A Combat Engineer Remembers

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9781553691273: A Combat Engineer Remembers

Norm Southergill draws on his experiences during World War II to write this account of day to day activities and experiences of the men in the 150th Engineer Combat Battalion during training and during their months in combat. The Author makes easy transition from the serious elements of battle to those fleeting moments of relaxation, and then back to the harsh reality of war. This is an account that will interest young and old, male and female, those who can relate to the book on a personal level from their own experience, as well as those for whom it will be a learning experience. Southergill is a natural communicator with a fascinating story to tell.

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About the Author:

Born in Manchester Connecticut, Southergill tried to enlist, with parents consent, at age 16 (1941,but before Pearl Harbor). The Navy wouldn't take him because he stuttered. Voluntarily inducted, in March 1943, he and most of his male classmates from Manchester High School Class of '42 were sent to Fort Devens, Massachusetts, where Norm became a member of a new Combat Engineer Battalion, the 150th. Surviving ten months in combat in Europe, he returned home, married his sweetheart, raised a family, and is now retired and living in northwest Connecticut.

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There we sat up on a hill overlooking, basically, the whole Fourth Armored Division. Why, you never felt safer in your life. Here were all these tanks, and all these mobile guns, and everything, out in the valley in front of us. I was sitting on the hill in a foxhole, writing a letter to Lucy, and my peripheral vision picked up a burst to the right. Then one to the left, and one to the right. I crawled down into my foxhole. And the next shell hit, oh, fifty yards from where I was, and landed right in the foxhole with Frybeck, and killed him, of course.

We then went down and asked our platoon officer, Lieutenant Frazier, if we could get some wine for the boys, and he said go ahead. We ended up with about a dozen bottles per man. That night, Hennault, Fredericks, and myself, in an upper room of a house, with water glasses, proceeded to drink wine. We agreed that if I broke a bottle throwing it over a truck into a manure pile, we would quit drinking. I never broke a bottle. We got real sick. Then we got to the Rhine. And General Patton was going to take his troops across the Rhine, at Oppenheim, and they assigned our battalion, and the 204th Engineer Battalion, to build a steel treadway bridge across the Rhine.

And while we were in Mersch, we put up something like fourteen or fifteen bridges, "A" Company, in a week. We had a platoon out on each bridge practically every night working because it was mountainous and rivers wound through it, and every so often there would be a place where they needed a bridge and the Germans had blown them. So we were out working almost every night putting in bridges.

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Southergill, Norman C./ Tillinghast, Eleanor
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