A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF MY TIME IN SERVICE IN WORLD WAR II
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My name is Robert Bernard Weber and I was born in Chicago on September 20, 1924. I attended Chicago public schools and graduated from Hyde Park High School just six weeks after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Following graduation I worked for the Illinois Central Railroad for about six months and then enrolled in Wilson Junior College in the fall of 1942. At that time upon turning eighteen I was obliged to register with the Selective Service system and the following April I received my draft notice. Although I did not quite finish the semester I received credit for the year and was inducted into the army on April 29, 1943. I was sent to Camp Grant, Illinois and almost immediately to the Infantry Replacement Training Center at Camp Croft, South Carolina, near Spartanburg. After a few weeks I came down with scarlet fever and spent a month in the camp hospital. When I came out I had to start basic training all over again, and did not complete it until November. I was earmarked for assignment to the Army Specialized Training Program and in February, 1944 was sent to Georgia State Teachers College in Statesboro, Georgia, but after just one month the program was closed and I was sent to the 10th Armored Division which was training at Camp Gordon, Georgia at .Augusta. There I was assigned to Company "A" of the 54th Armored Infantry Battalion. When the first sergeant learned that I was proficient in typing he made me assistant to the company clerk at the battalion personnel office.
At the end of August 1944 the 10th Armored Division was sent to Camp Shanks, New York, the port of embarkation for Europe. The division boarded ship on Sept. 12, 1944 and we arrived at Cherbourg, France on Sept. 23, 1944. After a month's training in Normandy we set off on a five-day motor march across France to the front near Metz on the Moselle River, and we went into action on November 1. On Nov. 16th we crossed the Moselle on a pontoon bridge and attacked the Germans and began to take our first casualties. The crossing was made at M.alling. By the end of November we were trying to penetrate the Siegfried Line, the German defensive fortifications just inside the German border. By mid-December we were located at the point where the French, German and Luxembourg borders meet. Then on December 16, 1944 the Germans launched their do-or-die offensive that came to be called the Battle of the Bulge. We were the closest armored division in General Patton’s Third Army to the south of the "bulge" and were sent immediately into Luxembourg to help stem the tide. I was in Combat Command A which was sent northeast of Luxembourg City towards Echternach to hold the southern hinge of the "bulge". I should have mentioned that when we arrived in France I was told by the first sergeant that I was no longer a clerk, but a rifleman. Combat Command B was sent to hold the Belgian town of Bastogne and they were there for a month and took heavy casualties. Three companies in my battalion were sent there, but I was fortunate to not go there. After about ten days our unit was withdrawn and we went back to the vicinity of Metz, and waited for those in Bastogne to rejoin us.
Line,When we resumed the offensive in mid-February we drove on through the Siegfried Line which had been cleared by this time, and took Trier, the first large German city to fall to Gen. Patton's Third Army. From Trier we struck out across the Rhineland and crossed the Rhine River on a pontoon bridge near Worms at the end of March. Shortly after crossing the Rhine we were engaged in a fire-fight where my squad leader was wounded and I took over the squad, becoming a staff sergeant. Heading in a southeast direction were briefly cut off from our supporting forces at Crailsheim, but went on to take Ulm and end up in the Bavarian Alps at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which became our division headquarters at the end of the war in May and until September. While waiting to come home in Reims, France in October,1945 I won a week ‘s furlough in Switzerland. Finally, in December I was sent to Antwerp, Belgium and boarded the Victory ship "Pittston Victory" on Dec. 14th for home. We encountered bad storms on the way, had to stop at the Azores Islands for fresh water, and arrived in New York 17 days later. I was shipped to Camp Grant for discharge on January 3,1946 and entered Lake Forest College three weeks later.
On Nov. 16, 2014 I was given the medal of the French Legion of Honor in Thionville, France and made a chevalier in the Legion of Honor. My American decorations include the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Bronze Star Medal with oak leaf cluster, Good Conduct Medal, American Theater medal, European Theater medal with three campaign stars, Victory Medal and the Occupation of Germany medal.
Forty men in my company were killed and 191 were wounded during the war.