In past posts, we have mentioned some of the items the men brought home with them as souvenirs of the war. The other day, I heard from a reader, Peter Pauwels, whose wife’s grandfather knew some of the men in the 111th’s repair shops. Here’s what he said:

“Hello from Heerlen in The Netherlands!!! I was surprised at seeing the pictures of Heerlen in the winter of 1944/45. That was in the street where late my dad lived. He always told me about his friendship and adventures with the American soldiers at the stone factory nearby. The granddad of my wife was working at the LTM-remise. He was always trading Dutch souvenirs that he made himself , for food or equipment.”

Peter sent me photos of the items our men traded. It was a good thing the war was nearing an end, or they might have needed these items! (If any 111th family member has a handmade Dutch souvenir that might have been traded for these tools, I’d love to see it.) Thanks, Peter!

So, to revisit a few of the men’s souvenirs, here are some photos:

Ottea others with Nazi flag
Nazi flags were a popular souvenir, it seems. My dad sent one home to his mother in San Antonio. When she opened the package, the musty odor prompted her to air it out on the backyard clothesline. She soon heard from the neighbors!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

heerlen tea cup

111th daughter Linda Campbell showed us this tea cup and saucer given to her in the 1980s by Vickie Baggens, ,whose parents had been kind to Linda’s father, Roland Unangst, who used to drink from this very cup in the Baggens home in Heerlen, Holland, during the winter of 1944/45.

box with part

This Chevrolet truck part, carefully packed in wax, was left behind at Albro Castle, in Wales, where the 111th men lived and worked for several months before the Normandy Invasion. Owner Peter Newland found it and some other parts and gave it to me.

 

Advertisements

When the 111th left Alsdorf, Germany, on March 4, 1945, and moved 36 miles northwest to what was then called Munchen-Gladbach, Germany, the men took up quarters in several apartment buildings near their new shop area (a former local police complex that had recently been used by S.S. troops).

We learned a couple of years ago that the particular apartment building my father lived in is still there and is still an apartment building. The other day we heard from a new blog friend, Antonio, who lives in that city. He told us that he lived in that building until recently and offered to take a photo of it, from the same angle as my dad’s photo 72 years ago. Here is what he sent:

monchengladbach apt bdlg today

Here is my dad’s photo:

img210 Our home at Munchen Gladbach, Germany, Spring 1945

Thanks, Antonio! My dad and his buddies would be amazed.

Today is the 100th birthday of 111th company commander Art Brooks. This remarkable man is enjoying the day with his wife of 71 years, Judy, his daughters Louise and Lori, and other family members in the family home in Hudson, New York.Art 100th bday

This photo of Judy and Art, with daughter Lori, was taken two days ago by a photographer from their local newspaper, which ran this story about him yesterday, https://www.hudsonvalley360.com/article/family-work-are-keys-long-life

A few weeks ago, we asked family members and friends of the 111th to send Art birthday wishes, and we are happy that so many of you did. I want you all to know that it really made his day! This morning he asked me to send his thanks to you:

To the Families of the 111th: 

I was so moved to hear from the daughters, sons and grandchildren of the men of the 111th. I was deeply touched by your beautiful cards, emails, and warm birthday wishes. It meant a great deal to me. 

I especially want to take this opportunity to salute the memory of the men of 111th for their exemplary service to our country during the trying times we went through together in World II. 

Thank you all very much.

edited Art Brooks taken outside quarters Brake Germany summer 1945

Captain Brooks in Brake, Germany, at the end of the war.

 

Arthur T. Brooks, the young Army captain who led the 160 men of the 111th from war-torn Holland into war-torn Germany in the final months of WWII, will be celebrating his 100th birthday on October 29. This posting is a call to encourage the families of the 111th men and other blog followers to send him birthday wishes in October. (Details below.) I believe we all owe him a huge debt of gratitude for his leadership and for getting our fathers home safely. Not a single 111th soldier was lost during the war.

Last weekend, Ed and I drove up to New York State to pay a pre-birthday visit to Art and his family—Judy, his wife of 71 years, and their daughters, Lori and Louise.  Art is one of only two surviving members of the unit. (The other is Osborne Eastwood, age 98, in Arkansas.)

Brooks family photo sept 2017

Art, daughter Lori, Judy, daughter Louise, Andrea and Ed

Art and Judy recently decided that the time had come to move into an assisted living community, where, among other benefits, they are only a half-hour away from their daughters. On Saturday, I gave a short talk and slideshow about Art and the 111th to the residents there, as a way to introduce them to their new neighbor. It went well—and it turned out that five of the men in the audience were also WWII veterans! Art took over after my talk and regaled the audience with some war stories of his own—it was a memorable afternoon. Brooks Sept 2017 1

Art joined the 111th as a lieutenant in 1942, when he came to Camp Bowie, in Brownwood (middle of nowhere), Texas, from the Ordnance School in Aberdeen, Maryland. He was 24 years old. I’m sure you can imagine how well a Yankee officer was received by a bunch of Texas privates and sergeants, my dad included. But he soon won their trust and admiration. During his remarks last Saturday, he praised the hard work and dedication of those Texas soldiers. He added that when the unit was stationed in Germany for four months after V-E Day, he took a lot of heat from his superior officer for being too lax. “The men had just made it through many months of war and were ready to go home. I wasn’t going to be hard on them at that point,” he said. He then recalled how every week he sent a couple of men and a truck 80 miles to Dortmund to pick up kegs of beer for the unit.

So let’s all send Art our best wishes for a wonderful birthday and another year of good health! And don’t forget to tell him who your father or grandfather or other relative was.

To mail a card, use this address:

Mr. Arthur T. Brooks
Apt. 220
The Ambassador
9 Saxon Wood Rd.
White Plains, NY 10605

To send best wishes by email, please write to me at sutcliff@shentel.net, and I will forward your email to the Brooks family. You may also use the “Leave a Reply” feature below and I will send along your comments to the family.

Some sad news

Posted: February 12, 2017 in Men of the 111th Ordnance Company

We are sad to have to tell you that John Raisler, one of the three surviving 111th veterans, passed away last Sunday. He was 96.

John was the very first 111th veteran we found, more than three years ago. Actually, he found us, when he asked his granddaughter, Hilary, to search for his old Army unit on the Internet. Ed and I were lucky enough to spend time with him on two occasions in Florida, days we will never forget. We also spoke many times by phone with him and sent and received dozens of emails. He told us so many war stories and helped us identify the men and the places, from Canada to Germany. His memory was phenomenal.

John had a wonderful sense of humor and a positive outlook on life. We will miss him so much. To his son, Jim, and the rest of the Raisler family, please accept our deepest sympathy. John was such a great guy.

 

 

The 111th Makes French History!

Posted: October 30, 2016 in 1944, Normandy 1944

We had a lovely surprise via email this past week from our blog friend in Paris, Tristan Rondeau. You may recall that Tristan, a history student, had found our blog not long after we started it and had asked for any and all information and photos of the 111th’s time in Normandy, France. (The unit was there from June 11 until late August 1944.) I knew he was working on some sort of paper, but I had no idea its entire focus WAS the 111th!

His article is being published in the November issue of Normandie 1944, and he sent me a preview copy. Of course, it is in French, but as Tristan said in his email to me, ” I don’t think you need to read it, for you won’t learn much from it!” It goes on for eleven pages and is full of photos taken by the men themselves. Wouldn’t our fathers be blown away to know their unit’s work there is being read about in France, 72 years later? We wish the best of luck to Tristan, who received his master’s degree in history earlier this year and is preparing to go on for his PhD.

 

Of course, I’ve sent copies to our three survivors–Art Brooks, John Raisler, and Osborne Eastwood. In a perfect bit of timing, Tristan’s article arrived just in time to send it to Art Brooks, the unit’s company commander, on the occasion of his 99th birthday yesterday. We wish you a very happy and healthy year ahead, Captain Brooks!

edited Art Brooks taken outside quarters Brake Germany summer 1945

Art Brooks during the war

art-brooks-edited

Art Brooks in 2014

We have received a new batch of photos from Pat Macchiarolo, daughter of 111th soldier Bob Raymer, whose big friendly smile we’ve seen in previous posts. A while back, Pat’s sister discovered more of their dad’s old photos and negatives. Pat had the negatives developed and scanned and sent everything along to us. Some of the photos show men who weren’t named. If anyone can identify a father or grandfather here, please write to the blog and let us know, and we will add the name.

(Try clicking on the photo to see a larger version–this used to work, but it didn’t work for me just now; write to me if you’d like to see a larger image.)

Thanks very much, Pat!

bob-raymer

Bob Raymer

abner-boyd-and-joe-macdonald-and-william-j-quinn-and-joe-wolfe-camp-sully

Abner Boyd, Joe MacDonald, William J Quinn and Joe Wolfe, Camp Sully, Wales 1944

victor-jones-and-bob-nelson-at-camp-sully-wales

Victor Jones and Bob Nelson at Camp Sully, Wales

pappy-patton-and-doc-mason-and-rubin-lee-koehl-camp-sully-1944

Pappy Patton, Doc Mason and Rubin Lee Koehl, Camp Sully, 1944

pinkston-and-bride-111th

Robert Pinkston and bride

packebush-and-raymer

Harold Packebush and Bob Raymer

unmarked-111th-photo-16

Bob Raymer

weiderhold-thumbnail

George Weiderhold

roy-pop-bowers

Roy “Pop” Bowers

raymer-second-from-right-lt-perry-witt-thrid-from-right

Lt. Perry Witt, third from right; Bob Raymer, second from right; rest unknown

unmarked-111th-photo-13

?

woodrow-corn-camp-sully-1944

Woodrow Corn, Camp Sully, Wales, 1944

unmarked-111th-photo-10

Floyd Wetterburg and Bill Strickland

unmarked-111th-photo-8

?

unmarked-111th-photo-7

Bob Hax, Bill Stadler, Julius Turner

unmarked-111th-photo-6

?

basil-dixon-in-camp-sully-wales

Basil Dixon, Camp Sully

bob-nelson-camp-sully-wales-1944

Bob Nelson, Camp Sully, Wales

rickon-and-me-raymer

Bob Raymer and Roger Rickon

unmarked-111th-photo-15

Roger Rickon

unmarked-111th-photo-14

?

blankenship-muehle-stadler-camp-sully-wales-1944

Blankenship, Muehle, Stadler, Camp Sully, Wales 1944

john-vargo

John Vargo and friend