Alley, Jr, James, S/Sgt

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Last Rank
Staff Sergeant
Last Service Branch
Last Primary MOS
Last MOS Group
Infantry (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1942-1945, 745, E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR)
Service Years
1942 - 1945

Staff Sergeant

One Service Stripe

Two Overseas Service Bars

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by LTC Roger Gaines (Army Chief Admin) to remember Alley, Jr, James ("MO"), S/Sgt.

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
Not Specified
Last Address
Mount Ida

Date of Passing
Mar 14, 2008
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

Belgian Fourragere Netherlands Orange Lanyard Honorably Discharged WW II Meritorious Unit Commendation 1944-1961

French Fourragere

 Unofficial Badges 


 Military Associations and Other Affiliations
Military Order of the Purple Heart
  1944, Military Order of the Purple Heart - Assoc. Page

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
506th PIR Co. E, 2nd Battalion (Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry, 101st Airborne )

Enlisted in 1942. Earned three Purple Heart's and a�Bronze Star. Discharged from service in 1945 and later moved to California to live with family members. Moved to Washington in 1951.

James H. Alley, Jr., 85, a resident of Sedro-Woolley and died on Friday, March 14, 2008. Jim was born on July 20, 1922 in Mount Ida, AR,� s/o Grace V. (Davis) & James H. Alley who owned Henry Alley Hardware's store in Mt. Ida in 1930 (census). It had a hitching rail in front to tie up horses. Jim was raised and attended school in Arkansas and from there in 1942 enlisted into the U.S. Army during WW II where he was a paratrooper with the 101st Air Borne Division. He joined the company in Toccoa shortly after it had been formed and remained with it through the war. Jim was depicted in the HBO mini series "The Band of Brothers", telling the story of the 101st Division's D'Day jump into Germany and the battles they encountered, and Jim was one of the few to make it to Hitler's retreat. He was the recipient of three Purple Hearts and four Bronze Stars for his service in Normandy, Central Europe, Rhineland and Ardennes. After he got wounded he decided that when he had to face combat again, it was going to be with E-Company. He felt that E-Company was the greatest bunch of guys in the world. After his discharge in 1945 he moved with his family to California, living there until 1951 when he moved to Washington. Jim was a general contractor, mostly in the King County area, remodeling and building homes and commercial buildings. Memorial Services with Military Honors were held on Saturday, March 22, 2008 at the First Baptist Church in Sedro-Woolley with Pastor Kirby Bertholf officiating.

You were one of the original members of the company, weren't you?
Yes, I joined the company in Toccoa shortly after it had been formed and remained with it through the war.

Didn't you receive one of your wounds during the Holland operation?
Yes, I was wounded on the Island on October 5. If it weren't for Joe Lesniewski, I would not be here today. I was shooting at a German, and I felt this thud. Joe shoved me and yelled, "Grenade!". His warning gave me just enough time to turn my body from the blast. The next thing I remember was coming to and running around. Rod Strohl got me out of there and back to the company.

Your wounds almost ended your time with Company E, didn't they?
Almost. After two months in the hospital recovering from the grenade blast, I was sent to a replacement depot. I knew I would be assigned to another company. "No way", I thought. "I am not going back into combat with another unit". If I had to face combat again, it was going to be with Easy Company. So I decided to go AWOL.

How did you make it back to Company E after you had been away for two months?
I sold my German luger to get a little money and set off for Paris. I knew that if I could make it to Paris, I would find somebody in the 101st, and they could direct me to Easy. Well, after I got to Paris, who should I see walking down the street but Dick Winters. He looked at me and said. "Alley, what in the hell are you doing here?" I said, "Looking for you, sir". Winters found me transport back to the company. I arrived at Mourmelon on December 15.

That was just a few days before the regiment was alerted to travel up to Bastogne. How did you react to the news of the breakthrough when it reached Mourmelon-le-Grand?
I had only been back for two days when we got the word of the breakthrough. We were all a little stunned at first. I didn't see how we could go anywhere in the condition we were in. I didn't even have a gun at first. Finally, somebody issued me one, but I didn't have much ammunition. After the shock of the alert wore off, however, we were all just a little resigned. I remember a lot of the guys saying, "Here we go again".

What was the ride up to the front like, and how did you react when you saw GIs streaming to the rear?
The ride up was pretty rough. You had to stand up most of the time; you could not sit down. It was miserable, but we had to cope with it. It was worse because we had no idea where we were going. We didn't really travel through Bastogne. I believe we sort of cut around it and then headed up the road toward Foy. As we went down that road, we could hear shellfire, small arms, machine guns and everything else. We were heading toward it, and coming in the other direction were all these other guys. They were literally running. They were shouting at us: "Man, you don't want to go up there. They are just running us over". Most of them had already thrown away their guns, but I was able to get ammunition from one or two of them. We were pretty upset with these guys, and we told them that they were going in the wrong damn direction. There was no stopping them, though; they were just scared to death. Finally, an officer came up in a jeep loaded with ammunition and doled some of it out to us.

How did you take the news that the 101st was surrounded? Did you ever dispair?
No, we never worried about it. A lot of us reacted to the news with, "They got us surrounded, the poor bastards". We were used to being surrounded. We were dug in and had good positions, so we were ready for whatever happened.

After reaching the front, the company was sent to positions in Bois Jacques, where it quickly got involved in some fighting. Please describe what that was like?
We got off the trucks at Champs and then marched east through Bastogne and set up positions in these woods outside the town of Foy. When I settled in my foxhole, Which I shared with Paul Rogers, I realized I had only one grenade and very little ammunition for my rifle. Nevertheless, we were immediately placed on outpost duty, which was six hours per shift. We hadn't been out there long when the Germans hit us pretty hard. We repulsed the attack and had finished our shift when the Germans shelled our positions pretty bad. That is when Walter Gordon was wounded pretty badly.

Did this sort of routine continue?
Yes, the same thing happened over the next several days. One of the worst days was December 24. They hit us about 8:30 in the morning with a full company of SS troops. Then the artillery shelled us. To add to it, the luftwaffe bombed us all night long.

What other difficulties did you face?

The weather was also a factor. We had no cold-weather clothing. I covered my feet with burlap sacks to keep them from freezing. That worked for a while, but then the sacks froze, and it felt like I had two suitcases on my feet. Te cold was awful. I honostly don't know how in the hell we survived.

Can you describe what it was like when you heard that the 101st had been relieved?
We didn't really know what it meant. We soon found out, though. We were taken off the line for a few days, and then we were right back in it, attacking Foy.

How long did your new round of fighting last?
We kept fighting through January. We had a short time off the line, but we were back in combat by January 2, and we were still in our positions in Bois Jacques when we were shelled terribly on January 3. That is when we lost Bill Guarnere and Joe Toye (both wounded). On the 13th we continued our attack on Foy. The town was full of snipers. One of them had what was left of the 3rd Platoon pinned down pretty good. He shot and killed Frank Mellet right in front of me. Finally, Shifty Powers got the sniper with a shot right between the eyes. Even after we took the town, though, it was still dangerous. At one point we were in the town when all of a sudden an 88 round came crashing in. It landed in the snow and was a dud- thank goodness, as it landed between a couple of us who had no place to go. If it had been live, I wouldn't have made it. It scared the hell out of us.

After all you had been through was Foy the end for you?
No, after Foy we got the word that we were going to attack Noville. I remember thinking to myself, "My God, they won't be happy until they kill every last one of us". After what we had been through, I wondered how they could tell us to attack again. We went, though. There was no complaining. We knew it had to be done, and we were going to do it. Complaining wasn't going to change anything.

What were your final days in the Ardennes like, and can you describe how you felt when you finally got a respite?
I remember the last town we were in was Rachamps. It was the last place we took, and they shelled us the whole night before we left. Finally, they pulled us back out to some buildings, and we were given a chance to rest in what was left of a couple of them. Even though we were all crammed into these two buildings, being off the line felt damn good.

Do you have any final thought about Easy Company?
I think all of the attention we are receiving is a terrific honor. I just hope it is not blown out of proportion. I know some of the other companies and regiments in the division will be upset about all of this attention. I know that what we went through was the same as any other company in the division. We are not special. We didn;t win the war single-handedly; there were milions of folks in the service during World War II, and they all had a hand in the victory. I know that my life would have been different without the men of Company E. It was such a great experience to meet so many terrific guys. The greatest bunch of guys in the world. It is still quite a group.

Other Comments:
Awards: CIB, Jump Wings 3 Combat Jumps, Bronze Star, Purple Heart w/2 Oak leaf Clusters, Good Conduct Medal, ADM,�EAME W/4�Bronze Stars, WW II Victory, Army Occupation Medal, French Croix de Gueere, Dutch Orange Laynard, Belgium Croix de Gueere.

Location of Service: Camp Toccoa, Georgia; England; France; Belgium; Holland; Germany; Austria�

MOS: 745
ASN: 18166080�
Enlisted: 22-Sep-42 at Little Rock, AK. County: Montgomery. Infantry�
4 years of high school�
Semiskilled structural- and ornamental-metal workers�
Single, without dependents

Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law�

Army of the United States - includes the following: Voluntary enlistments effective December 8, 1941 and thereafter; One year enlistments of National Guardsman whose State enlistment expires while in the Federal Service; Officers appointed in the Army of the United States under Army Regulations 605-10
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WWII - European Theater of Operations/Rhineland Campaign (1944-45)/Siege of Bastogne
From Month/Year
December / 1944
To Month/Year
January / 1945

The Siege of Bastogne was an engagement in December 1944 between American and German forces at the Belgian town of Bastogne, as part of the larger Battle of the Bulge. The goal of the German offensive was the harbour at Antwerp. In order to reach it before the Allies could regroup and bring their superior air power to bear, German mechanized forces had to seize the roadways through eastern Belgium. Because all seven main roads in the Ardennes mountain range converged on the small town of Bastogne, control of its crossroads was vital to the German attack. The siege lasted from December 20–27 when the besieged American forces were relieved by elements of General George Patton's Third Army.

Initial combat at Noville[edit]
On 19–20 December, the 1st Battalion of the 506th PIR was ordered to support Team Desobry (Maj. William R. Desobry), a battalion-sized tank-infantry task force of the 10th Armored Division assigned to defend Noville[7] located north-northeast of both Foy and of Bastogne just 4.36 mi (7.02 km) away. With just four M18 tank destroyers of the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion to assist, the paratroopers attacked units of the 2. Panzerdivision, whose mission was to proceed by secondary roads via Monaville (just northwest of Bastogne) to seize a key highway and capture, among other objectives, fuel dumps — for the lack of which the overall German counter-offensive faltered and failed. Worried about the threat to its left flank in Bastogne, it organized a major combined arms attack to seize Noville. Team Desobry's high speed highway journey to reach the blocking position is one of the few documented cases wherein the legendary top speed of the M18 Hellcat (55 mph (89 km/h)) was actually used to get ahead of an enemy force as envisioned by its specifications.

The attack of 1st Battalion and the M18 Hellcat tank destroyers of the 705th TD Battalion together destroyed at least 30 German tanks and inflicted 500-1,000 casualties on the attacking forces in what amounted to a spoiling attack.[citation needed] A Military Channel expert historian[who?] credited the M18 tank destroyers with 24 kills, including several Tiger tanks, and believes that, in part, their ability to "shoot and scoot" at high speed and then reappear elsewhere on the battlefield and therefore appear to be another vehicle entirely played a large part in confusing and slowing the German attack, which subsequently stalled, leaving the Americans in possession of the town overnight. The 3rd Battalion was ordered forward from a reserve position north of Bastogne to ease the pressure on 1st Battalion by occupying a supporting position in Foy to the south.

The heavy losses inflicted by the tank-destroyers induced the German commander into believing the village was being held by a much stronger force[7] and he recoiled from further attacks on the village, committing a strategic error while seeking tactical advantage — significantly delaying the German advance and setting the stage for the Siege of Bastogne just to the south. This delay also gave the 101st Airborne Division enough time to organize defenses around Bastogne. After two days, the 2nd Panzer Division finally continued on its original mission to the Meuse River. As a consequence of its involvement at Bastogne, and its failure to dislodge the airborne forces, the column ultimately ran out of fuel at Celles, where it was destroyed by the U.S. 2nd Armored Division and the British 29th Armoured Brigade.

By the time the 1st Battalion pulled out of Noville on the 20th, the village of Foy half-way to Bastogne center had been captured from the 3rd Battalion by a separate attack, forcing the 1st Battalion to then fight its way through Foy. By the time 1st Battalion made it to the safety of American lines, it had lost 13 officers and 199 enlisted men, out of about 600 troops, and was assigned as the division reserve. Team Desobry lost a quarter of its troops and was reduced to just four medium tanks when it passed through the lines of 3rd Battalion.

19–23 December 1944
The 101st Airborne formed an all-round perimeter using the 502nd PIR on the northwest shoulder to block the 26th Volksgrenadier, the 506th PIR to block entry from Noville, the 501st PIR defending the eastern approach, and the 327th GIR scattered from Marvie in the southeast to Champs in the west along the southern perimeter, augmented by engineer and artillery units plugging gaps in the line. The division service area to the west of Bastogne had been raided the first night, causing the loss of almost its entire medical company, and numerous service troops were used as infantry to reinforce the thin lines. CCB of the 10th Armored Division, severely weakened by losses to its Team Desobry (Maj. William R. Desobry), Team Cherry (Lt. Col. Henry T. Cherry), and Team O'Hara (Lt. Col. James O'Hara) in delaying the Germans, formed a mobile "fire brigade" of 40 light and medium tanks (including survivors of CCR 9th Armored Division and eight replacement tanks found unassigned in Bastogne).

Three artillery battalions were commandeered and formed a temporary artillery group. Each had twelve 155 mm (6.1 in) howitzers, providing the division with heavy firepower in all directions restricted only by its limited ammunition supply. Col. Roberts, commanding CCB, also rounded up 600+ stragglers from the rout of VIII Corps and formed Team SNAFU as a further stopgap force.

As a result of the powerful American defense to the north and east, XLVII Panzer Corps commander Gen. von Lüttwitz decided to encircle Bastogne and strike from the south and southwest, beginning the night of 20/21 December. German panzer reconnaissance units had initial success, nearly overrunning the American artillery positions southwest of Bastogne before being stopped by a makeshift force. All seven highways leading to Bastogne were cut by German forces by noon of 21 December, and by nightfall the conglomeration of airborne and armored infantry forces were recognized by both sides as being surrounded.

The American soldiers were outnumbered approximately 5-1 and were lacking in cold-weather gear, ammunition, food, medical supplies, and senior leadership (as many senior officers, including the 101st's commander—Major General Maxwell Taylor—were elsewhere). Due to the worst winter weather in memory, the surrounded U.S. forces could not be resupplied by air nor was tactical air support available due to cloudy weather.

However, the two panzer divisions of the XLVII Panzer Corps—after using their mobility to isolate Bastogne, continued their mission towards the Meuse on 22 December, rather than attacking Bastogne with a single large force. They left just one regiment behind to assist the 26th Volksgrenadier Division in capturing the crossroads. The XLVII Panzer Corps probed different points of the southern and western defensive perimeter in echelon, where Bastogne was defended by just a single airborne regiment and support units doubling as infantry. This played into the American advantage of interior lines of communication; the defenders were able to shift artillery fire and move their limited ad hoc armored forces to meet each successive assault.

The 26th VG received one panzergrenadier regiment from the 15th Panzergrenadier Division on Christmas Eve for its main assault the next day. Because it lacked sufficient troops and those of the 26th VG Division were near exhaustion, the XLVII Panzer Corps concentrated its assault on several individual locations on the west side of perimeter in sequence rather than launching one simultaneous attack on all sides. The assault—led by 18 tanks carrying a battalion of infantry—pierced the lines of the 327th's 3rd Battalion (officially, the 1st Battalion, 401st Glider Infantry), and advanced as far as the battalion command post at Hemroulle.

However, the 327th held its original positions and repulsed infantry assaults that followed, capturing 92 Germans. The panzers that had achieved the penetration divided into two columns, one trying to reach Champs from the rear, and were destroyed in detail by two companies of the 1st Battalion 502nd PIR under Lt. Col. Patrick F. Cassidy and four tank destroyers of the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion.

Allied control of Bastogne was a major obstacle to the German armored advance, and the morale of Allied forces elsewhere on the Western Front was boosted by news of the stubborn defense of the besieged town.
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Month/Year
December / 1944
To Month/Year
January / 1945
Last Updated:
Mar 16, 2020
Personal Memories
My Photos From This Battle or Operation
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  73 Also There at This Battle:
  • Beck, Carl, M/Sgt, (1942-1963)
  • Gibson, Patti
  • Joint, Edward, PFC, (1942-1945)
  • King, E. Alexander
  • Peterson, Harry
  • Sallee, Adam, T/5, (1942-1945)
  • Strohl, Roderick, S/Sgt, (1941-1945)
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