Heroes: the Army
"...Several of them admired our white bread, something they had never seen due to its complete absence in Germany with its war restrictions..."
William R. Fanstermacher
- Branch of Service: Army
- Unit: Anti-Tank Co., 405th Regiment,
102nd Infantry Division
- Dates: 1942-1945
- Location: European Theater
- Rank: PFC, Bronze Star Medal
- Birth Year: 1923
- Entered Service: Scranton, PA
or "Brot und Uhr"
by Dick Fanstermacher
After sojourning in the Passau area in the summer of 1945, the 405th moved to Upper Franconia, with our Antitank Company settling in a schoolhouse in the famous Deer town of Kulmbach.
The fraternization ban with German civilians had been lifted, although by that time had learned enough German to converse easily. The children came to congregate at the school waiting for us to leave so they could get on with their education. Several of them admired our white bread, something they had never seen due to its complete absence in Germany with its war restrictions.
I loved their dark bread, so we sat up a little exchange They lined up with their slices of dark bread, somewhat ersatz -- probably part sawdust, and we traded white for dark, slice for slice.
In my talks with them I related that had been up in the school tower, had set the clock, worked the pulley chains and gotten this important timepiece going for the neighborhood So I wound the clock daily and everyone was happy.
My fellow Gl buddies, however, had to go rummaging through the stored materials in the tower and our captain had the stairway boarded up so no one could got to the iower The clock stopped and I was the center of the town's wrath. Why didn't I go wind the clock? Everywhere I went when encountered by these school children, they would chant in unison: "Zieh die Uhr aufi Zieh die Uhr auf!" But I wasn't allowed to wind the clock, so it remained motionless, until we were transferred to Weiden about Thanksgiving.
Those experiences were a few of the more pleasant post-war memories of Germany. We made many friends there and have been back several times, not only for the good Kulmbacher beer, but for the friendships which still continue today.
---- Dick Fanstermacher
(Editor's note: Attempts were made throughout the text of the following story to place full names to the men listed in the story. For the most part, this is an educated guess and some names may very well be mistaken in their identy. The names were all taken from the division history book: With The 102d Infantry Division Through Germany, edited by Major Allen H. Mick. Using the text as a guide, associations with specific units were the basis for the name identifications. We are not attempting in any way to rewrite the story. Any corrections are gladly welcomed.)
Interested in some background information?
Check out the related links below...
United States Army, 102nd Infantry Division
102 Infantry Division
History of the 102nd Infantry Division
Attack on Linnich, Flossdorf, Rurdorf - 29 Nov -- 4 Dec 1944
Gardelegen War Crime
Gardelegen: April 13, 1945:
Massacre at the Isenschnibbe Barn
American Battle Monuments Commission: WWII Honor Roll
National World War II Memorial
The above story, "Kulmbach Revisited", by Dick Fanstermacher, 405th, Anti-tank Co., was originally published in the 102d Division "Ozark Notes", Vol. 52, No. 2, Jan/Mar 2000, pp. 7.
The story is re-printed here on World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words with the kind permission of the 102d Infantry Division Association, Ms. Hope Emerich, Historian. Our sincerest THANKS for the 102d Infantry Division Association allowing us to share some of their stories.
We would also like to extend our sincere THANKS to Mr. Edward L. Souder, former historian of Co. F., 405th Regiment. His collection of stories of the "Kitchen Histories Project" series entitled, Those Damn Doggies in F, were responsible for bringing the stories of the men of the 102nd Division to the forefront.
Original Story submitted on 19 October 2004.
Story added to website on 21 October.
September 5, 2002.
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