Raymond A. Bumgarner - Military Memories - WWII

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Pfc. Raymond A. Bumgarner  SN 38 578 538

HQ Co, 2nd BN, 397th Infantry, 100th Division

[1940-Sep 21, 1944 (in U.S.) ]   [Sep 28 1944-Dec 1944]   [1st Half 1945]    [2nd Half 1945]     [1946]


Created by Carol Bumgarner King   email:  kingcarol@msn.com

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Memories Journal, Letters, Comments

Journal of "Military Memories" opened June 16, 1945 at Uhingen, Germany

Letters were written home to his parents and sister.

Photos and Misc.

Sep 28, 1944

Letter to parents and sis: 

Somewhere on east coast

September 28

Dearest ones,


Well, here I come again!  'Bout time, isn't it?  Sorry if my mail hasn't been coming through on schedule.  My schedule has been all ajumble the past few days, with all the work details, cleaning up, inspections, and so forth.  Your mail hasn't been coming through to me, either - 'till yesterday, when I got your nice newsy letter of the 19th (Tuesday).  Kinda' funny - I had already written this letter when yours came - so I tacked on another 2 pages and mailed it.  This morning the censor gave it back to me because some of the words were underlined.  so now I'm rewriting it altogether.  Censorship rules are pretty strict - guess I'll have to watch myself from now on.  You mail to me won't be censored, however - so I'm the only one who reads your letters.


-----Misc relatives, etc.  chatter here , he can't say much about where he is and what he's doing-------


Guess you've been wondering if I'm ever going to get my test results or not.  Well, I'm wondering, too - haven't heard a word yet.  There were several in the company who took it the same week I did, and only one has heard anything.  He has his badge now.  He took the test four days before I did.  I guess the papers were sorta  forgotten in the shuffle somewhere.  The 1st sgt. said he'd notify me when he hears anything.  I'm sure all of us didn't flunk.  I'd like to have my badge to wear around here on pass.  If I go to visit Tex's folks, I'd like to have one, because he does. 


----- chatter about weather at home here-----


Gee, I'd love to be back there picking (cotton on family farm) right now myself.  But no - I must go somewhere else.  I could be doing a lot more for the war effort on the farm than I'm doing or will do in this outfit - and it wouldn't cost Uncle Sam near so much.


You asked what I wanted you to do with the roll of film, Mom.  Well, I guess you got my letter asking for the camera, and sent if off to me already.  If you didn't send the film in it, just send them on somehow - and any other film you can find.  There are a lot of cameras in the company, and if I can't use 'em in mine I can borrow one.  Tex has a camera almost like mine.   Speaking of dead radio batter reminds me - I haven't  been able to find any electric sets for sale anywhere.  All the guys that have 'em intend to keep 'em.  But I'll keep looking - someone might change his mind.


------more general family chatter here-----


Speaking of the time of year - this autumn atmosphere sure puts the hunting & camping urge in my veins.  It's been that way every year - when I get up in the morning and step out into the crisp, cool air about sunrise, and the air has that certain feeling about it, my mind goes back to the juniper brakes of ole New Mexico where the bucks run.  October and November are the 2 most pleasant months of the year - or used to be - and it's going to be hard to pass through them this fall without getting terribly homesick.  I'll be dreaming of Pop out tramping the hills, killing a big buck, and bragging how good it is.  Think of me when you eat that first one, Pop - about that time I may be in some mud-hole somewhere wishing I had some O rations.


The war news from all fronts doesn't sound so good lately, does it?  I hope it's only the last burst of the death-struggle of Germany.  I can't see how they can hold out much longer - they haven't got the men.  The Allies will burst through that Siegfried Line "en masse" some day and race to Berlin in nothing flat.


Guess I'll be getting another turn at KP again soon.  I'll be glad when I get somewhere where they don't believe in torture.  I hate that KP more than any job I know of.  However it's not so bad here - our kitchen is a huge place - about like the one at reception center - more of a factory than a kitchen.  They have about fifty KP's at a time.  And do they put out the food!  They serve cafeteria style, & plenty of it.  We had steak for dinner yesterday with all the trimmings.  A bit tougher but it was beef.  Then I went to the PX & topped it off with a pint of ice cream!  Boy, if I don't eat myself to death here I should get fat.  I've gained some since my furlough.  I tip the scales at 155 now.


Well, I can say I've been thru the capital city of our nation - at night.  I wanted to get a gander at some of the scenery there, but no could do.  Reckon my sight-seeing plans will have to wait till after the war is over - that is, on this side of the ocean.  I'll probably see all I want of the rest of the world before it's over.


Well, reckon I'll be a quittin' bout here.

Loads of love and kisses,

Your loving GI -


Oct, 1944 Regiment 397 Unit Roster - (Page 1 Page 2)
Oct. 6, 1944 Journal - Left U.S.
Oct. 20, 1944 Journal - Arrive Marseilles harbor in sunny afternoon, waited till dark on ship.  Went ashore on LCI, past sunken ships and sea wall.  Hike 8 miles in dark, set up tents in muddy field.  Next day rain flooded field, swamped Forman’s tent.  Moved into hillside.  K. Johnson cut hand.

Operations of the 100th Infantry Division

Oct 1944 to May 1945

Oct 22, 1944

Journal - Pass to Marseilles, walked all way.  Took pictures, loafed.  “Quinn’s Raiders” rumor started.  One movie, in mud.

Oct 26 (approx), 1944

Journal – Boarded trucks, rode all day to area north of Valence, slept in field.  Rain.  Rode all next two days.  German & Am. wrecks, 88’s planes.  Rhone really looked like Rio Grande.

Oct 29 - Nov 27, 1944 "The Story of the Century" booklet pages - Oct 29 to Nov 26, 1944 (Battle of Vosges Mtns)----->


Nov 1 (approx), 1944 Journal - Arrived St. Helene in rain.  Heard first artillery at front.  Camped in woods in tents.  1st overseas K.P.  Henderson gave us the low-down on combat, how to dig in.  Issued ammo.  Turned in duffel bags.  Broke camp in aft.  Moved about 5 mi. to Baccarat.  Shell hit RR sta.  Slept in cellar room of CP – blankets on floor.

The Battle of the Vosges Mountains

November, 1944

Nov 4, 1944 Journal – First day at “front”.  OP in tree.  Rain, rain.  Set up LP.
Nov 6 ?, 1944 Journal Bn’s first killed, in outpost by 88.  Shells dropped around OP – hit jeep.
Nov 7 ?, 1944 Journal Hiked out of town, spent 1st night in hole.  Scared by Jerry plane.  Tex sick – dug hole alone.
Nov 9, 1944 Journal Bn’s first action.  Pushed off 0900, companies abreast.  Assigned to C Co., Lt. Wilson.   Dodged 1st bullets – one pierced tree foot over my head.  Heavy Jerry shelling 1030.  Thomas hit.  Dug in, moved, dug in again – with Houck, no cover, rain.  Shell buzzed over hole.  First snow.  Nearly froze.  Saw 1st Jerry prisoners.
Nov 10, 1944 Journal Stayed back with bn. CP.  Schmidt hit.  Made K coffee all day.
Nov 12 ?, 1944 Journal Moved up again, on foot, with Henderson.  Warned for snipers.  T.O.T. almost in area.  Dug in with Houck, Harner.  Occasional mortar shelling.  Sounders hit.  Helped carry litters & rations up hill.  Quinn cracked, enter Wisdom.  First recon. patrol – short, almost hit by shells.
Nov 14, 1944 Journal Stayed at bn. Rear, moved up in eve.  Bn. had had heavy shelling.  King hit.  Dense woods.  Rain.  Air Corps began work.
Nov 15, 1944 Journal Moved up.  Stayed with wireman to fix break.  Dug in on steep hillside, with Henderson, Tom, Tex, Red.  Henderson scared.  Close shelling.  Air Corps made big show.
Nov 16 or 17, 1944 Journal Moved up to hill 538.  120 mtrs, one close.  Mg nest taken by bazookas.  WW scared – sec. dug in under rock – me, Tex, & John.
Nov 18, 1944 Journal Relieved by Red, Tom, & Max.  Took back PWS to rear CP.  First mail since 8th.
Nov 19 or 20, 1944 Journal Went up again to help carry litters.  Carried wounded Jerry down mtn.  Bn. is relieved.
Nov 21, 1944 Journal Hiked to Raon L’Etape in dark and rain.  Slept in factory on a shelf.
Nov 22 ?, 1944 Journal Hiked out, with tanks, to Moyenmoutier.  No action.  Slept in bed in house, had champg and wine.  Talked with “Jon”.
Nov 23 ?, 1944 Journal Hiked out, walked all day.  Went thru woods beside road.  Diarrhea common.  Entered village about sunset – civies say Jerries gone.  Just enter house in search for CP bldg. when burp guns open up, & mortars.  Direct fire near church.  Wiremen hit.  CP in house, over barn.  F Co. cut off, no report.  Section sent to locate them, found asleep, in tact.  Went on ration party with Cpt. Gardiner.
Nov 24 ?, 1944 Journal Hiked out.  Mines in road, bridges blown.  Sick en route.  Couldn’t eat supper.  Went back to Moyenmoutier to kitchen.
Nov 26, 1944 Journal Well again, returned to bn. in St. Blaise.  CP in large chateau.  (Confusion.  Surprised Jerries in CP.)
Nov 26, 1944

Letter to parents and sis: 

Somewhere in France

November 26, 1944

Dearest family,


Well, good morning to everybody, and how be you this fine day?  Finds yours truly in pretty high spirits, considering.  Am still healthy, and a lot wiser, I reckon, but not wealthier - tho I did get paid yesterday, at that - bout 35 dollars.  I wanted to send it all home, but the 1st sgt. ran out of forms, so guess I'll pack it around 'till next payday, if he doesn't get some more.


Heh - you should see the beautiful chateau we have ourselves in - a big 3 story affair, with about 30 rooms, baths, lights, carpets on the floor, easy chairs, beds, dressers, tables, and even pianos!  We're really living.  Right now I'm sitting on the edge of a bed with my feet on a rug, writing by light from a huge window which overlooks a small French valley.  The autumn colors are on the hills but the meadows are still green, and there's little streams running everywhere, with red-roofed churches & houses here and there - it's as beautiful as a picture ever was.  And last nite the moon was full - I've never seen a more beautiful sight.  It's very hard to think of it as a battlefield when it looks like that.  Oh yes - the chateau has steam heat.  The only thing that I don't like is that the plumbing is out of order.  I hope we get to stay here at least another night.


Incidentally, this is the paper & envelope you sent me.  Thanks a million.  I got them day before yesterday, just after I finished writing my last letter.  Those air mail stamps are worth their weight in gold around here.  We can get V-mail fairly easy, but the regular air mail is much more popular.


Packages are sifting in slowly - our section hasn't been very lucky so far, but we've got an armload on the way.  Boy if we had some of those eats here now we would be living like kings.  Tain't long now 'till that birthday package will be due - no?  Got my teeth set for something good to eat.  Some mail is being sorted downstairs right now - hope Raymond has a letter from home in the bunch.  Or maybe a couple of them.  How about it, huh?  Some packages down there, too.


Gad - I ain't had a bath since I was in Marseilles, about one month ago, same with a haircut.  I think I've shaved twice in the past month - ha!  Could've bathed out of a helmut, but in wintertime it's more comfortable to leave the dirt on and scratch - ha!  No bugs, tho - that I'm glad of!


Heh - just got your V mail of the tenth.  Seems that air mail is faster both ways.  So hereafter I shall use V-mail only when I ain't got t'other.  And Houck just got a package with a bundle of t'other in it - so I think it will be available.  There'll be times when i won't have time to write more than a V mail, of course.


Haven't seen Joe Brown since we were on the boat.  He's still alive, I hope.  Tex is still healthy, and waiting a letter from Fae, I think.  If I knew Joe's complete address I'd write him, but I don't know for sure what company he's in right now.


Closing place draws nigh on - so makee closee soon.  Will write again when I hear from you, or in next two or three days.  Think am going to have some free time for a couple days to clean up and shape up our persons & personal stuff.  Say a little prayer for me every day, and ask Him to hear mine, will you?  So far He has been kind to me, and I'm thankful no end.  Here's loads of love and kisses.


Your son,


Nov 26 - Dec 13, 1944 "The Story of the Century" Booklet; "Toward the Maginot Line"--------->


Nov 28 ?, 1944 Journal Truck ride back to Raon L’Etape.  Slept in hospital.  Water on floor.  No action.  Rest, good food.

Franc signed by guys Nov 27, 1944 in Raon L'Etape

One side:

Glenn Houck

Tom D. Agostino

Kermit (?) I. Harner

Mike Rugguso

Richard Grotheus (?)

Mac Forman (?)

Tex Baumann (?)

Other side:

John Goulding

Nov 30, 1944 Journal Truck ride to Ernolsheim, thru Sauverne and Saarebourg.  Arrived late at night.  Ruggiero in truck with diarrhea – big laugh.  Set up in schoolhouse – found knife.  Tex found Jerry uniform.  Had first bath in month.  Found cache of jam & jelly.  Moseley entered hqs.
Dec 1 ?, 1944 Journal Hiked to Wineburg.  Near front again.  Unnold to rest area.  Rec’d first PX ration.  Slept in nice house.  Woman cooked us spuds, salad, milk.  Accident, hit under eye.  Houck to div. rest, Tom returned.


The Battle of Bitche

December 11, 1944 to March 15, 1945

Dec 6 ?, 1944 Journal Hiked out to Rohrbach.  Ran into Jerries.  Stayed in farmhouse.  Close shells – Digney killed.  Jerry attack & tanks reported.  Ready to run.  Artillery saves day.  Encounter first flak-wagons.  Henderson sick, goes back.  Resistance heavy, much shelling.
Dec 9 ?, 1944 Journal Move over hills and woods to Reipertsweiler.  One Jerry gave up.  Few snipers.  CP in schoolhouse.  Zeine looks at eye, says O.K.  Abundance of civilians passing through town.
Dec 11, 1944 Journal Bn attacks Mouterhouse, heavy fight.  Move up to Melch, in fmhse.  Houck returns to us.
Dec 12, 1944 Journal Jeep ride thru shelling to M’house with Cpt. Purrington.  Guard house, shell frag bounces around room.
Dec 14, 1944 Journal Attacked from M’trhse, into hills.  See first dead Jerries.  Light shelling, sniper fire.  Dug in on high hill.  Took back two prisoners, with Tom.  Had shower at rear CP.
Dec 13 - Dec 31, 1944 "The Story of the Century" booklet; "Blasting a Path To Bitche"-------->


Dec 16 ?, 1944 Journal Hiked toward Bitche.  Dug in CP in large hole.  Mod. Shelling, snipers.  Flak wagons.  Agostino, Kriaris, others hit.  Jeep ride with colonel to G, light shelling.  Patrol skirmish.  Air Corp saves day.  Stood guard 2 on, 4 off.  Hot chow.  Section gets 3 M3s, Mike makes staff.  Close shelling.
Dec 20, 1944 Journal Hiked back to M’terhse again, by truck.  Motz forgot stove.  Red to div. rest.  Some “big stuff” came in.  Rode to Kleinmuhl – lost – rode all night.
Dec 20, 1944

Letter to parents and sis: 

Somewhere in France

December 20, 1944

Dearest Mom, Pop, 'n Sis,


Here I go again - second letter in so many days - doin' better, eh?  As I said before, even war has its occasional breathing spells.  I got a passel of mail today - letter from Mom (Dec. 8), Fae's of Nov. 30, your 2 birthday cards and a greeting from "Lem, Evelyn and the girls".  Quite a pile, for me.  I'm gonna hafta do a lot of writing someday - when I get all those pkgs.


It's swell of you to want to send me things, Mom.  I appreciate it a lot.  And don't worry - any time I think of something I need here that you could send, I'll not hesitate to write for it.  Every time I write I stop and try to think of something to ask for.  So far its' gloves, socks, stationery, candles, flashlight, and caramels, I believe.  Right?  I believe most any kind of eats will make the trip - the boys have been getting everything from 'spam to spinach' , and the only item I saw affected was some peanut butter candy - tested a bit musty.


Mom, I also appreciate your concern for my safety and comfort.  As you said, it's natural, of course.  But your concern can't be any greater than mine, & as I said before, I've been in combat enough already to see what it can do and the best ways to avoid it.  I don't think I'll be sent on any missions alone.  Any time any of our section goes near the shooting it's with one of the rifle companies.  Non of us have gone on any patrols as yet, & I don't think we will.  Patrolling is done by rifle platoons or stronger forces.  Very little night work so far, except stationary ground duty.


As for the cold - that's not so bad either.  No, Mom, my ears and toes won't freeze, unless it gets a heck of a lot colder than it has so far.  The sun does shine, & I've seen it for as long as five days at once.  One good thing about the woods - you don't get much wind.  Yes, I do sleep in my clothes most of the time, except when we're in a house where there's a little heat, which is about a third of the time or less.  In the dugouts we have to sleep in 'em.  But I'm getting used to this life by now, and tho it's rough and dirty, I shan't be too uncomfortable.  When there's projectiles in the air, its temp and humidity don't matter much.


Yes, Pop, your guess as to the front is correct.  And we're lucky to be where we are.  The other sectors are having it rough right now.  And we're getting up to where it's a little tougher.  "For details consult your local newspaper."  I think the 100th has been in the news back home.  I'm sure our actions are no secret to Jerry.


-----some general family comments here------


That's all for now - so here's my love and a prayer.

Your affectionate offspring,


Dec 22, 1944 Journal Birthday.  Rec’d pkg with gloves, candles.  105’s across road go off and blast breaks in windows, just as the boys are singing “Happy Birthday” for me.  Connoley & Max put pig in CP, scare Wadell and Mangels.  Town is deserted by civvies.  GI’s eat chickens, geese, calves, sheep.  I go to division rest, via chow jeep.
Dec 23 - 26, 1944 Journal Division rest.  Like heaven.  PX, good food, movies, church, VSO shows, good beds.  German Ardennes drive gains, Bitche retaken, bn withdraws from Guiderkirch.  John, Tex, Houck in OP – John gets Jerry.   A & P saves F Co. with M.G.
Dec 26, 1944

Letter to parents and sis: 

Still somewhere in France

December 26, 1944

Dearest Loved Ones,


'Twas the day after Christmas, and all through the house, many soldiers were stirring, and many a mouse (probably)!  Am still here at the Rest Center, and feeling swell (well, as good as one can feel away from one's country).  Am well fed, well clothed, and well entertained.  Got a USO show coming up at 2 this eve - they say they go real American girls in it.  Should go pretty well, with a good dinner at noon, and they say they're going to open a little PX here sometime this afternoon.  I hope they have something to sell besides cigarets and candy.  I'd sure like to gt my teeth into some ice cream again - even if it is mid winter and cold as blitzen!


Ah, me - but you should've seen that Christmas dinner yesterday - boy, oh boy - toikey, dressing, cranberries, peas, potatoes, gravy, mincemeat pie, and good hot tea.  I went thru the line twice - got so full I couldn't eat another bite.  I must have eaten a full half pound of white meat, plus the rest.  Then they gave us a pocketful of walnuts later.


Xmas Eve nite we had our party - so they called it.  We had some of the band there playing various tunes, and an ex-magician performed a few tricks.  He was pretty clever.  Then they had cake & punch.  That's when the mob gathered.  I hope the fortunate few who were pinned in by the serving counter enjoyed it - I gave up trying to fight my way in.


Well, looks like it's about time to go get in the chow line.  It starts forming a half hour ahead of meal time, and by this time the time they start serving it runs out there 'bout a hundred yards!  And I don't like to be last - ha!


Chow's over...


Do you have a map of this country yet?  You should be able to locate some of the towns I've been in or near, like Marseilles, Valence, Dijon, Baccarat, Blamont, Sarrebourg - those are the largest.  Oh, yes - I nearly forgot Saverne, which I'm sure has been in the news there at home.  I can't tell you any of the closer ones yet.


The war news up north doesn't sound good, at all, the past few days.  I hope they soon get things organized up there and get those Jerries back-tracking again.  Glad I'm not up there where it's taking place.  This should give the Russian and the Allies in Italy a break because the Germans no doubt pulled troops off those fronts to make their push.  I'm praying that it proves to be their undoing.  One thing - I guess the sudden reverse will put the people in the factories, etc., back home on their toes again- the war isn't over  yet, and so many were saying it would end by Christmas.  Tsk! Tsk!


Well, so long for now.

I remain you ever loving son and brother,



Dec 28, 1944 Journal Go to Dr. about eye.  To clearing station, and Saarburg.
Dec 30, 1944 Journal Major Ranson removes metal from eye.  Return to unit at Rohrbach.
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