Stories Related to

Edgar Roesch

Son of

Henry and Mary Roesch (Grandpa and Grandma Roesch)

by Owen Picton

Edgar started work at First National Bank & Trust Co. in Falls City in 1938, and continued with the bank except for the three years while he was in the service during World War II. Edgar entered the U.S. Army on January 26, 1942 at Fort Leavernworth, KS, and as an Army Air Corps clerk-typist was a veteran of the Air Offensive in Europe, serving in Algeria, French Morocco, Tunisia, Sicily, Naples, Foggia and Rome campaigns. He was discharged as a Sergeant on August 31, 1945, and received the Good Conduct Medal. He last served as Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Directors of of First National Bank & Trust Co., Falls City.

Martha (Roesch) Picton relates: Edgar was called in the first draft. He was put in the Medical division. He was in the African Theater of war, then he went to Sicily and on to Italy. He was confined to a hospital in Africa, at the time of my fathers death, May 28, 1943. While Edgar was in Italy he was seriously ill, for ten days his temperature was 103-104-105.

From Cathy: I notice that you did not have Dad's birthdate in the most recent information. His birthday is January 10, 1917. There was some controversy after the fact, because the doctor waited over a year to make out the birth certificate and then put 1918. Grandmother Roesch had to straighten him out.

This is Owen Picton, I once heard a story that Uncle Edgar first was sent to England and then was put on a British ship. The British convey then sailed near Florida and picked up an American convey of ships. The two conveys of ships then sailed to Africa for the Invasion of Africa.

World War II Experiences of Edgar Roesch as Owen Picton remembers being told on June 1995. Owen was visiting with Uncle Edgar Roesch near the time when the 50th anniversary of D-Day was approaching. So TV was showing a lot about World War II. This caused Edgar to relate some of the following experiences:

Seeing D-Day on TV brought to my mind my experiences in Africa. I was in on the invasion of Africa. Approaching the shores of Africa, we had to go from our ship into a boat. One of the men fell between the ship and the boat and I thought that he would not survive. Seven or 8 of us pushed the boat and ship apart so that the man was rescued. Then we all had to jump off the boat into the water and wade ashore for the invasion. I had to keep my gun dry as I waded ashore by holding it over my head. Once ashore it was a confused mess.

After I was in Africa a while, I was walking along the shore and stepped on a sting ray. My foot became infected and I was sent to a British hospital. They keep sending me from British hospital to British hospital and my foot was not getting any better. Finally I asked how I could be dismissed. They said that whenever I could put my boot on they would dismiss me. That night I cut my boot to ribbons until I was able to have the boot on the next morning when they made there rounds. So they dismissed me. I was a long ways from my unit and the only way to get there was to hitch hike. I caught a ride to a town on a river near my unit and then had to ask directions on where they had put my unit. (Cathy Ebmeier said: The stories you told about Dad in the service all seem vaguely familiar. I think he had two nearly fatal experiences. One was from typhoid fever. That is probably the episode your mother mentioned. I, too, remember him saying that he recalled the words of his mother telling him to drink extra water when you had a fever, and that is what he thought helped him survive the typhoid fever. The other was the stingray experience which led to blood poisoning and almost cost him his leg. That is probably when he cut up his shoe. I remember him talking about leaving the hospital (sneaking out) and getting on a train.)

General Patton was in Africa and he seemed to not be very successful. We seemed to always be retreating because of him. People I talked to in other parts of the war did not seem to have this problem. One time Patton lost this battle so we had to retreat. They told us not to take anything but just leave quickly. All our cloths and belongings were put in a big pile and burned.

In Africa, I always had to carry this heavy gun and I never used it. We were going to this one battle and another soldier who had only a pistol said I wish I had your gun. We swapped weapons right there and he agreed to have our records changed so that I would always have the pistol. I never carried this heavy gun again.

In Italy I was on the east side of Italy. There I caught typhoid. They sent me to another British hospital. I arrived in the morning and had to wait in a long slow line. I fell asleep and did not wake up until that afternoon and no one was there. The hospital refused to see me and said for me to come back the next day. So I returned to my unit. I told my unit that I refused to go to another British hospital. So they put me in a plane and tried to fly me over the mountains to an American hospital but the weather was too bad and the plane had to return. Finally after a period of time I made it to an American hospital. What saved me was that my mother told me to drink lots of water when I am sick. After I was partly recovered the doctor was about to dismiss me but then he found that I would be sleeping in a tent. So he sent me out to the Isle of Capri for a week.

I arrived in Rome soon after the Germans had left. My unit was placed near a dairy that served Rome. Arriving at the dairy I could not believe that this was a dairy serving Rome. There were some buildings and parts of a few old trucks setting there but how could this be a dairy? After a few days cows started to appear. What they had done was to take all the milk cows and let them lose in many different fields outside of Rome. In a few days most of the milk cows had returned. Then I noticed holes being dug around the yard. In one hole there would be a battery, in another a wheel, other holes contained other truck parts until they had all their charcoal burning trucks running and delivering milk to Rome. Then I noticed a hole being knocked into the side of a concrete building. This was where they had stored their grain and cemented it closed so the Germans could not find it.

After I was in Rome for a while one of my friends left and gave me his business. He had this foot operated dental drill that he cleaned soldiers teeth with. I did this half days and soldiers would pay me to clean their teeth.

After some more time the unit I was now with was being sent to France. Nobody else had been here very long. When they found out how long I had been overseas they agreed to send me back to the United States. I was put on this ship and we sailed out into the Mediterranean. Then the ship lost all electricity. The other ships left us and we floated in the Mediterranean for a week until it was fixed. Then we sailed to the United States.

Additional Stories

The following are stories I remember but do not know by how much accuracy. I was only a child up to a teenager when I heard them. Uncle Edgar Roesch taught my high school Sunday School class at church and that is also where I heard some of the stories.

One time while he was in Africa, he was being bombed by German planes. He and another man dived into a new bomb crater. The other man stuck his head out of the crater to see what was going on and was killed.

One time in Africa he was going to fly some place. He got sick and could not go. The plane left, crashed and everyone was killed by a bomb.

One time in Africa, he came across a number of German gliders filled with a lot of dead German soldiers. He felt this showed that the Germans did not value human life.

When he landed by ship in Africa, the Arabs would walk in a line with the top man first, the best wife next, followed by lesser wives and then the children. When he left Africa it was the opposite with the children first, lesser wives next, finally the best wife, then the leader last.

In Africa, Edgar Roesch kept going from battle to battle dragging all his cloths including his dress uniforms. Finely he went behind a hill and auctioned off the cloths he did not want. He had no problem until he was discharged. He was setting at a desk to be discharged and he saw the slip of paper he had signed for cloths when given the cloths. He grabbed the paper when the man was not looking and ate it.

While in Rome, a catholic buddy of his, set up a private meeting for the two of them with the catholic Pope. So he met the Pope.

While in I think Rome, his one leg became badly infected. The Army was going to cut off his leg, So he hid out for a month and treated his leg until it was better. Then turned himself in with a good leg.

Uncle Edgar did not smile and did not say much for the first few months after he came home from the service. I think he just set around his parents home. It took him a while to recover from the war experiences. The people who owned the bank then had him start work at a lumber yard which they owned across the street East of the Court House for about three months. Then he returned to the bank, after being back for six months and worked there the rest of his life.

It was said that Uncle Edgar would not touch a gun for a number of years after he came back. (Cathy Ebmeier said: She did not remember her father ever having a gun. I think he felt our country should be very careful about sending young men to fight wars.)

(Cathy Ebmeier said: Her father talked about being sick as a child and missing a year of school, or maybe part of a year. He said it was pernicious anemia and the treatment was to eat raw liver. He thought that was unpleasant. I don't really think it was pernicious anemia, but he was ill and weak for a period of time.)

Edgar had been working for the First National Bank & Trust Co. of Falls City for two and half years when he was drafted on the first draft. The bank decided to pay him a $25 US Government War Bond per month while he was in the service as a recognition of his service and a gift according to the article below. I do not know how this worked out.

What I remember about US Government War Bonds was that they I think cost about $18.75 at the Post Office. The US Government would pay you $25 when you turned them in ten years later (you must wait ten years) at the Post Office. Everyone was buying US Government War Bonds to support the war. My parents even had me put my saving into US Government War Bonds. I think that I purchased three War Bonds.

Edgar Roesch War Bonds - Article from Falls City Journal

Owen Picton

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Blair, Nebraska 68008


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