Charles T. Brecht
U. S. Army
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 03/29/1943 - 01/12/1946
Machine gun Squad Leader, 2nd Armored Division
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Born in Northumberland, Pennsylvania, Charles remembers his mother, Laura Mae Brosius, as a good cook. His father, Henry Gerent Brecht, was a railroad worker who was laid off during the Depression. He got work with the WPA building streets. "We made do," Charles says of those lean years. Charles helped out. He set pins in a bowling alley, threw papers, and worked for an undertaker. After Pearl Harbor he says every male in his graduating class served in the military. Charles graduated from C.W. Rice High School in 1942, and enlisted in the U.S. Army. After basic training at Camp Blanding near Starke, Florida, he took additional training at Camp Rucker, Alabama, and at Camp Robinson, Arkansas. He shipped overseas from Camp Miles Standish in Boston to Portsmouth, England, and went ashore at Normandy the afternoon of D-Day. "There were body parts floating all around. The water was red. The beach was full of mangled bodies," he recalls. Charles was assigned as a thirty-caliber machine gunner in Company A, Forty-First Armored Infantry Regiment, Second Infantry Division. At. St. Lo his outfit helped in the Allies' breakout from the hedgerow country. In Holland, he and a buddy, Dick Buth, were in danger of being captured, but a family hid them in a storm shelter. They lay there for three days before making it back to American lines. During the Battle of the Bulge, he recalls, supplies were disrupted, even water. Thirsty soldiers scooped up snow in canteen cups, and held their hands around the metal to melt the snow for water. In the winter of 44-45, he says they were so war-weary many raised their hands from their foxholes, hoping to get wounded. Meanwhile, his Henry Brecht, Jr., was mortally wounded on January 6, 1945 and was buried in France. Upon crossing the Elbe River into Germany, Charles fought teenage German troops who were firing wooden bullets. His division entered Berlin first on July 4, 1945. He says only fifteen men in the company made it to the city. After the war Charles re-enlisted and served in provost marshal duty for First Army in New York. Discharged in 1945, he later became an agent for the U.S. Treasury Department, serving in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana.