Heroes: the Army
"...I looked up to see something and saw men lying in the fields get up and make a dash for cover. It came to me too late that they were under an artillery barrage. Just then everything went boom, the Jeep jumped to the right and stopped. Sarge and Hairless jumped out as did Ross and Dowd. I saw Ross holding his left arm with blood coming thru his fingers..."
Edward L. "Ed" Souder
- Branch of Service: Army
- Unit: Co. F., 405th Regiment,
102nd Infantry Division
- Dates: 1942-1945
- Location: European Theater
- Rank: PFC., Purple Heart
- Birth Year: 1922
- SN: 17114499
- Entered Service: Minneapolis, MN
The image above is of Ed Souder's dress uniform and his awards/ citations achieved during his military career.
The image above is of the Presidential Unit Citation that was awarded to the 102nd Division for actions during the time that Ed served with the 102nd.
Edward L. Souder
The following information was submitted by Ed Souder and deals with his early days prior to being shipped overseas and eventual combat. The material consists of memories from 60 years or more ago as well as some diary entries that he kept during his military days stateside...
Lets write about the first days at a reception center in 1943. I reported to Fort Snelling Minn. on March 19th and after getting off the street car, went into the building marked "first reception". There along with about 500 other men were sat down for interviews and filling out forms and then we were sworn in by a officer "for the duration and 6 months".
Had some chow and then released and told to report back tomorrow. Did that and was put in a group to police the area&emdash;which we soon learned to play the "ass hole and elbows" picking up cigarette butts. And later that day were issued first uniforms and had another physical that consisted of the doctor looking in one ear and if he didn't see any light coming out of the other ear -- we were fit for service.
From the interviews we were assigned to various service camps and because I said I used to drive a truck for the scout troop, I was assigned to a bunch and went to Fort Knox, Ky. After one more day of evening pass- I was sent by troop train to Fort Knox and became a tanker.
Nothing has been written about life in an army barracks. Here goes. Back in 1941-42 -- the last of the bases still activated afterWorld War I were called "forts". But with the massive build up of new soldiers, lots of wooden two story barracks were hurredly built at the "forts" to house the recruits. These were always set on generally level ground on some flat area and each training company got two of them for a single company's use.
That meant that each barracks held about 90 men and here's a description of a sample barracks.
The buildings were about 24 feet wide and some 60 feet long (standard size). On the first floor was a latrine about 15 x 24 feet and a door to the latrine from the sleeping area was on ground level. Along the east wall was a line of wash bowls with mirrors over the sinks. There was an 8-inch wide shelf over them and was the place the soldiers put their shaving equipment and so forth. There were usually electric lights over mirrors as well. To the right was the shower stalls -- 8 high up shower heads and usually a faucet for adjusting hot and cold water for the showers. These were "gang" type -- that is -- no individual shower stalls -- just side by side. Since the men were naked anyway -- that was IT.
The toilets - without seats - were along a wall just west of the showers and there were eight of them to serve 90 men. Toilet paper was usually available. They were "gang" type with no division between them. Along the next wall was the gang type urinals and water dripped constantly into the trough. Again -- no separations between the stand up places. The door to the barracks was just left of the urinals -- and up 2 steps. There was no door to close -- just an open doorway. On the lower barracks floor there was a center isle and the double deck beds were placed with the head of the bed along the walls with the windows that were along the outside walls.
These windows were openable from both top and bottom and were usually with small panes of glass that made washing such a job -- but were also the delight of the sargents for barracks details and restriction of week end passes.
At the end of the row of beds were two small rooms ocupied by the NCO's. A door to the outside went on past the rooms and down a set of steps -- making a second escape way in the event of fire or for fast fall out of the company. Just before the latrine door was a set of steps going up to the second floor- these steps were about 8 feet wide and were NOT separated. The arrangement of the second floor was the same as the lower floor except there were 4 rooms for the NCO's one set over the latrines and then a second set again over the ones at the end of the 1st floor barracks. Here was a door and an outside ladder for escape out the second floor at the end.
This ladder was only used in case of a fire -- not for general escape.
In the time of really cold weather there was some sort of forced air circulation -- but usually we had NO heat year around. There was a drinking fountain on the 1st floor next to the latrine.
Floors were of wood as were all other parts of the building. This meant that the weekly GI parties were as follows. First, the soldiers got most of their uniform OFF and then got buckets of HOT water and made suds of the GI soap and got the brooms from outside. With all the bunks pushed together -- the water and soap were poured on the floor and scrubbed with the brooms. Then more water was poured over the floor and swept out the doors either into the latrine or just out the door to run where ever. The second floor was done the same way except the water was swept DOWN the stairs and those on the first floor just swept it out the doors as well. Lots of water and soap outside. The barracks were never that dirty -- but the weekly washing was standard procedure and was the matter of constant griping.
A soldiers bed was his castle. He slept in it-- laid in it-- and if he was in the showers -- anything of value was put under the pillow -- and it was there as safe as in the bank. Matter of fact-- one soldier had to ask another soldier if he could sit or stand on your bed. The request was seldom denied --so you were always in the good graces of other soldiers. Even the NCO's had to ask permission but that was NEVER denied.
When the soldier was in the barracks he may or may not have been in full or partial uniform. Often when going to the latrine he wore a towel around his waist and maybe not even that. Since there were NO women in the barracks -- you had nothing to keep covered up -- and this was just the way it was done.
If a man had a foot locker -- it was placed at the foot of his bed and so stuck out into the common isle and if there were weapons racks-- these were also in the center of the center isle. Rifles and carbines were stood up there and no pistols were kept there. Ammunition for the rifles were not usually stored in the barracks, but was issued from the supply room as needed. Each compny had a separate one story building that was the company office -- place for the Company CO to work. The center part was a little day room and off the end was the company supply room where things needed to run the company were kept.
The officers were in separate housing usually away from the soldiers barracks. The lowly soldier NEVER got into the officers quarters.
General soldier uniform -- a set of work clothes -- consisting of jacket and pants with a web belt and some sort of head covering. At first a sloppy hat that was always worn outside the barracks. A private NEVER went outide the barracks without some sort of hat.
Since each soldier was issued ALL his clothing -- here's what he wore.
GI green undershirt and boxer style undershorts (not a TEE shirt). GI colored jacket and pants. Canvas leggings or Combat boots and high shoes until the boots were issued. GI wool socks and GI colored laces. The canvas leggings were hard to put on and when NOT a part of the set uniform -- were always kept laced up so they could be gotten on in a hurry. Thank the LORD when the combat boots were issued!!
Each soldier was also issued a " dress" uniform and exactly what that was varied from place to place and unit to unit. In warm weather it was a cotton shirt and pants and necktie and overseas cap. In the cold of winter it could be a GI wool jacket with four pockets and shiny metal buttons and a place where the soldier wore any medals he was authorized to wear. He wore whatever boots he was authorized to wear and this wool uniform was good looking and weighed about 12 pounds. Pants were GI wool with web belt and shiny belt buckle. Overseas cap as well.
Continuing barracks life: Since time to "fallout" was very important -- you slept in your underwear and when required to -- getting on a fatigue uniform and with boots on -- was less than 3 minutes.
"Wake-up" was faster if you kept the required uniform in place upon retireing the night before. That is -- jacket and pants and boots and such lying on top of the bed blankets at the foot of the bed-- while you slept. Favorite action at wake up call was (the revilliee) was a sharp whistle sounded in the barracks with the shout (drop your cocks and grab you socks) or the MEAT GRINDER -- the Sgt would hold a garbage can between his legs and with a baseball bat -- roll that around in the garbage can several rotations -- (try that on your son some morning at 4 AM).
Then the lights would come on and fall -- out was in 3-5 minutes -- usually with just your underwear on for morning calisthenics- - or some other wake up exercise.
Since you slept in just your underwear the first trip to the latrine was fast. From then on -- you grabbed the required uniform on the dead run and just as the company was assembled outside in the cold morning air -- you were still buttoning jackets or adjusting pants in fast order. You had shaved the night before -- or you were sure to get " giged" and extra duty placed on you --like 10 hours of forced marching-- (in place) starting at bedtime that day -- stealing precious sleep time so you were more like an animal the next day. Another comment about barracks life. You were with other men 24 hours a day and this constant association build close relationships of the proper kind -- but for some it also built the wrong kind of such associations-(now called " don't tell- don't touch"). Back in the early 40's the subject was NEVER even mentioned and if such relationships were there- it was only on weekend passes away from the barracks. I personally knew of a corporal and a sergeant who always took weekend passes together and just disappeared for the 1-1/2 days of the pass duration.
We also had a 6 stripe sergeant who took great delight in making some latino men get in the showers and ordering the other soldiers to " scrub them hard with the brooms in private parts!! That Sergeant got away with it for many weeks before we went overseas in mid to late 1944.
Later --as mentioned in a story by Jim Hansen -- this was the sergeant that was accosted by a fellow soldier in the trenches with a rifle under the helmet of the guy and told- "make one more sound and you're a dead man!!" That sergeant was soon transferred to another company!! For his own safety!
Now lets turn to soldier training for life overseas.
It was thought that all training was directed to fighting overseas --WAS IT?? Morning calestinics for physical toughining (maybe)-- scrubbing barracks-- some little value -- as you were never in a building overseas. Endless inspections State side?? Parades stateside??-Life on a troop transport?? Maybe. Rifle cleaning -- VERY important overseas! Shining boots -- Ha Ha!! Using a latrine overseas -- Very important -- but no specific instuction was EVER given- Stateside-!! Use of a first aid packet -- Never done stateside but overseas -- VERY important!!
Physical health stateside sloppy -- overseas --VERY VERY important. Upon induction Stateside -- a series of color films shown to all soldiers related to preventing venenal disease often a time filler. Overseas there was NO need as the average soldier had NO contact with " ladies of the night" -- while in combat. And the admonition of getting the "square needle in the right NUT" usually was enough.
Especially if that needle has a "bur" on it as well. The list of health options Stateside as differing to those overseas was endless. Some very valuable -- Most worthless.
About parades stateside. Ever get ordered to wear the following uniform?? Helmet liners, boots and raincoats -- that's ALL! ! So we were marched down to the medics and standing outside the building went in in a column of ones to stand in front of a medical officer. A company officer told us to "pull it back and milk it down!" If nothing was disclosed dripping out -- you marched out the other door and back to your company. SOME PARADE! This was done just before being paid for a period sometimes once a month and that varied.
Then there were company parades -- battalion parades -- division parades -- and of what value those were ?
Lastly let's cover a soldiers monthly PAY.
A basic recruit was paid $17.00 each month. For 24 hours a day of training. Since all uniforms were provided -- that was top pay. The soldier could take $10,000.00 term life insurance for a monthly deduction of $6.50 to be paid for that policy with the beneficiary likely a wife or a family member. The soldier was STRONGLY URGED to buy a war bond for an additional deduction of $6.25 for 3 months and that war bond was in the name of a relative back home and left the soldier with about $4.25 a month for personal needs not supplied by the Army. Haircuts were 25 cents each. Stamps 3 cents -- writing paper 25 cents per 100 sheets. A beer in the PX was 10 cents. Train or bus fare for a furlough was about $2.50 if you ever got a furlough. So the recruit had less than $5.00 cash any month to spend or loose in a crap game. Not much to put under your pillow when you went to the latrine or lose out of your pockets on a long forced march.
I don't know what the basic pay for a recruit is now in 2003. When we went overseas we got $5.00 more a month as "combat pay." This was with a PFC rating.
One other note. There was a recruit that got a week-end pass into a local town. Upon standing in line at the CO office, the issuing officer asks the soldier, "Got you little box?? Show it to me. Without it -- no pass. So off he went to the supply officer and got a little box and went back to show it to the officer. Having done that -- with pass in hand-- off to get his bus ticket into town and a day and 1/2 freedom from the army.
Overseas the rations pass money could buy some cigarettes - some candy bars -- if there were any available -- writing paper -- other essentials and maybe a beer- if you wanted one. But these were drunk on site-not back in the campground area.
Rot gut calvados and white lightening were obtained from local barter for a bar of soap or a pack of American cigarettes.
In about 2 months the recruit was issued a helmet liner. This was a hard plastic one with cotton webbing inside and that basically held the head inside the shell. Above the lining was some space and stateside and overseas one kept a supply of toilet paper and anything else he wanted to keep nearly dry.
Stateside he was issued a gas mask -- a bulky thing that was worn under the right arm and attached with wide cotton straps. Some kept their cigarettes in with the mask -- but if caught -- it was demerit FOR SURE.
Later a fine full length field jacket with center draw string and sometimes a hood under the collar. These were a great improvement over the waist length jacket first issued in 1943. After a few weeks use in the field they became almost waterproof and with big pockets -- 4 to be exact -- were much prized when available.
In time each soldier was issued a steel helmet that fitted snuggly over the helmet liner and had a chin strap that was folded back and tightened under the front of the helmet liner.
In an emergency this steel helmet had several uses -- head protection -- and in the field -- a toilet -- ( sit down) style -- also used as a pillow if camping out. As a trench shovel in an emergency -- and as a writing desk in the field or as a chair -- had to balance carefully if inverted. Also issued was a shovel -- with a folding handle and a carrying case that was supposed to be fastened on the heavy webb belt. Overseas -- it was just folded over the pistol belt and was a god send. You also had a sheath knife or bayonet to attach to the shooting iron you were issued -- but there were time when the trench knife was used as a entrenching tool in an EMERGENCY.
Overseas the wire radio man was issued a hand cranked telephone with a dynamo in it and a one piece telephone hand set and this was in a heavy leather case with a strap that ran over the left shoulder. Also in a side pocket was a set of wire cutters and some electrical tape. In late 1944 the best wire cutters were a ground down sheath knife with the hilt chopped off and sharpened to a razor edge. One slice and the broken wire was cut and ready for fastening to the other wire and a knot tied in both ends and that made a good connection. You always had a water canteen on the webb belt and a cup was underneath the canteen for easy use It also served as a coffee cooking devise over a coleman stove and a place to warm water for a shave or a quick wash. The K ration boxes overseas were fine for keeping rations intact and an empty one was saved to use as a toilet when you were in a fox hole and under fire so you couldn't get out of the hole and squat down.
When used they became a good practice grenade if thrown down wind!! Each soldier was also issued a fold down metal mess kit with a handle that swung around and was useful when taking hot food from the chow line back to your fox hole or for dipping water out of the fox hole after a snow melt. You surely learned how to improvise when on the battlefield.
When overseas a new use for condums was advised -- put over a clean pair of dry socks -- your feet stayed pretty dry and if placed over an upturned rifle barrel when on a road march -- you could fire right thru a condom in an emergency.
Coming back to the new field jacket when overseas -- the soldier kept his pocket bible in the left hand upper pocket -- over his heart -- and likely some pictures of family and maybe a small supply of writing paper for the next letter in the bottom of the foxhole. These were things the folks back home never knew about. Maybe a stub pencil and a pack of gum. As the weather turned colder -- the soldier was issued a wool beanie that was worn under the helmet liner and sometimes a towel or woolen muffler was worn between the field jacket and the outer woolen shirt (a luxury). If he had a clean pair of socks -- they were more valuable than a full clip of ammunition...and a size 12 pair of rubber overshoes worn over the combat boots -- more luxury. The average soldier in combat that weighed say 150 pounds raw -- could weigh over 200 pounds in battle gear. Maybe as much as 225. Plus rifle and ammunition and a few grenades.
The big SCR 300 and the little CR 126-s radios were issued to the company but the SCR radio that connected the Company to the Battalion were heavy with the long life battery they weighed 70 pounds and with the short time battery about 20 pounds less. Because of this the radio man in the attack didn't carry a usual back pack -- just a canteen -- and an entrenching tool and a pistol if available. The SCR 300 had 2 antennae -- a short one for close in range and a whip antennae for distances up to 5 miles -- if in a good location. The radio-wire man's other gear a soldier needed was carried in the executive officers trailer attached to one of the company jeeps and brought forward in less difficult times. The average rifleman carried just his rifle and a mess kit and field pack and lots of 30-caliber ammunition.
Troop population in Europe 1944-45
While there were colored troops we in the infantry never saw any nor did we fight with them in support of our actions. MY first contact with any was in the ambulance going from the 1st aid station back to the 76th evac hospital -- and the driver of that ambulance was ONE fine driver -- considering the state of the roads in the area.
LATER we had other colored drivers in England and of course back in the USA. It seemed they put the colored divisions in Italy and Africa. There were lots of airforce troops and a division of colored troops in the air force back in 1944-45 as pilots and support personel. And they were GOOD.
Here is a copy of my CDD dated 1945 from McCaw General hospital. On the back side was a fuller record of where the enlistment started and how it ended.
Interesting to note I was awarded the combat infantry badge just 6 days before I was wounded.
Above images are of Ed Souder's Discharge
from the Army as well as his DD-214 listing
his active service.
Diary Entry Extracts:
Now for extracts from the day by day diary I kept from 1942 'til going over seas.
General orders for sentrys.
1. I will walk my post in a military manner keeping alert and observing everything that takes place within sight or hearing. (Later we revised it to I will walk my post in a military manner -- and Take NO (SHIT) from the company commander.
There were 10 more orders -- not recorded here.
Sept. 12, 1942
Enlisted in the ERC in Sept. 1942 and stayed in college for all but 10 weeks of my senior year.
March 1, 1943
Back to college and much talk of calling the reserve. College director acting funny -- think she knows something but is not talking.
March 1-, 1943
Called into office and college director told us to keep our grades up and work hard -- something funny in the air -- turns out that she knew when the army was going to call the reserve to active duty.
March 10, 1943
RESERVE CALLED to active duty College director in tears. Went home and told the family and Mother took it quietly at first but broke later in tears. Just hope my Brother will not be called now.
March 19, 1943
FRIDAY. Report to Ft. Snelling at 8 AM go out by street car and get physical exam and was sworn in for duration and 6 months. My brother is rejected and can stay at home with Mother. He is an engineer at WCCO radio a CBS outlet in Minnesota. Will have a war time exemption as in essential services.
March 28, 1943
Sunday. First army KP only fed 400 and off at 4 PM and back to barracks.
March 30, 1943
Tuesday. Shipped to Ft. Knox Ky. As a trainee for the tanker corps.
April 1, 1943
Thursday. Arrive at Ft. Knox and had first army chow -- Shit on a shingle!! Placed in Co. C., 3 Battalion 4th Platoon.
May 1, 1943
Made Lance Corporal and next day took pass and had dinner at the Brown Hotel for $2.75 Roast Beef and baked potatoes and apple pie for dessert -- that's 1/2 of my monthly pay in the army.
May 2, 1943
Start firing the 30 cal. Machine gun -- only get to fire 6 rounds on May 2nd 1943.
May 6, 1943
Start driving school -- assigned to 1/2 tracks -- big nasty steel monsters wheels in front and tank tracks for rear wheels -- 1/4 in inch armor on sides and 3/4 inch windshield of steel plate.
May 24, 1943
Saturday. Applied for ASTP and will leave for processing in one week after Battle training in the tanks.
May 25, 1943
Had lecture by drunken Lt. on military courtesy and saluting -- fine example of that topic.
May 29, 1943
Saturday. Had last tetenous and typhoid shot at this base. They burn like HELL. Lt. Wood is transferred and get new Officer -- Lt. Searry -- my evaluation -- sad sack of SHIT may not get pass back for college graduation -- will see.
June 10, 1943
Pass for graduation cancelled -- called home and told folks.
June 11, 1943
Col. Drives out to range and authorizes my pass and drives me back to base and I'm off to the depot and so will get back home one day late for 4 year graduation and awarding of BM degree. At least I have one day with family and went down to college and got the papers and so now I'm a college graduate in the US Army!!!
May 14, 1943
Monday. Am latrine orderly all day then out to range for leap frog tactics in 12 tracks and overnight in woods. Fire 37 MM canon from 1/2 track on 200 inch range. I'm a coach this time. Nice to be a lance Corporal and have SOME command.
May 25, 1943
Saturday. On 25 mile march and end of Battle training -- no 1/2 tracks on this one -- just mares shanks. Will leave for ASTP on June 17th going undecided to me. Fired rifle for record -- got 169 and now am a sharpshooter -- maybe get to be a sniper.
July 8, 1943
Thursday. Ate K rations for first time -- kinda GOOD -- In free time build a crystal set but have no crystal for it -- maybe use a lump of coal for that.
July 13, 1943
Friday. Got a BATH in the field from water trucks say that what we will get in battle -- not much fun but lots of fooling around getting in and out of the showers.
July 20, 1943
Tuesday. Leave for ASTP at Columbus, Ohio. Have one qt milk for beverage each meal. Final interview and made Basic Engineering and start school here at Columbus, Ohio in one week -- maybe get furlough before that. Met Bert Lemon from the church across from our quarters -- find he is on review board for final ASTP and it was HE that put me in ASTP and stay in Columbus Ohio and will sing in the Indianola Presb. Church choir from now on -- LUCKY BREAK!! Get first ASTP patches -- an orange lamp of learning on a blue background and a fire out the spout of the lamp -- Some call it the "Flaming Piss Pot".
August 13, 1943
FRIDAY. On KP but got to be the pot and pan washer which is the easiest job you start early but are done when all others are still working. Got a 2 1/2 day pass so hopped the 4 PM train and made MSP the next morning and got my little car out of the garage and loaded Mom in and we drove 250 miles up NORTH to the scout camp and woke my brother up. Had some breakfast there then drove back to MPLS and caught the 5 PM train to Chicago and got back to Columbus at 9AM Monday -- Oh these week end passes.
August 18, 1943
Shipped to Ohio State University for ASTP basic engineering. We take a semester of work in 9 weeks of training -- Hows that for acceleration!! Move into 1992 Iuka -- a Frat house and start to redecorate it before classes start in 10 days. I'm choosen as interior decorator so have the job of picking colors for rooms and types of paint and such to use. Glad I learned how to do that before coming to ASTP.
Sept. 11, 1943
Saturday. Sanded day room floor and will varnish it tonight [note on page] ("I need thee every hour most gracious LORD".) Monday Sept. 13th start classes my schedule VERY full. Lots of books to work thru Mondays and Fridays are heaviest.
Sept. 19, 1943
Saturday. Saw my first college football game at the stadium -- Ohio State played Miami State -- WE WON!!
Sept. 20, 1943
Sunday. Sang in church and this is the first time since being in the ARMY. Must find time to join the church choir.
Sept. 30, 1943
Thursday. I AM 22 YEARS OLD TODAY. HAD AN ICE CREAM SUNDAE TO CELEBRATE AT ISSALYS PALACE ON CAMPUS. Also got paid for 2 months so have $37.00 in my pants pocket -- money for furlough maybe.
Oct. 10, 1943
Sunday. Sang in church choir and we did the Brahms "How lovely is thy dwelling place". I hit the high G in the last part there were 3 other tenors in the choir so I didn't stand out.
Oct. 14, 1943
Thursday. Asked to sing a solo in church in 2 weeks -- one of M/F Christansen's anthems. Sat.
Oct. 17, 1943
Have my air corps papers ready in case I have to use them if ASTP shuts down.
Oct. 20, 1943
Got an A in a chemistry test and a B in Geography and a C in math -- NOT BAD for me.
Oct. 30, 1943
Saturday. Halloween should stay in and study but went to a party and got parred with a co-ed and ended having to get the signature of the President of Ohio State U. He was nice about it and we got the first prize in the rat race. Lovely GIRL.
Nov. 3, 1943
Saturday. Got my army pictures taken for Xmas presents for Folks and Nonnie -- at Duxheimers in Columbus a high class studio. They will be in color when finished.
Nov. 8, 1943
Monday. Had nasty physics test and as expected I FLUNKED IT.
Nov. 24, 1943
SATURDAY. Saw my first strip tease show -- Not as bad as reported -- Gals didn't have much on at all and guess that is the idea behind such an act.
Dec. 4, 1943
Saturday. Finished all term tests and took 14 day pass to MSP that may well be my Xmas this year. Only got 7 days pass and that's one week short of what they said we'd get. Blessed be nothing.
Dec. 13, 1943
Back at OSU and B. A. Thomas flunked out of ASTP and was sent back to Camp Campbell and on to Africa.
Dec. 21, 1943
Decorated the Day room and set up Xmas tree I was assigned to go and buy a tree and Alan K. Levey assisted. Paid $3.00 for a 10 foot tall pine. Looks grand. Can't believe it -- got a Xmas pass and took the 12 PM Pency to Chicago and the Blackhawk to MSP. Had a goose for Xmas dinner suprise for all-- Sang in Central Luth. church choir and next day went out to West High and Peter let me direct the Accappella choir in 2 numbers.
Dec. 27, 1943
Monday. Back in OSU back.
Jan. 7, 1944
Took big physics test and as expected -- flunked it!! Brothers Birthday and sent him a book of bird pictures. Book cost $27.00 and postage was paid m\by the store.
Jan. 19, 1944
Both physics and Math test today. Suprise got a C in both of them. Instructors truly amazed.
Feb. 4, 1944
Grades up and 2/3 of the company are not passing so maybe it's a good thing that ASTP may be shut down soon.
Feb. 10, 1044
Thursday. Took Air Force admissions test and got a 234 out of 270 so am going to be a air plane jockey soon IF Astp does shut down. Went to concert of the MPLS Symphony at night to celebrate Our Capt. Asked for list of ASTP men accepted for Air Force and I'm on the list HOT DOG!! Now for a weeks furlough and so off to MIPLS and in an air force uniform complete with visored cap and leather belt on dress uniform -- BIG-SHOT.
Feb. 18, 1944
CALLED TOGETHER AND TOLD THAT astp IS GONE AND THOSE OF US WHO TOOK AND PASSED THE afr TEST WERE TO GO AFTER FURLOUGH TO Jefferson Barracks in Mississouri about Feb. 26th. That should be SUPER!!
Feb. 19, 1944
Final tests in ASTP and many wrote "FUCK YOU" on the test papers and turned them in that way!! On the English test we wrote "beware the Ides of March" (Julius Caesar) and turned the papers in with that only on them.
With folks -- sat down and worked out a set of word codes as to location of station if sent overseas -- Aunt Mary's garden = England. The pine trees on the wood lot = Japan. The Oil well in Dakota Co = Africa. Burning the lodge at Flaming pine = India. Mothers new hat = Russia. Peter rabbits story = Australia. Hope the censors don't get WISE!!
Back from furlough and had COMPANY formation -- Capt. Calls us to ATTENTION and reads General orders #42. To all men in close of ASTP -- those who DID NOT pass the air force tests -- transfer immediately to Camp Cambell for shipment to AFRICA. All men who took Air force test and passed -- Transferred to the INFANTRY and NOT to the Air Force!! Didn't need any more flyers!!
Feb. 19, 1944
On troop train at 1 PM bound for Camp Swift, Texas. Took 23 hours to get there and am assigned to Co. F., 405th Reg., 102 Division Infantry!!
Feb. 29, 1944
Didn't go to church -- am in infantry and so start more infantry basic training -- 36 from ASTP in our Company out of 86 men. Our Sgts, a bunch of no nothings. All of March more chicken Shit and rifle practice and army tactics.
April 6, 1944
Friday. On BAR range fire for effects.
April 24, 1944
Saturday. Went to service club and swam and then to music room for records of great symphonies and some reflection on army life and pre-army life.
April 25, 1944
Tuesday. On battle training and am assigned to be a runner with the CAPT Peterson. Like him a lot. He's from California.
April 25, 1944
Tuesday. MOVED to Co. Hqtrs. Start of something different -- so far there are about 12 of us so transferred.
April 25, 1944
Friday. Am on alert guard and restricted to barracks area wonder why??
May 6, 1944
Friday. Now have Sgt. Hottin as co hqtrs Sgt. He is from New Jersey. More on telephone nets and splices. I'm the only man doing this work it seems.
May 11, 1944
Thursday. On radio and special classes about security -- am on prisoner guard with live ammunition for 4 hours -- some nasty guys in the prisoner group.
On attack problems Sgt. Di Cannio puts me on the big radio and says I do very well. Now on Battalion runner with signal men -- something is going on and I don't understand it.
May 25, 1944
Carried both the scr526 and the scr300 on night maneuvers in field. Start radio school next week. Will be on TDY for that period and mostly at Battalion.
June 6, 1944
Tuesday. The invasion day in Europe -- Capt. Peterson calls us all together and tells of the invasion and what it likely means. OK Here the 102 goes I guess.
June 23, 1944
Friday. Move from Camp Swift to Fort Dix, NJ. Big troop train and so we get closer to War in Europe. Men in Batt. are asking me to move up there but I feel that I want to stay at Company level with Sgt. Brown. Time to start new diary as this old one is full.
July 15, 1944
Saturday. Big parade for Gen. Lear and then on pass to Trenton, NJ. First time see lots of black troops in Fort Dix. Work on schematics diagrams -- very technical stuff. On pole climb with steel leg spikes -- made the climb in 3 min., 20 sec. and on way down spikes slipped and I skinned my face some. Look like a gangster!
July 23, 1944
Sunday. Sgt. Tom Brown asks me to be his assistant in Co. Hqtrs and I accept so will now stay in the Company and be the radio wire man henceforth. Company called to strike duty in Philadelphia transit strike. I stay and get week furlough and catch the 5 PM Pensy to Chicago and on to home at 6 am next day.
August 14, 1944
Thursday. Had first airplane ride -- maybe I should have stayed in the air force but want to FLY when war is over. End of Furlough and ask MOM to come back to N. J. and she accepts -- will put her up in the guest house and she can see something of army life while I am at training -- so she just sits in sun and watches the base pass by. Think she enjoys it at night we go to the service club and see a show on Base.
August 26, 1944
Saturday. Pass to New York and Mom and I take rooms at the Prince George Hotel and then go see the stature of Liberty and the water front. Said a tearful GoodBYE on the train and I get off at Trenton and she rides on to Chicago and home.
August 30, 1944
Wednesday. Close this diary as I can't keep it as we are ready for POE and Europe. God Bless us all and keep us safe until........
----- Edward L. Souder
Additional Pages Devoted to Mr. Edward L. Souder's Military Career:
Edward L. Souder: the Return
Edward L. Souder: Letters Home
Edward L. Souder: Story Before Combat & Diary
Edward L. Souder: Ed's Story (Co. F., 405th Reg.)
Edward L. Souder: Additional Exerpts from Ed's Career
Edward L. Souder: Photo Album & Scrapbook
Ed's entire story, in his own (unabashed) words can be read on the website,World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words: Army Heroes, along with 28 other stories written by members of his infantry company. I highly recommend visiting the site and reading Ed Souder's story. I found it riveting. For those of you who wish to contact Ed, he can be emailed by clicking on the image below:
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Information was generously provided to World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words by Mr. Edward L. Souder of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The subjects of these essays are all members of Co. F., 405th Regiment.Our sincerest THANKS for allowing us to share their stories!
Original Story submitted on 5 December
Story added to website on 16 December 2003.
September 5, 2002.
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