196th Signal Photo Company
Tom Sullivan wrote, "Julie Jones and I recently received
the command history of the 196th Signal Photo Company from the National
Archives. Summary report was written in November 45 when the unit redeployed to
Camp Gruber, Oklahoma.
"We continue to gather information on her late stepfather,
I'm sending the piece (below.) I retyped the report which appeared to have
been originally typed on onion-skin paper."
(firstname.lastname@example.org) and Julie Jones, Pacifica
ITALY – U.S. 5th Army photographers, T/5 Sam Spirito, and T/4
Martin Brooks of the 196th Signal Photo Co. tour Venice, Italy in a gondola. 1
196TH SIGNAL PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPANY
CAMP GRUBER, OKLAHOMA
1 November 1945
Histories of Subordinate Units
The Adjutant General
- Chronological History
- Original Unit
Signal Photographic Company
Organization: 24 February 1945
Organization: Trespiano, Italy
Organization: Sec. III, GO #19, Hq Fifth Army, cs, under T/O & E 11-37.
Sources from which
personnel was obtained, i.e., by transfer from other units, voluntary
enlistment, or draft: 3131st Signal Service Company.
- Changes in Organization: None.
- Strength, commissioned and enlisted.
O WO EM
(1) At beginning
of period: (24 Feb) 10 1 97
(2) Net increase
31 March 1945 1
30 April 1945 2
31 May 1945 2
30 June 1945 1
31 July 1945 1
31 August 1945 0
30 September 1945 0
(3) Net decrease
31 March 1945 0
30 April 1945 0
31 May 1945 0
30 June 1945 0
31 July 1945 0
31 August 1945 0
30 September 1945 8
(4) At the end of
period: (2 Nov. 45) 5 1 55
- Stations (permanent or temporary) of unit or parts thereof:
24 February 1945
arrived Trespiano, Italy
27 April 1945
left Trespiano, Italy
28 April 1945
arrived Verona, Italy
31 May 1945 left
1 June 1945
arrived Montecatini, Italy
4 July 1945 left
5 July 1945
arrived PBS Staging Area, Pisa, Italy
11 July 1945 left
PBS Staging Area, Pisa, Italy
12 July 1945
aboard USAT Henry Gibbons
24 July 1945
debarked USAT Henry Gibbons
25 July 1945
arrived Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia
27 July 1945 left
Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia
28 July 1945
arrived Camp Gruber, Oklahoma
2 November 1945
inactivated Camp Gruber, Oklahoma
- Marches: None.
Campaign 24 February 1945 to 23 April 1945
Campaign 24 April 1945 to 8 May 1945
- Battles: None
- Commanding Officer in Important Engagements
Captain Ned R.
- Losses in action; officers and men: None.
- Former and present members who have distinguished themselves in action:
and Po Valley Campaigns. Awarded Bronze Stars for meritorious service: SSGT John
J. Mulcahy, 2d Lt. Louis J. Murcho, Jr., 2d Lt. Robert H. Schmidt, 2d Lt. Harry
L. Kreider. Bronze Star Cluster awarded to 1st Lt. Frank L. Morang.
Legion of Merit for meritorious service awarded to 1st Sgt. Charles
k. Photographs of
personnel, important scenes of events: none.
/s/ FRANKLIN CAVE
1ST Lt., C.M.P.
196TH SIGNAL PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPANY
CAMP GRUBER, OKLAHOMA
26 October 1945
Histories of Subordinate Units
TO: The Adjutant General
- The 196th
Signal Photographic Company under direction of Army Pictorial Service became
activated on 24 February 1945 at Trespiano, Italy. Was composed of 17
Officers, 1 Warrant Officer, and 130 Enlisted Men, and was under the command
at that time of Captain Ned. R. Morehouse.
photographic company is unique in its operation as their coverage on a wide
front makes it both possible and necessary for all of its combat photo teams
to act, for the most part, as their own. That is to say, while there are
certain missions to cover, the photographers are at liberty to go as far as
they like, of course, always keeping in mind that a “dead” photographer is
worth very little to his organization. Only when a man can go up, get the
pictures and return, is his value to the unit put to best advantage.
- The 196th
was attached to the Fifth Army during the closing months of the Italian
campaign; from activation date on 24 February 1945 to 1 June 1945 when it
returned to Montecatini for redeployment to the United States.
mission of this command was to gather both still and motion pictures. The
pictures to be secured were of many varieties. While their primary objective
was to secure pictures of combat, the various missions entailed all types of
record, historical, publicity, strategic and others of a morale-building
nature. The company had a laboratory, which moved constantly with the
organization itself and a well set-up headquarters personnel which had to
keep the forward elements of the command teams always supplied with
materials and necessities to aid them in completing their hazardous
missions. For instance, in keeping the vehicles always read for their
difficult journeys through rough terrain. Seeing the food, PX supplies,
changes of clothing and photographic supplies were ever on hand. The
Headquarters camera repair department had to have the cameras always in top
condition. This was particularly difficult due to the many miles that
separated the photo combat teams and the headquarters of these teams.
Company was set up in such a way that there was one photo liaison officer
with each Corps of the Army. At this time under Fifth Army, the 196th,
with its Army Pictorial Service officer at Fifth Army HQ operated under IV
Corps and II Corps. From these corps the liaison officers delegated teams,
averaging six for each Corps, composed of one still man, one motion picture
man and one driver, and assigned to the various Divisions on the line at the
time. From then on each team worked separately, most of the time living at
Battalion or Division Headquarters or whatever suitable housing was possible
to protect their valuable equipment. Seeing that the equipment was
maintained in perfect running order was a prerequisite to all other
requirements. Working closely with Division CP’s these teams found out where
the best material was to be found and where to go to secure it. The team
would then proceed down through Regiment, Battalion, Company and even
platoon if there was sufficient safety to make the pictures and yet return
were many problems to consider. One of them was the difficult terrain over
which the teams traveled and the absolute necessity of getting their
pictures back to Corps. After all, old pictures, of a particular news and
noteworthy occasion are of no value if too late to tie in with the news of
that particular sector engaged at the time. Getting the pictures to Corps,
then flown back to rear laboratories and processed and flown to the States
after censorship, was carried on with the least possible delay. Another
thing was the constant traveling forward and backward under constant enemy
fire. However, due to the set-up of the organization where it worked closely
in touch with all echelons of the Division it was assigned to, the teams
performed their work with speed and efficiency.
- One of
the most hazardous and yet most important duties was that of oblique terrain
photography for the S-3’s of the Divisions. This work was little known to
the general public and yet was a key function in the final stages of the
Italian Campaign. From these terrain photos Divisions worked out their
overlays, artillery used them for plotting and the enlarged prints were
valuable all the way down to the platoon in determining patrol action or
counter measures against enemy positions. The work done by the 196th
in terrain photo work was highly praised by Major General V.E. Prichard, the
Commanding Officer of the 1st Armored Division and by Fifth Army
Lieutenant General Lucian K. Truscott himself, besides the individual
commendations by many of the Division officers. This work was carried on
extensively for the 91st, 85th, 88th, 34th
and 1st Armored Divisions during their actions in the North
Appennine Mountains south of Bologna.
- It is
important to note here that the cameramen as brought into the company were
pleased where their particular qualifications could do the most good. A good
news man, who acted as such in civilian life, was sent to forward areas,
where after being broken in by the men already a long time in the combat
zone, would relieve another man in need of rest or a change of sector. Some
cameramen remained in rear areas for PRO work and the other photo
necessities and at the same time became more aware of the combat work going
on in case they were required to join a combat team. The motion picture men
saw rushes periodically of their work and the still men received back any
culled negatives and both received periodic critiques on their work to keep
abreast of improvements and recommendations. Thousands of feet of movie film
shot was used by the major newsreel companies, the Signal Corps films such
as Screen Magazine and Combat Bulletins and other specially prepared films
like “San Pietro”, “Army Nurse,” “Cub Pilot”, and many other vital films
both an aid to training and also of general public interest. The pictures
made by the still men were used extensively by all major photographic
syndicates and newspapers, Yank Magazine, ETO newspapers and hundreds of
- It was
in the last stages of the Italian campaign, which extended from driving the
Germans out of the Appennines,across the Po Valley to their final surrender
in the foothills of the Alps. It was a proper meeting when members of the
196th of the Fifth Army and the 163rd of the Seventh
Army joined hands across Brenner Pass in the Alps. Some of the outstanding
photography of the war was accomplished in the engagements driving the enemy
out of the mountains south of Bologna and their utter retreat across the Po
Valley and our own speedy chase, including the crossing of the Po River.
During these days of a speedily moving front, the photo teams had great
difficulty in covering the daily action, returning with it to Corps
Headquarters and catching up with the forward elements the same night or the
following morning. However, this was done and the first pictures of Bologna
is an outstanding example, as the photographs made by members of the 196th
were rushed to Fifth Army rear a full 10 hours before any other organization
or other cameramen were able to get back with pictures of thie fall of this
city. It was this way during the final days when the public in America were
daily getting a graphic photographic account of the retreat of the German
forces in Italy.
- But the
job did not end there. As the occupation work grew and war criminals were
being sought out, the camera teams were still working with the Divisions.
Going on CIC raids, covering occupation work and recording for history all
the intricate details even the written word could not secure.
- In the
meantime the Company Headquarters had moved from Trespiano, Italy, to Verona
in order to be able to serve their combat teams over an entire front from
Trieste to Genoa along the entire Austrian and French border. However, on 1
June 1945 the 196th was recalled from active duty with the Fifth
Army, to be one of the first units for indirect redeployment to the Pacific.
This meant, with a tough fight still going on in the Pacific, the 196th
would be rushed to the States for a 30-day rest and then on to the Pacific
- On 1
June 1945 the organization set up quarters at Montecatini, Italy and began
staging for their redeployment. On 5 July 1945 the 196th arrived
at the PBS staging area, Pisa, Italy, and bivouacked while awaiting passage
to America. They went aboard the USAT Henry Gibbons at Livorno, Italy for
embarkation on 12 July 1945. Left port of Livorno 14 July 1945 and arrived
at Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia, 25 July 1945 where the ment went to their
respective reception centers for their 30 days recuperation and rest before
assembling again at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma.
- On 27
July 1945 the 196th Headquarters was set up at Camp Gruber,
Oklahoma, and they began POM training for overseas deployment on 10
September 1945. First Lieutenant Franklin Cave assumed command 25 September
1945 and the 196th Signal Photographic Company became inactivated
2 November 1945.
/s/ FRANKLIN CAVE
1ST Lt., C.M.P.
(Posted November 21, 2005)
196th Signal Photo Company*
Florence, Italy - 1945
Last Name First Name
Ager Edward R.
Baker Charles C.
Bergstrom Canton A.
Berry Ernest G.
Blosser Robert D.
Brinser Jack W.
Bronson Roland L.
Brooks Martin G.
Brooks Walter E.
Brown Albert L.
Bull Marshall H.
Campshure Theodore J.
Carlson Ralph E.
Cisler Henry J.
Coffman Charles Q.
Collins Lloyd F.
Cook Louis R.
Daley Robert E.
De Stefano WiliiamJ.
Edwards Robert G.
Emrich Walter R. Jr.
Falcone Phillip F.
851 Harper Ave. Los Angeles
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General Delivery Wauna
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Fryou Charles R.
Getty George H.
Graning Paul D.
Grubb Howard W.
Harris Julian L.
Harris William H. Jr.
Hauser Albert A.
Hibler Calvin E.
Hillyard Arthur V.
Jones Gordon S.
Kaemmerer W ilbert F.
Kendrick Robert M.
Klapach W illiamS.
Kosseff Jerome W.
Kreider Harry C.
Kurland David D.
Lally Vincent R.
Lambert Joseph R.
Lees David B.
Leviton Jay B.
Lilt Norman K.
Loeb Frederick R.
Long Paul F.
Loughran Thomas R.
Maloney Timothy D.
Mason John T.
Mattrick Thomas P.
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148 Ingleside Worcester
Mayer Francis L.
McBride Delbert E. Jr.
McQuarrie Donald G.
McWhirter William D.
Melkonian Melkon T.
Metzger Maynard E.
Morang Frank L.
Morehouse Ned R.
Morgan Harry B. (*3131st Signal Photo Co.)
Mulcahy John J.
Mulhair Francis P.
Murchio Louis J. Jr.
Nelsen Nels P.
O'Connell Edmund Burke
Owen James M.
Peacock John R.
Peterson Earl T.
Phillips Daniel P.
Pierson Linwood J.
Pitts Robert L.
Poling Kenneth C.
Pollock Adolph J.
Rusbar Chester G.
Saphier Jacques J.
Schilling Carl F.
Schmidt Robert H.
Schultz Herbert A.
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Shepard William R
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(Updated September 9, 2012, and September