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Gunner William Tower

William with his wife Shirley

Last Name: `
First Name Middle Initial:
Nick Name:
Street:  7659 COMSTOCK City & State: TEMPERANCE, MI E-Mail: 
Zip: 48182 Phone:  (734) 847 6249 Spouse: SHIRLEY
Conflict: WW11 Service Branch: ARMY Unit: 106 INF DIV
Theater: ETO Where Captured: GERMANY Date Captured: 12/17/44
Camps Held In: 12A , 3B, WORK DETAIL How Long Interned: 128 days
liberated / repatriated: liberated Date Liberated: 04/24/45 Age at Capture: 21
Occupation after War:  PURCHASING MANAGER

Military Bio:

I entered the Army on 13 March, 1943 and was sent to Ft. Jackson, S.C. to join the 106th Reconnaissance Troops of the 106th Infantry Division. We completed basic training and went to Tennessee for maneuvers in January, 1944. Then to Camp Attesburg, Indiana and to Ft. Miles Handish, MA in September. We sailed from Bostonon the SS Wakefield on 11 November 1044. Embarked across the English Channel landing in France 7 December, 1944. Drove across France and Belgium into Groslangenfeld, Germany. On 16th December we were awakened by artillery fire and dawn infantry attack. Except for direct artillery fire on our position during that day things were quiet. We tried to get out of Groslangenfeld about 3 p.m. on Sunday, December 17th but road was blocked and we were forced to surrender to the Germans. We were marched back behind enemy lines and interrogated at night by German officers. Name, rank and serial number was all that was given. The next morning we saw we were among hundreds of POW’s. We were marched to a camp that night, again with hundreds of newly captured men. Two days later we were put in boxcars and rode several days to Limburg, Germany, Camp 12A. On 23 December flares lighted up the sky and bombs fell on the railroad yard that was very close to our prison camp. One bomb hit a barracks and 65 U.S. officers were killed including Lt. Prosnick of our 106th Rcn. Troop. We were again moved by boxcar arriving at Luckenwald 3B on December 31, 1944, my 22nd birthday. I then was sent with about 100 POW’s to a work camp called Altes Lager that housed some German troops and Russian slave laborers. We were forced to dig trenches around the town and build trench tank traps and roadblocks. Max Schneling visited us in February and promised Red Cross parcels which did arrive every two weeks. I traded the cigarettes for bread, which the German guards obtained. In April the bombing and strafing increased and got closer to us. We were sent back to the barracks early one day and told the Russians would be in town the next day.

The Russians arrived at dawn and we were liberated. The Germans took off driving that night. We then took off in groups heading south as we heard the Americans were at the Elbe River about 20 miles away. We ran into some artillery fire one night so stopped and stayed in a town where British soldiers were. One day an American in a jeep came by saying he heard there were Americans in the town. The next day an Army truck came and picked us up. We were flown back to Camp Lucky Srike in France and left for the U.S. on 31 May, 1945. Landing in New York City 13 June. I went to the University of Michigan under the G.I. Bill and received two degrees.

A book has just been published entitled “The Greatest Generation” which is a collection of real life stories of the men and women who served in the armed forces during World War II. We were born and grew up during the great depression, answered our country’s call during World War II, and then came home and carried on with our lives by going to college, or getting a job,
and raising our families. It was a great time to be alive. We have seen some great social and economic changes and now a great change seems to have taken place in moral values. Let’s hope that future generations can somehow get back to what we had and enjoyed.

My Message to Future Generations:

To come

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