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HQ 1ST GROUP PHOTO


(Photo courtesy O.B. Hill collection)
508ers Pose
in front of pyramid tents in Wollaton's "Tent City". Although someone has numbered the men, no legend appeared on the back of the photo. 
   Bill Goudy apparently started the ball rolling to identify these men when he sent a list of possible identities to Glen Sommerville.

Williamstown  Oct-11-1974
   Glen - here is the picture and I will put down the names.  I know a lot of them and maybe we can get all of them.
     /s/
Bill Goudy

   Although Bill Goudy provided that initial list, there are entries in the handwriting of at least two, if not three, other individuals.  It is probable that the faces in this photo were a point of discussion at more than one HQ 1st reunion in the years that followed.
   In an effort to further refine the list we sent it and the photo to George Stoeckert who conferred with four other 508ers.  They were able to add one other name to the list but were unsure of the identities of numbers 1, 2, 6, 10, 11, 16, 19 and 23 although names had been jotted on the original list for many of these men.  George jokingly said, "Some of us have such poor eyesight we could not even find the photo!"
   The composite list from all of these efforts is as follows:
  1. John Sklanka
  2. Dick Ford
  3. William Burke
  4. Oscar Prasse
  5. Richard Van Walker
  6. *
  7. Curtis Head
  8. William Cronmiller **
  9. Joe Bressler
  10. (T. T. Miller?)
  11. ?
  12. Steve Tetak

* three names were offered - John Jackson, Fred Waterman, Gorzelsky
** original list showed Raymond Cordial as another possibility

  1. Leland Chitwood
  2. Bill Goudy
  3. Daniel Koziol
  4. Potoroff [s/b Bottoroff ?]
  5. Larney Vancourt
  6. Avery McGaha
  7. (Christensen?)
  8. Glen Sommerville
  9. Pete Hilliard
  10. Dale Pollack +
  11. ?


+ Bill Goudy wrote: [Pollack] was dug in by the haystack. The second shell broke his leg. [John] Corbin and I carried him out to the half track.
(Bill didn't state where this incident took place but it is presumed to have been in Normandy.)

George Stoeckert offered some additional notes:
   Based upon our consensus, the photo was taken in the Hq. 1 Tent area of Wollaton Park, Nottingham, England on or about 10-12 September 1944. Our belief is supported by the following events and observations - as best we recall.

   15 July 44, the Regiment arrived back into Nottingham from Normandy. In lieu of our accustomed Jump jackets and pants, we were issued the new 1943 Olive-drab combat uniforms - like the Infantry wore - with the exception that our trouser legs were modified to include large patch pockets with leg ties to accommodate grenades, rations, etc.
   Most of the men in the photo are wearing the new 1943 olive-drab uniform - our jump jackets included a waist belt with a brass buckle. [We never got an explanation for the uniform change - I like to think the government ran out of the supply. After all we had five airborne divisions in Europe during WW II.
   Many of the men in the photo are replacements for the men lost or seriously wounded in Normandy - some had been taken prisoner. For example, all of the company officers wanted Glenn Sommerville to assume command of the Mortar platoon. However Adam Koziol (in the photo) reported as a replacement. He had the grade and specialty and took command of the platoon. Adam did a fine job and led the platoon throughout the remainder of WW II all the way to Heddernheim.

1 September 44, the Regiment moved to departure airfields prepared to jump at Tournai, Belgium. When Gen Patton's forces overran Tournai, we were briefed to jump at Liege, Belgium. We packed up, drew ammunition and parachutes, loaded our equipment bundles into the para-racks fastened to the belly of our C-47s and marched out to the planes - and the jump was canceled - Patton did it again. Disappointed (not everyone), we returned to Nottingham.

14 September 44, we loaded again and moved to departure airfield from which we parachuted into Nijmegen on a bright Sunday afternoon into areas occupied by German infantry and anti-aircraft guns.

Note Joe Bressler is in the photo. Joe broke his ankle on the Normandy drop and returned to Hq 1st on crutches (AWOL from the hospital!). When Joe heard we were packing to go to the departure airfield, he threw away his crutches and said "I am going" and he jumped with us into Nijmegen.

/s/ George Stoeckert
 

 

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