Life of a World War Two Replacement:
"If You Knew the Price of Freedom..."
Private First Class Edward J. Gabriele
358th Infantry Regiment
This Division was activated in Fort Jackson South Carolina on 15 March 1943. After completing Tennessee Maneuvers in late March 1944, the Division was transferred to Camp Atterbury in Indiana. While there, the Division had over 7,000 enlisted men and 600 officers sent to replacement depots. Many of the 106th men were sent to the Fort Meade, Maryland Replacement Depot.
From here, Eddie was sent overseas, to join the 90 th Division 358th Infantry Regiment 3rd Battalion K Company. He was probably a rifle squad rifleman. Unfortunately, most war casualties occur in the rifle platoons, because they are the troops who must advance under enemy fire. It is upon them that the burden of war falls, with the greatest risk and with the least likelihood of survival than in any of the other combat arms. They were the soldiers always on the front line. (The 90th was a standard triangular infantry division. Each of its three regiments was made up of three battalions, and each battalion had three rifle companies and one heavy weapons company. Each rifle company had three rifle platoons and one weapons platoon, and each rifle platoon was composed of three squads. Each rifle squad had approximately 12 men: a squad leader (buck sergeant), an assistant squad leader (corporal), a Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) team of two men, and eight riflemen.)
His first day with the 90th Division was during the Battle for Hill 122 (the Foret de Mont Castre). Although not widely publicized, this was the most difficult, demanding and costly fight of the European campaign. It was here that they conquered, at great cost, the Mahlman Line, which was the German’s main line of resistance for the French peninsula. Foret de Mont Castre was a small mountain 122 meters above sea level. It was about 3 kilometers long and 2 kilometers wide, and there was a second small mountain about the same size just south of it. From the top of Hill 122, the Germans could observe the Atlantic Ocean on both the east and west sides of the Cherbourg peninsula and many miles to the north. The slopes were very steep, and it was almost impossible to walk up them without grabbing onto something. There was heavy brush on all sides of the hill. At the top of the hill is Camp de Caesar, ruins of a Roman fortress built by Caesar over 2000 years ago.
What follows is a day by day account of Eddie’s short but tragic military
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