The WWII 300th Combat Engineers

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The 300th at war.

Newsletters: Winter 2010

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Honoring the Men of the 300th

This is the fifth edition of the 300th Quarterly honoring the 65th anniversary of the 300th Engineer Combat Battalion in Europe. We continue to need your help. Please send us any material you wish for inclusion in future issues. Also, please forward to us the mailing address of anyone who might like to receive this newsletter.

Reunions

With the great success of the 2009 reunions in Dallas in June and Tyler in October "See you next year" was often heard at the end of the reunions. The turnout for each reunion was the best in several years. We have lost some of the men but now have attendance by more family members with some travelling great distances.

Did You Know?

Did you know that the 299th and 300th Combat Engineers fielded a football team at Camp White in October and November of 1943? We know little about the team and are looking to our readers to tell us more. The team was officially known as the "Bulldozers" and played in the Greater Northwest Football Association with their team headquarters Camp White, Medford, Oregon. The "owner" of the team was listed as the United States Army. They played two games in October which they won but lost to the University of Oregon Frosh 0 to 19 on November 13, 1943. Do you know who from the 300th may have played on the team? Do you know who the other two teams were?

300th in Combat

From a presentation by Colonel Riel Crandall at a 300th Reunion in 1996:

The Germans poured in [German offensive in Battle of the Bulge] right past where our men were going. Our communications got disrupted so I climbed in my car and got one of the best Christmas presents I ever had. I knew we had two companies on the river and I couldn't get word to them to blow the bridges and get out of there. Fortunately, someone in those two companies had sense enough when they saw what was going on and that the Germans were already here on the other side so they blew all the bridges and assembled on their own. I pulled into a little town in Belgium after swinging around and we spotted the two companies of the 300th and all assembled. They had done their job and nobody had suffered a single scratch. It was on the 24th of December and I considered it a real nice Christmas present.

Randy Hanes recalls a German pilot and Christmas Day:

We had a massive Engineer dump, mostly bridging equipment, stretching almost a mile from the Chateau Modave to the highway. A German ME 109 fighter plane kept circling the dump flying quite low and slow. After several flyovers, Mr. Rickard, our Warrant Officer, and I, exited the chateau through the dungeon area below and up the stone stairs that led outside. The plane made another wide circle and flew back towards us, still low and not real fast. He flew directly over us and attempted to gain altitude. Less than 300 yards away, the pilot bailed out and slowly drifted down. We jumped in a jeep, following his descent, and arrived just seconds after he landed. Guns at the ready, we approached him as he extended his arms skyward.

He had one bullet hole in his leg and spoke a little English. His first words were, "Thank you!" We both asked why. He replied, "My war is over." We treated his wound as best we could and drove him back to the chateau where the medics could treat him more thoroughly. Being Christmas Day I guess this was his Christmas present. We drew high cards for the 'souvenirs' - flight boots, gloves, cap, and flight jacket. I drew a four of clubs - got nothing.

Warren Chancellor recalls a wounded German pilot:

The German plane was shot down near the chateau by a P-51. The pilot was shot through the ankle and the bone was shattered pretty bad. Dr. Wild, Hoyt Neill and I treated the wound. We then placed a full leg splint on him to immobilize his leg. He kept saying something like "Moostang" (Mustang). We then took him to the nearest evacuation hospital which was located near Huy. The pilot's name was Heinrich Brandt. I always wondered if his ankle could be repaired.

Contact From B-24 Pilot

The following email came to the web site from Jim Keeffe of Fall City, Washington.

My dad, Lt. Jim Keeffe, Jr., was a B-24 pilot in the 566th Bomb Sq. 389th Bomb Group and was shot down the 8th of March '44 during a mission to Berlin. He spent five months evading capture in Holland with the Dutch underground, was eventually captured and spent the rest of the war in Stalag Luft III and Stalag VII A where he was liberated.

The day after liberation (April 30, 1945), my dad walked through Moosburg and stopped to chat with some army fellows who said they were waiting for a bridge to be built across the Isar River because the Germans had blown the main one. One of the soldiers gave my dad a camera with which he took some photos back in the POW camp. [Two photos were sent with the e-mail]. I've attached a couple for you. The one titled 'Keeffe with soldiers' shows him with the soldiers who gave him the camera. The other photo shows him and another POW, Andy Anderson, demonstrating their Kriegie stove next to their tent (they built a tent out of barracks doors and blankets because the barracks were so filthy). My dad is still alive at 86 and we're excited about finally getting his story together. Today when I showed him the pictures on your web site he was pretty excited and I could tell he was rethinking those days long ago.

Jim has agreed to share some photos with us for the web site including the ones mentioned above. He intends to publish a book about his father's experiences in Europe especially his five months with the Dutch underground. We will keep you posted on that development.

Web Site News

At the Tyler reunion in October, five 300th men recorded new recollections. The twelve recollections now are up on the web site in several different chapters. In the near future, the audio of these recollections will be up on the site thanks to the generous financial support of Markwayne Mullin, grandson of Kenneth "Cowboy" Morris.

In the middle of 2009, the web site was contacted by Charlie Thompson whose father was killed in the sinking of LST 523. He was a member of the Navy crew. LST 523 made three successful round trips from England to the Normandy coast in early June. In addition to the Navy crew, LST 523 had 40 medics on board. The crew and medics delivered troops and equipment to the Normandy coast and returned to England with injured U.S. troops being treated on the crossing by the medics. It was the fourth trip that proved fatal when LST 523 hit a mine splitting it in two killing or wounding hundreds of men from the 300th and the Navy crew.

In September 2009, Charlie Thompson attended a reunion of the Navy survivors in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Only three Navy men attended, all of them medics. They talked with Charlie about their experiences which he recorded. These recollections are now up on the website in the LST 523 chapter.

Milestones-Don Richter celebrated his 85th birthday and his bride Tootsie turned a young 80. Cecil Milliner wrote, "Still drive my '92 Cadillac Fleetwood. Looks like I may have to get a new used one." Jack Burk turned 85 in October and is driving his new scooter like he was in a NASCAR race. Warren and Suzy Chancellor were two of 100,000 at the football National Championship in Pasedena. They have attended UT games together for more than 60 years. Alfred Stein celebrated his 90th birthday on 28 October. His family placed this ad in the local newspaper.


We invite your comments and contributions.