Thursday, June 28, 2007

William B. Turner

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army 105th Infantry, 27th Division. Place and date: Near Ronssoy, France, 27 September 1918. Entered service at: Garden City, N.Y. Birth: Boston, Mass. G.O. No.: 81, W.D., 1919. Citation: He led a small group of men to the attack, under terrific artillery and machinegun fire, after they had become separated from the rest of the company in the darkness. Single-handed he rushed an enemy machinegun which had suddenly opened fire on his group and killed the crew with his pistol. He then pressed forward to another machinegun post 25 yards away and had killed 1 gunner himself by the time the remainder of his detachment arrived and put the gun out of action. With the utmost bravery he continued to lead his men over 3 lines of hostile trenches, cleaning up each one as they advanced, regardless of the fact that he had been wounded 3 times, and killed several of the enemy in hand-to-hand encounters. After his pistol ammunition was exhausted, this gallant officer seized the rifle of a dead soldier, bayoneted several members of a machinegun crew, and shot the other. Upon reaching the fourth-line trench, which was his objective, 1st Lt. Turner captured it with the 9 men remaining in his group and resisted a hostile counterattack until he was finally surrounded and killed.

This was during WWI, so that machinegun fire and artillery fire you read about is not old and outdated weapons. That was modern weapons doing what they were designed to do, kill efficently. And they did. Artillery was the number one killer in WWI, and it hasn't changed much since. Machineguns were new and scary weapons. When WWI started the M08 German gun could apit out 600 rpm, but 1918 at the end of the War, they were dealing 1200 rpm. And the Germans believed in machinegun technology and with good reason, it saved them a lot of equipment when they went on the defensive.

Turner was a super bad ass. When they say he attacked 4 trenches, they were not talking about lite work. This was some heavy lifting. The last thing you want to be doing in a war is killing the enemy by hand to hand combat. Turner fought it till the end. Reminds me of the Spartans at Thermopylea.

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