Sgt Edwin George Masching

Sgt Edwin George Masching

Birth
Union Township, Livingston County, Illinois, USA
Death 4 Oct 1944 (aged 23)
France
Burial Epinal, Departement des Vosges, Lorraine, France
Plot Plot A, Row 25, Grave 9
Memorial ID 56374007 · View Source
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Narrative of Service World War II Masching Brothers.
On 7 December 1941, the Masching family was living on a farm near Emington, Illinois. Helen Masching, 17 years old
and the youngest of 8, returned from a Sunday trip to the movies, to find her family around the radio listening to the reports of the attack on Pearl Harbor. She remembers thinking that the attack was "just horrible."
In 1942, John and Molly Masching purchased 80 acres of farm land, located one quarter of mile east of the Catholic
Church at Loretta, Illinois. Although this part of Livingston County is known as Loretta, the mailing address is Odell,Illinois.
On 10 October 1942, the oldest brother, Charles Conrad Masching, age 33, voluntarily enlisted in the Army Air Corp and was given service number 15109296. Chuck was living in Tazewell County, Illinois, but processed into the military in the city of South Bend, Indiana. Helen said that Chuck joined because "all the boys were going" and he did not want to be left out. Chuck may have felt tremendous pressure to enlist as all his brothers were enlisted by August of 1942. His enlistment record indicates a "Defer. Date Month 04 and Defer. Date Year 33." Unfortunately, the National Archives does not provide interpretive information regarding enlistment codes. We do have an article and a picture from what I believe is a March 1944 Emington Joker. The picture appears under the headline, "Sgt. Kenneth R. Baxter And Cpl. Charles C. Masching Making Test." The article reports that the two men are Illinoisans and that they are station at an Eighth Air Force bomber station in England. The men are making "a continuity test on the receiver-indicator unit of equipment, used on Eight Air Force B-17 Flying Fortresses for navigation and bombing through adverse weather conditions." The article further states that Chuck "was an insurance salesman for the l.A.A. Insurance Service, Chicago, ILL. His wife, Mrs. Ruth Masching, lives at 522 North Chicago Ave. Pontiac, IL." The unit Chuck was with was "the 4861h Bomb. Group, commanded by Col. Glendon P. Overing, Orange, Mass. The 4861h is a unit of the Eighth Air Force's Third Air Division. The division cited by the president for its England-Africa shuttle bombing of the aircraft plants at Regensburg, Gemlany."
At the time of his enlistment, he was married to Ruth and claimed on his enlistment form a grammar school education. His civilian occupation is listed as "Salesmen, insurance." Steve Farrell has said that Chuck had work in a shoe factory, but did not like it which led to Chuck selling insurance. When he returned from the War, he moved to Pekin, lL and then later moved to Southern Illinois. According to Steve Farrell, Chuck had his own insurance agency in Mattoon, IL.
Leroy "Bud" J Masching was called to service twice before the Army finally accepted him. He suffered from a "leg
ailment" that prevented him from being drafted, twice. On 14 May 1942, Bud was enlisted into the Army of the United
States, as a private, at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri; he was 22 years old. He claimed three years of high school and his
civilian occupation is listed as "Laboratory technicians and assistants." He was single at the time of his enlistment. In a
letter dated February 15, 1943, Bud indicates that he may be medically discharged because of stretched tendons in his
knees. He is in some type of school and asks the doctors to delay action until he has completed the schooling. He is also hoping to get a supply job. He may be at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. In a letter written in March of 1944, he states that he had been there prior to being shipped to Greenland. According to Donnie, Bud never left the United States. Donnie must have forgotten that Bud did leave the United States. In a letter to the folks, Bud lists Greenland above the date, March 27, 1944. In the same letter he states that he shipped out of Fort Leonard Wood. Bud did tell Steve that the only way he was able to keep his feet warm was by taking off his Army issued boots and wearing his goulashes stuffed with newspaper. After the War, Bud returned to Southern Illinois and married Dorothy Huelsmann on 21 May 1946. Bud's birthday is 29 September 1919.
On 23 January 1942, Donald Francis Masching, age 19, voluntarily enlisted into the United States Army Air Corp at the rank of private in Chicago, Illinois. Incredibly, this is only 46 days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It must be noted that his age is lower than the established draft age of 21-36. He was assigned the serial number 16067226. His enlistment record notes a voluntary enlistment and that he had four years of high school. There was not a listing of civilian occupation. When I spoke with Uncle Donnie, he recalled that he was stationed at Fort Dix, New Jersey. He said that it was here that he saw one of the first operational helicopters in the Army Air Corp. If I remember right, he said he was at a dirigible base. Don also said, "That me and Bud had pretty easy duty, but Butch got the hard duty." Unfortunately, this is the only conversation I had with Don about his brother Butch. Helen mentioned that Don must have been in New York. She recalled that Don had visited Marie while she was living there. I have not acquired a set of Don's military records. After the War, Don returned to live on the farm with his parents. He lived there until he married Helen and moved to the Village of Odell. Don was a rural route mail delivery driver, avid hunter and trapper, and served as Odell Pool Park manager. Edwin George "Butch" Masching was drafted into the service. He was 20 years old when he officially enlisted on 24 August 1942 in Chicago, Illinois. His military record lists him as having the civilian occupation(s) of: "Semiskilled
chauffeurs and drivers, bus, taxi, truck and tractor". When I laughingly mentioned the occupation list to Aunt Helen, she
informed me that Butch had been a truck driver before entering service. I was shocked, as I had always pictured him as a
farm boy. After one year of Reddick High School, Butch had had enough and dropped out. In the year or two that followed, he worked at various jobs. The last civilian job that Butch held was driving a truck delivering pop, most likely Pepsi, in Kankakee. According to Helen, Butch would stay in Kankakee during the week and come back to Odell on the weekend. When he came back to the farm, he would go see his girlfriend, Irene McDowell of Saunemin, Illinois. Irene
and Butch were engaged to marry. She had converted to Catholicism and was waiting for him to return from the war.
When he was killed, a Catholic missal was recovered from his body. In it was a picture of him and Irene. I last saw this picture when Grandma Farrell gave me the missal.
After processing into the service in Chicago, Butch, service number 36366180, went to basic training as a private. According to an undated obituary article from the Emington Joker, Butch reported for service on September 6, 1942 at Camp Grant located near Rockford, Illinois. From Camp Grant, he went to Camp Wheeler, Georgia where he received his basic training. After basic training, he then was sent to Ipswich, Massachusetts for combat training.
In a letter to his folks dated February 7, 1943, Butch wrote that he would be getting furlough and wanted the folks to find out how much gas he could get. He writes, "Say if your in Pontiac before I get home go to the gas rationing board and see how much gas I can get while I am on my furlow. A boy just got back from Tennessee on a furlough, he got 30 gals."
Before being sent overseas, Helen Donovan said that Butch spent Christmas with the family. According to his obituary, he was shipped overseas in 22 January 1944. From 24 August 1942 until 22 January 1944, Butch was in the United States.
In a letter to his parents that was published in the Emington Joker, Butch reports arriving in Italy on the sixth of February 1944 after spending two days in Africa. He was most likely in Algeria in the port city of Oron. In this letter he reports seeing "a place where one man had 4 or 5 wives and they had a veil to cover part of their face. I thought those days were gone but seeing is convincing."
When he arrived in Italy, Butch is most likely part of a replacement depot. In the depot, he would have continued to train for combat. The depot is a place where individual soldiers wait to be assigned to an existing company. At this time he seems to be in good spirits. In the same letter he reported seeing the man with four or five wives, he writes, "We are taking life pretty easy and doing a little drilling to keep us in shape. We climbed a mountain again today, it's rather fun when you get to the top and can see for miles and see what's going on an [sic] the different lay of the land."
Butch will not see combat until May of 1944, during the breakout at Anzio. His letters during his time at the depot report interactions with the locals and his church attendance. In a letter dated 28 February he writes, "The rest of the boys went to town to a show and I figured I had better write being I had not written in almost a week. I went to church yesterday in town. An Italian church. Then we had some wine and nuts. We came back in time for chow. In the afternoon we went to another town and messed around and came back for supper. There is going to be a show here in the area at 3 :30. We are going to have church here in the area tomorrow morning also confession and communion."
From the 36th Division history that by March of 1944, almost 60-70% of the original members were killed, wounded, captured or missing in action. For all practical purposes, the Division had become inoperable and was sent to an area east of Naples for rest and relaxation.
Butch, as a replacement, was assigned, according to his 36th Division file card, to Company I, 3rd Battalion, 143rd Infantry Regiment 36th Division on 2 November 1943. An email from Lisa Sharik explained that the file cards were compiled in 1945 based on interviews of company commanders. This fact makes the file card suspect. His "assignment" may have been on 2 November 1943, but he does not make it to Italy, according to his letters home, until February of 1944. I do know that the 36th Division conducted mountain training near Avellino which is about 40 miles due east of Naples. Butch most likely joined the Division during this training.
Butch also reports that the "weather here is kind of wet, and it's raining out now. We are sitting here by our little candles
writing letters." This report is typical of the weather in Italy during 1943 and 1944.
Just before Butch arrived in Italy, a second invasion ofItaly was launched. American and British forces landed ill force
near Anzio, a port halfway between Naples, held by the allies, aJld Rome, held by the Nazis. The Anzio landing began 22
January and was not secured until 31 January. The allies had established a beachhead, but could not break ouL Many
times German forces attacked and each time it seemed as though the allies would have to evacuate. This stale mate lasted
until May 1944.
After training in mountain combat and most likely amphibious landing, Butch and the rest of the 3611) division were loaded into sea transports at the port of Naples. The division can1e ashore 011 May 17-18. Butch may have seen his fu·st combat while coming ashore. The Germans were close enough that they could still shell the beaches. One gun used by the German Anny shot a shell the size of a refrigerator. The Division was brought ashore to play key role in operation DIADEM also called Buffalo. This plan was designed to split the German Army in Italy and allow the allies to take Rome.
On May 3 1944 exploiting a gap between the left flank of the German I Parachute Corps and the right flank of the LXXVI
Panzer Corps, the 143rd-Butch's regiment, with the 142nd on its left, attacked Monte Atemisio. The Division used an old
mining road to creep through the Gennan gap and ultimately, infiltrate the Germans and attack them from the rear. On
June 1, the town of Velletri is surrounded and ultimately taken by the Division.
After taking Velletri, the 36th Division turned north liberated Rome on 5 June. Butch was part of the force that broke the Caesar Line, the Gennan line of final defense, and expelled the Nazi's from Rome. Notice, Rome is liberated one day before the Normandy invasion. After the liberation of Rome, the 361h fought its way north. The Nazi Army put up stiffresistance at Magliano, but the 36th was able to capture the town and ultimately capture Piombino on 26 June. After a
month in combat, the 36th is withdrawn to Paestum.
By 1 July 1944, Butch is in Paestum, Italy. Now a combat veteran, he writes a letter to his "Mother and Dad" in whi.ch, he describes Rome. The letter appeared in the Emington Joker.
"Here it is a nice bright sunny day in Italy. I am fine as can be and living an easy life. rt's really nice here and I have all day to write letters. I am laying in my little pup tent enjoying the nice cool breeze that is coming in.
I thought I had better write you a long letter today and tell you some of the things I saw when I visited Rome. Rome is a pretty nice city, especially Vatican City, with all its old buildings. I was in St. Peter's Cathedral and what a beautiful place it is, all trimmed in gold. I saw the tombs of St. Peter, Pope Pius the IX and VII and Alexander the Great. They have big statues of each one. I saw where the Pope lived, and the guide that was with us said be wasn't coming out. Some of the boys saw him and kissed the ring on his finger. St. Peter's Cathedral was made by hand and is made of marble and gold. They are starting to polish the gold and marble now. There are twenty-two altars in St. Peters. The guide told us the main altar cost five million dollars. There is a mass going on every minute of the day. At every mass they pray for all the soldiers, that we may keep our strength and health and have victory and peace ever after. Last nights paper said the Pope said Mass on St. Peter's day and the courtyard and cathedral was packed with soldiers. I wish I could have gone but we were vcry busy that day. I saw the different cloaks the different Popes wore, dating from the year 76. Also the chalices from that year until now. They are solid gold with settings of rubies, pearls and diamonds, and are sure beautiful. I saw St. Peter's ring and the set is an inch square and is a purplish color. You should see the different diamonds, rubies and pearls given to the Brothers to keep, given by the different countries. I didn't see any from U.S.A. 'All these diamonds, rubies, pearls, cloaks and chalices are in a room under guard and in a show window, as we from the United States, say.
We asked the guide if the Germans came to visit the Vatican, and she said they were real gentlemen while they were there, and visited the Vatican often. I am sending home two rosaries, five medals and five pictures of the Pope and three crosses, also two pictures of the Vatican, also my watch. I tried to get it fixed, but their watches are made different. The rosaries, medals, crosses and pictures were blessed by the Pope.
Well, I guess I will close, hoping this finds you all in the best of spirits, as I am fine. Goodbye for now and good
luck and God bless you."
While in Paestum, Butch and the Division train and recoup from the drive to Rome. An invasion has been planned of southern France and the 36'h will lead the landing. On 15 August 1944, the 36th landed in Southern France, near the villages of St. Raphael and Frejus. Butch's battalion liberates Frejus. On 28 Aug, with lighting speed, the 36th Division began to role up the Rhone Valley moving North by North East. Units of the 36 Inf capture Montelimar. The capture of this town trapped a large Nazi force which is annihilated by artillery and infantry attack. It is during this drive north that the 3rd battalion which included Butch's I Company, liberates the Southern France city of Grenoble. Moving north, elements of the 36th reach the Mosselle River and Remiremont. Sometime after July of 1944, Butch is promoted to the rank of Sergeant. This is significant because that would have put him in command of squad in his rifle platoon.
On 1 September, Butch was admitted to the hospital. He did not leave hospital until 27 September. In an 11 September
letter to "Sis," Mrs. Joe Farrell, Butch writes,
Here I am somewhere in southern France. I suppose the folks have told you. But I am writing and tell you anyway. I'm in a hospital some where here. I was operated on for hemmcroids Sept 1. I am getting along fine. They were sure painful at first. But there ok now. The doc said now you know what it feels like to have a baby. I told him I was glad I could have a baby.
I made the invasion here in southern France. It wasn't bad as I figured it would be. I guess I strained myself. How are the kids and the old man. Tell him when I get home were going to celebrate. Well sis I guess I will close for today its getting close to chow time. Bro Butch"
The obituary that appeared in the Joker, states that the last letter received from Butch was written on 3 October, 1944. On 4 October 1944, Butch's 3rd Battalion is just over 100 miles from the German border in the area of Laveline du Houx (name of the village in the middle of the valley) in the woods of "bois de la Bouyeres" on the slope of the hill 809, also named "Spiemont". The terrain is rolling hills, pasture and forest. The weather at the end of September and the beginning of October 1944 was cold and wet. In this area, the enemy was putting up strong resistance as it was the Gennan strategy to hold all allied forces on the border of Germany. This line is commonly called the Siegfried Line. After the initial mass movement into the area, patrols were sent out to frnd the enemy. Butch is killed in a wooded pasture near the bottom of one of the rolling hills just north and east of Laveline du Houx.
The official after action report states, "On the left of the Second Battalion, the third Battalion contacted the enemy near houses at 253494 at the western base of Hill 808. Although the Gennans laid a sizable concentration of artillery on the Third Battalion area, Companies L and I (Butch's Company) advanced abreast to the base of Hill 808 into approximately one hundred and fifty entrenched enemy. While Company L momentarily withdrew, Cannon Company poured in a twelve-minute barrage. Immediately Company L and other Third Battalion units advanced and seized Hill 808 at 061135 October 1944."
The Stars and Stripes report, "As members of Masching's patrol attempted to move to the rear, enemy fire was concentrated on them. Mashing rushed toward one of the enemy firing positions firing his tommy gun as he ran, enabling the balance of the patrol to withdraw."
For this heroic action, Butch was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. The Distinguished Service Cross is the second highest award giving to military members. The highest award is the Congressional Medal of Honor. Butch's citation is pasted below.

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (posthumously) to
Edwin G. Masching (36366180), Sergeant, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with the 143d Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division, in action against enemy forces on 4 October 1944, in France. Sergeant Masching's intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty at the cost of his life, exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 36th Infantry Division, and the United States Army.
--
Distinguished Service Cross
(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Sergeant Edwin G. Masching (ASN:36366180), United States Army, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with the 143d Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division, in action against enemy forces on 4 October 1944, in France. Sergeant Masching's intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty at the cost of his life, exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 36th Infantry Division, and the United States Army.
General Orders: Headquarters, European Theater of Operations, U.S. Army, General Orders No. 64 (1945)

Action Date: 4-Oct-44

Service: Army

Rank: Sergeant

Regiment: 143d Infantry Regiment

Division: 36th


Gravesite Details Entered the Service from Illinois.

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: War Graves
  • Added: 7 Aug 2010
  • Find a Grave Memorial 56374007
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Sgt Edwin George Masching (10 Jun 1921–4 Oct 1944), Find a Grave Memorial no. 56374007, citing Epinal American Cemetery and Memorial, Epinal, Departement des Vosges, Lorraine, France ; Maintained by War Graves (contributor 6) .