Gilmour, John C. (771st)

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Biography:  John Christian Gilmour was born on January 2, 1922, in Kearny, New Jersey. He was the son of James B. Gilmour and Catherine A Sheerer and graduated from local schools. He then worked in some type of photographic process occupation prior to the war.

Service Time:  John entered the service on October 17, 1942, at Newark, NJ. After his basic training, he was assigned to the 771st Tank Destroyer Battalion. While on leave, he married the former June Adair Rupp.

They shipped out from the New York port on October 21, 1943 and arrived at Liverpool, England on November 2, 1943. The 771st was chosen to train other TD personnel in the ETO Troop Replacement system. Company A would move out and act as an advanced unit to ship to France in late August. The rest of the battalion would ship out on September 15 and join them on the mainland, equipped with M10’s. Entered combat with the 102nd Infantry Division against the Siegfried Line defenses along the Würm River on November 3rd.

John functioned as a truck driver, providing vital ammunition and gasoline to tank destroyers at the front line. The unit participated in the drive to the Roer River and held defensive positions there during December.

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They converted to M36 tank destroyers in January 1945, and supported the drive toward the Rhine River in February. The unit crossed the Rhine beginning on March 31st and it was that same day that John was captured by German infantry. He was moved back behind enemy lines for four days until he was able to escape.

The unit joined the 102nd Infantry Division’s drive across Germany to the Elbe River, reaching it on April 14th. The 771st spent the remainder of the war helping to mop up bypassed pockets of resistance between the Rhine and the Elbe.

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In the photo above right, you can see a captured 88mm gun. John received credit for each of the unit’s campaigns in the Rhineland and Central Europe. He was awarded the EAME Medal, WWII Victory Medal, Good Conduct Medal and a special Commendation letter for the work they did to prepare troops for the D-Day landings. John left the service on December 5, 1945, at the rank of Technician 5th Grade.

Certificate of Merit

Little is know about John’s life after the war but he and June would settle in Richmond Hill, New York and have a son Dennis and two daughters, Sharon and June. In the photo on left below, you can see John with his beloved companion Albie. After retiring, John and June  moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in 1995. John passed away on January 23, 2016, at the age of 94. At the time of his death, he and June had been married for 74 years. 

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I want to thank Serge Lemaire for providing the photographs and information used in this tribute. The grouping of items, shown above right,was purchased from John’s estate, in the hopes that it could be put on display in a museum within or near the area that the 771st served.