Saturday, April 1, 2017

WW2 Fallen - William Copeland, 1st Infantry Division, D-Day

Cpl. Copeland's unit, the 18th Infantry Regiment, approaching Omaha Beach on D-Day. 

William J. Copeland could have been 100 years old today. 

He was born on April 1, 1917 in Pennsylvania. His parents were also both born in Pennsylvania. His father was a railroad yard master and later a trainmaster. William was an only child. By 1940 he was in his third year of college, working as a hospital attendant. After completing another year of college, William joined the US Army on July 8, 1941.  He was a TEC5 in the cannon company (105 mm howitzers) of the 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division.

Based on Cpl. Copeland's enlistment date, it is likely that he was part of all the storied campaigns of the 1st Infantry Division, including Operation Torch in North Africa and the many battles that followed including Kasserine Pass. He would have participated in the Tunisian Campaign and the invasion of Sicily. 

The 18th Infantry Regiment was one of the followup units that landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944, after the 16th Infantry Regiment went in earlier in the day. Cpl. Copeland was mortally wounded during the assault on the beaches and died later that day.

Curiously, Cpl. William Copeland was not the only allied soldier with this named killed on D-Day. There was an English sapper for the Royal Engineers also named William Copeland who was also killed on D-Day.

His remains were returned to be buried at Gettysburg National Cemetery.

Thank you William for your sacrifice. Let's Earn It for William.

On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!

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1 comment:

  1. Hello
    I have just come across this picture and story of Cpl. Copeland. I have been researching my grandfather for the last two years. He was in "F" Company, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division!! Besides being dropped on Omaha Beach the morning of D-Day he had already been in North Africa and was in the Sicily campaign as well. Somehow he managed to live through the morning of Omaha Beach and went on to fight throughout France, into Belgium and finally ending his service in Germany. He was wounded for a third and final time in December 1944 where he was eventually sent back home to the states. I have heard his Regiment and Division saw an incredible amount of almost continuous combat. I am interested in hearing more about these INCREDIBLE MEN in his Reg/Division. I never had a chance to know him, he passed away 3 months after I was born and never spoke of his service to my mother and uncle, I am the first person in our family to uncover his AMAZING story and sacrifice. It's very hard to comprehend that these men signed up for that grueling task, they truly we're "The most Courageous Generation"!

    I have a couple pictures of him with his fellow soldiers I would love to post somewhere to find out the locations and who these other men are. If anyone knows how and where the best forum is to do so I think that would be incredible. Any information about these INCREDIBLE Americans would be greatly appreciated.

    Best Regards