugar beet growers and nearby refineries quickly stereotyped them as a people who would work long and hard for low wages and not complain, and many came from rural areas and understood farm work. Few local or white migrant workers sought this back-aching work for about $10 per day. During the remainder of the war, Great Plains farmers, particularly sugar beet growers, sought braceros that they contracted through the federal government.

Braceros also worked for Great Plains farmers in other capacities. They harvested potatoes, shocked corn, threshed grain, and stacked hay. Great Plains farmers appreciated the willingness of braceros to do the required work, but they wanted the Mexicans to leave their farms and the area when the job ended because of their racist prejudices. The braceros and Mexican American migrant workers from the southern Great Plains confronted segregation in businesses and public places across the Great Plains. Great Plains farmers, who employed braceros, however, praised their work ethic and productivity. Even though they sometimes lacked skills for harvesting corn and wheat or using machinery, they learned quickly and worked hard. South Dakota farmers particularly welcomed bracero workers during the war years.

In Nebraska the extension agent praised the ability of the braceros to learn any farm job. The Fillmore County agent observed that they were accustomed to working with their hands which gave them an advantage over "most unskilled workers." He also urged farmers to help ensure good working relations for them.

Great Plains farmers, particularly sugar beet growers, needed Mexican nationals in their fields, and their labor proved essential. Between August 1943 and August 1945 approximately 20,000 braceros worked in the Great Plains where they served as an important labor force. Braceros helped farmers provide food for the military and public and earn a profit. Braceros, however, could not provide all of the labor needed on Great Plains farms. Some agricultural officials in the USDA and state extension services believed that women in the cities and towns could help ease the farm labor shortage by joining a Women's Land Army.

Confronted with a labor problem that had no male solution, some agricultural officials, state politicians, and women's organizations began considering women, both farm and town, as a collective agricultural labor pool. The USDA studied the possibility of mobilizing nonfarm women for agricultural labor and, in February 1943, Secretary of Agriculture Wickard asked the Extension Service to develop a program for the recruitment of women for farm work. And, in April Congress appropriated and authorized funding for a Women's Land Army (WLA). Florence Hall, an experienced USDA employee, became head of the WLA. The state extension services had the responsibility to appoint leaders for recruitment and organizational work.

The WLA functioned as part of the Emergency Farm Labor Program and the U.S. Crop Corps. The WLA sought women for assignment to farms on a part-time, weekly, or monthly basis. Enlistment was available for women at least eighteen years of age who produced a doctor's certification of good health. The WLA planned to recruit women in areas where a farm labor shortage existed. This recruitment would help solve transportation and housing problems. Each woman had to be willing to work on a farm continuously for at least one month. WLA volunteers would receive training for "life on a farm" at a state agricultural college or similar institution. Agriculture and home economic teachers would provide the training.

Women employed by the WLA would receive the prevailing local wage for farm work. Farmers interested in hiring these women could contact their county agent who would assign them women workers best suited for the situation from the local and state labor pool of the WLA. The county extension service would monitor this employment to ensure the town women adjusted to farm life and the provision of adequate living quarters and sanitary facilities.

Great Plains farm men and women appreciated patriotism, but they questioned whether nonfarm women could perform physical agricultural work. Few town women volunteered for the WLA. As a result, in October 1943, farm women became eligible to join the organization. This decision enabled WLA officials to count more women as participants and claim some recruitment success. From 1943 to the termination of the WLA in 1945 as many as two million women became part of the WLA nationwide.

In the Great Plains, farmers traditionally had not hired women for seasonal, that is, harvest work, and recruitment proved difficult. In Nebraska, the extension service reported that farmers willingly accepted their wives and daughters in the fields, but they were reluctant to hire nonfarm women. Moreover, few nonfarm women sought agricultural employment because they were not interested in this work or considered it a contribution to the war effort. Moreover, it did not pay as much as defense industry jobs. Still, in 1943, women primarily from the farms, but a few from the towns, played a major role in completing the wheat harvest. One observer noted, "These are women of prosperous wheat farms. They are mostly educated, refined women. . . . many young college girls, out of school for the summer."

As the Selective Service System drafted more men for the military, one agricultural official reported, "If manpower continues to be drained . . . we will have to accept the idea that women will supplant men in the fields." He contended, "They do it in England and there's no reason we can't do it here."

WLA recruiters visited schools and women's groups and canvassed neighborhoods by going house-to-house to enlist women who would attend short courses at the colleges across the state where they would learn to tend poultry, milk cows, and conduct other farm work.

The following documents were prepared by the Kansas State Extension Service to help home demonstration agents and others recruit women for agricultural labor. Extension agents could use the documents to address local groups. These documents stressed the importance of agriculture, noted the farm labor shortage, and urged women to enlist.

Although few women joined the WLA, many worked on Great Plains farms. Women detassled corn and pitched hay in South Dakota, shocked wheat in North Dakota and harvest potatoes in Wyoming, where the number of women driving tractors also became noticeable. In Nebraska, women also drove tractors to cultivate corn, and they harvested grain and picked corn. Most of these women, however, were family members not nonfarm, that is, urban or town women. Most of these farm women drove trucks and tractors during the harvest, with hauling grain their most common job. Implement companies, state extension services, and agricultural employment committees often sponsored training courses for farm and nonfarm women to help them learn to operate agricultural implements, particularly tractors.

Few farm women wanted city women working in their homes, unless they cleaned and cooked. Farm women did not want nonfarm women working in the fields. Moreover farmers were skeptical about hiring females, particularly nonfarm women. They preferred to entrust their machinery to their wives and daughters or other farm women, because they had some knowledge about the operation of various implements. Consequently, the women working on Great Plains farms generally were: first, the farmer's wife second, his live-at-home daughter third, the daughter who had moved away but retuned during the harvest fourth a relative fifth, friends and sixth or last, town women who wanted to work on a farm, if the family accepted them.

No one can say precisely how many women worked on Great Plains farms as part of the WLA because the records are imprecise. Thousand of women, however, labored on farms across the Great Plains, but they were so widely scattered and worked so unobtrusively that few people were aware of their contribution to the war effort.

The WLA achieved only modest success recruiting, enlisting, and placing nonfarm women in agricultural positions in the Great Plains. But, as an organization that encouraged nonfarm women to leave their homes and jobs for farm work, the WLA served as an important symbol of collective unity and patriotic sacrifice. In the Great Plains, however, women conducted a considerable amount of agricultural labor, but not as part of the WLA. At best, farm men approved of nonfarm women helping their wives with domestic chores and farm women treated them as "hired girls" who did not know very much. Farm women considered field work their responsibility in time of need. In the end, farm women, not town recruits of the WLA, made the greatest contribution of women to agriculture work in the Great Plains during World War II.

Table 1

Estimated Number of Women in Farm Labor Through the Extension Farm Labor Program

TOTAL(Seasonal and Year-round

1943 1944 1945
Colorado 4,075 3,891 2,484
Kansas 663 1,408 392
Montana 1,472 602 713
Nebraska 1,592 1,043 461
New Mexico 1,249 2,234 1,047
North Dakota 4,879 5,600 6,768
Oklahoma 8,231 15,961 18,499
South Dakota 755 1,178 778
Texas¹ 75,707 51,200 53,868
Wyoming 288 268 171

¹Includes farm women not in the region of the Great Plains

Source: Wayne D. Rasmussen, A History of the Emergency Farm Labor Supply Program, 1943-47. Agriculture Monograph No. 13, (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Agriculture, September 1951), 148-49

In retrospect when the war began farmers optimistically hoped the new conflict would benefit them. Increased federal demands for greater production meant more money. In 1940 farmers received an index price of 84 (1910-1914=100) for wheat, 83 for cotton, and 108 for livestock while their cost of living reached 121. By the end of the war, the index wheat price reached 172, cotton, 178, and livestock 210, while the cost-of-living index reached 182. Put differently, the index prices received on all farm products was 95 in 1939 and 204 in 1945. At the same time, farmers paid an index price for commodities, interest, taxes and wages of 123 in 1939 and 192 in 1945. Net income on a typical Great Plains wheat farms in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas rose from $558 in 1939 to $6,700 in 1945 for a 1,102 percent increase. In Oklahoma and Texas, cotton farmers earned an average of $997 for their crop in 1939 and $2,894 in 1945, a 190 percent increase. Overall, then, Great Plains farmers benefited from World War II. They paid debts and mortgages, bought land, and saved. They hoped that any post-war economic depression would pass quickly. The war years had ended the price depressing surpluses and low farm income of the Great Depression. Great Plains farmers agreed that war paid.

28th Infantry Division - In The Liberation of Paris

Paris went wild with joy .

It was a moment of supreme elation.

To make it clear that Paris had been liberated through the strength of Allied arms, Eisenhower planned to march the 28th Infantry Division through Paris to the front. On August 29, the division made its way through the city. Eisenhower, Bradley, Grow, de Gaulle, Koenig and Leclerc reviewed the parade from an improvised platform, an upside-down Bailey bridge. Eisenhower had invited Montgomery to attend, but the British general said he was too busy to come.

Eisenhower remained serene above the fray, telling one associate. "We shouldn't blame them [the French] for being a bit hysterical." He did, however, parade the 28th Infantry Division through Paris on 29 August. Eisenhower did this partly to get the division through the city quickly and to provide de Gaulle with a show of support but also to drive home to Parisians that their city had been liberated not by the Resistance but by Allied arms.

[Read also, "Follow Me and Die": the destruction of an American division in World War II, by Cecil B Currey
Language: English Type: Book
Publisher: New York: Stein and Day, 1984.]

Operation Nordwind: U.S. Army’s 42nd Infantry Division Stood its Ground During World War II

It was bitter cold with a foot of snow on the ground and no moonlight the night of January 24, 1945, as the green GIs of the 42nd ‘Rainbow Division’s 222nd Infantry Regiment strained to see the enemy. But a low ground fog covering the firebreak between their positions in the Ohlungen Forest and the Haguenau Forest before them made this an almost useless exercise. More chillingly, they could hear sounds from the woods beyond, sounds of tramping feet and loud talking. Water turned to ice in the bottoms of their foxholes. Anxiety built as they waited for the unseen enemy to come swarming out of the woods.

By January 1945, Adolf Hitler’s Ardennes offensive was faltering, and in a last-ditch effort to break through Allied lines, the Führer scraped together what forces he could to launch an offensive into Alsace. Earlier German attacks in the area had created two small salients above and below Strasbourg and had forced the U.S. Seventh Army back on an arm that pivoted on Bischwiller, not far from the Rhine River, and extended northwest along the Moder River.

German plans called for a pincer movement to be launched from each of these two salients. It was hoped that this attack would either cut off Haguenau northeast of the Moder, or so seriously threaten it that the Americans in the city would withdraw back to open country, where the panzers could make quick work of them. In order to cut off Haguenau, however, the Germans would have to destroy American positions in the Ohlungen Forest. Poised to strike the 222nd were elements of the 25th Panzergrenadier, 47th Volksgrenadier and 7th Fallschirmjäger divisions.

The 42nd Division had arrived in France only a week before and was just becoming acclimated to combat conditions. Some of the 222nd’s companies had fought in a few small engagements, but the bulk of the regiment’s men were untried. After withdrawing behind the Moder on January 21, the regiment’s commander, Colonel Henry L. Luongo, had spread his men along five defensive positions. From west to east, these were: a series of low hills on the left of the line, the town of Neubourg, the Mill d’Uhrbruck, the edge of the Ohlungen Forest where it formed an arc opposite the Moder’s entry point into the Haguenau Forest, and finally, the town of Schweighausen on the right flank of the regimental front. By the evening of the 24th Luongo’s men were as ready as they could be.

The Germans made no secret of their preparations as they hollered to each other in tones that to the scared GIs sounded half drunk. This particular portion of the forest stretched in an arc overlooking a suspected German bridging site. The left-flank squad of Company F prepared to give covering fire to its left supporting the 1st Platoon of Company E, which was dug in around the base of the arc.

At 1800, German artillery fire hit Schweighausen, then Neubourg. It eventually spread to the entire length of the regiment’s line. At Neubourg and on Company K’s front, the Germans threw not only artillery shells but also Nebelwerfer rockets that cut low, flaming trails through the fog. This fire continued relentlessly for an hour and a half, then slackened. Veterans later recalled that the night was filled with periods, often 20 minutes long, of intense artillery barrages. Despite the darkness, the German artillery fire, which had been preregistered on important points along the line, was very effective. Major Donald J. Downard, the 2nd Battalion’s commander, moved his command post (CP) to a cellar at 1930, and at 2146 Major Walter J. Fellenz reported to Luongo that his 1st Battalion CP had taken a direct hit. Against this barrage, the 222nd’s supporting artillery was unable to respond because darkness and woods prevented observation. During the first hour of the barrage almost all the regiment’s phone lines were knocked out and their radios proved to be ineffective in the woods.

At about 2015, the men of Company E heard the Germans advancing toward the firebreak, shouting as they ran. Sergeant Arthur Innes’ heavy machine gun on the western end of the arc of woods, and that of Sergeant John Murch on the eastern end, fired at the Germans as they came out of the forest. Sergeant John O’Laughlin poured mortar shells on them, and Sergeant Charles Hunt, with a light machine gun, shot down the few who got as far as the firebreak. Company E’s commander, Lieutenant George A. Carroll, quickly moved his supporting platoon up a previously reconnoitered trail to positions below the arc. The reinforcements’ firepower, combined with that of the platoon already in position, was overwhelming. A half hour of this punishment was enough for the Germans, and they pulled back to the safety of the Haguenau Forest.

The men of Company E, however, had little time to catch their breath. At 2045 Panzergrenadiers struck with force at the Mill d’Uhrbruck. Swarming past the mill and into the woods, they began to advance up a knoll to the southeast, where Company E had its mortar and machine-gun strongpoint. Although the Company E men killed dozens of Germans, they were quickly overwhelmed. Lieutenant Richard B. Break gathered men from the right, where the pressure had eased up, and led them in a counterattack to save the men at the strongpoint. Break’s force was thrown back three times. By this time the Germans had taken control of the mill and the knolls behind it and were pouring into the woods beyond.

Company K’s right flank was hit even harder. Lieutenant John Berg, leader of the 2nd Platoon on the company’s right, went back through the mounting artillery barrage to report to the company CP. He was never heard from again. Sergeant Chambers, now in charge of the platoon, redistributed what ammunition remained. He was left with only 22 men to defend this important sector. Lieutenant Wilson C. Harper sent over three men from his 3rd Platoon to help Chambers. At the height of the artillery barrage, the desperate sergeant phoned for additional reinforcements and ammunition, saying they could not hold out much longer. Soon after he called, the line went dead.

A full company of Germans who came in under cover of an artillery and mortar barrage attacked the GIs in foxholes near the mill. When the artillery started to lift, the 2nd Platoon was struck first on the flanks and then in the center. The Germans overran several foxholes and the two light machine guns on the right. Noting their silence, Chambers sent a runner back to the company CP with a call for help and then pulled his men back from the woods’ edge to the road. There they tried to form a skirmish line but were unsuccessful.

Chambers decided to fall back to the CP, get reinforcements and then counterattack. The few remaining GIs crawled westward in the road ditch. When heavy fire came from their front, they tried to move back eastward but ran into additional fire. They then made a torturous and painfully slow withdrawal through the woods to the southwest, through ever-increasing numbers of Germans. Eventually they made it out of the woods to Uhlweller and then back to the company CP at Neubourg. They left behind 11 men who were either killed or taken prisoner.

Although Chambers’ decision to withdraw had left a gap in the line, he had little choice, with only 10 men and almost no ammunition, no mortar or machine-gun support and no communications with his company CP or other friendly units. As Chambers and the 2nd Platoon pulled back, they were unaware that Company K was trying to assist them. Harper knew that the three men he had sent over earlier were inadequate, and soon after the attack started he took six more and headed off in the direction of the 2nd Platoon. The six reinforcements, however, could not find the 2nd Platoon, so they returned to their CP.

After the phone lines went out, Lieutenant Carlyle Woelfer, commander of Company K, went to find out for himself what was happening on his right flank and, if possible, to regain contact with Company E. With Staff Sgt. Daniel A. Towse and Pfc Edmund C. Sheppard, he set out from the CP in a jeep pulling a trailer loaded with ammunition. Shortly after starting, the jeep broke down and their radio set went dead, so the men proceeded on foot.

When they reached the 1st Platoon, they found an intense firefight in progress between GIs and Volksgrenadiers who were threatening to advance from a grove in the middle of the firebreak. Mortar fire from the sand pit and Company M machine-gun fire prevented their advance.

During the heaviest artillery barrage, Lieutenant Otto Yanke, commanding Company M’s heavy machine-gun platoon, had gone out into the firebreak to repair and move the phone wires that ran between the two guns covering the grove. Yanke kept control of his platoon throughout the fight with the Germans. He was constantly on the move from one gun to the other giving orders and calming nerves. He kept the easternmost gun in position throughout the night, even when the riflemen to its right had withdrawn. He pulled his third gun from the edge of the woods and placed it where it could fire down the road to the east should the Germans try to move on Neubourg from that direction.

Meanwhile, Woelfer sent a runner back to the battalion CP with the report that Neubourg and Company K’s left were still intact. The lieutenant was fortunate enough to find an M8 Greyhound armored car of the 813th Tank Destroyer Battalion on the outskirts of Neubourg. He commandeered it and, along with Towse and Sheppard, started down the road eastward. As they came into the area the 2nd Platoon had abandoned, they ran into a volley of small-arms fire, and replied with machine-gun fire. Then Woelfer called out in German, promising to cease firing. One German, reportedly a company commander, stepped forward and surrendered. He had with him maps that revealed details of the German plan.

When they had gone another 300 yards down the road, they saw a German machine-gun squad crawling up a furrow toward the left side of the road, trying to get into position to fire. Woelfer and Towse shot four. Two others came forward with their hands up.

Moving 200 yards farther down the road they came under fire from another machine-gun nest on the right side of the road. The two prisoners on the M8 began to wave their arms as if signaling to their comrades. Woelfer called out to the Germans in the woods to come out and surrender but received no reply. Then he threw a grenade in front of the machine-gun nest, but its occupants still said nothing, nor did they fire, so Woelfer and Sheppard went in after them, Sheppard going to the left, Woelfer to the right. As Woelfer came up on a little rise behind the gun, lifting his submachine gun to fire, he saw Sheppard suddenly appear in front of the German gun, saw him raise his rifle, heard the report as the Germans fired and saw Sheppard fall–killed instantly. Woelfer then set upon the Germans with his submachine gun, killing the three-man crew.

By now the M8 was out of ammunition and one of its tires was flat. Woelfer and his little group found that the woods where the 2nd Platoon had been were now full of Germans and that there was no hope of getting through to Company E. But from the sound of firing, they knew that fighting was still going on somewhere to the east. Just before midnight, they headed back toward Neubourg to organize a detachment to reinforce the flank they had found so badly battered.

Shortly after their penetration at the Mill d’Uhrbruck, the Germans struck again, this time on the right flank of Company E. Although the tiny American force was able to kill many of them, the company had already shifted much of its strength to meet the counterattack on its left, which weakened the squad holding the company’s right flank. The Germans took advantage of this weakness, broke through the firebreak and entered the woods beyond.

Staff Sergeant Arthur Jones, manning the heavy machine gun on the left end of the arc of woods, used up five boxes of ammunition before his gun jammed. As he was attempting to clear it, several Germans attacked his dugout, forcing him and his men to retreat. They eventually were able to fight their way back toward Schweighausen. Sergeant John Munch and his crew on the right end of the arc fired 18 boxes of ammunition before they, too, had to withdraw. Soon afterward, Lieutenant Merrill, commanding the 2nd Platoon, Company F, withdrew those men he could to the outskirts of Schweighausen to regroup for a counterattack on the Ohlungen Forest, which was now full of Germans. The six men of Merrill’s left flank squad were overrun and never heard from again.

The middle of the 222nd’s line had been broken. Company E was entirely cut off. Company K’s right and F’s left were badly beaten up, and communications were out. Of the 55 men who had made up the three platoons in the area of the attack only hours before, three had been killed, 25 were missing (either captured or dead) and six were wounded. Sergeant Decaline of Company E, whose arm had been torn by shrapnel, was sent back to Ohlungen.

At about 0230, as the men despaired of ever receiving help, Lieutenant George Carroll decided that holding Company E’s present position was hopeless. The Germans seemed to have forgotten about them as they moved on farther into the woods, and Carroll took advantage of this lull to lead his men, about half the original company, back through the woods to the south. In two groups they made their way back to Ohlungen, fighting off Germans as they went. Company E had no further role in the battle.

For the rest of the night, the 222nd fought to contain the breakthrough. The right of the line, at Schweighausen, continued to hold. The strongest pressure on the town came from the west as German paratroopers moved up through the Haguenau Forest and came down through the wedge that had been driven between Companies E and F.

After the 2nd Platoon had been pulled back, Captain Al Truscott of Company H sent 2nd Lt. Klare Moyer, with a heavy weapons platoon, into the neck of the woods to re-establish the line. Twice they pushed 100 yards into the woods, but both times were forced to withdraw. Then Lieutenant Merrill, having reorganized his platoon and gathered all the extra men that Company F could spare, set out to clear part of the neck of woods north of the Neubourg-Schweighausen road. There they ran into heavy fire. Two men were killed, one missing and several wounded. When German artillery zeroed in on them, they withdrew back to the town. It was quiet until daylight, the Germans having been slowed down not only by Lieutenants Moyer’s and Merrill’s counterattacks, but also by Company G striking from the south.

Sergeant Decaline, sent back earlier to the battalion aid station, had gone first to the battalion CP and reported the news of Company E’s plight. Major Downard, seeing how excited Decaline was and the seriousness of his wounds, discounted his report but decided to send Company G, in reserve, to close the gap and re-establish the line. He ordered Captain Jere F. Palmes, Company G commander, to take his men up through the forest, follow the creek that cut across its southeastern corner, cross the creek and attack the Germans to the north.

If Company G had followed this route it might have contacted Company E and helped to check the flow of Germans across the firebreak. But the breakthrough was already too well established, and by the time Company G was on its way many of the Germans who had broken through were already chasing the retreating platoon from Company F eastward toward Schweighausen. Evidently they meant to attack Schweighausen immediately, without waiting for their right flank to be secured by the capture of Uhlweller and the high ground outside Ohlungen. But Company G failed to follow its assigned route, and instead of coming upon that part of the German penetration, which they had been ordered to attack, they encountered one equally if not more threatening. Although they failed to accomplish their original mission, they did a great deal to stem the German advance on Schweighausen.

Soon after 2000, Company G was moving through the woods with its 3rd Platoon on the left, 1st on the right and four scouts leading each platoon. They came to a clearing 150 yards across. As the first scouts reached the edge of the woods on the other side, they touched off a tremendous German volley. Two of the scouts were instantly killed, and the advance platoons were pinned down by four machine guns and a company of riflemen. Mortar fire now zeroed in on them as they lay exposed in the snow in the clearing. Captain Palmes ordered an attack. As Tech. Sgt. Sigman Poskus stood up to lead the 3rd Platoon forward, a mortar shell killed him. Nevertheless, his men moved up. To their right, Tech. Sgt. Mike Walters led his 1st Platoon. They crawled into firing positions and poured flanking fire into the Germans. By moving forward, both platoons helped pull the company out of a hopeless position. After five hours, Palmes ordered a withdrawal to Ohlungen. They brought back with them four dead and 19 wounded. After the battle 67 German dead were found in the area of the engagement.

Meanwhile, at Neubourg, a small group of GIs fought to stop the German assault there. Shortly before midnight, when Woelfer came back from his raid, he met a group of 25 men from the 1st Platoon, Company L. Captain Harold Bugno, the 3rd Battalion’s executive officer, led the platoon. Bugno commandeered an armored car and started down the road toward the Mill d’Uhrbruck. The captain led the men on the left side of the car while the platoon sergeant, Staff Sgt. Othal J. Fletcher, led the men on the right. Their mission was to re-establish Company K’s right flank and, if possible, get through to Company E.

They proceeded to Sergeant Roger A. Peck’s machine-gun position along the Schweighausen-Neubourg road on the left of Company K, where they were told Germans were ahead. Fanning out from either side of the armored car, the patrol moved on but had only gone a little way when they were fired upon. They had stumbled on a platoon of Germans advancing on Neubourg. After an hour and a half of fighting, 16 Germans came out yelling Kamarad! The rest either had been killed or wounded or had retreated.

The prisoners were sent to the rear and the platoon moved on toward a machine gun Sergeant Fletcher could hear firing in the distance–probably in Company E’s area. They had gone about 300 yards when they saw a group of Germans dressed in white ahead of them in the woods. For 45 minutes the German force, about 30 men, tried to break through Bugno’s American skirmish line.

Private Herman J. Bergeth saw Privates Franklin Van Nest and Joe A. McGraw and one other GI engaged in hand-to-hand combat in a ditch with several Germans. According to Bergeth, Van Nest, a big man, was wielding a knife as large as a Roman short sword. They seemed to have won their struggle when a couple of German grenades were tossed into the ditch, wounding both men.

Germans firing submachine guns came in on the left, threatening to outflank the Americans. Private Robert Owen killed four before Bugno withdrew his men to the site of their earlier fight, where they would be supported by Peck’s machine gun. There they managed to stop the German advance.

Although wounded, Van Nest and McGraw refused to retreat and continued to kill the few Germans who tried to advance. When word came from battalion of a possible tank attack from the direction of the Mill d’Uhrbruck, Bugno sent back for bazookas. No tanks came, but German voices were heard. Then, German artillery fire began falling on them. Realizing that they had been zeroed in, Bugno ordered his men to retire.

As they stood up to retreat, artillery rounds killed Bugno, McGraw and Van Nest. The rest fell back, several of them wounded by shrapnel. They could hold out no longer, but they had done their job. They had blunted the German effort toward Neubourg.

Company I, meanwhile, had its own troubles stopping attempts by the 104th Volksgrenadiers to flank Neubourg from the west. Groups of German infantry tried throughout the night to knock out the machine guns of the 1st Platoon, Company M, and to crack the line of foxholes that guarded the open ground beyond the town. At the time of the main attack on the Ohlungen Forest, after the artillery barrage, the Volksgrenadiers opened fire with machine guns from the river, and then, bellowing at each other, started to attack. One of the M8s on the western outskirts of Neubourg added its fire to that of the Company M machine guns and mortars, and after a prolonged hammering broke up the assault.

But even while the Volksgrenadiers were attempting to flank Neubourg from the west and Panzergrenadiers were trying to break through Captain Bugno’s men and flank the town from the east, other Germans drove south through the forest toward Uhlweller. Here, as on the other end of the line, the German plan misfired. If the Volksgrenadiers were less than aggressive in their assault, the paratroopers and Panzergrenadiers were foolhardy. The paratroopers attacked Schweighausen before securing their right by taking the high ground near Ohlungen, and as a consequence were held up by Company G. The Panzergrenadiers advanced toward Uhlweller. They were stopped by a company from the 1st Battalion, which, like Company G, failed in its assigned mission but instead accomplished something of greater value.

The reserve 1st Battalion had been alerted at 2050 and prepared to send elements out from Ohlungen to check German attempts to break out of the forest to the south. At midnight, Major Walter Fellenz received orders to send a company to sweep the woods up to the Mill d’Uhrbruck and to plug the gap there. Unsure of exactly what was happening, he believed that the western end of the forest could be cleared and that Company K’s sector could be restored–which he ordered Company B to do.

Company B moved out of Ohlungen shortly after midnight on the road toward Uhlweller, but turned off to the right just before reaching the town, taking the road leading up through the woods to the Mill d’Uhrbruck. It moved through the woods, with an advance platoon led by scouts on either side of the road. The scouts came to the edge of the woods and moved in slowly. Suddenly, there was a burst of machine-gun fire, followed by a volley of small-arms fire that grew in intensity as a second machine gun joined the first, pinning down Company B. Because the machine guns were able to fire up the rising fields on either side of the company, the GIs were unable to move into flanking positions. After nearly an hour of exchanging fire, Company B advanced.

Second Lieutenant George A. Jackson took five men from his 2nd Platoon and, under covering fire, moved up into the woods to the west of the road. They found the German machine guns positioned close together on the opposite side of the road. Jackson and his men ran across the road, moved up behind the two machine guns and opened fire from a distance of about 25 yards. Then they charged. A bullet nicked the top of Jackson’s head but he kept going until he was on top of the machine-gun nest. Staff Sergeant Darwin C. Freeman ran forward firing his rifle until it jammed. Then he clubbed one German with the rifle butt. All seven Germans manning the machine guns were killed.

The company was now free to fan out and move into the woods. They had lost eight men killed and 15 wounded during the attack. Later they counted 50 dead Germans in the woods. The 222nd Infantry had effectively stopped the German breakthrough, established a line along the German bulge and, in spite of rumors that Neubourg had fallen, retained control of the important crossroads town.

At 1030 on January 25, reinforcements arrived and began to push forward beyond the line that Captain Bugno and the Company L platoon had defended, and which Company K now held with Company B on its right, while Major Fellenz’s 1st Battalion held the southern edge of the forest. Shortly after daybreak Fellenz sent part of Company A up to dig in on Company B’s right. The line then extended south along the edge of the woods, where Company G had dug in after its fight on the previous night. The rest of the 1st Battalion was deployed with Company D and the balance of Company A defending Ohlungen, while Company C defended the nearby high ground. Although the Germans had forced their way down to the southwest corner of Schweighausen, Companies F and H still held the town.

Early in the morning the commander of the 314th Infantry, which had been ordered to come to the support of the 222nd, arrived at the regiment’s headquarters in Keffendorf. He planned to send two companies of his 3rd Battalion, supported by three tanks, along the same route that Company B had taken the night before. These two companies would sweep up from the southwest corner of the forest to re-establish the line around the Mill d’Uhrbruck. He also planned to send elements of his 1st Battalion down the road from Ohlungen to Schweighausen, pass along the western outskirts of the town, move through Company F and re-establish the line’s right flank.

Meanwhile, the 68th Armored Infantry Battalion, 14th Armored Division, which had arrived at Ohlungen shortly after daybreak, was to attack the southeast corner of the forest and drive up to the center of the original line. It was hoped that this three-pronged attack would restore the 222nd’s positions and halt any further German attempts to outflank Haguenau.

Companies I and K, of the 314th, moved directly to Neubourg, then out to the line Bugno had held, and formed up for an attack. This line bent south from a draw situated halfway between Neubourg and the Mill d’Uhrbruck that cut from the firebreak south into the woods, almost to the road. There, on the east side of a little bridge over the draw, were placed the two Company M machine guns that had been employed throughout the night farther to the east. The guns formed part of a thin defensive line that included a platoon of riflemen drawn from the 3rd Platoon, Company K, and the remains of Captain Bugno’s battered Company L platoon.

The veterans of the previous night’s action greeted the newcomers with silent gratitude. Company I, off to the north side of the road, and Company K, to the south of the road, looked on as the men of the 314th shoved off into the woods toward the Mill d’Uhrbruck.

About 200 yards from the mill they encountered heavy German fire. After fighting for about an hour and a half the 314th withdrew to a line that ran south from a point midway between the draw and the mill. While not linking up with the 1st Battalion, they hit the Germans near the mill so hard that they prevented them from launching their own attack. The two companies dug in and established new positions around noon, tying in with the 222nd’s Company B. The two Company M machine guns and the 3rd Platoon, Company K, which had been forced to pull back when Bugno withdrew, were now able to return to their original positions.

The unit’s history summed up the action: We took a mauling, but held our ground. We had proved that the Americans could fight with a cold passion and a fury even without that unlimited supply of material which so many believe is responsible for American success in battle.

This article was written by Allyn Vannoy and originally appeared in the February 2001 issue of World War II magazine. For more great articles subscribe to World War II magazine today!

US Army stations in France during World war 2 - History

Over 2.5 million African-American men registered for the draft, and black women also volunteered in large numbers. While serving in the Army, Army Air Forces, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, they experienced discrimination and segregation but met the challenge and persevered. They served their country with distinction, made valuable contributions to the war effort, and earned high praises and commendations for their struggles and sacrifices.

Left - Howard P. Perry, the first African-American to enlist in the U.S. Marines. Breaking a 167-year-old barrier, the U.S. Marine Corps started enlisting African-Americans on June 1, 1942. The first class of 1,200 volunteers began their training three months later as members of the 51st Composite Defense Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Mid - Swearing-in of William Baldwin, the first African-American Navy recruit for General Service. June 2, 1942. Right - Reginald Brandon, the first African-American graduate of the Radio Training School of the Maritime Commission. Upon assignment he had the rank of ensign.

Left - A trio of recruits run the rugged obstacle course at Camp Lejeune while training to become fighting Leathernecks in the U.S. Marine Corps. Their excellence resulted in an expanded Navy recruitment program. April 1943. Mid - An officer returns the salute as he passes cadet fighter pilots lined up during review at Tuskegee Field, Alabama. Tuskegee Airmen flew 1,500 missions over Europe and never lost any of the bomber pilots they were assigned to protect. Right - Two Marine recruits in a light tank during training in mechanized warfare at Camp Lejeune. April 1943.

The War in Europe

Left - Brig. Gen. Benjamin O. Davis, Sr., the first African-American general in the U.S. Army, watches a Signal Corps crew erecting poles, somewhere in France. August 8, 1944. His son, Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., graduated from West Point and commanded the Tuskegee Airmen. Mid - A bazooka-man cuts loose at a German machine-gun nest some 300 yards distant. This African-American combat patrol advanced three miles north of Lucca, Italy (furthermost point occupied by American troops) to make the attack. September 7, 1944. Right - Members of an African-American mortar company of the 92nd Division pass the ammunition and fire non-stop at the Germans near Massa, Italy. This company was credited with knocking out several machine-gun nests. November 1944.

Left - The 'target for today' in Germany is revealed to an African-American P-51 Mustang fighter-bomber group during a pre-flight briefing at an air base in Italy. The men are members of the 15th U.S. Army Air Force whose planes fly as part of the Mediterranean Allied Air Force. September 1944. Mid - The P-51 pilots listen intently during their briefing. Right - Staff Sgt. Alfred D. Norris, crew chief of the fighter group, closes the canopy of a P-51 Mustang for his pilot, Capt. William T. Mattison, operations officer of the squadron.

Left - On Easter morning, William E. Thomas and Joseph Jackson will roll specially prepared 'eggs' on Hitler's lawn. March 10, 1945. Mid - Crews of U.S. light tanks stand-by awaiting the call to clean out scattered Nazi machine-gun nests in Coburg, Germany. April 25, 1945. Right - A captured Nazi, wearing civilian clothes, sits in a jeep at south gate of the walled city of Lucca, Italy, awaiting removal to a rear area. September 1944.

The Pacific War

Left - Aboard a Coast Guard-manned transport somewhere in the Pacific, these African-American Marines prepare to face the fire of Japanese gunners. February 1944. Mid - On Bougainville, African-American troops of the 24th Infantry Division wait to advance behind a tank assault on the Japanese along Empress Augusta Bay. 1944. Right - A patrol cautiously advances through the jungle in Japanese-held territory off the Numa-Numa Trail on Bougainville. These members of the 93rd Infantry Division were among the first African-American foot soldiers to go into combat in the South Pacific. May 1, 1944.

Left - 1st Sergeant Rance Richardson, a veteran of two World Wars, takes a break along the Numa-Numa Trail. April 4, 1944. Mid - On call to general quarters, five steward's mates stand at their battle stations, manning a 20mm anti-aircraft gun aboard a Coast Guard frigate in the southwest Pacific. Right - U.S. Army trucks wind along the side of the mountain over the Ledo supply road from India into Burma.

Honors and Awards

Left - Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, U.S. Third Army commander, pins the Silver Star on Private Ernest A. Jenkins of New York City for his conspicuous gallantry in the liberation of Chateaudun, France. October 13, 1944. Mid - Brig. Gen. Robert N. Young, Commanding General of the Military District of Washington, assists Melba Rose, aged 2, daughter of Mrs. Rosie L. Madison, in viewing the Silver Star posthumously awarded to her father, 1st Lt. John W. Madison, of the 92nd Infantry Division, who was killed in action in Italy. Right - Admiral Chester W. Nimitz pins the Navy Cross on Doris Miller at a ceremony on board a warship in Pearl Harbor. May 27, 1942.

Left - Staff Sgt. Timerlate Kirven (on left) and Cpl. Samuel J. Love, Sr., the first African-American Marines decorated by the famed Second Marine Division. They received Purple Hearts for wounds received in the Battle of Saipan. Mid - A gun crew of six African-Americans who were given the Navy Cross for standing by their gun when their ship was damaged during an enemy attack off the Philippines. Right - Pfc. Luther Woodward, a member of the Fourth Ammunition Company, admires the Bronze Star awarded to him for "his bravery, initiative and battle-cunning." April 17, 1945. The award was later upgraded to the Silver Star.

Women's Contribution

Left - The oath is administered to five new Navy nurses commissioned in New York. Phyllis Mae Dailey, the Navy's first African-American nurse, is second from the right. March 8, 1945. Mid - Lt.(jg.) Harriet Ida Pickens and Ens. Frances Wills, the first African-American Waves to be commissioned. December 21, 1944. Right - Lt. Florie E. Gant tends a young patient at a prisoner-of-war hospital somewhere in England. October 7, 1944.

Left - Juanita E. Gray, a former domestic worker, learns to operate a lathe at the War Production and Training Center in Washington, D.C. She was one of hundreds of African-American women trained at the center. Mid - Welders Alivia Scott, Hattie Carpenter, and Flossie Burtos are about to weld their first piece of steel on the ship SS George Washington Carver at Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond, California. 1943. Right - Auxiliaries Ruth Wade (on left) and Lucille Mayo demonstrate their ability to service trucks at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. December 8, 1942.

Postnote - On July 26, 1948, President Harry Truman signed Executive Order 9981 ending segregation in the United States Armed Forces.
Read more at the Truman Library Web site

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Three Reichs, You’re Out

The racially integrated Overseas Invasion Service Expedition (OISE) All-Stars, winners of the European Theater of Operations “World Series” of 1945. Leon Day, a Negro League player, is far right, bottom row next to him is Willard Brown.

Courtesy of Gary Bedingfield

Some 500 Major League Baseball players traded in their team uniforms for service uniforms during World War II. With so many men absent from the diamond, the sport marched on from 1942 to 1945, though it was just a shadow of the real thing—“the tall men against the fat men at the company picnic,” in sportswriter Frank Graham’s matchless phrase.

Many of the players who did join the military during the war years—especially stars like Joe DiMaggio and Stan Musial, were kept from the front lines. They played service ball in the United States and in Hawaii (then still a U.S. territory), in exhibitions that entertained the troops before they went off to war. But those without reputations to protect them, including the vast majority of minor leaguers, went off to combat.

Ad hoc games abounded among deployed servicemen (and in POW camps) during the war, but there was little formal play. That changed when the Nazis surrendered in 1945. The U.S. Army decided the best way to keep hundreds of thousands of its (restless and heavily armed) soldiers occupied was to set up, virtually overnight, a massive athletics apparatus, with intramural competition in every sport imaginable. Baseball was the most popular game among the G.I.s, and a large league was formed, with representatives from most of the divisions in the theater.

A majority of the games were played in a most unusual site—the conquered, repurposed Stadion der Hitlerjugend, the Hitler Youth Stadium in Nuremberg, home to Nazi Party rallies just a short time before. Now, the swastikas were painted over and America’s national pastime was put on display.

A team of major and minor leaguers, representing the 71 st Division of Gen. George Patton’s Third Army, easily won the championship among German-based teams. It was decided that the “Red Circlers” (so-called for the distinctive patch of the unit) would play a best-of-five World Series against the best team from France to determine the champion of the European Theater of Operations (ETO).

Some 50,000 doughboys of every rank and specialty poured into Nuremberg for the opener of the ETO World Series on Sept. 3, 1945—one day after Japan surrendered to end the war. The infield was finely crushed red brick, the outfield perfectly mown green grass. German POWs had been ordered to build extra bleachers to accommodate the large crowd. A brilliant sun warmed the faces of the G.I.s. Vendors sold beer and Coke and peanuts, just like back home. The Stars and Stripes flew over the field, and a bugle corps played the national anthem before the cry of “Play ball!” Armed Forces Radio had a setup behind one dugout, transmitting the action to the boys who couldn’t be there. For those in the stands, sitting in the sun and drinking beer, this afternoon reminded them of what was soon to come—a return to their families and the simple pleasures of their favorite game.

The 71 st was led by well-known players like Harry “The Hat” Walker of the St. Louis Cardinals and Ewell “The Whip” Blackwell of the Cincinnati Reds. Walker had been put in charge of the entire German-based baseball operation, and unsurprisingly had stocked his team with transfers from other units. He even commandeered a B-17 bomber, called Bottom’s Up, to ferry the teams around the country to play.

Their French-based opponent, the clumsily named Overseas Invasion Service Expedition (OISE) All-Stars, was a ragtag outfit, made up mostly of semi-pro players, picked from the relatively few units that hadn’t moved on to Germany or back to England. Their lone “name” player was the France-based equivalent of Walker, a journeyman pitcher named Sam Nahem. He had only a fraction of the manpower Walker could draw upon for his team, which was thus a huge underdog to the Third Army juggernaut. OISE did have two secret weapons, however, one a slugging outfielder and the other a dominant pitcher. They were a secret to most of the white men in attendance because as of September 1945, Major League Baseball hadn’t yet integrated.

Willard “Home Run” Brown would eventually hit the first round-tripper ever clubbed by a black man in the American League, with the St. Louis Browns in 1947. Leon Day was a star hurler for the Newark Eagles of the Negro Leagues, alas too old by war’s end to receive much interest from the majors.

Day landed on Normandy Beach on June 12, 1944, six days after D-Day, driving an amphibious supply vehicle called a “duck.” He was, in his words, “scared to death.”

“When we landed we were pretty close to the action because we could hear the small arms fire,” he told Negro Leagues historian James Riley. One night, shortly after landing, a wave of German fighters appeared over the beach, “dropping flares and (lighting) the beach up so bright you could have read a newspaper.” Day evacuated his ammo-laden duck and jumped into a sandbagged foxhole, manned by a white MP. As the Luftwaffe strafed the beach, the MP shouted, “Who’s driving that duck out there?”

“Move that duck from out in front of this hole!” screamed the MP.

“Go out there and move it your own damn self!” Day replied.

Though Day wasn’t reprimanded for his actions, Jackie Robinson would be court-martialed soon after D-Day for similar defiance of whites. (Robinson had declined to move to the back of a military bus when ordered.) What’s striking about the games in Nuremberg is how little comment there was about the presence of the Negro Leagues stars. If the throng on hand knew what was coming just over the horizon, they might have paid more attention. They were witnessing an out-of-town preview of baseball’s new frontier, a year and a half before Robinson’s Brooklyn Dodgers debut.

The German World Series started inauspiciously for “Home Run” Brown and his teammates. Ewell Blackwell dominated in Game 1, collecting nine strikeouts in an easy 9–2 win. OISE made it easy for them, committing seven errors. But Leon Day evened matters the next afternoon, Labor Day back in the States. A holiday vibe infused the shirt-sleeved crowd, which again numbered close to 50,000. The man the New York Times misidentified as “Leo Day” hurled a four-hitter, all scratch singles, winning 2–1 to even the Series.

The teams traveled to Riems, France, for the next two games, which they split, setting up a decisive Game 5 at Soldier’s Field, as the Stadion had been renamed.

Once again, it seemed like everyone in the country with an American uniform and a pass turned out to watch. They would witness a dandy affair. Stars and Stripes raved, “The game was so close all the way through that it kept the crowd of over 50,000 on its feet cheering wildly and rewarding unfavorable decisions with sounds as wild as any ever to emerge from Ebbets Field or the Polo Grounds.”

Blackwell started once more for the Red Circlers and was throwing darts again, though he also committed two errors in a sloppy game “replete with miscues and thrills,” according to the New York Times. The 71 st led 1–0 in the seventh inning when Day, who was sent in to pinch-run, stole second and third and came home on a short fly ball to tie the game. This was the sort of hard-charging ball that was on display every day in the Negro Leagues, soon to be brought to the majors by the likes of Robinson, Larry Doby, and Willie Mays.

In the eighth inning, it was Brown’s turn. With a man on first he clubbed a double to the deepest reaches of Soldier’s Field. Harry Walker ran it down and relayed the ball in, but the runner beat the throw after a dramatic dash that had the crowd roaring.

Trailing 2-1, on the verge of being the victims of a monumental upset, Walker then came to the plate hoping to start a rally and avoid a humiliating loss. Though he received a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, and several commendations for his wartime service as a recon scout, he wouldn’t be a hero on this day. He flied out, and moments later, Day, Brown, and the OISE All-Stars were celebrating, having won the series three games to two.

Back in France, the winners were feted by Brigadier Gen. Charles Thrasher. There was a parade, and a banquet complete with steaks and champagne. Day and Brown, who would not be allowed to eat with their teammates in many major-league towns, celebrated alongside their fellow soldiers.

Meanwhile, Harry Walker stewed. He was more upset at losing than he thought he would be. The Hat vowed that back home, if he got another crack at a big game, he would come through.

Indeed, a little more than a year later, on Oct. 15, 1946, the Cardinals’ Walker came to the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 7 of the World Series against the Red Sox. The score was tied 3–3. With two out and Enos Slaughter at first, Walker poked a hit into left-center field. Slaughter, shocking everyone, tore around the bases and came all the way home, helped by a slight hesitation on the relay throw by Sox shortstop Johnny Pesky. The Cardinals went on to win the game and the World Series 4-3, capturing the first post-war championship.

Slaughter’s Mad Dash and Pesky’s double clutch would go down in baseball lore, one of the most famous and dramatic moments in hardball history. The ETO World Series, by contrast, has been mostly forgotten. But there was Harry Walker, smack dab in the middle of both.

US Army stations in France during World war 2 - History

Throughout the history of the United States, African American nurses have served with courage and distinction. During the Civil War, black nurses, such as Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman, worked in Union hospitals caring for the sick and wounded. At the end of the nineteenth century, African American nurses served as contract nurses in the Army during the Spanish American War, helping to combat yellow fever and typhoid epidemics that overwhelmed the military. The performance of all nurses during this war led to the establishment of the Army Nurse Corps in February of 1901, but despite these accomplishments and achievements, African Americans continued to fight for acceptance as nurses both in civilian and military venues.

After the United States declared war on Germany in 1917, the American Red Cross expanded their recruitment campaign in an effort to meet the demand for military nurses that World War I required. Applicants to the Armed Forces Nurse Corps (managed by the American Red Cross) had to be between 25 and 35 years of age, unmarried, and graduates of hospital training schools with more than 50 beds. While there were no criteria that specifically banned black nurses, the requirement that nurses had to have completed their training at a hospital with more than 50 beds all but eliminated African American nurses, most of whom had graduated from small segregated hospital training schools. Despite the increased recruitment, black nurses were refused entry into the Army and Navy nurse corps. As a result, hospitals were left with minimal nursing staff to meet the demand that would arise in 1918 during the flu epidemic. As the epidemic wore on and the demand for nurses continued to increase, the Army dropped its refusal to enlist black nurses and sent a troop of African American nurses to military camps in Ohio and Illinois. In 1941, with the United States’ entry into World War II all but inevitable, African American nurses lined up to serve their country, only to meet with the same roadblocks they had encountered more than twenty years before.

Although African American nurses were fully qualified and prepared to serve as nurses at the onset of World War II, racial segregation and discrimination made it difficult for black women to join the ranks of the Army Nurse Corps (ANC). As the ANC began expanding its recruiting process, thousands of black nurses who wanted to serve their country filled out applications. All received a letter telling them that their application would not be considered because the Army did not have regulations in place for the appointment of black nurses. Mabel Staupers, the executive secretary of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses, began lobbying for a change in the discriminatory policies of the ANC. While the Army did eventually comply in 1941, it did so unwillingly and placed a quota on the number of African American nurses that they would accept, capping the number allowed to join at fifty-six. As the war progressed, the number of black nurses allowed to enlist remained low, although the quota was officially lifted in July 1944.

April 1941, forty-eight African American nurses were assigned to camps. Allowed only to care for African American servicemen, these forty-eight nurses were assigned to segregated hospital wards on Army bases located at Camp Livingston, Louisiana and Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Della Raney Jackson, a graduate of Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing in Durham, North Carolina, was assigned to lead the nurses at Fort Bragg and became the first black nurse to be commissioned in the U.S. Army.

Though black nurses were largely restricted to serving only in segregated hospitals and aid stations, they also provided medical care for German prisoners of war at places such as Camp Florence, Arizona in the United States, as well as in England. Many African American nurses considered caring for German POWs to be a second-rate assignment, and they found interacting with the Nation’s enemy to be deeply troubling. It had taken decades for black nurses to be admitted into the Army Nurse Corps, and it felt like a betrayal to be assigned to care for enemy soldiers instead of wounded American soldiers. Moreover, as most prisoners were in good health when they arrived, these nurses were not utilized to their full potential. Life for a black army nurse at POW camps in the South and Southwest United States was particularly lonely and isolating as they were forced to eat in segregated dining halls, regularly left out of officer meetings and social functions, and refused service at restaurants and businesses in town.

In the last year of World War II, with the casualty rate of American servicemen rising rapidly, the demand for nurses also rose. President Roosevelt, in his State of the Union Address in January of 1945, announced plans to establish a nursing draft. Ignoring the 9,000 applications that the Army Nurse Corps had received from African American nurses, President Roosevelt declared that the draft would be instituted unless 18,000 additional nurses volunteered for service. An outcry arose among the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses and civil rights organizations. Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., the first African American to be elected to congress from New York, also denounced the decision:

It is absolutely unbelievable that in times like these, when the world is going forward, that there are leaders in our American life who are going backward. It is further unbelievable that these leaders have become so blindly and unreasonably un-American that they have forced our wounded men to face the tragedy of death rather than allow trained nurses to aid because these nurses’ skins happen to be of a different color.

The legislation ultimately died in the Senate and was never passed.

By the end of the war, approximately 500 African American nurses held commissions compared to 59,000 white nurses, accounting for just 0.8% of the Army Nurse Corps. Despite the racial segregation and discrimination that African American nurses experienced, they fought for their place within the Army Nurse Corps and earned their right to serve their country. On July 26 th , 1948, President Truman signed Executive Order 9981, establishing the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, requiring the government to integrate the then segregated military. Executive Order 9981 stated that “there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed forces without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.” For many, including the African American nurses that had struggled to serve their country during World War I and World War II, the legislation was long overdue.