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PFC William Edward “Billy” Way

PFC William Edward “Billy” Way

Birth
Rock Creek, Jefferson County, Kansas, USA
Death 18 Dec 1944 (aged 19)
Liège, Belgium
Burial Meriden, Jefferson County, Kansas, USA
Memorial ID 38607104 · View Source
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Son of William Walter "Will" Way and Nellie Mary (Launer) Way.

World War II
Killed in Action: Battle of the Bulge
Service Branch: U.S. Army
Rank: Private First Class
Recipient of two Purple Hearts

Billy was drafted on June 21st, 1943 at the age of 18. Basic training was at Fort McClellan, AL, then he went on to Fort George G. Mead, MD, and later New York, NY. He was part of the 38th Infantry Regiment, Company B, and was shipped to England, then northern Ireland for two months, then back to England. Bill was on the English Channel on June 6, 1944 when the US landed at Normandy, but his company didn't go ashore for three more days. In a letter home he said "there were more ships in one place than he had ever seen before and hoped he never saw again."

On June 12th while fighting in France, he and several others were wounded when a mine exploded and he was sent to a hospital in England to recover. He had 5 shrapnel wounds to his right upper thigh, left thigh and lower left leg. These proved to be easily removed without surgery. He was awarded a Purple Heart for these injuries.

On July 15th he wrote a letter to his grandfather, Ed Launer regarding his injuries.

On August 12th Billy returned to his company and continued to fight in France and Germany. By December 16th he and his company were fighting in Belgium near the town of Krinkelt during the Battle of the Bulge. During a "furious battle with enemy tanks and infantry troops," his company became separated. He was last seen on December 18th 1944. After a search of the area he was listed as missing in action and word was sent home to his family.

"The Battle of the Bulge which lasted from December 16, 1944 to January 25, 1945 was the largest land battle of World War II in which the United States participated. More than a million men fought in this battle including some 600,000 Germans, 500,000 Americans, and 55,000 British. The German military force consisted of two Armies with ten corps (equal to 29 divisions). While the American military force consisted of a total of three armies with six corps (equal to 31 divisions). At the conclusion of the battle the casualties were as follows: 81,000 U.S. with 19,000 killed, 1400 British with 200 killed, and 100,000 Germans killed, wounded or captured."

It was not until February 17th, 1945 that word reached the Secretary of War that he was definitively identified as having been killed in action near Krinkelt on December 18th, 1944. A second Purple Heart was awarded posthumously. He was laid to rest in Henri-Chapelle Cemetery #1.

After the war ended, Billy's body was disinterred and sent home for burial in Meriden Cemetery. His mother said, "If the Army could send him over there, they can send him back".

Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial - Cenotaph

Bio by: LV Reynolds


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Inscription

He Died For His Country


  • Maintained by: Melody
  • Originally Created by: Steve McCray
  • Added: 21 Jun 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 38607104
  • Herbert Rickards
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for PFC William Edward “Billy” Way (10 Jan 1925–18 Dec 1944), Find A Grave Memorial no. 38607104, citing Meriden Cemetery, Meriden, Jefferson County, Kansas, USA ; Maintained by Melody (contributor 47148339) .