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Francis Walle - World War II

Francis Walle was 101 years old at the time of this interview. Born in 1912, he was nearly thirty when drafted in early 1942. He did well in Basic Training and was selected to attend the Field Artillery Officer Basic Course. He shipped to Europe in August, 1944, and finally reached the front in late November, where he was assigned as a forward observer to an artillery unit in the 79th Infantry Division. He saw action in the Lorraine region of France and in northeastern Germany. He also served on occupation duty for several months.

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I never fired my weapon

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Photos

Caption

Francis Walle (on the right) and brother Laurence, taken in 1917, when the family lived on a small farm near Piper City, Illinois.

Where:

Piper City, Illinois

When:

1917

Ownership:

May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

The Walle family gathered for a portrait in 1923 on the family farm near Piper City. From left to right are Laurence, Fred (father), Ellsworth, Marion (in front), Matilda (mother) and Francis.

Where:

Piper City

When:

1923

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Francis married Ardell Zimmerman on January 28, 1943 while home on leave in Piper City, Illinois, following his commissioning. The couple (on the right), were married in a joint service along with brother Laurence and his bride.

Where:

Piper City, Illinois

When:

January 28, 1943

Ownership:

May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

Ardell Zimmerman, taken on the family farm during the war. The newlyweds began their life together while Francis was stationed at Camp Swift, Texas, outside of Austin.

Where:

Piper City, Illinois

When:

Circa 1944-1945

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Francis Walle in 1944 while attending basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Francis was heading to the latrine with soap and a scrub brush in hand to clean his boots.

Where:

Fort Sill, Oklahoma

When:

1942

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Francis Walle, in dress uniform, while attending basic training in 1942 at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.

Where:

Ft. Sill, Oklahoma

When:

1942

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Lieutenant Francis Walle with Ardell, who was visiting the camp before they married, while he was completing training at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma in 1942.

Where:

Ft. Sill, Oklahoma

When:

1942

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The palace at Fontainebleau was the home of many of France’s monarchs for centuries before it housed American soldiers, including Lieutenant Walle, in the fall of 1944. He was waiting for assignment as a replacement to a combat division at the front.

Where:

Palace at Fontainebleau, France

When:

Fall of 1944

Ownership:

May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

A 105 millimeter howitzer crew puts the weapon through its paces during the winter of 1944-1945. Lt. Walle was a forward observer, directing artillery fire from the front in support of the 79th Infantry Division, then in action in Lorraine, France.

Where:

Lorraine, France

When:

Winter of 1944-1945

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

For the first two weeks after arrival, Lt. Walle slept in pup tents in the woods. When other troops vacated the palace, Walle’s division spent their nights in the palace, and their days in the woods until they were sent to a Forward Depot on Thanksgiving.

Where:

Fontainebleau, France

When:

September 1944

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Lt. Walle, as a forward observer, rode in a jeep similar to this one, with a driver and a radioman. Serving with the infantry, being a forward observer was often risky business. Circa 1944.

Where:

France

When:

Circa 1944

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Lt. Baker, also in Lt. Walle’s artillery battery, is shown in front of the wreckage of a downed German fighter. Lt. Baker was from Web City, Missouri, near Joplin. Circa 1944.

Where:

France

When:

Circa 1944

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The men of the 79th Infantry Division were proud of their role in liberating this part of Germany. Circa 1945.

Where:

Germany

When:

Circa 1945

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The desire to collect souvenirs was a universal trait for American soldiers at the end of the war in Europe. The men of the 79th Infantry Division were no different; they show off a few in early 1945.

Where:

Europe

When:

Early 1945

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

In Belgium circa 1945, many livestock were found wandering around the countryside. American G.I.s driving trucks and tanks often knocked down farm fences.

Where:

Belgium

When:

Circa 1945

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

This photo, taken in Alsace-Lorraine, France in 1945, shows a team of cattle and a horse pulling a wagon. This region of France had also been a World War I battlefield; remnants of trenches and artillery shells from that war were still in the area.

Where:

Alsace-Lorraine, France

When:

1945

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Lt. Walle’s regiment, the 313th Infantry, crossed the Rhine River on March 24, 1945. He estimated that 1,200 pieces of artillery were involved in the bombardment in preparation for crossing the Rhine, with 300,000 shells fired over the course of an hour.

Where:

After Crossing the Rhine River

When:

March 24, 1945

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo



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