|Ralph E. Poore during training maneuvers in 1941.|
He is holding a Browning Automatic Rifle, or BAR,
and is wearing a World War I style helmet. The Army had not
yet issued the "steel pot" helmets used in World War II.
A young Ralph E. Poore worked at a number of jobs in Depression Era Laurel, Mississippi, in order to survive. He worked at Bush Dairy and a local furniture company. But nothing offered much of a future.
In December 1940, a 22-year-old Ralph enlisted in the U.S. Army. Recruiting officers assigned him to the Headquarters Battery, 29th Field Artillery Battalion, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Georgia. He eventually served in a forward observer liaison unit.
Over the next four years, the men of the 4th Division became among the best-trained troops of the U.S. Army. The Army welded the 4th Infantry Division into a powerful, highly mobile offensive force that could protect armored divisions.
As a unit of the 4th Division, the 29th field artillery helped put together the nuts and bolts of a motorized division. Training with General George S. Patton’s 2nd Armored Division, they helped write the manual on U.S. armored warfare.
As sergeant in the liaison unit, Ralph moved with the forward infantry units. When an enemy position blocked the infantrymen’s progress, the forward observers called the target location to the fire direction center. After wiping out one target, the artillery then moved on to the next.
On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Ralph landed with the early waves the 8th Infantry Regiment combat teams, which the 29th Field Artillery supported, on Utah Beach. Over the next seven months, Ralph stayed on the front lines with the infantry to help bring artillery fire down on the Germans when it was needed.
He fought through the hedgerow country, the breakout of Operation Cobra and passed through Paris on the way to the Siegfried Line. For his heroic actions in saving the lives of three other men in a minefield in the Huertgen Forest, Ralph was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart.
A restored M7 Priest at the Fort Sill Field Artillery Museum
depicts self-propelled artillery support during the Battle of the Bulge.
The 29th Field Artillery used this type of gun.
When the Germans broke through U.S. lines in December, Ralph and the 29th Field Artillery helped the 4th Division hold the southern shoulder of the Bulge.
Because Ralph had been continuously on the front lines since D-Day, the Army gave him leave back to the States in February 1945. He returned to the front at about the time Germany surrendered.
After the war, Ralph lived for a short time back in Laurel, then re-enlisted in the Army, serving until 1949. He settled in Mobile, Alabama, for the rest of his life, until his untimely death in 1976.