Westmoreland News

Follow Us On:

Answers lost in history

Posted on Wednesday, August 2, 2017 at 2:38 pm

  • Lieutenant Grannis cutting Private First Class Ervin S. Barnard’s hair. Barnard was the runner for their platoon (from Virginia). Sergeant George Ames from Ill is pictured in front. Taken April 4, 1945.

“(The war) was an experience I imagine, along with many other veterans, that affects you deeply and you don’t want to stir up these bad memories.”-Tom Grannis

At age 77, Tom Grannis embarked on a journey to Charlotte, North Carolina to get answers about his deceased father, Robert L. Grannis and his service in WWII, but retrieving a dog tag and four photos left Tom with more questions than answers. Tom traveled to North Carolina in July to retrieve one of his father’s dog tags from the scrapbook of Sterling E. Phillips Sr., another deceased WWII veteran. Tom hoped to find out more about his father’s experiences in the war and about the friendship he and Sterling had.

Robert L. Grannis, one of seven children, was born on July 21, 1918 in Connecticut. His family’s travels took him to New York. At the age of 22 he and his brother, Bill, joined the New York National Guard in 1940. After the attack at Pearl Harbor, which led to the Second World War, Robert’s Guard unit was federalized and became the 802nd Tank Destroyer Battalion. Robert remained with the 802nd in Fort Worth, Texas until 1943 when he was accepted to the Officer’s Candidate School Program from which he graduated and became a Second Lieutenant.

Robert then moved to Camp Blanding in Florida where he attended Infantry Training Center. From there he was shipped overseas in 1944 and assigned to the 4th Infantry Division, 12th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Battalion, Company L. Four days after he arrived the Battle of the Bulge broke out.

Little is known by Tom of his father’s service throughout WWII. Robert scarcely talked about events that took place. Tom has few stories about his father’s service so he was hoping to get some insights when he met with Sterling’s grandson, Peter Phillips, this month.

Peter and his wife M. C. obtained Sterling’s photo album from the war which contained several pictures of soldiers, all meticulously documented with names, ranks and locations where photo’s were taken.

Read more of this story in the August 2 issue of the Westmoreland News.