Little is known about most Signal Corps Photographic units that were attached to US Armored and Infantry Divisions. These Signal Photographic Companies were divided into smaller detachments. Detachment No. 6 of the 166th Signal Photographic Company was a group of seven photographers who followed the 5th Division during its combat on the European front, and was is responsible for the many excellent photographs and action pictures appearing on the internet and in several books.
According to the official history of the 5th Infantry Division, the detachment commanded by Lt. Mark A. Freeman, has decorations consisting of 1 Silver Star, 1 Croix de Guerre, 4 purple hearts and 5 bronze star medals.
Members of the detachment are , left to right, Sgt John T. Raia, Cpl, Gerald V. Horton, Pvt. Robert J. Schneider; rear row, Sgt. Robert R. Brill, Pfc Albert J. Smith, Pvt Henry (Harry) E. Stevenson, Lt. Mark A. Freeman.
Photographs by Lt. Mark A. Freeman O-312369
Lt. Mark A. Freeman was also responsible for the film shot by Detachment No. 6. Below you can find a film produced by Lt. Freeman about the liberation of Angers, France. The cameraman is Willie Breedlove.
Photographs by Pfc Gerald V. Horton, 35530760
Photographs of Albert J. Schneider
Pfc Albert J. Smith & Pvt Harry E. Stevenson
Without the proper archive material it is more difficult to explain the role of Smith and Stevenson. The great grandson of Harry Stevenson contacted me several years ago after spotting Albert Smith on one of the 5th ID photographs. He explained to me that he was both related to Smith and Stevenson. At one point Albert met Stevenson’s sister and the two fell in love. Stevenson and Smith were on good terms, so it all worked out. The great grandson further explained that ‘Harry and Albert were “drivers” in the detachment. They would obviously drive the jeep(s) that hauled the photographers and their equipment. The drivers were also issued Thompson submachine guns and were to provide protection for the photographers if need be. I’m told that the drivers were crucial to the operation of the detachment as a whole.’
More interesting information about the Signal Photographic Companies can be found on Facebook. Several great pages exist: