Honoring the Memories and Sacrifices

St. Louis Gateway Chapter  •  Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge WWII  •  Saint Louis, Missouri

Chapter News

Printed Newsletter: Membership in the St. Louis Gateway Chapter Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge includes a subscription to the Chapter Newsletter. Published 4 times each year, the newsletter features lists of upcoming events, reunions, photos, membership and educational information, chapter business and articles of interest.

Message from Chapter President

(Nov-Dec 2015)

This has been a trying time from May through September. As reported in our last newsletter, Kent Stephens, our member #1 passed away in May.

Then in September, we got word that Stewart Piper, our member #2, died. We had a well received VBOB memorial service at the wake. A number of Stu's friends and relatives came up to us afterwards and said how much it meant to them and the family. Thanks to all our members who participated.

Ironically, Stu's wife, Charlene, went on to a better place just eighteen days after Stu and Wally Gaterman's wife, Maxine passed at about the same time.

We did receive some good news, however... the Yankee Division Alumni organization selected Kent Stephens as their veteran of the year. The award will be given to Kent's daughter later this year. Ben Weber has written a tribute to Kent which will be in the next addition of the Bulge Bugle.

Don’t forget our Memorial Service, followed by the Christmas Party, will be held on December 16th at the Royale Orleans. Our guest speaker will be Dr. Vince Casaregola who is a professor at St. Louis University and Director of their Film Studies program.

Dave Schroeder, President

(Sept-Oct 2015)

I want to take the time to thank Marvin Korte for serving the Gateway Chapter as Treasurer for over 15 years. Marvin, his wife, Dee, and his son, Don, have been an integral part of our organization.

Marvin was drafted in 1943 just a month after graduating from high school. He served with the 84th Infrantry Division in Holland, Belgium. Luxembourg and Germany. He was wounded in March 1945. He was honored with the Combat Infantry Badge, the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, World War II Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal, and the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign medal with two Battle Stars.

Just a few reminders: 1) Annual Members Picnic is September 8th at the Elks Lodge in Affton in their new covered outdoor picnic area. 2) Memorial Service is on December 16th at the Royale Orleans.  Our guest speaker is Dr. Vince Casaregola who is a professor at St. Louis University and Director of their Film Studies program.

Dave Schroeder, President

Gateway Membership News

New Members: Ron Gill (Associate Life Member), Bernice Stiegemeier (Associate Member), Dorothy Pendleton (Associate Member), Sherry Weber (Associate Member), Charles Schneider (Associate Member), Teresa Coyle (Associate Member), Dorothy Bangert (Associate Member), Helen Kleinholz (Associate Member), Bobbi Ganz (Associate Member), Dwight Schofield (Associate Member), and Winfred "Wimpy" Kenner (3rd Signal Corps, 3rd INFD).

Chapter meeting attendance: January: 26 members and 2 visitors; February: 32 members and 2 visitors. March: 31 members; April: 30 members and 1 visitor; May: 29 members and 1 visitor; June: 26 members; July: 12 veterans and 18 associate members; Aug: 38 members and 1 guest; .

Requiem in Peace: Alex Deeken, Ann Barton , wife of Life Member Speed Barton, Meade Melvin McCain, Ernest Tarr, Kent Stephens, Joseph Trimberger, Raymond Weston, Stewart Piper, Charlene Piper (widow of Stu Piper), and Maxine Gatermann (widow of Wally Gatermann).

Chapter meeting speakers:

President Dave Schroeder welcomed Cameron Collins as guest speaker at the August meeting. Cameron is writing a book about lost treasures of St. Louis. Members were invited to offer ideas.

At the April meeting, Dan Gonzales, archivist of the Jefferson Barracks History Library and Museum located at the visitor center, was our guest speaker. Dan discussed efforts to preserve the history of our veterans during the period 1926-1946 when Jefferson Barracks was active. They are looking to collect histories, documents, photos and artifacts. He collaborates with the Missouri History Museum and the Soldiers Memorial downtown. Persons interested in donating items may contact him at 314-544-5714 or email him at dgonzales@stlouisco.com.

At the January meeting, Dwight Schofield spoke of his desire to be of service to our World War II veterans to show his appreciation for their service. He gave members his phone number and encourage them to call if they need any assistance. Dwight is a former player for the St. Louis Blues and works in the construction industry.

Announcements:

Vince Caseregola, Ph. D., Professor and Director of Film Studies for the College of Arts and Sciences at St. Louis University, will be guest speaker at the annual Memorial Service on December 16.

Reedy Press is working on a new book about lost St. Louis treasures. Members are encouraged to send photos or tell about their memories of places no longer here. Cameron Collins, author of the book, attended theJune meeting.

The Gateway Chapter bid a final farewell to President Emeritus, Kent Stephens, who passed away in May. As current President Dave Schroeder wrote in his bi-monthly newsletter article: Kent was our Chapter founder, leader, and cheerleader for many years. His dedication to the Chapter, the VBOB members, and the veteran community was seemingly endless. Sharing and educating others about the Battle of the Bulge and the sacrifices of so many during World War II was his passion. The Gateway Chapter shall continue with the vision and mission that Kent helped spearhead back in 1992.  An Interview with Kent - 2007  |   Read more about the Gateway Chapter History.

Long-time treasurer Marvin Korte stepped down as Chapter Treasurer, effective April 14. Marvin assumed duties as Treasurer in 1999, after serving as Sergeant-at-Arms for several years. Many thanks to Marvin for his dedicated service to the organization all these years. Kudos to Pat Mohrmann who has agreed to be our new Treasurer. Pat has served in a number of positions with the Ladies’ Auxiliary, including Secretary and Jack-of-all-Trades, in addition to overseeing the 50-50 drawings at meetings, picnics, and Christmas Parties.

Jerry Lucchesi reported at the February meeting that the Belgians made a memorial video about the herioic action of our military during the Battle of the Bulge. There is a monument on Bouck's Hill commemorating the actions of our own Lyle Bouck and his platoon.

Educational Events

Gene Ganz, Educational Program Chairman, reported on educational events: the annual Wildwood Founders Day which offers face-to-face opportunies for the public to visit with our VBOB members, other veterans and representatives of the Missouri history project as well as information about programs at area high schools and other organizations.

The all-day program at Lindbergh High School in April was very successful. There were 50 veterans in attendance. Gene talked to 14 classes, ranging in size from 4-12 students each. The May program at Marquette High School was the last program before summer break. The question and answer format continues to work well and will be used instead of a formal presentation. Other programs this year: Lafayette High School and Providence Christian Academy in February. Additionally, Rich Coyle reported a speaking engagement at Westminster Academy in February. Educational Program

Financial News

Treasurer Pat Mohrmann reported in July that donations totaling $545.00 in memory of Kent Stephens were received by the Gateway Chapter. The Chapter approved purchasing a memorial brick through the brick program to help support the POW/MIA museum in Jefferson Barracks Park.

Kent Stephens’ daughter donated $200 to our chapter to pay for the new flags recently installed at the monument.

Pat Mohrmann reported that Ladies Auxiliary funds from the year 2014 were donated to Jefferson Barracks Hospital. The Fischer House and the veteran's transportation fund each received $150. The Ladies Auxiliary was merged with the Chapter membership in mid-2014.

2015 Gala Christmas Party and Annual Memorial Service

The Gateway Chapter of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge will have their Gala Christmas party on Wednesday, December 16, 2015, at Royale Orleans. The festivities will begin shortly after the Memorial Service, which will be held indoors at Royale Orleans and will start at 10 am. This year’s speaker will be Dr. Vince Casaregola, English Professor at Saint Louis University and Director of their Film Studies program. Additionally, Webster Groves High School will provide a choir to sing the National Anthem and two buglers to play "Taps".

Nice Turnout for Gateway Chapter Picnic

For the first time in recent memory, the annual picnic took place in the absence of heat, humidity, and flying insects, as it was held indoors at the Affton Elks Lodge. Activities included the ever-popular bingo games and 50-50 drawings. The Elks served a delicious array of pulled pork, fried chicken, baked beans, cole slaw, and rolls, and then told us the whole thing was going to be provided at no charge to us. What a nice surprise! The Affton Elks continue to amaze us with their hospitality and generosity, and we certainly appreciate what they do for us.

Members Attend Wildwood Founders’ Day Event and Parade

For the third straight year, Gateway Chapter members participated in the Wildwood Founders Day event on August 29. Our veterans rode in Rod Stout’s half-track (Thanks Rod!!) and then met with event-goers in an air-conditioned tent. Thanks to Sally Branson for arranging everything for us and for providing lunch for those of us who came out for the occasion.

New Year's Toast

In Tribute to all who served in the Battle of the Bulge, let us drink a toast again this year (the 18th year) on New Year’s Day. The choice of beverage is yours.

The times are: 12:00 noon Pacific, 1:00 pm, Mountain; 2:00 pm Central; 3:00 pm Eastern. It is our special way to be together again, even if only in our thoughts. We shared so much so many years ago, we should remember those who were with us and be grateful for each and every one.

Let us all join in a toast to Days Gone By and to the Future.

To All, a Happy and Healthy New Year to You and Yours
(In Memory of W. Kent Stephens)

Museum Exhibit / Archiving Project

Bill Pilger’s display at the JB Heritage Foundation Museum is coming along nicely. The centerpiece of the exhibit is Helen Keilholz’s VBOB quilt. Bill is still looking for small memorabilia to display. Thanks to Pat Mohrmann for lending some of her items. If you’re in the park, be sure to stop by the Museum. It’s at 96 Worth Rd., by the parade grounds, next to the Missouri Civil War Museum.

Those of you who have old photos of past Gateway Chapter events, meetings, parades, etc, please remember to bring them to the meetings so we can have them scanned into our ongoing archiving project.

Memorial Ceremony Available

A Memorial Ceremony is available for members of the St. Louis Gateway Chapter of the Battle of the Bulge.

Chaplain Eugene Ganz watches the obituaries, calls the family and offers the Memorial Ceremony. If the Ceremony is accepted, the Chaplain makes arrangements for time and place, usually the funeral home the day prior to the furneral. The Memorial Ceremony is also available for former members when the family calls and requests it.

Military Items

If you have military items you no longer use or want, they can be useful in school presentations. Such items include: division identification, gun belts, medical containers, helmets, canteens, “dinner plates”, entrenching tools, etc. All these are good display items. You may also have some green VBOB shirts, belts, caps, or bolos that are no longer needed. Bring any of the above to monthly meetings or call Gene Ganz (636) 227-1930.

A Bit of History:

The Battle of Hürtgen Forest

The Battle of Hürtgen Forest was a series of fierce battles fought from September 19 to December 16 1944 between U.S. and German forces during World War II in the Hürtgen Forest about 50 sq. mi. east of the Belgian–German border. It was the longest battle on German ground during World War II, and is the longest single battle the U.S. Army has ever fought.

The U.S. commanders' initial goal was to pin down German forces in the area to keep them from reinforcing the front lines further north in the Battle of Aachen, where the Allies were fighting a trench war between a network of fortified industrial towns and villages speckled with pillboxes, tank traps and minefields. A secondary objective may have been to outflank the front line. The Americans' initial tactical objectives were to take Schmidt and clear Monschau. In a second phase the Allies wanted to advance to the Rur River as part of Operation Queen.

Generalfeldmarshall Walter Model intended to bring the Allied thrust to a standstill. While he interfered less in the day-to-day movements of units than at Arnhem, he still kept himself fully informed on the situation, slowing the Allies' progress, inflicting heavy casualties and taking full advantage of the fortifications the Germans called the Westwall, better known to the Allies as the Siegfried Line. The Hürtgen Forest cost the U.S. First Army at least 33,000 killed and wounded, including both combat and non-combat losses; German casualties were 28,000. The city of Aachen in the north eventually fell on October 22 at high cost to the U.S. Ninth Army, but they failed to cross the Rur or wrest control of its dams from the Germans. The battle was so costly that it has been described as an Allied "defeat of the first magnitude," with specific credit given to Model.

The Germans fiercely defended the area because it served as a staging area for the 1944 winter offensive Watch on the Rhine (German: Unternehmen: Wacht am Rhein—later known as the Battle of the Bulge), and because the mountains commanded access to the Rur Dam at the head of the Rur Reservoir. If the floodgates were opened, the resulting surge would flood low-lying areas downstream and temporarily prevent forces from crossing the river. The Allies failed to capture the area after several heavy setbacks and the Germans successfully held the region until they launched their last-ditch offensive into the Ardennes. The Battle of the Bulge gained widespread press and public attention, leaving the Battle of Hürtgen Forest largely forgotten.

Source: Wikipedia

Weapons and Tactics

In a war that featured Blitzkriegs, V2 rockets, and nuclear weapons, it's easy to forget about some of the more olde-timey weapons and tactics used during the conflict. Here are several that proved their worth.

(1) WW1-Style Bi-Planes
No technology advanced as quickly during the Second World War as aircraft. By the end of the six-year conflict, the U.S. was dominating the skies with planes like the P-51 Mustang fighter and the Boeing B-29 Superfortress. At the same time, the Nazis were experimenting with jet aircraft, while the Japanese were working on intercontinental bombers. But antiquated bi-planes still served an important purpose.

Perhaps the most effective of these aircraft was the Italian Fiat C.4.42 Falco, or Falcon. By the time it came off the assembly line in 1938, it was already out of date. It may have been easy to maneuver, but it was slow and lightly armed. These planes were used during the Battle of Britain where their limitations became immediately obvious, but they fared a bit better in the Mediterranean theatre, where the British were also deploying outdated models. The Falcons really proved their worth when the Germans used hundreds of them as bombers for night raids and anti-partisan missions. Incredibly, they were used up until May 1945.

Other bi-planes used during the war include the UK’s Gloster S.S.37 Gladiator (the last fighter biplane used by the Royal Air Force), and the Soviet Polikarpov PO-2, designed in 1927. German soldiers nicknamed it the “sewing machine” on account of its pitiful engine noise. But the PO-2s were still a problem for the Germans, particularly during the Battle of Stalingrad, when female Soviet pilots, dubbed “Night Witches,” used them as light bombers for night raids. These daring pilots temporarily turned off the engines when approaching enemy positions; the swish of wind against the wings of one of these outmoded aircraft was often the last thing a German soldier ever heard.

(2) The Cavalry Charge

The First World War is generally regarded as the conflict that finally put an end to the cavalry as an effective fighting force, but there were some notable instances when mounted troops were still able to make a difference. Military History Now explains: "Germany had four cavalry divisions in World War Two. The Soviets had 13. And in 1941, Life magazine reported that the U.S. Army was supplying itself with 20,000 horses. In fact...it was the biggest order for horses the army had placed since the Civil War. On the battlefield, cavalry made a number of contributions during World War Two."

The Soviets in particular, who had a rich tradition of mounted troops via the Cossacks, made effective use of cavalry during the war, even increasing the number of units over the duration of the conflict. To oppose the Red Army, some Ukrainian Cossacks served with the Germans in reaction to the atrocities inflicted by Joseph Stalin during the 1930s.

(3) Four-legged Logistics

The Second World War wasn’t as motorized as one might think. The Germans were particularly dependent on horses for their logistics. It has been estimated that 80% of the Wehrmacht was horse-drawn; at any given time during the war, the Germans maintained some 1.1-million horses.

During Operation Barbarossa, the Germans mobilized some 3-million men, 600,00 vehicles, 3,350 tanks, and somewhere between 600,000 and 750,000 horses. That’s about one horse for every four men. And of course, all those horses needed to be fed; on average, each required about 13 pounds of feed a day, for a total of 4,500 tons (9,921,000 pounds!) per day.

(4) Communications Pigeons
Using birds to transmit messages is a technique that dates back to the time of the ancient Persians. During the Franco-Prussian war of 1861, Parisians, trapped by the German siege, released homing pigeons from hot air balloons to infiltrate enemy lines. Birds were also used extensively in WWI.

During the Second World War, the British used as many as 250,000 homing pigeons to transmit sensitive messages. They even set up an Air Ministry Pigeon Section to support the effort.

Using pigeons in these numbers may seem excessive, but they had good reasons for doing so. Unlike radio signals, which could be picked up by virtually anyone within range of their transmission, birds were rarely intercepted (though some were shot out of the sky by enemy sharpshooters). These pigeons also allowed the British military to decrease its dependence on radio communications, which was often interpreted by the enemy as a sign of potential military action.

(5) Trench Warfare

Trenches have been around for hundreds of years, though they rose in prominence during the stalemated WWI. During the Second World War, armies managed to steer mostly clear of trenches, owing to the power of armored mobile warfare—but there were still instances when troops had no choice but to dig in for the long term and construct trenches, fortified defenses, and underground bunkers.

During the Battle of Sevastopol in Crimea, the Soviets held a trench system for several months against relentless German artillery. In Stalingrad, both the Soviets and Axis troops created rudimentary trench systems in the city ruins. During the Siege of Leningrad, soldiers and citizens constructed a fortified region consisting of hundreds of miles of timber barricades and anti-tank ditches. Extensive trench-like defensive systems were also utilized by the Soviets at the Battle of Kursk, and by the Germans in both Italy and the beaches of Normandy.

Over in the Pacific, Japanese soldiers dug into the mountains of Iwo Jima, and built fixed fortifications in Okinawa and Guadalcanal.

(6) Flooding as a Weapon

The deliberate flooding of low-lying areas is a tactic that dates back hundreds of years. Recent work by Dutch researcher Adriaan de Kraker shows that, since the year 1500, about one-third of all floods in southwestern Netherlands were deliberately caused by humans during wartime. This old-school tactic, in which dykes are destroyed to gain a tactical advantage, was employed by both the Germans and Allied forces during WW2.

As the Germans were retreating along the Western Front in 1944, they left a terrible trail of destruction in their wake. In the Scheldt Estuary, for example, advancing Allied troops, who were making their way north from Antwerp toward South Beveland, suddenly encountered fields flooded with water. The deliberately flooded terrain proved treacherous for the advancing troops, causing them to slow their advance. Meanwhile, the Germans were able to evade both land and aerial reconnaissance.

But the Allies also bombed the dykes; during the same campaign, the island stronghold of Walcheren was attacked from the air. The resulting floods constrained German movement, significantly speeding up the Allied offensive. After a month of fighting, the Allies prevailed — but at the cost of 12,873 casualties, nearly half of them Canadians.

Source: io9.com

Newsletter Ideas and Opinions - Your Input Desired

Please consider sharing information for the Gateway Chapter newsletter. Items which may be of interest to our readers, as well as Letters to the Editor, should be sent to Don Korte. All points of view are welcome. Letters must be signed and will be printed on a space-available basis. Deliver to Don at the monthly meeting. We have had some excellent submissions in the past and look forward to hearing from you.

"Victory Through Valor" and GI Statue Book of Honor

We are now able to offer the reduced price of $15.00 for the "Victory Through Valor" book due to the quantity of books printed. You can still get your book signed by a number of the members who are in the book. The price of the GI Statue Book of Honor is $5.00. Both books are available at the monthly meetings or you can have it sent by the USPS.     More about the book project   View photos of book signings

Newsletter Archive - Highlights of 2013 & 2014