About Our Fathers

Roland J. Regan Sr. 1934

Roland J. Regan Sr.

Roland James Regan was born in Lynn, Massachusetts on December 8, 1922. He was the son of two Irish immigrants, Margaret (Lombard) and Vincent (a.k.a.: Patrick) J. Regan from Mallow and Skibbereen respectively in County Cork, Ireland. He was the second of four children (Vincent a.k.a.: Pat, Roland, Peg, and Robert). Vincent was a rail conductor and bus driver for the Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway Company while Margaret worked at home in raising her four children.

"Rollie," as he was known among his family and friends, was raised during the "Roaring Twenties" and the Great Depression.

Even though the Regan’s were a working-class family, they were able to avoid the “severe economic and psychological sting” of the Great Depression as Vincent was able to maintain hish position with the railway company during this turbulent economic period. For Roland both his strong Irish roots and these trying economic times would forever shape his view of the world.

In the summer of 1938 Roland’s father (Vincent) became ill with tuberculosis and was hospitalized most of that time until his death on January 9, 1940. Roland received written permission from his mother to both leave school (Lynn English HS [LEHS] finishing the 10th grade) and commence training at the Fore River Naval Shipyard in Quincy, MA to become a welder. As America’s involvement in World War II loomed on the horizon, Roland worked as a welder in the building of war ships (U.S.S. Massachusetts, and several light cruisers) between 1938-1942. Leaving home around 4:00-4:15 am Monday-Saturday morning to take the rail transit from near his home in Wyoma Square Lynn to downtown Central Square Lynn to take a bus to Haymarket Square in Boston and then transfer to another bus to the Fore River Naval shipyard. Roland would turnover three-of-four pay checks to his mother monthly, a practice that he would continue for the next seven years.

In November of 1942 Roland volunteered for the United States Army as a Combat Engineer, whereby he would enter the service in January 1943. He would soon be joined by his older brother (Pat) in that noble effort when he joined the Navy in late 1942. His sister (Peg) upon graduation from LEHS went to work at Sylvania, while his young brother (Bob) upon graduation from LEHS joined the Navy in June 1945.

Regans 1930s and Regan Family Crest
Pack Up and Movie book and  Roland J. Regan Sr. 1934

Upon completion of basic training at Camp Pickett in Virginia, Roland was assigned to the 1st Army, 348th Engineer Combat Battalion, Company A in March 1943. During this period his battalion trained and prepared for the inevitable invasion of continental Europe by constructing pontoon bridges, erecting Bailey bridges, mine detection and removal, and use of heavy equipment for road repairs. Roland received specialized training in welding and metallurgy while stationed at Camp Pickett. In mid-September of 1943, the 348th would move north to Camp Myles Standish in Taunton, Massachusetts. Due to lack of equipment at this Camp, the 348th devoted their training to body conditioning through the means of drill, calisthenics, obstacle courses, and long hikes the first of which was 23-miles. On October 30, 1943 the 348th boarded trains from Camp Myles Standish and headed north to Halifax, Canada. On November 2nd the battalion set sail on the refitted luxury liner the HMS Mauritania to England. On November 8th around 1030 hours the battalion arrived in Liverpool, England among the first American troops to arrive in this part of Great Britain. Under the cover of darkness after marching through the streets of Liverpool to the train station the 348th boarded trains for a seven-hour excursion to the seaport town of Swansea, Wales. This would be home for the next seven months as the 348th continued preparing for the invasion of continental Europe.

Roland further fine-tuned his interest in taking and developing photographs, an interest that allowed him to capture some very unique and personal perspectives on World War II. Many of his collection of some three hundred photos spanning March of 1943 through October of 1945 are on display in this book including ones of Rocky Marciano, his many Army friends/peers, destruction of French and German cities, abandoned German military hardware and planes, the crossing of German rivers Rhein, Ruhr, Roer, Saar, Sieg, Elbe, etc., and the Nazi death camps. Immediately after the war Roland would contribute many of these photographs used in the written and pictorial history of the 348th “Pack Up and Move” by Keith Bryan published in 1946 by the U. S. Army, for which he was later duly recognized in 1947 at the inaugural 150th and 348th Combat Engineers convention in Boston, MA.

With the victory over Japan in early September 1945, Roland was honorably discharged from the Army, returning to Lynn on October 29th, 1945. During his army stint he had sent home three of every four checks to help his mother back in Lynn. When he returned to his pre- war job as a welder at the Quincy naval shipyard he continued to support his mother until her death in the autumn of 1950. Roland attended the first of the 150th and 348th Engineer Combat Battalion reunion conventions (who combined with the 348th during most of the war) in Boston on May 6, 1947. In July of 1947 he was appointed as a firefighter on the Lynn Fire department where be would spend the next thirty-four years of his life. In June of 1948 Roland took his mother back to Ireland to visit their numerous relatives in County Cork.

During this period he met Mary T. Hunt-Regan (maiden name: Mary Teresa Hunt) from Roscommon, Ireland. On April 14, 1951, they were married and had three children: Roland, Jr., Paulette, and Sheila.

He returned to Ireland with his young family in June 1965 and visited Ireland with his family numerous times during the next twenty years.

Roland would see his son graduate from Boston College, serve as an U.S. Air Force Officer and graduate from law school, and see both his daughters graduate from Northeastern University as healthcare professionals. He would live to see his children all marry producing four grandchildren, Todd, Reaghan, Scott, and Ashley.

Roland retired from the Lynn Fire department as a Lieutenant in July 1981. He attended his second, and last, 150th and 348th Combat Engineers reunion in central Connecticut in September 1988.

Roland passed away after a lengthy illness on November 15, 1989.

His son authored a short story entitled “Coming of Age" which compiles the personal history of Roland, Sr. and how it became the basis for the book “From Boston to Berlin A Journey in Images and Words”.

Mary T. and Her Three Children

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