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Photo Gallery - Tec4
Co. B 38th Engineers
Of all their American soldier friends, this is the last one in the Preston family's photos to be identified. With no clearly identifiable insignia it's been difficult to tell which unit this U.S. soldier was part of, but the discovery that another soldier photographed with him in Sarsden was in the 38th Engineers made it likely he was too. The unit history of the 38th Engineer Regiment, (renamed in England and the E.T.O. as the 38th Engineer General Service Regiment) puts their Company B in Sarsden, Oxfordshire from 17th January to 23rd February, 1944, immediately before the men of the 6th Armored Division arrived there. Billets were available at Sarsden House, the hut field and in a barn loft. Some may have stayed on in the Preston's barn loft or may have gone with the rest of this company to live at nearby Over Norton Park tented camp which they were working on. It's also turned out, as we surmised, that this man was a cook in Company B. In a letter home, his friend Elbert, who is photographed with him (see Elbert Mann's photo page), describes meeting a fellow cook hailing from near his home town in Alabama. The letter was written from Sarsden soon after Elbert had joined Company B from Company F and may well refer to this Tec4 soldier. Given Elbert's small stature we can now deduce that his Tec4 friend was between 70 and 72 inches in height, not as tall as we'd first assumed. There appear to have been only four Tec4s in Company B at this time and from what we now knew it seemed the most likely candidate would be Hoyt Oliver from Alabama. A member of his wider family has confirmed that this photo is indeed of Hoyt. Hoyt survived the war and, mistakenly, I thought he lived at Haleyville, Alabama. He actually lived near Addison, AL but, sadly, he died in 1993. If you can tell us any more about Hoyt Oliver, or put us in touch with his immediate family, please let us know. (There's a "contact us" link at the top of this page.)
The English photos were taken when the garden border plants showed little growth, possibly late winter or early in spring. Other photos show this man in a hotter climate. On a building behind him is what we had thought to be a logo resembling a smoking volcano, perhaps a clue to its location. The 38th Engineers built airstrips and airbase facilities on Ascension Island and in Africa where these other photos may have been taken. But we now think the 'logo' may just be the reflections on the uneven surface of a material behind the circular window, as appears to be the case in this
American Army Air Force photo. This is of a prefabricated barracks building dated 1943 and taken at Rufisque airfield near Dakar in Senegal. This was one of the places the 38th Engineers went after their time on Ascension Island, before going to England. The dates fit and the building types match exactly. Our photo shows the access point between the ends of two such buildings. Similar buildings existed on Ascension and no doubt in other places, but pairs of buildings adjoined end to end like this could definitely be found at Rufisque. Is this where our hot climate photo was taken? If you can tell us or if you recognise this man, please let us know.
||Taller of pair
of US soldiers
Tec4 Hoyt Oliver
|Same Tec4 soldier
with falsely supposed 'volcano' logo,
possibly Ascension Island
1943 or earlier
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