151st Signal Company History
In 1942 the world began making preparations to strike back at the Axis forces and stop their advance of destruction against humanity. In order to successfully wage an offensive war against the Axis powers, the Armed forces were being rapidly streamlined to meet the demands of the United States military experts.
The 151st Armored Signal Company was organized at Leesville, LA, on August 15, 1942 as part of the 11th Armored Division. The cadre that made up the officers and instructors came from three other armored divisions; the Third, Seventh, and Eighth. Draftees and enlisted men brought the battalion up to more than 300 men
It was designed to be the voice and the ears of the division. The Signal Company was in charge of all communications for the Eleventh Armored Division.
Commanded by 1st Lieutenant John F. Ross, the battalion trained in Leesville and participated in the Third Army's Louisiana-Texas maneuvers in June-August 1943. In September, the division moved to Camp Barkeley, TX.
While at Camp Barkeley, they participated in desert maneuvers from Yuma to Goffs which caused them to end in the Mojave Desert at Camp Ibis near Needles, CA. When they got to Ibis, they blitzed the tracks and trucks, loaded them on to flat cars, hauled them to Camp Cooke and donated them to the scrap drive.
Camp Cooke was the division home from February 1944 to September 1944. It is situated on 'Point Pneumonia," where the Chamber of Commerce says, "The climate is ideal." O.D. uniforms were worn year round. Reveille sounded like a consumptive’s convention and the First John's voice would come out of the fog: "You guys ain't gettin' out here fast enough".
After eight months at Camp Cooke, the men were boarded on the train to make the long trip east to Camp Kilmer. The trip lasted seven days, but the officers saw to it that the men were in good shape. Wherever they stopped they participated in 15 or 20 minutes of calisthenics: the desert of California, the stockyards of Chicago, or the grassy plains of New Jersey. As they were coming through the Eastern section of the states, the expressions on the faces of the men as they passed their home towns and cities, made some wonder if they were ever coming home again.
Upon arriving at Camp Kilmer, the men were anxious to put their feel on solid ground for awhile. A ride was expected to take them to their new quarters, but laughs and groans came when they had to walk two miles with full field packs. Things moved fast at Kilmer, and the time was short. The seven days were spent in classes, training, boat loading and unloading, climbing down rope ladders, use of emergency rations, life rafts, and how to act in case of fire at sea.
On September 28, 1944, they received their orders to leave. It was a slow tedious trip aboard the HMS Samaria with little to do. Finally on the 13th day, October 12, 1944, they arrived in Liverpool, England. They were trooped off the ship through a dark passageway, and loaded onto cars that, in the dark, looked as though they were for cattle. They were then taken to a little English town called Erlestoke.
They were moved into little apartments. This did not last long, because the general arrived and decided that it was an ideal location for his men. Therefore the 151st was moved to Stockton House. After their two-month stay in England, they were alerted on the first of December that they were leaving. Last minute preparations, twenty-four hour shifts, details, and everything had to be accomplished to get the company ready for battle. They left Stockton House on December 13 and arrived in Weymouth to guard duty, rain, C-rations, and sleet.
From Weymouth they embarked across the English Channel. They had an excellent trip but they were suddenly stopped with a cracked keel. They left the leaking ship, charged Cherbourg borrowed a ship and slept sound until leaving for Bricabeque.
They crossed into France on December 21 arriving at a house near Bricabeque, where the prepared vehicles and equipment for a long move The 151st moved through Normandy and Damville arriving at Camp Sissone on Christmas Eve. They spent Christmas Eve in the camp's permanent barracks with B-rations, running water, cots, lights and mail call, and enjoyed a big Christmas dinner. They headed out for Belgium on December 27.
From January to March they made their way through Belgium and Luxembourg. Preparing to enter Germany the 11th Armored entered Germany to find ruin wherever they went. They found seemingly endless stocks of wine.
On March 29 they crossed the Rhine at Oppenheim and made a long drive to Crainfeld with nearby towns and wreckage still burning. Their drive led them through Schlitz, Hunfeld, Morles, Steinbach, and Halienberg. On April 12 the Thunderbolts arrived at Gestungshausen. They found themselves faced on two sides by Germans. They watched the air support in action until the C-rations were hot.
From Gestungshausen they moved through Mainleus, Bayreuth, Grafenwohr, and Schraittenbach to arrive in Stamsried on April 23.
In Stamsried they witnessed the surrendering of the Hungarian forces as well as the death march. Mess had appropriated 1000 eggs and the men shared their chow and vehicle rations with the victims of the SS.
From Stamsried they moved ahead on their way to Austria with a much appreciated and steady diet of eggs. Passing through Schonberg they witnessed a city ablaze. They stopped for a few days in Freyung to give the supporting infantry division a chance to catch up.
They traveled in convoy over the Austrian border to Rohrbach on May 2. They were met with steady rain. The one steady thing that Austria offered to them.
On May 4 the 151st arrived in Obemaukirchen. They heard artillery in the distance pounding Linz, the gateway to the Russians and Victory. They arrived in Hellmonsoodk as Linz fell. The Thunderbolts watched as the leaders of 250,000 SS. Wehmmachl and enemy Russians drove by to headquarters to surrender.
The war ended on May 8, 1945 and the 151st moved to Linz and Urfahr where they enjoyed women, movies, wine and especially rest. Redeployment came on June 8 and that was the end of the 151st Armored Signal Company of the 11th Armored Division "Thunderbolts''
The Meritorious Service Unit Plaque was awarded to the 151st Armored Signal Company 19 December 1944 to 19 February 1945. The plaque read: "From the time it was forced to abandon ship in the English Channel to the successful assault upon the Siegfried Line... the personnel of Signal Company have performed their duties in a superior manner in spite of adverse weather and hazardous tactical situations.... Although the difficulties of signal maintenance and supply of the division were great, multiplied by distances from depots up to 300 miles, signal equipment was on hand when needed, and no vehicle or piece of equipment was out of action in the company for more than 24 hours."Back to "Our History"