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Buzz Bombs

March 26, 2012

Each post on this blog builds chronologically on the ones before. Starting with this post, journal entries are written in bold and comments are written in italics. I gratefully acknowledge the sources I used to follow Al’s journal and have listed them on the page, “Where to Learn More“.

Nov. 20.
Arrived Fontainbleau three a.m.  Marched to 9th Repl. Deport,95 Repl. Bn, 335 Repl. Co. Don’t like it a bit! (boohoo)

Nov. 22.
A bunch of our men shipped out to places unknown.

Nov. 23.
Thanksgiving Day -Beaucoup turkey, and trimmings.

Dec. 2.
Transferred to 475th Repl. Co. in Fontainebleau ( 42 Repl. Bn). Started work in 14th Base Post Office…

Dec. 9.
Finished Post Office job.

Dec. 11.
Toured the  Chateau of Fontainebleau, Historic Palace of Napolean, Marie Antoinette and other French kings-

Dec. 14.
Left Fontainebleau, and 9th Repl. Depot (Peeler, Schindler, Montez, Lindholm, Rudder, Vaule )- (C-Btry Impt)

Dec. 17.
Arrived (2 a.m.) 18th Repl Depot, 42nd Repl. Bn., 188 Repl. Co. in Tongeren, Belgium, 12 miles from Liege, 30 miles from Aachen Air Raid.

Dec. 16.
Saw my first “Buzz Bomb”, the V-1, and many more this same day.  Some landed close by – the concussion is enormous. Luftwaffe over…

Dec. 18.
Another air raid and blackout. Just sweating it out.

Dec. 19.

Sent to 36 Repl Bn. by truck. Buzz bomb almost “dood” it- landing some 50 yards away. Shrapnel and stuff all around – concussion great. (Phew!). In Netherlands (Holland) now.  Awaiting transportation to new outfit, 548 AAa. Lindholm only “C” Btry guy left with me – he goes to 558 AAA from here. Smoked first cigar of career, a Robt. Burns.  Big German counter attack somewhere near here. We carry our rifles at all times. Spent the evening in a Dutch home, “speaking” French to the madame. Slept in a hayloft.

Dec. 20.  (near Valkenburg)
Lindholm shipped out. I’m the only “C” battery man left, although two “B” battery fellas are wid me.  Arrive 102nd Division Reception Center – one mile from German border – 12 miles from the front. German paratroops dropped in vicinity in last 72 hours.  Situation poor___

Reading these journal entries, you can’t miss Al’s regret at seeing his old unit go away, through attrition and re-assignment both.  I don’t know exactly why he feels an urgency to list the names of other  C-Battery G.I.s as he leaves Fontainebleau but he writes beside their names: Important.  And then there’s the final mention of Lindholm, his last connection with the old unit when he’s transferred as well.

Researching the Buzz Bomb, I learned that they were designed to be “weapons of vengeance” by the German army, meant to strike back at Allied air attacks.  These “flying bombs”were small pilot-less aircrafts which carried a single 1-ton warhead.  They could fly about 150 miles. At that point, they dove as the engine cut out, giving the people below only seconds to take cover. 

Why were they called “Buzz Bombs”?  They were nick-named that by the soldiers because they made a sound, which began at first as a low “mutter” which got louder as it it approached until it sounded like an outboard motor.  It caused vibrations which shook floors and walls.In an article I read online , the correspondent said, “You catch your breath when the noise stops”.   That means the fuel is exhausted and it is about to drop.

I was curious about the Aachen air raid. As I read about it, I stumbled upon a report written up after the war analyzing the offensive.  I thought it was very interesting.

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