William E. Bramswig
Co F 345th Infantry Regiment - 87th Infantry Division
On Lincoln's birthday, 1943 I had a half-day off
from work as an office boy for 20th Century Fox Films, New York
City. I had not heard from my draft board as to my standing in the
draft and you were to check every 6 months. When I gave them my
name, William Bramswig, the woman said they had cards for Henry,
my father and for John and Francis, my older brothers; but no card
for William. When she told the headman he said make up a card for
Two months later in April, I was in the Army and
sent to Camp Stewart, Georgia, for anti-aircraft training. Inside
of 14 months I was sent to desert maneuvers in Arizona and then
to Fort Bliss, Texas. A notice came to the anti-aircraft that the
army was in need of Infantrymen and they were looking for volunteers.
A few of us joined up and were sent to Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
I was a corporal and they made me a Sergent, which was April 1944.
In October I was sailing on the Queen Elizabeth with 13,000 other
troops to England. In December we were in France and went right
to the front. I was a rifleman. The only people in front of me were
the enemy. It was the only place in the world you could shoot someone
and it was not murder.
I spent four months on the front lines and, confronting
the Germans, we fought the winter in foxholes. I have been told
it takes 13 people to supply a combat soldier. Truck drivers, stevedores,
supply Sgt's, cooks, medics, mail clerks etc. I told my First Sgt.
that I would like to trade places with those people, but he said
I had a job to take care of my squad and be an Assistant Platoon
In 6 months many of our people were wounded, killed
or had trench foot which is very bad. In March, 1945 we crossed
the Moselle and Rhine Rivers by boat. The enemy was on the run yet
to close in front of us to build a pontoon bridge.
The Ardennes, Forest Battle
of the Bulge
When we got there with General Patton's 3rd army it was like the
Wild West. The German army was very powerful and they beat the hell
out of us GI's that were in the way. Somehow we did stop them. I'm
talking about our young 18, 19, 20 year old draftees. Scared, cold
but above it all, we were fighting for our country and there were
very few babies. We GI's could talk for days about the war.
Our President Roosevelt died April 12th and that
day I was told I was to be taken off the line that morning and go
home on R&R for 45 days. R&R is Rest and Recuperation. I
was alive and didn't have a scratch to talk about. It was the luckiest
day of my life.
I had three combat battle stars: Ardennes Battle
of the Bulge, Central Europe and Rhineland Campaign. I received
the Bronze Star and the Presidential Unit Citation for our regiment
being the 1st into the German and Siegfreid line. I was supposed
to have 12 men in my squad but could never keep more than 8 or 9,
even as replacements kept coming. I Came home on the Washington,
a hospital ship with extra room I was ok.
Many men were killed, many men got the Purple
Heart, many men were prisoners of war, and many men like myself
kept fighting up front, waiting for our time to be up. They sent
me home before any of the above happened. It was the roll of the
I wrote this to my mother when they told me the
good news on April 15th 1945
I got some news here that I was going to hold back from telling
you for a surprise. But before my mail starts coming back to the
states I better tell you I am coming home on a furlough. I am O.K.
and in perfect health, so don't worry. I am leaving the front lines
tomorrow the 16th. I probably will take a month to get home, so
don't expect me at 1850 Park Avenue until the middle of May. The
transportation from here to the States is hard to get. So don't
get to excited waiting for me.
You can tell everyone
to stop writing and stop the packages. The furlough will be 30 or
45 days. So I will have the best part of the summer home.The war
is going along very good over here. This is probably the luckiest
break of my life. If I don't write, don't worry, I am on my way
Army Presidential Unit Citation
For its heroism in breaking through the Siegfried
Line, members of the 2nd Battalion (Companies E, F, G, & H)
were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.
"In the Name of the President of the United States" for
the 2nd Battalion, 345th Infantry Regiment
As authorized by Executive Order 9396 (sec. I, WD Bul. 22, 1943)
The 2nd Battalion, 345th Infantry Regiment, 87th
Infantry Division, distinguished itself by its extraordinary heroism,
savage aggressiveness and indomitable spirit during its advance
through the Siegfried Line and capture of Olzheim, Germany. From
5 through 9 February, 1945, the 2nd Battalion attacked violently
and captured Olzheim in the face of extremely difficult terrain,
fanatical enemy resistance, and devastating artillery fire.
In this exemplary accomplishment, the battalion
advanced 11,000 yards, smashing 6,000 yards through the Siegfried
Line, neutralized many pillboxes and bunkers, and captured 366 enemy
prisoners. The Brilliant tactical planning, rapid capture of assigned
objectives and the conspicuous gallantry of each member of the 2nd
Battalion, 345th Infantry Regiment, 87th Infantry Division, are
in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.
(General Orders 246, Headquarters 87th Infantry
Division, 19 July 1945, as approved by the Commanding General, United
States Army Forces, European Theater.
William Bramswig is the one holding the bottle
the picture was taken in a deserted town in Germany 1945.
This platoon photograph was taken by William
himself (that is why
he is not in the picture) The GI seated lower right holds 2 rifles
- one is William's)
Only half dozen men of this platoon were NOT casualties. William
made it through
without a scratch, 135 days on the line.
The list is an actual copy that William's
Platoon Leader, Lt Prather, wrote on of his available 3 squads &
during Battle of the Bulge.
Always time for target practice.