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381st COMBAT ENGINEERS BATTALION

of World War II

Greetings and welcome!
 
PURPOSE OF THIS SITE:

To collect, archive, display, and disseminate information about the 381st Engineer Combat Battalion of World War II. It also honors the brave American soldiers of World War II.
 
It is hoped that others who are interested in the 381st will add to this information.
 
NOTE: Since I started this page in Aug 2009, about 15 descendants of 381st soldiers have
contacted me and subsequently donated photos for inclusion here......THANK YOU!!



9th Army

My father, Eual D. Hendon, was a member of the 381st during the war and like many others, I am interested in learning more about my relative's military service. Being a student of history and an amateur genealogist, I've always been interested in America's wars and my family's roles in them. Dad didn't share much about his WW II days and he died in 1971. Only his discharge papers and a few old photos reveal his time in the army.

Dad was From Knox County, Texas. He was inducted into the Army on 25 April 1944 at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Being a mechanic, he was assigned to the Engineers Corps. and, along with other inductees, boarded a troop train in early May 1944 for basic and advanced Army Engineer training at Camp Van Dorn, Mississippi. The camp, located in Amite county on the Gulf coast, was named for Confederate General Earl Van Dorn. For information about Camp Van Dorn, Please see:      

                                                                     http://www.63rdinfdiv.com/historyvandornpage1.html

Several years ago, I sent for information about the 381st from the national archives and received about 150 pages. It was mostly routine reports (mainly early 1945), but a few photos were included. According to NARA, 80% of all US army service records from 1912-1960 were lost in a 1973 fire. So, we must piece together what information is available. Though complete rosters of the 381st were not included in the national archives papers, about 500 officers and enlisted men were named. 

 


A "cadre" - a key group of officers and enlisted personnel necessary to establish and train a new military unit - from the 252nd Combat Engineers Battalion had been sent to Camp Van Dorn and the 381st Combat Engineers Battalion was activated on 22 Mar 1944 and attached to the Fourth Army. Major Albert H. Trumbull was the commanding officer. The 381st consisted of four companies: HQ, A, B, and C (my dad's company). Total strength of the battalion was about 675 officers and enlisted men.

The 381st departed Camp Van Dorn via troop train on 14 Oct 1944 and arrived at Camp Shanks, New York three days later.  On 29 Oct 1944, the 381st boarded the USAT (United States Army Transport) Excelsior for her voyage to England. The Excelsior was a C3 type freighter built in 1942 by the Bethlehem Steel Company. She was 492 feet long, 69.5 feet wide, with a 28.5 foot draft and weighed 7800 gross tons. A total of 465 of these type of ships were built between 1940 and 1947. The Excelsior was powered by an 8500 hp turbine engine and could do 16.5 knots (about 20 mph). The crossing took eleven days, arriving at Southampton, England on 10 Nov 1944. Note: The following photo is not the Excelsior; it is the Sea Sturgeon, another C3 type troop carrier almost identical to the Excelsior.


The battalion immediately boarded a train for Camp Nettlebed South in Oxfordshire, a county south of London. The village of Henley-on-Thamas was located near the camp and a POW camp was also nearby. During Nov and Dec 1944, three of the companies (A, B, C) traveled to Camp Pangburne in Berkshire to attend bridge building schools. Between Christmas and 30 Dec 1944, the battalion also traveled by convoy to Camp Howley Park for advanced training.

The 381st apparently remained at Camp Howley Park until 27 Jan 1945, when it returned to Camp Nettlebed South. On 23 Feb, the battalion departed Camp Nettlebed South for Southampton where it boarded the USS George Dewey for transport to France on 24 Feb 1945.

In spring/summer 1945, the 381st took "R & R" (Rest & Recreation) at "Camp Twenty Grand" near Le Havre, France. Camp Twenty Grand was one of the nine "cigarette camps" in the Le Havre area. Each was named for an American cigarette brand. For more info on these camps, please see THE CIGARETTE CAMPS.









CONTENTS
Page one  
Roster Of Officers  (31 Officers)

Page Two   
Company B Roster (125 Soldiers)

Page Three   
Good Conduct Medals Awarded Sep 1944   (104 Soldiers)

Page Four ---UPDATED
Photos   (From NARA files and personal albums)

Page Five   
Time Line  (dates & Places)

page six   
Good Conduct Medals Awarded 5 Jan 1945  (105 Soldiers)

Page Seven   
Good Conduct Medals Awarded 4 Jun 1945 (239 Soldiers)

 * Curious about the makeup of a squad? Platoon? Company, etc? *

Page Eight   Army Command Organization



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Updated 12 April 2017
 

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