Original U.S. WWII 330th Infantry Regiment 83rd Division Infantry Platoon Leader’s “Untouched” Trunk Grouping - Lt. Donald Lebo

Item Description

Original Items: One of a Kind: This is an absolutely outstanding WWII Grouping which recently came “Out of the Woodwork”, directly from the family of the veteran! This is certainly one of the most comprehensive WWII Groupings we have seen in many years, and, unlike most trunk groupings, is attributed to an Infantry Officer who not only received a battlefield commission to the rank of Lieutenant, but was wounded twice in combat while serving in Company E, 330th infantry Regiment, 83rd Division. First during the Normandy Campaign, and second during the battles in the  Hurtgen Forest.

Lieutenant Lebo’s Trunk truly is a proverbial “Time Capsule” of sorts, where the contents seem frozen from 1945 when he returned home from Europe. Minus a few additions from veteran’s reunions, and so on, it appears very little has changed from when his footlocker was sent home and put away in the attic almost eighty years ago! 

-Painted M1 Helmet Liner with 83rd Division Insignia and Surname “Lebo”. This exact helmet is pictured being worn by  Lebo in a photograph accompanying the grouping. In addition, there are a few photos of men of Lebo’s Platoon posing with their helmets painted this same way in a few photos accompanying the grouping. Liner is made by Firestone, and is named to lebo inside on the web suspension as well. Chinstrap is molded in shape.

- Original Unpublished Photos: Approximately 67 Personal Wartime Photographs with some excellent content. Many shots of Lebo as both an enlisted man and an officer, his platoon, shots of GIs next to tanks, some rare photos of Lebo and his men “on the line” in Germany living out of foxholes, Photo of Lebo wearing the helmet liner that is included with this group, etc.

- “Pinks and Greens” Dress Uniform Set; consists of chocolate “A-Blouse” with sewn-on ribbon bar. Jacket is marked size “37 Short”, and dated 1942. Note: The Lieutentant’s bars are English-Made pinback, marked “FIRMIN/LONDON” (a scarce set of bars in their own right). The trousers are corresponding “Pinks” trousers accompany the coat. 

- Enlistment Records, Discharge Papers, Records of Separation; These show what Lebo did overseas; what campaigns he served in, when he was wounded and how, what awards he was eligible to receive. These are crucial documents to conduct any further research. In addition, these show Lebo being discharged as an enlisted man, and commissioned as a officer.

- Official Wound Notices: Official War Department Documents informing Lebo’s Family that he was Wounded, updates to his status, etc. 

- Period Studio Portrait of Lebo

- Newspaper Articles Detailing Him Being Wounded from the local Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Telegraph

- Officer’s Visor Cap with Original Rain Cover. Made by “Wimbledon”, a high quality cap. Rain cover has a tear near the eagle, but is not noticeable. 

- Painted Foot Locker Trunk with Original Shipping Tags

- M3 Trench Knife, by Case (Guardmarked)

- M-1936 Musette Bag, very well marked with Lebo’s information, laundry number, etc.

- Field Gear: Pistol Belt, 1st Aid Pouch with Dressing, Messkit with Utensils, Canteen (Marked wiith Lebo’s name and Laundry Number), Canteen Cup, and British-Made Cover, Pair of Leggings, Spare Messkit Knife with Cover (Marked with Lebo’s Laundry Number), Large Utility Strap, Shoe Shine Kit

- 83rd Division Ephemera; Wooden Cigarette Box,  “Thunderbolt Across Europe” 83rd Division History, Memorial Day 1945 330th Infantry Booklet, “Thunderbolt Division” Small Size in-theater printed booklet, 330th Infantry Regiment Pamphlet, 83rd Division Fold-out Campaign Map, (2) 83rd Division Wartime newspapers, 

- Map of Vilsek Germany with Original Overlay: This is an item which rarely survived. The overlay shows position and field notes. Accompanying is also a war department map of the Eschenbach region. 

- Dog Tags and Individual Pay Record Book

- Lensatic Compass with Case and Instruction Aid Booklet

- Directive For Offensive Combat, Published by the 104th Infantry Division This is a scarce in-theater printed piece. Inside are pages removed from a German Military Message Book which lebo wrote on squad assignments

- Personal Items: Sewing Kits, Pocket Mirrors, Tooth Brushes, Foot Powder, Hand Cream, Water Purification Tablets, Comb, Soap, Medical Supplies, “Pine-O-Sol” Lotion, Safety Razor, Button Polishing Kit, “Cadie” Polishing Cloths,  Pocket Chess Set (Complete), Wallet, Zippered Coin Purse, Tin Kazoo (We are wagering this is a souvenir used on VE or VJ Day), Luggage Tags, German Stag Handled Boot Knife, Souvenir Engraved Cigarette Case (Likely made by a POW), Dice. Mechanical Pencil Leads

- Ephemera; Magazines/Newspapers/Maps/Military Manuals: Highlights include GI Issue German Phrase Book, GI Guide to Allied Uniform Insignia, GI “Our Red Army Ally” Booklet, Machine Gunner’s Handbook, Paris Guide Booklet with Map, New Testament, Hand-to-Hand Combat Manual, Copies of Yank, Army Talks, and Infantry Journal, a Guide to Shoulder Sleeve Insignia. Miscellaneous Postcards, Empty Souvenir Photo Albums, Maps of England, Germany, The United States. (6) US Army Manuals; including Bayonet , M1905, and Hand Grenades. Tennessee Maneuvers Pennant and Souvenir “Yard Long” Photo. Lebo’s Bible presented to him in 1919. There is far too much to list every piece!

- Souvenir German 20mm Drill Round with Original Transit Tube

- Pocket Notebooks: One, which has a more modern label written on the cover (believed to be when it was taken to a veteran’s reunion) reads “March-1945/Grainet, Germany” The contents are squad assignments, KP detail, but the most interesting entry lists radio callsigns used to call tanks and tank destroyers to the front. Another notebook with interesting contents lists items received in care parcels from home, when the parcels where shipped, and when they were received (In an effort to record how long it takes on average, we presume). One entry lists receiving mechanical pencil leads in a care parcel, which are included in the trunk grouping!

- Miscellaneous Small Items: Ribbon Bars, Sweetheart Jewelry, Distinctive Unit Insignia, Combat Infantrymans Badge made into a sweetheart bracelet, Marksmanship Badge, Collar Insignia, Shoulder Sleeve Insignia, Metal Whistle, House Key (It was a custom with GI’s to wear their house key on their dog tag chain as a good luck omen). 

- Paperwork: Military Orders, Requisition Forms, Clothing issue receipts, Accounting Paperwork (He apparently was charged with running the Division’s PX during early occupation), Circulars on tactics and military doctrine, various notes, Rosters, Bulletins, etc. Rather a quite comprehensive archive of paper relating to Lebo’s service.

- Purple Heart Case: Lebo’s family kept a small amount if items to create a shadowbox honoring his service during WWII. Unfortunately, only the ribbon and brooch remains, along with a lapel pin and a few small piece of ribbon. The medal itself, is not included. A few printed digital photographs show the items the family kept. 

We likely have forgotten something in the mix. This is an outstanding grouping, which warrants additional research. Original, untouched, WWII Footlocker groupings are very hard to come by, especially from a Infantry unit. For every ten WWI trunk groupings, we see maybe one WWII Trunk Grouping, and they are never from a combat arms unit!  This would make for a great display!

The 83rd Division in WWII:

The 83rd Infantry Division, commanded by Major General Robert C. Macon, arrived in England on 16 April 1944 with its first divisional headquarters at Keele Hall in Staffordshire. After training in Wales, the division, taking part in the Allied invasion of Normandy, landed at Omaha Beach, 18 June 1944, and entered the hedgerow struggle south of Carentan, 27 June. Taking the offensive, the 83rd reached the St. Lo-Periers Road, 25 July, and advanced 8 miles (13 km) against strong opposition as the Normandy Campaign ended.

After a period of training, elements of the division took Châteauneuf-d'Ille-et-Vilaine, 5 August, and Dinard, 15 August, and approached the heavily fortified area protecting St. Malo. Intense fighting during the Battle of Saint-Malo reduced enemy strong points and a combined attack against the Citadel Fortress of St. Servan caused its surrender, 17 August. While elements moved south to protect the north bank of the Loire River, the main body of the division concentrated south of Rennes for patrolling and reconnaissance activities. Elements reduced the garrison at Ile de Cézembre, which surrendered, 2 September. On 16 September 1944: in the only surrender of a German Major General to U.S. troops, Botho Henning Elster surrendered with 18,850 men and 754 officers at the Loire bridge of Beaugency. The movement into Luxembourg was completed on 25 September. Taking Remich on the 28th and patrolling defensively along the Moselle, the 83d resisted counterattacks and advanced to the Siegfried Line defenses across the Sauer after capturing Grevenmacher and Echternach, 7 October. As the initial movement in operation "Unicorn," the division took Le Stromberg Hill in the vicinity of Basse Konz against strong opposition, 5 November, and beat off counterattacks.

Moving to the Hurtgen Forest, the 83rd Division thrust forward from Gressenich to the west bank of the Roer. It entered the Battle of the Bulge, 27 December, striking at Rochefort and reducing the enemy salient in a bitter struggle. The division moved back to Belgium and the Netherlands for rehabilitation and training, 22 January 1945. On 1 March, the 83rd Division advanced toward the Rhine in Operation Grenade, and captured Neuss. The west bank of the Rhine from north of Oberkassel to the Erft Canal was cleared and defensive positions established by 2 March and the division renewed its training. The 83rd Division crossed the Rhine south of Wesel, 29 March, and advanced across the Munster Plain to the Weser, crossing it at Bodenwerder. The division crossed the Leine, 8 April, and attacked to the east, pushing over the Harz Mountain region and advancing to the Elbe at Barby. That city was taken on 13 April. The 83rd Division established a bridgehead over the river.

On 11 April 1945 the 83rd Division encountered Langenstein-Zwieberge, a subcamp of the Buchenwald concentration camp.At the camp, the troops found approximately 1,100 inmates. The inmates were malnourished and in extremely poor physical condition. The 83rd Division reported the death rate at the camp had been 500 per month. Also, that the prisoners had been forced to work 16-hour days in nearby mines, and were shot if they became too weak to work. After liberation, the death rate continued at approximately 25–50 people per day, due to the severe physical debilitation of the prisoners.

To slow the spread of sickness and death, the 83rd Division ordered the local German mayor to supply the camp with food and water. Also, medical supplies were requisitioned from the U.S. Army's 20th Field Hospital. In addition, the 83rd Division recovered documents for use by war crimes investigators.

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