85th Engineer Heavy Ponton Battalion - Final Days

To the Port of Le Harve, France

On 10 July 1945, this unit departed from Camp Chicago to St. Ermo railhead and entrained for rail movement to Camp Twenty Grand, France

On the 20th of June 1945 the Battalion moved from Stenay, France to Camp Chicago in the vicinity of Sissone, France. The time of arrival was 1055 hours and the distance traveled 71 miles.

On the 21st of June 1945 the Battalion was relieved from assignment to Seventh Army and passed to the control of Area Assembly Command.

On 24 June 1945, all vehicles departed for Brussels, Belgium to be turned in. The distance traveled was approximately 225.

- 7/1/45 U.S., British, and French troops move into Berlin.

On 10 July 1945, this unit departed from Camp Chicago to St. Ermo railhead and entrained for rail movement to Camp Twenty Grand, France. On 11 July 1945, the unit arrived at railroad station at Duclair, France at 0210 and proceeded by motor convoy to Camp Twenty Grand near Le Harve, France.

On 17 July 1945, this Battalion departed from Camp Twenty Grand at 1000 hours and moved via Quartermaster trucks to the port of Le Harve, France. The distance traveled was 35 miles. At 1300 hours this unit boarded the S. S. Santa Maria as advance detail and took over details of messing and quartering other troops.

Mel O'Barr ready to board ship for the US
Boarding for home

On American Soil

- 7/16/45 First U.S. atomic bomb test; Potsdam Conference begins. 

On 18 July 1945 at 1700 hours, the ship sailed for the port of Boston, in the United States. The sea was heavy and rough the first three days out of Le Harve and much seasickness resulted but the morale of the troops remained extremely high. On 27 July, 1945 at 1340 hours the S. S. Santa Maria docked at Boston, Massachuesetts. The Battalion disembarked at 1845 and entrained for movement by rail to Camp Miles Standish, Massachuesetts. The unit arrived at Camp Miles Standish at 2030 hours on 27 July 1945. This ended the marches by this Battalion as a unit. The men were sent home on 30 day furloughs.

- 7/26/45 Altee succeeds Churchill as British Prime Minister.

- 8/6/45 First atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.

- 8/9/45 Second atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan.

- 8/14/45 Japanese agree to unconditional surrender.

- 9/2/45 Japanese sign the surrender agreement; V-J Day.

The unit was assigned to the Fourth Army per letter dated 4 July 1945. The Adjutant General, Washington, D.C. Subject: Movement Orders assigning the 85th Engineer Heavy Ponton Battalion to Army Ground Forces, Fourth Army and stationing the Battalion at Camp Swift, Texas on or about 1 September 1945.

A warm welcome home
Marching on US soil the 85th is home

Awards and Disposition

Throughout the entire time the 85th Engineer Heavy Ponton Battalion was engaged in the campaigns overseas it was commanded by Lt. Col. Leonard A. Perdue, Corps of Engineers, 0-360777. The Executive Officer was Major Raughley L. Porter, Corps of Engineers, 0-389865.

Headquarters and Service Company was commanded by Captain Sylvester F. Brand, Corps of Engineers, 0-456323.

Company A was commanded by Captain Luther E. Hunt, Corps of Engineers, 0-1108219.

Company B was commanded by Captain Robert R. Parker, Corps of Engineers, 0-1108223.


The following awards were made to the following members of the 85th Engineers Heavy Ponton Battalion:


The Legion of Merit was awarded to Leonard A. Perdue, Lt. Colonel.


The French Croix de Guerre’ was awarded to Leonard A. Perdue, Lt. Colonel.


The Bronze Star was awarded to Jacob M. Isenberg ,1st Lieutenant, CE 0-1596063; Sergeant Charles Opaska, ASN 33134084; and Sergeant William S. Hahlbohm, ASN 32109772.

The 85th Engineer Heavy Ponton Battalion was redisignated the 85th Engineer Ponton Bridge Company at Camp Swift, Texas on 15 November 1945.

Captain Joseph G. Yeisley assumes Command and his Lieutenants are McLeister, Blevins, Caldwell, Wagner, Heybeck, Isenberg, and Erwin as Company Officers.

The Cadre of 85 Enlisted men was furnished by the 85th Engineer Heavy Ponton Battalion with Master Sgt. Clyde R. Sanders, and Sergeants James Edwards, Strayer Pittman, Richard Yama and Benjamin Ferio as the key NCO’s.

Captain Zacarias Rael assumed command of the Organization on the 30 of November 1945 and remained in command until the inactivation of the Company.

One half of the Organization attended a course of instruction for the use of the floating bridge. This course was conducted by the 1288th Engineer Combat Battalion. At the close of the course the 85th Engineer Ponton Bridge Company constructed a bridge spanning the Colorado River.

- 11/20/45 Nuremberg war crimes trials begin.

The 85th Engineer Ponton Bridge Company was inactivated on the 31 January 1946 at Camp Swift, Texas.

- 10/16/46 Hermann Goring commits suicide two hours before his scheduled execution.

1980's reunion

Research Resources

The original documents of the 85th Engineer Heavy Ponton Battalion pertaining to Unit History, Unit Journals, and General Orders are archived at the National Archives and Records Administration at College Park, Maryland.

The documents of the 85th are found in the following record groups:

ENBN-85-0.1 26967; HISTORY, 9/5/28 - 4/11/44.

ENBN-85-0.1 10053; HISTORY, 9/5/28 - 11/45.

ENBN-85-0.1 23146; HISTORY, 6/28/45 - 2/46.

ENBN-85-0.1; UNIT HISTORY, 9/5/28 - 6/43.

ENBN-85-0.2 23116; HISTORY, JUL-OCT-DEC 44 - 5/45.

ENBN-85-0.1; UNIT HIST IN ITALY 7/4/41 - 7/25/44.

6/3/41 -11/16/45.

ENBN-85-0.2; HIST RPT, 5/1/45 - 6/30/45.



ENBN-85-0.7; UNIT JNL, 9/1/41 - 8/13/42.

ENBN-85-0.7; UNIT JNL-HQS & SVC CO, 5/28/43 - 6/21/45.

ENBN-85-0.12 31151; MSGS,

ENBN-85-1.6; COMMENDATIONS, 12/4/41 - 5/19/45.

1942 - 1945.

ENBN-85-2.9; TRANSLATION & CAPTURED ENEMY DOC, 6/12/42 - 1/30/45.

Personnel records contained in Morning Reports, Payroll Records, and Unit Rosters are archived at the National Personnel Records Center at St. Louis, Missouri.

Latest comments

23.10 | 01:21

Glad you enjoy the site. Your grandfather was a worthy commander.

15.10 | 21:32

LTC Perdue was my grandfather. I love reading about where he served and what he did during WWII. Thank you for your work on gathering all of this information.

22.09 | 01:45

I do know there are remnants of where the 85th crossed the Rhine at Worms, Germany.

22.09 | 01:43

Sounds like you have an interesting trip planned. I hope to trace the 85th’s path some day. I do not know if there are any remnants of where the 85th crossed