The Story Unfolds

Posted: September 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

My sister, Marcia, began the arduous task of scanning in the photos, front and back, whenever she had time. She estimated there were about 300, and when I finally told her she could stop for a while, she had sent me about 150, almost all with information on the backs. Bit by bit, we were able to develop a timeline and the route the 111th took through Europe. Thankfully my dad had noted names and places on the backs of many of the photos. (Like so many other WWII veterans, he hardly talked about the war.)

We came up with this timeline (see the page at the top of this blog, “Short History of the 111th Ordnance Company,” for a more detailed timeline):

  • Sept. 1940: Dad joins the Texas National Guard in San Antonio, Texas
  • Nov. 25, 1940: The Guard unit was federalized, as the 111th Ordnance Company, Medium Maintenance, 36th Infantry Division
  • Dec. 28, 1940: the unit is sent to Camp Bowie, near Brownwood, Texas
  • 1941-September 1942: Camp Bowie, Texas
  • October 1942-March 1943: Camp Shiloh, Manitoba, Canada
  • Spring 1943: Fort Dix, NJ
  • Summer 1943: Camp A.P. Hill, Virginia
  • Early fall 1943: Fort Dix, New Jersey
  • November 1943: Cardiff, Wales
  • December 1943-June 6, 1944: St. Dogmaels, Pembrokeshire, Wales
  • 1944: Normandy and Northern France June/July/August) (by then attached to the 29th Infantry Division and/or the 2nd Division)
  • Fall/winter 1944-45: Holland (fall/winter) (we think here they were attached to the Ninth Army)
  • 1945: Germany (spring/summer/fall) (Ninth Army; 29th Infantry Division in Bremen enclave)
  • 1945: Left Germany for the US (October) (some men left earlier)

While Dad was stationed at Camp Bowie, Texas, in 1941, he became friendly with several other San Antonio young men who had been in the National Guard unit with him, including his best friends for life, John B. Andrews and Harold A. Goerges. Little did they know they would be spending the next five years together—the entire duration of World War II, and then some.

My dad, Edward (Bill) Johnson, 1941

My dad, Edward (Bill) Johnson, 1941

After the war, the three men returned to San Antonio to settle down and raise their families. My father had married a young nurse from Wales (they met at a YMCA dance in her village near St. Dogmaels). John Andrews had married a girl he met in Michigan; and Harold Georges married a local Texas girl. We grew up in the 1950s and 1960s with their kids: David, Bobby, and Glenn Andrews; and Zane, Sue, Rose Ann, and Greg Goerges. Thanks to the Internet, I was able to locate them after nearly forty years, and with their help, we are in the process of piecing together the remarkable  story of a true “band of brothers.”

Bobby told me, “I recall Dad [John Andrews] saying he was sitting watching a movie at the theater when the lights came on and the usher said that all service men from Camp Bowie should return to base ASAP. The date was Sunday December 7, 1941. Dad said he got five more years in the service.”

Once war was declared, the intensive training began. Probably by early 1942,  Dad, John, and Harold were sent to Camp A.P., Virginia, for infantry training. We have not found any photos of their time there.

By the winter of 1942-43, they were sent for cold-weather training at Camp Shiloh, Manitoba, Canada, across the border from North Dakota. This came in handy two years later, during the frigid winter of 1944-45 in Holland.

Dad, John Andrews, and Raymond Buggert, Winnipeg, Canada, 1942

Dad, John Andrews, and Raymond Buggert, Winnipeg, Canada, 1942

 Bobby recalls, “They were in Canada on a cold weather expedition to test field artillery in extreme cold weather.  I recall Dad saying that the temp would get down to about 30 or 40 degrees below zero, and that when the temp got above 32 degrees they would wear tee shirts outside.”

John Andrews in his zootsuit, Camp Shiloh

John Andrews in his zootsuit, Camp Shiloh, Canada

Harold Goerges

Harold Goerges

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