Submitted by: Joleen Lipford Marsh
Pre-War (Enlistment and Basic Training)
Joseph Glenn Lipford was born August 15, 1921 in old Butler, TN. At 18 years of age, he enlisted in the US Army in Johnson City on December 20, 1939. He traveled to Fort Oglethorpe, GA and was provided with serial number 7003364 and assigned to the 29th Infantry Division for three months of basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia. After basic, he was promoted to corporal and assigned to Company C of the 4th Anti-Tank Battalion where he was squad leader of a five-man motorcycle unit for almost a year. He then joined the 94th Anti-Tank Battalion and trains as an antitank gun crewman for seven months.
Joe was scheduled for discharge around December 20, 1941, but on December 7th, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and he was re-enlisted by Uncle Sam for four years.
Early in 1942 while at Ft. Bragg, N.C., he joined Charlie Company, 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion (see photo) and left for overseas duty on August 6, 1942. Overseas he participated in four Campaigns: Tunisia, Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno, and Po Valley.
He served as part of the 5th Army, 34th Infantry Division; the first U.S. Division deployed to Europe in WWII under the command of Major General Charles Wolcott Ryder from Topeka, Kansas, West Point Class of 1915, who led the Division through the North African and Italian campaigns, including the landings at Algiers and Salerno.
Leaving for overseas duty it took 11 days to cross the Atlantic to England. Joe vividly remembered eating lamb stew which was so distasteful to him that he started eating his C rations. By the time he gets to England on August 17, 1942 he had lost weight. In England, Joe trains for five months as a 37 mm antitank/tank destroyer gun crewman, light truck driver (jeeps, half-ton, ¾ ton, and 2.5 ton/deuce and one-half).
He arrived in Oran, North Africa on January 17, 1943. Afterwards, Joe participated in the battles of Kassarine Pass, El Guettar and Bizerte. At Kasserine Pass, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, famed Desert Fox launched a blitzed attack on advancing American forces. On February 14, 1943, Rommel and his well-known Afrika Korps burst through Faid Pass and overran the valley. Rommel at Kasserine Pass used his best panzer divisions to capture prisoners and an allied airfield. By February 21st they were 21 miles beyond the
Pass. The Allies had to retreat and Rommel bought three months of time before the German Africa Campaign collapsed.
In the Naples-Foggia Campaign, in Italy, Joe was a field artillery private and landed at Salerno Bay September 9, 1943 with the 5th Army, where he was constantly in battle except for a two week rest period. Naples was taken by the Americans on October 1, 1943.
Prior to the battle for Cassino, Italy (which began on January 21, 1944) Joe’s unit was pulled back on January 9th to prepare for the invasion of Anzio. On January 26, 1944 the Allies joined the British and fought at Carocetto, a factory area in and around Arno, Aprilla, and Tarquinnia.
On February 4, 1944 near Anzio, Joe’s tank was hit and he was burned and bruised. One night, the Americans drove all night to rescue the British who were surrounded by Germans. On Joe’s tank, his sergeant had traded duty with the Battalion Commander, 1LT Forebush, who was a jetfighter pilot from Kentucky who everyone loved. Joe’s tank ended up being the lead tank in the battle. 1LT Forebush was standing up in the turret and caught the first round from a Tiger tank, killing him instantly. Joe caught some shrapnel, a minor scratch above one eye. Another round is suspected to have hit the motor and someone yelled, “Fire, get out of here!” Everyone in the tank got out but received burns. They were picked up by the medics and evacuated by truck to the 21st General Hospital in Naples, Italy to recover. While there, Joe along with four other men, (see Classified Secret photo and note dated October 3, 1944) received the Purple Heart. After recovering, due to a pilonidal (spinal) cyst which he later had removed, asked for relief from tank duty. He was then assigned other driving duties.
The Allies entered Rome on June 5, 1944. During the push from Rome to Arno the 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion raced ahead through Civitavecchia, Monte, and Alto.
Po Valley Campaign
Joe returned to his Company and could not drive tanks but performed various other driving duties. In the battle for Pietrosanta in the vicinity of Tarquinnia on June 8, 1944 with utter disregard for his own safety Joe drove his ammunition carrier over an exposed route under heavy enemy fire and succeeded in replenishing ammunition for the tank destroyers who were supporting his fellow infantry soldiers. On July 14, 1944, MG Ryder awarded him the Bronze Star for this heroic action. Joe continued to deliver ammo to his fellow tankers until April of 1945.
Back Home and Discharged
As part of the Fifth Army he was granted leave to go back home and reported to the
27th Replacement Depot on April 3, 1945. He left Europe after serving two years, 8 months, and 16 days on April 10, 1945 and after 13 days arrived home on April 22, 1945. After leave, having served five and one-half years and due to Allied forces being demobilized, Private First Class Lipford, Company C, 894 Tank Destroyer Battalion was honorably discharged at Fort McPherson, Georgia on June 18, 1945.
In all, Joe received the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, 3 Bronze Battle Stars, the American Defense Service ribbon, Good Conduct ribbon, European-African and Middle-Eastern Theater ribbons, and Lapel button.