Archive for May, 2014

Ed and I arrived in Wales last week. Our first stop, like that of the men of the 111th, was the town of Barry, not far from the Welsh capital city of Cardiff in South Wales.

Glenn Booker

Glenn Booker

There we met a loyal follower of this blog, Glenn Booker, who has been instrumental in creating the Barry at War Museum here and who publishes magazines about the U.S. military stationed in South Wales during WWII. Glenn told us he would pick up us at our hotel, and when I asked how we would know him, he said, “Don’t worry, you’ll recognize us.”

We certainly did. He arrived in a vintage U.S. army jeep, driven by its proud owner, Wayne. Glenn was wearing the uniform of a WWII U.S. Army infantry colonel. “Hop in,” he said, and we set off on a guided tour of the areas our 111th men lived and worked in for three months during the winter of 1943-44. The ride was, shall we say, quite exhilarating, and resulted in a less-than-best hair day for me.

Wayne and Glenn and the jeep

Wayne and Glenn and the jeep

Our first stop was the Brynhill Golf Club in Barry, which was busy on this lovely warm day. It was here the 111th men were “guests” of the 115th Field Artillery unit for their first two weeks in Wales. They slept in tents here, arriving on November 17, 1943.

Glenn showing us Brynhill Golf Club

Glenn showing us Brynhill Golf Club

Then we drove a few miles to the area where the U.S. Army had built Camp G-40, a major supply depot for Operation Bolero, the code name for the buildup for the invasion of Normandy. Perhaps as many as 200,000 American troops were working in Wales during the year or two before June 6, 1944.image

Many old buildings still stand there today, rusting and falling apart. We arrived at the scene of the officers housing area, only to find bulldozers on the scene tearing down the remaining buildings.

Camp G-40

Camp G-40

image

imageimage

image

 

That evening, we attended a talk that Glenn gave at the Barry at War Museum about Operation Bolero. We learned a lot and had the chance to chat with others who have a real interest in the war and the American troops who served in the area.

Thanks, Glenn, for a fun and informative day! You can read more about the Americans in Wales at his website, https://sites.google.com/site/usmilitaryinsouthwales/

V-E Day Commemoration, 2014

Posted: May 8, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags:
V-E Day, May 8, 1945: the men in a bar in Neubeckum, Germany,. Man in front on left with cigarette is Roger Rickon; man in center middle, face partially in shadow, is Frank Turner; man in back row, fifth from left below man standing, is Joe Sedlacek

V-E Day, May 8, 1945: the men in a bar in Neubeckum, Germany,. Man in front on left with cigarette is Roger Rickon; man directly behind Rickon on far left of photo is Stanley Carlson; man in center middle, face partially in shadow, is Frank Turner; man in back row, fifth from left below man standing, is Joe Sedlacek.. The man in the front row, far right, may be Curt Vosz.

Today is V-E Day, Victory in Europe Day, marking the joyful day in 1945 when the German government officially surrendered to the Allies and ended WWII in Europe. If you recall, we have a great photo, sent to us by two children of the men, of the 111th’s celebration in a bar in Neubeckum, Germany, where they were when they got word that their part of the war was over.

That day was also 111th soldier Roger Rickon’s 21st birthday. And today, Roger turns 90! Happy birthday, Roger. (See him at the far left, near the front, in the photo.)

Ed and I are now in France, slowly making our way to Wales  to attend the D-Day  commemoration in St. Dogmaels  in early June. Today we went to Monpazier, France, in the Dordogne region, to attend  a French V-E Day celebration. We thought about how happy the men must have been that day in Germany 69 years ago.

It is safe to say that we were the only Americans in attendance, and that we didn’t understand a word of the speeches made.

V-E Day ceremony, Monpazier, France, 2014

V-E Day ceremony, Monpazier, France, 2014