• Last modified 5538 days ago (Feb. 21, 2009)
  • Return to Checkerboard

World War II from a different perspective

World War II from a different perspective

     Thank you for your kind response to my request for information concerning the 99th Infantry Division.

     At the request of your chief recruiter I sent him two applications and a check to cover annual dues. One is for Edward O. Asselin, our neighbor, who landed at 8:30 a.m. June 6, 1944, on Omaha Beach in Normandy. He was a sergeant radio/gunner aboard a halftrack of the 197th AW Battalion, 49th AAA Brigade commanded by Brigadier General Edward W. Timberlake.

     Edward's unit was attached to the 393rd Infantry Regiment of the 99th Infantry Division as it was attacking Aachen, Dü

ren, Fulfrich. Edward's uniform displays the Checkerboard patch. He still has the jacket.

     The second application is for myself, obviously I am applying as an associate member. I was too young to fight in World War II. Even so I saw five years of war.

     As a young American I saw the war from a quite different point of view. Dad was raised in Chicago IL. He was a U.S. captain and saw action and was injured on the Yser River in Belgium in 1918. Mother was a Belgian National and a very courageous woman. She was decorated by the British government in 1919 for an act of valor. She passed messages to the British during the war. She was only 15 at the time.

     During the time between the two wars, Dad managed various branches of U.S. companies. When the Germans attacked Belgium May 10, 1940, Dad was general manager of Hammond Organ of Chicago IL, responsible for Europe and Africa.

     On Dec. 7, 1941, Dad and our whole family became the real enemy. Dad was taken away and sent to concentration camps at Tittmoning and Laufen, Germany.

     For two and a half years, Mother struggled to feed us. She had no available funds. Dad's account was in New York and obviously out of reach. I was only 13 when Dad was taken prisoner and I was the oldest of nine children.

     Survival was the name of the game and I could write a whole chapter on that subject alone.

     Both Jeanne and I are extremely grateful to all the American veterans who fought to liberate Belgium. We, of course, have a very special place in our hearts for the valiant fallen heroes and their families.

     A year ago I took our neighbor and his friend back to Belgium and Luxembourg. After writing 84 letters to various Belgian organizations, the two veterans were received with great honors, and we went to three U.S. military cemeteries to pay our respects to fallen comrades.

     Thanks again for your response and the copies of the Checkerboard, which I have read from the first to the last line.

Christian W. de Marcken

244 Richards Ave.

Paxton MA 01612-1121