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Honoring Service: Veteran John Williamson, WWII

Rye Vets is a collaboration with RyeVets.org to highlight those from Rye who have served our country across times of war and peace. There are over 2,100 veterans from the City of Rye. Learn more about how you can help research and write biographies of those that have served.

Rye Vets Second Lieutenant John WilliamsonJOHN WILLIAMSON was born in New York in 1913. In Rye his family lived at 448 Milton Road and were members of Christ Church. He had resided in Rye for thirteen years with his brother-in-law and sister, Police Lieut. and Mrs. Robert J. Warren. John had completed two years of college and served as a policeman prior to his enlisting in Jamaica, NY on March 5th, 1941. He served as an officer in the U.S. Army during World War II.

Date of Birth: 1913
Died On: 4/10/1943
Street Address: 448 Milton Road
Service Number: 32024433
Branch of Service: U.S. Army – 751st Tank Battalion

John served in the United States Army, 751st Tank Battalion, in North Africa. On January 8, 1943, the 751st Tank Battalion boarded ships and sailed for Oran, Algeria, where they would help reinforce the Allied forces of Operation Torch that had landed in Africa a couple of months earlier. Their first real taste of combat came in early April of 1943, when the battalion, attached to the 34th Infantry Division, attacked the Germans at Fondouk Pass in Tunisia. But the Germans were not to be easily moved. The fighting was tough. The battalion lost several of their M-3 Grant tanks.

The M3 was well armed and armored for the period, but due to design flaws was withdrawn from front line duty as soon as the M4 Sherman became available. during this battle 751st Tank Battalion and the 34th Division suffered heavy casualties as the Germans fended off their initial advances. On 4/10/1943 the 2nd assault was a combined British and American assault that would force the Germans from the high ground and open the pass to allied forces. The opening of the pass would lead to the expulsion of German forces from Tunisia and out of Africa in May 1943.

Second Lieutenant John Williamson was killed on 4/10/1943 during the second assault at Fondouk Pass, Tunisia and awarded the Purple Heart.

In a letter received by the family from General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff, stated: “It is with deep regret that I have learned of the death of your son in North Africa. I realize that there is little that can be said to alleviate your grief. John E. Williamson served with honor in the United States Army and he died in the best traditions of the service, To men like your son, who have died so that the American way of life may continue, the nation owes an everlasting debt of gratitude.

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