Cody, William J. (893rd)

William J. Cody

Biography: William Joseph Cody was born on November 20, 1920, in New York City, New York. He was the son of Thomas Cody and Mary McVitty and attended local schools through the 9th grade. His enlistment record indicates that prior to the war, he worked in the construction, maintenance or painting industry.

In 1942, he married the former Harriet Elizabeth Turner who was born in New York and was the daughter of Robert Henry Turner and Harriet Montgomery. The couple would make their home in New York. They had two children, a daughter, Barbara, born in 1943, and a son, William, in 1944.

Service Time: William entered the service on October 17, 1942, and after his basic training, he was assigned to Company B of the 893rd Tank Destroyer Battalion and trained with them within the U.S. The 893rd was the first unit to arrive at the newly established TDC (Tank Destroyer Center) at Camp Hood, Texas and it was their soldiers that were utilized as Tank Destroyer School Troops. The 893rd would contribute hundreds of men to the various units that passed through the TDC.

The unit moved to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, in early 1943, and participated in the Louisiana Maneuvers. They received orders in December to proceed to the New York port and prepare for shipment overseas. They departed from the New York port on January 9, 1944, and arrived in Liverpool, England, on January 20th.

After months of additional training and preparations, they boarded transports and landed at the Omaha beachhead in Normandy, France, on July 1st, equipped with M10 tank destroyers. They were committed to battle in the vicinity of St. Jean de Daye and advanced to Paris by August 25th and then proceeded to the Siegfried Line in the Schnee Eifel along the Belgian-German border.

Fighting in the Hürtgen Forest in November, they supported the 28th Infantry Division. The official unit documents indicate that each of the unit’s companies was tasked with indirect firing from nearby positions or by close-in anti-tank support in direct fire positions. The entire month was spent in the Hurtgen forest in the vicinity of Vosseneck, Germany. Both B and C companies were committed to direct support. Their actions were identified as unsuccessful in holding the ground first gained in the attack, due to an inadequate route for supplies and reinforcements and the inability to keep the route open because of the enemy’s terrific re-action to their advance. The report goes on to say that the ground that was gained in the vicinity of Schmidt and Kommerscheidt had to be given up and much of the equipment was abandoned.

During the month of November, Company B alone lost a total of seven M10s by mines, mud, anti-tank fire and one that fell into a basement when the ground gave way. Casualties for the unit were substantial with 38 lightly wounded, 12 seriously wounded, 20 missing and 9 killed. Technician 5th Grade William James Cody was killed on November 7th during the actions described above. We do not know the circumstances of his death but it is possible that he was one of the men killed by anti-tank fire.

William was initially buried overseas and later brought back to the U.S. and buried in the Long Island National Cemetery in East Farmingdale, New York. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart in recognition of his ultimate sacrifice.

I want to thank William’s great-grandson, Chris, for providing the information and photos used in this tribute.