Biography of Harold R. Sampson

Lt. Col., 487th Eng Wtr Sply Bn/1317th Eng Regt, USA

     Lt. Col Harold R. Sampson, was second in command of the 487th Engineer Water Supply Battalion.  That unit was organized on September 10, 1942 in Camp White, Medford, Oregon and after equipping and training shipped out of New York on November 5th, 1943, arriving in England twelve days later.  The unit was deployed shortly after D-Day, arriving in total by July 1, 1944. The 487th provided support for and participated in the Normandy and Northern France campaigns.  The unit was one of those which passed through Paris in the liberation parade of that city. It then participated in the Ardennes-Alsace and Rhineland campaigns.  With Victory in Europe, the unit was deactivated in Germany on May 5, 1945.

     After his service with the 487th Col. Sampson was promoted to the command of the 1317th Engineer General Service Regiment.  That regiment, manned by black soldiers, had been activated in Camp Ellis, Illinois on Aug 25, 1943 staged through Camp Shanks, NY, starting on March 2nd and had departed from New York for England on March 21, 1944, arriving on the 27th.  The unit entered France and then Belgium in February of 1945 and Germany on April 2nd.  This unit had served, therefore, in the Rhineland and Central Europe Campaigns already when Col. Sampson arrived to take command.  The unit moved to Marseilles France for shipment to the South West Pacific to partake in the final campaigns against Japan.  He had a small mutiny just before thery boarded and he was able to control it. Most men didn"t want to go to another war. This difficulty dealt with, the unit departed France on August 7, 1945, with designation of Shipment #R5218-S.  The unit was en route to Okinawa when it was diverted to New York. The reason was that Hiroshima was bombed. The 1317th and Colonel Sampson arrived in New York on August 18th 1945. It then shipped to Camp Clairborne in Louisiana where it deactivated November 20, 1945.   

     Lt. Col. Sampson served from D Day minus one week and through the rest of the ETO. After the war he was asked if he would have liked to go on and a attache to Russia and I said NO. He passed away in January of 1997.  I would like to hear from anyone who served in any of the above units or similar units.

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