|Posted by Stephen James Smith on September 6, 2015 at 12:35 AM|
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”.