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Remembering World War II
William John Geldert
Name: William John Carlyle Geldert Rank: Captain Service Number: 20848123, O-450195 Service: Headquarters and HQ Company (HHC), Combat Command B, 3rd Armored Division, US Army Awards: Bronze Star, Purple Heart Date of Birth: January 27, 1917 Place of Birth: Halifax, NS Date of Enlistment: November 18, 1940 Place of Enlistment: Houston, Harris Co., Texas Age at Enlistment: 23 Date of Death: August 2, 1944 Age: 27 Cemetery: Brittany American Cemetery, St James, Normandy, France Grave: Plot F, Row 7, Grave 6 William John Geldert was the son of Hugh John Carlyle Geldert (1891-1968) and Dorothy Knaut (Munnis) Geldert (1891–1974). Both his parents were born in Halifax, NS. His maternal grandfather, Gunner William Samuel Munnis (1862-1941), served Canada in the First World War with the Ammunition Column, and then the 58th Howitzer Battery of the 14th Field Artillery (Howitzer) Brigade, of the Royal Canadian Artillery. William John and his family moved to Houston, Texas in 1926. They initially travelled from Halifax, NS to Brooklyn, NY aboard the SS Rosalind of the Red Cross Line, arriving in NY September 26, 1926. Settling in Houston Texas, William completed secondary schooling at the San Jacinto High School, and was a member of the Booster Cub, the Spanish Club, the Tennis Team, and he was Hockey Captain and a member of the ‘Vodvil’ group in 1934. Upon graduation, he continued his studies at the Rice Institute in Houston. There, he was treasurer of the Rice Choral Club. William registered for the US Draft on October 16, 1940 in Houston, Texas. At that time, he was working for the Red Line Freight Service. On his draft card it indicates he was completing Weapons Training with the 56th Cavalry Brigade at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, with the Texas Army National Guard. He enlisted in November 1940 with the Cavalry for active service. In November 1940, the National Guard cavalry units were disbanded and its elements reorganized as mechanized and armored units. William married fellow Rice Institute graduate Ruth Adair Dwigans (1917-2014) in Houston on October 3, 1941. William and Ruth had one daughter, Judith Ann Geldert (Munnerlyn). Ruth’s brother Forrest Payne Dwigans also served in WWII with the rank of Yeoman 1st Class in the US Naval Reserve. The Third Armored Division was unofficially nicknamed the “The Third Herd”. William served with Combat Command B of the 3rd Armored. A combat command was a combined-arms military group of comparable size to a brigade or regiment employed by armored forces of the US Army from 1942 onward (the structure of combat commands was task-organized and so the forces assigned to a combat command often varied from mission to mission). Captain William John Geldert was killed in Bretagne (Brittany), France. He was initially interred in Block Q, Row 1, Grave 16, at the Marigny Cemetery, in Saint Lo, France (designated by the US Army Grave Registration Service as temporary cemetery 3555). With grave consolidation, he was then re-interred at the Brittany American Cemetery, (known as cemetery 3504 St James at the time), in Plot F, Row 7, Grave 6. In the rolling farm country, south west of the D-Day beaches, is Brittany American Cemetery. More than 4400 Americans are buried there. Many lost their lives in the months after D-Day. The cemetery marks the region where American Forces made their critical breakthrough from the hedgerows of Normandy, into the plains of Northern France (Extending the Normandy beachhead eastward toward the Senne River). These intense battles would break Hitler’s iron grip on Europe. Captain William John Geldert is one such casualty. As per the American Battle Monuments Commission that maintains the Cemetery, “Everyday, the cemetery’s chapel bells toll in memory of Americans who helped liberate France from Tyranny, and gave their lives for freedom”
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