Sunday, May 26, 2013

In Memory of Silver Star WWII Hero Lucian France Wilkins 1917-1943

The following is a facsimile of a letter from Lt. Ralph Berryhill to Lloyd Wilkins, Lucian's older brother.  Lt. Berryhill was a close friend of Lucian Wilkins, both from Hugo, OK serving in the 45th Infantry Division in the invasion of Italy. 

Transcribed as written.

Feb. 14, 1944

Dear Lloyd,
I recived your letter yesterday; I will be more than glad to answer your questions- In the first place I do know how you feal about Luke-& it is perty hard to belive- But it all true.

Luke and I got Our bars at the same time & was trainsferd to Co. “C” at the same time.  he had he 3 paltoon & I had the 2pl. we was together all the time & was the only person I new in the Co. you might have read semptin in the paper about mt. Molino or hill 960= there where he was killed.  We was making a attack one mt Molino – I was not with him at the time.  He was hit- He was leading the Co. with his platoon when we hit the Germans his pl. was shot up perty bad & he was trying to keep them together & get one top of the hill- he got on top and drove the Germans off, then he was coming bak to the Co. C.P. to get some orders on what to do he got back to the C.P. and was talking to Lt. Buckhner, ( who is wrighting you a letter to) when the Germans started shelling the C.P.  he was hit in the side. &  was trying to get another boy under cover when a nother shell landed and a pease hit him in the head & he was killed all at one.  So he was hit twice – but the first one would not have killed him if the second one had not have hit him.

No Lloyd he was not afraid to die if there was anyone who was not afraid to go it was Luke he was not scared of anything- He had plenty of guts- he told me several times if he had to get it that was the way he wanted it . you ask me if he was a good soldier he was the best Lloyd.
He is sepose to get a sliver star for his work that he was doing when he was hit-
He was buried in the Div. Graveyard- he was gotten out the same day he was hit=
He figgered he would get back home. But the law of averge will ketch up with you, we keep on going
We haven’t had any rest since we got here , there are 10 to 15 old men left in our Co.
His packet back and the rest of his stuff has been mailed home.
Lloyd if there is anything else your would like to now. I will be glad to wright you.
You & your family has my sympathy, Let me hear from you agin.
Love Ralph

An extract from the history of the 45th Infantry Division by Col. George Fisher

The assault Companies were B and C of our First Battalion and K and L of our third Battalion.  These four companies were on the line of departure prior to 6:30 A.M. [30 Dec 1943].  At that time, six battalions of our artillery opened up in the Volturno Valley far below, and for fifteen minutes hurled shell after shell on Mount Molino, Hill 960, Mount Rotando ajd Hill 1000.  In the meantime the companies moved forward towards their objectives.  As the barrage lifted, the rapid fire of the German machine guns and the cough of their mortars began.  At 8:55 A.M. Company B, Commanded by Captain Orrin O. McDaniels, Tulsa, Oklahoma, reached the first knoll of Mount Molino and came under heavy fire from heavy mahine gun and mortar fire.  Bulletts ricocheted and whined among the rocks. mortar shells burst like bolts of lightening among the company.  Many bullets and fragments struck after objects than rocks.  It was estimated that two full companies of Germans held positions in the Mount Molino-Hill 960 sector assigned to our First Battalion.  These enemy were heavily reinforced.  Tanks of Company A, 751st Tank Battalion, which had the mission of firing on Mount Molino from the road running west from Casale to Acquafondata, returned for more ammunition.  Then all artillery was lifted from Mount Molino with the idea in mind that the situation would be well in hand.  Ther Germans, however, continued to bring up reinforcements.

Company C battled its way over the rocks under heavy fire up Hill 960.  The Germans had no less than twenty machine guns well dug in on Mount Molino, and these together with others in the vicinity, poured a never ending hail of fire upon the assault companies.  Out in front of the advancing forces of Company C was Second Lieutenant Lucian F. Wilkins, a platoon leader, Hugo, Oklahoma.  Wilkins was [illegible] many boys from Hugo, Oklahoma who had come over seas as [illegible] that great soldier Lt. Colonel Howard [illegible] ?rys had seen the makings of a splendid officer.  On up the slopes went Wilkins of this embattled morning with his platoon following him.  At the head of his assault squad, Wilkins quickly destroyed two German machine gun nests.  When Wilkins and his men had gained the forward slope of the hill, they were pinned down heavy machine gun cross fire coming from a peak south of Hill 960 and from Mount Molino.  Wilkins’ platoon sergeant and runner were seriously wounded as were many others of the intrepid attackers, altogether twelve men were down.  To add to the misery, a raging blizzard swirled down through the mountains.  Wilkins ordered what was left of his platoon to return the German fire, and , with his communications line out, started crawling toward the Company command post to report the situation to 1st Lieutenant Richard P. Blanks, Company Commander, Henderson, North Carolina, and to request supporting artillery and mortar fire on the machine guns which were pouring murderous fire on his platoon.  With bullets splattering and whining around his body, he made it to the command post.  For a moment it looked like a helpless situation there at the command post, since communications personnel were having great difficulty in getting wire lines through from Battalion headquarters and the area between the Company and Battalion Headquarters was practically all fire swept.  From his position on Hill 960, Staff Sergeant Robert Bruce Paris, Park Hill Oklahoma, one of the Chilocco Indian boys, seeing the havoc that was being wrought with communications by German fire, voluntarily worked his way down the hill and, under heavy mortar fire, went to meet a one wireman who was trying to lay the line and who had been pinned down.  Parris took the wire, worked his way to the company command post and the communications were in.  Throughout the day the brave Indian lad worked restoring communications as they would be disrupted by German fire.