I have spoken to a number of families since I began this research. One of the more consistent items that I have heard is that many of the men brought or sent a pair of wooden shoes home from Holland. The 6th TD Grp spent a number of months in Heerlen, Holland and wooden shoes were a souvenir easily associated with that area. My father brought home a set and I remember trying to walk in them as a child.
While trying to find information on one of the enlisted men of the unit, Clarence Dick, I was fortunate to locate his nephew, Leonard “Len” Truver. Len wasn’t able to provide much information about his uncle because at the time of his death, he was serving in Germany during the Korean war. I did leave my name and number with him if he came across anything about Clarence. About two days later, Len called me and told me that his wife reminded him of a pair of wooden shoes that had been passed to Clarence’s sister, Alice, Len’s mother, and then onto Len. Len remembered his children playing with the shoes when they were little but they had been stored away collecting dust for many years. Len offered the shoes to me and said that he would be happy to send them to me. I was somewhat taken back by such a generous offer but I quickly accepted.
Oh, a couple things I forgot to mention. One was that the shoes were labeled France, August 1944, and had the Lorraine Cross drawn on them. If you don’t know, the Lorraine Cross was the symbol of the French Resistance during WWII. It was interesting that such a souvenir normally associated with Holland would also be obtained in France. Second and most important to me was that the shoes were signed by a number of men from the unit, including my father. If you’ve seen the available Rosters over in the Unit Article Section of the website, you will see that the last rosters I have from the unit are from 1943. This listing of men was almost a full year later than any information I had previously. You can imagine how excited I was at the prospect of knowing who was with the unit during the fast-moving and difficult Brittany Campaign.
It was about a week later when the package arrived. I doubt the box was in my mail box more than a minute or two before I plucked it out to see my spectacular gift. The shoes were carefully packed and bubble wrapped. I quickly began inspecting them for names I could recognize. I was very concerned that years of playing with them may have degraded them to a point of not being able to read the names. After careful examination, I was able to identify a total of 56 names. You can see from the photos below that the shoes are in great shape. I can only guess that the names were written with a pen and that some type of varnish coating had been placed over top to protect the writing.
I was surprised to see that many of the officers had signed the shoes also. Now these names are not really signatures, which would be difficult to read but printed names. Many included their home towns, increasing their value to me and my searching for relatives. Some only provided their nick-names and others just provided there last names but most provided full names and a home town. This couldn’t have been a better item to receive or be more valuable to my research. I owe Len and the Truver family many thanks for their gift.
The following if the list of names and their home towns as they appear on the shoes. Clarence's last name "Dick" appears on the heel of both shoes:
Smitty – California
Soeder - Etna, PA
Bob Martel – Mass
Crimmins – Iowa
Albertson - Houston, TX
Billing – St. Charles, MO
Kane – Wilkes Barre, PA
Roberts – Bedford, Indiana
Lt. G.B. Kirkpatrick – Lafayette, Indiana
Lt. Russell L. Martin – Memphis, Tenn
Pegg – Tacoma, Wash
Capt. Ellis – Georgia
Rexford – Wellsboro, Penna
M.B. Hand – Pitts, Alt.
Pete – Hollywood, CA
Lt. Col. Neil Hein – Denver, CO
Col. Frank T. Searcy – Cairo, Georgia
Chamberlin – Chicago, Ill
Kelsie R. Workman – LaPorte, Ind
Warren Landis – Hbg, PA
Chaplain Richardson – Massachusetts
Rue French – Dandridge, Tenn
Kearns – Pgh, PA
James A. Pinyon – Meridian, Mississippi
Michael Balistrella – Shreveport, LA
R.L. Schoennoehl – Portland, OR
Mitch – Johnstown, PA
Cpl. Charles E. Conn – Montana
Charles A. Wilk_______
Rudy Metelko – Cleveland, OH
C. Fairbrother – Portland, OR
Harold Rosenbluth – Cleveland, OH
Royal Pascoe – Beacon, Michigan
F. Barry – N.Y.C.
Don Knapik – Winona, Minn.
Hohsfield – N.Y.C.
Lou Nastasi – New Orleans, LA
Hislop – Calif.
W. Qualter – Chicago
Ray Evans – Delaware, OH
Robert Haldeman – Stevens, Penn.
Oliver Wade – Indianapolis
J.H. Griffith - Prentiss, Miss.
Capt. D.B. Varner – Houston, TX
Raymond E. Thompson – Wharton, Texas
Jack Prichard – Roswell, N. Mex.
Chris Blake – New York
Capt. Allen Rodenheffer – St. Mary’s, Ohio
Eddie Chapman – Willows, California
Maj. M.B. Johnson
WM Evans – Kittanning. PA
James Bentley – Bakersfield, Calif.
Major R.H. Newbury – Atlanta, GA
Albert Davis – Ft. Worth, Texas