Family Group

 

 

 

 

Surname

PFC McCracken

On April 16 at 2200 hours,  Howard's company (C), "moved out from La Valle to attack the high ground at Di Sopra and the cemetery to its right. . . . C Company started up toward Di Sopra in the face of heavy machine gun and small arms fire from the cemetery.  The company then advanced on the high ground and secured positions in the village of Di Sopra." (from Operations Reports)

 

At dawn on April 17, 1945 (only days before the war in Europe ended), Howard's company made an assault on the cemetery to the north of Di Sopra.  It was during this attack that  Howard was injured by a land mine.  At that point, he went to/was taken to a foxhole near a road to wait for the medics.  The report indicates that many casualties that day could not be quickly evacuated because the area was under enemy observation.  As far as the family knows, Howard was never seen after reaching the foxhole.

 

His friend, Richard  knew that about Howard's injury.  Richard was injured later that day and taken to the hospital.  The next day, he looked for Howard in the hospital and could not find him.  Richard indicated to the family that Howard's injury was worse than his own, but he didn't indicate that he thought it was life threatening.

 

The the official Finding of Death letter (from 1 year and 1 day after he was missing) states, " . . .he, with other members of Company C, 350th Infantry Regiment, took part in an attack against enemy positions near La Valle, Italy, thirteen miles south of Bologna.  While advancing through a minefield,  your son stepped on a mine, injuring his foot.  He was last seen in a fox hole awaiting medical treatment; however, an extensive search of the area revealed no information concerning his whereabouts."

 

On May 6, shortly after 10 a.m., the family received a telegram that Howard was missing on  (There are some things that people never forget.)  One year and one day later the Army declared Howard dead per standard policy.  His family did not give up on his return home as easily.  Perhaps they still haven’t.

 

The letter shown below is Howard’s last letter home, dated two days prior to his disappearance.

 

To read excerpts from Howard’s story, click here

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Facts

 

Name:  William Howard

             McCracken

Called: Howard

 

Birthdate: Feb 15, 1919

Birthplace: Farlington. KS

 

Date inducted: Oct 16, 1943

Place inducted: Ft.   Leavenworth, KS

Basic Training: Camp Wolters, TX

 

Division: 88th Cloverleaf

              (a.k.a. the Blue Devils)

Batallion: 1st

Regiment: 350th

Company: C

 

Combat dates: Jun 1944 - Apr 1945

Combat location: Italy

 

Missing: Apr 17, 1945

Location Missing: Monterumici Hill

 

Mitiary Awards:

    Bronze Star

    Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster

    Combat Infantryman Badge

 

Cities/towns visited:

    Florence

    Montecatini

    Leghorn

 

Memorials:

    Hiattville Cemetery

    Ft. Scott Courthouse lawn

    American Cemetery - Italy

 

Other Sources

 

   American Cemetery

   Camp Wolters

   88th Division (Mestas)

   88th Division (LS)

   88th Inf. Div. Assoc.

   The Italian Campaign

   WWII Documents

 

 

 

The Memorial shown is on the lawn of the Ft. Scott Court House. It honors the soldiers from Bourbon County that were lost in WWI and WWII.

 

Howard’s name appears at the top of the fourth column of WWII soldiers.

Copyright L. Thomson 2016 - All Rights Reserved