Prewar to Overseas

Tour in Italy

Postwar and Reflections


William Graham Jameson was born on 29 April 1929 in Rochester, New York. During the Great Depression [Annotator's Note: The Great Depression, a global economic depression that lasted from 1929 through 1945], Jameson's father was forced to close an electric company he owned with some partners. As a result, the family lost their house and were forced to move to Florida in search of work. Jameson saw prisoners working the fields. Jameson's family remained in Florida while he attended elementary school. The family was able to move back to Rochester while Jameson was in high school. He heard the news that Nazi Germany had invaded Poland in 1938. His grandfather was a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy during World War 1. Jameson and his family were struck with disbelief by the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor [Annotator's Note: The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 7 December 1941]. His grandfather called some people in the Navy in Washington D.C. after the attacks wanting to reenlist. Near the end of the war, Jameson enlisted in the United States Army so that he would have the opportunity to go to college on the G.I. bill [Annotator's Note: the G.I. Bill, or Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, was enacted by the United States Congress to aid United States veterans of World War 2 in transitioning back to civilian life and included financial aid for education, mortgages, business starts and unemployment]. He chose the Army over the Navy because he wanted to see the world rather than just a bunch of water. Jameson does not remember exactly where he was stationed for basic training. While in training he got a bad sunburn and was unable to shave his face, which led to some disciplinary action. Part of his training was to learn how to use a rifle and a machine gun. On the morning before he was due to ship overseas, Jameson was standing in line at the first aid station receiving numerous immunizations. The next morning he boarded an awful ship and had an awful breakfast. As Jameson passed through the Straits of Gibraltar [Annotator's Note: also called the Strait of Gibraltar, a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea], he began to believe he would be serving in North Africa. While passing through into the Mediterranean, some sailors on board fired on and exploded mines that had surfaced.


William Graham Jameson landed in Italy [Annotator's Note: and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 350th Infantry Regiment, 88th Infantry Division]. From the ship, he boarded a train bound for Northern Italy along the Swiss border. The train stopped in a tunnel for breakfast with a British regiment. The train reached its destination in Northern Italy around Christmas time and there was plenty of booze to be had. He met a man from Irondequoit, New York, a suburb of Rochester, and they remained friends throughout their time in Italy. Jameson and his company - under Captain Palermo [Annotator's Note: phonetic spelling; unable to identify] - moved west and took up guard over several German POWs [Annotator's Note: prisoners of war]. Jameson's unit was stationed in a house on a wide-open field while the prisoners were in a house of their own a few yards away. The Germans would never attempt and escape because the only place to go was back to Germany where they would be sent back to the frontlines to fight the Red Army [Annotator's Note: The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army, frequently shortened to Red Army, was the army and air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and, after 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics]. On a morning patrol through woods into a small village, his unit was taking heavy casualties. He and some others made it through the woods and killed the sniper who had hampered their advance. On another mission, Jameson's unit crossed an icy river one night to a small farmhouse where German soldiers were believed to be hiding. A guy in his outfit threw a grenade into the building and followed too closely behind, killing himself in the process. On VE-Day [Annotator's Note: Victory in Europe Day, 8 May 1945] there was not much celebration compared to the celebration that ensued when he arrived back in New York City [Annotator's Note: New York, New York]. Before leaving Europe, Jameson told Captain Palermo that if he had been promoted to sergeant, he would never leave his side, but it was too late. After arriving in the United States, he boarded a train and sat next to a guy from Buffalo [Annotator's Note: Buffalo, New York]. When Jameson arrived at the train station in Rochester [Annotator's Note: Rochester, New York] his family was waiting for him. He said his mother did not recognize him at first. He joined the Army because he wanted to see the world. While in Italy, Jameson was part of a mortar squad. Some of his mortars were returned which made him fly in the air. He was sent to the doctor and since the doctor was busy, Jameson just left. Once while on a mission in deep woods, his squad was instructed to fire on a small cabin on the edge of a pond. No one in the squad would take the shot, fearing they would never clear the trees. Jameson took the shot and landed three direct on the cabin, prompting Captain Palermo to declare to the rest of the unit, "Now that's shootin'!"


After returning home from his service in World War 2, William Graham Jameson enrolled at the University of Rochester [Annotator's Note: in Rochester, New York] on the G.I. bill [Annotator's Note: the G.I. Bill, or Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, was enacted by the United States Congress to aid United States veterans of World War 2 in transitioning back to civilian life and included financial aid for education, mortgages, business starts and unemployment] where he earned degrees in finance. He married his wife around the time he graduated. His career allowed him to travel around South America. His most memorable day in the Army was when he received his orders to come home. He was motivated to fight because of the promise of a college education. However, being in the Army made him want to do a good job in anything he ever pursued. He is glad his service is over and that he did not get hurt. He had a friend in Italy that was injured. World War 2 does not mean much to America today. We should continue to teach World War 2 to future generations because it is the best way for young people to understand what they went through without enlisting.

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