You might remember that I wrote a short story called Finding Calvin (available on amazon!) about my dad. In it I detailed some of the things that I learned about him after his death. I am now experiencing a similar situation and learning about my grandfather, Milton Green.
My grandfather Milton was an amazing man. I had a very special bond to my grandfather and it wasn’t until I was an adult and almost 2 decades after his death that I am truly beginning to understand the overwhelming amount of things I never, and may never, know about him. The things I knew, were that we could always make each other laugh even when the other person didn’t want to. I knew that he loved humor, he loved his family, he worked hard every single day of his life and he was a veteran.
His time in World War II is what I will be touching on mostly in this blog post because that is currently what I’m researching. I am currently sitting in bed, the kids are asleep and I’m listening to Chris Stapleton radio, along with a glass of wine. I have a pile of most the things that have survived since WWII that my grandpa kept. Or, at least the things that have made their way to me. Included in those things;
- A tiny 2 oz. Whitman’s Sampler chocolate box, containing remnants of medals, coins and currency he collected during his time in Europe. They mostly aged and broken medals, some on wrinkled ribbon. The coins are mostly corroded and dingy.
- A War Diary of the 355th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Battalion, 89th Infantry Division, from January 25th 1945 through May 12th, 1945. It’s tattered, stained, the edges are disintegrating a bit. It’s filthy. It’s something you can tell had been probably opened time and time again. You can tell from the well worn book binding. I hold it and take in the scent and it reminds me of any wonderful old book smell. If you romanticize the way old books smell, you know what I’m talking about.
- Things I’ve learned while reading this book include:
- My grandfather arrived on the beaches of Normandy.
- His first camp was a camp called Camp Lucky Strike.
- The first member of his battalion to be killed in action was a man named Pfc George Pentland, a medic attached to my grandfather’s company, M Company. This happened around the 15th of March 1945. He died while helping a wounded man.
- Around March 16th, the entire battalion was assembled in the vicinity of Eller, the heart of Moselle wine country. Everyone in the battalion had at least a sample of the famous wine, while some had more. I’d like to think that Milton R. Green had more.
- They were warned in certain battles by injured men coming back on stretchers to take off their bars & stripes because the enemy was looking for them.
- When they cleared Eltville, they ran in to heavy gunfire. Several Germans were killed and more than 100 were captured. Many of the Germans they captured were between 12 and 17 years old and wept like babies. They really were still babies. Could you imagine sending your 12 year old child away to war to kill people?
- The nicest part of Eltville was a champagne factory. Thousands of bottles of the best champagne were “liberated”. On Easter Sunday, every man in the battalion received a bottle.
- On the second of April, the rain was dumping and they took one of Hitler’s super highways further in to Germany than any allied forces had been before. They were more than 50 miles away from the closest American’s & 10 minutes before their planned attack on the city of Gotha, the city surrendered.
- They took as many as 15,000 German prisoners of war that day
- Things I’ve learned while reading this book include:
- Army of the United States Separation Qualification Record. This details a summary of his military occupations & occupational assignments.
- 3 months – Private – Basic Training Infantry 521 (theres a number after each of these and I’m unsure what they mean)
- 11 months – Corporal – Mortar Gunner 1607
- 19 months – Staff Sargent – Squad Leader 1607
- Squad leader: Served in the European Theatre of War with the 355th Infantry Regiment, 89th Infantry Division. Supervised and directed the operations of an 8 man crew manning an 81 MM mortar. Responsible for the control and coordination of mortar crews and the tactical employment of his mortar. Rated: Skilled.
- When you turn it over, it shares information regarding his civilian life prior to joining the Army.
- 4 years of high school, with a diploma, graduating in 1942 from Davenport Highschool.
- Major courses of study: Agriculture
- Other training or schooling: Welding Combination
- Civilian Occupations
- Farmhand, Wheat; Employed during a 10 year period from 1932 until 1942 by several farmers including Chris Reinbold, Star Route, Davenport Washington. Did general farm work such as hauling wheat, tending livestock, making general repairs to farm and assisting in the raising of wheat, oats, hay and a few vegetables. Drove 2 1/2 ton truck.
- The Eighty Ninth Division 1942 – 1945 – A published infantry journal.
- A hand tied scrap book, that says Snaps and Scraps My Life in the Army. It has photos that were hand placed in to the book, along with a few pages of information that was typed by someone. Not sure if it was by grandpa or if someone else did that part. There is also a receipt, called a U.S. Government Bill of Lading Memorandum. It is a receipt for shipping his personal belongings via Railway Express Agency. It says that it was on Feb 4, 1946, to Davenport Washington. It says it weighed 18 lbs. I wish I knew what was all in there. Small treasures from Europe? Letters to/from family? Photos? I’ll never know. Some of the things typed in the scrap book include:
- Birthdays and occasions I must not forget: Eating oysters on Xmas Eve (12 mid)
- Names and addresses of family and friends
- PFC Barry A Scoca 729 Glenmore Ave Brooklyn New York
- Gifts received while in service: 1
I look forward and learning more that I can share with you!