Wednesday, September 28, 2011

George Taylor of the 502nd Port Battalion

George Taylor (on left), William Downes, and Leonard R. Roane at Camp Kilmer in NJ in January 1946.

This month I found two articles about George Taylor. He was company carpenter serving in the 502nd Port Battalion. He speaks in this video and he is interviewed by the Culpeper, VA Star Exponent in this article.

I sent George a copy of my book and we talked today on the phone. He and several friends from his hometown of Culpeper, VA joined the 502nd Port Battalion in 1943. They trained at Camp Miles Standish, just as my grandfather's battalion had. While the 519th Port Battalion was in Bristol, George's 502nd was working up in Glasgow. He was surprised to hear that my grandfather's battalion was white. It's true that most of the Army Transportation Corps was made up of segregated black units, but there were some white comapnies as well (25% of the corps).

George's battalion hit Omaha Beach in the afternoon of June 6th. "We had to wade over dead bodies of the guys who didn't make it. The water was red with American blood." With German snipers, artillery attacks, and aerial bombing, the Normandy experience was sobering and dangerous for the support troops as well as the combat soldiers. There were some casualties, including the battalion commanding officer, L. Col. James T. Pierce.

He talked about how impressive it was to see all the ships, trucks, and supply activity on the beach. "The next day after D-Day the beach looked like New York harbor." As a company carpenter George constructed buildings and crated equipment for transit. After the Normandy beaches shut down supply work in the fall of 1944 his battalion moved on to LeHavre, France where they unloaded American supplies until the end of the war.


  1. Thank you for this wonderful blog, it is of great interest to me as I am currently writing the lifestory of a man who experienced much of the same described here.

    Thank you for preserving such important history.

  2. My neighbor, who is 92 now, was in the 502nd port battalion and apparently there were three sections. Lt. Col. Pierce allowed him to go to the art school in Glasgow! That Lt. Col. Pierce was really something. I'm sorry his life was cut short.

  3. Was it the Glasgow School of Art? I went there for a summer program in 1999.

    1. Yes, Andrew, it was the Glasgow School of Art. Ashley showed Col Pierce his drawings and was allowed to go. So unusual and amazing when his company was restricted, he dressed and marched out and not one of his company resented him.


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