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The Story Of Bill Linscott's Canteen Cup


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I collect 10th mountain and gebirgsjager militaria. I also have a passion for vintage 1930's and 40's downhill ski gear, clothing, and ephemera. In 2012 I was the project manager for a small start-up ski museum located in my hometown which is dedicated to a quite famous 1930's era ski trail in my town, the Thunderbolt Ski Run, (http://www.thunderboltskirun.com ) and all things related to the boys who learned to ski there and then went on to serve in the 10th during WWII.

 

What follows is a neat story about a simple US GI canteen cup in our collection, and the 10th Mountain trooper that it belonged to. Hope you enjoy.

 

The Thunderbolt Ski Museum in Adams, MA (https://www.facebook.com/ThunderboltSkiMuseum?ref=hl)

 

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Bill Linscott grew up at the foot of the highest mountain in Massachusetts and led the kind of classic pre-WWII, outdoor skiing/mountaineering life that so many young men who served in the 10th Mtn. Div. led. I interviewed him in 1999 for a documentary film I was making, and it was then that I first learned about the neat story of his reunion with his US issue canteen cup in the Appenine Mountains 50 years after the war. I was part of a group that opened a small museum in our town in 2012 and we were able to track down this canteen cup and put it on permanent display.

 

Here is Bill in 1942 after winning the 1942 Massachusetts State Downhill Championship as a 16 year old high school sophomore.

 

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And now the remarkable story of Linscott's canteen cup. I'll post the text here:

 

Though he had no way of knowing it, as a young boy cutting his teeth skiing on the Thunderbolt in the late 1930’s, Bill Linscott, was destined to serve in the 10th Mountain Division during WWII. His father was the president of the popular Thunderbolt Ski Club and was responsible for teaching many of the local boys how to perfect the Arlberg ski technique. By the late 1930’s Bill was soon making a name for himself skiing and racing on the Thunderbolt. In 1942, at the age of 16, Bill won the Massachusetts Downhill Championship race, and within a year he was serving with the 10th at Camp Hale in Colorado. Born to be a Ski Trooper, this would not be Bill’s last brush with destiny.

 

On April 1, 1945 Private 1st Class Bill Linscott was standing outside of his foxhole on Mt. Della Spe in the Italian Alps with some of his fellow 10th Mountain Division troops. The shelling the men had been taking all day had stopped for a while and the G.I.’s were enjoying a rare break for chow and a smoke. A few moments later a random incoming shell exploded nearby and killed all of the men around Bill. Bill did not escape unscathed; he was hit by shrapnel and wood splinters on his left side. Bleeding and in pain, company medics stripped him of his gear as they prepared to triage and evacuate their wounded brother off the mountain. Bill soon ended up in a hospital in Naples where he spent 3 months recovering from his wounds before being sent home in June of 1945.

 

Like many World War II veterans in 1985, Bill travelled back to Europe to participate in ceremonies marking the 40th Anniversary of the end of the war. Back in Italy after 40 years, Bill received a very special war souvenir during that trip that he did not expect. The little Italian village which hosted the 10th Mountain reunion loved the Americans, and they held a big banquet for the boys who had freed them from the Nazis. The mountain troopers, now in their 50’s, had planned tours and hikes while they were visiting villages in the area.

 

A small group of the former ski troops thought it would be fun to hike up into the nearby hillsides to walk the old battlefields and see if they could find their foxholes. Nearing the end of a long day in the mountains the men stopped to talk to a farmer’s wife and they noticed something in a nearby chicken coop that any ex-G.I. would recognize. One of them reached in and pulled out a WWII era U.S. canteen cup. The men passed the relic around and upon examining the cup closer they discovered that the name LINSCOTT was hand engraved into the bottom. They offered the Italian villager money for the cup but she refused. Bill was not on the hike that day and they delighted in the thought of playing this up and surprising Bill at the banquet that was to be held later that evening back in town.

 

As dinner was being served one of Bill’s former Army buddies approached the front of the banquet hall and called out, “Private First Class Linscott! Front and center!” Startled, Bill could not figure out why he was being summoned. One of his former commanders read a citation to him for losing U.S. government property through “excess negligence and carelessness” and he was ordered to pay a $120 fine. He was astonished and could not figure out what he had done.

 

Finally, Bill was handed a box and soon discovered his tarnished canteen cup that he had lost 40 years prior after have been wounded on Mt. Della Spe. He was overtaken by emotion seeing this familiar object that he lost so many years ago with his name on it. Bill hung onto the cup for years and delighted in telling the story of how he got it back. He later donated the cup to the Denver Public Library which houses an enormous archive of WWII 10th Mountain Division gear, paperwork, unit histories, and ephemera. In 2011, Thunderbolt Ski Museum organizers were able to track down the cup and bring it back to Adams where it now sits on display in Bill’s hometown.

 

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i thoroughly enjoyed reading and watching all of this! what a truly remarkable story.

Actively collecting:

13th USAAF uniforms and groups/medal groups!

307th BG, 5th BG, 11th BG, 42nd BG

Also looking for:

WWII Far East Air Force uniforms/groups!

Any Pacific Army Air Force Groups to 5th, 7th, 10th, 14th, 20th AAF

Collecting CBI and ATC Pacific Army Air Force groups

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USMF's custom photo resize tool:http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/229816-custom-resize-tool-exclusively-for-the-usmf/




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