Other memorabilia

A wooden bullet used by the Germans for short range use.

A medal worn by a German soldier fighting in France -- dated 1939.

A spoon and fork combination used by a German soldier.

Wilmer Ranniger's "dogtags".

American soldiers had 2 tags. If the soldier was killed and buried on site then one tag would be used to identify who was buried there and the other was taken along by a living soldier for record purposes.
The round tag signified the religious faith --- in Wilmer's case this tag had Lutheran listed.

Shrapnel from Artillery shells was a common danger.

Above was a pieces of shrapnel Wilmer picked up during the battle in Normandy.

More memorabilia at bottom of page

Diary of Wilmer Ranniger
319th Field Artillery


March 3 Left Denison by bus.

March 31 April 3 Inducted into the Army in Des Moines, IA.

April 4 Arrived in Fort Sill, OK by bus for Basic Training
Three months training in communication (received $21.00 a month)

April 14 Arrived in Camp Claiborne, Louisiana
Joined the 82d Airborne Division 319th Field Artillery.

October 3 Left Camp Claiborne, Louisiana by troop train

October 4 Arrived in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

November 10 Ten-day furlough home by train --- Fort Bragg to Washington D.C. changed trains, then to Pittsburg, PA. changed trains then to Chicago, IL then home changing trains 4 times.


October 4 to April 22, 1943 in Fort Bragg, North Carolina

April 23 Left Fort Bragg by train

April 24 Arrived in Camp Edward, Massachusetts

April 27 Left Camp Edwards for New York all day by train

April 28 Left New York Embarked for overseas. We did not know where we were going. Got sea sick for couple of days on account of rough seas --- lot of fellows got sick.
We had 34 ships in our convoy. Had an abandoned ship call one night on account of German submarine. They put out some depth charges.
We were 5000 men on the Santa Rosa, an old Caribbean ship for 12 days (2 men to a bunk).

May 10 Arrived in Africa-Casablanca (French Morocco). Camped in a Wheat Field for two weeks.

May 12 Left Casablanca on an old French freight train --- open box car --- 22 men per car --- front with straw and a 2 by 4 in front of the door.
We met another train going the other way loaded with German prisoners of war heading for the U.S. They hollered and waved to us --- they were happy as the war was over for them.

May 12-14 Through the North Sahara and arrived in Oudja, Algeria where we camped in Pup Tents in a wheat field.
Our government had paid France for the wheat but in the meantime they left Arabs come in and harvest the wheat --- which they did by hand. The men, about 5 abreast cut it with a scythe and the women tied it in bundles. They chant all the while and paid no attention to us. Then they put bundles on a donkey a thrashed it by letting horses tramp the wheat out by going in a circle. Then they fanned the chaff in the wind. They had to throw out the horse manure --- It was interesting.

June 23 Loaded up for a 600 mile ride to Tunisia (Africa). There we camped in an Olive Orchard (about 80 acres). With 20 foot cactus all around it.
We ate the prickly pears off of these cactus. The Olive trees were in two rows (well kept) but we never stayed long enough to eat them. There was an American Aerie Motor Windmill where we got the water, just out of camp and that had to be guarded.
We seen Camels by near the hundreds crossing in the open but were herded by an Arab (no fences) also seen (No-mads) Arab people that move from place to place where ever there is grass --- they house goats, dog, camel, etc.

July 7 Moved out of Tunis on the Mediterranean Sea

July 8 Loaded Gliders for the Invasion of Sicily. That same night the German Luftwaffe bombed us. A few guys some shrapnel but didn't kill anybody. The Ack Ack was going at the Germans planes but they did not shoot any down.

July 9 Invasion of Sicily but a storm that night wrecked our gliders so the paratroops had to go in alone. Some of our own planes were shot down by our own Navy.
Our 319th Glider Battalion did not go into Sicily because of the storm --- Paratroopers went in for 2 months --- lost lot of men.

July 30 We were now at a town of Bizerte near Tunis.

September 7 Left for Invasion of Italy by boat.

September 9 Day before we landed Italy surrendered. We pulled up along side of command ship and they threw us apples and oranges --- also seen a Station Submarine surface next to us. The men on the sub were standing on the sub --- were happy and hollering "Win War over there".
We were in the Gulf of Salerno --- we were now 25 miles south of Naples.

September 10 Was on an L.C.I. (Land Craft Infantry) held about 150 men --- slid up a beach at Maria, Italy at 11 PM at night.
We were on the Mediterranean for 3 days.

September 10-30 We had our Artillery (75 howitzers) set up and firing into Salerno. We were supporting Darwin Rangers. It was called battle of Mt. Angelo.

October 1 First to arrive in Naples, Italy. They give us wine and hung flowers on Jeeps.
Naples had some damage from bombing along water front.

October 2-6 We were now at what you call The Battle at the Volturno River.

October 6 My First Lieutenant (Fitzgerald) asked me or a buddy (Ralerson) which one of you wants to go with me as a forward observer for our artillery. Ralerson said he would go. So I stayed on the telephone at the Artillery. After ten hours of firing and we hit German truck etc. I said where are you? --- Up in a church steeple.
About that time the Germans shot the church steeple off and the Lieutenant was killed and Ralerson wounded. They never came to us. This was from Tampa, Florida. Him and I slept in the same Pup tent in Africa.

October 7 to November 18 Another Division took over and we went back to Naples to patrol the city for six weeks. Having this time we took a tour of Pompeii which was a city covered by the Volcano Vesuvius in 57 A.D.
This was like vacation.

November 18 Left Naples, Italy for Ireland about the Joseph T. Dickman an old British Ship (had cockroaches on it)

November 21 We were anchored at the harbor of Oran, Africa to wait for some more convoy to come from Egypt so we could cross Atlantic as a convoy on account of German Submarines.

November 29 Left Oran Africa.

November 31 Some German submarines were sighted

December 9 Arrived in Belfast, Ireland

December 9 to February 12 In training at Camp Bally Scallion, Ireland (this is North Ireland).
Also had a 48 hour pass to Belfast.

February 12 Boarded an old captured German ship and crossed the sea to Glasgow, Scotland.

February 14 Arrived in Central England by train near Market Harbor --- home for the next 4 to 5 months.

March 20-25 Left England for the mountains of Wales for training.

March 26-31 Had a 5 day pass to London

May 31 To Southern England by train near South Hampton at an airfield --- Getting ready for Invasion of Normandy. There was no communication What-So-Ever --- Kept Secret.

June 6 We left England about 5 PM (They have double day light savings time) by English Gliders (Horsa). They are larger than the American Gliders.
They fly 4 abreast and channel looked like it was full of ships and it was 80 miles across the channel --- landed on the Cherburg Peninsula near the town of Saint Mere Eglise --- lost 2 men.
Seen Eisenhower (IKE) before we left England and 4 more times after that.

June 6 to July 15 Time spent in Normandy. Had few close calls. Our division lost 1284 some men out of 10000 men.

July 15 Left France for England aboard an L.S.T. landing ship transport on the Utah beach for South Hampton (England). Then we had to wait for the tide to come in.

July 17 Back to our camp in England
August 15 Loaded up again for a mission into Belgium but was called off cause Patton was going so fast --- he took ground we was supposed to land on.

September 18 Loaded up again --- this time 200 miles over the North Sea into Holland about 100 miles ahead of Patton. This was on a Sunday afternoon. Got some holes in the Glider and took down a few fences otherwise we were all right.
I have the Manifest for this flight.
This mission is where the movie (One Bridge Too Far) came from cause the Germans took back the Arnhem bridge which the British was holding.
We were at the Ni megan bridge. Anyway --- mission was called off. But we stayed 5 weeks and guarded that part of Holland. This is where we got acquainted with Holland people--- Gerart Heinstink and sent them some things.

November 14 Left Holland by truck through Belgium

November 15 Arrived camp Suippes-Sissonne area near Rheims France

December 18 Left for Belgium (Bulge) by truck.
Was issued winter clothing --- coats, overshoes, long underwear, stocking cap under helmet.
Moved 150 miles by night. Lead truck got hit so we had to fall back 10 miles.

December 19 Went through Bastogne on the North Side from where we were driven back 10 miles the following day. Lost a few men here from sniper fire. Later the 101st Airborne were surrounded at Bastogne. (They made a movie out of this to Our Battalion 319th).
Put out plenty of artillery fire in area of St Vith Melmedy. It was very cold at time (some snow) but never got to zero.


February 9 Got back to France

March 30 Left for Germany in area of Cologne. The German still held the other side of the Rhine (right across from Cologne). I got to see Cologne Cathedral --- had some damage.

April 12 Franklin Roosevelt died. We were still in Cologne. This was a city that lost 80,000 people from bombing by the British in March 1943.

April 20 Crossed the Rhine at Dusseldorf, Germany

April 25 Crossed the Elbe River near Ludwig lust.

May 3 Met Russian soldiers (What a day)

May 8 Germany Surrendered

May 10 Toured Wobelein Concentration Camp at Ludwig lust Germany near Elbe river between Hamburg and Berlin.
It was like being on vacation. We did search people in small towns for weapons etc.

June 3 Left Germany for the last time by truck and jeeps by way of Brussels, Belgium.

June 5 Arrived at an old French army camp near Nancy, France.

June 10 Toured WWI battle ground at Verdun, Argonne, Joan of Arc where she lived in Doremcy, France.

June 15 Started training for Invasion of Japan. Was to take place November 1945

August 6 Had a 7 day furlough to the Riviera in southern France. Had a good time. Got to see the Perfume factory of the World at Grasse, France.
Swimming everyday in Monte Carlo area.

August 8 Japanese surrendered

September 5 All men with high points could go home -- I had 99

September 6 Left for home by way of Marseille, France --- in the south part on the Mediterranean sea aboard the U.S. Wakefield. Had 8263 men aboard. Went through the Straight of Gibraltar into the Atlantic.

September 14 Came to Camp Myles Standish in Boston

September 18 Left Boston by train --- Stopped in New York because a wheel went out on one of the passenger cars --- switched trains.

September 19 Camp Sheridan, Illinois

September 21 Got our honorable discharge from Service. Otto Porsch was right in line with me. Went home together

September 22 Arrived home --- (Hurry - Hurry)
Folks picked us up in Manilla.

Basic training Manual

Above was how Wilmer had to have his equipment laid out for inspection on Saturday.
One Saturday inspection Wilmer had his comb laying in the wrong direction so he had to spend all weekend on "K.P."
The arrow on the lower left shows where the comb is to be placed --- with the teeth of the comb facing towards the bottom (not up as Wilmer did one time)

German propaganda leaflets dropped by airplane over American Soldiers.

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