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Military History/World War 2 Infantry France/Belgium


QUESTION: Hi, there,

I am writing a novel set in World War II, and I would like to "follow" my grandfather's path as a member of the US Army.  His letters from the war are vague, of course, but from what I can tell he was in France in autumn 1944 and then in Belgium. We know he was in the Battle of the Bulge. His service ends in Liege.  Could you help me create a plausible track for his unit? (When would they have arrived in France, which way would they have traveled to end up in Liege, etc.)

I know this is a complicated question, but I appreciate any help you could give me.

Thank you so much for your kindness!

ANSWER: Dear Ms.,
       Thank you for your question.  I know exactly what it is that you are trying to do, I have helped in the past authors who were also writing a Historic Novel.
       Now then, your grandfather was in France during Autumn, 1944, then Belgium & fought in the Battle of the Bulge.  When you type that your grandfather's service ends at Liege, is that because he was W.I.A., of that he was there on May 8, 1945?
       Now then, did the unit end up at Liege because after its arrival at Liege, that was where it was based until May 8, 1945?  OR, was the unit located at Liege during the Battle of the Bulge, then move east in late January 1945.
       I am not trying to be difficult, but as I read this, you are asking about two different entities (grandfather or unit) when your novel will reach the Ardennes on December 16, 1944.  Please clarify.  Once you have, it will be my pleasure to assist you.  I think it is great that you pay tribute to your grandfather by him being the central character in your novel.

   Richard V. Horrell
    WW 2 Connections

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you so much for your help! It really means the world to me. I've read a hundred books on the war, but still feel like my understanding of the events is shaky at best.

Unfortunately, I have some unanswered questions in my grandfather's history and I only have his letters as a resource. But this is what I know:

He was part of Batt.  C, 788th AAA (AW) Bn. The last letter we have from him is dated March 21, 1945. It was common knowledge in our family that he participated in the Battle of the Bulge. There are a few letters from my grandma to my grandfather that are dated April/May of that year, and they are sent to an address in New York.

I don't know why my grandpa came home so soon. However, my mom recalls him having some anxiety issues when she was a kid and I found an appointment card for a "Mental Hygeine" appointment with Veterans Affairs.

In addition, I think he was in Liege because in one of his last letters he said he had pictures to give my grandmother, but he couldn't send them at that time because they "would tell you where we are." There were a half-dozen pictures of Leige (among other places) tucked in with the letters.

The only other info. I know is that he was a cook in the Army (and a baker throughout his life).

He really wasn't in the service for very long (although he was in training for two years prior to active duty).

While I know I  won't ever know his exact path in the war, I'd like to have a reasonable facsimile of it for my book.

I thank you again for your continued help!


Dear Ms.,
       Thank you for your follow-up.  Now that you have provided me with the unit your grandfather was assigned/assigned to, it is far easier to place him in specific locations during WW 2.  The following is a brief history of the 788th AAA Auto-Weapons Battalion:

Activated at Camp Hulen (Palacios) Texas, April 20, 1943

Departed New York Port of Embarkation August 11, 1944

Arrived at Liverpool, England, August 22, 1944

(hopefully those dates are the same set of dates in Box #36 on page two of your grandfather's Discharge Documents)

Arrived in France, September 23, 1944


Northern France          July 26-September 14, 1944
Rhineland          September 15, 1944-March 21, 1945
Ardennes-Alsace          December 16, 1944-January 15, 1945
Central Europe          March 22-May 8, 1945

Assigned to the Anti-Aircraft Defense of Antwerp, Belgium, mid-October-December 18, 1944

Battle of the Bulge began, Saturday, December 16, 1944

Re-assigned to the 49th AAA Brigade, First Army at Herbesthal, Belgium, December 19, 1944-January 21, 1945

Re-assigned to the 76th Infantry Division, January 21-May 8, 1945

The following were the locations of HQ, 76th Infantry Division, with the date the HQ became opperational at said location. The 788th could not have been too far away from HQ

1/20/1945          Champlon, Belgium

1/26/1945          Junglinster, Luxembourg

2/4/1945          Rodenbourg,      "

2/6/1945          Beck,          "

2/24/1945          Weilerbach,      "

2/28/1945          Holsthum, Germany

3/1/1945          Niederweis,   "

3/5/1945          Sulm,         "

3/8/1945          Speicher,     "

3/10/1945          Neiderkail,   "

3/12/1945          Wittlich,     "

3/20/1945          Pfalzfeld,    "

3/28/1945          Nastatten,    "

3/30/1945          Idstein,      "

4/3/1945          Homberg,      "

4/4/1945          Rohrenfurth,  "

4/6/1945          Laudenbach,   "

4/8/1945          Eschwege,     "

4/9/1945          Langensalza,  "

4/10/1945          Dollstadt,    "

4/12/1945          Buttelstedt,  "

4/13/1945          Hollsteitz,   "

4/15/1945          Gorma,        "

4/16/1945          Wiederau,     "

4/18/1945          Burgstadt,    "

4/24/1945          Limbach,      "

V-E Day, May 8, 1945

       In your follow-up you typed "I don't know why my grandpa came home so soon."  What are the second set of dates, horizontally, in Box #36 on page two of your grandfather's Discharge Documents?
       In your follow-up you typed "I think he was in Liege".  Do you mean your grandfather was stationed in Liege, or that he visited Liege while on Leave?
       In your follow-up you typed "He really wasn't in the.......years prior to active duty."  Would you please provide me with the dates in Box #7, 22 & 24 on page two of your grandfather's Discharge Documents?
       Good Luck with your quest.

   Richard V. Horrell
    WW 2 Connections  

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Richard V. Horrell


Can answer: World War Two. Specifically, the troop transport ships that took US Military Personnel overseas & returned them to the US, 1941-47. Also, unit history of US Army QM, Signal, MP, Ordnance, Medical, Transportation & Engineer units that served during WW 2. The more obscure units are my specialty. If you have the APO that a Veteran sent letters from or received letters at, I can look up the history of that APO.


A lifelong study of WW 2, including participation as a WW 2 Re-enactor, 1980-2002. Also, interviewing over 400 WW 2 Veterans about their role in WW 2.

AASLH, Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society

Over 800 Profiles that I have written for client's about their loved one's role in WW 2.

BA, History & Political Science (19th & 20th Century European History) Webster University, Webster Groves, MO.

Awards and Honors
Assisting the National Archives on numerous occasions during the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of WW 2, 1991-95.

Past/Present Clients
Respectfully, I do not disclose the names of the clients I deal with. I have a confidentially agreement with them.

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