Maurice Williams and WWII service

82nd Airborne 320th Glider Field Artillery Battalion, Battery A

PFC Maurice Ward Williams so service in World War II from 21 Apr 1942 through separation 3 Sep 45.

He was a communication person in the 82nd Airborne. 320th Glider Field Artillery Battalion, Battery A

Photos of their journey

They are from Maurice Williams, Epsen Christensen, Andrew Jack Ball, and Dr. H. C. Stewart. The photos are of North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, Belgium and Germany.

Documents

Documents from Epsen and Maurice range from history, marches, list of the wounded on D-Day, to letters from FDR and Bradley. It also contains things like Thanksgiving and Christmas menus and finishes with 2 newspaper articles about Epsen where he describes some of the events.

An account of Sol Marcado is very interesting. He was in the 320th battalion (but in headquarters battery), so his history is similar to my Dads. Other general histories of the 82nd focus more on the paratroopers who were in more battles than the support units. Here are some 82nd general histories: History and History. The history of his specific battalion above of course is more informative about his specific history.
His duties: Installed, repaired and maintained permanent and semiprivate military telephones. Located site for telephone, ran wires, and made necessary connections. Operated telephone and switchboard on some occasions.

I became interested in knowing where my father served during the war. Most individual records for all service men burned years ago. I have researched online sites and have his separation and medical records which helped. His letters do not mention fighting or specific battles. He sometimes mentions the heat in Africa and the cold at the Battle of the Bulge, but most of the content is talking about home and responding to reports about my brother's progress who was born when he was on the ship to Africa. Some letters give a location. He sent money home, never mentioning he got it playing poker.

He saw several tourist things such as Stratford-on Avon, Pompeii, and Malta. I was amazed that he could do such stuff especially in a war zone. He mentions wanting to fish, an activity important throughout his life. Lots of guard duty mentioned and seeing movies and shows. One of the stories he told was of a shell which flew past him. Fortunately it continued on before blowing up, but even as a child I could tell it was scary.

What was most amazing to me was his letter writing. My father had an eight grade education and never wrote a letter in his life during the time I knew him. He was self conscious of his spelling etc (I have a master and can't spell so I don't see it as a big deal). In WW2 he not only wrote my mother frequently (when not in battle), but wrote his mother, siblings, even his brothers-in law and friends. Although I only have one letter other than to my mother, it is clear it was a major activity. He was asking about his wife's nephews as well as his brother and friends who were all serving. He tried to see them if he could. I only wish he described more of the actual war but it was clear family and home where his thoughts. It took more than 2 weeks after he was wounded on D-Day for the government to send a telegram to Leora telling her Maurice was wounded. Even after she then received a letter from him, she did not know the extent of his injuries.

What was his job? LINEMAN, TELEPHONE & TeleGRAPh: Installed, repaired, and maintained permanent and semi-permanent military telephones. Located site for telephone, ran wires, and made necessary connections. Operated telephone and switchboard on some occasions.

So the following is the best I have been able to resurrect from various histories of his unit and division and dates on letters.

Timeline

21 Apr 42 Detroit MI Joined
Fort Custer MI The first stop
June 42 Fort Sill OK Basic training. Visited by his wife. He qualifies as a sharpshooter.
Aug 42 Camp Claiborne, LA Where the 82nd Airborne was formed for WWII
Dec 42 Fort Bragg NC Where the 82nd was moved and still its current home. He is called "the old man" because he is much older, but still manages to out-hike many younger men during training.
Mar 43 Maxton NC Field Ready to be shipped overseas.
29 Apr 43 - 10 May 43 Ship to North Africa. His son John Bruce Williams is born while he is on the ship. This was the first war baby born in Mayville MI and the Dr. delivered him for free.
Casablanca North Africa Oujda-Marhnia area and Kairouan
Sept 43 Termini Imerse Sicily. Visited Malta.
23 Sept 43 landed on the beach near Paestum, Italy (south of Salerno) First actual action
Nov 43 Italy Visited his brother Mack who was stationed 6 miles away. He liked Italy much better than Africa. He visited Pompeii.
Dec 43 Northern Ireland May have left 18 Nov and spent 21 days aboard the USS Frederick Funston and on December 9, landed at Belfast, Ireland. The MP platoon went into quarters at Castledawson, North Ireland, but I have no verification my father was there. His letters just say N. Ireland. He liked Ireland better than the other places he had been. They spoke English.
Feb - May 44 Feb 1944 England 8 Feb the Division moved to England, billeted in the Central English town of Leicester but no verification his battalion was there. In England he visited Stratford-on Avon and birthplace of Shakespeare. He had an 8 day furlough to Scotland.
2 June 44 Northern Ireland This doesn't make sense. It could be that he said this location on the letter because of censors
6 June 44 D-Day Crashed on D-Day. He had a clavicle fracture. Hid in the hedgerows unable to get up. Finally risked calling to someone who helped him get up. He made it to the beaches and last return ship. For the first time in his life he was seasick on the return voyage.
June - Aug 78 44 78 days recovery(75 hospital days) in 307th Station Hospital, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, England
Aug 44 Left hospital and back to camp.
Sept England?? His unit 18 - 19 Sept 1944 was in Market Basket, Groesbeck, Holland. During Sept to Dec he only wrote one letter the end of Sept labeled England and mentions a glider drop the next day. It is unclear if he was in this battle but he usually wrote more frequently in England.
18 Dec 1944 Webermont, Belgium Battle of the Bulge. This was evidently bad. It is obvious he knows the family will be worried and figure out here is.
Feb Germany/France Mentions going to church in Germany but letter labeled France. At some point he shot a deer to give to a German family. He said the people were starving. They asked him to stay for dinner and he did.
15 Apr 45 France Formal photos in full uniform
30 April 1945

Crossing of Elbe River near Bleckede, Germany
(?2 May 1945 liberated survivors of the Woebbelin Concentration Camp?

7 June 45 Laon France This is were the unit signs his German flag
1 July 45 Nurfchateau France His unit goes on to Berlin at some point, but he has enough points so he expects to return to the US shortly. His ASR score was 108. so he waits for orders to return home. It is not clear why there are these different addresses in France instead of one spot, but they are fairly near each other.
18 July 45 Vittel France
30 July 45 Thionville France
17 Aug 45 Marseille France Ready to ship out of France
22 - 26 Aug 45 Return to US
3 Sep 45 Indiantown Gap Military Reservation Center PA Separation

 

Medals

Fort Custer Photo

42 Fort Custer MI

82nd 320th Battery A

82nd Airborne. 320th Glider Field Artillery Battalion, Battery A
Date and location unknown

Maurice Williams WWII

Early in the war. Location and date unknown

Maurice Williams WWII

15 Apr 1942 France.

Fort Sill

He was quite proud of this rattlesnake he captured at Fort Sill OK. He saved the rattles.

Nazi flag WWII

This Nazi flag was signed by all other folk where he was in Laon France June 7, 1945, a year after D-Day and a short time before he returned home. The signatures contain the home towns as well as the names. List of Signatures, their home towns and status today as known.

320th Battalion Northern Ireland 1944

 

Photos of their journey

They are from Maurice Williams and Epsen Christensen. The photos are of North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, Belgium and Germany.