A TRIBUTE TO MY GRANDFATHER JOSEPH L. BEGIN
And the Men who served with him in the 180th Engineer Heavy Ponton Battalion in World War II

10/29/1944 FRANCE
                                                        
103rd Engineer bn 180th Engineer Bn
PHOTOS OF THE 180TH ENGR HVY PON BN AND THE 103RD ENGR 2ND BN
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THE ABOVE LINK WILL TAKE YOU TO
JOSEPH L BEGIN'S
 
Story, List of Army ranks, Discharge Papers and 180th Engineer Battalion's
World War II Historical Data Cards &
AFTER ACTION REPORTS  
FOR THE MONTHS OF SEPT. OCT. NOV. DEC. 1944
AND JAN. FEB. MARCH. APRIL. MAY. 1945


NAMES OF THE MEN WHO SERVED
IN THE 180TH ENG. BN.
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My Grandfather Joseph Begin was in the U.S. Army Company A of the 180th Engineer Battalion (Heavy Ponton) in World War II he held the rank of Corporal. His unit the 180th Engineer Battalion (Heavy Ponton) was attached to the 3rd Army; XX Corps until February 6, 1945 when the unit was reassigned to the 9th Army. His Battle Credits in World War II are.
 Normandy - Northern France -Ardennes - Rhineland - Central Europe.

      HISTORY 
180TH ENGINEER HEAVY PONTON BATTALION

MOTTO:    "IT SHALL BE CROSSED"


17 February 1942, 180th Engineer Heavy Ponton Battalion was redesignated from the Second battalion 103rd Engineers.  During the period from redesignation to departure from the United States, 11 February 1944, the Battalion trained for its primary mission at Plattsburg Barracks, New York and Camp Maxey, Texas.  The Battalion participated in the Louisiana Maneuvers in February and March 1943.

The Unit departed from the New York Port of Embarkation on 11 February 1944 on the Duchess of Bedford bound for England.  It docked at Greenock, Scotland on 22 February 1944.  During the time in England from 24 February 1944 to 20 July 1944, the Battalion was stationed at Congleton, Cheshire, assigned to the Third U.S. Army and trained at Chester, England on the River Dee in the construction of the floating Bailey Bridge, Fixed Bailey Bridge and the Heavy Ponton Bridge.

NORMANDY CAMPAIGN

The Battalion landed on Utah Beach, France on 22 July 1944 Assembled and prepared for future operations.

NORTHERN FRANCE CAMPAIGN

From 24 July 1944 to 14 September 1944 the Battalion was utilized by Third Army to haul and move Engineer Supplies and equipment needed during the rapid advance across France.

RHINELAND CAMPAIGN

16 September 1944
Company B built Heavy Ponton Bridge at Pagny, France over the Moselle River. Length of Bridge 200 feet.

20 September 1944

Company A built Fixed Bailey Bridge at Thiaucourt, France.

1-5 October 1944
Company B built two fixed bridges at Auboue, France.

5-13 November 1944
Storm Boats of H&S Company and outboard Motor Operators from A and B Companies participated in assault crossings and ferrying operations on the Moselle River at Uckange, Malling and Cattenom, France.

14-15 November 1944
Company A constructed Floating Baily Bridge over the Moselle River at Thionville, France.  Length of bridge 580 feet.

14-17 November 1944
Company B constructed Floating Bailey Bridge on Moselle River at Cattenom, France.  Length of bridge 506 feet.

20 November 1944
Company A constructed Heavy Ponton Bridge on Moselle River at Metz, France.  Length of bridge 630 feet.

3-20 December 1944
Storm Boat Operators from H&S Company and outboard motor operators from A and B Companies participated in assault crossings and ferrying operations on the Saar River in the vicinity of Dillingen, Germany.

14 December 1944
Company B commenced construction of Heavy Ponton Bridge over Saar River in the vicinity of Wallerfangen, Germany.  Bridge not completed due to extreme enemy artillery and small arms fire.

18 December 1944 to 11 January 1945
H&S Company repaired assault boats, converted Bailey footwalks to duckwalks for footbridge and constructed snowplows for XX Corp. Engineer Units.

14-15 January 1945
Company B with personnel from A and H&S Companies constructed Floating Bailey Bridge at Uckange, France over the Moselle River.  Length of bridge 560 feet.

6 February 1945
Battalion was relieved of assignment to Third Army and assigned to Ninth Army.

27-28 February 1945
Company A constructed Heavy Ponton Bridge at Kivit, Germany over the Roer River.  Length of bridge 190 feet.

In additions to the above tactical missions this Unit was assigned various duties.

ARDENNES CAMPAIGN

24 December 1944, to 15 January 1945
The Battalion was engaged in several hauling missions for Third Army to depots at Bastogne and Arlon, Belgium and Esch, Luxemburg.  A reconnaissance of the Moselle River in the vicinity of Remich, Luxemburg was also made on 15 January 1945 for the location of a suitable site for a bridge.

CENTRAL EUROPE CAMPAIGN

24 March 1945
H&S Company made initial assault crossings of Rhine River in Ninth Army's big push.
 
24-25 March 1945
Battalion with two Companies of 554th Engineer Heavy Ponton Battalion and 171st Engineer C Battalion built Heavy Ponton Bridge over the Rhine River at Wallach, Germany.

31 March to 1 April 1945
Companies A and B built Heavy Ponton Bridge over the Rhine at Orsoy, Germany.  Length of bridge 1,080 feet.

12-13 May 1945
Companies A and B built Heavy Ponton Bridge over the Elbe River, at Magdeburg, Germany.  Length of bridge 680 feet.

 The 180th Engineer Battalion received credit for occupation duty in Germany for the period 2 May to 5 July 1945. At the end of the war, they were in Osterberg, Germany (which may or may not be where they performed their occupation duties) The Battalion returned to the U.S. on 26 Nov 1945.

 The Engineers were builders and fighters. Combat and general service Engineers built thousands of miles of roads and railroads, hundreds of bridges and airfields, and countless square feet of storage and troop support facilities. Combat Engineers fought along side the maneuver arms, and in some instances, in advance of infantry and armored forces. They became experts in expedient roads and bridges as well as mine warfare. Often, they laid aside the tools of the Engineer and shouldered the weapons of combat soldier, fighting as Infantry.


Joseph Begin's first year of service in the U.S. Army
02/17/41 TO 02/17/42

Pennsylvania's historic regiment:
The 103rd Engineers

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  T/Sgt. Richard Shafer, H&S Co 180th Eng. Bn
His Story of WWII and
the 180th Engineers Heavy Ponton Battalion.
  CHAPTER IV. SOLDIER
LINK
 
180th Engr with flag
Some of the men of the 180th Engineer Bn in Normandy, France July 1944 with a captured German vechile & Nazi Flag

180TH ENGINEER BN ETO
Comic from WWII (Yanks or Stars & Strips)????
It reads - Bombing of Ordnance Ammo Dump at Las Repas. 180th Engineers taking cover

Pre-Operational Phase In Normandy When the Third Army Headquarters landed on French soil, the first thing done was to insure absolute security. In accordance with the plan Overlord, the presence of the Third Army
was to be kept secret as long as possible. The idea was to keep the German High Command guessing as to the where-about's of General Patton. During the first days in the Allied invasion, the XIX Tactical Air Command, whose primary job was aerial support for the Third Army, established its own headquarters adjacent to the army headquarters.

Their detailed planning then started with high hopes for quick destruction of the Germans.The G-2 Section
of the Third Army made an in-depth report on enemy capabilities. It was the immediate concern of Third Army Headquarters to receive and prepare their arriving troops, who were coming in via control points established at the Utah and Omaha beachheads. During the month of June, over five hundred units of the Third Army were moving over the small roads of the peninsula. With these troops arriving daily, Patton was in a hurry to get going. He was fearful that the war might be over before the could get into the battle, battle reports had indicated the First Army alone had, by July 7, taken 46,219 prisoners of war (POWs) and killed 4739 of the enemy.

 Joseph Begin served
under George Patton, with the Third Army Lucky Forward (Third Army’s code name) in the XX Corps, commanded by Walton H. Walker, one of Patton's favorites. Patton once said of Walker that  'He will apparently fight anytime, anywhere, and with anything that I will give to him.' That was the type of commander Patton liked. The Third Army became operational at 1200 hours on August 1, 1944 The Third Army swept through Europe with a vengeance. Attacking in four directions at once, they drove west, south, east, and north across France, destroying everything in their path that was German.

LINK TO BULGE CERT
LINK
Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge
Certificate

In December, when the Germans launched the Ardennes Offensive (known to Americans as the Battle of the Bulge), Patton’s army made a spectacular battle march to relieve the 101st Airborne’s Screaming Eagles who were holding Bastogne against all odds. In the spring of 1945, Patton’s Army drove relentlessly into Germany, across the Rhine, and into Austria. At war’s end, his soldiers were in Czechoslovakia. Throughout the war, Patton and his warriors had given a magnificent performance. Third Army had gone farther, faster, conquered more territory, killed, wounded, and captured more enemy soldiers than any other Army in the recorded history of war. Third Army engineers constructed 2,498 bridges with a total footage of 255,520 feet, almost 48 and one half miles of bridging. They built or maintained an average of 2,240 miles of road.

There are three levels of military units: Combat, Combat Service, and Combat Service Support. Combat is Armor, Infantry, Artillery, those whose job is to fight. Combat service is those who directly service combat units: Medical, Engineers, Military Police, ect. Combat service support are the logistics train that keeps the machine running. A survey after WWII showed it took 20 men to keep one combat soldier in operation. Engineer Bns in WWII were in classed in groups of Combat Engineers, Construction Engineers, Bridge Building Units, Heavy Construction, and Facilities Engineers. Combat Engineers served directly with Infantry & Armor Units as an integral part, generally one Battalion per Division. They put in and took out minefields, built and cleared obstacles, blew bridges, direct combat utilization. Construction Engineers built roads, housing, provide water, ect. Bridge units build Bailey Bridges (pre assembled parts), pontoon (floating) bridges, and timber trestle, all while under direct fire. Facilities Engineers basically rebuild town essential functions such as power, water, ect.

As Assistant Unit Foremen of CO A 180th Engineer Bn, Joseph Begin most likely provided all these functions at some time. While in a defense mode he'd have put in minefields, built bunkers, run miles of barbed wire, built tank traps and obstacles. While in the attack he would have removed ememy minefields and obstacles while under fire, cleared rubble and roads so they could be used, and when necessary use a rifle to stay alive. If necessary he would have built hasty bridges over creeks and obstacles so units could proceed. It was a very dangerous, hard, unforgiving, and thankless occupation. The Engineers stopped the German advance by blowing essential bridges at the Battle of the Bulge, they kept the Bridge at Remagen up long enough for essential units to develop a bridgehead. If the infantry/armor units come to a place where they cannot proceed, they immediately call on the engineers. I am very proud, I am the descendant of a combat veteran who was a member of the greatest generation of Americans up to this date.

It was perhaps fitting that the U.S. Army, with an officer corps heavily influenced by the teachings of the United States Military Academy (which was the first engineering school in the United States), should be lavishly equipped with engineer troops and equipment. The divisional combat engineer battalions were capable of performing most engineering tasks (including demolitions, obstacle emplacement, fortification, and light bridge building) for the division. Additional battalions from corps or army augmented divisional engineers for more extensive tasks. Corps battalions were assigned to the command of an engineer group headquarters, which consisted of an H&H Company and an engineer light equipment company. Normally there were between three and six battalions in an engineer group and one or two groups per corps or army.
 
Combat engineer battalions tended to have high esprit de corps; they rightly considered themselves to be elite specialists. In a pinch, combat engineers also could act as infantry and did so frequently. In the Battle of the Bulge, a handful of engineer battalions proved to be a vital asset to the beleaguered American Army.
In addition to the combat engineer battalions there were in the Army a number of other general engineer units. The Engineer Amphibian Brigade was designed to support amphibious operations and included an H&H Company, three boat-and-shore regiments, a boat maintenance battalion, a medical battalion, and a quartermaster, ordnance, and a signal company. A single amphibian brigade (with naval support) was capable of transporting and landing an infantry division. Later, the brigade was strengthened and re-designated as the Engineer Special Brigade. Six Engineer Special Brigades, numbered 1st to 6th, were eventually formed. The 1st served in the MTO, ETO and PTO, the 5th and 6th served in the ETO, the others all served in the PTO.
 
Engineer aviation regiments and battalions were designed to construct and maintain air bases. Aviation engineers included engineer airborne aviation battalions, which were designed to be air transportable; so as to repair airfields captured by airborne forces.
 
Engineer bridging units included heavy ponton (the word pontoon is properly pronounced ponton, and beginning in World War II, that is the way it has been spelled by U.S. Army Engineers) battalions (nineteen formed, allotted usually one to three per army), light ponton companies (usually one per engineer group), and treadway bridge companies (usually one per armored division, but held at corps).
Engineer general service regiments and battalions performed construction, repair, and maintenance duties of all kinds behind the front lines. Many general service battalions were formed as pools of unskilled labor troops, usually African-American, and later were organized as regiments. Fifty-five of the 103 general service regiments that were formed were Colored units.

Engineer special service regiments (seven formed) contained highly skilled construction personnel and had a large allotment of heavy equipment. The remainder of the engineer corps was made up of various specialist units, topographic, water supply, railway, oil field, railway operating, and camouflage battalions. In addition, there were large numbers of separate companies and even specialist engineer detachments consisting of a few officers and men. Over 600 battalion-size engineer units were formed during the war.

Curiously, only the engineer combat regiments were broken up into separate battalions as a part of the pool concept in 1943. The H&H Company of the engineer combat regiments were re-designated as engineer combat groups in 1943. The other specialized engineer regiments were retained to the end of the war.

Corps, Army, and Army Groups

Twenty-four corps were activated by the end of the war, all except the XXXVI Corps served overseas. Three were originally formed as armored corps, of which the I Armored Corps was inactivated in Morocco and its personnel utilized in the formation of the Seventh Army, the II Armored Corps became the XVIII Airborne Corps, and the III Armored Corps became the XIX Corps. The other corps organized were the I-XVI, XX-XXIV, and XXXVI.

Twelve army headquarters eventually existed. By 1945, the First, Third, Seventh, Ninth, Fifteenth, and First (Allied) Airborne Armies were operational in the ETO, the Fifth was in the MTO, the Sixth, Eighth, and Tenth were in the PTO, and the Second and Fourth Armies were in the United States with training missions.

Finally, four army group headquarters were formed. The 6th and 12th Army Groups served in the ETO and the 15th Army Group in the MTO.

With few exceptions, all the armies and corps were organized by the AGF or existed in the Regular Army or Organized Reserves at the start of the war. However, the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Armies, First (Allied) Airborne Army, and all of the army groups were activated overseas.



180TH ENGINEER HEAVY PONTON BATTALION; 1153RD ENGINEER COMBAT GROUP; XVI CORPS, NINTH US ARMY OPERATION "FLASHPOINT", RHINE RIVER CROSSING, MARCH 1945.

The Ninth Army Engineer's where the major Engineer support for the operations in the Rhine River Crossing in March 1945 the 1153rd Engineer Combat Group and the 180th Engineer Heavy Ponton Battalion part of the XVI Corps took part in (CODE NAME "DEBONAIR") the 180th Engineer Heavy Ponton Battalion played a major part in the Events in Preparation and Construction and Engineer Plans for the Rhine River Crossing, 21-24 March 1945 of Heavy Ponton Bridge Across the Rhine River. Vicinity of Wallach, Germany
.

RHINE CROSSING
RHINE RIVER CROSSING
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Gen. Patton marking his territory
Patton stops in the middle of a ponton bridge over the Rhine River near
Oppehneim to urinate on March 24, 1945. Said Patton, "I drove to the Rhine
River and went across on the ponton bridge. I stopped in the middle to take
a piss and then picked up some dirt on the far side in emulation of William
the Conqueror." Later, he sent the following communique to Eisenhower: "Dear
SHAEF, I have just pissed into the Rhine River. For God's sake, send some gasoline.



Gardelegen Massacre, April 1945
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LINK TO GARDELEGEN MASSACRE


THE 180TH ENGINEER HEAVY PONTON BATTALION
On May, 12 - 13 1945 they constructed a Heavy Ponton Bridge
608 feet long at Magdeburg, Germany across the Elbe River.


SGT VINCENT IANNAZONE MEETS RUSSIANS
Sgt Vincent Iannazone of  H&S Co 180th Engr meets Russians May 1945

Companies A and B of  the 180th constructed this Heavy Ponton Bridge
over the Elbe River
on May 12-13 1945 at Magdeburg, Germany.  Length of bridge 680 feet.
BRIDGE OVER THE ELBE RIVER 



 IF YOU HAVE ANY INFO ABOUT THE 180TH ENG. BN.
PLEASE E-MAIL ME AT
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Click on Army or Corps Link Below

3rd Army 3rd ARMY  XX Corps XX CORPS   9th ARMY XIII Corps XIII CORPS    XVI Corps XVI CORPS


Photos of  the Bridges Built by the 180th Engineer  Heavy Ponton Bn.
ALL OF THE BELOW AND MORE PHOTOS CAN BE VIEWED LARGER  WITH TEXT AT
http://dcrowley.home.pipeline.com/103rd180thengr.html









 
DISTINCTIVE UNIT INSIGNIA



DISTINCTIVE UNIT INSIGNIA (OR CREST)
For the 180th Engineer Battalion (Heavy Ponton)
WITH THE MOTTO "IT SHALL BE CROSSED"




LINK
TWO LETTERS G.S. PATTON SENT TO THE MEN IN
THE  3RD ARMY
AND THE WORDS TO THE ENGINEER SONG



THE IKE JACKET
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JACKET LINK


More Photos of WW2 Engineers
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JOSEPH L. BEGIN
U.S. NAVY  RESERVE
08/26/1946 TO 08/25/1951
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MUCH MORE TO COME

Dennis Crowley

UPDATED
06/09/07


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DENNIS CROWLEY'S HOME PAGE
http://graywolf1.home.pipeline.com








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