(Click on the image above to download the history of the Signal Corps in WWII)
They sing of the men that go down to the sea,
of the heroes of cannon and swords.
And write of the valor's of dead chivalry,
and the bravery of old knights and lords.
They sigh because the romance of knights are past,
and because there are no ideals anymore.
They say that this old world 's going too fast,
to develop that "esprit de corps."
But those that complain are the one's that don't know who sits loose, where it's warm.
They haven't ever seen a line sagging in the snow,
and had to get service back quick!
They haven't ever struggled with death at their side,
snapping, and hissing, and pale.
Nor have they clung to the towers and grimly defied
the assaults of blizzards and gale.
They sit and are served with never a thought,
of the fella's out plugging like hell.
To supply at their touch the service they've bought,
with a light or the sound of a bell.
These fellas aren't dressed out all shining in steel,
they don't ride around on no horse.
They don't sing no songs about how they feel,
in the gales when the feeders may cross.
They don't wave banners embroidered with gold,
in Latin nobody can read.
They don't go bragging of deeds that were bold.
Their motto is "Service and Speed."
Their armor isn't nothing but slickers and boots,
their weapons are climbers and pliers.
Their battles are fought up where high tension shoots,
and death lurks unseen in the wires.
They're fighting the gales, and blizzards, and ice,
protecting the towers and spans.
With effort not measured in hours or price,
For one cause - just service to man!
So here's to the Linemen, that son of a gun,
that can do without sleep for a week!
That sticks to the job until every bit is done,
and the feeders can carry the peak.
For this is that Knighthood that is noblest by far,
that highest and mightiest clan,
that is fighting the battle of things as they are,
in the cause of service and of man. ~Chan Gardiner~
-Killed In Action-
439th Signal Construction Battalion
Tec. 4 Mearl E. Barrett
Tec. 5 Benito Garcia
PFC Sam J. Lamprinidis
PFC Joseph P. Mauer
PFC Henry H. Hall
PFC Carl G. Oldham
PFC Harry L. Melton
PFC James V. Moniaci
"The history of the Signal Corps in the ETO is a record of constant work around the clock, seven days a week. Where battles raged, wherever armored and infantry forces advanced, the Signal Corps installed essential lines of communication. Signalmen dug holes and planted poles. They climbed poles, placed wire, and repaired breaks. They operated so close to the front that Signal Corpsmen were often atop poles stringing wire as infantrymen plodded around them."
-439th Signal Battalion History (Condensed)-
The 439th Signal Battalion was officially activated on February 6th, 1942, at Tallahassee, Florida, and deactivated at Schwabish Hall, Germany in October, 1945, after three years and seven months of noble service in the European Theater of Operations.
The battalion was officially activated on February 6th, 1942, at Silver Lake, Talahassee, Florida. The original cadre consisted of four officers and 154 enlisted men which had been transferred from the 901st and 256th Signal Construction Companies.
The battalion consisted of a headquarters detachment, along with two full companies of qualified Army Signal Corps linemen and telephone/telegraph specialists.
The primary mission of the 439th Signal Battalion during World War II was to provide timely and reliable communication between the fighter-bombers of the 64th Fighter Wing and ground-combat units of the 5th and 7th US Army. In short, the battalion was under the direct, operational control of the 9th and 12th Army Air Force (XII Tactical Air Command), with the vast majority of the 439th's time being attached to the "Thunderbirds" of the 45th Infantry Division.
While in the ETO, the 439th Signal Battalion took part in 9 major campaigns and made five D-Day assault landings at North Africa, Sicily, Salerno, Anzio, and Southern France.
Company B of the unit trudged ashore with other units of the VI Corps at the Anzio-Nettuno Beachhead on 22 January, 1944, but since the battalion as a whole did not participate, they were not awarded a campaign star for this action.
Order of Battle for the 64th Fighter Wing, 9th and 12th Army Air Forces (XII Tactical Air Command)
Ground Support Units
82nd Fighter Control Squadron
328th Fighter Control Squadron
582nd Signal Air Warning Battalion
593rd Signal Air Warning Battalion
346th Signal Company Wing
439th Signal Construction Battalion
31st Fighter Group (Nov 1942 - Apr 1944) (Spitfire)
33d Fighter Group (Nov 1942 - Feb 1944) (P-39)
86th Fighter Group (Jul 1943 - Apr 1945) (A-36, P-40, P-47)
324th Fighter Group (Oct 1943 - May 1945) (P-47)
Chronology of Events for the 439th Signal Battalion
Activated on 6 February 1942.
Company B arrives at Glasgow, Scotland on 13 July 1942.
The Battalion boards the HMS Mooltan for transport to North Africa and Operation Torch, 23 October 1942.
The 439th makes its first assault landing at Arzew Beach/Oran Algeria, 8 November 1942.
The 439th, along with other units, is hammered by the heaviest German air attack in North Africa at Maison Blanche, 15 January 1943.
Company B lands at Gela and Licata, Sicily, on 12 July 1943.
The 439th trudges ashore with other 5th Army units on "Roger Beach" at Salerno, Italy, on 12 September 1943.
Naples falls and the battalion establishes their Command Post within the city limits, 2 October 1943. While here, most in the battalion had an excellent view of Mt. Vesuvius erupting.
The 1st Platoon of Company B wades ashore at the Anzio Beachhead, 22 January 1944. The company stays there under heavy fire until the Allied breakout in May.
The battalion enters Rome, Italy, in June 1944.
For most men of the in 439th, 20 August 1944 marks their fifth D-Day when the unit comes ashore at St. Tropez harbor, France.
On 7 September 1944, Company B moves through the horrible sight at Montelimar, France where portions of the retreating German 19th Army was cut to pieces by Allied air and artillery. Seventy-five flat tires were incurred on the trip through the city.
The unit is temporarily loaned to the XV Corps and its supporting units, 9 November 1944.
Company B moves from Neuves Maisons, France, to Saarbrucken and Rhodt, Germany, on 2 April 1945. While en-route, many teams in the company are with the 45th Division when it enters Dachau Concentration Camp near Munich, Austria.
The last battalion move of the war is made by Company B to Stuttgart, Germany, on 4 May 1945.
May - September 1945, the battalion is located for the remainder of its stay in the European Theater of Operations at Schwabisch Hall, Germany.
Headquarters 64th Fighter Wing
Office of the Wing Commander
SUBJECT: Commendation September 29, 1943
TO: Commanding General, XII Air Support Command, APO 766
1. I take great pleasure in commending the officers and men of the 439th Signal Battalion for their outstanding performance during the establishment of the Salerno Bridgehead.
2. During the initial phases of operation, this unit worked day and night under almost continuous artillery fire and frequent aerial bombardment. At times, their wire parties were within one-half mile of the front lines, where they were subjected to both artillery and small arms fire. The herculean task of installing and repairing lines constantly cut by traffic and artillery fire was performed in a credible manner and materially assisted this headquarters in carrying out its mission.
Colonel, Air Corps,
Anzio, January 1944
Battalion History (Continued)
The role of the Signal Corps linemen during World War II was unique and deserves to be mentioned and recognized. While most of the attention and study (and rightly so) of World War II students and history buff's is centered around the Infantry, Fighter Pilots, and Airborne Troops, the linemen is almost entirely forgotten.
His role during the war, however, cannot be underestimated.
It is often said of the Signal Corps that, "You may talk about us, but you can't talk without us." In a battlefield situation, especially during World War II when there was no satellite, GPS, or other modern forms of communication, establishing and maintaining that communication between fighting units, the command post, and the supporting arms was just as vital as the infantryman in his foxhole pulling the trigger on his machine gun or M1.
While most of the infantry soldiers were huddled at the bottom of their foxholes trying to avoid getting hit by enemy small-arms and artillery fire, the signalmen were often outside their secure positions, running around trying to find and splice together breaks in the communication wire or laying down new communication wire altogether, all the while being hammered by German artillery.
It was also uncommon for the men of the 439th Signal Battalion to be working 30 or more feet in the air on a pole and get strafed by roving planes, courtesy of the German Luftwaffe, while in Sicily, Italy, and France.
According to the official history of the 64th Fighter Wing, XII Tactical Air Command, "Wire crews from the 439th Signal Construction Battalion stood by for duty day and night and worked doggedly and efficiently to repair breaks in communications. On many occasions, they were forced to re-lay wire and radar plotters, while other radio-men, clerks, etc., had to be called on to assist these wire crews."
While at Anzio, "the crews from the 439th applied every qurik and trick they had learned in the previous invasions of Africa, Pantelleria, Sicily, and Salerno to preserve communication lines connecting the Ops and auxiliary installations. Many men risked their lives during the shelling and bombardments to venture into the open fields of the beachhead and repair the snarled and ruptured landlines."
SSGT Honeycutt after a rough night at the Anzio Beachhead. Note the shrapnel hits on the pole truck.
Roster of officers and enlisted-men that participated in the Anzio Campaign, January - May, 1944.
1ST PLATOON, CO "B" 439TH SIGNAL BN. CONST.
Gisto Canestrari, 0-2046426
Cecil Cole, 38027620
Hearst S. Ethridge, 34025956
Leo F. Stinson, 15075021
S/Sgt James E. Cameron, 34009847
Francis A. George, 37020227
William G. Honeycutt, 34015828
Charles G. Barker, 38027810
P. Carlin, 38027917
John Demottier, 38027709
John D. Grulke, 37020200
Robert L. Huggins, 34009681
Robert B. King, 34179297
Arvie E. Laine, 39450251
William A. McKissick, 31063200
A. Shope, 34030579
Horace Silver, 34015837
Lenor Wade, 35478309
Frank M. Belyau, 38027877
Carl G. Biggs, 35452877
Martin H. Bulk, 37147771
C. M. Chambers, 38027858
Arthur F. Clissold, 32213804
Harry C. Conley, 34552302
Pharon P. Corzatt, 35452887
Jasper Deans, 34030602
Miguel Garcia, 38027637
Charles F. Gill, 35476302
R. Harding, 35275773
L. Hollar, 34178606
James H. R. Jones, 34030750
Harry J. Keller, 35274932
Albert A. Kudis, 33148146
Bennett M. McLendon, 34016167
Arthur E. Regis, 37114066
Brown G. Thomas, 34030696
C. Wettmarshausen, 35255589
Stewart A. Wodd, 32215629
Fred A. Berger, 38027838
Reid L. Bess, 34213421
Stanley W. Dugan, 31041736
B. Gardner, 34178770
George E. Mathews, 37020217
Harry D. Prine, 35267119
William Vlahantonis, 31069960