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The Lightning Patch - Research

Posted by Stephen James Smith on September 6, 2015 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (1)

  The 78th Lightning Division of the First Army in WWII, is legendary. Within it was the famous 311th Infantry Regiment. The 311th trained 50-60,000 troops for world-wide duty in WWII from late 1942 to late 1943- more than any other single unit at that time. By the end of March, 1944, they themselves were needed in Germany and they were among the first across the Bridge at Remagen. Indeed, they were an elite force to be reckoned with. When finally (2006) I learned that both my uncle and my one-time love were part of the 78th Division, my interest peaked and the book idea solidified.


The research unfolded as I perused the internet. I found personal stories, certainly. My research centered on two avenues of endeavor- the 311th Infantry Regiment and the search for a child believed to have been fathered in Germany. These happened simultaneously with each other. To date, we have not found the child after consulting with many clergy and other researchers in and around Grebenstein, Germany, where the 311th were stationed during the occupation of Germany. Nobody could read of these events without ending up in tears. I certainly did.


While researching the 311th (the Timberwolves) I was lucky. There is a combat journal, edited by Major Joe Lipsius. And, most thankfully, I found Major Joe alive and emailing in 2014! He had been the final commander of the 311th. The central pivotal figure of “Settling” is Laverne, based upon the life of Roger Laverne Ramberg, a medic in the 311th. Roger earned a bronze star for removing men under fire on the Bridge at Remagen. His proud daughter, Jill, is my constant rock and inspiration.


The men of the website www.78thdivision.org were extremely helpful and provided a pdf copy of the 311th Combat Journal, edited by Major Joe, during the occupation, in Fulda, Germany. The men involved with this website are children, nephews and grandchildren of the 78th Division men who stormed through Germany. Historian Jeff Stone (grandfather: Company M squad leader, 311th) of Ohio, reviewed “Settling” for historical accuracy and was extremely helpful with the very nuance of events.


Jim Cooper of Ohio and Stan Adydan of New York, other “78th children”, also helped me. And then there was beta reader Ronald Carl Wilson, of Rockford, IL, where I lived as a little girl. Ron’s father was in Company A of the 310th. To honor his father, “Tex”, and the others, Ron has started a Facebook page, www.facebook.com/78thLIGHTNINGMENWWII.


And finally there were the family photos and letters. In England, my father-in-law has written his memoirs including his time serving in the British 8th Army. Letters written by my uncle, Dall Roth, urged me on - letters written days before he was killed serving in the 309th, during the build-up for the Bridge at Remagen crossing. But lest we forget the action in the Pacific, there were also photos and letters written by my own dear father on Naval stationery - letters from Pearl Harbor after the bomb. They were the real start of the research, these letters I have treasured all my life.


Thanks for everything, Dad. You never met your grandson, but it was he who started this book process, by plunking me in front of two movies – “The Bridge at Remagen” and “The Band of Brothers”.

 

The Genesis of "Settling"

Posted by Stephen James Smith on August 3, 2015 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (2)

By Deborah Williams Smith
Author, Settling - 100 Snippets of Life from a Mid-Century Woman


My husband, Stephen, is my “trinity”. He is my husband, editor, and now promoter. It has been deemed that I will become a “blog writer”. I barely understand what a blog is, and now, it seems, I am "a blog writer”. I dare say, at age 65, that somebody should make efforts to keep me current.


“How did the book Settling come to be?” he asked me. Suddenly, I felt like a bird picking up seeds who was then asked to remember the first seed she had ever picked up. Settling has lived with me for a very long time.


My father, Harry in Settling, first taught me what love was. He was self-sacrificial, bordering on self-neglectful, but he certainly lived every day for me. He did that for about 20 years, and then he died. The shock was horrible for me, and perhaps it was during the time afterwards that I first thought of writing a book to honor him. And then there was my aunt (Magna in the book) whom I deem to be the strongest woman I have ever known. I wanted to honor her, and her sister, who was my mother. Mom (Ione in Settling) never got over Dad’s attention-shift to me since my birth - she mothered out of duty, but I still wanted to honor her and the battles she fought with depression and anxiety.


Mom lived 30 years beyond Dad, who was, of course, no longer around for her many heart attacks. I was there, trying to fill his shoes. Dad’s family later told me he had not been happy in their marriage. Yet, my parents seemed happy after I married and left home. For those two brief years, she had him back to herself. Was he settling? Was he just too old to make changes? Probably; but he died in 1970 having fulfilled his duty. The WWII generation knew all about that.


I remember being in New Orleans after my divorce, circa 1985. I was perched on my second floor balcony above the Esplanade in the French Quarter; a balcony that was mine for one week out of the year.


I could smell the flowers’ aroma and feel the moisture of the air soothing my Chicago-wintered skin. I was still in love with a man I had known (Laverne in Settlingwho was too many years my senior, and I started debating in my head the value of “settling” versus “not settling” in love. Who knew what was right in these situations? You did the best you could. That man had earned a bronze star on the Bridge at Remagen before I was born. He had been a medic and had removed men from the bridge under fire. By that time, the title of Settling was floating about in my head.


Years later, past the turn of the century, my aunt was very elderly and near death. My mother, her sister, had always told me that my aunt’s first husband, Dall, had died in the “Battle of the Bulge”. I was sitting by my aunt’s side. At that time I was a widow trying to keep up with the overwhelming demands which had been heaped upon me – I was driving constantly from Chicago to the lake region in Missouri, so I would stop to see my aunt when coming and going. This time I wanted to ask her about Dall, her first husband.


I said to her, “So Dall died in the Battle of the Bulge, right?”


My aunt turned her head towards mine and looked directly into my eyes. “No,” she said, “he did not.”

I was shocked. Her next words took my breath away.


“He died at Remagen.”


That’s when I knew for sure I would write the book called Settling.

Welcome to Debi's Blog

Posted by Stephen James Smith on July 31, 2015 at 10:00 AM Comments comments (3)

Welcome to Debi's Blog! And thank you for visiting this web-site, all about Deborah WIlliam Smith's first book "Settling - 100 Snippets of Life from a Mid-Century Woman".


This is a very exciting project for Debi, who is finally bringing to fruition a work which has been 20 years in the making. So we are all very excited as the book nears its launch.


Debi is currently writing her very first blog, too - in which she explains how the book came to be - and we hope to publish this within the next week or so. Please feel free to make your comments about the book and with suggestions for future blogs. We look forward to engaging with you.


Finally, please don't forget to "Join" the book's very own Facebook page at www.facebook.com/groups/Settling and please invite all your friends to join there too!


Stephen James Smith
Editor, Settling.


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