Heroes: the Army
"...Early Tuesday am we were up and about. This time I drew Street Car duty! The motorman and I (with three rounds in my carbine) set off for a run down to the shipyard. Masses of workers poured onto public transportation. My street car was bulging..."
Fred O. Hunsdorfer
- Branch of Service: Army
- Unit: Co. C., 405th Regiment,
102nd Infantry Division
- Dates: 1942 - 1945
- Location: European Theater
- Rank: Sgt., Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart
- Birth Year: 1925
- Entered Service: Weehawken, NJ
Where Company C, 405th Fought Its First Battle
by Fred Hunsdorfer, C-405
(More from the C-405 newsletter)
You are cordially invited to the Re-Enactment. Following is a personal account ofthrs Battle by Sgt. Fred Hunsdorfer. For those who joined the Company over seas, Patton was racing across France screaming for supplies to keep his drive going. The Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot was his main source of supplies. The entire Philadelphia Transit System was shut down by striking Union workers because a number of maintenance workers, who were black, were retrained as drivers and operators due to the manpower shortage. By Union rules, their many years as maintenance workers gave this small group of men seniority as Drivers and Operators over many white Drivers and Operators. The strike caused a complete shutdown of the City including the Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot for six days. Nothing moved - there were riots and burning of cars and buildings.
Now here is Fred's Story
I'd arrived at Ft. Dix, NJ from Camp Swift, TX in July as a PFC in the 102nd Infantry Division after finishing infantry training. Before embarking for Europe we were delayed when my regiment, the 405th Infantry and a sister regiment, the 406th infantry were sent to Philadelphia to maintain the "PEACE", and to guard the property of the Philadelphia Transportation Co. Some of us were told this involved some racial problems centering around job promotions, but details were sketchy and not confirmed. Before this duty started, I'd gotten my weekend pass, good from noon Saturday to 6 am Monday morning. Some of us eagerly passed through Ford Dix gate as early as 11:45 am.
I myself went to Spring Lake, NJ to meet a FAIR someone who would later become the MRS. Upon returning to Ft. Dix all of us early departees were put to one side. (The Pass Gate had been locked Saturday at 12 noon for this emergency.) We were directed to return to our barracks; we picked up our weapons, canteens and packs and were trucked to Fairmont Park, Philadelphia to meet the rest of our group who'd set up a sea of pup tents. The trip into Philadelphia was fantastic. There were sandbagged machine gun emplacements at major intersections, and there were automatic weapons at water towers, municipal sites, transportation centers, and shipyards, to name a few spots. The 4.2 Chemical mortars were to cover sections of the city with tear gas if necessary! Our troops had gas masks, but of course the civilians did not.
Wearing the same Sun Tans I'd put on for my weekend pass on Saturday, I was temporarily assigned to guard a trolley car and bus garage with other men. Late that night we were permitted to go back to our tents and sleep in the same sweaty uniforms. Early Tuesday am we were up and about. This time I drew Street Car duty! The motorman and I (with three rounds in my carbine) set off for a run down to the shipyard. Masses of workers poured onto public transportation. My street car was bulging.
The newspapers and radio had mentioned our arrival and that we were NOT eating well. We were scattered all over the city. As the workers boarded the trolley, they looked at me and asked if I'd had breakfast - (NO!) They handed me oversized sandwiches, fruit, soda, etc, etc.. I soon gave up my seat, squeezed next to the motorman and told one and all "No more food, thank you." That afternoon and evening churches and fraternal organizations had all kinds of free dinners arranged for us all over the city. Previously at Ft. Dix we were covering up our unit designation to confuse the enemy. Now our name was known throughout the city. The next day our motorman and I became fast friends, and on a return trip (empty), he taught me how to operate the power handle and air brakes. I DROVE the trolley!
Later when I was hospitalized a buddy sent me a copy of the Division History which had a photo of a German Trolley, captured with the city of Krefeld in March 1945. Members of the 405th Regiment who helped capture the city, hung a sign on the trolley which read "From Philly to the Rhine."
----- Fred O. Hunsdorfer
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, "Where Co C., 405th Fought Its First Battle", by Fred Hunsdorfer, 405th, Co. C., was originally published in the 102d Division "Ozark Notes", Vol. 52, No. 1, Oct/Dec., 1999, pp. 14-15.
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 5 October 2004.
Story added to website on 12 October 2004.
September 5, 2002.
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