Thursday, August 12, 1999
Father- Harley Sims
Mother Ruth (Mercer) Sims
I, George Nathan Sims, was born on January 30, 1921 to William Harley Sims and Ruth Mercer Sims. They were farming on what is now Blanchard Road, Howard, Ohio when I was born. The house I was born in is still standing as of this date, July 20, 1999. At that time, the road was, “mud and deep ruts”, as a man told me who lived in the house near the railroad crossing which is now Kokosing Gap Trail. My father came to this home to get them to call a doctor as I was about to be delivered. I believe it was Doctor Harmer from Danville that they called.
When I was a little over a year old, we moved to Howard. Dad’s brother, Walter, took over the farming on a share agreement.
This picture was taken at the farm house.
I remember starting school at Howard. My teacher was Catherine Frick.
I still have some of my grade cards. My childhood was playing games,
fishing, and exploring the countryside. My friends were Paul Hull,
Bob Boling, Tony Boling, Chick DeWitt, Bob and Donald Drake, Clarence Berry
and other town kids. Got in trouble spreading toilet paper all over
I graduated at 18 years old in 1939 with the last class that graduated from the old Howard High School building. During the high school years I worked on a farm for Royal Mills and for John Estabrook on a threshing machine and a corn shredder. I worked at Kenyon’s Pierce Hall kitchen for the 39-40 school year.
I married Dorothy Helen Stanley who lived up the street from me and with whom I had gone to school, in the spring of 1940 and we went to farming on Dad’s farm.
I went to work for Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co. in Mt. Vernon in 1940 and continued farming, (unenthusiastically), until I was drafted in to the Army in February 13, 1943 at 22 years old. I served from 2-13-43 to 11-2-1945.
The picture below is a group departing Mount Vernon for WAR! I am the
one with the white X on my hat.
Our daughter, Joan was 6 weeks old when I left for Fort Hayes in Columbus,
Ohio. After several days of shots, issuance of clothing, and instructions,
I was put on a troop train consisting of Pullman cars. No one knew
where we were heading. When we arrived in Cincinnati, we all thought, “South!”
But, we headed West and at St. Louis, we went west again. When we
arrived in Denver, we all thought, “California”, but we went Northwest.
We ended up at Ft. Lewis, Washington. We may have been on this train
for a week. It was snowing in Denver.
From this Northwest area, we saw the effects of the “Dustbowl”. Fences and farms were buried in piles of dust. At Ft. Lewis, I was assigned to Battery A, 157th Field Artillery, 44th Infantry Division.
February is the rainy season in Washington. We saw periods of steady light rain of 14 continuous days time. I had two furloughs before January 1944. Around the 4th of July and at Christmas time, I went home to my family.
Dorthy (Stanley) Sims
Part of the time, Dorothy stayed in Olympia or Tacoma. My Mother
took care of Joan back in Ohio. Dorothy worked at several dry cleaning
plants. She found enough unused bus tickets in army pants to enable
me to ride the buses from base to town for free. After the Christmas
furlough was over, the Divisions moved to Louisiana for maneuvers.
We were there until late spring and then moved to Camp Philips at Salina,
Kansas. Dorothy and Joan came out there and I remember Joan toddling down
the street and holding her arms up to me. I had a two-week furlough
at Camp Phillips.
When we left there in August, I saw Dorothy holding Joan in her arms standing by the railroad tracks. On our way to Boston, Mass., we stopped for about an hour in Mansfield, OH, which is only 40 minutes from home.
We left Boston in the Liberty ship “General Gordon” on Labor Day, September 1, 1944. Fifteen days later we landed at Cherbourg, France. The ocean crossing in a very large convoy was rather quiet. My bunk was at the water line just forward of the middle of the ship. We had certain times that we could be on deck. The only time I got seasick was while I was on latrine duty in the bow of the ship. The urinal troughs were along the side of the ship. The water would run forward and back as the ship rocked. I went in the pot and puked into a gallon can at the same time. We had two meals a day – I only missed two meals while I was sick. The ships in the convoy moved in a zigzag pattern to avoid torpedoes from German Submarines. We had airplane cover near shore but only within the range the planes could fly.
Cherbourg France harbor was a mess. Many ships had been sunk and the bombers had destroyed most of the buildings on shore. Our ship anchored offshore and we went in on barges pushed by tugs. A very large train station and tracks had been repaired enough to get some trains out. We rode to the outskirts of the city where we pitched our tents in an apple orchard. While there, we received our howitzers and trucks and other equipment we needed to go into combat. We had to clean our equipment to get the Cosmoline, (a sticky, heavy, grease), off the howitzer. We spent a lot of our free time playing volleyball.
We left there in early October in a convoy. On one downhill stretch of highway, one of our service battery, full track vehicles with equipment trailer behind, threw the right hand track and went over a hill on the right side of the road. About 14 men were in the canvas cab. When the vehicle landed upside down, it killed nine people. I did not know any of them personally. One night we stayed at the “LeMans” racetrack. We went through the outskirts of Paris to Nancy, France where we would enter combat.
At a small village where you could hear gunfire at the front-line, the French villagers were along the road welcoming the U.S. Army. A young couple was holding a very young baby and we stopped there because the traffic was stopped. The couple kept holding up the baby and saying something in French. They wanted me to hold the baby. I took the baby in my arms and kissed it and gave it back to the Mother. Big cheer from the people!
Another time on the trip, we were stopped and a young man invited four of us into his home. They gave us a very thick coffee in demitasse cups. Good! Several times on the frequent stops, we purchased black bread. We would poke our arms through the round rolls and carry it that way. Another time, during a stop, we could see ahead for a mile. The road was solid soldiers, vehicles, and traffic. Four of us jumped off our tractor and went into a bar to get some French beer. When we returned, our outfit had moved on. A captain in a jeep stopped and asked if we were in trouble. When we told him what had happened, he said we were A.W.O.L.. and would be court-martialed. He put us in his jeep and caught up with our outfit. We never heard anything about this!
We ate mostly C Rations on this trip. We would make a hole in top of the tin can and wire it to an exhaust manifold. Those C Rations made a fine explosion if the hole was not made in the top!
We went into battle near Nancy, France on October 17,1944 at Marysville. We relieved the 63rd Division. We fired our first shells from this position. I made a partial list of the towns near our gun position, which I will write on a separate page, because at this time I cannot recall at which place the things I will write about happened.
Combat from: Nancy, France, To: Imst, Austria:
At Nancy, we were part of the 7th Army commanded by General Patch. From Nancy, we pushed through the Vosage Mountains towards the Rhine at Strousburg. Our 44th Infantry were the first American soldiers on the Rhine River. Shortly we were sent to the Northeast towards the Saar area. I think the Free French army to the South of us took over our area.
On November 11th, the Germans dropped about 140 six-inch shells on our four gun positions. Our Battery was lucky. Only one guy had a scratch on the back of his hand. There were several shells that were duds and did not explode. One man was killed in an anti-aircraft battery that was connected to us. We had one man on a single mount 50-caliber machine gun near the guy that got killed. He was scared and came running to our gun. When he got near us, a German shell was whistling in and we all shouted “Hit the ditch Lesiko!”. He did, and went into about two foot of mud. Although were all scared, we had a good laugh over this. Another shell hit about fifty yards away and threw a chunk of mud into the air. It was the size of two fists. It lit on Bratton’s helmet. We were sure he had been hit. Another laugh! On another gun, Loudermilk was laying in his pup tent writing a letter with a candle ahead of him. Everyone was calling for him to get into a hole. A piece of shrapnel came through the side of the tent and he was quick, quick, into his hole. Two other guys had dug a hole and put a pup tent over it. They were in the tent when a shell came down the side of the hole digging a six-inch groove. It was a dud and did not explode. They did not think it was funny. During this shelling my gun crew was in a trench between the front of our gun and the parapet wall. Our gun was in a pit, dug on a side hill. The entry to this gun pit was in the right side rear. A German shell exploded about twenty yards behind us just as I leaned back. A chunk of shrapnel crossed in front of my face and embedded about eight inches into the dirt wall. This piece of steel was about the size of my thumb. The man in front of me in this trench was crying for the twenty minutes the shelling lasted. The reason the Germans knew our position was this: Our Kitchen truck was behind us over a hill in the valley. After we ate our meals there, we would wash our aluminum mess kit lids, knife, forks and spoons and then swing them beside us as we returned to our gun positions. The German observers could see us as we crossed over the hill!
On Thanksgiving, the Germans dropped several rounds on us. Early morning we were shooting towards the front lines and about 10 A.M. we got orders to shoot to the rear. The Germans had got into our rear area. All this shooting and shifting around resulted in no turkey that day. We got it later. The mud was above our knees in this position. Before dark, the German in the rear were killed or captured and we had to turn our guns around again. Really, the mud was the worst thing to cope with.
We crossed the Saar River at Wittring, France during the night. We put our gun in position by digging pits to put our recoil spades in. About that time the Germans started a strong attack against our 7th Army. This attack was made to draw people from the Ardennes where the big German push came the next day. Before daylight, we were ordered back across the Saar. We went into position on the Northwest side of the village of Wittring France. It was dark when we started to dig a hole to put our gun in. Twenty foot wide and six foot deep! It was Christmas Eve and snowing so hard you could see only about thirty feet away. There were around 18 of us digging. By daylight we were dug in and covered over with a camouflage net. We did not see Santa Claus that night!
We stayed here until Feb. 15. The Germans shelled the area several times but we never got any shells in our position. We pitched a pyramidal tent about forty yards away from our gun. We dug out individual foxholes against the outside of the wall. When we heard a shell coming in, you raised the edge of the tent and rolled into your hole. We scouted around and found boards to get our beds off the ground. A layer of straw over the boards made it a little softer. (There was abandoned material left by retreating German troops that we had a use for.) I had a mummy shaped sleeping bag. I had one U.S. Army blanket and two German Army blankets, which I wrapped around the inside of the bedroll and a waterproof outer cover over all of it. I wore a complete set of long johns, two wool army shirts, two pair of wool army pants and socks, an Eisenhower jacket and an army overcoat plus special insulated boots. I also wore a wool head cover with only my face exposed along with a helmet. On my hands I wore leather, woodchopper, mittens with wool inserts that Dorothy, Dad and Mom sent me. They sent me chocolate fudge in a tin can with sealing wax sealing the lid on. Of 16 cans they sent, I got all but 2 cans. Snow covered the ground all the time and below zero most of the time.
A slit trench for a toilet made for quick movement. The gunpowder for the cannon was about the size of macaroni. When you threw one or two pieces on a small fire it flared up in a quick hot fire. A small handful of gunpowder and a very small fire heated up water in my helmet to wash and shave. My pup tent buddy, Donald Rose and I, would stand two or three-hour shifts on the gun at night depending on how cold it was. We would prepare the shells and powder in daytime. A few radar fuses in the shells and powder in different charges in different piles. There were seven different sizes of powder in each can, 27 pounds in all. They were tied together with silk ribbon. We would shoot
interdiction fire at night. That is individual shells at different times and places. Such as crossroads to catch supply trucks or troops moving.
The man on the gun sight wore throat and ear mikes to receive the information from fire direction. He moved the gun barrel to the settings given to him. The other man carried up the shell and placed it into the breech. The #1 man picked up the ramming rod and placed against the base of the shell. Both men rammed it into the start of the rifling. The #2 man picked up the proper powder charge and placed it in the breech behind the shell. #1 man closes the breech, checks his sight settings and informs fire direction, “#2 gun, ready to fire!”. Fire Direction says, “Fire when ready”. #1 man pulls the lanyard which sends the shell on the way. #1 man opens the breech as the barrel returns from recoil. He removes the primer block from the breech block and discards the used primer and then places a new one and screws the block into the breech.
When we had the ear mikes on they were always alive from fire direction. When we were not on “Fire Missions” we could hear the radio playing music from Armed Forces Radio. They played all the popular music. My favorite was “Star Dust.”
One very cold night, after ramming the shell - when I stepped back to get the powder, there was a loud thud nearby. It was pitch black because we could have no lights, which would show our position to the enemy. We felt around on the ground – the shell had fallen out of the gun!! Ice on the shell!
Across the Saar River, there was an underground factory that made war material using slave labor. There were at least two large barracks for the slave laborers. These people were from several countries. We did some fishing in the Saar River. We used hand grenades and quarter pound blocks of TNT.
In back of our gun position there was a large barn. Inside the barn, there were about a hundred chickens. Boiled chicken sure is tasty! Within a weeks time, our battery Captain had a meeting with us. He stated that when anyone was caught stealing these chickens, they would be court-martialed This was a challenge! Another week went by and – all the chickens were gone!
We shot many rounds from this position. We dug trenches behind the recoil plates of our gun and put logs behind them. When the recoil pushed the muzzle of the gun inside our pit we got the muzzle blast when we shot. My ear drum was ruptured. Howard Hobbs bled from his nose and ears. We had dug the floor of our pit about one foot deeper than normal and put down a foot of gravel to get out of the mud. When the gun was fired, the muzzle blast would kick up the water and mud six foot high. When we pulled out of this position the mud was knee deep!
We left this position on Feb. 19 and moved Northeast, to the “Saar Pocket” where the U.S. Army had surrounded the Saar industrial area. We were through Saargamines and Saarbrucken. From there to the West Bank of the Rine River. Worms, Germany is on the East Bank. Four of us on a scouting trip ‘liberated’ a small brewery
A jeep load of ten gallon kegs of beer. Brown and good! We were on the South side of the Third Army, 10th Armored Division, -- General Patton. Our Howitzer got orders to fire out ahead of Patton’s tanks. We had help from the other three guns. They carried the shells and powder to us. Also, the ordnance supply trucks brought more ammunition. With our range of thirteen miles, we could not fire ahead of the advancing tanks. About two P.M., we quit firing after firing around 300 shells. The liberated beer was enjoyed by all, especially by the officers watching us fire.
The barrel of the gun got hot enough that we had to swab it out with wet rags between shots. The next day, just to the North of us, we could see a steady parade of “C 130” airplanes landing and taking off on the German side of the Rine. They were hauling in gasoline for the tanks. Just gas supplies.
While in this position I noticed that the 432 Field Artillery was in position back of us. I knew that Dwight Hull and Ralph Corcoran from Howard Ohio (My hometown) were in this outfit. They had eight inch Howitzers. I found them and had a good visit. They knew of a soft drink factory near by. Several of the battery A 157th went to this factory. One liter bottles of orange drink were liberated. A warehouse of sugar was there also.
The allied armies were advancing faster than the supply trucks could get to us. The movement of combat troops, tanks, artillery, support vehicles, and anti-aircraft, kept the roads full. When a vehicle broke down, it was shoved off the road and left. This became much worse after crossing the Rine.
We crossed the Rine on a pontoon bridge at Worms, Germany. We moved to a position in a graveyard in Northern Manhiem. We moved from there Eastward. From a position near Wurzburg, we sent a truck into that city and loaded the truck with champagne. From there we moved south. Sometimes we set up positions twice a day.
The road we were on went through a walled town. There was no road around this town. A three road intersection went through a gate in the wall. It was only wide enough to let one vehicle through. At the intersection there was a little French car with four German soldiers inside. The U.S. tanks had run over this car and mashed it into the roadbed. The soldiers were still in the car and all the traffic was running over it.
There were pockets of resistance that we fired on. One forest we came across was made up of pine trees from 15 to 20” inches across. There wasn't anything over waist high still standing. Artillery had cut it down to this size. As we passed through this area there were dead German soldiers lying on stretchers. One of them had been shot in the leg. It was bandaged. Someone had shot him in the temple. There were a large number of German and American soldiers dead in the debris. Since crossing the Rine and to the end of the war, the dead soldiers both German and American were everywhere. Normally 155 MM artillery were not positioned within three miles from the front lines. The mortar range is about three miles. On a few occasions we were under mortar fire but no injuries. The sides of the road were jammed with surrendered German soldiers, (some still carrying their rifles), displaced people and homeless people. A very pitiful sight. At times we were not in contact with any other army units except one company of anti-aircraft. We went through Stuttgart then on to Ulm, Germany. All that was left standing in this city was the cathedral. One bomb had come through the roof but did not explode. The stench was awful – dead people and animals buried in the ruins. All the cities and big towns were this way. From Stuttgart on South we were in direct support of the 10th armored battalion. The 324th infantry battalion of the 44th Division were riding on these tanks. When the tanks drove into a town or village, the house or building that did not have a white flag on it was fired on by a tank with white phosphorus shells, which set the house on fire. Anyone that came out of the house was machine gunned down including children. We were the next one in town. There were only about 100 men in our convoy and we were never sure of the reception we would get.
Near the Austrian border, we pulled off the road to wait for traffic to clear. Our Captain ordered us to stay on the alert and be prepared for anything as there were no other army units in contact. We watched the refugees on the road for awhile when two men decided to hunt for souvenirs. They walked into the woods where they saw three German S.S. officers sneaking through the trees. Lieber knew how to speak German. He ordered them to surrender and lay down at gunpoint. He ordered the Germans to lay down their pistols and crawl away. At that time, Jerry and Lieber were fired on by three other S.S. they had not seen. Jerry Bernhardt was killed instantly by a shot in the head. Red Leiber was shot along the side of his head. The bullet went through his ear. He escaped by running away. Jerry was the only man in our gun crew that we lost in the war.
As we approached the Austrian Alps, we anticipated the Germans had built extensive fortifications in the mountains and that we were in for a long bitter fight. Actually, there were only pockets of a few S.S. men. They blasted the highway off the mountainside at Fern Pass. We had to sit three or four days for the army engineers to re-build the road. At Ruette, Austria, we fired over a mountain range of the Alps into a column of the German 19th Army. We killed many people and horses. I do not think this was necessary, but it was war. Our last position was at Karres, Austria on 5-5-45. The war ended for us at 6:45 PM May 5, 1945. This was East of Imst. Some of our 44th infantry men met U.S. Army men at the Italian border.
About two days later, we were moved to Neuners Gasthuus in East Imst. While there, I went on a two week pass to Lyons, France. Stayed and ate at a hotel called “Place Carnot”. On Memorial Day, we had a service for Jerry Behrnhardt.
We left Imst, Austria in early June. The morning we left, Howard Hobbs asked me if I would like a drink of good wine. Of course I said yes. He led me to the wine cellar of the Neuner Gasthaus where we were staying. I said “Hobbs, we have drunk all the decent wine in this cellar.” Hobbs said “Watch me!” He walked to the end of the room that had shelving built along the entire room. He pulled out one end of the shelving and there was another wine cellar there. In a basket there was a twenty gallon glass bottle of the best red wine I had ever tasted. Hobbs and I had to be carried out and loaded into our tractor. We did not share our secret with anyone. I hope that wine cellar is still there. We rode in trucks through Southern Germany. The road were lined with Cherry trees. Big black Bing cherries. When the truck stopped, we tore entire limbs off the trees and threw them into the truck to eat while moving.
Somewhere beyond Hiedelberg, we were placed on French trains and got off at Camp Pittsburgh near Reims, France. I went to Reims on pass. I was in Riem cathedral. From there to LeHarve and across the channel by boat to England. And then we went on an English train. At a train stop, the Red Cross girls asked if I wanted cream in my cup. At the first swallow I found out it was tea! We went to Tidworth barracks. I went on a one week pass to Bourmethe Beach. We left there about the 3rd of July and went to Glasgow, Scotland where we boarded the ship, Queen Elizabeth.
Before the ship left, it was announced on the intercom that Sergeant Harry Truman was to report to the bridge. He is a nephew of President Harry Truman. He was with us in Lyon. One day he and Short were standing on a corner to cross the street. A French mini car came around the corner, hit Harry and put him up on the hood. He was not hurt. Harry left the ship and we never knew how he got home!
We left Glasgow on July 5th, 1945. Five days later we were in New York. We docked at the 49th Street Pier. Coming into the harbor, we saw the Statue of Liberty. We were the first entire division to come back from Europe. The harbor was full of small boats full of people. Fire boats squirting water. People standing everywhere it was possible. On a small cruiser next to our ship, was a wife of a soldier aboard our ship. She and all the people were hollering “Jump honey, jump!”. The soldier kept replying that he would see her shortly!
Marlene Dietrich was on the pier greeting us. We had last seen here at a U.S.O. show in Europe near the front lines. After docking we were transported to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. Very shortly we were put on a Pennsylvania train to Fort Harrison,
In Indianapolis and passed through Columbus, Ohio on the way. Again, an hour from home!
On this trip on the troop train, all the way from New York, at every stop, the crowd of people would always ask us, “What do you want?” Our answer was “Beer!” We had more than we could drink. The high fences were no problem as the bottles were thrown over the fence. We caught them!!
I was sent home on a 30-day leave about July 12th. Then I was ordered to Camp Chaffee, Arkansas. When I arrived there we were equipped to go on the beach in the invasion of Japan. About 10 days after I arrived, I was given another 30-day leave. During this time the Atomic Bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Japan surrendered.
After I returned to Camp Chaffee, we could get 3-day leave. I would ask for two 3 day leaves, one after the other. The army said I could not go over 100 miles from Camp. I came home anyway on these 3-day leaves. When I informed the First Sergeant my home was within 100 miles, he would smile and say, “O.K!”
I came home the last time on a 30-day leave about Oct. 10th. I went to the P.P.G. Company and went to work.
The last of October I was called back to Camp Chaffee and was discharged from the Army with an Honorable Discharge on November 2, 1945.
Gun positions from Oct 17, 1944 to May 7, 1945
Marysville France Oct 17
Croixmare Oct 18
Marianviller Nov 11
Laneneaunx Nov 11
Embermemil Nov 13
Arivcourt Nov 15
Reichcourt Nov 16
Heminine Nov 17
Gravel Pit Nov 18
East of Sarre Bourge Berling Nov 19
Plahisweisler Nov 20
Bust Nov 28
Drulingen Nov 29
Adamswieler Dec 3
Butten Dec 6
N. Butten Dec 7
Enchenburg Dec 12
Saareinsming Dec 22
Wittring Dec 24
Weisveiller Germany Feb 19
Obrigakback Mar 18
Seyweiler Mar 19
Sweibrucken Mar 20
Bobbenheim Mar 23
Roxhiem Mar 24
Mannheim Mar 25
Stradheim Mar 26
Bobbenhausen Mar 28
Asehaffenburg Apr 1
Somborn Apr 5
Kassel, Geinhausem Apr 5
Lived in house arm reserve Apr 8
Wattsweicller Apr 17
Kirkenkirchen Apr 19
Eherhardisweiller Apr 19
Gopping Apr 20
South of Stuttgart Apr 21
15 Ger. Captured in front of us
Gruebingen Apr 22
Blue Danube Apr 23
Vohringen Apr 24
20 Mile trip from Ulm
Jerry Behrenodt killed
A mountain resort Apr 28
Revtte Austria Apr 30
Stayed in house Apr 30
Fern Pass road gone Apr 30
Lermoose May 1 3 day stay
Unknown May 4
Karres Austria May 5
War ends 6 PM May 5
Eastimst Austria May 7
Neuners Casthof May 7
On the trip to Europe, we had two meals per day. The meals were served cafeteria style. The rule was, take all you want! But eat it all! The tables were steel, five inches deep and thirty inches wide and ten feet long. As the ship rocked the food trays would slide back and forth, also spilled food, also vomit from seasick soldiers, which made more peoples sick.
In Cherburg harbor there were hundreds of army “Ducks” (4 wheeled boat
that runs on the highway and has a propeller on the back), carrying supplies
from ships to shore. Ships could not get to the docks because of
One thing about combat: we could have fire to cook with, and heat water. On the Louisiana maneuvers we were not allowed to make fires and no lights of any kind at night. Many nights we laid twenty foot square tarps on the ground. Our bed rolls in the center. Pulled up the bottom to our chins and folded the top over us. On the very many cold and rainy nights we were snug and dry. On occasion the water in our canteens was frozen solid. Actually, combat was more comfortable than maneuvers outside of enemy soldiers trying to kill us.
“The Rest and Recreation Pass in Lyons, France”
We all had cartons of cigarettes, chocolate bars, clothing, blankets, chewing gum and other articles we could sell on the black market or barter for what we wanted. I sold three cartons of cigarettes for sixty dollars. As we were scheduled for one week, we had little to sell the second week. When we arrived in Lyons our truck had a broken axle. When we arrived at the motor pool to leave, the truck had not been repaired. We were sent back to the hotel for another week. We were issued rations for the extra week. Which were which were quickly sold. For the entire two weeks, I never drank any water.
At full strength, when the 44th Division entered combat Oct. 24, 1944, there were 15,000 men in the Division which consisted of three infantry regiments: The 71st, 324th, and 114th, three artillery battalions equipped with thirty six 105 mm cannon: The 220th, 217th, 156th, and one battalion equipped with twelve 155 mm cannon - the 157th battalion.
The 44th Division was in combat 230 days with 6,111 battle casualties, (about 1200 actually killed in action), 7,637 non-battle casualties, (flu, injuries, accidents), The total was 13,748, which makes a turnover rate of 97.6%.
In World War Two, the USA armies replaced casualties with replacements. On occasion, some outfits were pulled out of combat for rest and personnel replacement.
During the last few days of the war, the German rocket scientist, Werner Van Braun surrendered to the United States Army in our area which was Austria. He became the so called “Father” of the United States space program and U.S. rocket programs.. Wayne Wantland from Howard, Ohio, was a jeep driver for one of the officers taking these prisoners. I've heard that Van Braun was a part of a group of 4 men that walked to U.S. personnel and said, “We want to surrender”!
Here is a picture of George at the 1999 44th reunion in Dayton,
The 157th spent 191 days in combat and fired over 44,700 rounds.
These units were with the 44th Division:
44th ReCon Troops
63rd Eng combat
44th Counter Intel
Hqtrs, Special Forces
Units attached to Division:
749 Tank Bat 813 Tank Destroyer
772 Tank Bat 398 AAA auto Weapons Bat
776 Tank Bat 895 AAA Auto Weapons Bat
Hqtrs CD 44 Inf Div
Military Police Platoon
744 Ord Lt. Maint
44th Quarter Master Co.
44th Signal Co
119 Medical Bat
FOLLOWING IS THE TEXT FROM A LETTER SENT TO THE 44TH FROM:
WILLIAM F. DEAN, Major General, United States Army
HEADQUARTERS FORTY-FOURTH INFANTRY DIVISION
IMST, TYROL, Austrian, 9. May 1945
ORDER OF THE DAY
SOLDIERS OF THE 44TH INFANTRY DIVISION:
That the close of the EUROPEAN phase of the greatest war of all times finds you as conquerors in these mountains in the heart of EUROPE in ample proof of your abilities as fighting men. It is appropriate as we pause in the square of this TYROLESE town, briefly to review your accomplish- ments, which have brought you here.
On 15 September 1944, you landed at CHERBOURG, FRANCE.
On 24 October 1944, your Division as a whole was committed East of LUNEVILLE, FRANCE, where you received your first baptism of fire.
You jumped off on 13 November 1944, at EMBERMENIL, FRANCE. You spearheaded the break-through of the XV Corps tho the RINE River, fighting in midwinter through tho VOSGES Mountains. A unit of your Division comprised the first UNITED STATES troops to reach the RINE.
Beginning the night of 23-24 November 1944, you halted the savage attack of the crack 130th Panzer LEHR Division, which threatened the flank of XV Corps.
Advancing steadily tho the North, despite the enemy’s obstinate resistance, you breached the MAGINOT Line and reduced the never-before-reduced Fortress of SIMSERHOF in the Ensemble de BITCHE. Poised there on the threshold of GERMANY, you were called to relieve two divisions in the vicinity of SARREGUEMINES, that they might be employed in the counteroffensive in the Forest of ARDENNES.
From 1-10 January 1945 you successfully held your sector against the all-out attack of 3 GERMAN Divisions including the elite 17 SS Panzer Grenadier Division. Had that attack attained its objective, it would have cut off the UNITED STATES forces and those of our FRENCH ALLIES in the VOSGES and HARDT Mountains, and on the Plain of ALSAGE. This sector your continued to hold until 15 March 1945, when other divisions of XV Corps passed through you to the final assault upon GERMANY. You then passed into a brief but well earned rest in Seventh Army Reserve, after 144 days of continuous commitment.
On 27 March 1945 you crossed the RHINE River and, after two day’s fighting, on 29 March 1945 captured the important GERMAN city of MANNHEIM, and opened the way for the subsequent surrender of HEIDELBERG.
In the sweep of the UNITED STATES Armies through the forests and mountains of GERMANY, you drove fast and hard, giving the enemy never an opportunity to recover his balance. Reaching the DANUBE River, with the 10th Armored Division, you captured the ancient city of ULM on 25 April, 1945. Driving on, up and across the highlands of BAVARIA, destroying the enemy before you, you swept into the ALPS of the AUSTRIAN TYROL.
In your 203 days of combat, you have captured alone more than 44,000 prisoners of war roughly, equal to a force three times the size of your Division. How many additional enemy you have destroyed, you will never know.
Victory-in-EUROPE finds you here, among there mountains. The war is not yet won, nor is the peace. You now stand poised in these mountains, victorious soldiers, awaiting the next call of duty to your country.
Soldiers of the 44th Infantry Division, I congratulate you.
WILLIAM F. DEAN,
Major General, United States Army,
FOLLOWING IS THE INSIGNIA OF 44TH DIVISION
157TH FIELD ARTILLERY BATTALION
Between 7 Oct. 1944 and 5 May 1945 the 157th (12 Howitzers) fired over
44,700 rounds and spent 191 days in combat. Average rounds per gun is 3725.
A- BATTERY 157TH
Here is a map of the path that the 44th took during WW II
Here is a an enlarged map of the path the 44th took
This information was found on the US Government Army Chronicles website.
44TH INFANTRY DIVISION
Pre-World War II
Activated: After World War I as a National Guard Division in New Jersey and New York.
World War II
Activated: 16 September 1940. Overseas: 5 September 1944. Campaigns: Northern France, Rhineland, Central Europe. Days of combat: 190. Distinguished Unit Citations: 3. Awards: MH-1 ; DSC-38 ; DSM-2 ; SS-464 ; LM-8; SM-6 ; BSM-2,647 ; AM-110. Commanders: Maj. Gen. Clifford R. Powell (September 1940-August 1941), Maj. Gen. James I. Muir (August 1941-August 1944), Maj. Gen. Robert L. Spragins (August 1944-December 1944), Maj. Gen. William F. Dean (January 1945September 1945), Brig. Gen. William A. Beiderlinden (1 November-14 November 1945),
Brig. Gen. Robert L. Dulaney (November 1945 to inactivation). Returned to U. S.: 21 July 1945. Inactivated: 30 November 1945. (See National Guard.)
The 44th Infantry Division landed in France via Cherbourg, 15 September 1944, and trained for a month before entering combat, 18 October 1944, when it relieved the 79th Division in the vicinity of Foret de Parroy, east of Luneville, France, to take part in the Seventh Army drive to secure several passes in the Vosges Mountains. Within 6 days, the Division was hit by a heavy German counterattack, 25-26 October. The attack was repulsed and the 44th continued its active defense. On 13 November 1944, it jumped off in an attack northeast, forcing a passage through the Vosges Mountains east of Leintrey to Dossenheim, took Avricourt, 17 November, and pushed on to liberate Strasbourg, along with the 2d French Armored Division. After regrouping, the Division returned to the attack, taking Ratzwiller and entering the Ensemble de Bitche in the Maginot Line. Fort Simserhof fell 19 December. Displacing to defensive positions east of Sarreguemines, 21-23 December, the 44th threw back three attempted crossings by the enemy of the Blies River. An aggressive defense of the Sarreguemines area was continued throughout February 1945 and most of March. Moving across the Rhine at Worms, 26 March, in the wake of the 3d Division, the 44th relieved the 3d, 26-27 March, and crossed the Neckar River to attack and capture Mannheim, 28-29 March. Shifting to the west bank of the Main, the Division crossed that river at Grosse Auheim in early April, and engaged in a 3-week training period. Attacking 18 April, after the 10th Armored Division, the 44th took Ehingen, 23 April, crossed the Danube, and attacking southeast, took Fussen, Berg, and Wertach, in a drive on Imst. Pursuing the disintegrating enemy through Fern Pass and into Inn Valley, the 44th set up its CP at Imst, Austria, on 4 May. Landeck surrendered on the 5th. Meanwhile, the 19th German Army had surrendered at Innsbruck, and the war was over for the 44th. After a short period of occupation duty, the Division returned to .the United States in July 1945 for retraining prior to redeployment, but the end of the Pacific war resulted in inactivation in November.
Assignments in the ETO*
30 August 1944: Ninth Army, 12th Army Group. 5 September 1944: III Corps. 10 October 1944: Ninth Army, 12th Army Group. 14 October 1944: XV Corps, 6th Army Group, for supply. 17 October 1944: XV Corps, Seventh Army, 6th Army Group. 8 April 1945: Seventh Army, 6th Army Group. 15 April 1945: XXI Corps. 17 April 1945: VI Corps.
Slogan: Prepared in all things. Shoulder patch: A bluebordered orange circle containing two blue Arabic 4's, back to back. Publications: History of the 44th Division; by Lt. Col. Edward Boherty, unit historian; Albert Love Enterprises, Atlanta 2, Ga.; 1947.
*See footnote, 1st Infantry Division.
[Nota Bene: These combat chronicles, current as of October 1948, are reproduced from The Army Almanac: A Book of Facts Concerning the Army of the United States, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1950, pp. 510-592.]
Update 9/25/2003 by Joe Sims
On 9/17, 9/18 and 9/19/2003 the 44th Division reunion was held at Fort Mitchell, KY
Following are pictures from that reunion:
During the first evening George (Right) meets up with (L to R) Clement and Peggy Schirtzinger (Shirts) and Cornel Walter Kennedy, Jr 44th Division Historian.
On Wednesday after the 44th INF DIV ASSN business meeting cornel Kennedy
gave a very informative presentation on the history of the 44th division
including details on specific battles, strategies and results.
During Cornel Kennedy’s presentation George discovered Jean Keneipp
who was sitting behind him. George soon learned that Jean had been
a forward observer for the 157th FA Battery A.
This is Jim Slawinski, 44th INF Division historical collector.
Jim Slawinski set up this beautiful room containing his collection
The collection includes a picture of the entire A battery.
We believe that George is 3 rd row back from the front, third person from the left.
This is the A Battery autographs. George’s signature is in the
left margin at the bottom.
This is a picture of a page of the 44th Division’s campaign book.
The 157th FA Bat A is pictured here.
George is the one farthest to the Left.
Later George met with Charles Donaldson who was in battery A at the
beginning but then moved to Fire Direction later in the war.
Below is pictured (L to R) Charles Donaldson, Jean Keneipp and George Sims.
During the evening on Thursday we heard the most amazing account of
capture and captivity from Roy Olinger, 71st Inf. (below right)
Roy related his experiences of being captured by the Germans, getting
shot at by US planes while jammed in a rail road car with other prisoners,
going to a forced labor camp, loosing weight while eating one cup of weak
soup and a small chunk of bread each day, getting released when the war
ended in Russian occupied territory, taking several days to get back to
US lines, getting docked pay for being AWOL and finally getting restitution
Roy spoke for over 1 hr about the details. Succeeding generations have no idea of what these guys went through. It was very interesting.
The reunion ended with a presentation from a group performing with a
GEORGE N. SIMS- VISIT TO WASHINGTON DC 6/24/2005
On 6/24/2005 George and his family members, Wife, Helen, Daughter, Joan Jones, Grand family, Ryan, Laurie, Lindsay and Caleb Gallwitz, and Son, Joe Sims visited Washington DC for the purpose of visiting the WW II memorial. Following are pictures from that visit.
WW II Memorial from the Washington Monument. (File Photo)
George, Joe and Helen at the beginning of the trip.
George at the European theater section of the memorial.
George has Four Battle Stars from the following campaigns
1. Northern France
4. Central Europe
Many of those areas were specifically memorialized.
Field of 4,000 Gold Stars honors more than 400,000 lives lost during the war
George would like to honor Jerry Behrenodt a comrade and friend of George who was killed in April of 1945. (See story above)
Helen, Lyndsey, George and Ryan
The local military museum had a tractor similar to the one used by George’s Gun crew to pull the gun.
THE LAST CHAPTER
George N. Sims, age 87, of Gambier, died Thursday June 19, 2008 at Knox Community Hospital in Mount Vernon. He was born on January 30, 1921, in Howard to Harley and Ruth (Mercer) Sims and was a 1939 graduate of Howard High School. George started to work for Pittsburgh Plate Glass Industries in Mount Vernon following graduation and was drafted into the United States Army in 1943 during World War II. While in Europe he served with Battery A, 157th Field Artillery, 44th Infantry Division seeing battle across France. He eventually returned to the United States aboard the USS Queen Elizabeth on July 10, 1945 receiving his honorable discharge on November 2, 1945.
Following his discharge, George returned to work at the “Plate” and farm locally. Regretfully, in 1968 George lost Dorothy to Cancer. In 1969 he married Hellen (Hall/Jacobs) In the mid 1970’s he was transferred to PPG in Wichita Falls, Texas and then to the PPG plant in York, Pennsylvania retiring in 1982 as Cuttoff Floor and Quality Control Supervisor. After retirement George and his wife of 39 years Helen (Hall/Jacobs) spent many happy winters in Alamo, Texas, enjoying the weather, fishing, family and having visitors from Ohio. George’s hobbies included carpentry and fishing. He was able to meld the two when he built a boat so he could fish on Lake Erie. He was always building and fixing things around the house and for family members.
Surviving are his wife Helen (Hall/Jacobs) Sims whom he married April 10, 1969; his children George Joseph “Joe” (Edith) Sims of Howard, Joan E. (Owen) Jones of Howard, Sue Melick of Centerburg, Charles (Ada) Jacobs of Gambier, George (Janet) Jacobs of Gambier, Judy (David) Mobberly of Louisville, Kentucky, Donna (Craig) Stahl of The Woodlands, Texas, and Ronald Jacobs of Grand Junction, Colorado; 17 grandchildren; 20 great grandchildren; and his sister Catherine (Charles) Arnold of Powell.
Eulogy written by Joe Sims, son of George N. Sims
"How does one sum up a lifetime of experience with a man in a few words written on a sheet of paper"? In an effort to put my feelings into words I drift back to my first memory of a person with curly black hair, bad teeth, smoking and fingers that seemed to be the size of a flashlight. When he spoke it was many words of wisdom such as "never take the same road back that you came on" or "go right to the front of the lot to find a parking spot" Sometimes it was bad news like the night he told me my mother, Dorothy had terminal cancer. Sometimes it was good news like getting remarried to one of the kindest most supportive step mothers one could ever have.
Here is a list of some of the things I remember:
1. We caught ever manner of fish from every manner of body of water including Shank creek, Drakes pond, Lake Erie, Lake Onaping, Lake Duparquet and the Laguna Madre.
2. We found mushrooms on Blanchard Road and in the Pigeon River state forest. While doing so he yanked a birch tree out of the ground and planted it in Ohio, it's still growing out on Kilduff road. (You have to stress the tree to make them grow)
3. We took on every type of project starting with masonry, (advice here was- hit the blocks with a hammer to get their attention first), through nailing roofing on (Joe, you hammer like lightening, you never strike the same place twice).
4. We repaired cars including rebuilding the engine on a 1955 Chevy when I was 12.
5. He taught me how to drive a car, and then let me drive the car to Canada with a boat behind it. At the time I had my learners permit.
6. He gave me a dirty look when Mom told him I had been smoking cigarettes, which was all that was necessary, I never smoked again.
7. When I got my first pair of glasses at 14 years old, he said they made me look smarter that I really am.
8. When I left Michigan and was looking for work, he worried about me and supported my job search effort. He could finally rest with the knowlege that I had a great new job in Ohio. It was important to him that everyone in the family be OK.
9. He taught me, by example, to be honest, hard working, considerate of people and to do the right thing.
There are so many memories and experiences I could go on forever, however, in the end, the most important thing he ever said is that he was proud of me. That’s the most important memory I will hold on to.
Dad, I love you,
This document was compiled by:
Written by George N. Sims
Transcribed by Joan Jones and Joe Sims
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