He grew up during the Great Depression. He was a security guard, electrician and farmer and could fix just about anything. He was a good, honest man, one of the Greatest Generation and a US Army Veteran. And he was my dad.
In remembrance of Veterans Day I have transcribed a letter that my dad, Herbert Miller, wrote to his sister and her husband while he was serving his country in Germany during World War II. He volunteered for the draft and ended up serving in the 84th Division, 333rd Company, Army Infantry, also known as the Railsplitters. He was very proud to have been a member of the Railsplitters.
My Aunt Ruth gave me the following letter this past summer. I am grateful that she saved the letter all these years and passed it on to me.
PFC Herbert M. Miller
Hq. 84 Div. Post. Sect.
A.P.O. 84. c/o PM. N.Y., N.Y.
30 Oct 1945
Dear Ruth & Bob,
This letter isn’t going to be very interesting, but you wanted me to tell about some of my experience. I don’t care too much to write or talk about it. I’d rather be friendly with everybody.
I went to Ft. Meade, Md. & from there went to Camp Miles Standish, Mass. on Dec. 11. My co boarded the USS Wakefield- “the old Manhatten” luxury liner. We sailed on the 12th & on the 19th we landed in England. We got on a train right away & rode across England to the channel. On the 21st we crossed the channel & loaded ”LST” to land at Le Harve, & landed the same day. I spent that nite in La Harve. The 22nd & 23rd I spent by riding in box cars across France. On the evening of the 23rd we came to JeVaie[?], France, up along the Belgian border. That nite the Jerries bombed & strafed the town & it was reported that the German spearhead was only 13 miles away.
The next day they issued us 03 because they were out of M-1 rifles. [end of p.1]
That afternoon (Christmas Day) we moved to a Repple Depple just set up in the woods. There they split up the outfit into the different Div. Some went to arm’d Div. But most went to Infantry Div. I went up to the 84th that evening and we came down from Div. To Regt. There I spent the nite. On the 25th I & three of my buddies moved up to third Battalion. On the 26th we were assigned to our companies. I was the only one out of the four of us that went to “l” Co. I joined the Co. at Hotton Belgium. They just came back out of Verdenne & were on a rest. We were shelled every night. Then on New Year’s Eve the order came down for us to dig in around the town. They thought the Jerries were going to attack and we were to be secondary defense. All nite there were tracers & shells coming everywhere. The next evening we moved out & they told us were going to go into the offensive instead of defensive. So we moved into a town that the second armored had taken a couple of hrs. before. We were the front lines & no one was in front of us except Jerries. The next morning we were shelled for about an hour & there was a counter-attack. It didn’t last long, thanks to the second arm’d. Then at 1:00 we moved [end of p.2] out in the attack. It was a little once 7 days until we pulled back to where we could have our first warm meals, warm drinks, dry clothes, or sleep anywhere except in the fox holes. It was a barn full of hay & the best sleep I ever had. We were there 1 ½ days & moved up on line again. There wasn’t anybody in front of the infantry. The tanks were behind us, the engineers. The next attack lasted about 7 days. And another 2 days rest. Then the third attack lasted almost 6 days.
We then went to Holland after the Bulge was licked. We were in Holland 5 days & on a beautiful rest. We had houses to live in & hot water.
Then we started back. Some of the guys started [?] for a lot of us we were going for our first time into Germany. On the third of Feb. we walked to Brachelen & relieved the 102 Div. We were ready & waiting to cross the Ruhr[?]. The Germans blew the dams flooded the valley. We moved back to high ground & waited until the 28th when the 1st Btn. 334 crossed [end of p.3] the Ruhr[?] & 335 followed, then the 333rd regt. & some days later we came to Rheinhausen, across from Essen, Dosenheim[?] & Düsseldorf.
A couple of weeks later we crossed the Rhine in the British Bridgehead. Then we came to the Elbe. All the time from Dec 24 until May 12 we were under shellfire or within range every nite. That stuff is really hard on your nerves.
There is a heck of a lot that I left out & I could write 1000 pages on it but it isn’t worth it.
All we could think about is that as soon as the war is over here & in Japan we’ll go home right away. If a guy knew he’d be here this long he’d have had a different feeling.
We owe all of our veterans a big Thank You for their service to our country. Remember to thank a veteran this Sunday and think of those that are no longer with us.
Wow, Karen, what an amazing letter. Such a treasure trove of information about your Dad’s experiences, and all of it recorded right as he was going through it. I’m humbled by the depth of his service and sacrifice, and glad to join in honoring him this Veteran’s Day.
Thanks, Shelley. He was very proud of his military service. That letter is very special to me.
Karen, what was your Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bob’s last name? Bob and Ruth Miller immediately came to mind, but that does not make sense if it was your Dad’s sister. Besides, I expect they have both passed away.
Dear Mrs. Miller,
I`m very interested in Herbert Miller’s story because the 333rd Bat. of the Railsplitters moved through my hometown Kempen (nearby Krefeld) on March 3rd 1945. I am writing a book on Kempen during Nazi-Reign (1933-1945). If you have any further informations, resources (especially photos or letters) concerning Kempen, I would be glad to receive copies of them. Of course I will pay the costs. (I guess you know the execellent website of the Railsplitters.)
Concerning the question marks in the letter:
Brachelen is correct – nowadays it belongs to the town of Hückelhoven, near Aachen, the first big german town the Allies conquered.
Ruhr – Roer in English
Dosenheim – perhaps he transmogrified the town of Duisburg (Duis – pronounced similar to the English word dose. In German Dosen means cans. -heim and -burg are frequent endings of German towns. Perhaps he mixed it up). Duisburg is the only big town on the way from Essen to Düsseldorf. There is no Dosenheim, only a town named Rosenheim – near the Austrian Border.
Dr. Ulrich Hermanns
Thank you for writing. How interesting that you are writing a book about this time period in your area. My dad would have enjoyed talking with you. He remembered a lot about his time in Germany during the war and he was very proud to have been a Railsplitter. This is the only letter of this kind that I have. Should I find any more I will let you know or post them on this website. I have some of his war pictures but they are not labeled and I do not know where they were taken. Thank you for confirming and explaining some of the town names. Is Rosenheim in your area? I wonder what town he was referring to. The first letter looks like a D, but the handwriting is difficult to read. Please keep me informed with the progress of your book.
thank you very much for writing.
I guess your dad really passed Duisburg on his way from Essen to Düsseldorf. There is no other conclusion. Rosenheim is a few hundert miles away from the area Essen-Düsseldorf (Lower Rhine, West Germany). Rosenheim is not far away from Munich (South Germany).
If I could have a look on your dad’s war pictures – Maybe I can tell your where the pictures have been made.
I apologize for my bad English.
Dr. Ulrich Hermanns
Hello again! I will scan some of those war photos from Germany and e-mail them to you. I will be interested to see if you recognize any of the areas. I will try to do that later this week. My dad developed most of the photos himself. Maybe the soldiers had to do that themselves if they wanted photos.
Would you please e-mail me privately. I have come up with an idea for you to see the old war photos. I tried to e-mail you but several of the e-mails bounced back. You may have received the first e-mail and if you did, you must know that I typed the URL wrong. There are only two-3s, not three, in the URL. The end is 8433. Hopefully you will be able to sign up and view the photos. Please let me know if you are able to view them. Thanks!
Thank you for posting this letter. It is very interesting to me. I have been unable to find much information about my grandfather, Kenneth Scott. He was also in Company L, 333rd Infantry Regiment. He was killed in action in Brachelen on 23 February, 1945 (the day after his wife’s 22nd birthday). She had three small children – one of whom was born in December and only 2 months old. He did not have a chance to meet her.
Apparently his records were burned in the St. Louis fire. I was able to obtain some information from the file where his remains were sent back to Ohio for burial. This letter has provided a glimpse of what my grandfather must have experienced during that time. I was told that the vehicle he was in ran over a mine and that is what killed him. I would be very grateful if you could allow me to see the war photos from Germany. I don’t know if your father and my grandfather knew each other, but if you come across any information on a Kenneth Scott #35088941, I would appreciate it.
Thank you for writing and telling about your grandfather. It is a sad story. I also wonder if he and my dad knew each other. I will let you know if I ever come across that name among my dad’s letters. I have sent you an invite to view my dad’s photos on Shutterfly. Please let me know if you did not get it and I will resend. So great to hear from you.