Short History of the 111th

The 111th Ordnance Company was organized in March 1937 as part of the 36th Infantry Division, Texas National Guard. On November 25, 1940, it was federalized in San Antonio, Texas. The following information was gathered from a brief history found on the website of the Army’s Center for Military History as well as documents found in my father’s papers and reports from the men who served with the company in WWII. Many thanks go to Arthur Brooks, who has a terrific memory and was able to fill in the many holes in the timeline by phone recently. Please let us know of any corrections and/or additions.

On 28 December 1940, in a fierce ice storm, the 111th moved from San Antonio, Texas, to Camp Bowie, near Brownwood, Texas. Their company officers in 1941 were Captain Bill Crossman and Lieutenant Lionel Malsbury. (Lieutenant Arthur Brooks joined the unit in Texas in June 1942.)

For some reason, in February 1942 the 111th was relieved from assignment to the 36th Division. (The 36th went on to serve in North Africa and Italy during the war.) At some point in 1942, the men were sent to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

On November 2, 1942, they left for cold weather testing at Camp Shiloh, Manitoba, Canada, and Captain Lionel Malsbury became their company commander, as Captain Crossman was sent to Command and General Staff School in Kansas. The unit left Camp Shiloh in mid-March 1943 and returned to Aberdeen for a short time.Then they were sent to Fort Dix, New Jersey, for about a month and a half.

By May 1943, the men were sent to Camp A.P. Hill, Virginia. Later that summer, they headed back to Fort Dix, New Jersey.

In November 1943, they left New York, after a few days spent at Camp Shanks, NY, by ship convoy, traveling through rough seas through German-infested Atlantic waters, for assignment in Europe, arriving in Liverpool, England, later that month. From there they were sent for a few weeks to the large U.S. base G-40 at Sully, Wales, near Cardiff, South Wales.

By December 1943, the men were billeted in Albro Castle, St. Dogmaels, in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. While in Wales, in February 1944, Captain James Goode took command of the 111th. The unit was supporting the 28th Infantry Division which was stationed on the south coast of Wales. They stayed at Albro until midnight of D-Day, June 6, 1944. From there, they traveled about 250 miles in two convoys–to Plymouth, England, where on the night of June 10 they loaded all their vehicles and then boarded LCTs for the Channel crossing to Omaha Beach, arriving the next morning. Once in Normandy, we believe they were attached at first to the 29th Infantry Division, then a short time later to the 2nd Infantry Division.

They were based for a while in a forest near a village between St. Lo and Bayeux called Cerisy-la-Foret, which at that time was the headquarters for the 2nd Infantry Division. Some of the unit were in Cherbourg in late July, and they passed through the Falaise Pocket on their way to Paris in August 1944, just a few days after the decisive battle there. They were camped outside Paris for three nights during the time of the Liberation of Paris celebrations, and many of the men went into the city on August 29 to observe the festivities.

After leaving France in September 1944, they traveled by truck and jeep convoy into Belgium and Holland. They stayed for a short time in Maastricht, Holland, and then went several miles farther, almost to the German border, to Heerlen, Holland, where they spent three months during the frigid winter of 1944/45 near the Siegfried Line. On December 12, 1944, they were attached to the Ninth Army. In late January 1945, Captain Arthur Brooks became the company commander, a post he held until October 1945, when the unit was deactivated. In early spring, the 111th moved north their next base in Monchengladbach, Germany.

On V-E Day, May 8, 1945, they celebrated the end of the war in Europe in the town near the Elbe River–Salzwedel, Germany–a day that Captain Brooks still remembers as being the “wildest day of the war.”

After V-E Day (May 8, 1945), the unit proceeded to occupation duty in the Bremen enclave in northern Germany, where once again they were assigned to the 29th Infantry Division. First they stayed in Blumenthal (south of Kiel and well north of Hamburg, in northern Germany), where they took over a huge 1880s woolen factory called Bremer Woll-Kammerai. Later they moved to a port town called Brake, on the Weser River, located about halfway between Bremerhaven and Bremen. Beginning in early June, the men with the most service points began to head home to the United States, from various embarkation points. All the men were home for Christmas that year.

After many reorganizations and redesignations in the decades that followed, the 111th has now become the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 36th Sustainment Brigade, part of the Texas National Guard, located in Temple, Texas.

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