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16 October 2014
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WWII - US 654th Battalion at the Argory, Co. Armagh

In the coach house at The Argory in Co Armagh, there were still preserved 'graffiti' which had been painted on the walls by US soldiers over sixty years ago.

Argory 654 Battalion Emblems

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YOUR RESPONSES

Mike Bonnet - Feb '08
would love some info on how to find me details regarding the 809thTD Bn. this article is great and i'd like to find out about my grandad's unit.

Thanks,
Mike Bonnet

Steven Anderson - Jan '08
This is all very interesting to me, Are there more documents available, I have an interest, my grandfather srgt Steven R. Kmetz was apart of the tank destroyer battalion, I believe under commander Dykes or Dikes or some such spelling.
Thank you for your time,
Steven

Alan Runfeldt - Jan '07
My father was in the 2nd Division Signal Corps during WWII and mentioned Armagh as a place he had been before heading to Normandy for D-Day.

We lost Dad in 1994, so I can't ask him for details, but I do recall the name Armagh from the stories about his time in Northern Ireland. He had fond memories of friends he made there. If anyone has any information about the 2nd Division Signal Corps, US Army, in Armagh, I would enjoy learning about it.I have a page about Dad on my personal website - http://alanr.com/Dad/. Please visit.

Thank you
Alan Runfeldt

N.J.Sonye - Sep '06
My father, Corporal Nick Sonye, Company C / 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion received a bronze star 13 Sept 44 in the vicinity of Romain, France – removing a wounded man from a burning tank destroyer.

Robert Briggs - July '06
The 654th was asigned to the 35th Infantry Division in Northern France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland, Rhine land, and Central Europe

Judy (Huddleston) Sides - May '06
Thank you for this information. My Father (deceased) was in the US Army during WW II and was a member of:
Company B
654th Tank Destroyer Battalion
Served overseas in Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Central Europe, Ardennes.

Place of Entry: Fort Oglethorpe, GA
Place of Separation: Camp Atterbury, IN

Wounded in action, Germany, March 7, 1945

Any one have any journals, history, stories, recollections, information, resources, etc. on this period? Thank you. I would like to have something in writing to pass down to my children and Grandchildren. All I have are pieces of memories of his stories. Nothing I can accurately share with my family.

I long to hear from someone out there. Thanks again,

Joan Connelly - Jan '06
My father told me that when he was a kid in Armagh (in the village of Meigh) that the American Army trained on Sleive Gullion and that they marched singing "We're off the see the wizard" from the Wizard of Oz.

Edward Raymond Pedraja - April 05
My pop Raymond Walter Pedraja joined the 654th august 8th 1944. he was a gunner assistant then the gunner. dad was born sept 1925 that will give you an idea of how old he was, his destroyer was hit by a german 88 november 14th 1944.

One member of the crew, dominic j barber, did not survive. my father and richard dorn ( still living in port richie florida) after realizing barber was missing after the order to abandon the tank destroyer both went back while the destroyer was cooling off and pulled barber clear but he died of his wounds. dad never talked of his time with the 654th. some things like bravery go unsaid by men who were challenged and stood their ground, so on sept 19th or nov 14th toast a guinness for an irish lad who when was called did his best for god and country. my dad raymond walter pedraja dob september 19th 1925 dod april 2nd 1992, i miss you dad. your son edward raymond pedraja.

G. Wolfe - USA - March 05
Mr. Enyeart,
You may want to check with Angelo Klonis' son who owns and runs a bar in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The name of the bar is "Evangelos" and is located on San Francisco Street.
On the wal behind 1/2 the bar is covered with old pictures of his Dad and Mom.
His name is Nick and he runs his bar like a tight ship but he is an ok Guy.
We met him there while we were on vacation last week.

James Enyeart - December '04
My name is James Enyeart. I am writing a book about Angelo Klonis who was in C Company, 654th TD. Angelo fought at Omaha and the Battle of Bulge. He was photographed by W. Eugene Smith, a famous Life magazine photographer. That photograph was later issued as a U.S. Postage Stamp in 2002. I am searching for anyone who knew Angelo Klonis or served with him. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who might have information about him.

Terence S Aston - November '04
I remember about ten/fifteen years ago looking at some WW2 military or airforce buildings on the road from the town of Crumlin to the direction of Langford Lodge. They were about 3/4 miles from Crumlin. They contained the most fantastic coloured paintings similar to the paintings (logos) as depicted on the noses of the WW2 American bombers. I was past the buildings a few years later and they had been all been painted white, by someone who refurbished the buildings. A terrible loss of wonderful WW2 artwork. I often wonder if they could be retrieved from under the paintwork.

Lisa ( Labra) Wisher - July 2004
My father, PFC Louis Labra, was a U.S soldier in the 2nd Infantry Division in 1943 to 1945. He spent from Nov. 1943 to May 1944 at the Gosford Castle in the nissen huts. He says he actually enjoyed his stay there. He told me that many of the locals wouldn't go near the castle because they feared it was haunted by ghosts and goblins. He has a photo in his album at the castle. He is 80 years old now. As of this date he is still alive and well to tell his fascinating stories about his tour of duty.

Wesley C. Martz (Cleveland, Tennessee, USA) - 7 July '04
I'm now getting in contact with members of the 654th who are still living. So far, the main three members all said the same about Northern Ireland as my dad regarding the fabulous beauty left in their minds of Northern Ireland. My dad said that at times, he would recall its beauty to calm him down in the heat of battle. From others I've heard talk, there must have been many soldiers who did the same - using their memories of Northern Ireland and all the friendly people there to soothe themselves during battle.

The funny thing that my dad talked about was how every time they went into a pub, they sat out of respect when hearing several people, one by one, sing, " Ol' Danny Boy." He used to laugh that they heard that song every time, to the point that sometimes they would come into a pub singing it. Not necessarily that they wanted to hear it, but they were laughing with joy in singing it as they walked in because they actually wanted to hear it again and again. Finally, at some point each time, the usual Irish songs were sung over and over so many times at one pub that they would all start laughing and get up saying, "Let's go, and hear some other singers." So, off they would scamper to the next pub. Many times in one night, entering each pub singing, "Ol' Danny Boy," as before. They liked the spirit of the Northern Irlanders who were awe struck by the bands of singing USA soldiers of the 654th and other companies all singing their way into the pubs.

My dad, who drank only a glass, was the driver of his band-of-soldiers. He said, the more they drank the more they sang. Adding that after they had drank all they were allowed, they had worn themselves out singing with the people of Northern Ireland. Pub to pub. Singing along with the Irish songs being sung repeatedly from pub to pub, over and over until they just had to call it a night. Each night they did that activity.

It's amazing, even USA Senator and Presidential Candidate Bob Dole commented at the dedication of the WWII Memorial of how he and his men loved Northern Ireland's beauty and people. Amazing that after all these years, Northern Ireland has left such an impression.

Wesley Campbell Martz - 5 July '04
I must certainly add to the information I sent you about the 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion that my dad always told everyone he spoke with about WWII that the best part of it all was his time in Northern Ireland because of its beauty. Northern Ireland was so beautiful to my dad that he always said the one place he always wanted to see one more time were its luscious green hills and valleys; never forgetting to add, "there's no place more beautiful than Northern Ireland."

Northern Ireland, which most of the troops wanted, but never had the chance to return to visit, one last time in their life. Northern Ireland where they were allowed to practice and practice while others enjoyed their time there. Enjoying the sporting events, dances, and newspaper my dad set up behind the scenes. The dances with the Irish women who honored them with their presence was more valuable in helping to ease the minds of those young Liberators than any other way imaginable; many of the young lads never seeing another woman or dance again unfortunately, in giving their effort, blood, and lives so that others might enjoy Life, Liberty, and Pursuit Of Happiness.

Wesley Campbell Martz - 5 July '04
There were two completely separate units of the 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion. My dad was the Lt. Col/Colonel of the 654th TD Battalion in charge of around two platoons of the 654th TD Bn that housed separately from the rest of the 654th. His two platoons were part of the number one Infantry Division of WWII, the 30th ID, while the rest of the 654th served in the 35th ID, both of which ID's fought beside each other. My dad's two platoons of the 654th having led the Alamo-Style-Stand atop of Hill 122 at St. LO and Hills 314/317 at Mortain. The 654th's part in Brigadier General Seebree's Task Force S at Mortain that broke the back of Hitler's personally led and failed Operation Lattich. In between which Hills my dad's two platoons of the 654th were called to Patton's War Room of July 25, 1944 where my dad made the final decisions for Operation Cobra that Liberated Paris. He and his men leading the 121st Infantry to its victory in Patton's Breakthrough at Lessay towards Avranches !

John Olgeirson - June '04
My uncle, 2LT Maurice P Alger Jnr was in the 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion in 1944, and was killed in action at St Lo France in July, 1944. I would be interested in any information about this unit, or about my uncle. Thanks.

Davy Fitzsimons - April 2004
If anyone would like to see my collection of US army material in Northern Ireland during WW2 they would be welcome. Yours.

Click here to take a look at Caledon House, Tyrone where the US 2nd Infantry Division stayed during WWII and some of Davey's collection. (Editor)

Andy Graves
You can learn more about the US 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion by visiting the following website: http://home.comcast.net/~the654th_tdb/
(the bbc is not responsible for the content of external sites)

Derrygally Girl
I have read with interest the articles on the US 654th Battalion at the Argory in Co. Armagh. I live in this locality and would be grateful for any information to be passed onto me. Thanks.

Davy Fitzsimons
I live in Caledon, Co Tyrone. It was nice to see the article on the US army in the Argory. The 654th tdb, was attached to the 2nd inf division. I ran an article in the Newsletter and the Ulster Gazette about a photograph of the 804th tdb attached to the 34th inf division, who were the first wave of US soldiers to land in Northern Ireland during WW2. They were standing outside a building which I now know as Crom Castle at Newtownbutler. I also have a collection of material to do with the US army in Northern Ireland and it was good to see the article about the Argory.

your place and mine contributor
It may interest you to know that my Uncle owns Derrygally house near the Argory, and in the entrance area there are still preserved old storage boxes (Pigeon holes) etc (Which I can only assume are for orders etc) I can get pictures if anyone is interested !

Editor
Thanks for your reply and indeed that would take the 654Bn story on a bit.

The official 'camp' of 654 Tank Destroyer Bn was divided into two distinct sectors; Derrygally House on one side of the river and The Argory on the other and the 654th's history comments that both locations were owned by a retired British Statesman about 87 years of age, by the names of Barnes, who with his son aged about 37 years, and servants resided at the Argory, can you comment on this? I thought The Argory was the McGeough-Bonds.maybe Barnes is a corruption of Bond?

Their command post was established in the servants quarters, in the courtyard of Derrygally House, where it remained the entire period, the unit was stationed in Northern Ireland. The camp consisted of nissen huts and adequate space was available for the entire unit. The officers quarters were established in Derrygally House; except that the Reconnaissance Company occupied the Argory across the river, which housed most of the entire company. Both houses were the old castle type, with over twenty rooms in each, located in the typically Irish Hills.

If it was of no great inconvenience we'd love to come down and photograph the artifacts you refer to ourselves - perhaps absolving you from expense?? Should you be agreeable we could contact you about when it might be most convenient for you. (Personal contact details should not be put up on the site, but you can e-mail the team via our mailbox. The address is: ypam-online@bbc.co.uk)

Bob McBob
The BBC has many different communities, including one specificly designed for World War 2. A community is a place to talk and contribute, like here. To find out more about WW2: The People's war, click this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/ww2/

Brian Willis
And their colleagues from 644 Tank Destroyer Battalion were billeted at Kilwaughter Castle near Larne in 1944. See: - http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/place-nireland/A1098713


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