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Interview on experiences in World War II

View at Kansas Memory

Creator: Sorensen, William B.

Date: November 15, 2006

Level of Description: Item

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: World War II Oral Histories Project

Unit ID: 211470

Biographical sketch: Seventeen year old William Sorensen wanted to be in the service. When he graduated from Buhler Rural High School in Reno County, Kansas, he went to his local draft board and convinced them that he was already eighteen. He was immediately drafted with a fictitious birthday of July 15, 1925 instead of his actual birthday of December 7, 1925. He was inducted at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in August 1943 and told his test results were good enough to be admitted to the Army Air Corp if he could produce a birth certificate. He decided to join the Army Infantry instead (his father had been a lieutenant in the Army Infantry in WWI). He was sent to Camp Gruber, Oklahoma for basic training where he was made acting squad leader and assigned to the 42nd Infantry Division. He was offered a second chance to join the Army Air Corp and accepted. He was sent to Tulsa, Oklahoma and inducted into the Army Air Corp and then sent to Sheppard Field, Texas for training. The Air Corp decided to accept only those pilot candidates who had at least a year of college, and Sorenson was transferred back to the Infantry and sent to Fort Hunter Liggett Military Reservation in California for maneuvers. From there he went to Fort Benning, Georgia, volunteered for overseas duty, and was shipped to England and assigned to the 75th Infantry Division. He was moved to continent in November 1944, and was in Belgium and committed to battle on December 25, 1944. He saw a man near him killed and thrown twenty feet in the air by an exploding artillery shell and realized that the war was in earnest and not an adventure he was guaranteed to survive. He fought in the Battle of the Ardennes (December 1944-January 1945) and describes that combat experience in detail. Of 200 men in his company, only 20 were left by the time Sorensen was wounded by an artillery shell shrapnel on January 10, 1945. He was sent back to a hospital in Indiana and was later given a medical discharge from the Army Infantry in August 1945. He hitchhiked home with a pilot who was driving to Denver non-stop and who kept falling asleep at the wheel rather than let Sorensen share the driving. Sorensen was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his service.

Summary: Private First Class [PFC] Sorensen entered the Army (Infantry) in 1943 and served until 1945 in the 42nd Infantry; 75th Infantry Division, 290th Infantry Regiment, Company I. Interviewed by Ben Henning on Nov 15, 2006, Sorensen talked about military experiences in the Second World War. The 2005 Kansas Legislature passed a bill funding the WWII Veterans Oral History grant program. This transcript is from one of the nine community institutions that received these grants. The transcript from the interview is presented here; the original video copy of the interview is available through the Frank Stull American Legion #152 (Ness City) and through the Kansas State Historical Society.

Space Required/Quantity: Video

Title (Main title): Interview on experiences in World War II

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019-14-04-01  DVD 

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