Monday, January 5, 2015

52 Ancestors #1: They Called It Ireland!

Ancestor Name: Peter Charles Dagutis (1918-1991)

My husband and I have been remodeling our house for the last two or three years and I've used the upheaval as an excuse to let my genealogical files get extremely unorganized. My fresh start was cleaning up my office and putting my books into some sort of order and creating a filing system for all the paper my genealogy hobby obsession has created.

While sorting the piles of paper by family line, I ran across all my father-in-law's World War II files. He served in Company H, 2nd Infantry Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 5th Infantry Division. For most of the division's time in Europe, they were assigned to Gen. George S. Patton's Third Army.

The division spent time in Iceland where they did stevadore work and helped the Sea Bees build Meeks Field. In 1943 the Division left Iceland for England. In October of that year they moved to Northern Ireland to continue their training and prepare for fighting in Europe.

It was among my father-in-law's papers that I found a pamphlet entitled, "And they called it Ireland!"

Personal collection

To the Irish -- Begorrah!
This book is respectfully dedicated because they have done so much to make us feel at Home -- away from Home.

And now we'll tell you about the place..

Once upon a time  -- Irish balladry explains that some careless angels let fall "a little bit of Heaven" which settled on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, and they called it Ireland. Many centuries have passed since that celestial accident and, after a belligerent historical background, Ireland in 1921 became divided into the twenty-six independent counties of the Irish Free State or Eire, and the six remaining counties of Northern Ireland, with which we are concerned, and which are still under British sovereignty. So when World War II began, Northern Ireland swore her allegiance to Britain and went all out for victory!

Then came the Yanks with everything, including the kitchen stove. We dispersed through the countryside and settled as much as the Army overseas ever settles down.

The customs were a little strange. We learned to drink tea in self-defense (the British have the oddest conception of coffee!) It was hard to get used to driving on the left side of the road -- and what roads!

But the natives were friendly. They were good listeners. And sure the Blarney in her talk took you back to old New York.

Personal collection

Rationing and shortages made things a little hard at first, but we soon got acquainted until even market day didn't amaze us. The stalls appear and disappear at the last Wednesday in each month and the gypsies are in town every market day.

We took a dim view of the blackout when man's best friend was his flashlight.

We went to villages often. The beer was both mild and bitter but we grew to like it. Shopping was pretty difficult for a while. You have to memorize opening and closing times if you want to get in anywhere.

Personal collection

We took a weekend pass and fought the Battle of Belfast where we ran into the Navy, the Air Corps, WACs, etc. It was interesting to contact other branches of the forces, but where ever we went there was the Red Cross, and the indefatigable hostess. However, we were here for a purpose so training was more rigid than usual. And now we're prepared for anything to hasten peace!

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge, optional theme Fresh Start.

Peter Charles Dagutis was born on 10 Mar 1918 at West Hazleton, Luzerne, Pennsylvania, to Adam Peter and Cecilia (Klimasansluski) Dagutis. He was drafted into the U.S. Army on 7 April 1941 and served with Company H, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 5th Infantry Division. The division was attached to Patton's Third Army in early August 1944 after arriving in France on 9 July 1944 and participating in Operation Cobra, the breakout of the bocage terrain as part of Omar Bradley's First Army. On V-E day the division was in Czechoslovakia. Peter was honorably discharged on 18 June 1945. Later that summer he married Elizabeth Theresa Fishtahler. They had three children; their only son is my husband.

Charles Peter Dagutis: Historic WWII Assault Rhine River Crossing
Guest Blog: "Stay Alive in `45!"


  1. What a find - you found! Those pictures are way cool and the story you wove was very entertaining. Love your fresh start story. I'm still contemplating on joining again this year as it took so much time last year, but I look forward to reading your weekly stories.

    1. Jeanne, have you thought about not writing their entire life story in one post, but just about a part of their life? I found that very freeing when I started doing it.

  2. I just read the "Meet Schalene" post and really enjoyed it & had to pop over to your blog. I really like the cartoons and how fortunate you are that your father-in-law had these in his possession!

    I'm doing the 52 Ancestor challenge, too, and usually just do a part of their life. I'm working on one right now! Just taking a break to read some blogs. :)

    1. Dana, thanks for visiting. I will look for your posts on the weekly recap.