County Service RollsCourthouse SquareCortez St at Union StPrescott, Yavapai County, Arizona
This visit was completed April 9th, 2017, just after I gave a live presentation at American Legion Post 6. It was a nearly overwhelming day, as several members of ALR Post 6 and 40 met me in Kingman and Ash Fork for the run south to Prescott. The enthusiasm and encouragement given by the riders is an unexpected benefit of this tour. I will never be able to thank these new friends enough.
I did some research into the names of the WW II fallen and came across some of the story of Pvt Joe Stamsek, US Army. He was killed in action on November 29, 1944 while serving with Bravo Company, 410th Infantry 103rd Division.
Personal accounts from other Company men have related details of how the Division traveled across the nation by train in what the fellas thought was a arduous journey, with little to eat and one quick chance each day to leave the troop train and exercise. Although the guys were generally cheerful, there were a few that could not muster the courage to smile. Midway through the trip one Private simply decided he was not going to get back on the train. Several MP's gathered in a attempt to change his mind . . . the scene ended with the deranged soldier being taken away by ambulance to the nearest military hospital. At least those watching the scene think he was taken to hospital.
The 103rd Division left the train to embark aboard a troop ship, the General J.R. Brooke (AP-132) for transport from New York to France. Crossing the Atlantic in late fall is never much fun. Most of the guys were so seasick they couldn't eat. The overcrowded berthing areas were always filled with the odor of sweat and vomit. But at least they had toilets, which they didn't have once they got ashore at Marseilles. There the facilities comprised of canvas and tin privacy barriers. Porta-Johns and honey dippers hadn't been invented yet and collection barrels quickly overflowed; urine and raw sewage oozed into a trench, which led to a street, and from the street to the sea.
The Division had arrived in France 66 days beyond D-Day, on October 20th. The next ten days were busy with off loading ammo and other supplies. Practicing the best way to dig a proper foxhole or slit trench was part of the program too. Neither offered much protection when the rains came and filled them completel, and there was rain every day.
Some tents were available, but most of the men made do with shelter halves and slept on ground covered with damp tree leaves.
Many of the men had arrived with regular boots and leggings which were absolutely inadequate for fighting in winter rains, mud, and snow. It wasn't until reaching the forward areas that more appropriate footware was issued. Some ger that was supposed to be waiting for them just never got there. That just added to the misery and, at least for the 410th, the war had not really started to rock their world.
Food consisted of K, C, and sometimes B rations, and there wasn't much of that to go around. The guys were always hungry, cold, and damp. And most of them were uncertain about was was ahead.
The 410th and the rest of the Divsion conducted a "motor march" to the front starting on the 6th and 7th of November, with the first elements arriving in the combat area about the 9th. They were relieving units of the 30th Infantry, men that were exhausted, and their numbers decimated. One company of nearly 200 men had only five able bodied soldiers left - and they were described as practically unable to function. This did not give the men of the 410th much hope that this would be an easy push forward.
During the next three weeks the Division moved constantly forward; first pounding with artillery, then pushing forward with tanks, and cleaning up with infantry troops. On the 29th, Bravo Company was moving into the village of Itterswiller. Jo Stamsek and 17 others of Bravo company didn't live to see the next light of dawn. The objective was taken, but the cost has been high. For the month of November 1944, the 410th Infantry lost 42 men killed in action, 83 missing in action, 236 wounded in action and another 179 wounded in non-battle incidents.
By the time the war ended in May of '45, the 410th Infantry Regiment had lost more than 30 percent of its' compliment of over 3,000 men. 582 Men were listed killed in action and 662 missing in action.
That's the story of just one of the Prescott men that are shown on the World War II honor roll. There are many more stories to tell. Why not pick a name and let these Prescott markers connect you to the history of America.
Read more about the 410th by clicking HERE.