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Dad, 1943 and 1945 May 1, 2010

Posted by Jenny in history, memoir.
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Dad on leave 1943

I’ll be peering at my family through the lenses of old cameras from time to time.  This is a picture of Edward W. Bennett on leave from basic training in Mississippi in 1943.  He was visiting his sister Phyllis and her husband Rod.  He would go to New York to complete a nine-month course with the Army Specialized Training Program before heading overseas.

For an account of part of Dad’s experience in the Battle of the Bulge, January 1945, please go here.  He was in Company D of the 1st Battalion, 330th Infantry, 83rd Division.

After V-E Day, Dad was stationed in an Allied occupation zone in eastern Bavaria.  He had learned German in the ASTP course, and his knowledge of the language helped his battalion (he was now with the 322nd Field Artillery) in communicating with local civilians.  He wrote, “Service in the ASTP was often ridiculed, including by those of us who were in that program; a favorite song of ours began, ‘Oh take down your service flag, Mother,/ Your son’s in the ASTP….’  In my case, however, it turned out that my ASTP training, in which I had learned most of what German I had, was more useful to the service than all my military training.”

Later in life, his knowledge of German would become essential in the writing of two books about German history between the wars.  One was about the German financial crisis of 1931 and the other was about German rearmament during the 1932-1933 period.

This picture shows him on the Danube in 1945 sometime after V-E Day.

Dad on Danube 1945

When Dad passed away in 2001, having suffered from a severely debilitating brain disorder called Lewy Body Disease, I had trouble at first in pushing past the troubling, unhappy images of him as a frail and elderly man: the last year of his life was difficult.  But as time goes on, I learn that I not only find pleasure in my personal memories of him but that I can also imagine him quite clearly as a young man, full of vitality and hope.

Basic training, Mississippi, 1943

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Comments»

1. Peter Bennett - May 1, 2010

Nice story about Dad. I don’t remember having seen the picture of him on the Danube before. You also have picked up some details about his service that I didn’t know about. Did you learn these details from conversations with him, or did you pick them up from a written source? You certainly have done a wonderful job of following in his footsteps as a historian. Your stories about Deneys Reitz show a great deal of skill as a historian. Thank you and I look forward to any more stories about Dad that you might do in the future.


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