More Family Members Found, and a New Memoir Posted

Posted: February 8, 2014 in Men of the 111th Ordnance Company

Over the past couple of weeks, several more family members of the men of the 111th have contacted us. A quick round-up follows. But first, I would like to direct your attention to a new link at the top of the home page: “Memories of Perry Witt.” Lt. Witt’s daughter has allowed us to post his memories of the war. He was with the unit from the time it was a National Guard unit in San Antonio and remained with it the entire war. Interestingly, Roland Unangst (our other memoir writer) typed up Witt’s handwritten memories for him in June 1945, and we first received this document from his daughter, Linda Campbell. There is a lot to be learned in both sets of memoirs, for which we are very grateful.

Lt. Perry Witt, San Antonio, TX, and Baltimore, MD, probably Normandy, 1944.

Lt. Perry Witt

Then we found and talked to Maria Crossman, widow of 111th member Bill Crossman. He was the CO when the men were at Camp Bowie but transferred to the 69th Ordnance Company before the men left for Canada in 1942. Maria, who is 85 and living in Texas, called us after receiving our letter in late January. Captain Crossman was from San Antonio and had been with the 111th since the late 1930s, when it was a National Guard Unit. He met Maria—“I took one look and said ‘She’s the girl for me!’”—in the late 1940s, when he was again serving in Germany as a lieutenant colonel and she was a translator in Augsberg. Bill is fondly remembered by Art Brooks, the 111th’s last CO during the war. Bill died in 1998. Maria promised to send us photos.

The next day we received a note from another widow of one of the men—Pauline Marro, whose husband was Joe Marro, from Connecticut. We called her and learned that Joe had four brothers in WWII, one of whom is still alive; Joe died in 2004. She recalls how she lived with Joe’s mother while the men were in Europe and what a scary time it was; there was a two-month period when they received no mail at all. Joe did weapons repair and was a good buddy of Roland Unangst. Joe is mentioned several times in Unangst’s memories of the war, which you can read by clicking the link for his story at the top of this website. A few days later after we talked to Pauline, Linda Campbell, Unangst’s daughter, called her and they had a nice chat.

We called Carmen Lewenthal, the daughter-in-law of 111th Lieutenant Gene Lewenthal, who died in San Antonio in 1976. Carmen told us her family had received our letter back in December, when her grown children looked at the blog and were excited to learn about their grandfather’s service during WWII. She also has promised to look for photos and send them to us. Although Gene was from San Antonio, he was not with the 111th in Texas but joined up with the unit at some later date.

Lt. Eugene Lewenthal

Lt. Eugene Lewenthal

Then we had a letter from the son of Bill Bleyerveld, who told us his dad joined up with the 111th just before D-Day and was with the unit during their entire time in Europe, until September 1945, when it seems most of the unit were sent home. He will send more information later.

Finally, last week we received an email from Patty Saucier-Aubert, whose dad was Murvel Saucier, better known to the guys of the 111th as “Frenchy.” Originally from Louisiana, Murvel spoke French and served as an interpreter for the unit while also working as a mechanic on jeeps and tanks. He lived in Houston, spending his entire career with Hughes Tool. He married Patty’s mom, Vera Faye, in 1946—Vera was a welder during the war years—“a real Rosie the Riveter,” Patty says! Sergeant Saucier died in 1998. Patty scanned and emailed many photos, and from those we have a better collection of images from the various U.S. camps the men were in before they left for Europe. Thanks, Patty!

"French" Saucier

“Frenchy” Saucier

Sgt Murvel Saucier

Sgt Murvel Saucier

Sgt. Saucier at Camp Shiloh, Canada, 1942

Sgt. Saucier at Camp Shiloh, Canada, 1942

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Comments
  1. jraisler@tampabay.rr.com says:

    ANDREA & ED, NO, I DIDN’T DIE, BUT THE PAST WEEK SEEMED LIKE THERE WAS SO MUCH TO DO…LAST SUNDAY, THE SUPER BOWL BUNCH, CAME WITH ALL THEIR COUGHS, SNEEZE’S, ETC…GUESS WHO GOT THE THE COUGHS AND SNEEZES? NOW….ANOTHER SETBACK IN MY LIFE….IT’S STRANGE, ALL THESE RELATIVES FINDING INTEREST, IN THE GOOD OLD 111 ORD…MYSELF, I HADN’T GIVEN THE SUBJECT MUCH THOUGHT, BUT NOW WITH ALL YOUR RESEARCH INFO, IT MAKES ONE FEEL GOOD REMINISCING.
    ON THAT BIG PICTURE, BY THE WAY, I HAD A COPY TOO, BUT YEARS AFTER IT WAS TAKEN, I TRIED TO UNROLL IT AND IT GOT FULL OF CRACKS….THE ONE YOU SENT MUST HAVE BEEN KEPT FLAT, IT WAS GOOD…MY SON WORKED WITH IT AND WAS ABLE TO MAKE 8 X 10 SECTIONS, BUT THEY WOULDN’T MATCH UP PRECISELY…
    I WAS ABLE TO NAME A GOOD MANY OF THE MEN, BUT I CAN’T FOR THE LIFE OF ME REMEMBER RON UNANGST….OUR LITTLE 15 MAN ARTILLERY SECTION KEPT TO OURSELVES A LOT, THE ENTIRE CO BUSINESS, WE JUST FOLLOWED WHERE EVER THEY LED, US…

    GOT TO TELL A LITTLE KNOWN STORY NOW. WE GOT ORDERS TO MOVE UP TO A CERTAIN SPOT, AT NIGHT YET.THINGS WENT WELL, THEY FOUND THE SPOT AND BEGAN PLACING EACH SECTION, UNTIL WE HEAR A VOICE SAY, “WHO THE HELL ARE YOU GUYS???” HERE’S A OFFICER AND A SQUAD OF SOLDIERS WHO WANT ANSWERS….THEY WERE TOLD WHO WE WERE. “OFFICER, DO YOU REALIZE THE GERMANS ARE JUST A MILE OR SO UP THE ROAD, YOU GUYS BETTER GET OUT OF HERE.” AND BOY WE DID, AS QUIETLY AS POSSIBLE. IT SEEMS THERE WAS A FORK IN THE ROAD BACK A WAYS, AND UNFORTUNATELY WE ALL TOOK THE WRONG ONE. BY DAYLIGHT, WE WERE HIDDEN AWAY, AND DIDN’T BRAG ABOUT OUR NIGHT OUTING. I’M NOT SURE, BUT I THINK THAT WAS OUR LAST MISTAKE. I’M LIKE MOST GI’S, THE WAR WAS A GREAT EXPERIENCE, BUT I WOULDN’T WANT TO DO IT AGAIN.
    KEEP THE STORIES COMING, EACH AND EVERY ONE IS GREAT.
    JOHN R.

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