Family

For Veterans Day

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Journey’s End: A History of the 657 Engineer Topographic Battalion, March 1944 – November 1945 is a booklet we found while sorting through our parents’ estate before selling the family home. It’s not designed in the way you would expect a WWII booklet to be. It’s so jubilant, carefree, colorful, and chock-full of comic-book-like caricatures. Perhaps it’s meant to be a scrapbook of sorts for the members of this battalion. The forward does state, “May this book recall the best of memories.” Using a florid style to generally describe the duties of each of the groups within the 657th, it purposely avoids serious descriptions of what actually happened.

My father, as a member of this battalion, was assigned to the First Photomapping Platoon. You can find his picture on page 18 which is just three pages past the middle spread titled “Bulletin Board”. Look for 1st Lt. Edwin S. Bell, the handsome fellow prominently displayed solo on that page. His promotion had occurred on October 26, 1945, just prior to this booklet’s publication.

Since the images can be difficult to read, I thought it might be interesting and helpful to type out their travel log here:

Camp McCoy, Wis., March 30 – August 26, 1944
Camp Campbell, Ky., August 27 – November 13, 1944
Fort Jackson, S.C., November 26 – December 31, 1944
Camp Shanks, N.Y., January 2 – February 17, 1945
England, February 26 – March 13, 1945
N. France, March 14 – April 11, 1945
Belgium, April 11 – April 12, 1945
Germany, April 12 – May 22, 1945
S. France, May 25 – June 24, 1945
Panama, July 7 – July 14, 1945
Eniwetok, August 3 – August 10, 1945
Ulithi, August 14 – September 3, 1945
Okinawa, September 9 – October 6, 1945
Japan, October 14
21,150 Mi. New York to Tokyo

After this battalion’s duties had ended, my father was assigned to 3363rd Engineer Base Survey Company at Tokyo and moved with this unit to Seoul, Korea May 1946 and thence to Yung Dong Poe, serving as an operations officer and also personnel and supply officer.

I wrote more extensively about his service in a post created two years ago for Veterans Day.

To see the entire book as a large scale slideshow, click on the link below, and it will take you to the entire post. To activate the slideshow, click the red cover image (or any image). From there, you can click through using the directional arrows on either side of each image.

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(above) That's my father at the top on the left side of this two-page spread.
(above) That’s my father at the top on the left side of this two-page spread.

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(above) Back cover
(above) Back cover

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