By Jennifer Martin - email
Bill Tolleson was 20-years old when he was drafted in August 1943. He trained on a 90 millimeter antiaircraft gun. But the Army needed foot soldiers and by 1944, he was part of 334th Infantry Division.
"We caught the ship on the 19th day of September, landed at South Hampton England. Went across the channel & went on Omaha Beach. But where we went in, they'd pushed the Germans back into Belgium," Tolleson said.
At Omaha Beach, they put us on two and a half ton trucks, back on a Sunday morning and we rode all that week.
"We'd stop at night and then we rode until we got on up into Holland on Saturday morning. We went up close to the front line the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Where we went, we had to go on through mine fields. We'd follow this tank through there. And when out through anti-personnel mines and then they commenced to shelling us," Tolleson said.
"That's where they had them trip wires and things that jump up and some of our boys got em too. Man, they'd drop those shells all around us, all around us. I know the last 2 or 3 days we were up there they shelled us just about all the time. Yeah I was scared, you talk about scared," Tolleson added.
"So we stayed, we were in foxholes and German trenches and I was just up there 5 days and nights and they pulled us back off to a little town there," Tolleson recalled. "The next morning I got up and my feet was killing me. I came around this building going down to the aid station and a sniper shot a guy right in front of me."
His feet were nearly frozen from the cold and wet conditions.
"Then I went back to the field, to a staging area and I kept coming back. Send me back to Belgium, Paris, then I was in the hospital in England for a month."
Tolleson took the Queen Mary back to the states and spent more time in the hospital. After he left the service, he spent a few years farming then worked at a bus factory more than 30years before he retired.
WLBT 3 - Fox 40
715 South Jefferson Street