Frederick J. Dirmaier
Biography: Frederick “Fred” J. Dirmaier was born in Bavaria, specifically Altenscwhand, Germany, on February 28, 1926. He was the son of Peter and Anna Dirmaier and immigrated with the family to New York City when he was just a boy. The family moved to Connecticut and Fred grew up in New Britain., graduating from high school in 1944. He then worked in the factory of Stanley Tools, also in New Britain.
Service Time: Fred entered the service on August 23, 1944, at New Haven, Connecticut. He was trained as a replacement soldier at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and shipped to Europe on the H.M.S. Mauritania, arriving in Southhampton, England, on February 19. He boarded the U.S. Explorer the next day to cross the English channel and arrived at La Havre on the 22nd. He joined the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion, on February 28, while they were in Metz, France. This was just after the unit had fought in the defense of Bastogne in December. He was assigned to the 2nd TD of 1st platoon, B Company.
The unit then supported the drive to the Rhine River in March, 1945, and crossed on March 29th at Oppenheim. They drove across Germany through Bayreuth in April, arriving in Neukirchen, Austria, by May 6th. During their move across Germany, Fred was able to use his fluency in the German language on a number of occasions. He actually came within 5 kilometers of the village where he was born. He also vividly remembered rolling into the Mauthausen Concentration Camp with their TDs, just days after its liberation, as part of the 11th Armored Division. In his own words, he described what he saw as “incomprehensible”.
The photo below shows Fred with a violin that he found while in Grafennwohr, Germany. He was a fair player of the instrument, which certainly reminded him of home.
At some point, probably after the war had ended, men without enough points to ship home, were transferred to other units. Fred was transferred to the 776th Tank Destroyer battalion and spent the summer and fall of 1945 on occupational duty in Gallenkirchen, Mondsee, Salzburg and Vienna, Austria. Fred shipped back to the U.S. aboard the S.S. Gene Anderson and arrived in New York on January 5, 1946. He was discharged at the rank of Technician 5th Grade from Fort Devens, Massachusetts, on January 8th.
Now back in the U.S., Fred worked on continuing his education at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont, where he spent two years. He then studied one year in Basil, Switzerland, and a final year at Colorado College in Boulder, graduating in 1950. He also attended Harvard Graduate School, receiving a Masters degree in 1956. Fred worked as a Professor of German and later as a High School Counselor. On September 1, 1952, he married Colette, who was born in St. Albans, Vermont. The couple made their residence in Essex Junction, Vermont, and had six children, Gregory, Ann, John, Laure, Betsy and Jim.
In his spare time, Fred enjoyed skiing, fishing and hunting. He was also a member of the Knights of Columbus. He passed away on March 21, 2013, and was buried in South Burlington, Vermont. I want to thank Fred’s son, Jim, for providing the information and photos for this tribute.
In the photo below,you can see Fred with his grandfather who he was able to visit after the war was over. The building behind them was where Fred was born in Altenschwand, Germany.