385th Infantry Regiment

Additions, Corrections and Memories

Victor Feigelman Bernard Z. Lee 1st Sgt. Fred Jennie A. E. Thomas
Edward J. Jesz CWO Charles B. Larrison 1st Lt. Thomas Raymond Lyons Staff Sgt Anthony N. Esposito

NAME: Victor Feigelman, 2nd Battalion Anti-Tank Platoon, 385th Inf. (10 Dec. 2002)

Recently,while searching the net, I came across your request for reminiscences of the brief US "occupation" of parts of eastern Germany in 1945. Perhaps you would be interested in this ironic story.
I was with the 2nd Battalion Anti-Tank Platoon,385th Inf.,76th Division. As you know, we arrived on the preliminary Yalta line about 10 days before May 8 and awaited the arrival of our Russian allies. My squad with our 57mm AT gun was in position at the crest of a long grassy slope overlooking the city of Chemnitz. There, I witnessed what may have been the last wartime death in the ETO; and it was not a GI or a German soldier.
On the morning of the 8th, word came down that all firing would cease at midnight. I have a photo, taken that morning, we're sitting around with broad smiles and glasses in hand. Midafternoon,a rifle squad dug in halfway down the slope received orders to pull back to the village behind our position. They could sleep in beds that night. About 3PM, we saw 4 boys about 10 or 12 years old playing around near the abandoned foxholes and chased them away. But they came back. Ten minutes later there was a loud pop. Somebody had gotten sloppy and left a hand grenade on the ground, and sure enough, one of the kids had picked it up and pulled the pin. One boy was down and the others were dancing around and screaming. About five of us ran down the hill and half-pulled and half-carried them up the road behind the position. There was one of our trucks nearby and we loaded them in and took off to the Battalion aid-station. I had the least seriously (injured) kid on my lap next to the driver. The others were in the back of the truck.
As we approached the village, I recall seeing a civilian walking by the edge of the road; there was no road shoulder. He was dressed all in black,cap coat,pants,boots, and was pulling a large wooden cart on four wheels. The next thing I knew, the truck veered into the cart, and the cart-puller and pieces of wood were flying ahead. The civilian was dead about seven hours before midnight, so he may have been the last wartime casualty in the ETO.
The driver was beside himself,saying he doesn't know what happened-he just blacked out. None of us in the truck, including the injured kids were hurt in the accident. The next day, those of us involved were told to report to a Battalion officer.(The war was now over maybe he had to explain to the local Burgomeister).

Was the driver drunk?
No sir,not as far as I could tell.
Was any drinking going on?
Well, everybody had had a drink to celebrate the end of the firing.
Sir,how did the kids make out?
They all survived.
Thank you, sir.

Over the last 57 years, I've told this story to only a few people, but I've replayed it in my mind often. I know that sometimes memory can embellish events and change details, but this is the way I remember it.

Victor Feigelman

NAME: Bernard Z. Lee, Anti-Tank Company, 385th Inf. (26 May 2003)

I served in the Anti Tank Company of the 385 Infantry Regiment. In the last days of the War we were in a gun position just outside of Zwickau. We were positioned near an autobahn and protecting an underpass. Our gun was about 300 yards on our side of the autobahn and we could observe the Germans, about the same distance on the other side. There was occasional sniper fire from their side and we had orders to and did destroy a two story building from whence it came. Our orders were to hold this position until the Russians reached the other side. The end was imminent.
After a few days of this sort of activity, our squad leader, Sgt. Camac, an old man (40ish) by our standards, we were all in our early 20s, decided to take us over to where the Germans were located, to pursuade them to surrender. None of us were keen to join him, so one morning, under a bed sheet on a pole, Mac, who spoke no German, he headed off, alone,through the underpass.
He was gone an interminal time and finally returned to say that a delegation from the German side would be over next day to discuss the situation. The next day, I would guess it to be the 5th or 6th of May, just days before VE Day, 2 German soldiers came through the underpass, under a white flag. Expecting them we had alerted Company headquaters and we were joined by our Exec. 1st Lt. Darrell T. Morrison.
The 2 Germans were Sergeants and clearly had seen a lot of the War. The wore their decorations which included the Iron Cross and we were their equivalent of the Purple Heart, with several clusters.
With my bad high school German I acted as an interpreter. Lt. Morrison did the talking for our side. I was to tell them to surrender, forthwith. They refused. Morrison said we'd call on the artillary to blow them out. They still refused. Morrison was now hot and suggested we would call in some air to bomb them into submission. Again they refused. But this time with some expanation.
Firstly, they knew the end was near. They and we could hear a hellacious battle going on behind them, which we both knew to be with the Russians. And their experiences on several fronts told them how to deal with both artillary and bombing, so they were unconcerned. But they did not want to surrender, at least not just then, for fear of reprisals on them or their families, should it not be over. They would not surrender to the Russians and should the end really be at hand they would come our way, voluntarily.
While this hardly pleased Lt. Morrison it was clear we could do no more other than to agree to an armistice, which we did. No more firing at one another. As they were leaving, they proposed we put together a football team and meet the following day for a match. Needless to say that did not please Lt. Morrison, in the least.
Two or three days later hoards of German soldiers of all sorts of rank including a Colonel came parading through the underpass in surrender. Our small squad of 8 was besieged by hundreds of newly created prisoners of war. It was VE Day!

Bernard Z. Lee

NAME: 1st Sgt. Fred Jennie, Company K, 385th Inf. (27 Oct. 2003)

In browsing the internet, I was surprised to see the posting by Allan Thomas. His story was exactly what happened. I know, because I was the 1st Sgt. of Co. K from Camp McCoy to Zwickau, near the Czech border on May '45.. After crossing the Saar river at Echternach and capturing the pillboxes, we lived in them for a few weeks. When the Jerries left the pillbox they graciously left several cases of german canned beans for us. They tasted pretty good. We were actually somewhat 'pinned down' in the company headquarterd pillbox, but when the weather cleared, out we went and General Patton never looked back. We did not like his rules, but we never lost a battle. We even had a Silver Star recipient! Best regards to Allan Thomas and other Co K members. I think we did a helluva good job over there!
Fred Jennie

NAME: A. E. Thomas, Company C, 385th Inf. (12 Nov. 2003)

All who are concerned:
My father, A.E. Thomas, is a WWII Veteran and a member of the 76th Infantry Div. 385th Regiment 1st Batallion CHARLEY Company. He is now eighty-one years old and has only recently begun sharing stories, photos, and memories of his war experiences. I have found the 385th's website helpful and inspiring. Anyone with additional information about or memories that would connect to my Dad would be very much welcomed. I plan to offer pictures and stories once we are able to identify each fully and record linked stories. In the meantime I can be reached at:
Thanks, and God Bless Our Veterans!
J.E. Thomas

NAME:Edward J. Jesz, Company L, 385th Inf. (23 January 2008)

Dear Mr. Brown

My father, Edward J. Jesz, was a member of the 76th Infantry Division, 385th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Battalion, "L" ("Love") Company. My dad passed away in February 2001, but I wanted to forward these photos with you to share with any surviving veterans of the 76th. Unfortunately, I do not have any additional information regarding the other soldiers in the pictures, but maybe someone may be able to provide additional identification if the photos are added to the web site.
I hope you find these photos helpful.
Ron Jesz
Rockwall, TX

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NAME:CWO Charles B. Larrison, Service Company, 385th Inf. (25 February 2008)

My name is Marie Larrison. I am a granddaughter of CWO Charles B. Larrison, who served in the Service Co of the 385th. My knowledge of my grandfather's service is sketchy at best because he wouldn't talk much about it. But I'm fairly certain of a few things though. He lived in Buffalo, New York before the war. He had 2 children, my father and my Aunt Eve. He was a member of the New York National Guard. I'm not sure how he ended up in the 385th or even the 76th Division but it must have been fairly soon after his call up because I believe he went with the division to Camp McCoy. It was there he met the woman who would become my father's stepmother.
Even though he wouldn't talk much about the war we did get a couple of stories out of him or at least through my father's stepmother after the war. One story is kind of funny even though he almost got shot by his own men as a result of it. It was after his unit had entered some small town or village in Germany and Grandpa was checking a house. It turned out that the family living there had had their son KIA earlier in the war and they had a few momentos of him in the house including his leather overcoat and garrison hat (I'm not sure what they called in the German army but it's the round hat with the front bill). I don't know what ever prompted him to do it, but when the family offered the coat and hat to my grandfather he put them on and walked to the front window of the house and stood there for a while. Well, when the troops passing the window saw him, they raised their rifles and were about to shoot him when he pulled off the cap and shouted at them not to shoot , it was him! It seems he had a hard time living that episode down.
Another time, he was in convoy along some road or another when the convoy came under artillery fire. Per SOP, the convoy halted and everybody dove for the nearest ditch. After they had been lying there awhile with their faces in the dirt the people around him heard Grandpa start laughing. When they asked him what the hell he was laughing at, he told them he had left the Thompson submachine gun he had wrangled so hard to get, on his truck. Apparently, he thought it would be hilarious that something he wasn't really supposed to have in the first place would get blown up at the end of the war.
The not so funny story involves Grandpa and a tank. The story we get from Dad's stepmother is about when Grandpa's unit was involved in the relief of Bastogne. Even though the advance through the Bulge had stalled and the Germans were beginning to get pushed back, it seems they still had some fight left in them. I don't know where, when or any other details but apparently Grandpa's was dug in with his unit when a German tank showed up from somewhere. They didn't have any antitank weapons with them so they couldn't stop the beast. So not only did it keep coming but it ran right over the foxhole my Grandpa was in. Dad's stepmother said Grandpa would have nightmares about it years after the war.
Grandpa returned from the war and became a supervisor for the US Post Office in Syracuse, NY. He passed away in November, 1985 after a long illness. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
I would be interested in knowing if anybody who remembers Grandpa is still living and where.
I hope this is of some interest to you.

Marie Larrison
Federal Way, WA

NAME:1st Lt. Thomas Raymond Lyons, Headquarters Company, 385th Inf. (17 July 2010)

My name is Thomas Phalen and I am writing you in regards to your website and the 385th infantry regiment registry. My grandfather was in this unit serving as a First Lieutenant in Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 385th Infantry Regiment in the 76th Infantry Division. He attended South Dakota State College in Brookings, South Dakota and was in the ROTC program there. Before his class could be commissioned as officers they were called to active duty. His ROTC group became known as the '44 Kings (they were set to graduate in 1944). They then attended Basic Infantry training at Fort Wolters, Texas and upon completion went to officer candidate school at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was then sent to Camp McCoy in Wisconsin to join up with the 76th Division. Grandpa rarely ever spoke to me about the war but he did tell me about the little boy that his battalion "adopted" and how he wanted to bring him back here to the States He also told me a very humorous story of how him and his buddy fell asleep in a barn while somewhere in Germany and woke up the next morning to find a German Tiger tank sitting outside of the barn door when they opened it. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his service overseas. I am working on his military history now and will submit more when I have it completed also I have to scan a bunch of pictures to get digital copies of them. I have a very nice picture of the 2nd battalion before being deployed overseas taken at Camp McCoy. There is also a nice picture of him in the book "The 385th in the ETO" under the Headquarters Company 2nd Battalion section. He is second from the left in the picture. Thank you very much for this website and if there is any other information I can provide you just let me know.
Thomas Phalen

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NAME:Staff Sargent Anthony N. Esposito, 385th Inf. (7 March 2009)

My father, the late Anthony N. Esposito, was a Staff Sargent in the 385th Infantry Regiment of the 76th Infantry Division. He was born and raised in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He didn't like to talk much about his war experiences when I was growing up and I can remember only once, when he was much older, did he reflect on the fact that he saw how horrible war can truly be. He died in 2006 at the age of 88. He was a great guy!
I know he and his platoon drove a truck which towed an anti tank gun. I'd like to find out what battalion and company he was in but don't know how to go about finding this out. If you have any suggestions I'd appreciate it if you could pass them on to me.
I remember, back in the late Fifties and early Sixties, one or two of the men in his platoon would still send him Christmas cards every year. How my Dad loved receiving those cards. I only remember one person who sent my Dad a card, and by nickname only. "Whip". I often wonder about Whip and how many of the other men that were in my Dad's platoon are still around! Most of them I believe were younger than my Dad when they served together.
I have, passed on from my Dad, numerous photos I think he took at Forts Meade and A.P Hill and, I am sure, of Camp McCoy. Also several photos while he was in Germany. There are many photos of, I'm sure, the men in his platoon, but unfortunately my Dad wasn't the best at identifying who was in the photo on the backside. I have what I believe are his battalion and company group photos. I also have an original copy of "The 385th Regiment in the ETO" which you have on line and I also have a copy of the 76th Infantry Division's history. I'd be happy to provide, in the future, scanned copies of photos if you are interested.
This is a wonderful website and I am glad I found it. My only regret is that I found it too late to share it with my father!

Kind regards,
Anthony M. Esposito

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