Monday, January 24, 2011

Timeline of the 280ECB

Obviously, this will be a continuing work in progress.  I am piecing together a timeline of the unit as well as locations from anecdotes, letters, and the unit's old history book. I work on this a little each day to save my sanity.  This includes my loose notes so that I may return to fill in blanks as I come across new information.  Reading German is no problem for me, but French, well, that's a foreign language, so the French sites are slowing me down.  I obviously wasn't there, so those of you reading this, if you find a mistake PLEASE notify me and I'll get it corrected ASAP!

History of the 280 Engr C BN (280ECB)
Viam Paramus - Prepare the Way (see? 4 years of Latin wasn't wasted!)

Known as the Bastard Battalion, it was actually a non-divisional unit of the US ARMY.  At it's inception, it was assigned to the 3rd Army, then to the English 1st Army, and then finally the US 9th Army.
5 November 1943 - Unit Activation
  Original Officer Cadre - Major Hamlin, Capt Clark, Capt Larsen, Lt McFetters, Lt Ravenscroft, Lt Smith, Lt Scanlon, Lt Cumming, Lt Campbell, Lt Keck

The Unit consisted of the Cadre, the H&S Company (Medical), and Company A,B, and C.

February-April/May  1944 - Camp McCoy,Wisconsin
     Basic Training
          Basic Military training

June 1944 - Camp McCoy, Wisconsin
     Unit Training
           Detailed training in demolition and construction - Roadways and Bridges; Pontoon, Foot, Fixed Wooden Trestle and Bailey; H-10
           Bridge, Assault Training; Rigging; Tools and Equipment Use; Bridge Classification.
16 June 1944 - Camp McCoy, Wisconsin

       Combat Principle Tests

July 1944 - Camp McCoy, Wisconsin

        Infiltration Course - Taken by all men of the Battalion

22 August 1944 - Departure from Camp McCoy, Wisconsin- en route to Ft Leonard Wood, Missouri
        5 week processing for overseas assignment

6 October 1944 - Departure from Ft Leonard Wood, Missouri

  ****  Arrival Camp Shanks, New York

6 October 1944 - Camp Shanks, New York - embarkation point
        Sailing to England on the USAT Edmund B Alexander (previously the USS Amerika)
              -  Click HERE for Ship Information
              -  US Navy ship information page

2 November 1944 - Swansea, Wales
             -  Docking at Swansea - photos and information page
        Shipped to Glastonbury, England for continued training

19 December 1944 - Crossed English Channel to LeHavre, France (Here's where it gets confusing, hang in there. If a specific company or platoon is assosiated with a location I will make a note of it. )
         - through Rouen, France to Fry, France - Bivouac Area
(Note: 3 January 1945 Temperature -10'F, snow 18-24 inches deep, higher drifts- General Omar Bradley, A General's Life, p. 385.)

** 23 December 1945 -English Channel Crossing to LeHavre France. - a troop carrier was hit in the channel by a torpedo near Cherbourg. (from the notes of TSgt Lawrence R Tucker, 10th Armored Batt, 4thDivision, 3rd Platoon, US Army - serving along side the 280th withing spitting distance where his notes are placed, charged with keeping the road from Arlon to Bastogne open adn arrived in France one week prior to 280th - from here on out annotated as **)

**24 December 1945 - troop carrier Leopoldville sunk by torpedo heading toward LeHavre France, 802 Americans lost.  "My conjecture is, that as soon as the fog lifted permitting the crossing of teh English Channel, the numerous troop ships, including the ship I was aborad made a dash for the French coast and the German submarines were ying there in waiting for their targets." 

RE: January 1945 Weather - Ladislas Garago, Patton: Ordeal and Triumph, pp.692-693, writes the following about the weather on New Years Day, 1945.  "It was teh meanest winter in 38 years.  The weather was consistently bleak, teh ground was covered with a thick blanket of coarse snow. The sharp wind blew in from the north and whipped up angry flurries, like fine fragments of broken glass that pierced the faces of the GIs.  It was -5'F in St. Vith, -7'F below at Wiltz, and a steady 0'F at Bastogne." **

1-6 January 1944 - Fry, France
6 January 1945 - Leave Fry, France en route to Longuyon, France via Motor Convoy
         - spent the night in Reims, France - stayed in the building where the ISSF World Shooting Championships were held
           Click HERE for ISSF Shooting Information
Arrived Longuyon, France  - some of the unit stayed at a Catholic Convent - (still looking for the name )

Combat - (and here is where things get really confusing as every Company spreads out, but we're heading in the general area of Bastogne) USA> Wales> England> France> Luxembourg> Belgium> Holland> Germany

Through Europe - Le Havre, France > Rouen, France> Fry, France> Rheims, France> Longuyon, France > Schweich, Luxembourg > Grumelange, Belgium >Arlon, France (for the Battle of the Bulge)> Bastogne, Belgium > Namur, Belgium > Liege, Belgium?> Maastricht, Netherlands?> Onderbanken, Netherlands?> Schophoven, Netherlands (sticks in my brain for some reason from childhood >Across the Roer River, Germany > North to the Venlo Pocket, Germany > Across the Rhine River > Essen, Germany > Ludinghaussen, Germany

For more pictures of this specific area please dee to Dupuy, Hitler's Last Gamble.

10thRmored, 4thDiv, 3rd Platoon USArmy now caught up with the 280th at Luxembourg **
10 January 1945 - Grendal, Luxembourg CoA
                         - Winville, Belgium CoB Fixed Wooden Bridge Construction
Piper Cub aircraft used as spotters for artillery **
                         - Heavy German artillery barrage of the Area Woods**
11 January 1945  - Winville, Belgium CoA
                          - Grendel, Luxembourg CoC - Fixed Bridge Construction
                                   -Heavy German artillery barrage of the Area Woods**
                          - Winville, Belgium CoB Fixed Wooden Bridge Construction (11Jan 45-23 Jan 1945)
* Early morning - the entire 4th Amored Division moves south on the Arlon Bastonge road toward Arlon - towards were it was believed that a German column would come through Trier to attack Luxembourg City. **

The Arlon/Bastogne Road

View Larger Map
12 January 1945  - Rombroch - Martelange Rd, Luxembourg CoA
                          - Winville, Belgium CoB Fixed Wooden Bridge Construction

                          - Grendel, Luxembour CoC - Fixed Bridge Construction

13 January 1945 - Bigonville, Luxembourg CoA
                         - Winville, Belgium CoB Fixed Wooden Bridge Construction

                         - Grendel, Luxembour CoC - Fixed Bridge Construction

14 January 1945 - Grendel, Luxembour CoC - Fixed Bridge Construction
                        - Winville, Belgium CoB Fixed Wooden Bridge Construction

**10th AB,$thInfDiv,3rd Platoon moves north, away from the 280

15 January - 7 February 1945 - Giemelang, Blegium CoA, Motor Pool, Battalion Hqtrs, Company Kitchen
 **Temps creeping close to freezing, a real heat wave!                                           
22 Jan 1945 - Heavy snows Bigonville, Luxembourg
23 January 1945 - Winville, Belgium CoB Fixed Wooden Bridge Construction

8 February 1945 - Houfalize Belgium CoA

15 February 1945 - Hongen, Germay CoA
                           - Hongen, Germany CoC Replaces Bailey Bridge over stream with a 2 way class 40 Culvert crossing
17 February 1945 - Tudden, Germay CoA
                           - Tuddern, Germany CoC builds wooden Trestle Fixed Bridge over stream
19 February 1945 - Sittard, Holland CoA
                           - Stittard, Holland CoC builds road as entrance to a field hospital

20 February 1945 - Wehr, Germany CoA
                          - approx date - few miles from Clerveaux, Luxembourg CoB 50 foot Double-Single Baily Bridge built

24 February 1945 - Kivit, Germany CoA
                           - Kivit, Germany CoC builds temporary culvert over stream half mile from Roer Rvr

1 March 1945 - Arostock, Germany (Happy Birthday Freddie!) CoA
                     Arostock, Germany CoB builds bypass around railroad bridge and culvert

3 March 1945 - Sevelen - Lintfort Rd CoA Fills crater from German bridge distruction, opening MSR for Infantry
                                                       -CoB contructs Bailey Bridge

6 March 1945 - Kamp, Germany CoA bridge replacement and road repair

14 March 1945 - By the Rhine River Germany CoA
                         - mine sweeping Wesel,Germay CoA
                         -Rhine Crossing PrepCoA (at Wesel, Germany - Roosevelt bridge later built here))

15 March 1945 - Xenlen, Germany CoA

There are 5 parts to this video.  The whole thing is interesting at about 50 minutes long. They are 10 minutes each.  When one video is done, a page will pop up and the next one will be the first on the pop up list.

Interesting video >
24 March 1945 - Wallach, Germany - Rhine Crossed
                       -CoA constructs west bank crossing for the Rhine Rv Bridge CoA
                       ( The Treadway Bridge over the Rhine was built by the 17th Armored Eng. and the 202nd Combat Engineers.  This bridge earned the 17th a Presidental Citation.  The East bank approaches and thecut in the dike were built by CoB, and the West bank by Co A on the night of the first crossing. CoC bulldozers built the LCV ramps along with men of CoA.  CoB worked on the approach the day after the crossing, when a truck hit a mine, killing t/5 Willard Duncan.  Major Clark, Lt Avilla, Lt Barbour, and 5 other men were injured.) - Willard Duncan's daughter has now joined us online. Welcome.
                        -CoC maintains heavy pontoon bridge and west bank road - white sheet accidentally alerts German planes to CoC's position.  It was placed by the Pvt over a compressor, as a place to sleep.  The sheet was obtained from what he calls castles on the Western side of the Rhine.

24 March 1945 Spillen, GermayCoA first town on the other side of the Rhine

26-31 March 1945 - Friedrisfeld, Germay Hqrts, CoA, B,C

3 April 1945 - between Bottrop/Gladbeck (Gladbach?) , Germany CoA CoA makes a cut through the Autobahn to by-pass a destroyed bridge.

3-9 April 1945 - Gladbach Rentfort, Germany CoA

10 April 1945 - Duisenberg, Germany CoA creates by-pass around blown bridge near AutoBahn
                     -Bottrop, Germany CoA builds a Bailey Bridge ver the Emscher Canal. built during the Ruhr pocken action.
                     - CoC builds Treadway Bridge in heacy smoke screen with the 999th Treadway Bridge Co with the 17th Airborne Div. during the Ruhr Pocket.
                    - Span built across the Rhein-Heine Canal near Bottrop, road leads to Essen, Germany. CoC
12 April 1945 - Bottrop, Germany/ Hamborn, Germany CoA builds Bailey Bridge over the Rhein-Heine Canal. Build over the locks durning the Ruhr Pocken action.
13-16 April 1945 - Gladbach Rentfort, Germany CoA

16 April 1945 - 29 April 1945 - Gelsenkirchen Uckendorf, Germany Hdqrts, Medical
18 April 1945 - Wickide (near Werl) Germany Co B 1st platoon - treadway bridge built "flying circus" bridge? over the Ruhr Rvr.

20 April 1945 - Bochum, Germany CoB clears railroad underpass of debris and repairs road.
21 April 1945 - Essen, Germany; CoA clears a railroad underpass to open new MSR.
                                                   Bochim, Germany; Dortmund, Germany CoA
25 April 1945 Essen, Germany CoC clears MSR where buildings were destroyed
                     Pvt was surprised at the extreme youth of the German soldiers.  Some as young as 14, up to about 17.  He was in charge of guarding about 300 German POWs.  POWs asked for help as they were being physically abused.  Pvt stopped the abuse and sent victims to medical. 

29 April 1945 - Gelsenkirchen Uckendorf, Germany CoA

2-13 May 1945 - Bork, Germany CoA works on fixed wooden trestle bridge, spanned the Lippe River and replaced a treadway bridge built earlier. The bridge was dedicated to Lt. Czapszy, killed on the Rhine.

13 May 1945 - Ludinghausen, Germany American Red Cross Clubmobile visit Medical H/S company
9 May 1945 - Armastice Signed

12 May 1945 - Ludinghausen, Germany retreat held in honour of VE Day H/S company
15 May 1945 - Lunen, Germany CoC clears underpas to make AutoBahn an MSR. 
                      Senden, Germany CoB works on t fixed wooden bridge, which spanned the Dortmun-Ems Canal at Senden. (12May- 5 June 1945 and dedicated to T/5 Willard Duncan, killed on the Rhine.)

17 May 1945 Ludinghausen, Germany USO show CoB area
20 May 1945 CoC strengthens an Autobahn bridge for MSR traffic.
23 May 1945 - Lunen, Germany CoA clears debris from an Autobahn underpass.

24 May-4 June 1945 - Brechten, Germany between Lunen and Hamm on the Autobahn.  CoC builds a Bailey Bridge to carry traffic while a timber bridge was being constructed. This new bridge made the Autobahn an MSR for many miles and speed up traffic.
12 June 1945 - Carteret, France (Happy birthday to me 25 years later!) CoA

     - by Motor Convoy over the Roosevelt Bridge over the Rhine River
     - general cleanup of Cherbourg Penninsula
13 June 1945 - Hotel d'Angleterre CoA
     - trips to Mt.St Michael and Paris

13- 15 June 1945 15 June 1945 Carteret (Etretat), France - Hotel D'Angleterre. Battalion Hqrts and H/S billets

Cherbourg Peninsula - Month of laying fuel pipe and couplins using PW labor. Cleared Minefields. Created a road at Carteret, Fr from the town to the sea.  The Battalion conducted schools in heavy equipment use.  A harbor was dug and roads were constructed.

CoC billeted at theHotel Dela Mer in Carteret 15 June 1945 +
CoA billeted across from the Alimentation Gernerale de la Plage

Barneville, France CoA
     - PWs built swim and diving tower and ballfield built by battalion

PVT states that the 280th was supposed to, or was guessing that the unit was heading to Japan next for similar duties, but the war in the Pacific ended before the unit could be sent over.  I have no record of that being a possibility. 
From here on out, it all points towards HOME !

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