Great historical lot for SSgt Kenneth W. Hastey, Anti-Tank NCO, awarded the BSM, and PH.
This is a sizable grouping for a GI in one of the ETO’s late war infantry divisions. Sometimes frowned upon by collectors for only having only a few months of combat, these divisions saw extremely hard duty, as the Allies advanced into the German home land. Late ditch efforts by the Germans made for some of the hardest battles fought during the war in the ETO. From January 1945, there was no such thing as “mop up” action.
The 102nd (Ozark) Division moved into the line on October 28, 1944 at Alsdorf, Germany, and saw continuous combat until VE Day (May 8). With a well written diary maintained by Staff Sergeant Kenneth W. Hastey, of the 3rd Battalion, Head Quarters Company, Anti-tank Platoon, 406th Infantry Regiment, 102nd Division, we have nearly a day to day account of his and the regiment’s movements till the end of the war, and into occupation of Germany, recording the highlights of his combat tour.
Not only the dairy, but letters during his occupation that give a good deal of interesting facts, such as the end of censorship of letters, allowing Hastey to write freely of combat actions from months past, and details about the GI life in occupied country. There are letters from his training day, but have not read them, time not permitting. There were no combat letters, but then nothing could have been written in them anyway under censorship. Letters written from June of 1944 through April of 1945, along with his medals must have been retained by the family, yet the grouping has an excellent core of material allowing the collector/historian to visualize and appreciate Hastey’s contribution to the war effort.
The grouping also includes his Ike Jacket, trousers, patched shirt, overseas caps, visor cap, some of his issue combat web gear, photo album, souvenirs, and more. I will describe further in detail later on.
If I were to go completely into the content of the letters and diary, it would take but too much time. I will only bring out some highlights, so to leave you the purchaser, the pleasure of discovering the history in the lot on your own. Hastey is a good observer of events, describing actions, movements, and results of combat through Germany given the time permitting, of his unit’s involvement in the war, and in general a good writer.
Some background on Hastey: He was from East Rutherford, NJ, born on 22 June, 1924 (19 years old when he entered service), he had one year of college at Georgetown University in a military cadet program. He served with the 406th Infantry in combat for 2 campaigns as an Anti-tank NCO in command of a ten man crew on a 57mm anti-tank field piece. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for action at Beslar, Germany in Feb. 1945 for the dispersal of attacking enemy tanks. He was wounded in Dec. of 1944 and awarded the Purple Heart Medal. The date of his separation of service was 29 January, 1946. All of the above information is not from research, but from all the information included in this grouping.
Letters; approximately 100 plus mostly to him from the beginning of the war from his parents, 30 plus of which are written by him in occupation. His occupation letters are good history, not the typical “weather reports.” There are more from the 1950s.
Diary; Goes from April of 1943 to November of 1945, listing the important highlights of his service, — Sept. ’44, “in Normandy for a month in pup tents….” Oct. 22; “Left Yalognes for the front lines, had expected the war to be over before we got into action. Enroute thru Paris…crammed in a 40 et 8 boxcar……” Nov. 17, “Waurichen, Germany thru rubble of buildings, dead cattle and men…..” Nov. 29, “Beggendorf, forward assembly area, get out first strafing attack by 6 German planes, promoted to corporal….” Dec. 10. “hit by shrapnel from stray 88….” Dec. 23. “Everyone is jittery as the 102nd and 29th now constitute the whole 9th Army….” Jan. 26. “Lindern. We move into this town in preporation for attack on pill box ring…..Huge lines of American tanks and TD’s and British Crocadiles wait for attack……” Feb. 15. “Roer River jump off….fighters and bombers give Gerry hell as they soften up his river defenses. Gerry planes too…..” March 1. “Krefeld, Town taken against light sniper fire…” (a list on several pages of all the towns the unit has gone through in relatively a short time, during their drive to the Elbe River) April 16. … April 16. “..in all the preceding towns there was hardly any resistance, the Germans had been by-passed by Armored spearhead so they surrendered meekly, the 2nd & 5th Armored were the lead elements….” Much more!
Hastey’s Ike jacket is complete with all the insignia, including a pair of Distinctive Unit Insignia (DUIs) that are theater made in Germany for the 406th Infantry regiment. He wore another DUI that was theater made on his overseas cap; this one is the insignia of the 102nd Infantry Division. Trousers, 102nd patched OD shirt with gas flap, three ties, and 5 overseas caps (some are mothed, one is an officer’s style that he may have worn during his time at Georgetown Univ. The uniform is in excellent condition. The ribbons were placed on the pocket flap, incorrectly and probably by family long after the war. The combat infantryman’s badge is placed close to the top of the pocket and sewn down; this possibly done by the veteran during the war. There is a visor cap in the group as well.
A worn lot of wartime web gear includes a canteen and cover, pick mattock with web carrier, and two pair of canvas puttees.
A small trunk that Hastey must have picked up in Germany holds a number of the smaller items, souvenirs, etc. The box has some wear, but fully addressed by Hastey to go home to his mother’s address in NJ.
Miscellaneous paper includes a brief history of the 102nd Inf. Div, a propaganda leaflet, two German road maps, Separation papers with his discharge form; various patches, chevrons, 102nd watch fob with German made; Dog Tags on chain, gun tools both American and German, German miniature sword letter opener, Camel cigarette plastic case, and more. There are a number of loose snap shots that came from a photo album, which is in the collection, at least a hundred or more. Some photos are missing, but each is identified on the album pages, and inscribed on the back of the images themselves. At some point many of these were reproduced from original negatives and are with this collection too.
A great group with great history, and getting harder to find nice honest lots.
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