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Over There, Over Here, Over There…
On Monday afternoon 19 June 1944, at 2:30,    all  personnel  of  the 475 MPEG Co. boarded  a  troop  train  at  Fort Custer, Michigan.  Twenty-six hours later they arrived at Camp Shanks, New York.   Camp Shanks  was  upriver from New York City  in a  sylvan glade above Nyack on the west bank of the Hudson.  It was under 
the command of the Transportation Corps  and  was  a  jumping  off  point for troops embarking to the European Theater of Operations  (ETO)LINK TO -- RECORDS OF U.S. THEATERS OF WAR IN WWII.     At 13:00 on Friday, 23 June,  the 475 boarded a  river steamer, a harbor boat,  and set sail for New York City.   At 19:00  the company  disembarked at Pier 86 and boarded ship NY-825,   H.M.S. Eastern Prince.  The cruise stateroom on this  English freighter masquerading as a troop ship was in a forward hold defined as an “upper ‘tween.” 
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Ships Gather to form a convoy INFORMATION SOURCE
Ships Gather for Convoy
Atlantic Convoy
From 24 June until 5 July 1944, this hold was to be home to  the 475  as the Prince zigzagged across the  north Atlantic with a mixed convoy of 30-some  ships  under  the  protection  of  several  destroyer escorts.   The 475  existed  within  the confines of  that  hold.  The tables for eating were  the sleeping pallets for many of the troops while others struggled in hammocks to find the arms of  Morpheus.  Woe be unto any  man  who chose  to  recline on  the  herd  of  duffel  bags  arrayed  on the hatch cover that separated the residence hold from presumably a “lower ‘tween” below.
An Escort Destroyer
like that Guarding the Convoy INFORMATION SOURCE
DD 437 Woosley - CONVOY ESCORT
Click on photo for 437's  Story
The  Prince  was  a  smaller  vessel that had been designed  to  transport  a  cargo  of   things,   not troops. Even  though  it  was  summer,  the  north Atlantic  proved  a  hostile   environment   for  the passengers   of   the  “upper  ‘tween.”     Messing was     a     complicated     process    whereby   a designated  GI from each table would climb to the deck  above  us  and retrieve  from  a   communal kitchen     a    compartmentalized   tray   of   such tempting    foodstuffs    as   green   liver,    usually leftover  from  breakfast,  or salt horse   and  gray potatoes    boiled   in   their   jackets.     The Brits appeared  to  be gaining revenge for the Battle of  Yorktown.        Usually    the    pitching    of   the
ship succeeded in mixing the Jell-O with the gravy and in making other tasty  combinations  as the mess boy descended the ladders from topside to  the anxiously waiting troops.   The troops  were “anxiously waiting” for  the first whiff of the aroma of food;  the aroma that would send  them scurrying  topside to the heads  (that’s what sailors call “latrines.”)  or the railings  to  relieve  their  churning  stomachs of the remnants of the previous meal. 
.........Even  the  officers  were  not immune to the ravages  of  motion  sickness.  Pvt. Paul Bradley,  by reason of having incurred the displeasure of the First Sergeant,  was working in the kitchen as a kitchen policeman (KP).   Paul, as a part of his KP job,  was  assigned to Mess duties for some of the officers. His  description of  the delivery of a meal  to one of the 475th’s officers is beyond repetition.   Too bad that Paul is no longer with us to recount it for us in his own inimitable style. 
.........Many  members  of  the  475 subsisted  for  the  twelve-day  crossing  on  a  candy  bar  called “Mallow Cup” and   room-temperature  kosher  Pepsi Cola,  both of  which  were  available in the PX, which sailors call “ship’s stores.”   There  were  endless card games on the mess tables and crap games with  dice  bouncing  off  a  handy  bulkhead.    No  one  seemed  to heed the Army’s order prohibiting gambling.
.........At 2300 hours on Tuesday, 4 July 1944,  the Eastern Prince  anchored  in  the  Firth of Clyde off Greenock, Scotland.  Although the hour neared midnight, it was still bright daylight due to the northern latitude and  double  Daylight Saving Time   (European War Time).   Next  day,  near  1530 hours,  the 475 MPEG Co. was  ferried  ashore  by  harbor   steamer.    It  entrained  about an hour later on the L.M.S. Railway  and  left   for the southern reaches of the U.K.    Next morning, at 600 hours, the train arrived  in  Bristol, England.   The  company  was  trucked  about 6  miles  to  Tyntesfield Camp, APO #508,  Long Ashton, near the Village of  Failand. 
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 Friday, 7 July 1944
 “I have arrived safely in England or at least that’s what I thought.  But after try-ing to barter for a glass of cider  and  a pint of bitter in a pub down  the hard road apiece last evening,  I don’t  know how safely I have arrived.    The ‘coin of the realm’  produces a minor  brainstorm  when  one  starts  making  purchases  and  the  ha’pennies, pennies, threepences, sixpences [and] shillings start rolling.” 
Sunday, 9 July 1944
“I sit here  on  my  cot  shivering in a brisk English wind that penetrates  every thing… 
I enjoyed walking through  the wooded country lanes,  along neatly clipped hedge.   All seemed so peaceful,  except there were no cars,  just natives buzzing by on their ‘lanky, lean looking’ bicycles (if bicycles might be described as such)”
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On Wednesday,  12 July 1944,  the 475 MPEG Co.  boarded a  train  in  Bristol, England,  at 1030 hours.   It arrived at the Knowlesy Street station in  Bury, Lancashire  (north of Manchester)   at 1700 hours.   The company  detrained and  marched about  3 miles to  the Pillsworth Bleach Works building which had been converted to barracks, offices, supply room, and mess hall facilities.
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Wednesday, 12 July 1944
 “Tuesday night was also PX night.   We  got  our  weekly  ration  of cigarettes, candies, etc.    The night before we  got paid and  spent  the rest of the evening  figuring out how much  it equaled  in American money… Visited  [CENSORED] recently.”  (This was the only word cut out of all my letters from overseas.)
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STANLEY ARMS PUB IN BURY.  A FAVORITE WITH THE 475TH MPEG Co.
On Sunday,  16 July 1944,  half  of  the company was involved in an exercise with the British Home Guard and  the Royal Pay Corps.   Its assignment was to  invade Bury  and engage about  600 men of  these  units   with  flour  bombs  and  grenades along  with  blank  ammunition.   It was cautioned that the British,  especially the Home Guard, went home  for tea  at 1600 hours.   The 475 MPEG Co.  had  captured  Knowsley  Street  Station  by then  and  a  small  group  of  its  men  captured a British Army facility that wasn’t playing the game. 
The  captured,  embarrassed  troops  had  real   am- munition.    The  only casualty  of  this foray was one of  the  lads  who  had fallen  into a cesspool,   more mortified than hurt.  [Personal note: In late August 1992 I went back to Bury.   Alas,   the old bleach works had  fallen  victim to the  building  of   the  M66 motorway.    The   cobblestoned   forecourt,  where  we  fell  out  for  roll  call   and   morning  calisthenics, still survives.  See photo - right.]
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SITE WHERE PILSWORTH BLEACH WORKS ONCE STOOD (9/92)
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At 1030 hours on Tuesday, 8 August 1944, the 475th MPEG Co.  left Bury by train and arrived at the Mersey Docks,  Liverpool,  England at 1500 hours.   The company boarded the USAT (United States Army Transport) George Washington which departed at 1530 hours the following day in a convoy of 36 ships.  The transports of the fleet carried thousands of German POWs.   In officers’ country  on the 
George Washington, there was a gaggle of  U.S. Navy Nurses rotated for R and R.  At 1430 hours on Sunday, 20 August 1944 the George Washington docked at Pier 84, New York City.  The 475th was restricted to the ship overnight.  Next day at 1000 it disembarked for transport to Camp Shanks, N.Y. arriving  at 1300 hours.   Some of  the troops  enjoyed  passes  in  NYC  or at  home in  the week that followed.
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On Sunday, 27 August 1944, at 0830 hours, the 475 entrained for Weehawken, N.J.   Upon arrival we  boarded  the  ferry  to  Pier  90.   There  we  boarded  the  ship NYC-246,  the Queen Elizabeth.

Monday at 1330 hours we sailed from New York, alone.   [Above right: picture of  the  wartime QE laden with troops]      The  pride  of  the  Cunard  line  could  outrun  submarines and  during  the  war transported over  eight hundred thousand Allied troops  to all major theaters of operation.   The troop complement this sailing  was over 13,000.   To  achieve  this  size  passenger  roster  required  sleeping and eating in shifts. Perpetual dice & card games ran around the clock for the six days of the crossing. 

British  troopship  food had not improved much since our first crossing on the Eastern Prince.    [Note: The exterior of the ship was painted battleship gray for wartime,  including  the  railings  of  the weather  decks  which  were  made  of  rare  hardwoods.   Many  Allied GI’s  carved initials and messages into these gray railings.   After the war, when the Queen Elizabeth was refurbished for the tourist trade,  these  railings  were  left  as they were, in tribute to these heroes.]  At 0930 on Sunday 3 September 1944 the QE arrived at the Firth of Forth Scotland. 
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At   1300  hours,   the   475   MPEG    Co. disembarked  to  Gourock,  Scotland.   From there the company moved by rail to Moreton- in-Marsh,  in  the  Cotswolds  near    Oxford, England.  It moved by truck to P.W. E. #1 at Spring  Hill   above        Bourton-on-the-Hill, A.P.O. #124.  After   a   brief  stay  here,  it moved     to     Eastleigh,       a    suburb    of Southampton.     On   Sunday, 10 September 1944,  the 475  boarded   the   L.C.I. #537 (Landing  Craft,  Infantry)   in    Southampton Harbor.    At about 0030 on  11  September 1944  the  LCI  was  beached on Utah Beach after  about  6  tries  and  a wicked encounter with the surf. (see Chapter 6)

Click on Photo to view other LCI's
After  waiting  for  the  tide  to  recede,    in a manner  shown  in  the picture above,  the troops  were  able  to land,  wearing  full  field  packs  and carrying  duffel bags   and   weapons.     Those   armed  with  Winchester Model 97 Pump 12  gauge  shot- guns  were to learn that the bluing, particularly on   the   cooling  fins,   was  poor  protection against rusting from seawater spray.    The CO was met by a corporal with an overlay for which he had no map. SNAFU! CHANNEL CROSSING MAPS Troops of the  475 MPEG   made  the  trek to the roadway toward the north and assembled in marching formation.    Duffel  bags  were  gathered  for truck transport.    The company marched  toward  Sainte-Marie-Du-Mont.    After  an  episode  with a possible  minefield  (see Chapter 6)   the  troops   bivouacked  in   an  apple orchard  for  a  few  hours sleep.  In   the  daylight   hours  the company  was  picked  up  by  truck transport and  taken to PWE  #10 atop the mountain 2½ miles southeast of Cherbourg.  At PWE #10  the 475 not  only did routine stockade duty  and the  marching  of parties  of POWs into Cherbourg for delousing, but also a number of detached service assignments.   Your writer was sent to a  General Hospital nearer the front to guard POW patients that were not segregated from the general patient population. 
GENERAL RAMCKE  -  Hitler's hand picked Defender of the Brittany Peninsula Another detachment led by the company CO, Captain Alex Levine, was sent  to escort  General Bernard Herman Ramcke to England by  plane after  his capture  by Brigadier General Charles Canham and  troops of  the  8th  Infantry  Division,   on 19 September 1944. Two of  the men  accompanying  Capt. Levine  were  Sergeant Bob Tull  and  Corporal Lyle Bonney.    As  befitted  his  rank,   General Ramcke  was  housed  at  the 98th General Hospital   in  Cherbourg rather  than  in  the  overcrowded  stockade  of   PWE #10.   Capt.
Levine  remembers  this  assignment  as  one of  the highlights  of his 31-year military career.   General Ramcke was Hitler’s hand-picked defender  of  the  Brittany  Peninsula  and  foremost  guardian of  the Submarine  Pens  at  Brest.   The 475  was assigned the job at the last minute after another unit “dropped the ball” somehow.  General 
Ramcke was a stubborn man as displayed by his defense of Brest,  his behavior  as  a POW  in France and in Camp Clinton, Miss., and  his  attitude  toward  his  captors.   With Levine,   General Ramcke refused  to eat saying that his food had probably  been  poisoned.   Captain  Levine  had  two  identical plates of food brought.   He sat at the table with Ramcke,  offered  him  a choice of the two plates, and he (Levine) ate the one not chosen.  Ramcke ate.   In retrospect, Captain Levine thinks that possibly he exceeded  the  “call of duty.”    When captured,   Ramcke  had  as  a  pet  and  companion  a  beautiful Irish setter.  When Captain  Levine  delivered  Ramcke  to  Major Becker  of the British forces,  at  the airfield   in   England,   Becker  promptly  announced  “Herr General,  der Hund gehtes nicht!”   Ramke claimed  that  General Middleton,  CO  of  the 8th Infantry  Division,  had promised that he and his dog would not be separated.   Becker  was  not  cowed  by  Ramcke.   He interrupted  the General’s tirade with,  “You are in England now.”  Gesturing at the dog, Becker ordered, “Take him away!”  As Levine was leaving the tarmac he was called back.  General Ramcke  had  requested  permission  to  speak to him.  His words to the captain,  “You are a good soldier.  Thank you very much.” 
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............On  26 September 1944  the 475 MPEG Company  moved  by  truck  to  the docks   in   Cherbourg   harbor.     Half  the company moved by the LCT#533 to the MS John Er-icsson, NY-307  (formerly the cruise ship Kungsholm) where the troops boarded   by   climbing   cargo  nets.   They found the ship already  loaded with German LINK TO Photos of other LCT's
Click Craft above for photos
POWs  including  250  wounded   and  125 NCOs.     The  other  half  of  the  company boarded  the  USAT Brazil  also  laden with POWs.   The Ericsson  sailed directly to the port  of  New York  arriving  on  Sunday, 8 October 1944.     The  Brazil  unloaded  its passengers at Boston at the same time..The members of the 475 rejoined their fellows on Monday at Camp Shanks.
 

 

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It had been named the Oriente as a cruise  ship,  a  sister  ship  of  the unfortunate Morro Castle  which  burned  off   the New Jersey  coast on 8  September  1934.   The Barry   travelled  in  a convoy  docking  at Southampton,  England on   2 November 1944.      The 475 was transported       to   Delamere   Park    Camp      near     Cuddington,  Cheshire, Northwich, England  where it served  as post MPs  and did duty as town patrol in the city of Chester.
The 475 enjoyed the relative liberty  of  Camp  Shanks, NY from      9   October   until   21 October 1944.    On Saturday, 21 October 1944 the company moved to Pier 84 in New York City  where  it boarded the ship NY-527,    The  Thomas H.Barry.  The  Barry  was  not one of the “General ships” although it was named for a general.SISTER SHIP BURNING
.............On 13 November 1944  the company  was  moved  to PWE #1  at Spring Hill  near Bourton- on-the-Hill above Moreton in Marsh, Gloucestershire.    On 21 November part of the company left for duty at 110th Station Hospital, Netley, Hamps. Southeast of Portsmouth.   (On 8 December this detail returned to PWE #1.)
.............Early in December 1944,  the 475  was  issued  a number  of 50-caliber  air-cooled machine guns  and training  in their use  and care was begun.   No one  could figure out why,  the scuttlebutt was silent.    Soon  each  guard  tower  was  equipped  with  a 50-caliber  and  a supply  of  armor-piercing ammunition.      Had  these  pieces  been  fired  from  the  rickety  towers,  they  probably  would  have disintegrated. Now I quote Captain Levine: “It was the Christmas holiday period. The Battle of the Bulge was raging in the European Theater.      The 475 was  guarding  thousands of POWs with  limited  personnel.   Everyone   available  was  doing  guard  duty ‘4 on’, ‘4 off’  round the clock. 
.............We had received special alert that we must remain prepared for a breakout of the POWs.  Part of the Nazi master plan was to capture England [utilizing the POWs.]
.............Before its departure from England, the 475 had another near miss.  This again was during the Battle of the Bulge.   Once  more  I quote from personal account of Captain Levine:   “Now comes the Camp  Commander  to  further  alert  us  that  the  situation  is  so  bad  we  should  prepare for breaking up our 475 and sending them in as ‘fillers’ as they would probably be needed to stem the tide or such.    As we were under the control of Chief of Transportation, Washington, DC.   I notified that office  by wire  that we were ready for our next mission,  thereby relieving the need for  so  many  more  U.S. soldiers  at [sic]  the ETO  and preventing  the  break-up  of a trained, effective and needed organization.      The  order  came  quickly.       The  integrity  of  the 475 remained intact.”
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.......On   10   January    1945 
the    475     boarded      the  U.S.S.  General  Brooks   and the   U.S.S. General Squire  in Southampton.   The  company  arrived  in  New York  on   21 January 1945 and immediately moved to Camp Shanks,  NY.  Word   came   down   that  the
475   was  permanently    as- signed to stateside duty. Passes called  "Delays en route"  were distributed to the EM  and they left  for  homes  throughout  the United States. 
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FOOTNOTES
...1...Records of U.S. Theaters of War, World War II
...2...Canonesa, Convoy HX72 & U-100
...3...DESTROYER ESCORT Photo Archives  and  DESTROYER Photo Archives
...4...Firth of Clyde, Greenock, Scotland
...5...The  "cot"  in British installations consisted of a wooden frame criss-crossed with either rope or metal
.........strapping to support a straw filled mattress sack.
...6...The USAT George Washington was originally the German passenger liner Bismarck that had been
.........taken in WW1 reparations. See near end of this Web Page FIRST JUMP.
.........Picture from: LIFE ABOARD A TROOP TRANSPORT
...7...Queen Elizabeth History  or  Queen Elizabeth 1940 - 1973
...8...Role in Germany's defeat
...9...Brigadier General Charles Canham
10...Camp Clinton    More Photos
11...Levine, Alex, personal account (2001)
12...Whiting, Charles, The March on London, Leo Cooper, London (1992, 1996)

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Other References Consulted
Other References Consulted
....LCT 614 picture

....Ship  USS GEN J R BROOKE AP-132

....Ship Kungsholm
....1928 – 1941 then in 1942 she became the John Ericsson. 

....Index of Ships

....Ship Morro Castle

....Ship Thomas Barry (Oriente)

....POW camps in the UK.
....Number 185. Springhill Lodge Camp, Blockley, Moreton-in-Marsh,.Gloucestershire

....Site related to POWs in America.

....List of 719 Sites about WW2

....Certificate to Recognize the Allied Soldiers Who Took Part     Certificate