89th DIVISION ARTILLERY AND DIVISION ARTILLERY HEADQUARTERS BATTERY AT CHATEAU LIMESEY
by John Sherman
About a month after VE Day with the Division moving back to France to manage the "cigarette" camps in the Seine inferieure , one element of the division seemed superfluous
to that function. The major components, operating as it were as their former combat teams (the infantry regiments and their respective artillery battalions) were each assigned responsibility for operating one of the largest camps, Lucky Strike, Twenty Grand or Old Gold. Left with no similar task and housed in an impressive structure and nearby buildings a relatively short distance northwest of Rouen, Division Artillery and its Headquarters Battery assumed a rather unusual role. While many of the personnel were "farmed out" to other units on an "as needed" basis, the building itself called Chateau Limesy became an interim stop for numerous senior Army officers awaiting shipment through the port of Le Harve.
This situation created some interesting and at times amusing events. (Perhaps some of my former comrades, among them Bob Andersen, Gil Phillippe, Jerry Frank, Vic Griffith Bob Chamow, Benny Gim can elaborate on, add to or correct some of my recollections.)
One aspect of this arrangement still remains vivid in my memory. Not surprisingly, as two- and three-star generals the temporary guests at the chateau had managed during the dash across Germany to accumulate a strange and diverse array of items, especially of vehicles. Because the chateau was the last stop before they boarded ships for the States or other destinations, they were forced to divest themselves of such prized possessions. Thus the vicinity of Limesy often resembled a used vehicle lot before such items were claimed with appropriate or questionable justification by others remaining behind. One of the strangest and short-lived occupants of the lot was a standard 6 x 6 truck loaded with sizeable containers filled with Kimmel (sp?), a very potent liqueur distilled from potatoes in Eastern Europe. Needless to say, the presence and content of that particular vehicle rapidly became known among the local personnel.
That supply and its potency figured in another memorable incident at the chateau. Brig. Gen. John T.B. Bissell, the Div. Arty. Commander, thought it would be a fine gesture, if on the Fourth of July he hosted a dinner to which would be invited prominent French families living in the vicinity. In preparation for the affair, the occupying troops were placed on short rations for a while, an arrangement that, of course, did not meet with universal favor. Nonetheless, it was a magnificent success, at least if measured by the number of guests who showed up. Aware of the possibility of a relatively lavish meal (at least in comparison with their wartime privations), those invited appeared with very sizeable "families" to help the Americans celebrate the Fourth with food if not with fireworks.
4th of July Part at Chateau Limsey
Not surprisingly, the gathering included numerous children for whom a punch had been fashioned by the Div. Arty. mess personnel using the lemon-flavored powder found in C-rations. The children eagerly imbibed the punch and as time passed, began to exhibit rather strange behavior, much to the consternation of the host personnel. This was finally traced to the probability that their punch had been spiked with some of the Kimmel. The instigator was believed to be a member of the staff whose less than cordial attitude about the French was well known. Fortunately, the incident passed without an outbreak of French indignation or worse and the party ended with the general and his guests parting with lavish praise for a delightful celebration of the holiday.