Jump to content

310th IR, 78th ID Surgical Technician uniform, plastic ribbons and DUIs


Recommended Posts

Hey all, hope it's not too terrible a Monday. Today I thought I would share with you the story of really neat uniform I received from a surgical technician of the 310th Regiment, 78th “Lightning” Division.

 

William Densmore Barnett Jr. was born to a small family in the rural farming community of Walden, Vermont. The son of a WWI veteran, William and his family held a proud military tradition dating back to the founding of the country. Despite this, William did not intend to serve and instead spent his days farming and working as an apprentice carpenter in Marshfield. As war broke out, however, even rural Vermont was not immune to the draft. William received his notice and joined the US Army in September of 1942.

 

Handy with small tools and filings from his carpentry days, the army somehow presumed he would be a good fit for the medical corps and received training as a surgical technician before joining the medical section of the 3rd Battalion, 310th Infantry Regiment, 78th Infantry Division. Not as eager as his ancestors, William attempted to receive a discharge claiming he needed to rejoin the civilian force as a vital worker on his family farm. The army deemed the need for medics greater and denied his request.

 

William and the 78th left for England in late 1944 and eventually arrived in France in November. The division was meant as a relief to the heavily battered allied forces that had served since D-Day, first seeing active combat time on December 1st while replacing the 1st Infantry Division near Entenpfuhl. The 78th did not get much time to settle in as less than two weeks later Rundstedt’s massive winter offensive put the 78th on the defensive, forcing them to hold their section of the Siegfried line against a strong German attack. The division went on the offensive towards the end of January and began pushing deep into Germany.

 

During this period of advance, William earned his Bronze Star Medal. Alongside his regular job as a surgeon for the battalion medical section, William managed the records and files. During an attack, enemy fire destroyed and heavily damaged much of the important medical records that detailed the injuries and deaths of the battalion’s soldiers. Knowing these records were vital to the awardence of proper awards, payments, and pensions, William went out of his way to carefully piece together the records from scraps in order to compile and reconstruct the paperwork for the regimental casualties. It was for his efficiency and devotion under combat conditions to ensure the men of his unit received their due compensation for injuries sustained in action that he was awarded the Bronze Star.

 

Not long after, William earned his Presidential Unit Citation and Purple Heart for actions leading up to and after the Remagen Bridge. Following the 9th Armored’s advance across the bridge, the 310th was technically considered the very first infantry battalion to cross the Rhine. William, sadly, did not make it that far to earn that title. Just a few days before the battalion reached the Rhine, they stumbled across Euskirchen, an important road, rail, and communications center for the German army. The battalion began its attack through the muddy, flat, plowed terrain with M4 Shermans leading the infantry. Preparing for their biggest battle yet, William and the men of the medical section had prepared a medical outpost for the suspected casualties. They were right, and throughout the day they were inundated with wounded GIs. The Germans had prepared strong defenses throughout the city and fought tooth and nail, with near constant artillery fire battering the men of the 3rd battalion. While I cannot confirm whether William was acting as a combat medic at this time or was still near the outpost, an artillery shell landed near him and left him with several pieces of shrapnel across his body. Thankfully, he was able to be stabilized and sent to the rear for more intensive treatment but did survive the wound.

 

William rejoined the unit a month or so later for the final push, ending the war near Wuppertal. Having come so late to the fight, most of the 78th was forced to stay for occupation duty. Eventually William was sent to the 12th Armored with whom he returned home, spending the rest of his days as a farmer before retiring to Williamstown.

 

I was very happy to get this uniform, as it is an excellent example on my quest to get a named uniform from each European infantry division. The uniform itself is a standard Ike but features some really beautiful plastic coated ribbons and Presidential Citation. It is interesting to note that he wears the WWI occupation ribbon instead of the proper WWII version. He was also awarded both the PUC and MUC, as you can see worn by other members of his platoon in the group photo. The best part, however, is the plastic 310th Regiment DUIs pinned onto the collar. Overall a really solid uniform from a cool unit which I am very happy to have in the collection.

 

-Alex

 

3a3052a3a7ba1533a17412967e3c591c.jpeg

 

41662937a2e2e1b35cc4c79c97f14b05.jpeg

 

 

fe123a943f0efc0f55f8d48631e04ac5.jpg

 

685b5b0e4e108e74d22e6a061c8e629c.jpeg

 

af4c66860d72e16c49cf62ebd7bdf28c.jpeg

 

ab4e1f4d1432239d8074ebc4c8f470c7.jpeg

 

 

7262634370d81484911201b9cbd4610b.jpeg

 

8a701d595db88b30b64ab221ddfe7c37.jpeg

43645ccea16a64339f601426fa2ab2c5.jpeg

 

 

23c9fc3c626f8cae1110c0cfe0df0c0f.jpeg

GEN. David R. Atchinson- MO State Guard              ACW

PVT. John H. Drury- Co. A, 27th Ky IR                      ACW               Died of Typhoid

PVT. Henry E. Thomas- Co. I, 17th Ky IR                  ACW

PVT. Joseph E. Drury- Co. E, 356th IR, 89th ID       WWI                WIA

SGT. Edward P. Drury- 51st QM Training Co.           WWII

PFC. Delmer C. Koonter- Co. I, 142nd IR, 36th ID    WWII              WIA

SC3c Michael C. Drury- LCS (L) (3) 70                     WWII

SGT. Steven D. Koonter- 5th Cav, 1st Cav Div         Vietnam

SGT. John M. Drury- 227th AVN Bn. 1st Cav Div     Vietnam

 

Contact me with items from the 36th Infantry Division or any IDd uniforms of European Theater Infantry Divisions

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...
On 9/8/2020 at 7:33 PM, ItemCo16527 said:

Very cool grouping! His Bronze Star citation has to be one of the most unique I've ever seen. He must have been quite a man.

 

Thanks! Yes, it is definitely a unique story but makes sense as what he did was very important for the many wounded veterans who served with the battalion throuhgout their campaigns. 

GEN. David R. Atchinson- MO State Guard              ACW

PVT. John H. Drury- Co. A, 27th Ky IR                      ACW               Died of Typhoid

PVT. Henry E. Thomas- Co. I, 17th Ky IR                  ACW

PVT. Joseph E. Drury- Co. E, 356th IR, 89th ID       WWI                WIA

SGT. Edward P. Drury- 51st QM Training Co.           WWII

PFC. Delmer C. Koonter- Co. I, 142nd IR, 36th ID    WWII              WIA

SC3c Michael C. Drury- LCS (L) (3) 70                     WWII

SGT. Steven D. Koonter- 5th Cav, 1st Cav Div         Vietnam

SGT. John M. Drury- 227th AVN Bn. 1st Cav Div     Vietnam

 

Contact me with items from the 36th Infantry Division or any IDd uniforms of European Theater Infantry Divisions

Link to post
Share on other sites

That’s a great jacket with a terrific history.  I like that the ribbon bars have a First World War Occupation ribbon.  That was a very common mistake on WWII uniforms.

 

The DUIs plastic? 

donation2009.gifdonation2010.gifdonation2011.gifdonation2012.gifdonation2013.gifdonation2014.gif
donation2015.gifdonation2016.gifdonation2017.gifdonation2018.gifdonation2019.gifdonation2020.gif





 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.