Charles H. Lawrence Served in the 5th Infantry Division, 2nd Infantry Regiment. He is buried in the American Cemetery in Luxembourg. America, Europe: 1942-1945.
Archive. Manuscript Archive. 2 three ring black binders with 41 letters and misc. ephemera. Letters were addressed to family and in Chester, Vermont, mainly to his brother Ray and his Aunt Florence. The letters are sorted into three phases: prewar, U.S. training camps, and from places in Europe. 2 letters were written by Private Lawrence before he enlisted in the Army circa 1942. 20 letters were written from training camps in the United States 1943-44; another 12 letters written by Lawrence somewhere in France, Belgium and Germany from June 1944 to January 1945. The remaining 7 letters were written by family members before and after Private Lawrence was killed in action December 1944 - February, 1945. These letters were returned to his family with the word "deceased" written or stamped on the envelopes. The archive also consists of 8 envelopes not matching the dated letters, two change of address postcards, 5 pieces of foreign money, and misc. news clippings relating to the Allied Forces actions late in the War. One non-letter item included in the archive is a hand drawn December 25th, 1944 Christmas greeting, presumably drawn by Lawrence. In these letters Charles Lawrence is often homesick, inquires about things in Vermont, and how he is getting along in the Army. Many of his letters begin with a variation of "I am still in the land of the living." The handwriting is legible for the most part and the condition of the archive is very good. Very good. Item #15783
The first ring binder of letters encompasses Private Charles Lawrence's pre War draft and his training in various U.S. camps. Training camp letters were written on nice Army letterhead paper from places such as Fort Devin, Massachusetts; Fort McClellan, Alabama, and the U.S. Naval Construction Training Center Camp Peary, Williamsburg, Virginia. While training in the States Private Lawrence yearned to return home before he was shipped off to Europe. "If I get back to the States after I leave you can bet I wont stay in this army if I can help it..."
The second ring binder of letters begins with a letter dated June 1, 1944 from some unknown location. The letters from Europe are censored and some letters were sent by V-Mail. While in Europe Charles asks about events back home and provides some general, not to specific, training and battle information. In the second letter in this binder dated June 9th Private Lawrence writes, "Dear Aunt Florence and All: How are you folks feeling today hope you are feeling fine and dandy. Well here I am in a new camp and I am sorry to say that I cannot tell you where I am or the name of the camp. The camp is very good good climate, food, and it has lot of mountains around it." He adds, "We do not get any training at this camp because they don't want anyone to know how many troops we have here at this camp but we have to go on two 11 miles hike every week."
The letter dated June 11th, one week after D-Day (June 4, 1944), has Lawrence awaiting transport to occupied France. He writes, "This is my 40th letter since I came back from my furlough...The P.X. here is open all day and every time there isn't anything to do we all head for it, most of us are broke, including me..."
As the War heats up after June one comment in Lawrence's letters stands out:
"I have been lying in a fox hole for two weeks now, the only time when we can get up and walk around is at night, it gets kinda tired laying in the fox holes, eating H rations you can't stick your head out of the hole in the day time, because you will get your head blowd off if you do, so we just lay there...Boy when I get home I wont fuss about anything so long as I live, I have been through everything now, and it isn't any fun either..."
As the battles in Europe intensified in the fall of 1944 it appears Private Lawrence had been in very dangerous situations. In his November (23) 1944 letter he writes, "...a lot has happened to me since I last wrote to you last, I have been in a lot of tough spots, tough enough to lose all of my personal belongings such as mail letters that I hadn't answered, toilet articles, my pack, overcoat, raincoat, etc. I am going to write to Barb and see if she will buy me ? toilet articles. My stationary is all gone...Today is Thanksgiving and I hope you folks had a good meal, I haven't seen any turkey for us yet."
On December 21st, 1944 Charles writes his brother Ray from "Somewhere in Germany". He tells his brother "I have been busy as ever for the last few days and it looks like I will be for quite some time." The last full letter in this archive written by Private Lawrence is dated January, 4th, 1945. He writes to Aunt Florence & all the gang. He tells Aunt Florence, "Well here I am again I thought I would write you a letter as long as I have some extra time, this isn't much for news this time because I wrote Glady's a little this morning and told her all the news that there was at hand, but when this letter is finished you will at least know that I am still alive & kicking." He signs off this letter with this - "Got to go now but I will be back before to long, hope everyone is okey.".
Private Charles Lawrence died 16 days later in Europe on January 20, 1945 at the age of nineteen. He was buried in the American Cemetery in Luxembourg.
The 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized)—nicknamed the "Red Diamond", the "Red Devils", or "die Roten Teufel"—was an infantry division of the United States Army that served in World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War, and with NATO and the U.S. Army III Corps. It was disbanded and deactivated on 24 November 1992.
During World War II after D-Day the 5th Infantry Division, after two years of training, landed in Normandy on Utah Beach, 9 July 1944, over a month after the initial D-Day landings, and four days later took up defensive positions in the vicinity of Caumont. Launching a successful attack at Vidouville 26 July, the division drove on southeast of Saint-Lô, attacked and captured Angers, 9–10 August, captured Chartres, (assisted by the 7th Armored Division), 18 August, pushed to Fontainebleau, crossed the Seine at Montereau, 24 August, crossed the Marne and seized Reims, 30 August, and positions east of Verdun. The division then prepared for the assault on Metz, 7 September. In mid-September a bridgehead was secured across the Moselle, south of Metz, at Dornot and Arnaville after two attempts. The first attempt at Dornot by the 11th Infantry Regiment failed. German-held Fort Driant played a role in repulsing this crossing. A second crossing by the 10th Infantry Regiment at Arnaville was successful. The division continued operations against Metz, 16 September to 16 October 1944, withdrew, then returned to the assault on 9 November. Metz finally fell 22 November. The division crossed the German border, 4 December, captured Lauterbach (a suburb of Völklingen) on the 5th, and elements reached the west bank of the river Saar, 6 December, before the division moved to assembly areas.
On 16 December the Germans launched their winter offensive in the Ardennes forest, the Battle of the Bulge, and on the 18th the 5th ID was thrown in against the southern flank of the Bulge, helping to reduce it by the end of January 1945. In February and March, the division drove across and northeast of the Sauer, where it smashed through the Siegfried Line and later took part in the Allied invasion of Germany.
The 2nd Infantry Regiment is an infantry regiment in the United States Army that has served for more than two hundred years. It was constituted on 12 April 1808 as the 6th Infantry and consolidated with 4 other regiments in 1815 to form the present unit.. When the Battle of the Bulge began the 2nd Infantry Regiment moved to the battle zone in the area of Nideranven, Luxembourg. In January 1945 the 2nd Infantry Regiment forced a crossing of the Sauer River and attacked into the Siegfried Line. The regiment then crossed the Rhine River near Oppenheim and secured the crossing for other Third Army units. The unit then spearheaded the attack into Czechoslovakia and was located near the town of Volary when the word came to cease all forward movement at 08:31 on 7 May 1945.