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Replacement System in Europe
US Army, Europe

Looking for more information from military/civilian personnel assigned to or associated with the U.S. Army in Germany from 1945 to 1989. If you have any stories or thoughts on the subject, please contact me.


History

7720th EUCOM Repl Depot

307th Repl Depot

21st Repl Bn

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Replacement System, 1945-1963

7720 EUCOM Replacement Depot - Tannenberg Kaserne, Marburg
 

7720 EUCOM Replacement Depot - The Ordenburg, Sonthofen
 

307th Replacement Group - Camp Grohn, Bremen
 

307th Replacement Depot - Turenne Kaserne, Zweibrücken
 
(Source: The Replacement and Augmentation Systems in Europe (1945-1963), HQ USAREUR, 1964)
Units and Facilities of the Replacement System

a. The Early Years.
On 31 January 1946, the Ground Forces Reinforcement Command, the organization that had been responsible for moving replacements to the forward areas in World War II, was discontinued. During the following months the reinforcement depots that had originally handled incoming troops and their assignment were primarily engaged in redeploying personnel. However, as redeployment neared its end, the ports of Antwerp and Le Havre ceased operations in March and in July (1946), respectively. The closing of these installations left the expanded Bremen Port Command -- renamed the Bremerhaven Port of Embarkation (BPE) in March 1947 -- as the sole staging area for U.S. personnel traveling to and from the U.S.-occupied zone of Germany. Meanwhile, in May 1946 the replacement depots -- former reinforcement depots -- were realigned. The 3d Replacement Depot at Marburg was given control of the staging area at Bremerhaven for outgoing personnel, the 17th at Bamberg (Webmaster Note: also location of Headquarters US Constabulary at the time) was assigned the task of handling incoming personnel, and the 2d at Namur was inactivated.

In the succeeding months the decreasing number of replacements permitted a reduction in the processing facilities. At the end of August the functions of reception, classification, and assignment were centralized at Marburg, and the Bamberg processing area was reduced by one-half and used as a transshipment stop only.

In early 1947 consideration was given to the possible transfer of the 3d Replacement Depot to Bremerhaven, so that all the initial processing, classification, and assignment of outgoing and incoming personnel would take place in one location. By March, however, EUCOM headquarters decided to retain the two installations. In May the 3d Replacement Depot was redesignated the 7720 EUCOM Replacement Depot without change in location or functions.

b. Realignment to Support the First Augmentation.
During December 1951 the 307th Replacement Depot, two replacement battalions, and several replacement companies arrived from the United States. The 307th took the place of the 7720 EUCOM Replacement Depot which was discontinued; one of the two replacement battalions was stationed at Rochefort, France and one of the companies at Frankfurt; and the remaining replacement units, including the 307th, were stationed at Zweibruecken. The Bremerhaven Port of Embarkation and Rhein-Main Airfield continued as the entry ports to Europe.

c. The USAREUR Assignment Team.
Early in May 1953, USAREUR established a liaison detachment at the Overseas Replacement Station, Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, to expedite the flow of military personnel to Europe. The detachment, consisting of one officer and two enlisted men, was an element of USAREUR headquarters whose primary function was to expedite the movement of critically needed specialists to Europe by issuing high priority transportation orders. In addition, it facilitated the return of personnel from Europe by correcting "administrative discrepancies."

In the same year the detachment was renamed the USAREUR Assignment Team (Provisional) and during 1954 was moved with the Overseas Replacement Station from Camp Kilmer to Fort Dix, New Jersey, without immediate change in functions.

d. Other Changes.
Another organizational change occurred in January 1955, when the 4th Replacement Group replaced the 307th Depot which was returned to the United States. The 21st Replacement Battalion, activated at the same time, was transferred to Frankfurt in May to take care of the increasing flow of replacements landing at Rhein-Main Airbase, a task that had previously been handled by the 261st Replacement Company. However, little more than a year later the introduction of the mechanized enlisted replacement system permitted the reduction of the 4th Group to a headquarters element, which was subsequently transferred to USAREUR headquarters, where it performed replacement distribution duties under the USAREUR Adjutant General Division.

To satisfy the requirements of the new mechanized system, the assignment team at Fort Dix was replaced by the 527th Replacement Company, which had been transferred from Zweibrueeken on 20 April 1956 to perform the enlarged assignment mission under control of USAREUR headquarters. Subsequently, its functions were assumed by a new USAREUR Assignment Team, composed of 5 officers and 26 enlisted men, which continued to operate satisfactorily during the following years.

e. 1962 - 1963 Status.
By the end of 1962 the replacement system included the ith AG Replacement Group at USAREUR headquarters, the USAREUR Assignment Team at Fort Dix, and three replacement battalions -- the 21st at Frankfurt under USAREUR; the 1st at Zweibruecken under Seventh Army; and the 5th, which had replaced the inactivated 3d Battalion in January 1958, at Orleans, France, under USACOMZEUR control. During this period replacements for USAREUR units arrived through the Bremerhaven Port of Embarkation and Rhein-Main Airbase in Frankfurt, or in the case of USACOMZEUR air transported fillers, through Orly Airfield near Paris. USASETAF replacements used the Port of Leghorn or commercial airfields in Italy.

However, in early July 1963, because of a reduction in the FY 1963 troop basis, the 525th and 526th Replacement Companies were iinactivated and twp other units reorganized. First, the 1st AG Replacement Battalion was reduced to cadre strength (1 officer and 18 enlisted men). It had been transferred to Vaihingen on 15 May, where it was attached to SeventhArmy headquarters and placed under the operational control of the Adjutant General. The personnel could thus maintain their technical proficiency in processing replacements so that they could constitute the nucleus for a full-strength battalion in wartime or in support of contingency operations. The 4th AG Replacement Group at Heidelberg was reorganized by reducing its strength approximately 25 percent with no change in its mission.

 
7720 EUCOM Replacement Depot
1950
(Source: Bill Hodges, 7720th EUCOM Replacement Depot)
The 7720th EUCOM Replacement Depot moved from Marburg, as I recall, in about November 1950, to the Burg Kaserne at Sonthofen and almost immediately began processing (Classification and Assignment) the thousands of troops who began coming into the Theatre after the Korean War broke out (Marburg just did not have the accommodations for these many troops).

We had a cadre of only about 250 personnel. In January or February, to the best of my recollections, the 307th Replacement Battalion (a Reserve group arrived after activation from the New York area, under the command of Col.Oliver J.Troster. Their roster consisted of another couple of hundred personnel. Thereafter, the 7720th ceased to exist and we became the 307th Replacement Battalion.

While we were stationed up on the Burg, we provided full Personnel services to the replacement troops, including QMC (issuance of uniforms and equipment), Railway Transportation, all communications including TO&E data, C & A, counselling when, and if, necessary, T.I. and E., Chaplain services, etc.

There was a Trucking Company stationed at the Beck Kaserne downtown which transported the troops from their Bahnhof arrival up to the Burg, then down again after their 4 or 5 days of briefing. One time a trainload of troops was delivered from Bremerhaven to Sandhofen, up near Mannheim, by accident. There were no train cars available to transport the troops from there to Sonthofen so the Trucking Company and some volunteers convoyed all the way up the then drove them back to the Burg.

We had many German civilians working at the Burg doing Mess Hall duties, Barracks maintenance, Fire Protection, QM Supply, etc.

Sometime in early 1952, the Depot became the HQ for Public Law 50 (I think) Alien Enlistees. These troops (all from behind the Iron Curtain) were housed in a secure section of one of out Barracks. They were schooled in English, took the AGCT Tests, had background checks, when possible, run on them, and oriented in the ways of the US Army before being shipped off to the States for assignment.

I, personally, was rotated in August of 1952. Shortly thereafter the Depot was split in two. From what we heard, half were transferred to Zweibruecken, the other half to Bremen. I don't have any information after that, but I think I do remember that the 307th was de-activated.

For your info, my wife (she, being German) and I go back to Sonthofen just about every year (actually, we stay at Kierwang - just across the valley). But both of us have a great love for the Oberallgaeu. The Burg is in the process of being vacated now by the Bundeswehr and noone seems to know what will happen to it in the future. I must say, in conclusion, that had the Army promised me 20 more years of duty at Sonthofen, I'd have made a career of the military.
Bill Hodges


Burg Kaserne at Sonthofen, 1950s (German postcard)

Sonthofen train station, 1950s (German postcard)
(Source: Follow up email from Bill Hodges, Feb 2004)
 
It's great to see the Sonthofen web site is still maintained. Sonthofen still maintains its small town atmosphere even though there are some supermarkets, etc. We were back again in 2003 and, as usual, thoroughly enjoyed our stay.

Heimhuber's Photo Shop is still there and it has many very beautiful photos of Sonthofen and its environs for sale. The owner, unfortunately, passed on several years ago.

A matter of some interest to me arose this past year: a book, entitled, "On the Natural History of Destruction", by an Allgaeuer from Wertach (near Sonthofen), W.G.Sebald, who was only one year old when the war ended, came to Sonthofen in 1952 and saw the "ruins" of two aerial bombings that occurred on February 22 and April 29, 1945. I was dismayed by the (what I thought to be) serious misstatements of fact. We were told, in 1950, that only one bomb was jettisoned onto the town and hit the Brewery which, in any part of Germany, was a major catastrophe.

Herr Sebald was killed in an automobile accident recently and can't be questioned about what he saw in Sonthofen, but can any of the Constabulary people confirm or deny his statements. I'd love to hear about it. I contacted the USAAF Archives at Maxwell Field in Montgomery, Alabama, but they have no record of such a "raid" on either of those dates, but they said it may have been an RAF happening.
Bill Hodges

 
(Source: Allen Hall, Sonthofen, 1951)
I was there in 1951. At that time it was a replacement depot and, as I recall, formerly a school. I have a recollection of Sonthofen being a small, rural athough I have hear if it was it is no longer. Are there any photos of the old part of town? In contrast to other parts of Germany at the time I don't recall any war damage in the Sonthofen area. From the photo in the site I can't remember if that was the old "Repple Depple" or not. I remember that there was a dormitory or dining hall or something there called Allen Hall
 

 
(Source: Bill Lee, 307th/7720th EUCOM Replacement Depot)
I have read comments about The Burg (Sonthofen) on your website and doubt that I could add much to what has already been said.

I went through basic training at Fort Jackson, SC, went to leadership school but (fortunately) did not graduate (and probably would have gone to Korea) and was shipped to Camp Kilmer, NJ for overseas processing. This was probably in the summer of 1951. I went over on the troop ship General William O. Darby, sick every minute of the about two week voyage to Bremerhaven, Germany. We were there piled on a train (we slept where ever we could) and headed for Sonthofen, unknown to me, of course.

I had just earned a degree from the University of South Carolina (1950) and was luckily assigned to the 307th (later 7720) EUCOM Replacement Depot there. I think this was a reserve unit. I was stationed there until August of 1952 when I was sent back to the States for separation.

While I initially was not too happy about being in the Army (I was drafted); still it was one of the best, most rewarding, enhancing experience of my life then (and now).

At the Ordensburg Kaserne, I was a personnel administrative specialist whose job was to review and update troop files for EUCOM assignments. It was duty most soldiers would envy. First, we slept in the state of the art barracks, had great meals, no KP (civilians did all the housekeeping), although we had a rifle assigned, I never fired one nor did I sleep in a tent during the time I was there. The steam heat and hot showers were accepted/expected luxuries. We had entertainment almost every night in the Service Club, usually local German musicians. We were aware we were in the Army with inspections but these were never as rigid as I had known previously.

Perhaps the best part of the assignment was during the winter months when the snows came to Bavaria. We had no troops to process and life was easy as it was, in fact, most of the time. I lived in Rivers Hall, the second floor of the barracks with a balcony that overlooked the breathtaking beauty of the mountains, any season of the year. It was the longest "vacation" I have ever experienced.

I was promoted to the rank of corporal, made many friends although none that I have kept in contact with since service days. I remember, as an example of how spoiled we were, that in the dining hall for breakfast, the milk (real milk) had cream on the top of the bottle and we would pour it off onto our cereal for breakfast.

One of the "verboten" experiences I remember was the selling of cigarettes on the 'black market' in Sonthofen. Those who did not smoke brought their rationed cartons from the PX, then would simply place them in a handbag, take them downdown to Sonthofen (only a few hundred yards from the Burg) and sell them, usually to merchants there. No one ever questioned this practice. This allowed for the purchase of such German products as Zeiss binoculars, Leica cameras, Rosenthal China, Dresden figurines and Omega watches.

My friends and I used to go down to Sonthofen and dine at the local train station that had a restaurant on the second floor. It was my first taste of a local delicacy, Wiener Schnitzel, something I had never eaten in South Carolina. The potatoes served there were what they called "home fries" but we persuaded the cook to serve what we knew as French fries, something they did not ordinarily list on their menu.

I must add this about the Germans I met. I was there not long after WWII was over but I NEVER had any bad experiences with the German population. I always felt perfectly safe in Sonthofen and I did not hear of any of my friends being intimidated. Maybe this was the exception in the small village like Sonthofen.
 
Being from the South, snow was somewhat rare for me to experience. But it was there at the kaserne aplenty; its beauty was incomparable. Too, it meant that the troops were not coming in for processing so we had a holiday of sorts when this happened.

Perhaps because it was a reserve unit, the officers were a little more relaxed; we were not on a first name basis of course, but they were less than the spit and polish types.

I remember the "short arm" inspections in the early morning hours.
 
Other than the vacation like setting, the next best part of my tour was the opportunity to travel, mostly alone, on trains that were unfamiliar to me, the language was indeed foreign and no way really to anticipate where my next night would be spent. I visited in Germany of course, Austria, Belguim, Holland, France, Italy, Monaco, Switzerland and England. Without Uncle Sam footing most of the bill, I doubt that these would have been experiences I could recall. SpeakIng of trains, being in the US Armed Forces, I was allowed to ride first class. One "local" train I recall was more like a trolley. It ran from Sonthofen or nearby to Garmisch where I spent several weekend passes, again living in the first class hotels for a modest fee. Life was indeed good even if my address was a German one.

Some names of friends I recall (we were known mostly by only last names or by rank) were Stein, Hayward, Story, Koontz, Jackson, Owens, Powell, Johnson, Lubkowski ... There were others of course but memory fades after 50+ years.

A friend (Hayward) bought a Mercedes convertible (5 passenger) and one weekend we drove to Geneva, Switzerland. I am sure we were just plain lucky since no one had any foreign driving experience. I remember one of the songs played at a bar there was FAR AWAY PLACES and it surely was.

One post stated that if he could have been promised a permanent Sonthofen assignment, he might have gone for long term enlistment. I would not go that far, but it was a great experience. I never did return to Germany but in my mind, I have made the trip repeatedly.
Auf Wiedersehen
Bill Lee

 
(Source: Author's collection)

Repo Depot, 1951
Sonthofen




1. Barracks building

2. Main part of the kaserne

3. Entrance


4. Dispensary

5. A replacement fresh from the States - next stop: 12th Inf Regt

 
307th Replacement Depot
1952

Replacement units in Germany (STATION LIST, June 1952)
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, March 30, 1952)
The 307th Replacement Depot has recently established its headquarters at Turenne Kaserne in Zweibrücken. The main body of the 307th, including the 1st and 347th Replacement Battalions, moved to Zweibrücken on Jan 2, 1952. On Jan 15, the first group of "casuals" were processed. Headquarters 307th also has an echelon (detachment) at Sonthofen that handles the overflow.

CO of the 307th Repl Depot is Col Henry W. Holt.

Processing of the new troops includes reception, orientation, classification and assignment to posts throughout Europe.

The 5-day operation of processing the new troops is based on speed and efficiency: as the casuals debark from the train (that has brought them from Bremerhaven) , their records are being unloaded from the baggage car and sent to the depot for checking by the Classification and Assignment Section. Once they reach the kaserne, the casuals are placed in the hands of the two replacement battalions.

At the depot, the cycle goes into full-swing as the casuals are issued field equipment, PX cards, ID cards and receive a "flying twenty" ($20.00 in scrip).

During their first day, the replacements receive an hour's orientation on the workings of the depot, including brief speeches by the chaplain and the medical officer.

Personal interviews take up most of the second day as the classification and assignment section takes up the dual task of finding out what job each man is best suited for and assigning him to a EUCOM unit.

The highlight of the five-day cycle is the six hour EUCOM orientation program given by senior cadre of the depot.The program is divided into three two-hour sessions with a question period at the end of each hour. Topics range from the soldier's mission in EUCOM to the intricacies of German trains and streetcars.

Turenne Kaserne is located in the French zone and was formerly occupied by French troops. Since the US Army has taken over the installation, a snack bar, PX, movie theater, beer bar and tailor shop have been constructed and work has begun on eight new buildings that will eventually house all of the casuals.

 
(Source: Email from Gerard J. Brault)
Greetings from a short-timer US Army veteran (1952-53).

As an enlisted man enroute from Camp Kilmer, NJ, to Germany, I spent Christmas Day 1952 aboard USS General Butner and arrived in Bremerhaven, Germany, a day or so later. Immediately upon arrival, we boarded a train and, after a daylong, very uncomfortable troop train ride, arrived at Zweibrücken.

After completing the USAREUR TI&E program and instruction in military courtesy, I and three other EM received orders dated 28 Dec 52 to be transferred to the 66th CIC Detachment in Stuttgart, Germany. I arrived at the latter destination on 31 Dec 52. After a couple of weeks, I was transferred to CIC Hq ComZ (Orléans, France, then Bordeaux and, finally, La Rochelle). I was very pleased to be stationed in France, where I spent the remainder of my enlistment, as I had volunteered for that assignment.

My transfer from Zweibrücken indicates that, while there, I was temporarily assigned to Hq and Hq Det (Pipeline), 347th Repl Bn, APO 872, but Special Orders Number 317, Par 29 (copy in my possession) providing this information were cut from Hq 307th Replacement Depot, APO 872.

Your very reliable website says that the US Army took over Kreuzberg Kaserne to be used as a replacement depot (later center) in Zweibrücken in 1953 but, as you can see, it was already in operation in late December 1952. The orientation program there was excellent. I also remember going into town with a few EM acquaintances one evening and having sauerbraten and Dinkelacher beer!

Thank you very much for maintaining this very interesting and useful website.


 
21st Replacement Battalion
1955 - 19..
21st Replacement Battalion DUI
 
(Source: Headquarters, 1st PERSCOM, 1989)
THE HISTORY OF 21ST REPLACEMENT BATTALION

21st Replacement Battalion was activated on 20 October 1942 at Camp Sutton, North Carolina for services during World War II. Upon completion of forming the unit and training, the Battalion moved through Fort Dix and Camp Kilmer, New Jersey to the New York Port of Embarkation in February 1943. On 8 February the unit sailed for Casablanca, French Morocco arriving 19 February 1943.

Between February 1943 and August 1944, the 21st conducted replacement operations for 5th Army in North Africa and later in Italy.

September 1944 found the 21st Replacement Battalion landing in Southern France in support of the 7th Army. The Allied invasion there was to hold Axis troops from the invasion at Normandy, and to provide the second stroke of a "one-two punch". The Battalion followed the 7th Army's advance through France into Germany in March 1945. In February 1945, the Battalion was redesignated the 21st Reinforcement Battalion, and was so known throughout the remainder of World War II. During the move into Germany, a number of liberated French soldiers and civilians who had been held in Germany were returned to France by the 21st. Over 1600 were transported by the Battalion's trucks.

The end of World War II left the Battalion at Augsburg, Germany. In July, the 21st moved to Belgium, and on 12 September 1945 was disbanded. The Battalion was credited with six campaigns from Italy, through France, and ending in Germany. Interestingly, one of the problems identified by the Battalion is familiar to us today; replacements arriving without service records.

On 18 March 1955 the 21st Replacement Battalion was reactivated at Zweibrucken, Germany, and in May of that year, moved to Frankfurt am Main. This move was due to the number of soldiers arriving at Rhein Main Air Base. The Frankfurt location was judged more beneficial to the Battalion, and replacement soldiers alike. The move was completed in June and full processing started on 1 July 1955. A detachment was located at the Military Air Transport Service (the forerunner of today's Military Airlift Command) terminal at Rhein Main Air Base. This detachment received and arranged arriving soldiers transport to Frankfurt. Thus began an association between 21st Replacement Battalion and Rhein Main Air Base which continues to this day.

The desireablility of being located at the Air Base was identified early on, but circumstances forced the Battalion to occupy a variety of locations in Frankfurt for many years. These ranged from two requisitioned German houses and later Gutleut Kaserne where the Battalion remained for more than a decade. The Kaserne was near the main railway station which eased the movement of troops to their ultimate unit of assignment. As busses replaced trains for movement within Germany, and the costs, and efforts to maintain the eighty year old Kaserne rose, another home for the battalion was deemed necessary.

On 31 December 1976 the 21st moved to temporary quarters on Hansa Allee near what is now called the Abrams Complex. Construction of new permanent facilities on Rhein Main Air Base began in August 1978. The new compound was completed and occupied in July 1980, where 21st Replacement Battalion remains today.

Throughout the history of the Battalion, its mission has fundimentally changed very little. Basically, the 21st processes incoming soldiers for assignment to units of United States Army Europe. It presently is the only Replacement Battalion in the United States Army. The increased use of predetermined "pinpoint" assignments, and automation has reduced the time a soldier normally spends at the battalion to less than a day. Most recently, a sponsorship bus program was begun to reduce processing time to several hours. While the Battalion has been reorganized many times, and placed under various commands over its history, the job of processing newly arrived soldiers as efficiently and expeditiously as possible, remains hallmark of 21st Replacement Battalion.

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