New England Engineers' Has Reunion for 125 Men
More than 125 members of the 150th Engineers, Combat Battalion, (US Army), attended the 22nd annual reunion held Friday and Saturday at the Holiday Inn.
Formed at Devens
The Army unit was formed at Ft. Devens in 1943 and consisted of young men from the New England area. During World War II it fought in the European Theater of Operations with the U. S. Third Army and was used in -direct support of the 4th Armored Division one of the late General Patton's famed units.
According to James C. Grey, president of the 150th ECB Association, the unit was originally formed as a New England unit but since it suffered approximately 7.2 per cent casualties during the fighting many replacements were from other areas of the country.
The association was the brainchild of three men who while recuperating in a military hospital in 1946 decided that it would be a shame to lose contact with friends with whom they had shared so many experiences. These men, Joseph Keegan and Richard Cutcliff, both of Boston; and Raymond Chandler of Hartford, Conn., were the driving force that has endured for 22 years and kept the men of the 150th together.
One man of the 150th almost deprived this country of the services of Gen. Creighton Abrams, presently Gen. William Westmoreland's top deputy in Vietnam.
According to Charles Dwelley of Danvers he and another soldier were driving a Sherman tank which was equipped with a bulldozer blade when a broken oil line caused them to abandon the tank. Being in enemy territory at the time they stripped the machine guns from the tank and proceeded on foot.
They soon came to a farm house and decided to wait there until they could devise a plan to get back to their unit. After two days and nights they heard the sound of tracked vehicles in he night and thought the Germans were approaching.
Set Up Guns
They set up their machine guns in the windows of the house and planned to fire as soon as a target came in sight; then if it slowed the Germans down enough, they planned to run out the back door into the woods. Just as they were about to open fire they thought they recognized the sound of American voices. They held their fire and not seconds later Lt. Col. Creighton
Abrams walked through the door. Dwelley stated that Abrams did not know how close he had come to being shot by his own troops and he was not going to inform him at the time.
The 150th remained in Europe until the end of the hostilities. While there they received the Presidential Unit Citation twice and were responsible for completing the first three floating bridges over the Rhine River.
According to Roger Potito, chairman for this years reunion who is also a local policeman, the unit was also responsible for building the longest floating bridge over the Rhine, it measured 1020 feet and was built while under enemy fire. The unit plans to hold next year's reunion in Hartford, Conn.