This project came about because I wanted to know more about what my grandfather, Robert S. Butcher, (for simplicity, hereafter listed as Butcher) did during World War II. In the end it became a history of the 54th Replacement Battalion and Bob’s part in the unit. It concludes with Bob’s short involvement with the 997th Field Artillery Battalion. This report is certainly not complete more will be added as information is discovered.
Like many veterans, he never really talked in detail about his experiences. Different family members have heard a few different stories that I have tried to make sense of, and include in this report. Given that he was an enlisted man in the motor pool area, he would probably have been sent on all kinds of errands and details that did not make it into official records. Some things that he told us about will probably never be documented with certainty, and the fog of time and memory have left some grey areas unexplained in this report.
I have worked as much as possible from original documents obtained from Bob’s estate, the National Archives, The Center for Military History, and online sources and individuals. Some information has come from surviving veterans, descendants of deceased unit members and from our own family recollections. Unless otherwise noted, all specific information was taken from original sources received from the National Archives. Thanks also to the staff at the National Archives Records office for their help in finding the unit history.
Two very important contributors to this project have been Frank J. Baker and William Oliver McLain. Mr. Baker was the Chaplain’s Assistant for the 54th Repl BN from early 1944 through the end of the war. Mr. Mclain was a platoon leader for one of the replacement companies from the formation of the BN, up through April 1944, when he was transferred to the 71st Replacement Battalion. Both veterans have added invaluable details that were not included in the official records.
Initially I thought that Butcher was part of the 54th throughout the war. But recent information has shown that he changed units at least 5 times. He is listed with the 54th up through 4 September 44. At that point he is transferred to a detachment of 180 truck drivers as part of the 12 Replacement Depot. I do not know if he transferred back to the 54th or moved on to the Military Police battalions that he is found in after July 1945. There is still a period of several months in late 44 and early 45 that we do not know for certain where he was. I have photographs putting him in Marseille France in April of 1945, where the 54th was stationed. I do not know for sure that he stayed with the 54th at that time. We know that after the 388th and 794th MP units he was assigned to the 997th FA, which had become a gathering unit for men waiting to be shipped home.
Robert Stamm Butcher
July 1, 1923 – January 4, 2001
If you have any additional information, changes or comments, I would be glad to hear from you.