Remembering William Woodruff of Crosley in World War II.
- From the Public Ledger, May 3, 1945 and Daily Independent, May 4, 1945
Approximately 292,000 American soldiers were killed in a war that no one though would ever begin, nor end. William Woodruff was one of the thousands of young men who fought and died on foreign soil.
William Woodruff was born at Chillicothe, Ohio on Jan. 1, 1918, the son of Ms. Olen Snider and Mr. Ollie Woodruff. Mr. Woodruff had three sisters, Lola, Mable and Katherine, and three brothers, Stanley, Andrew, and Frank, a sergeant in the U.S. Army who served at Guadalcanal.
The family moved from Chillicothe to Maysville sometime before the war and held residence at 500 Florence Street. Mr. Woodruff later married Edith Hatfield and they had a son, Paul. Mr. Woodruff was a registrant of the Mason County selective service board and an employee of the Crosley Corporation in Cincinnati, Ohio. At the time of Mr. Woodruff's induction his wife was pregnant with their second child a daughter, Vicky, whom he would never see.
William Woodruff was inducted into the U.S. Army on May 27, 1944. He received his basic training at Camp Fannin, Texas, then was assigned to the Seventh Army Seventy First Infantry Division under the command of Lt. General Alexander Patch.
Mr. Woodruff caught up with Seventh Army in southern France around September 1944. On Sept. 1, 1944 General Eisenhower took over direct command of Allied armies in Western Europe and France was liberated by mid-September 1944. Allied forces including the Seventh Army were advancing toward the German border. Only in the south was any real progress made. The Sixth Army Group, comprising the French First and the U.S. Seventh Armies, attacked into the Vosges mountains on Nov. 16, 1944, aiming for the strategic "Belfort Gap" between the Vosges and the Jura. French armored units raced through the Gap on Nov. 20, taking the Germans by surprise, and reached the upper reaches of the Rhine north of Basle later the same day. To their north, French and American troops achieved a similar breakthrough few days later, seizing the "Saverne Gap" and taking Strasbourg.
The Seventh Army part of the Sixth Army Group crossed the Main River at Wurzburg on April 5. The group's other wing, the French First Army, crossed the Rhine north of Karlsruhe on March 31, then turned south towards the Swiss border.
During the sweep across Germany, Mr. Woodruff and the rest of the Western Allied Armies saw for the first time the most horrific face of the Third Reich. The Americans liberated Buchenwald near Erfurt on April 13, 1945. The camp was littered with corpses, disease was rampant, and people were dying of starvation. They had no light or water, there was enormous overcrowding and no doctor and no medical supplies. Pvt. Woodruff saw and experienced more pain and suffering in his six months with the Seventh Army than hopefully we will never see in an entire lifetime.
Dachau near Munich was liberated on April 29, 1945, but Pvt. Wiiliam Woodruff was not there. He was killed by a snipers bullet April 19, 1945, while enroute from Nuremberg to Munich.
Pvt. William Woodruff's family was notified of his death May 3, 1945. His remains were not returned to American soil until June 31, 1949. He was buried in the Maysville Cemetery, and American Legion Post 13 held military rites.