Another Memorial Day has past and this is written to recognize other family veterans, who served in WWI, WWII, and the French Foreign Legion. (Below is Tom Nickler’s military story)
This is posted especially for our nieces, nephews and their children to make sure they know family history.
My grandfather Benjamin Nickler served in WWI.
My great uncle Grover Nickler also served in WWI and was a machine gunner.
The gun was mounted on two wheels and had a barrel like cover on the front for some protection. Many days of WWI were spent in filthy trenches. Often weeks at a time. The trenches were overrun with rats, mud, death and stench. Every few weeks the men would be relieved and a fresh group would come to replace them.
Grover told us that on occasion the Germans would make changes in personnel at the same time and they would wave to one another as they left the trenches.
Both Benjamin and Grover both also volunteered in the CC Camps during the great depression.
Another family member who served in WWII was my Uncle Gene Williams. Gene was my mother’s youngest brother. He was an MP. By chance my dad ran into Gene in Stuttgart Germany, when he was assigned to take a Mercedes Benz to the Mercedes factory in Stuttgart for repairs.
The French Foreign Legion services were from my great grandfather Adam Nickler. He came from the Alsace Lorraine area of the Rhine Valley. Throughout history this territory changed hands from French to German. Adam served in the French Foreign Legion but when the Germans occupied the area he was found sitting in prison.
After years of this type of activity he and two sisters decided to escape to the US. Some of the pictures attached show those family members and we thank them as well for their service and our freedoms.
EMPORIUM, PA, MAY 26, 2020 –
Thomas A. Nickler, a nearly 100 year old native of my hometown, still lives in his Emporium, PA 15834.
His son, Thomas Nickler, also an Emporium native, now lives in Saint Augustine, FL and submitted the following post on his Facebook timeline. (Posted and edited with permission).
Thomas A. and Marie (Williams) Nickler, lived on Arch Drive in Emporium, PA with their family for many years after WWII.
He served during WWII in the US Army, in the 8th Armored Division
with the Rank T3 Staff Sargent in the Armored Ordinance Battalion, 130th Company C.
In September 1944 the 8th Armored Division was placed in top priority for overseas movement ended almost six months of duty in the field as they moved to barracks at South Camp Polk and continued training for combat.
It departed for Camp Kilmer, New Jersey in late October 1944. Departure from New York began on 7 November with arrival in England on 18 November 1944.
After a six week stay at Tidworth, England the 8th Armored landed in France on 5 Jan 1945 and assembled in the vicinity of Pont-a-Mousson, France to organize a counterattack against an expected enemy strike in the Metz area.
On 22 Jan, after failure of the German attack to materialize, the Division joined the fighting in support of the drive by the 94th Infantry Division against the Saar-Moselle salient.
Six days later, it was relieved and moved north to the Maastricht, Holland area to prepare for participation in the 9th Army’s attack toward the Rhine.
The Division crossed the Roer, 27 February and assisted the 35th and 84th Infantry Divisions in their push eastward, taking Tetelrath, Oberkruchten, Rheinberg, and Ossenberg against stubborn resistance. Crossing the Rhine at Wesel, 26 March, 1945, the Division attacked east to help form the northern arm of the Ruhr encirclement.
Taking Dorsten and Marl on 29 March, 1945, it crossed north of the Lippe Canal on 1 April and raced east to reach Neuhaus on the 3rd.
At that point, it veered south, then attacked west into the Ruhr Valley, in an effort to help eliminate the Ruhr Pocket.
In mid-April, when the XIX Corps drive to the Elbe was threatened from the south, the Division was pulled out and rushed east to provide right flank protection against fanatical remnants of the German 11th Panzer Army grouping in the Harz Mountains.
Assembling in the vicinity of Halberstadt, it attacked south against the German force, taking Blankenberg on the 20th of April, and seizing Ottenstedt on the 21st in the division’s last coordinated action of the war.
The 8th continued mop-up operations and performed occupation duty in the Harz Mountain area up to and immediately following VE day.
[Editor’s Note: 8 May 1945 is Victory in Europe Day, generally known as VE Day ( Great Britain ) or V-E Day (North America), is a day celebrating the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces on the 8 May 1945.]
Then, in late May, 1945, it was ordered south to Czechoslovakia to assist in processing prisoners of war, operating displaced persons camps and guarding vital installations including the Skoda Munitions Works.
The Division closed in the Pilsen area 6 June, 1945, and remained there until departure on 19 September, for return to the United States and inactivation at Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia, on 13 November, 1945.