George Weir considers himself a Lucky WWII Veteran
Abington – Earlier this year, George Weir retired from his business as The Moving Coach, having served the South Shore communities for more than 50 years helping individuals and families relocate. He began his career in the moving business at 17 when he joined his uncle’s company. When I contacted him in July, he was actively engaged in writing his memoirs and was looking forward to celebrating his 94th birthday on July 26.
Over the past few months George has been steeping himself in nostalgia as he pulls together memories as a young man serving his country during WWII as a tank driver and bow gunner for the new Third Armored Division. His recollections of the war years are clear, detailed, and bittersweet. He regularly writes an email newsletter to keep his family, friends, and followers informed of his progress. Here’s an excerpt of an e-newsletter that he sent this past spring: “I am gathering notes and material to put together of what life as a Veteran is and has been. So many times over the past 70 years memories are triggered and almost like watching a movie or a movie short, I picture the action! My memory has been fabulous! The reason for this newsletter is to let you know I am writing a book, to be
titled, “George, L u c k y WW2 Veteran.” The theme is that I am among afew WW2 Vets from millions of service people during WW2 who came home healthy and during my many months I spent in England married a great English girl. On July 26, 2017, I will be 94 and my doctors tell me I should live to be 100! That is my goal as I continue writing without knowing how to get it published (?)” — Geo
Please enjoy the first installment of George Weir’s memories here. He is one of America’s heroes and a proud member of the Greatest Generation. Thanks for your service to our country, George! — Editor
I am a Lucky Veteran — Part I
by George Weir
During May 1942 I joined millions of men and women of the “Greatest Generation.” Millions would not return as they fought the Japanese, Germans, and Italians all over the world!
Photos of 18-year-old George Weir during Basic Training, Fort Knox, KY (right), and in new dress uniform (left).
Many would end up languishing in Veteran’s hospitals until they passed on. Many of the lucky ones returned in one piece but never outlived the memories of the horrors they saw or had to do! Most vets will not talk about their part in the war but refuse to give any information.
ME? Step 1: I began my army career at Fort Devens, MA.
Step 2: Took train to Fort Knox, KY, for two months of basic training for appointment to an Armored Division.
July 1944: Took train to the Mojave Desert, CA, and joined the Third Armored Division training to go to Africa to fight General Rommel and the Italians. However, during September we did not have to go as the African war had abated.
This was where I was trained to drive a medium tank. It was easy for me as I was driving a truck in Boston when I enlisted and the major difference was steering… that was done by two “sticks” for braking and steering that stopped a right or left track.
George Weir (left), Fort Knox, KY
We took a troop train with flat bed cars to carry our trucks and equipment to Camp Picket in Virginia.
About November/December we transferred to Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania until September 5. We went to Camp Kilmer in New Jersey to get prepped for our ocean trip to Liverpool England.
September 5 we embarked from the Brooklyn Navy yard for an 18-day voyage as part of a 100 ship convoy over the German Subs North Atlantic and landed in Liverpool and camped at Codford St. Mary until May and, then to the Weymouth England Port to load our vehicles on a LCT (Landing Craft Tank/Truc).
We were the first armored division to land in Normandy about 7 or 8 days or so after D Day. We remained in the hedgerows until July 26 (my 21rst birthday) when we broke out and chased the Germans back to Germany about September after a trip through Belgium and we were the first American troops to cross the Sigfried Line into Germany.
I was in Germany, in combat, until the end of November when I was flown in a C 47 for my first plane ride and spent about two months in two GI hospitals, one near Oxford where I met and married my future wife, Hazel Collins, who in the spring of 1946 became an English War Bride. There were hundreds of English War Brides and Uncle Sam hired a ship to carry them to the States.
Recollections from Mons, Belgium, 1944
During the first few days of September 1944 we arrived at Mons, Belgium. The tanks were a few miles ahead and had occupied Mons. I was waiting to be told when and where I would enter Mons and was to bring 5 Five Handled 5 gallon Jerry Gas Containers to some waiting tank crew.
My Captain will lead me there and I will back up to the rear of the tank where gas tank was located. I would pass as many cans needed one by one to the crew who, standing on the tank deck would fill their tank’s tank.
It was a beautifully warm summer’s day and beginning to get dark. As we waited, some locals brought us bottles of lager beer. It was the first lager beer I had tasted since I left the States!
During a ceremony held 70 years after Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, George Weir was honored with the French Legion of Honor medal. This, France’s highest award, was bestowed upon George Weir and ten other veterans on June 6, 2014, at the World War II Museum in Natick, MA.
My Captain took me to a five road intersection and over to a tank. We had just about finished when suddenly tracer bullets from a German machine gun started to come. The crew jumped into their tank and closed the hatches and left me standing. I jumped off the tank deck and ran across the street and down a hill that turned to be a hill of clinkers from the Mon’s furnaces. Tore up my arms. I think I was then authorized to receive a Purple Heart but did not think about it much.
The Tank Commander was the Sarge who gave me my first lessons on the Mojave in July 1942. Bill was from Chicago. He was later killed in combat.
Then my Captain told me to follow him. There was a man with him. They took me to a multi- storied apartment house and I parked my truck and went up the seven steps to the front door that opened and I was invited in. There was a big party going on with GIs and local “GIRLS.” Part II to be continued… Reprinted from the August edition of South Shore Senior News.