Cross, William Thomas

Name: Cross, William Thomas, SGT, USA

Local address: 105 Atlantic Avenue, Aberdeen, NJ

William, born September 17, 1917, in Long Branch, NJ, was the eldest of four children of Thomas Charles Cross (1893-1967) and Ruth C. Ryder (1897-1974). The second two children, Harold (born 1920) and Helen (1922) both died in August of 1923. While I can’t identify the cause of death, children were dying of diphtheria in the area around that time. The youngest child, Martha (1924-2007) died in Matawan and has two surviving daughters, William’s nieces. Father Thomas was employed by Standard Oil. He operated an Esso station on Route 4-9 (now 34) which was located at what is now Matawan Auto on the corner of Middlesex Road and Route 34. Before joining the service, William ran this station, too.

William was a member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Keyport, receiving his First Communion there in May of 1928. He was apparently an excellent student, too – continually being cited on the honor roll through grade and high school. He acted in high school plays and edited school publications, even contributing school articles to the Matawan Journal in 1936, the year he graduated from Matawan High School.

William’s October 1940 draft registration indicated he was 5’4”, 120 pounds, blue eyes, brown hair with a light complexion. His place of employment was listed as the Esso service station, noted above. He was drafted and reported to Ft. Dix for initial processing on March 26, 1941 and two weeks later took a train to Camp Croft, SC with 450 other inductees for basic training. Rising to the rank of sergeant, he shipped out to England with 12th Infantry Regiment attached to the 4th Division in January of 1944.

On D-Day, June 6, 1944, the 12th spearheaded the assault on Utah Beach on Normandy. On June 9, US Army hospital records indicate William was killed by a “Bullet, Missile Not Stated.” The 12th moved inland to relieve the paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne who were holding vital crossroads which prevented the Germans from reinforcing the beachheads. Somewhere in the flooded fields south of the beach William met his end. He is buried in the American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy. A memorial marker bearing his name is located with his parents and siblings Harold and Helen at the St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Keyport.

William was the same age as my father-in-law, who was at Ft. Dix later in 1941. William died at the age of 26 – my F-I-L, who was involved in the invasion of North Africa, survived the war and lived an additional 58 years, raising a family and having grandchildren. William’s sacrifice robbed him of these life events. We cannot honor these veterans enough.

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Mark Chidichimo
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