The Canteen Connection

In early 2012 a research trip to the Belgium Ardennes was organized. Three whole days of exploring the forest near the Belgium-German border proved to be a success. Traces of war were to be found everywhere, remains of a gasmask, blank German dog tag, US overcoat buttons, raincoat and lots of .50 shells.
Nearly at the end of the last day the sun was disappearing fast and on my way back to our cabin I decided to go over a, what looked to me, a very shallow foxhole. My detector gave some vague signal and I decided to find out what was hidden below the soil.

Within 10 minutes I had uncovered lots of rusty cans and a civilian shoe, thinking this was all civilian garbage from the 50’s I was about to give up. One last move with my detector gave a clear sound and again I started to uncover more soil from the foxhole, slowly removing bits and pieces and a canteen became visible. First markings I found where 1918 and what looked like the maker mark.

can1 can2


After a good clean-up of the canteen a marking became visible on the cap, B4602, I knew that was the first letter of the last name and the last four digits of the Army Serial Number.

For over a year the search for the original owner of the canteen continued until one day Jean-Louis Seel from the MIA project found a match in their database, Pvt. DELBERT C BUMBALOUGH, ASN 34054602.
Delbert belonged to B Co. of the 393rd Infantry Regiment of the 99th Infantry Division.

A quick search on the net gave us some more information on Delbert, he was captured by the Germans on the 16th of December 1944 and sent to Stalag 13D Nuremburg (Oflag 73) Bavaria 49-11, a POW camp in Germany.

I found out that a niece of Delbert had made an entry in her uncles information sheet on a website related to POW’s. After a couple of emails back and forward I managed to get some more information on Delbert and his grandson’s. The canteen was sent to one of the grandson’s and the story of the canteen was picked up by the news. Unfortenately the information on the location of the canteen is incorrect but the attention that the story got is for me a nice tribute to one of the many heroes from the 99th Infantry Division.

Roy E. House