Biography of William E. Bramswig

Staff Sgt, Company F, 2nd Bat, 345th Reg, 87th Div.,  3rd Army, USA

    On Lincoln's birthday, 1943 I had a half-day off from work as an office boy for 20th Century Fox Films, New York City.

     I had not heard from my draft board as to my standing in the draft and you were to check every 6 months. When I gave them my name, William Bramswig, the woman said they had cards for Henry, my father and for John and Francis, my older brothers; but no card for William. When she told the headman he said make up a card for William.

     Two months later in April, I was in the Army and sent to Camp Stewart, Georgia, for anti-aircraft training. Inside of 14 months I was sent to desert maneuvers in Arizona and then to Fort Bliss, Texas.

     A notice came to the anti-aircraft that the army was in need of Infantrymen and they were looking for volunteers. A few of us joined up and were sent to Fort Jackson, South Carolina. I was a corporal and they made me a Sargent, which was April 1944. In October I was sailing on the Queen Elizabeth with 13,000 other troops to England. In December we were in France and went right to the front. I was a rifleman. The only people in front of me were the enemy. It was the only place in the world you could shoot someone and it was not murder.

     I spent four months on the front lines and, besides the Germans, we fought the winter - in foxholes. I have been told it takes 13 people to supply a combat soldier. Truck drivers, stevedores, supply Sgt’s., cooks, medics, mail clerks etc. I told my First Sgt. that I would like to trade places with those people, but he said I had a job to take care of my squad and be an Assistant Platoon Leader.

     In 4 months many of our people were wounded, killed or had trench foot which is very bad. In March, ’45 we crossed the Moselle and Rhine Rivers by boat. The enemy was on the run yet to close in front of us to build a pontoon bridge.

     "The Ardennes Forest Battle of the Bulge" - when we got there with General Patton's 3rd army it was like the Wild West. The German army was very powerful and they beat the hell out of us GI's that were in the way.

     Somehow we did stop them. I'm talking about our young 18, 19, 20 year old draftees. Scared, cold but above it all, we were fighting for our country and there were very few babies.

     We GI's could talk for days about the war. Our President Roosevelt died April 12th and that day I was told I was to be taken off the line that morning and go home on R&R for 45 days. R&R are rest and recuperation. I was alive and didn't have a scratch to talk about. It was the luckiest day of my life. A few days later, I wrote a letter home to tell the folks that I was coming.

April 15th 1945

Germany

Dear Ma,

  I got some news here that I was going to hold back from telling you for a surprise. But before my mail starts coming back to the states I better tell you I am coming home on a furlough. I am O.K. and in perfect health, so don't worry.

 I am leaving the front lines tomorrow the 16th. I probably will take a month to get home, so don't expect me at 1850 Park Avenue until the middle of May. The transportation from here to the States is hard to get. So don't get to excited waiting for me.

 You can tell everyone to stop writing and stop the packages. The furlough will be 30 or 45 days. So I will have the best part of the summer home.

 The war is going along very good over here. This is probably the luckiest break of my life. If I don't write, don't worry, I am on my way home.

  Love Willie     

     I had three combat battle stars: Ardennes Battle of the Bulge, Central Europe and Rhineland Campaign. I received the Bronze Star and the Presidential Unit Citation for our regiment being the 1st into the German and Siegfreid line. From the time I joined The Third Army until I left we suffered 27,000 killed, 106,000 wounded – this from a book. I was supposed to have 12 men in my squad but could never keep more than 8 or 9, even as replacements kept coming. I Came home on the Washington, a hospital ship with extra room.

     Private Ryan was a nice movie for the people back home, but the real GI's who were in the real thing, their memories are an Academy Award.

     Many men were killed, many men got the Purple Heart, many men were prisoners of war, and many men like myself kept fighting up front, waiting for our time to be up. They sent me home before any of the above happened. It was the roll of the dice.

87th Division 15, 000 men - Days in Combat 134

Casualties

Killed 1,109

Wounded 4,110

Missing 306

Captured 30

Battle Casualties 5,555

Non-Battle Casualties 6,032

Total Casualties 11,587

Percent of T/O Strength 82.2

Campaigns

Ardennes

Rhineland

Central Europe

Individual Awards

Congressional Medal of Honor 1

Distinguished Service Cross 3

Legion of Merit 13

Silver Star 391

Soldiers Medal 23

Bronze Star 847

Air Medal 49

Prisoners of War Taken 10,282

----- Staff Sgt. William E. Bramswig

         Co F 345th Infantry Regiment

         87th Infantry Division

         General Patton's 3rd Army

        jbjb93@aol.com

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