In this new series, we continue our World War II memories.
We are speaking to Mr. Greg Csencsitz, whose father, Frank, served under Lt. George S. Patton in B-Battery 449 AW Third Army, 5th Division. We will march along with him from Omaha Beach in Germany. Greg has graciously shared the company log dated June 15, 1944, through May 28, 1945, written by L.L. Capron Capt. CAC.
The Csencsitz family traces its roots back to Croatia, Austria, Hungary in the old Austrian-Hungarian empire, which dominated Central Europe from 1867 to the end of World War I.
His grandfather, John Chenchitz (as spelled at Ellis Island), came to America in 1901.
During this era, the local cement industry was booming and companies were sending agents to Central Europe, enticing people to leave their homes and small farms for a better standard of living. John was one of thousands who settled in our cement communities: Northampton, Coplay, Cementon, Nazareth, etc. John would be hired by the Keystone Cement Company and have a long career there. He would be followed by sons Frank and Joseph.
There were eight children in the family. Frank was born at home on Lincoln Avenue in 1921. He would attend elementary school at Our Lady of Hungary School and later Northampton High School. Frank wanted to play for the Konkrete Kids football team, but his parents said no. As a result, he left school. Some parents did not value a high school education.
Frank was lucky his father was able to get him a job at the Keystone Cement Company in 1939 as an assistant cement tester, working with the chemist in the laboratory in performing numerous tests to determine the qualities of various cements.
In August 1942, Uncle Sam called. He reported to Selective Service Board No. 2 Aug. 19, 1942, at the Northampton Post Office. One of the board members was Dr. George Eichler, a WWI veteran and superintendent of schools. The order was signed by Robert Frable, burgess of Northampton. The burgess office was changed to mayor in 1962.
Frank married Rose Sodl, of Stiles. Her father, Steve, was well known in the Coplay and Stiles area. Frank left a wife and a daughter, Rose Mary. He would not see them again until October 1945.
His wife and child would reside in a home owned by Frank’s brother Steve, who owned a grocery store across the street in Northampton. Rose worked at the store, cleaning and helping out, until her husband returned home.
When Frank and his fellow recruits left, they marched up to the Siegfried Station and boarded a train for Fort Dix. This writer, as a youth, recalls the troop trains and railroad cars loaded with tanks and trucks passing to the rear of our home when we resided on Main Street, a few blocks away from the Jersey Central Railroad station.
After intensive training, some at Fort Benning in Georgia, the unit boarded a ship for an unknown destination. They landed in England and would be organized and trained for one of the most momentous days in world history- D-Day.
In two weeks, it’s Normandy to Germany.