Craig Sr., Ralph, S/Sgt

Deceased
 
 Photo In Uniform   Service Details
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Last Rank
Staff Sergeant
Last Service Branch
Infantry
Last Primary MOS
745-Rifleman
Last MOS Group
Infantry (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1943-1946, 745, 66th Infantry Division
Service Years
1943 - 1946

Staff Sergeant


One Service Stripe



One Overseas Service Bar


 Last Photo   Personal Details 


Home State
Kentucky
Kentucky
Year of Birth
Not Specified
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SFC Ralph Craig, Jr. to remember Craig Sr., Ralph, S/Sgt.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Maceo
Last Address
Fordsville, Kentucky

Date of Passing
May 25, 1984
 
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

Infantry Shoulder Cord Honorably Discharged WW II


 Unofficial Badges 






 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

Employed with South Central Bell Telephone Company for about 15 years out of Indianapolis Indiana after being discharged. He later sold life insurance but returned to Farming in the mid 1960s. He also did some part-time contract labor until he got too sick to work. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December 1983 and died May 25th, 1984.    


   
Other Comments:

Drafted in 1943 and entered the Army at Camp Attebury, Indiana. 
Later assigned to the newly formed 66th Infantry (Black Panther Division) at Camp Blanding Fl. After receiving extinsive training at Camp Blanding, Florida, Camp Robinson, Arkansas and Camp Rucker, Alabama, the Division was assigned to the ETO.
The Division left South Hampton England on 12/24/1944 enroute to Cherbourg France to reinforce combat operations to the Battle of the Bulge. About 1900 hours, 5 miles off the coast of France, the transport ship SS Leopoldville was struck by at least one torpedo fired from a German Submarine, U-486. The ship remained afloat for about 2 and 1/2 hours before sinking into the English channel. During its remaining time afloat, the British escort ships left the crippled ship to pursue the submarine. The Belgium crew abandoned ship leaving the American Soldiers to fend for themselves. The lead escort ship HMS Brilliant subsequently returned and learned that there were over 2000 troops on board.  There was no direct communication with American forces at Cherbourg. In an attempt to rescue some of the soldiers the Brilliant pulled along side the Leopoldville with what was described as 30 to 40 foot swells. Many of the soldiers tried to jump in what was described as being pitch black darkness from ship to ship only to miss, and fall between the ships and were crushed. The ones that made the jump were taken to Cherbourg again leaving hundreds alone on the decks of the Leopoldville. After sinking many of the remaining soldiers became casualties of hypothermia and drowned. The next morning bodies that were being recovered were stacked along the pier at Cherbourg. Someone saw my father's finger move and pulled him out of the pile of bodies. There was over 800 Division losses that night. With the number of injured and casualties (hospitalized) added to that, the Division was decimated. Due to the contributing actions of the crew, the escort ships, lack of communication and the lack of response from American forces at Cherbourg, the suvivors were ordered not to discuss what had happened to them. The families of the soldiers lost were never told what had happend and the incident remained classified for 50 years. The 66th relieved the 94th Infantry Division and  went on to fight German resistance in the St. Nazaire and Lorient sectors of France. The sinking of the Leopoldville would be noted as being the second largest loss of American troops at sea during WWII. The Division subsequently traveled through Austria into Germany as a part of the Occupational Army. Most of the Division was then ordered back to Southern France (Port of Marseille) before completing 30 days of occupational duty. 

I remember my dad talking about when it was time for him to get out. He advised me that the Army wanted him to go through Ranger School and then be deployed to Japan. It is my understanding that  the Bomb was droped and the war was ended and at that point he elected to get out.          

   
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 Ribbon Bar

Combat Infantryman 1st Award
Auto Rifle
Rifle
Carbine

 
 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
  1943, Basic Training (Camp Blanding, FL), B
 Unit Assignments
66th Infantry Division
  1943-1946, 745, 66th Infantry Division
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1944-1945 WWII - European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Rhineland Campaign (1944-45)
  1945-1945 Central Europe Campaign (1945)/Victory in Europe Day (VE Day - 8May45)
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