The Lucky 111th

Posted: December 5, 2015 in 1944, Men of the 111th Ordnance Company
Tags: ,

The strange coincidences that have marked our 111th journey from the start continue to occur.

Ed and I took a spur-of-the-moment day trip over the mountains a couple of weeks ago. While poking around an antiques/gift shop in a little town in West Virginia, two old books caught my eye. There were only four books in the entire shop. I walked over for a closer look, and this is what I saw:two wwii books

They were published in the 1960s. Of course, we bought both.

Although the 111th isn’t mentioned by name in these books, the ordnance battalions they were assigned to are noted. It was truly an orphan unit, belonging at various times in 1944 and 1945 to the 48th, the 177th, the 320th, the 185th, the 187th, and the 54th and 55th.

One chapter in the second volume is very interesting: “On the Far Shore in Normandy.” We learned that several ordnance units landed at Omaha Beach on D-Day and more continued to come ashore in the following days and weeks, including, of course, the 111th on D+5 (which left Southampton for Omaha Beach on the night of June 10) and D+6.

On page 244, we read a paragraph that sent a chill down our spine:

“Shortly after midnight on 11 June, the headquarters of the 177th Ordnance Battalion…was ashore at Dog Green Beach [eastern side of Omaha]. When the commanding officer was able to get in touch with the command posts of V Corps and First Army Ordnance, he learned that he had lost an entire medium automotive maintenance company, the 342nd, and twenty-seven men of Detachment B of the 526th Heavy Maintenance Company (Tank) when LST 1006 was sunk in the English Channel by a German torpedo in the early hours of June 9.”

As most of you have told me, our fathers did not talk much about the war. My own father, when I asked about the dangers he faced, told me he had a desk job behind the lines and was never really worried. Of course, we have since learned that they had quite a few close calls during their time in Europe. But the unit never lost a man until the week after V-E Day, in May 1945, when two young enlisted men drowned in a boat accident on the Weser River in Germany.

This holiday season, let’s think about that for a minute and thank our lucky stars that our fathers made it safely through that horrible war. In fact, most of the men were finally back home in the States by 70 years ago this month. How thankful and happy they must have been.

Note: I just did a little research and learned that from December 1941 through December 1946, the Army Ordnance Department had 214 battle casualties (including 101 deaths) among its officers, and 3,030 battle casualties (including 1,121 deaths) among its enlisted men. (http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/ref/Casualties/Casualties-1.html#month) This was out of a total of 24,000 officers and 325,000 enlisted men in the Ordnance Department in that period. (http://www.goordnance.army.mil/history/ORDhistory.html)

 

 

 

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Comments
  1. michael mallinger says:

    Very cool! Got to love old book shops!

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    • Carolyn Miller says:

      My uncle is Osborne Eastwood. He is one of three surviving members of the unit. He just had his 95th birthday on Wednesday. I read to him for two hours yesterday and watched as he rembered a different time and place. Thank you so much for the information and for keeping it alive for others to have a visual!

  2. Theresa Dalton says:

    Andrea and Ed; Thank you again!!! You are wonderful for keeping this information alive! Every word is a gem! I love finding out who and what our fathers were! Dad did not speak much about WWII, but he did have a very strong and loyal bond with his co. , mom told about some of Their stories. Once again… Thank You Theresa Dalton

    Sent from my iPhone

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  3. StephieD says:

    It’s amazing what you can find when you’re interested in something! Things just start jumping out at you. Very cool!

  4. Tom Sedlacek says:

    Nice article! Have a safe and happy holiday season!

  5. Franklin Wise says:

    A great post, Andy.

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