Biography of Jim Leopold
Capt., 4th Pltn., Co. G, & CO E Co., 2nd Bn., 47th Inf Regt., 9th Inf. Div, U.S.A.
My name is Jim Leopold. I served for 30 months with the second battalion 47th Infantry Ninth Division. I joined the Ninth at Fort Bragg just before we shipped for the North African invasion.
I have pretty clear memories of a small part of "Torch" I was on the "Dorthea Dix" as it anchored off the harbor of Safi, French Morocco at about Midnight. It was a clear night with some moonlight and the ship rolled lightly but there were no waves.
At about Three AM the crew started lowering the landing craft and the rope ladders. At dawn we started down the nets. My boat team was about 40 including our company first sargeant and his big box of company records which got down fine. However, one man, PFC Bridges, who was carrying bazooka ammo in a makeshift apron-like thing which was tied on both sides. There was about a 20 foot groud swell and Bridges missed the landing boat and fell off the net. I got a boat hook rod to him but, as I pulled toward the small boat, he suddenly said "Grab my feet" and let go of the rod, tried to throw up his feet and sank out of sight. He was the only loss our company suffered in the landing.
Our landing craft and the others for "Yellow" beach circled around for several hours before heading for the beach at about 8am.
Although we all expected to be opposed as we landed, we met no fire of any kind. The sand was very soft and, since every man was loaded with equipment and ammo, by the time we reached the end of the sand the beach was covered with all sorts of things. (As I recall, it took two 2 1/2 ton trucks to pick it all up!) We had been studying arial fotos all the way over on the ship and saw a big house at the top of the beach. There was a large rectangular white area next to the house and the only thing we could figure was that it must be a tennis court. Were we wrong! It was a slab of cement to catch rain as water was in very short suppy in that part of Africa!
Yellow beach was about eight miles South of the Town of Safi. the second battallion landed there and the balance of the regiment landed at the town itself was some opposition. the total casualties were fourteen and all except PFC Bridges were buried in a small cemetary in Safi and later moved to national cemetary at Carthage, Tunisia. There was no fighting after about noon on November 8th and the rest of November, all of December and most of January were spent in Safi before we moved out by rail, truck and foot for Tunisia.
I was a 2nd Lt. with the 4th or weapons platoon of "G" company. I was with this unit until after the battle of El Guettar at which time I was transferred to "E" company as company exec. I remained with "E" company thru the rest of North Africa, Sicily and England. We landed in France at Utah beach on "D" plus four and, since we were combat tested as a result of North Africa and Sicily, we were sent to the front lines as the lead troops to cut the Cherburg penisula, which we did in a very short time. The area of the last battle in "Private Ryan" is just about in the area we were in and, if "Ryan" were a totally true story, our battalion could have been the one that relieved Capt. Miller's group at the end of the movie.
I was promoted to First Lt. in North Africa (a battle field promotion) and, after taking command of "E" company of the 47th about July 10, 1944, was promoted to Captain.
I was wounded on August 10th and shipped back to England for about three months after which I returned to the second battalion, which was then in Germany. I bcame the battalion "S-3" (the plans officer) and remained with that unit thru the Rheine river crossing on March 8th (We were the first Infantry battalion across the bridge. All the troops before us were from armored divisions.)
I returned to the states in early April, 1945 as part of a rotation plan that was then in place and that ended my army career.
Our battalion took action in EIGHT campaigns and was awarded four "Disguished unit citations". I was awarded a Silver star and got Four Purple Hearts.
I knew many of the men who served in the Second Battalion and would be happy to talk with anyone interested.
----- Jim Leopold
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