The Red Bull in World War II 34th Infantry Division Resources 1941-1945

Charles W. Wilson, 34th Div., 133rd Regt., Co. F

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Charles W. Wilson

Captain Charles W. Wilson was assigned as a Platoon Leader in Company F, 2 Bn, 133rd Infantry from February 1945 until the end of the war. A timeline of his life is below. Being a reserve officer for a while, my dad kept a complete 201 file, so I was able to get the specific dates from his copies of orders.

He was also present at the famous battle in San Pietro on 26 April 45, having led the platoon from F Company that captured the first 47 prisoners in the farmhouse. He was very proud of having been a "Red Bull" and enjoyed reading the regimental histories I found for him on the Internet a few years ago.

As well as being very smart, he was the kindest and most gentle man. Nothing ever phased him, and I suspect that came from his combat experience. When I asked had asked him whether he had ever expected to live to be 85, he simply smiled and said that he hadn't expected to see his 25th.

Gary Wilson


Here's a formal picture of my Dad when he returned to the states in 1946. Note that he's wearing a CIB with Corps of Engineers insignia, which was his new branch. An infantry colonel once asked him about that thinking he wasn't entitled to wear the CIB. After my father explained how he had been in four branches of the Army including combat as an infantry officer, the colonel laughed and said if anyone ever deserved a CIB, it was my Dad.

Chronology

 

Youth
4 August 1921 – Born Manhattan, New York City. Lives in the Turtle Bay area.
1930 - Joined Cub Pack 1 at St Bartholomew’s Church Community Center, New York, NY. Cub Scouts were first started that year.
June 1933 – Graduates PS 150, Queens, NY.
August 1933 - Joins Boy Scout Troop 402, St Bartholomew’s Church Community Center.
June 1936 – Graduates Junior High School 125, Queens. Takes citywide competitive exam to get into NYC’s free but prestigious Stuyvesant High School.
June 1939 – Graduated Stuyvesant High School, NYC. Is Class President, Honor Society, General Organization representative and Captain of the Swimming team. Would have liked to attend MIT to study Civil Engineering but no money was available.
September 1939 – Began work at Charles Scribner’s & Son Publishers as a Machinist Helper. Hates the mess of the ink
12 November 1939 – Awarded Eagle Scout Badge at St Bartholomew’s Church, NYC.
September 1940 – Began work as draftsman at the Dorr Company, NYC. The Dorr Company were civil engineers specializing in waste treatment plant design and construction and doing a lot of work for defense plants and new military installations.
September 1941 - Began studying Civil Engineering at night at New York University Washington Heights campus

 

Military Service
Dec 1941 – Heard about attack on Pearl Harbor while listening to the NY Giants football game on radio.
March 1942 – Received draft notice. Induction deferred until summer to complete current college semester. Had completed his freshman year of engineering upon reporting.
8 August 1942 - Reported to Fort Jay for induction and released on two week leave.
22 August 1942 – Assigned Camp Upton, Yaphank, LI for initial classification. Achieved high classification scores, accepted into Army Air Forces as Power Turret Mechanic (these had secret computing mechanical gun sights and thus required a very high score on the classification tests.)
27 August 1942 – Attends AAF Basic Training in Miami Beach, FL. Stationed in the Winterhaven Hotel in the 880th Training Squadron of the 581st Tech School Squadron
5 October 1942 – Attends AAF Power Operated Turret School, Lowry Field, Denver, CO.
12 December 1942 – Assigned as Power Turret Specialist, 398th Medium Bombardment Squadron (B-26’s) of the 21st Bomb Group, McDill Field, Tampa Florida. Took additional courses Martin turrets until 20 Jan 1943. The Martin Marauder was hard for new pilots to control, thus the saying “A plane a day in Tampa Bay”. Awarded Good Conduct Medal.
1 Feb 43 - Has a twelve day furlough in NYC.
19 March 1943 – Informed that he has been selected for AAA OCS.
10 April 1943 – Promoted to Corporal. Attends Coast Artillery AAA OCS (120 days) at Camp Davis, NC in Class 65, 3rd Battery, 3rd Platoon.
5 August 1943 – Discharged as an enlisted man and commissioned 2LT Coast Artillery Corps in the Army of the United States (AUS). Assigned to AAA Officer Basic School at Camp Davis, NC. Given ten day leave.
11 August 1943 – Assigned 504th AAA Gun Battalion (90 MM) Battery D at Camp Davis, NC.
16 September 1943 – Battalion moves to Blackstone AAF, VA for maneuvers with the Air Corps.
26 October 1943 – Transferred to Battery C within same Battalion.
8 November 1943 - Unit moves to Camp Pickett, VA. Unit later moves to Fort Dix NJ (Is there in February 44). Functions as Assistant Executive officer. Does so well, when he receives orders for transfer to teach at the Antiaircraft Artillery Training Center (AATC) Camp Stewart, GA, his Commanding Officer writes a letter describing that he cannot lose Charlie! Transfer happens anyway. Awarded American Campaign ribbon.
3 Mar 44 – Assigned to XIII HQ Corps, Fort Dix for leave purposes prior to going to Camp Stewart.
31 Mar 44- Assigned to AATC, Camp Stewart GA. Assigned to 71st AAA Awpns Bn for advanced courses prior to instructing.
19 May 44 - Excess Coast Artillery Corps 2LTs redesignated 2LT Infantry by order of the President. Camp Stewart CAC staff and students sent to Fort Benning, GA
23 May 1944 – Attends Infantry Officer Special Course 19 at Ft Benning, GA
19 July 1944 – Assigned to AntiTank Company, 140th Infantry Regiment, Camp Howze, Texas. (Most former CAC officers were initially assigned to Anti Tank units within the Infantry since they had previous artillery experience). Given 15 days leave enroute and returns home. Develops a training program to qualify all of the enlisted folks in the company for the Expert Infantry Badge so they could get the extra $5.00 a month pay. This makes him a very popular officer.
21 October 1944 – Assigned to Army Ground Forces Replacement Depot, Fort Meade MD for shipment to European Theatre of Operations.
24 October 1944 – Awarded Expert Infantryman Badge with the rest of his former company.
13-24 November 1944 – Sails to Naples, Italy via convoy.
December 1944 – Attends MTOUSA Combat Indoctrination Course, Italy. Learned to lead small units under live fire and how to advance close behind live artillery.
February 1945 – Assigned as replacement Platoon Leader, F Company, 2nd Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division, Casetta, Italy, 1LT Jim Gray, commanding. Company F had suffered heavy casualties when attempting an assault on the night of February 2, hence the need for replacement officers.
February and March 1945 – F Company alternates training and patrolling in the Apennine Mountains near Casetta, Italy. Initially led patrols with the “advice” of an experienced NCO, later leading them by himself. You could tell the 34th was a veteran outfit by their breaking in new officers to combat very carefully.

April 1945 – Being short of officers, additionally functions as Executive Officer, F Company, 2nd Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division near Casetta, Italy. CPT Jim Gray, commanding.


Here's my Dad as a 2LT with the 133rd in April 1945 in Casetta, Italy. Obviously not on the line with the tie, overseas cap and visible lieutenants bars.

17 April 1945 – Po Valley Campaign begins with push-off from the Apennine Mountains north towards Bologna.


Here's a patrol about to go out from Company F , 2 Bn, 133rd Infantry during the Po Valley push in April 1944. 2LT Charles Wilson is the second from the left in the rear row.

I love how an experienced unit knew how to protect itself. Unlike the pictures of green units on D-Day in France, the 34th had been on the line for two years and it's officers knew to fold their collar insignia under and not wear any thing different than the rest of the troops.

19 April 1945 – F Company suffers three KIA
20 April 1945 – F Company suffers four KIA
21 April 1945 – Enters Bologna, Italy
23 April 1945 – 34th Division moves NW along axis of Highway 9 towards Piacenza to protect left flank of the Fifth Army advance and cut off escape routes of three German divisions trying to flee north.
27 April 1945– Earns Bronze Star (awarded in 1946) for action at San Pietro in Cerna with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment in capturing 744 German prisoners. They were on another road trying to avoid contact when they managed to stop two German Regiments and established a roadblock after the initial German regiment of that division had passed through. Company F took the initial 47 prisoners who were supposed to hold the crossroad in San Pietro in Cerna. (See 133rd Official Unit history) They later protected the flanks of the roadblock and supported Company E in the center as the Germans attempted to breakthrough.
30 April 1945 – Personally accepts surrender of Luftwaffe Northern Italy HQ in Bergamo, Italy. They had sent out an english speaking Luftwaffe Major who had previously played with Paul Whiteman Orchestra at the Roxy Theater in NYC to negotiate. They wanted an American Colonel to surrender to. He told them that a Lieutenant would have to do or the Americans would continue moving ahead and they could surrender to the Italian Partisans. They quickly agreed that the ignominy of a Colonel surrendering to a Lieutenant was the safer choice.
2 May 1945 - Combat in Italy ends. Awarded European Campaign Ribbon with battle stars for Northern Apennine and Po Valley campaigns.
May – 34th Infantry Division Occupies Italian French border near Sussa Pass to keep the French out of Italy. They put a Cajun from Louisiana on the telephone switchboard to monitor the French phone messages between units. Division was later stationed at Oleggio near Milan.
16 May 1945 - Awarded Combat Infantryman’s Badge.
29 May 1945 - Promoted to 1LT, Infantry
July 1945 – 34th Division moves to Trieste, Italy along the Morgan Line to keep the Yugoslavs out of the Trieste area.
1 July 1945 – Assigned as 1LT to Company A, 109th Engineer Battalion, 34th Infantry Division. (Assigned by Division Commander; they needed Engineer officers for the reconstruction and saw that he had one year of engineering in college).
September 1945 - Assists in the convoy of 34th division to embarkation port in Legano, Italy. Because he had been overseas less than a year, he stays on in Company A, 109th Combat Engineers,
1 October 1945 109th Engineer Combat Battalion becomes 313th Combat Engineer Battalion of the 88th Infantry Division. Detailed to a Corps of Engineers Officer Company Commander MOS and assumes command of Company A, 313th Combat Engineers. His Battalion Commander is Major Jack Snow, USMA ’42.
November 1945 – Regular looping parades (same units came through town three times in the same parade) are held in Trieste to impress the Yugoslavs with our “strength.” The Engineer Battalion had lots of large equipment so was always included in these “shows”. They also had a German Army POW Engineer Battalion under their supervision to help rebuild the roads and bridges in Italy as there was no food for them in Germany yet.
17 January 1946 – Detailed as one of four Engineer Officers to conduct reconnaissance and support for the Allied Observers of the Greek Election. Assigned to the Patras District as billeting officer. Receives a letter of commendation from the US Embassy Vice Counsel for his work.
12 April 1946 – Returns from Greece to command of Co A, 313th Combat Engineers, 88th Infantry Division. Awarded WWII Victory and Army of Occupation medals.
26 May 1946 - Released from 313th Engr Battalion for return to states.
June 1946 – Sees Jim Gray (now a Major in the MP’s) in Italy before leaving theater.
10 June -20 Jun 1946 – Sails from Italy to New York.
26 June 1946 – Returns to Fort Dix, NJ and is discharged as Captain, Infantry, AUS, to accept commission as Captain, USAR, Corps of Engineers effective Sep 1. Home is 47-11 48 Avenue, Woodside, NY. Spends his summer terminal leave camping at Lake George with his Boy Scout buddies. Assigned to 290th Organized Reserve Engineer Combat Battalion Jamaica NY. Meets mostly at the Knightsbridge Armory in the Bronx and practices assaulting the New Jersey Palisades during the next four years.
His Decorations included the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, American Campaign Medal, European Campaign Medal w/ Northern Apennine and Po Valley Battle Stars, World War II Victory Medal and the Army of Occupation Medal.

 

Civilian Career and Family Life
September 1946 - Resumes engineering studies at New York University (night)
September 1946 – Begins work as draftsman at the Babcock & Wilcox Company, NYC
10 July 1949 – Marries Eleanor Becker in Jamaica, Queens. Honeymoons on Cape Cod.
July 1950 – Because of his combat experience, designated as an Infantry Division Combat Engineer Major for Korea. As wife is pregnant, gets out of going on Active Duty. One war had been enough. Doing reconnaissance ahead of an Infantry Division was a good way to get killed.
2 October 1950 – Son Gary is born in Jamaica, NY
1950 – Moved to Hollis, Queens.
17 July 1951 – Receives BSME from NYU on Dean’s list.
1951 – Appointed Marine Design Engineer at Babcock & Wilcox
1952 – Appointed Proposition Engineer at Babcock & Wilcox
9 Sep 1952 – Honorably Discharged from USAR as Captain, CE, since he isn’t available for active duty due to his essential civilian work for the US Navy.
9 June 1954 – Son Robert is born in Jamaica, NY
June 1954 – Receives MSME from NYU.
July 1954 – Moves to Westbury NY.
1954 – Becomes Licensed Professional Engineer, State of New York.
1958 – Appointed Sales Engineer at Babcock & Wilcox; Joins Downtown Athletic Club.
22 May 1958 – Attends keel laying of NS Savannah, New York Shipbuilding, Camden NJ.
1960s – B&W moves headquarters to Barberton, Ohio. Dad stays in New York to do Marine Sales so family will not have to move. Works on conventual and nuclear powered steam ships including US Navy Aircraft carriers and submarines. Made honorary submariner after submerging in a sub during sea trials.
1 January 1967 – Appointed manager of Marine Sales
1972-1973 – Elected Chairman of the Metropolitan District of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME).
1978 – Babcock & Wilcox is target of a takeover bidding war between United Technologies and McDermott Industries. McDermott wins and Charlie sells stock at the high.
November 1981 – Post Three Mile Island, Babcock & Wilcox has to retrench. Gets out of the Marine business and Charlie leaves B&W.
March 1982 – Opens the NYC Office of Seaworthy Engineering in the Whitehall Building.
1988 – Becomes Technical Coordinator of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME)
1992 – Moves to Robbinsville, NJ near his son Gary.
2001 – Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) holds “Charlie Wilson Day” to recognize his lifetime of work in Marine Engineering
November 2005 – Moves to Cedar Crest Village in Pompton Plains NJ
24 August 2007 – Passes away peacefully in Pompton Plains at age 86 after fighting Parkinson’s disease for ten years.

 

Provided by Charles Wilson's son, Gary Wilson.