Monday, February 6, 2017

Military Monday - Photo of Cundiff, White, Nessly, Doers and Stormwid from the 417th Military Police Escort Guard Co.

Editor's Note: this is another in a series of posts about re-creating my father's WWII military history.

Another photo which I titled "The 6 Buddies" has surfaced from the memorabilia my father, Robert M. Hibsch,  kept from his service during World War II (WWII) which I now have.  He served as a military policeman with the 417th Military Police Escort Guard (MPEG) Company.  The 417th MPEG Company was located at camps in Hereford, Texas; England: Bourton-on-the-Hill, Truro, and Galmpton, and Cherbourg, France.  Stay tuned for future posts about the 417th MPEG Company at Camp Hereford and the European Theatre.

"The 6 Buddies" (front)
Source: Personal Collection of Denise Hibsch Richmond
Like a previous photo I wrote about, my father wrote the names of his buddies on the back. (Hooray!)  He recorded himself as "Me".  (Doesn't everyone have "Me" or "Myself" written on the back of a photo?)  I transcribed what he wrote verbatim followed by my version below. 

Names with an asterisk were also listed on one or both rosters of the 417th MPEG Company: the roster with photo and printed names and the roster dated 11 January 1944 with typewritten names.   

"The  6 Buddies" (back)
Source: Personal Collection of Denise Hibsch Richmond
Pfc. Bill Cundiff
Okland  Calif

Pvt. Elbert White

Bill  Nessly

Bill Doers
Napa Calif - Hydesville

Leo Stormwid
Broklynd NJ


My Version of the Names and Locations
Pfc. Bill Cundiff*
Oakland, California

Pvt. Elbert White*

William Nessly*

William Doers*
Napa Hydesville, California

Leo Stormwid (best guess at surname)
Brooklyn, New York

Robert M. Hibsch (Me)*

Clues from the Photo of "6 Buddies"
My father is on the far right (click photos to enlarge) if that's any indication of matching the order of the names to the picture.  He typically wore rimless glasses but I don't see them in this photo.  Do you?

All six soldiers are wearing fatigue uniforms and standing near a row of buildings.  Barracks perhaps? The men are wearing long-sleeve shirts but the outerwear worn by my father and the soldier next to him look more like jackets.  Cool weather perhaps?  A wooden plank bridge over a shallow gully appears behind the men.

Where were the "6 Buddies?
I think the soldiers were at Camp Hereford, Texas where Italian prisoners of war (POWs) were interned during WWII.  The photo below was also in my father's WWII memorabilia.  On the back he identified it as the mess hall.  Note the photo has the same border design as the "6 Buddies" photo above.  Coincidence or not?

417th MPEG Company Mess Hall (front)
Source: Personal Collection of Denise Hibsch Richmond

417th MPEG Company Mess Hall (back)
Source: Personal Collection of Denise Hibsch Richmond
Another reason I think the soldiers were at Camp Hereford, Texas is the photo shown below.  It was in the file (see footnote) about Camp Hereford I obtained at the National Archives and Records Administration at College Park, Maryland in May 2016.

Mess Hall at Camp Hereford, Texas
Source:  NARA at College Park, Maryland (see footnote)
Does it look like the same mess hall in both photos?  The men were standing in different positions at the back of the room so there's definitely two photos.  But are they the same building?  Strong similarities are seen in the tables, the upside down dishes, the framework of the building, and the ceiling lights.  Photo clarity is higher in the picture with the fancy border.  Four posters on the back wall, four men, and condiments on the table are clearly visible.  The room even looks wider but that could be the camera angle.  My guess is that the photo with the fancy border is the mess hall for the 417th MPEG Company.  The photo from NARA records is the mess hall for the POWs.  The condiments made the difference and of course, the soldiers wouldn't dine with the POWs.  The mess halls probably look similar because of a standard building plan.

Do you agree with my conclusions that the photos were taken at Camp Hereford and there were two similar mess halls?

Let's Compare Notes!
I’m hoping the families of the soldiers named in these photos will contact me and share what they know about the 417th MPEG Co. and Camp Hereford, Texas.  Please leave a comment below or send me an email:  I look forward to hearing from you!

Letter from Denison Dist. to SWD Engr., dated 27 July 1943 regarding location of Guard House, Hereford Internment Camp, Hereford, Texas.  Subject: transmittal of prints. NARA at College Park, Record Group 389, Entry 457, Box 1422, Prisoner of War Operations, Operations Branch, Subject Correspondence File 1942-46


  1. I think you're right - both photos look like the same mess hall to me.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment Michael. It sure helps to have another opinion. -D


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