Jerome Gerald “Gummy” Robinson
My Father, Jerome Gerald “Gummy” Robinson was born in Baltimore, Maryland on May 25, 1917 to Russian immigrant parents. His much older brother was sent to medical school so it was up to Dad to make a living and support the family. THIS IS HIS STORY.
13136466 was the number given to my Father, Jerome Gerald Robinson. It was too late for Officer's Training School, so he enlisted as a Private and was attached to the US Army's 40th Finance Dispersing Section. He was activated to go to Africa in the winter of 1942, but they were ready to invade Europe. 7,000 soldiers were sent to Europe on a ship called "Orion" originally out of Australia. They landed in Ireland, went to Scotland and then on to Great Britain.
The 40th Army Division that Dad was attached to was never created so they gave him an assignment that was most unusual. He was, along with 17 enlisted men and 3 officers, to pay the thousands of soldiers their salaries, and to compensate the innocent victims of war.
He was stationed 80 miles from London on the East Anglia Coast facing the Northern Sea. His Camp was called Stowmarket, named after the town. They slept in overcoats during the entire winter of 1943.
Dad said that the Air Force was stationed nearby and that the ground soldiers would watch the planes take off at 5 AM, rally into formation and fly over the English Channel into Germany. If a red light was flashing at the base, it would mean that a soldier was killed.
He said they all smoked cigarettes, talked all night long and would watch an occasional dog fight in the air against a very dark sky.
They went into the town of Stowmarket for drinks at an English Pub and occasionally into Ipswich, for a USO Dance. He would not elaborate further on this subject.
Every three months they would have one weekend off. They would go to London, sleep in cheap hotels where they could bathe and sleep on beds with sheets.
During the blitz, they would run to the London Subways until the bombing stopped. Dad and his Division stayed at Camp Stowmarket from September 1943 until the June Invasion of 1944.
They crossed the English Channel in Navy Boats. They landed on Utah Beach under fire. Utah Beach was the code name for the right flank of the Allied Landing beaches during the D-Day Invasion of Normandy as part of Operation Overload, June 6, 1944. They slept in fox holes standing up, dug by soldiers the day before.
They then traveled down the Cotentin Peninsula to Saint Lo following General Patton on the way to Paris. They arrived in Paris on trucks loaded with technical equipment, found rooms and settled into the "Main Bank" of Paris.
As Dad recalled, the bank building had 5 cellars filled with money. The US Government had printed German Marks used for the Invasion. Headquarters called it "Operation Tiger". Their department handled all of the French/American money transfers. No one was permitted to carry American Dollars in France because of the underground "Black Market" in US Currency. The US Army's 40th Dispersing Division was in charge of ALL the Invasion Money.
In December 1944, they left Paris stopping at Charles Le Roy to celebrate Christmas is freezing weather.
The Battle of the Bulge was Germany's last stand. For the Americans, with about 600,000 men committed and some 81,000 casualties, including 19,000 killed, the Battle of the Bulge was the single largest and bloodiest battle that America forces fought in World War II.
My Father won 5 Bronze Stars for The Battle of Great Britain, The Battle of Normandy, The Freeing of Paris, The Invasion of Germany, and The Battle of The Bulge. He was my hero.
During the winter of 1945, the troops forced their way into Germany and it was the first time Dad was on German Land in Bodden Nichter Breisen on The Rhein. Soon after, the Army drove Dad back to Paris as he was awarded a few days leave. He caught a train to The Riviera and two days later received a wire requesting him to return to his outfit for shipment back to the US.
He caught a plane in Nice with the idea that he was flying back to his outfit first. Because of the violent weather over the Alps, the plane landed in Paris.
He was in contact with his outfit and was told to report ASAP to Chesterfield Port (all of the Ports were named after cigarettes by the men) to return to the US.
Dad had requested a temporary leave of absence six months prior because his Father was dying. The pass finally came through. The ship from Chesterfield Port landed somewhere on the East Coast and he was taken to Fort Meade in Maryland. My Grandfather drove my Mother Edith to Fort Meade to be reunited with my Father. They were married before the war. Dad was discharged and allowed to return to Baltimore. The year was 1945.
They soon replaced the copper tags with silver tags after they realized their mistake.
Many celebrities came through the offices on the way to entertaining the troops. Dad mentioned seeing Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Jack Benny and all the beautiful female stars of the day!
We did not discuss the carnage that he saw as it was too painful to remember. The names of close friends that he could recall were Francis Benechek, Jim Richardson, Tom Kelly and Major Major. Major Major was a Major.
PS: We won the war! PPS: Dad passed away on April 29, 2013. He would have been 96 on May 25, 2013. This story also honors the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who fight for our freedom. May they all be blessed and may my Dad rest in peace.