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William Justis, Jr. testimony

Document | Not Digitized | Accession Number: 2013.388.1

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    Consists of typed testimony written by William (Bill) Justis, Jr., in 2013 regarding his experiences as an Army Ranger during World War II, including the days he spent at Buchenwald immediately after the camp's liberation.
    inclusive:  1945-2013
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of William G. Justis, Jr.
    Collection Creator
    William G. Justis Jr.
    William (Bill) Guy Justis, Jr., was born on August 18, 1926 in Richmond, Virginia, to Elizabeth and Bill G. Justis. He had two siblings. The United States entered World War II in December 1941. On his eighteenth birthday, August 18, 1944, Bill, then living in Tennessee, volunteered for immediate induction into the United States Army.

    In March 1945, his unit was deployed from Boston aboard the USS Wakefield to Liverpool, England. From there, they were transported to an Infantry Replacement Depot in France, near Nancy or Metz. That first evening, as Bill was going to the mess, he saw a notice on a bulletin board from a small unit that wanted a few replacements, but only volunteers who must pass a rigorous physical examination. There was a penciled note at the bottom of the flyer “Suicide Squad.” After the physical, Bill met with First Lieutenant Richard Levers of “C” Company, 5th Ranger Battalion. This battalion had breached the defenses at Omaha Beach on D-Day and fought its way through to Germany during the Battle of the Bulge. Bill was assigned to First Platoon Company “C” 5th Ranger Battalion. In the first week of April, the 5th Ranger Battalion was committed to their last mission, which was to split Germany into sectors and eliminate the remaining German Army. They were divided into two groups and attached to a section of the Third Cavalry Group. After several days of rapid advance, Bill and the other soldiers suddenly noticed a foul odor that became stronger and more offensive as they continued. They saw double rows of twelve foot high barbed wire fences with concrete posts, separated by a narrow road. At assembly the next morning, they were told that they were at Buchenwald concentration camp, which the first US troops entered on April 11, 1945. Bill's company was assigned as security guards to keep the over 20,000 inmates inside the camp. They worked on shifts of two hours on and four hours off. William, with two friends, spent his off hours exploring the camp, where he was filled with rage and revulsion as he walked among stacks of emaciated bodies piled like cord wood. The horrors of Buchenwald caused even General Patton to sob audibly, while cursing the Nazi regime, when Bill saw him during his April 15 visit. The battalion was placed on occupation duty in the Weimar region. Bill may have re-enlisted for another year of service in 1946. William returned to Tennessee where he married after the war.

    Physical Details

    1 folder

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    The donor, source institution, or a third party has asserted copyright over some or all of these material(s). The Museum does not own the copyright for the material and does not have authority to authorize use. For permission, please contact the rights holder(s).

    Keywords & Subjects

    Personal Name
    Justis, William.

    Administrative Notes

    William Justis donated his collection to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2013.
    Record last modified:
    2023-02-24 13:42:42
    This page:

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