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From: "Greggory E. Davies" <>
Subject: [LAWINN-L] Maj. Wm. S. Walker Leads Daring Exploit, WWII, 1940, Winn Parish, LA.
Date: Sun, 13 Dec 1998 02:55:51 -0600
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Greggory E. Davies
120 Ted Price Lane
Winnfield, LA 71483
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Military Records: Major William S. Walker, 1944, Winn Parish, LA.
Submitted by Greggory E. Davies, 120 Ted Price Lane, Winnfield, LA 71483
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From: December 29, 1944 Winnfield News-American
Major Wm. S. Walker Leads Yanks From Nazis Lines In Daring Exploit; Beat Off
Numerous Attacks In 6 Days
Winnfield Officer Employs Cage Strategy To Bring Men To Safety
Isolated and encircled for over five days and nights, the fighting 440 of
Hogan's "task force" battling east of Marche, Belgium was led to safety by
their Texan commander Hogan and former executive officer, Maj. William S.
Walker of Winnfield, who took charge of the unit when Hogan decided to make
an end run for headquarters, an Associated Press Dispatch discloses.
Major Walker is the husband of the former Miss Mary Elizabeth Abel who is
presently employed as a teacher in the Winnfield elementary school. Mrs.
Walker is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. P. K. Abel.
The story is graphically told by Kenneth L. Dixon in a delayed AP release as
East of Marche, Belgium, Dec. 26. Their faces blacked, their helmets and
armored vehicles left behind, the fighting 400 "Hogan's Task Force" came out
of the woods through 10 miles of enemy lines this morning.
Isolated and encircled miles from any help, they had been given up as lost
after six days. But, out of slightly more than 400 men who struck across no
man's land all but 20 returned, including their commander, Lt. Col. Samuel
M. Hogan of Pharr, Texas, whose wife lives in Forth Worth..
Here is what they had done:
Penetrated enemy lines more than 30 miles.
Been trapped by three panzer divisions outnumbering them literally hundreds to
Fought such a mobile, cagey battle they managed to keep the enemy confused and
at bay on all sides until their gas ran out.
Dug into a village high point when their own cause seemed hopeless and served
so effectively by radio as "forward observers" right in the midst of the enemy
that they called artillery shots which broke up a major enemy counterattack
along the whole sector.
Refuse To Surrender
Refused to surrender, although they appeared to face almost certain
Damaged their armored vehicles, rendered them useless to the enemy, and made a
bold Christmas night escape afoot, slipping out of a trap just as the Germans
snapped the teeth shut with an artillery and mortar barrage and an infantry
Hiked over a hilly timbered hogback 10 miles to safety.
Leading a swift striking column of approximately 60 vehicles varying from
medium tanks to jeeps and including a few artillery pieces, the colorful Texas
who loves to fly the Lone Star state's flag on his jeep or halftrack jumped
off from a little town near here at 2:30 p.m. on December 30. The town
subsequently became the scene of a terrific battle.
Striking southeast the men of "Hogan's Task Force" rolled 30 miles during the
next two hours, not meeting enough resistance even to slow them down.
Meanwhile two German panzers divisions were moving northwest on both sides of
them, but nobody knew it then.
Suddenly at dusk they ran into a German road block and had their first battle
against anti-tank guns and small arms fire. They were caught on a narrow
strip of road between a river and a mountain precipice and were unable
to maneuver or use more than one tank at a time.
That night they took the roadblock, but the next day the enemy attacked with
armor and infantry, the latter shooting down on them from mountain positions.
They finally were forced to pull back about 400 yards.
Subsequently by probing to the north and south they ran head on into
overpowering enemy forces. From their headquarters 30 miles away they
received orders to pull back at least a short distance.
Meanwhile Hogan decided to try to make a run to headquarters for a conference
with division officers. He and Maj. Travis Brown of Manning, S. C., set out
in two jeeps with a couple of other officers and men, including Pvt. Phillip
de Orio of New York City, the colonel's combination orderly, bodyguard, and
They were ambushed and lost the jeeps. Hogan and de Orio got away in one
direction and finally rejoined the task force. Major Brown and another
officer got away in another direction, slipping through the German lines to
safety, two days before the rest of their outfit returned.
Winnfield Officer Takes Over
Back with the task force Maj. William S. Walker of Winnfield, La., former
executive officer, was now in charge. Carefully conserving vital gasoline, he
continued attempting to strike through the enemy's paralleling lines, but each
probing effort drew strong antitank, artillery and mortar fire from both the
front and flanks.
"Finally we closed up for the night there on the road, with both ends digging
in," Walker said.
Beating off attacks through the night they were ready to attack again with the
first light of dawn Dec. 22 when they received another radio message from
headquarters to start fighting their way back to our lines. The strength of
the German armored divisions had been partly learned and little hope was held
for their getting back.
Literally firing both to the front and rear, Walker directed the task force
through a continuous gauntlet on the road back only to run into a large enemy
As the enemy trap was beginning to close, Walker spotted a village on a high
and fairly barren hilltop and his force pushed through the Germans to reach
the town. Hogan had reached town four hours earlier.
Using the last of their gasoline the men moved their tanks, halftracks, and
artillery pieces to seven roads leading out of town and set up roadblocks.
Beat Off Numerous Attacks
During the next two days and nights, still 10 miles from their own lines,
they beat off attack after attack, radioed back information on enemy armored
movements and had the satisfaction of watching American artillery knock out
enemy tanks and other vehicles.
On the afternoon of December 23 they were all set to cheer Capt. H. P. "Ted"
Cardon of Tucson, Ariz., the other liaison officer, because a bunch of
courageous pilots in unarmed C-47s flew supplies in after the artillery
unsuccessfully fired medical supplies for them.
But their glee was short lived because two of the 20 cargo planes were shot
down and the supplies parachuted out of their reach. Another attempt to fly
supplies in the next day failed.
On the morning of December 24 three German officers appeared in halftracks
bearing a white flag and told Hogan his position was hopeless.
They nodded and saluted when the Texan said his force had orders to fight till
"It looked like a pretty bleak Christmas eve," Capt. Cardon said.
Patrol Finds Trail
Then Lieut. Harold L. W. Randall of White Cloud, Kansas, a veteran who won his
commission in the field, led an exploratory patrol. After crossing 700 yards
of barren space he found timber stretching up to a wooded ridge which rolled
right back toward our lines.
On Christmas day the force was ordered to try and make a run for it. The men
blackened their faces, removed their helmets to confuse enemy patrols and at
4:30 p.m. started damaging their armored vehicles.
They left a medical captain and three medical aid men who insisted on
remaining to attend a dozen wounded. Out in front went Lieut. Randall and a
picked crew of reconnaissance men.
For the next 13 hours, Hogan's men hiked over terrain so rugged the Germans
hadn't bothered to man it heavily. At 7 a.m. the next day they began to show
up opposite the American lines. A few of them were arrested and held as
prisoners of war by suspicious doughboys and one was slain accidentally by a
sentry. The last man to return was Hogan.
"My feet got to hurting me," grinned the Texan when he showed up at midday,
"so I just sat down and rested awhile."
|[LAWINN-L] Maj. Wm. S. Walker Leads Daring Exploit, WWII, 1940, Winn Parish, LA. by "Greggory E. Davies" <>|