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World War II Veteran



Lieutenant Robert Winford Smitherman
(1917-1945)

My Dad, a PFC and Robert, a 1st Lt, showed up as replacement soldiers at the same time during the push-off from Anzio near a small town called Artena about 30 miles south of Rome Italy. This was the 28th of May 1944. They were assigned to Company G, 2nd Bat, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. They fought from here to the outskirts of Rome and arrived in Rome on the 5th of June as part of the liberation of that city. The Italian people went wild with celebration and it must have been an unbelievable experience to be part of it.

After a couple of weeks the 3rd was pulled out of Rome and readied for the invasion of Southern France. They hit the beaches on 15 August under fire. Their landing craft hit a mine and out of about 30 men on board everybody was instantly killed except Dad, Robert and one other soldier. They made it ashore and for several days there was just them from their squad. I think the rest of the squad also hit a separate mine. There were three landing craft destroyed all together. It was just them until more replacements became available.

They fought as part of the 7th of the 3rd northward across France participating in numerous fights. Dad was made a squad sergeant and Robert was the platoon Lt. They witnessed the big massacre at Montellimar and fought through the city of Besancon in early September. They then fought together through the Vosges Mountains in Lorraine, France during late September and October. Dad earned a silver star there near a small town called Vagney under Robert's command.

Dad was wounded in late October. When he came back to the unit in December he reported to Robert again. Dad was wounded again in January but only minor. Fighting continued as part of the big battle of the Colmar pocket. It was a German defensive position on the west side of the Rhine. The Germans defended it fanatically until February. From what I've read the fighting at the end was just crazy. I think everybody just about went nuts.

Robert was killed on 25 January 1945 by a boobytrap. It had been concealed on a fence gate. Robert open the gate and was killed instantly. It was just after he told the platoon to be careful of boobytraps. He died at my father's feet with a huge hole in his chest. Never knew what hit him. My Dad is still upset about it. I found a picture of Robert recently and sent it to Dad to confirm. It was him.

- Stephen Jacobs

IF YOU HAVE ANYMORE INFORMATION ABOUT ROBERT W SMITHERMAN OR HIS FAMILY, PLEASE EMAIL ME SO I CAN FORWARD THE INFORMATION TO STEPHEN JACOBS.