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: Letters Home
The following are two letters that Edward L. Souder has just shared with us. The two letters are significant for they illustrate what a G.I. was experiencing during his time in combat -- especially in NOT knowing what was going to happen next.
What is especially moving about Ed's letters is that they were both written just prior to his being wounded with the second letter being written but one day prior to the fateful day that changed his life forever.
Here are Ed's letters.
The first letter is undated and is page #2 of the letter. The first page and beyond the 2nd page are missing...
[Text of letter is below]
It's funny how time flies, we have no calender put up around here and one day passes into another in a mad jumbe of time -- mostly composed of darkness. The days are short and so we live mostly in the dark. Our dugouts are dark & we are mostly dirty & muddy but really very happy if you don't allow yourself to think about nice things like chairs, tables & soft beds. We do keep quite warm and all our needs are taken care of (b----) so that is that.
Day before yesterday I had a special treat. Our chaplin has founded a "Rest House" for us in a near by town so I went back for a show & 3 squares & was lucky enough to get a pass into [censor deleted] the good sized Dutch town of [censor deleted] and there spent a very enjoyable few hours seeing civilized people again. I visited the old church whose picture I enclose & it truly is lovely -- built in 1226 -- over 700 years old. It is a completely little village and is indeed worth seeing. The alter in magnificient. The organ much like the one at Salt Lake (didn't hear it though). In the town are real bells which play in clocks, pieces every 15 minutes, and on the hour a big bell strikes in deep funerial tone -- can hear it all over town. Will enclose some picture cards for you all to enjoy later. I am glad I had the chance to see such wonderful place. Wish you could also have been there with me but maybe I can take you later sometimes. The Dutch are such a clean people and their houses are as neat as a pin, inside & out. Very friendly & glad to see the Americans. They greet you with "Hello" and guess they mean it truely.
Just got our of P.X. ration of candy, cookies, tobacco & other essentials so had to stop & shell out 27 francs for my individual breakdown. We get such issue once a week & altho its lots of trouble where we are, its nice to get any how. Sgt. Brown & I are still together & enjoying each others company. We try to get the same shift of duty at night & so keep the long hours passing pleasantly. That is if I'm in at all. Don't worry about me because whenever I go out on the line I have a guard along to cover me while work and povide firepower just in case. I carry several grenades and stuff like that plus a carbine so all is taken care of that way. My biggest fear is from shells and one can hear them coming & if they are close you can get in a hole or keep close contact with Mother Earth until its thru & and then go back to work again and get home as as soon as possible.
Do hope to hear from Bill again soon and maybe from the troop & it's newspaper, but guess the mail is being mean & not bring me ------------- [remainder of letter is missing]
Ed's second letter is three pages in length and was written on 27 November 1944 -- just one day prior to his being wounded.
[Text of letter is below]
Well they sure move us around here. I am again in a Nazi pillbox after a stay in a town & stretch of duty in the line and then a stay in another town and now here in their concrete block house.
Don't think I ever told you how one of these places is built. The walls are about 3 feet thick with the overall dimensions of 30' x 30' x 4-6' headroom inside the doors are lined with steel. Doors are steel up to 1 inch thick with port holes for firing. Bunks are provided to sleep 18-20 men & before the gerries left there were electrity lights, heated and ventilated but no such luxuries remain now. At least we keep dry while occupying the position & so we are greateful for this priviledge.
You know, its getting terribly hard to write letters -- why? I can't understand but it is. Last night we got to figuring out how long we had been here on this side. Its only two months but it seems like 10-12 months. I can't even remember what a malted milk tastes like, what a pretty girl or woman looks like or how mice you all look on Sunday morning on the way to church nor the smell of baked squash & meat loaf and APPLE PIE. (with ice cream on it). Well maybe it can all be again someday not to far away. Lets pray so.
Just want to tell you your 3 Xmas boxes came two days ago and as I had no place to carry the contents I opened them and at once used the stockings, hankerchefts & blades & shaving cream. These were so very welcome. How you knew I needed a new billfold is beyond me but my old one fell apart a week ago & the new one is the best I've ever owned. How can I say thanks enough. Now to work to the big things. The pictures are perfect. Those of the boat are much to my liking and those of the fellows I've passed to them that want them.
Some of those of the fellow are good but the one of Sgt. Brown is blurred but its my only one I'll keep it. He's still tops with me. He got a new picture of his wife Irene, and was he ever tickled. She lives at 223 West Orange St., Gainsville, Florida, so if you want to drop a X-mas card to her for us both over here it might surprise her and open a new friendship for the Souder family. Its a nice idea I think.
Now back to the Xmas package. The fruit cake & candy were put away for a few hours but when we got notice to attack I opened the candy -- took some & passed it around to the fellows. The fruit cake I put in my hip pocket & when I got settled for the night in a shell hole, I opened it and ate it as I was afraid that if I didn't eat it then, I might never so I had 3/4 of it & Sgt. Brown had some & it surely was good. Seems like a terrible place to enjoy your Christmas fruit cake but I did give thanks as I ate it and the good Lord answered my prayers & brought me safely then. Maybe you were praying at the same time. There is no athiest in any foxhole. Had hoped to have some wine with it when I ate it but when Jerry is throwing a Panzer division at you, you don't have much to drink for pleasure around. So it goes. I got out without a scratch, had a radio shot off my back & had German 88's fired at my little radio ariel point blank but none hit in two days. My back gave out on me after we were relieved so it now is taped and fells much better again. This is the first time my back has gone out since I was at Fort Knox. This time it nearly was serious as the radio operator is important and you have to keep on the ball, regardless and if we had had to go much farther I fully believe that and I would have fallen out of he company. Another little example of the power of Prayer. All in all I've been very lucky & I hope my luck doesn't give out until I again get home again. Then let come what may.
Also much to my delight came a big envelope from WCCO with "Ye Oven" and many interesting attached papers which I've wanted for a long time. Ye Oven is about the best yet and I surely endorse the closed P about continuance of the document at Mirror Lake.
Intend to get V mail to all the service fellows soon and will you send me Gauher's new address, as he needs one to keep us in contact. Had to laugh at the notice of Patial changes -- looks like the rumored shape up took place in true Souder style. Good boy -- do it again for me, will yah? Sure hope for a (time out to fight a dawn patrol) -- all quiet now. The sun is out and looks like good bombing weather. Johnny's aircorps is out in force again & they sound good to my ears.
Now in town finishing this -- that is another town where our suppy point is so am finishing in a hurry so will get this off. The air is invigorating and nice. Do enjoy the clear moonlite nights & early dawns. Pheasant are abundant and so are the deer -- no venison yet buy maybe for Xmas.
Please take care of yourselves & be as good as possible. Love to you all and I'll try to be careful. Its deadly business but I get a kick out of it. Am well & stuff -- greet everyone please.
----- 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!
Story submitted on 9 February 2004.
Story added to website on 22 February 2004.
September 5, 2002.
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