"A large group of men died for my freedom, how can I repay that. It is a matter of honour to give this back to you!" e.b.
On the afternoon of May 11, 2010, a professional relic collector from Holland found my father's World War II army ID bracelet marked EH ANDERSON 33244964 just outside of Beeck, Germany. On the Google international map, it looked like it was no more than a 1/2 mile southeast with a Approximate GPS coordinates of Lat: 50.97745313889934 Long: 6.196482181549072. The satellite imagery shows the general vicinity is deserted farmland.
This Dutchman, Eric Beek, said he took the road south (circled in red) and there is a litte stream called Gereonweilerflies. When you follow this creek you find on your right hand side a piece of a german pillbox. The hillridge has a distinctive form. At this very hill, he used a powerful GMAXX2 Metal Detector to locate this metal in the soil. It took but 10-15 minutes before he had it "dug out" and in his hand.
Eric reads history, studies maps and receives a magazine called Toen&Nu that shows pictures of battlefields before and present. This periodical had an article that made reference to this area. Even so, he says "Still it is luck that brings you good finds."
The internet played a major roll during this whole process. Eric appealed for help in returning this ID bracelet to it's original owner on a message board on the 84th Infantry Division website. A reply pointed him to the 102th Infantry Division. There was a string of postings from the team at Ozarks102id regarding a relative search of EH Anderson. God bless them, one was even willing to go house to house asking questions.
On June 6, 2010, I received a call (audio 900k) from a man in Charlottesville, Virginia by the name of Vaughn Wagnon. He is a World War II veteran that co-ordinates reunions as well as helps families locate soldiers & information regarding the war. I was suprised and delighted to hear the great news. Although I wasn't aware of the ID bracelet being lost during this battle, it brought tears to think someone would try to return a treasure back to their family....65 years later.
Vaughn added that this case is totally different "I've never had anything like this happen to me before. This is the very first time anyone has found a personal belonging and returned it to my knowledge. It is ONE IN A MILLION! I feel privileged to be part of this happening"
Through the course of about a week, Eric and I exchange many emails. I sent a couple of Dad’s military pictures and a little info to prove that I was his son. But I was never able to identify what was inscribed on the back of the band. "Millie & Billye" (mother & dauther) Jordan were friends of my father during his training at Camp Swift, Texas. A letter dated 12-24-1944 showed a meaningful relationship.
Eric emailed: “Thanks you so much for the pictures, it really is great to see the face of a man you searched for. Even a simple bracelet which was carried by a man who left his home to fight against enemies in a war far from his bed is worth returning to its owner. A large group of men died for my freedom, how can I repay that. It is a matter of honour
to give this back to you!”
Like most relic collectors, Eric knew his war history and that the "405th Regiment's Attack on Beeck" was a 3 day battle but wanted to learn more. “I heard your father received the bronze star, can you tell me anything you know about these days on the battlefield....Your father was on the hillridge around 22-24 November 1944 so if you find anything regarding his actions I would be honoured to have those articles on the email.”
I’m not a history buff, but I felt compelled to furnish any additional information regarding Dad’s military accomplishments. This made me wonder if any old newspaper articles referencing his metals were tied to this very battle at Beeck. I located the Bronze Star Award Document and noticed that the dates matched what the Dutchman mentioned.
The award document reads....”for heroic achievement in Gemany on 22 November 1944 in connection with military operations against the enemy. When the assistant radio operator had become a casualty, First Sergeant Anderson (then Sergeant), acting as communications sergeant, crawled over several hundred yards of exposed terrain to reach the battalion operational post where he established radio communications.”
Eric pointed out that it was easy to understand that the bracelet was lost due to a broken link in the wrist band (chain). When I read “crawled over several hundred yards of exposed terrain” ...it is really moving how it all seems to tie into each other.
On behalf of my family, I extend my fullest gratitude to Eric Beek, Vaughn Wagnon and the members of Ozarks102id for their contribution in bringing this family jewel home.
We need to share these positive stories when they happen. My father wrote a letter of the hospitality from the Dutch people. Here, I witnessed another act of kindness from a relic collector from the same land. I'm planning a trip to Europe soon and told Eric "Het is mijn beurt, Laten we gaan voor het diner." (It's my turn, Let's go out for dinner.)
This special occasion gives me the opportunity to share some of Dad's letters which remind you of the real experiences while at war. After coming back from his tour in Germany, he married my mother in 1948, raised 6 kids and enjoyed a fulfilling civilian life (lots of golf) right into his golden years. My father passed away on 03/16/2001 at age 86.
When we cleaned his apartment days after the funeral, I took treasure in receiving this one old Velvetta Box... it had pencils at the bottom with some of his army pins in a bag along with a group of small US flags rolled up... he was so proud to be an American.