Blaine Rhodes

     "I was living in Philadelphia, Pa. when I was drafted into the U.S. Army in March of 1943.  My basic training was with the 8th Armored Division at Camp Polk, La.  Some months later I was sent as cadre to help form the 245th Combat Engineer Battalion at Camp Shelby, Mississippi.  Here I served as squad leader.   I was made a Corporal in Co. B and later returned to the rank of Private when I was transferred to Co. C.  (Note:  This was the procedure followed when enlisted men were in temporary noncommissioned officer training ranks).  I served with Company C at Camp Shelby until my departure for England in November of 1944.

     While training about 14 of us were transferred from the 245th Combat Engineer Battalion to a base in Scotland for special instruction in the use of a new explosive - Comp 2.  We trained in pairs for demolition operations (i.e. cap man and load man).  Later during the "Battle of the Bulge," maybe before, these squads would be assigned to different units, mainly infantry divisions, to do demolition work.  In my case our squad hooked up with the 84th Infantry Division who were engaged along the Siegfried Line.  Our position was near the town of Geilenkirchen (located on the Belgium-German border).  Members of ours and like squads only worked in pairs.  Our duty was only performed during nights, the darker the night the better.  Our job was to breach pillboxes and dragons teeth which Hitler had built along the border to keep the English from advancing into Germany.

     I never heard of the 245th Combat Engineers again.  I was only in the new assignment about 15 days when I received serious wounds.  After emergency field treatment I was flown back to England.  When I was somewhat healed, I was declared fit for limited duty and was transferred to the U.S. Army Air Corp base at Taunton, England.  I served there for the next year.  During the period of my service, men were never informed where they were going, nor when or why, we just went where we were ordered.  I was discharged in July 1946, with 20% disability due to my combat related ankle injury.  Eventually I was raised back to Corporal, my final rank.  I returned to the States on a white hospital ship.  It was quite different from the 125 foot mine sweeper I crossed the Atlantic Ocean in on my way to England.  I relocated in Philadelphia and married.  I then went into private business from which my wife and I retired in 1968.  We now make our home in Florida."

Blaine E. Rhodes #33594551 T43 44

November, 2014