Posts Tagged ‘45th Infantry Division’

70 Years Ago Felix and the 45th Signal Company Cross the Rhine

March 24, 2015


DUKW (amphibious 2½ ton truck) transporting a 105mm howitzer and men of the 158th Field Artillery Battalion, 45th Infantry Division over the Rhine. (See glossary below for meaning of DUKW.)

This may have been about the same place where the 45th Signal Company crossed and some of the DUKWs that transported them

No photos have been found of the 45th Signal Company crossing the Rhine.

Fair use of photo from the collection of Edwin Gorak

On March 25, 1945 the 45th Signal Company received a DUKW to use in the laying of communication cables across the Rhine.

Early on the morning of March 26 the construction section laid two cables across the Rhine. The telephone section crossed and established switching central on the east bank of the Rhine.

The conditions under which the men of the 45th Signal Company laid those cables were life threatening.

While the ground fighting had moved east, the Nazis were still firing artillery and rockets and launching air attacks at the Rhine crossings.

Along with the risk of drowning they also risked hypothermia, frostbite, or immersion (trench) foot. The water temperature was probably 32° F (0° C) and the March air temperature averaged about 41° F (5° C).  My late father Felix A. Cizewski would have been very aware of that as he had just returned to duty after recovering from severe frostbite 3 months earlier.

On March 27, the rest of the 45th Signal Company crossed the Rhine and set up the normal Command Post communications systems in Zwingenberg.

Several Nazi soldiers surrendered to members of the company.

The company reported that their trucks and other vehicles were in bad shape because of constant use. A jeep threw a rod.

I do not know in which section of the 45th Signal Company my late father Felix A. Cizewski served so I do not know if he crossed the Rhine on March 26 or 27.


What does DUKW mean?

D = built in 1942

U = amphibious 2½  ton truck

K = front wheel drive

W = rear wheel drive


The detailed information about the 45th Signal Company’s crossing of the Rhine is from the March, 1945 Company History which Dave Kerr obtained from the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.

A discussion with free lance writer Anne Gafiuk resulted in the addition of details of the life threatening conditions under which the 45th Signal Company worked.

The details with links about DUKWs was in response to a question from Jeff Spitzer-Resnick.

Links, sources, and more information:

Felix A. Cizewski and the Central Europe Campaign

Revised: March 26, 2015



70 Years Ago: Felix Assigned to the 45th Signal Company

January 25, 2015

70 years ago on January 16, 1945 my late father Felix A. Cizewski had recovered from frostbite to his hands and feet.

During WWII, while recovering from wounds, injuries, or illnesses, soldiers were removed from their units so replacement could be assigned to fill their place.

After recovery they were not returned to their units and instead reassigned to other units.

After Felix was discharged from an Army hospital in the Paris area he was reassigned to the 3rd Reinforcement Battalion, 16th Reinforcement Depot.

In late January, 1945, the 45th Infantry Division was taken off the front line.

1,000 replacements were assigned to the 45th.

Among them was Felix who on January 29th was transferred from the 3d Replacement Battalion to the 45th Signal Company in bivouac at  Petersbach, France.

“Petersbach, France”
in Felix’s handwriting
on the back.

GIs in the background.

From the collection of Felix A. Cizewski
© Leonard H. Cizewski

The 45th Signal Company was responsible for connecting 45th with its Corps and connections between Division Command Post and all of the support units that were part of the division headquarters such as medical, engineers, and quartermaster.

Links, sources, and more information:

Felix A. Cizewski & the WWII Rhineland Campaign


70th Anniversary of the landing of the 45th Signal Company in France

August 11, 2014

On August 15, 1944, about 151,000 Allied troops began landings in Southern France.

Among them was the 45th Signal Company, 45th Infantry Division which landed near Ste. Maxime.

August 15, 1944: Members of the 45th Infantry Division in a Landing Craft Vehicle (LCV) approaching the beach near Ste. Maxime.

Absence of weapons suggest this may be a support unit such as the 45th Signal Company.

Public Domain photo.

Felix A. Cizewski and the 45th Signal Company

When the 45th landed in Southern France, Felix A. Cizewski, my late father, was in Tamerville, Normandy in Company C, 3110th Signal Service Battalion, Army Service Forces.

Over the next four months, Felix served in Cherbourg and Paris. In December, 1944, he suffered frostbite.

The 45th advanced to Alsace in eastern France on the German border.

In January, 1945 after recovering from frostbite, Felix was transferred to the 45th Signal Company.

For more information:


Southern France by the Army Center of Military History

Felix A. Cizewski & WWII


Le débarquement et la bataille de Provence



Tamerville “Tribute to Our Liberators” Sign

June 18, 2014

In addition to the monument in the cemetery with the names of the deceased American air crews, Tamerville has also installed a “Tribute to Our Liberators” sign.

The sign details in French and English the stories of four aircraft that went down around Tamerville and recognizes Tamerville’s liberation by 8th Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division on June 20, 1944.

The sign continues with a report on the development of the Tamerville and Valognes area as a major communications center.

The text is one of the most profound tributes to support troops including my late father Felix A. Cizewski’s unit, the 3110th Signal Service Battalion.

Temporary locationTamerville’s “Tribute To Our Liberators”sign has been temporarily located in the cemetery next to the town hall.

Click for large PDF

Photo by Cheryl A. Robinson

Sign © Commune de Tamerville

West wall of Tamerville cemetaryThe west wall of the Tammerville cemetery where the sign will be permanently installed.

Google Street View image © Google used in accord with Google’s permissions

Signal Corps section© Commune de Tamerville

Signal Corps section:


Once Tamerville had been liberated by the 8th Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division on June 20, 1944, the village and Chiffrevast castle (former headquarters of Germany’s 709th Infantry Division) were occupied in July 1944 by specialized units of the Allied forces.

Bringing with them high-technology equipment, these women and men of the Signal Corps made Chiffrevast castle the first Allied communications center on the continent. This allowed major Allied headquarters to communicate rapidly with each other.

The castle basements housed many telephone, teletype and radio operators as antennas, transmission stations and barracks containing sensitive equipment were erected in the surrounding fields.

This communications center was operational from August 7 until mid-September of 1944.

During this time, the Signal Corps soldiers bivouacked in nearby orchards. The 3110th Signal Service Battalion, consisting of 13 officers and 220 enlisted men, was among these specialized units to work in Tamerville.

These troops had a supporting role that was essential to the Allied victory, and we owe them our freedom as much as we owe it to those who were at the battlefront. They are honored here.


Une fois Tamerville libéré le 20 juin 1944 par le 8e Régiment de la 4e Division d’Infanterie US, le château de Chiffrevast (qui était l’ancien état-major de la 709e Division d’Infanterie allemande) et la commune furent investis au cours du mois de juillet 1944 par des unités spécialisées des forces alliées.

Apportant avec eux du matériel de haute technologie, ces hommes et ces femmes des services de transmission fi rent du château de Chiffrevast le premier centre de communication allié sur le continent pour permettre aux principaux états-majors
alliés de communiquer entre eux.

C’est ainsi que dans les sous-sols du château s’affairaient une multitude d’opérateurs de téléphone, de téléscripteur ou de radio alors que dans des champs à l’extérieur furent installés des antennes, des stations de transmission ainsi que des baraquements renfermant tout ce matériel sensible.

Le centre de communication fut opérationnel du 7 août 1944 jusqu’à la mi-septembre 1944 et durant cette période, les hommes du corps des transmissions américain ont bivouaqué dans les vergers alentour.

Le 3110th Signal Service Battalion comptait parmi ces unités spécialisées qui ont séjourné à Tamerville, un contingent de 13 offi ciers et plus de 220 hommes du rang.

Bien qu’opérant à l’arrière front, ces troupes de support avaient un rôle plus qu’essentiel pour assurer la victoire alliée et nous leur devons notre liberté tout autant que ceux qui étaient en première ligne. Qu’ils en soient ici honorés.

For more information:

Northern France with details of the 3110th Signal Service Battalion’s service in Normandy.

Infantry, Air Force, Medical, and Signal Corps Units in Tamerville and Valognes

Another in an ongoing series about our trip to France for the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the Liberation of France and the memorial in Tamerville. Tamerville is among the places where my late father Felix A. Cizewski, served in Company C, 3110th Signal Service Battalion.

Last revised: July 10, 2014



Tamerville ceremony: my remarks

June 16, 2014
George and LeonardGeorge Dennebouy reading his French translation of Leonard Cizewski’s remarks at the Tamerville memorial, May 31, 2014.

Photo by Cheryl A. Robinson

My late father, Felix A. Cizewski, said very little about his service in World War Two.  After he died, I looked at his copy of his records and found many gaps. I researched at the National Archives and discovered that he served as private in Company C, 3110th (thirty one tenth) Signal Service Battalion, Army Service Forces.

I once asked him if he ever wished to visit the places he served in Europe

He replied that he first wanted to see everything he could in the United States.

Then he added that if he ever returned to Europe it would be to see how it was rebuilt. He said he saw so much destroyed.

I thought he was referring to the well known destruction of German cities.

As my wife Cheryl and I prepared for our trip, we viewed the World War Two photos and movies of the damage done to Valognes by American forces to liberate it from the Nazis.

That made it clear that my father was referring to what he first witnessed here.

I realize how both the occupation and liberation caused great pain and loss of civilian life in Tamerville. Cheryl and I are here to also join you in honoring the civilians who suffered just as you are honoring the service of my late father’s company.

In February 1944, the 3110th Signal Service Battalion was sent to England where they worked on communications support for the liberation of France.

On July 26, while the rest of the battalion remained in England, my father and Company C landed at Utah Beach and traveled to a bivouac site outside of Tamerville.

My father’s Company C was the battalion’s Open Wire Repair Section with pole and wire construction and maintenance responsibilities.

He may have work on the communications facilities constructed in Valognes and the Chiffrevast Château near Tamerville.

For their work in England and France, my father and the 3110th Signal Service Battalion were awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation.

On August 19, my father was sent to Cherbourg then to Paris where in December he suffered severe frostbite. After he recovered, he was transferred to the 45th Signal Company, 45th Infantry Division. He provided communications support for the combat units of his division as they liberated Dachau.

After returning from the war he worked as a truck driver in Chicago. He met and married my mother. They raised four children. He was most proud of his family.

When my son watched movies of the battles in Normandy I told him to imagine the ten or twelve men and women– including his grandfather—providing support behind every paratrooper.

Men and women such as my father seem at times to be forgotten or lost to history. I view your memorial for my father’s company as also being a memorial for the hundreds of thousands of women and men who provided support and service throughout the war. Your memorial means they will not be forgotten.

Ten years after my father’s death, you have given me a way to bond with him

On behalf of my late father and my family I thank you.

Mon père, Félix A. Cizewski, aujourd’hui décédé, a dit peu de chose au sujet de son service pendant la Seconde guerre mondiale. Après son décés j’ai consulté ses notes , mais il y avait peu d’informations. J’ai fait des recherches aux archives nationales et j’ai découvert qu’il a servi comme soldat dans la compagnie “C” du 3110 (trente et un dixiéme) Signal Service Battailon, du service des Fores Armées.

Un jour, je lui ai demandé s’il avait souhaité revoir les endroits òu il avait servi en Europe.

Il m’a répondu qu’il souhaitait d’abord voir tout ce qu’il pourrait voir aux Etats Unis.

Puis il a ajouté que si un jour il retournait en Europe, ce serait pour voir comment tout avait été reconstruit car il avait vu tant de destructions.

Je pensais qu’il parlait des destructions connues des villes allemandes.

Tandis que mon épouse Cheryl et moi préparions notre venue ici, nous avons vu des photos et des films des destructions causes à Valognes par les Forces Américaines pour libérer la ville des nazis.

Cela devenait clair pour moi qu’il parlait de ce don’t il avait été témoin ici.

Je réalise combien, à la fois, l’occupation et la Libération ont causé de peines et de pertes pour la population de Tamerville. Cheryl et moi sommes présents pour nous joindre à vous pour honorer les civils qui ont souffert comme vous honorez les services rendus par la compagnie de mon père.

En Février 1944, le 3110 Signal Service Battailon a été envoyé en Angleterre òu les hommes ont préparé les moyens de communication pour la Libération de la France.

Le 26 Juillet, alors qu’une partie du Battailon restait en Angleterre, mon père et la compagnie « C » débarquait à Utah-Beach et venait bivouaquer à Tamerville.

La compagnie de mon père était en charge de la pose des poteaux et la construction des lignes aériennes de communication, et était responsible de leur maintenance.

Il a participé à la réalisation de moyens de communication à Valognes et dans le Chateau de Chiffrevast à Tamerville .

Pour leur travail en Angleterre et en France, mon père et le 3110 Signal Service Battailon ont été décorés de la médaille « Meritorious Unit Commendation ».

Cette décoration était décernée aux unités non-combattantes pour les services de logistique rendus pendant une période de plus de six mois aux unités combattantes

Le 19 Aout, mon père a été transféré à Cherbourg puis à Paris,`ou en Décembre il a souffert de graves engelures.Une fois guérri, il a été transféré à la 45iéme Signal Compagniy, 45iéme Division d’Infanterie.
Il participait à la mise en œuvre des moyens de communication des unités de combat de sa Division quand ils ont libéré DACHAU.

Retourné à la vie civile après guerre, il a travaillé comme chauffeur routier à Chicago. Il a rencontré ma mère et se sont marriés. Ils ont eu 4 enfants. Il était très fier de sa famille.

Quand mon fils a vu des films sur la Battaille de Normandie, je lui ai demandé d’imaginer les dix à 12 femmes et hommes, incluant son grand-père, fournissant les supports derrière chaque parachutiste.

Les hommes et les femmes comme mon père semblent être oubliés et perdus par l’histoire. Je vois votre mémorial en souvenir de mon père comme étant un mémorial en mémoire des centaines de milliers de femmes et d’hommes qui ont participé à la logistique pendant toute la guerre.
Votre mémorial signifie qu’ils ne seront pas oubliés.

Dix ans après son décés , vous m’avez permis de me rapprocher de lui.

Au nom de mon père et de ma famille, je vous remercie.

– Translation by Georges Debounney


Jeff Spitzer-Resnick and Marj Halperin assisted in the writing of my remarks.

Hugh Foster confirmed the proper way to say “3110th” is “thirty one tenth”.

I rehearsed by reading to my remarks to Carol Barry and Jeff Spitzer-Resnick.

Georges Debounney translated and read my remarks in French translation at the ceremony.

Related links:

Northern France with details of the 3110th Signal Service Battalion’s service in Normandy.

Infantry, Air Force, Medical, and Signal Corps Units in Tamerville and Valognes



Revised June 17, 2014

Christmas 1944: Felix Cizewski hospitalized in Paris with cold injuries

December 25, 2013

Diorama in the Truschbaum Museum, Camp Elsenborn, Belgium of a medic treating GI with trench foot and cold injuries to his hands and face. This illustrates what Felix A. Cizewski suffered.
(Photo Truschbaum Museum, used by permission.)

On Christmas sixty-nine years ago my late father, Felix A. Cizewski, was in an Army hospital in Paris with severe cold injuries, probably frostbite, to his hands and feet.

He was in a the Open Wire Repair Section of an Army Service Forces Signal Corps company based in Paris.

That meant he was working outside during one of Europe’s harshest winters in decades.

What Signalmen did that put them at risk of cold injury

At night a captured German doctor working in the American hospital massaged Felix’s hands and feet with a salve. Eventually Dad healed enough to avoid amputations and return to duty.

He was sent to a Replacement Depot then assigned to the Thunderbirds’ 45th Signal Company for the rest of the war.

Dad suffered for the rest of his life with what may have been Raynaud’s Syndrome. Every winter his circulation would mostly shut down in his hands and his hands would be very pale and cold.

My father obviously suffered  lifelong disability from his cold injuries. Along with the effects of tuberculosis he may have contracted while in the Army and the traumatic effects of arriving at Dachau about one day after its liberation and possibly helping to care for the survivors while stationed on occupation near Dachau, my late father may have been an
unrecognized and uncompensated disabled veteran.

For more information:

Felix A. Cizewski in the Army Service Forces Communications Zone, Paris, September 15, 1944 to January 16, 1945

An Unrecognized and Uncompensated Disabled Veteran?


Radio News: special 1942 and 1944 Signal Corps issues

June 12, 2013
Radio News

Covers of November, 1942 and February 1944 special Signal Corps issues of Radio News

Pat Nagel, the daughter of the late Camp Crowder trainee John Moriarty shared with me the two special editions of Radio News that her father had saved.

American Radio History site is in the process uploading all issues of Radio News.

February, 1944, Special 1944 U.S. Army Signal Corps Issue has been uploaded. (The link is to the full 437 page Adobe PDF file).

The November, 1942 Special U.S. Army Signal Corps Issue will be available soon.

The originals of both issues along with other Signal Corps related artifacts will be donated to an archive, museum, library, or historical society. An announcement of which institution accepts the donation will be posted on this blog.

The February, 1944 issue contained the following photo of what may be the 45th Signal Company constructing communications wire in Sicily

Signal Corps men of the 45th

“Signal Corps men of the 45th Division” (possible the 45th Signal Company) setting up wire in Caltanissetta, Sicily. Undated.

This was about 17 months before Felix A. Cizewski was transferred to the 45th Signal Company in France in January, 1945.

While my late father is not in this photo, in my nine years of research this is the first photo I have found that illustrates in detail the type of work my late father did in France and Germany while serving in the 45th Signal Company in 1945

Among the reason Ms. Nagel shared these magazines is her hope that families of  WWII Signal Corps veterans would find insight into their relative’s service or photos of their relatives. 

I turn out to be one of those relatives who so far has found this photo and articles in the November, 1942 issue on the Signal Corps’ Camp Crowder, Missouri where my late father trained for about 19 months.

A Radio News page has been added to my Unofficial Informal Archive of the U.S. Army Signal Corps in Northwest Europe in WWII to make this great resource available to other WWII family history researchers.

For more information:

Radio News

Signal Corps training at Camp Crowder, Missouri.

45th Infantry Division

Unofficial Informal Archive of the U.S. Army Signal Corps in Northwest Europe in WWII


Paris in the winter of 1944: Felix A. Cizewski suffers frostbite

March 11, 2013
Paris in the winter of 1944 by Lee Miller

Lee Miller photo of Paris, winter 1944.
Fair use of photo © Lee Miller Archives 2013. All rights reserved

During the winter of  1944 my late father, Felix A. Cizewski served in Paris. He was in Company C, 3110th Signal Service Battalion, Army Service Forces.  Company C was the battalion’s Open Wire Repair Section with pole and wire responsibilities including construction and maintenance.

That meant my father was working outside in the harsh 1944 winter. Lee Miller’s photo above illustrates the conditions in which Felix worked.

By December 10, 1944, Felix had suffered severe frostbite to his hands and feet and was hospitalized in Paris.

My father told my sister that when he was in the hospital among those whose care prevented amputation was a POW German doctor.

My father recovered enough that in January, 1945 he was reassigned to the 45th Signal Company, 45th Infantry Division for the rest of the war.

My father never fully recovered. He suffered for the rest of his life from the frostbite, possibly Raynaud’s Syndrome. He was never formally diagnosed and was discouraged from pursuing a disability claim for that and other lingering health problems that may also have been service related.

Author Alex Kershaw recently shared this photo on his Facebook Page. Alex Kershaw most recent work, The Liberator, is about Col. Felix Sparks of the 45th Infantry Division, the division in which my late father served. Alex Kershaw’s next book will be about Paris in WWII.

For more information:

Felix A. Cizewski & World War II (Signal Corps, Europe, 1942 to 1945

Private Robert J. Rankl’s Individual Deceased Personnel File

November 17, 2012

I am a member of the 45th Infantry Division (Thunderbirds) Group. We research the history of the 45th and share what we find on the group’s site.

We also assist families in researching their ancestors’ service in the 45th.

In January, 1944 while serving in Italy as a member of the 135th Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division, Private Robert J. Rankl was captured by the Germans.

He escaped and sought refuge near Monte Buono, Umbria, Italy.

On April 13, 1944, Private Rankl along with seven other soldiers were recaptured and executed by the Nazis in the San Benedetto churchyard near Monte Buono.

Because four of the victims were members of the 45th, our 45th group is researching all eight of the victims. I was assigned to make the Freedom of Information Act request for Private Rankl’s Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF).

I just received Private Rankl’s IDPF and have made it available on Scribd.

The file reports on the investigation of his murder, the location and identification of his remains, and in 1948 the return of his remains for burial in Saint Peter’s Cemetery in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

View this document on Scribd

The murder of prisoners of war (POWs) in WWII:

On the Eastern Front, the Nazi murder of POWs was routine and a matter of policy. While some of the regular German army units did not execute prisoners, they were aware that the prisoners they took were often later executed by the SS units. At times regular Germany army units provided the SS units with armed escorts while the SS units executed POWs. Rarely if ever did regular German army units do anything to stop or even protest the murder of POWs.

Starting with the first moments of WWII in Poland, the Nazis executed Polish Jewish officer and enlisted POWs. Slavic Polish officer POWs were mostly executed as part of the Nazi policy to decapitate Polish leadership in order to more easily enslave the surviving Slavic Poles including enlisted Slavic Polish POWs.

As the Soviet Union was militarily allied with the Nazis at that time, the Soviets joined in the attack on Poland. The Soviets executed thousands of Slavic Polish POW officers and hundreds of Polish Jewish POW officers because they were suspected of being potential opponents to Soviet occupation of Poland and rule of Poland by the Soviet controlled Polish Communist Party.

The Nazis continued to execute the Soviet Jewish POWs while starving or working to death at least 50% of the Slavic Soviet POWs.

On the Western Front including Italy, execution by Allied POWs was done more frequently by SS units. In retaliation, Allied units became increasingly reluctant to take prisoners of SS troops. Regular German army units were more likely to attempt to follow the international rules of war on the treatment of POWs.

The German unit that executed Private Rankl and the other GIs is not identified in the documents.

Felix A. Cizewski, my late father, served in the 45th which is why I am a member of the group.

At the time of this atrocity he was serving in southern England as a member of Company C, 3110th Signal Service Battalion helping to prepare for the Normandy landings.

He was transferred to the 45th about nine months later in January, 1945.

67th Anniversary of 45th Signal Company’s arrival at Feldmoching, Germany

April 30, 2012

My later father Felix A. Cizewski and the 45th Signal Company arrived at Feldmoching, Germany 67 years ago today. Feldmoching is on the northwest edge of Munich, less than 8 miles southeast of Dachau.

The day before Dachau was liberated by the 45th Infantry Division. From that location, the 45th Signal Company would be to assist in the care of the liberated survivors.

Every member of the 45th Division at that time officially shares the recognition as liberator by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the U. S. Army Center of Military History.

Dad was a very private and shy man. He said little about his service and nothing about Dachau.

Dad would embarrassed while quietly proud of my sharing of his service.

He would want me to be very clear that his role was that of support of the front line combat troops of the 45th who did the very hard work of defeating the SS guards to liberated Dachau.

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