Dad was in the weapons platoon of G company, 137 infantry
regiment of the 35th Division. 35th Div was to the right of 4th armored as
they headed north and broke the encirclement of Bastogne in late December,
1944. Dad didn't like to talk about his experiences at all. Except for a few
remembrances which he shared with me, what attempts I made to discuss this
with him usually didn't go very far. But he was basically on the line most of
the time from Normandy to the Elbe.
VE day, he was one of 28 original members still with the company. His wound
received on Dec 16 took him only as far back as regimental aid and he was back
on the line before Christmas.
The above map shows the
positions of the 3 infantry regiments of 35th Division placed on line between
Surre and Marvie; SE of Bastogne
But anyway....the reason for this page;
I recently received an e-mail from a relic hunter/collector who lives in the
area of Bastogne. He apparently found me through a google-search. He told me
that a friend of his found a canteen cup out in the woods with the name "'Niewiarowicz"
scribed into it. Along with this was the property mark N1369. Was I; by any
chance, related to the soldier of this name who fought in this area? (There
are not many with a name like mine)
I ran and got my dad's dog-tag from his shadow-box. Yes. The
4 digits of the ASN were the same. This fellow had found my Dad's canteen
cup near his fox-hole in the forest; where it laid since being lost during
the battle of the bulge 68 years ago.
The canteen is a 1918 dated aluminum type. The name is clearly visible;
being written on with a mechanical scriber as was often done. One can see the
condition of the cup is not bad at all considering being in the elements since
January 1945. Luckily the soil of the Ardennes region is not very acidic and
does not rot buried items as it does in other places of Europe; particularly
The above photos show the property mark on the handle
compared with the Army service number on the Dog-tag. (All personal property
marks used during WW2 were composed of the last name initial followed by the
last 4 digits of the army service number)
These photos show 65+ year-old fox holes in the Ardennes region. (They are
not the precise location where the cup was found) I have personally explored
quite a bit of the wooded areas in the region during my own trips to the
Ardennes. It is often remarkable how many of the former positions are still
In later correspondences with this relic collector, he
pointed out the exact location where the cup was found; in a wood south of
Villers-la-bonne-eau just about 7 miles SE of Bastogne. This position
matches exactly with the position of G company as recorded in the unit
history; between December 29 and the first week of January. Comparing this
modern aerial photo with the above 1944 map, one can see that the wood today
appears to have much the same boundaries that it did in 1944.
My Belgian correspondent further
told me there were about 30 fox holes in the area. The snow was deep and the
nights were long. Dad probably lost this cup in the snow while getting his
things together for a move or during a barrage or something like that. Of
course this was never something that he likely remembered and if he were
alive today, he probably wouldn't show much enthusiasm for it.
But I think the story is a once-in-a-lifetime co-incidence.
I hope you have enjoyed hearing it as much as I enjoyed telling it.