Conroy, Joseph, Jr., PFC

Deceased
 
 Photo In Uniform   Service Details
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Last Rank
Private First Class
Last Service Branch
Infantry
Last Primary MOS
677-Military Policeman
Last MOS Group
Military Police Corps (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1939-1944, 745, 2nd Battalion, 142nd Infantry Regiment
Service Years
1939 - 1946

Private First Class


Two Service Stripes



One Overseas Service Bar


 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Texas
Texas
Year of Birth
1920
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SP 4 Johnny Conroy to remember Conroy, Joseph, Jr., PFC.

If you knew or served with this Soldier and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
 
Contact Info
Home Town
Dallas
Last Address
Not Specified

Date of Passing
Aug 12, 2005
 
Location of Interment
Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery - Dallas, Texas
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

36th Infantry Division Infantry Shoulder Cord Honorably Discharged WW II


 Unofficial Badges 






 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Joseph Ralph Conroy, Junior, serial number 10105620. enlisted in the Texas National Guard in 1939. He was federalized with Company G, 142nd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division, United States Army on 14 January 1941.
He served in camps in Texas, including Brownwood, HulenPalacios), Wolters (Mineral Wells) Mabry (Austin), and others. He participated with the division in the 400,000 man Louisiana Maneuvers (war games) in 1941. The Division left Camp Bowie, Brownwood on 14 February 1942 and arrived at Camp Blanding from February 19 after a muddy truck ride through East Texas, with the men often pushing the trucks out of mud holes to get moving again. Torrential rains beset the weary, sodden soldiers. Many 36th Division National Guard veterans were transferred to newly formed divisions while at Camp Blanding to serve as a cadre core fo those units. The remaining men trained hard and constantly. They practiced amphibious assaults on the camp's Lake Kingsley, training that would be of great benefit in a year or so. After 5 months (August 1942)  the division moved to North Carolina to take part in the 1942 Carolina Maneuvers, then were transferred to Camp Edwards, Massachusetts in August 1942 for more amphibious warfare  training and combat training in a mock German village. The division then deployed to North Africa From Fort Dix on 1 April 1943 and after more training in places like Arzew and Rabat the men of the 142nd Infantry Regiment and other 36th Division units made the initial assault onto Green Beach, Paestum, Italy (Invasion of Salerno) on 3 September 1943 in the first wave of Americans to invade the European mainland.
Heavy fighting ensued and Private Conroy was fortunate enough to survive the extremely heavy losses the division suffered in holding the beaches against repeated assaults and other battles that followed the invasion. He was even luckier to suffer an infected foot between October 12 and December 4 1943 (Battle for Million Dollar Hill?) that was cut by rusty barbed wire and his transfer to the hospital at Paestum or north of there. During Christmas he reported being assigned to Company A, 70th Repalcement battalion. On 5 February 1944 he reported being in Company A, 10th replacement Baattalion, probably clarifying that the 70th was an error in legibility. He even had a card printed with that address and his name on it. He was released from an unnamed hospital on February 14. He transferred to temporary duty with the 57th Quartermaster Sales Company on the 24th of February and was returned to the United States in March 1944, while his original infantry unit was decimated at the Rapido River crossing near Monte Cassino. He was assigned to an MP unit and rode troop trains as an MP until mid-1946, when he was honorably discharged at Gallopolice, Ohio.
More detailed World War II ETO Operations (taken from the 142nd Infantry Regiments portion of the 36th Infantry Division's After Action Report on its World War II Activities): 
 

The 142nd Infantry arrived at Oran, Algiers, on April13, 1943, and was immediately placed under 5th Army Control. The Regiment ran patrols and train ing missions until it was alerted for combat duty on 1 August 1943. The regiment immediately left the 5th Army leadershiup and Training Center and arrived on 8 August at Arzew, rejoining the rest of the Division.
On the 11th the regiment moved to Mars El Kobir and, aboard Navy transport, began training for amphibious assaults at Los Andoulses on the 12th-14th, with a final night landing on the 15th. On the 16th they returned to Arzew.
On the 26th the regiment moved to Oran and departed from Mars el Kober and was off shore at St Lew the night of the 28th wherre they landed begining at 0330 hours and moved inland toward their objectives.
This operation, called "Cow puncher" was a fairly realistic training scenario for the upcoming night time invasion  of Italy, utilizing the first wave infantry units scheduled to make that night assault. It had been a realistic mess, with boats unintentionally landing troops all over and not so much at their assigned areas. Of course that resulted in the units losing structural integrity but gaining experience in forming ad hoc units in such cases.
(One has to cull the presentation of these After Action Reports out. All was not so well as depicted, then as in Viet Nam and probably all other conflicts, when the writer's job was to put a positive face on things. This is not a ver batim presentation of the AAR, but my own interpretation after removing all of the verbal smiley faces from it.) ANd to return to it:
On 31 August the troops of the regiment were inspected by Gen Eisenhower, Gen Mark Clark and Division CO Gen Walker. The Division staff was then given information about the pending invasion by Gen Eisenhower and his staff.
On 3 September the regiment boarded waiting assault ships and the convoy sailed from Mars el Kobir on the 5th.
The troops received booklets on Italy and needed information, finding out their destination the first day at sea. They ate Navy food, after so many K-ration meals, past and future. The passage was miserable for the sea sick, and below deck life was, too, with little ventilation and the smell of vomit.
The ships joined the main convoy at Bizerte. In later years my father was to confuse me with comments like "Dirty birdy from Bizerte", and it was way beyond my youth before I got a glimmer of his line of thinking.
The portion of the convoy the 142nd occupied was not subjected to air attacks, but they were visible in the distance as the convoy proceeded.
The troops got a biref hope that peace would come when they were informed that the Italian government had surrendered, but word was quickly passed that they would be opposed by Germans, not Italians. And in the night as they approached they saw the bombardment and fires and explosions and knew it was so.
After arriving on 8 September the assault boats weere lowered and at 2315 hours the men of the 142nd Infantry Regiment cloimbed down the nets into them. The boats left the ships at midnight. Private Conroy and the rest of the first wave of Americans to invade Europe during World War II were en route to do just that in a very violent manner.
Inside of the assault boats were a small group of men who were excited, scared, and often sea sick. For the two hour ride to the beach they saw the turmoil of explosions and so forth while they listened to the sound of the motor propelling them to their fates. Then the pre landing bombardment was cancelled. There is no speculation in the AAR about how many American lives this cost, but no more European landings were made without one prior to the troops landing.
The 2nd Battalion, including Conroy's Company G, was assigned to Green Beach, and was to take the beach and fight inland to take the mountains overlooking the beach and bay. But the enemy was dug in deep on the very beach that was scheduled to receive that cancelled fire, and the landing troops were machine gunned and shelled, besides having mines in the waters to contend with. The affair on the beach became very bloody immediately.
The troops killede Germans and died themseolves as they fought their way off the beach. Engineers cleared paths free of land mines, and unmolested German artillery blew full boats of landing troops up, as well as men on the beach.
But the landing was made, and the 2nd battalion made the railroad at 0645 and the creek at 0715, on schedule. They were headed for those towering mountains and the German artillery up there.
The 2nd Battalion was on the high ground that morning, with no time noted.
German air attacks on the beach continued.
The 2nd Battalion took high ground during slow advances and bitter fighting, and Company G and Pvt Conroy dug in on Mount Soprano, overlooking the beach.
On and near the beach battles ensued with German tanks time and again, and they came close to pushin g the division into the sea. The AAR does not mention the well known panic of 5th Army commander General Mark Clark, vacillating over trying to stay and pulling what troops he could out and cutting and running. Eisenhower persuaded him to stay while the Navy knocked out German tanks with direct fire from its ships guns to the beach, stabilizing a chotic situation
By 1045 on the 11th the 2nd Battalion occupied the high ground east of Mount Tempala  and the road to Roccaspido.. Artillery continued to fall on the men and tanks were reported near G Company's road block, but never showed up. Communications, which had been poor to nonn-existent, were established with otherf units and Division.
The battalion spent the dayof the 12th  in Roccaspide, enduring only harrassing fire and artillery.
The 2nd Battalion conducted a reconnaissance of Altavilla on the 13th. On the 14th they were in Albanella reporting a morning tank battle on their left flank.
On the 15th the battalion was on Mount Chirico, and had sent a motorized recon to Roccaspide, wherre they encountered no enemy. They contimnued patrols, foot and mobile, and encountered no resistence. On Mount Chirico, their main body was shelled frequently.
The 16th brought little activity to the battalion's sector, as did the 17th, 18th, and 19th.
On the 20th the Division was notified to remain in place and on the 21st it was replaced on the line and sent into 5th Army Reserve to refit and retrain over the same ground they had fought over in order to show where mistakes had been made and to correct them.
The 36th Infantry Division had prevailed in a very tough fight, accomplishing its mission of taking its objectives and holding the bach head for ten days. But at a terrible cost.
So the troops trained hard, physcial conditioning was a priority. they got passes and went to Pompeii and other sites that the Germans had vacated. They ate well and constantly trained for their next assignment. They were assigned to II Corps, 5th Army, and the regiments were inspected in October and pronounced ready to return to the line.
On 15 November by 0300 hours at Villa Volturno, the regiment replaced the 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division in the ever present mud and rain.
On 3 December the Division and the First Special Sevices Force attacked in a major offensive. By 1930 the 2nd Battalion had taken their first objective, Hill 906. Company A took "Objective B'. Then the Regimental Commander sent 1st Brigade to hold those and gave 2nd Battalion what had been 1st Battalion's objectives. Two companies of the 2nd moved out to take Hill 830.
All Regimental objectives had been taken by the end of the 4th of December, with moderate casualties. But one of them was Private Consroy, whose foot had been cut by barbed wire at some point and had become badly infected. He had been evacuated to a hospital in the rear some time after the 3rd. He was very fortunate at this turn of events, and combat for him was a thing of the past. So I shall not record any more of the reports on the 142nd Infantry regiment, 36th Infantry Division.
As stated, Pvt Conroy was transferred to rear untis and then returned to the Statres, to become a rail road Military policeman. That cut probably saved his life.






 

 
   
Other Comments:
Excerpts from V-mails sent to my mother during his deployment:

April 17, 1943 -  "I am located somewhere in North Africa." Had his hair clipped short.

April 19, 1943 - [to his mother] - "this country (North Africa) isn't nearly as bad as pictured" Will probably attend Easter services in the field.

May 19, 1943 -  "...going to town tomorrow...take nap before duty tonight."

May 24, 1943 -  "Standing guard with a Frenchman."

May 28, 1943 -  "...went to one of the surrounding towns with interesting sights..."

June 2, 1943 -  "...still in North Africa. ...ate a breakfast of eggs, meat, cereal, apricots, and coacoa or coffee." ..."Showered and shaved and went on duty."

August 1, 1943 - "...received letter mailed from Dallas on July 25th..."

September 7, 1943 - "There isn't anything left that I can discuss."  Note: This was dated two days prior to the battle/invasion and the future looked very bleak. General Clark even made plans to evacuate what units he could from the beach head and admit defeat during the battle.

September 26, 1943 - "I don't have many conveniences...(letters) they got a little wet and stuck to my pocket book a few nights past. i am awful thankful to still have my skin!...the closer we get to Berlin means the sooner we will be reunited."

September 30, 1943 - "Everything has been quite calm for the past few days. He commented on his sister Lottie going to work in a war plant.

October 6, 1943 - "...haven't received the candy or pictures yet." The company received some donuts and attended religious services when possible.

October 6, 1943 (2) -  "Business has picked up quite a little bit." He commented on eating rations: "I am going to turn into beans and hash."

October 12, 1943 - "There still isn't anything I'm allowed to say."

December 3, 1943 - complains they can't understand why so many men are staying in the States and no replacements are being sent (to his company/battalion, etc.) Got his name on a payroll so he could get paid...no pay in three months.

December 4, 1943 - finally entitled "Somewhere in Italy".  He was already assigned to the hospital or the Replacement Battalion, however they did it in those days. He said he ate chow and went to his tent since it was too late to write, then he went to a picture show. "Keep writing me in care of Company G, 142nd Infantry Regiment and they will forward my mail." Speculates that he may return to the States in 6 or 7 months since 1% of "old men" (those who made the invasion) are being allowed to return. (This was the rumor mill, not truth.)

January 4, 1944 - "...writing this letter and eating cheese sandwiches. I just finished playing a little 500 rummy with some of the boys from my old company who came to visit me."  "...received a letter from you today postmarked nov 13 plus a Christmas package ... had been broken into....no use of sending me anything worthwhile...Yesterday I went to town again...attended an Italian movie...couldn't understand the speaking...had dinner in an Italian resaraunt." Complains dinner for three G.I's cost $11.50, merchandise at ridiculously high prices, "saw the effect of an air raid on Italian civilians who were all very calm and filed into their airiraid shelters without too many hysterical outcries". Comments on the popularity of American cigarettes by the Italian citizens. 

January 5, 1944 - "has been raining for the past twelve hours and is pretty cold." He had a tent that offered shelter, had gone into town on the third and attended a movie then had dinner.

January 10, 1944 (misdated 1943, before US troops were in mainland Europe) - headlined Italy. - says he has become a "pretty fair soldier" since returning from going AWOL for his baby's birth in  the States and still owes $107 to the government over the cost of travel returning him to his unit. He commented on his wife saying he had changed., saying "after spending a length of time over here a person can't help but change". He also says that "this conflict has just about reached a climax and will come to a close by summer, possibly July".

January 12, 1944 - "...I'm working nights...can't sleep days." He received some cigarettes in the mail.

January 16, 1944 - He attended the "picture show" entitled "This is the Army".

January 23, 1944 - He worked nights and slept days, apparently adapting to the new hours. He said he had "not a chance of going home until the conflict ends."

February 5, 1944 - with Company A, 10th Replacement Battalion return address he noted that he had been ill.

February 12, 1944 - he had a friend "only two blocks from the hospital to go back to my organization tomorrow" - apparently to his battalion, or even company,  in the field.

February 15, 1944 - with 397th Replacement Battalion return address - "I was released from the hospital yesterday."

February 18, 1944 - he received two packages from an unstated source, probably issue: a shining kit and writing material.

February 19, 1944 - "...went to a movie."

February 20, 1944 - "...sorry to learn that so many of the Boys were in the hospital in the States...They have given a good account of themselves. ...I was glad to learn that Judge received the Legion of Merit."

February 22, 1944 - another picture show

February 24, 1944 - "went on detached service today with the Quartermaster. I have a nice bed, running water, and dresser drawer."


undated 1944 -    "...told you about me being unclassified. I'm in the rear echelon." commented on being without pay for one year.

undated 1944 -   "I am drinking a Coca Cola and eating a chocolate bar..."

undated 1944 -   "...slept all afternoon preparing for guard duty tonight. took inventory today...long day...turned exceptionally cold today."


undated 1944 - "I have a cot to sleep on and a tent over me, but when one takes into consideration the boys up on the front it doesn't make you feel vey well".

Those were the last of his v-mails as he soon was transported home on a troop ship, reassigned because of his problems with his ankle , which the VA never did approve his claim on during the next 56 years he lived.
 
   
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 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
  1941, Basic Training (Camp Bowie, TX), 3
  1942, Basic Training (Camp Blanding, FL), 3
 Unit Assignments
2nd Battalion, 142nd Infantry Regiment36th Infantry DivisionArmy Garrisons1st Battalion, 142nd Infantry Regiment
Army ReserveNorth Africa Command10th Personnel Services Battalion
  1939-1944, 745, 2nd Battalion, 142nd Infantry Regiment
  1939-1944, 2nd Battalion, 142nd Infantry Regiment
  1939-1944, 36th Infantry Division
  1941-1941, 745, US Army Garrison Fort Polk, LA
  1941-1944, 745, HHC, 1st Battalion, 142nd Infantry Regiment
  1942-1943, 745, 49th Field Training Group, Camp Mabry
  1943-1943, 745, North Africa Command
  1943-1944, 745, 10th Replacement Company, 10th Personnel Services Battalion
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1943-1943 WWII - European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Naples-Foggia Campaign (1943-44)1
  1943-1943 Naples-Foggia Campaign (1943-44)/Operation Avalanche2
  1943-1944 WWII - European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Naples-Foggia Campaign (1943-44)
  1944-1944 WWII - European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Rome-Arno Campaign (1944)
 Colleges Attended 
Dallas Baptist University
  1937-1939, Dallas Baptist University
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