Weldon Earl Jones
World War 11
Notice From Uncle Sam
I was 20 years old, in December of 1942 a busload from southwest Iowa went to
Camp Dodge, Iowa and were inducted into the Army. We had 10 days to get to our
stuff together and pack up to Camp Dodge. The next day they loaded us on a Troop
Train, the windows were so dirty and smoked up that you could hardly see out of them.
There were guards on the doors so no one could get out. Once in awhile we would see a
license plate-Missouri or Arkansas-so we decided we were headed south. No one would tell
us where we were going. A couple of days of that and we slowed and stopped at Camp
Claiborne, Louisiana-our so called “new home”!! They had a band to greet us and it was
the 103rd Division that we were to be a part of. They took us chow and then to our quarters
The next 2 or 3 weeks we were quarantined to the area. We could go to the PX (Big Deal)
Just before Christmas I got word that my Grandmother had passed away and I couldn't go
home as we were quarantined. Grandma stayed with folks, she and I were close.
For the next few days, if you weren't one of the first 100 to chow, you didn't get much.
They hadn't ordered rations for the outfit and they knew we were coming!! We took a
lot of hikes and I was picked for the Medics. About 100 Medics of the 410th regiment
did training in the swamps around Alexandria, Louisiana. I spent Christmas of 1943
in Ardmore, Oklahoma at a cousin's home on the Gunter side. Then they sent me to
San Antonio, Texas to Medical school at Fort Sam Houston and I took some training
in the Brooks General Hospital. A full blood Sioux from 409th Medics bunked beside
me and we wrestled every chance we got. We were good friends. When one of us would
go to town, the other would go too.
On June 17th 1944 we were shipped out to Camp Shanks, New York, then on to
Troop ships and a convoy to Europe. We were on the General Brooks-a Victory ship-
built in war time. A whole regiment was on one ship. A dirigible went with us the first
day, then they fell back. There were about 20 ships in the convoy and we had to zigzag
to keep the subs off of us. The second day our ship, the flag ship, kept falling back and I
thought we had lost power. Then they sounded the alarm and all the crew manned their
stations. I saw a BIG balloon going up and the big ATA aircraft guns begun to fire at it.
I could see it dodge as the shells went by-no one hit it!! Big deal-couldn't hit a big
balloon. I knew I could have broken it with my old 22!! Well each day a different ship
would fall back for target practice.
A storm came up with 90 mph winds and blew us off course for 2 days. It
knocked a ruder off one ship and they repaired it, but I don't know how. Then we saw a
freighter and another ship that had run together and cut one in two. Our destroyers went
out to look. No one could be on deck-only the crew-as the waves were over the ship.
The ship tossed and turned and went up and down like a teeter totter. It rolled side to side
and I was in the middle of the ship. The ones at the front and the rear sure got tossed
around and there were a lot of them sick. After 14 days out we got to the Straights of
Gibraltar and hit a storm there. The next day (Friday Oct 20 at 1 pm-15 days from New
York) we pulled into Marseilles, France. We couldn't dock as the German Navy had sunk
all of their ships. We unloaded over the side into cargo nets and went on a Landing Craft
to the dock. The French Moroccans (black) were on guard. They looked like they had a
sheet wrapped around them with a rifle and a big knife, bigger than a corn knife, hanging
off one hip. I was glad they were on our side!!
We then took a 10 mile march to where we set up camp. On the way to camp
we heard a plane, then aircraft fire and no one hit the plane. We set up tents with 2
to a tent and dug a trench around the tent to keep the rain out. Some of them didn't
dig the trench and they got wet. We were there 10 days as the shipment of our stuff was
sent to England. When our supplies came we were loaded on to trucks and sent in to
France to start our long assignment of fighting the Germans. The days were starting to
get colder. Our first battle was St Die France, then Alsace and Lorraine-the west side
of the Rhine River. Landau was our next fight. It was a long road into town and the snow
was falling and cold.
The Maginot Line
The Maginot Line was a line of concrete and steel defenses along Frances border
with Germany. Each pillbox was covered 10 inches thick with cement. We had to blow the
doors off with TNT after dark. In the town of Gundershoffen there were lots of mines (885)
mortars, machine guns and Mark IV tanks on high ground.
On Friday Dec 15th the first soldier of the 103rd Division crossed into
Germany. We were in the Le Diebolt Mountains for 30 days of combat from St Die
France to Barenthal, Germany. It was a long way up to the top of the mountain.
It was steep like a cliff and the Germans rolled hand grenades down the hills. The
fight went on all night with a lot of wounded and dead. Then the word came that we
were pulling out under the cover of a smokescreen. While the Engineers blew the
pillboxes that had been taken, the chips from the cement pillboxes landed all over us.
This gave us an opening in the line. We were all loaded into a truck and taken into a
town. They dropped us off at a house and we had a place to sleep-not a wet foxhole!!
In the 103rd division zone, the Siegfried Line was an irregular chain of earthworks
and fixed cement fortifications. All of this was cleverly camouflaged. In 24 hours the
103rd division fought against two of the strongest lines the Germans ever had-The
Maginot and the Siegfried in the Vosges Mountains. They were camouflaged to look like
a rock or a house or anything that was normal to the area. The 5 inch steel doors were
blown off by TNT and flame-throwers were used and the Satchel charges to bring the
Our next battle was the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes Forest. We were
pulled out to a holding operation. German Von Runstedt planned on splitting our forces,
some of his troops did get through and used GI uniforms, guns and dog tags taken from
our dead. They drove our jeeps and spoke our slang. But it was very dangerous not to
know our Army password. They were asked-What is a Baby Ruth?- What are the
St Louis Cardinals?-and What state is San Antonio in?
The Winter Line
If you would look at the world Globe our location in Germany would be like
southern Minnesota USA. Cold and lots of snow!!
On Dec 24th the 410 and 411 infantry regiments joined up with the 6th
Armored Division. We dug foxholes that were some distant apart. We spent
Christmas and New Year's Eve in a foxhole. Christmas packages came all at
once as we were on the move to much.
Out in front of us was barbed wire and mines, then word came down to get ready
for a “Heinie” attack and they issued gas masks. Shells were exploding to the left and
then finally day break came and we had a chance for some chow back at the kitchen
which was about 1000 yards back. The Germans attacked the left and right flank but
they did not shoot at us. There was bad weather and snow storms and that gave us a
lot of problems. We were issued white helmets and outer clothing. General Charles
Haffner Jr. on the 8th of January 1945 said farewell to the 103rd because of ill health.
He had been with us from the beginning of our training. On the 11th of January 1945
we had a new General Anthony C. McAuliffe from the Bastogne Victory. He was liked
by all and was promoted to Major General on January 15th. It was biting cold-then sudden
thaw-then a cold wave.
On January 19th 1945 the 410th Infantry stormed the village of Sessenheim,
January 26th 1945, SS Mountain troops took the town of Schillersdorf the next day.
We came back in with a tank and took the town over, loosing several and killing some of
the SS. The tank was blown up by a Bazooka shell and one tanker got out. I gave him first
aid. Then I went to a building where a GI had fallen and gave him first aid. A German
stuck his gun out a basement window to shoot me. At that time a GI saw the gun sticking
out the window and shot the German. I went around the building to get back with my
outfit and a machine gun opened up on me. I was so fast that he was shooting behind me!!
We got 14 Germans out of that basement. We took the town over that day. The SS broke
through our lines shooting into fox holes as they ran by at night. We had two regiments
on the line and one regiment rotating. My outfit was moved to Obermodern.
There we stayed at house #16 with a man and his wife and two girls. The people
of House #16 were real nice to us. They put 3 of us GI's in one room that had 2 beds
We went to chow and when we came back our packs were hung up and our beds
made and the wood floor was scrubbed. Mom sent me some cocoa with sugar and
I told one of the girls if they would make us some cocoa they could have a cup too.
They were so happy. They had not had cocoa for years. We ate dinner with them and
had meat each day-even rabbit one time. The house was built on the edge of the street and
the barn was built on to the house. The lot for the cows was in the back. Each morning
the manure was pitched out by the sidewalk and that was their fertilizer. Each house had a
tract of land which was an acre or so in the country. This man was a Barber and he had big
300 gallon wine barrels in the basement. Each year they added a new barrel. We always
had wine on the table instead of water, because as they said “water was to wash your feet in”.
We could go down and sample any one of the barrels that we wanted and come back up
with the one we liked. The man shaved without any soap, so I gave him some that
I had. He would give us a shave for some soap and cigarettes. I always wanted to send
them some garden seed but I didn't remember their name-just that it was house #16 and
they hated to see us leave.
February 18th 1945 was our 100th day in combat. We went on a raiding party.
Co K 410th Infantry Staff Sergeant Chester L. Bailey of Hico, Texas “My Buddy”
was in command. In daylight one GI sent a rifle grenade into a German foxhole and
we went into a house and got prisoners. On the way back we were getting shot at by
machine guns, Chester, two other riflemen and I drifted off from the main group.
Chester stepped on a shoe mine, blew his foot off and one GI got shot in the forehead.
Another took several bullets in the body. I got Chester and the one that was shot in the
forehead patched up and got them to crawl up to a low place. I tried to pull the other GI
that got shot in the body out but couldn't in the snow. I had stuck my gloves in my front
jacket pocket but had lost them while taking care of the wounded. I had to give up trying
to pull my comrade out and crawl up to low ground by myself without any gloves. I
got to where I could stand up and I ran about a mile to our camp. My hands were frozen
stiff when I got there. They hurt so bad when I got them thawed out. Some of the
Co K Riflemen went back after dark but couldn't find the dead comrade. I didn't go to
the hospital as I was afraid I would lose my Company. We were on holding so my buddies
in my Company put my shoes on and tied them for me for about 10 days. I was lucky that
I got inside in about 25 minutes or I would have lost my fingers. After 25 minutes with no
circulation you don't have much of a chance of saving them. I received the Bronze Star
because I was in the mine field 4 times to bring out our GI's. In February 1945 Oscar
Olson from Minneapolis, MN and I were chosen to go on a break to Paris, France for 4
days. We had a big time, saw a lot of sights, including the Eiffel Tower.
On March 1945 in the early morning hours it was the day of the offensive
from the Moder River line. Supplies and reinforcements were trucked in.
Before daylight the 141st-242 Field Artillery Assault Guns and 761st Tanks all laid in
their shells at the same time. The 761st Tank boys were all black with a white
Commander. They went down close to the town of Niefern and shot smoke shells into
the town. I followed a tank track until it got a track blown off by a tank mine. Then I
had to go around it in the mine field and walked into a building before I knew it. The
buildings were all hit by shells. By day light the bridge into town was flat. We found some
Germans in a basement and got them out and lined them up. One had a pistol in
the back of his coat collar and pulled it out and our GI's shot all of them but one. That
one ran out into the mine field and got a foot blown off. He then yelled and held up a
watch. One of the dumb GI's ran out to get it and got his foot blown off. So 3
riflemen and I took a liter and went out to get the GI. We were lucky we all made it out.
That made 4 times I was in that mine field and didn't get a scratch. Some one
must have been looking after me and the others.
At the front we had heavy fighting as we kept going forward and taking prisoners.
The Germans were starting to give up. About 14 of them came out of a pillbox which was
well camouflaged, waving white flags. The Germans were cut off from their supplies
They took to horse drawn vehicles which were caught by tanks or aircraft.
P.W.-Enclosure 2700 prisoners. Women and small children join the line of
prisoners. Ten German youths were caught in the division's net. A small 14 year old
said, “American's good fellows, our leaders told us you would shoot us if captured, but you
have not, Americans good boys.” They ranged from 10 to 14 years old.
We can see land all around us. It's flat! This is the first time we have been
able to see the horizon at a distance. This is the Rhineland. It's funny because our outfit was
trained in the Louisiana swamps and Texas prairies and then they send us into the Mountains
to fight. They call us a “Crack Mountain Division”!!
Friday the 13th of April we heard that President Roosevelt was dead.
On April 25th the 103rd division reached the Danube River, A German Major
surrendered to the 614th Tank destroyer battalion. They reported a chemical dump
containing 1200 to 2500 poison gas bombs at Strauss. They told us not to shell the
place as gas would harm civilians and troops. This was true.
The 410th infantry drove 40 miles to the foot hills of the Bavarian Alps. At this
time we were moving forward so fast that the foot soldiers couldn't keep up, so we rode on
anything that we could get on.
The German civilians were forced by our guards to pick up the bodies and give them a
decent burial. They said that they had not known such things existed and they had lived in
that town of 30,000 most of their lives. Some were still alive but were starving. We couldn't
give them anything. Our doctors prescribed a diet and brought what food they could get
in the area. They found milk, bread and meat.
The 410th infantry CP and two jeep loads of GI's took German Brass from the
town of Prem. The last day of April the Division captured Innsbruck, Austria to form a
link with the 5th Army at Brenner Pass at Italy and Austria.
The War Was Over in Germany
The surrender took place in a red carpeted room at the Land Rathaus in Innsbruck
with representatives from the US, France and Germany. The 410th Band stood at attention.
The terms read that at 18:00 May 5th 1945 all firing would cease. Peace officially came
on May 9th 1945 We were in Innsbruck for some 2 or 3 weeks guarding the roads and town.
Then came inspections and parades. Marlene Dietrich came to town and put on
a show for us. She was the gal with the legs-and the “cactus patch” on her garter.
We were in Innsbruck most of May and I had a room of my own. It was made of
Knotty Pine-even the table and walls. Then they moved us into Switzerland for a week
and we were graded on points. Some of us went to fight the Japanese but most of my
company was assigned to the 5th Division. We were lucky because we got to go to the
States for 30 days leave and then 90 days training before going to fight the Japanese.
They sent us by way of Camp Lucky Strike, France which is somewhere North of Paris.
We rode a train in France that would either hold 8 horses or 40 men that took us to
Le Harve France on the shore of western France.
The days were long. The sun came up around 3 am and it didn't get dark until 10 or 11 pm.
We had 10 man tents already set up. Someone found an 8 artillery dud and a soldier came along
and kicked it and it went off. It killed him and wounded several more. Then it was time to
depart to the coast and board the ship, the “Sea Porpoise” for home. We could see the shores of England from the shore of Le Harve, France. It took us 5 or 6 days to get to the New York Harbor and there was the statue of the old lady still standing, just as when we left. We came into the Hudson Bay and we were in freshwater. Someone said, “Fresh Water-we can take a good shower!” But we didn't, as we wanted to get our feet on US soil. Some of the small boys wanting souvenirs swam out to the ship. Someone threw out a life preserver and got a talking over that!!! A small shop was set up for a band and they welcomed us into the harbor. Then they threw out the anchor and let us set until morning came and we began unloading to Camp Shank, NY. They served us a big steak and we could only eat half of it because we were not used to that kind of food. We had been living on Army Rations.
In a day or two, we began to get our trains and buses toward home. The ones from SW
Iowa went to the Jefferson Barracks in St Louis, Mo and on to Maryville, Mo. We all had our
share of drinks. Someone called and had a bunch of cars and people to meet us in Maryville.
In August of 1945 the Air Force dropped the 2 A Bombs on the Japanese.
It took a lot of lives, but it saved a lot of GI's.
|THE WAR WAS OVER!!|
Uncle Weldon wrote of his life and the war several years before his death.
I have submitted condensed parts about the war from his transcript.
In loving Memory of my Uncle Weldon.
Joyce Whitehead Orr