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Time on Target

Time on Target: The World War II Memoir of William R. Buster

Jeffrey S. Suchanek
William J. Marshall
Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 176
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130jn2s
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  • Book Info
    Time on Target
    Book Description:

    William R. Buster, born in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, knew a soldier's combat experience and left a first hand account of it. He graduated from West Point in 1939, just in time to serve through one of the most crucial periods in national and world history. His story includes accounts of the incredible expansion, arming, and training of the US Army, as well as his experience in the great conflict itself, from North Africa and Sicily to the hedgerow country of Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge, and on to Berlin. For his service, he received the Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal, and the French Croix de Guerre.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6053-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. FOREWORD
    (pp. 1-4)
    Charles P. Roland

    Perhaps it is trite to say that the most intimate accounts of any undertaking come from the participants in it. This seems to be especially true of discourses on war because, of all human endeavors, war is the furthest removed from the daily happenings of life. Only one who has engaged in combat can adequately describe it, for it is the sole experience that pits man against both man and nature in an unremitting struggle for survival.

    William Robards Buster, born in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, October 10, 1916, knew a soldier’s combat experience and left his firsthand account of it. He...

  4. EDITORS’ PREFACE
    (pp. 5-5)
  5. CHAPTER ONE: A MILITARY CAREER
    (pp. 6-11)

    I trace my roots to Harrodsburg, one of Kentucky’s most historic towns. In October 1916, my father and mother, John Buster and Martha Lillard Nooe Buster, moved their family into Harrodsburg, the oldest town west of the Alleghenies, from their farm near Burgin, Kentucky. Since a disastrous flu epidemic had struck Mercer County the year before, my father took the advice of his brother-in-law and family doctor, Dr. John Robards, and moved his pregnant wife and three sons to a comfortable brick house on Hillcrest Avenue adjacent to Clay Hill, the birthplace of Beriah Magoffin, one of Kentucky’s Civil War...

  6. CHAPTER TWO: THE UNITED STATES MILITARY ACADEMY
    (pp. 12-29)

    Henry Riggs Sullivan, a classmate from Centre College, had also received a late appointment to the Military Academy. The two of us rode the train together to West Point and entered the Academy at the same time. We even roomed together for the first year. Riggs had an excellent mind and was a good student and a natural-born leader. I think he had attended summer training in the Marine Corps one summer prior to his Academy appointment, so he was more familiar with the military lexicon and system than I was. He eventually went into the Army Air Corps and,...

  7. CHAPTER THREE: THE PREWAR ARMY
    (pp. 30-51)

    My scheduled date for reporting to my first post was 12 September 1939. In the meantime I had three glorious months to play.

    My aunt (and foster mother), Emma Robards, and my oldest brother, Nimrod, along with several friends came up for graduation and delivered my new car, which was a Pontiac convertible that cost almost $1,200 brand-new. Following the graduation ceremonies my family left for home and I began my leave. After a few days on Long Island visiting my then-OAO (One And Only) Bobbie Eden, who had been too ill to attend June Week, I departed for Washington...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR: NORTH AFRICA
    (pp. 52-69)

    When I left Fort Bragg to prepare for embarkation, Mildred went home to her family’s farm near Midway, Kentucky. We had lived in Southern Pines while I was stationed at Fort Bragg. When the Division left Fort Bragg for the port of embarkation I didn’t know how long it would be before we sailed. So it seemed best for Mildred to go back home. However, once I arrived there and began loading the Division’s equipment aboard the “Sea Train,” I realized that it would be weeks before we would sail. So I sent for Mildred, she joined me, and we...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE: INVASION
    (pp. 70-81)

    Anyone who claims not to have experienced fear or apprehension before entering a combat situation is either lying or stupid. When I crossed the Channel I was most certainly apprehensive, although I always had great confidence that I was going to make it through the war alive. But some of the enlisted men in my battalion were superstitious and carried some kind of good-luck charm such as rabbits feet or four-leaf clovers. The only thing I did that might be considered superstitious came the day we landed. I began to grow a mustache and vowed not to shave it off...

  10. CHAPTER SIX: OPERATION COBRA - THE ST. LO BREAKOUT
    (pp. 82-91)

    On 18 July Montgomery launched “Operation Goodwood,” one final attempt to breach the German defenses in the vicinity of Caen. Unfortunately, the attack advanced only six miles before it, too, was stopped. In the meantime the American VII Corps, which held the right flank of the beachhead, had been trying to advance out of the marshy ground where the Douve and Taute Rivers converge near the Carentan area. But they had met with little success because of the hedgerow terrain and stiff German resistance. This lack of success on both Allied flanks caused General Bradley to propose a powerful thrust,...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN: THE DRIVE ACROSS FRANCE
    (pp. 92-103)

    During the three-day period that the 92nd was pulled off the line and sent a few miles back, Combat Command A continued to push farther south and captured the town of Villebaudon. The 2nd Armored Division had by this time been assigned to XIXth Corps, and we stayed a part of it all the way to Germany. While my battalion rested I took the opportunity to make several reconnaissance tours of the front line area where I thought we might operate in the next few days to support both CCAand CCB’s attack. One of these excursions turned into a very...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT: BATTLING TO GERMANY
    (pp. 104-119)

    On 28 August 1944, the day after crossing the Seine, I was ordered to move the 92nd about fifteen miles to a position northeast of Dennemont. We were told that we were headed for the Belgian border and our objective was to capture Brussels and Antwerp, important deep-water seaports. As we moved farther and farther away from Normandy, Cherbourg, and Le Havre, our supply lines were becoming longer and longer. General Eisenhower knew that to continue the offensive to the German heartland we were going to require seaports closer to the front lines. Our mission was to capture these seaports...

  13. CHAPTER NINE: THE ARDENNES COUNTEROFFENSIVE
    (pp. 120-131)

    On 16 December I left the Baesweiler rest area and headed back to the 92nd’s position near Durboslar. In the early morning hours the Germans had saturated the areas around Gereonsweiler and Linderen with heavy artillery bombardments followed by a strong counterattack by infantry. The attack was contained and thrown back by our own artillery fire, including almost three hundred rounds fired by the 92nd. Later that day we began to receive sporadic reports of isolated German counterattacks all along the line of the V and VIII Corps just to the south of us, but our commanders did not consider...

  14. CHAPTER TEN: CROSSING THE ROER
    (pp. 132-145)

    Gen. William H. Simpson commanded the XIX Corps for Operation Grenade, the crossing of the Roer River. He was a stranger to me. I had normally known through personal contact or other means of association most of the top Army commanders because they had been in the old Army and I had run into them at one time or another. But General Simpson had come up through the ranks of the National Guard. He was a tall, gaunt man with very sharp features. He kept his head shaved and looked every inch the soldier. He reminded me of the characters...

  15. CHAPTER ELEVEN: BERLIN AND HOME
    (pp. 146-155)

    I believe Eisenhower chose the 2nd Armored Division for the Berlin assignment for both military and political reasons. Militarily, the 2nd Armored was a powerful, heavyweight armored division with tremendous offensive and defensive capabilities. With Germany out of the way, I don’t think Eisenhower was sure Stalin would willingly allow U.S. troops into Berlin. The 2nd Armored was selected to make sure that happened, one way or another. Second, choosing a heavyweight armored division to be the occupying force made a forceful political statement to Stalin that the American presence in Berlin would be a permanent one. Stalin got the...

  16. AFTERWORD
    (pp. 156-157)
    Thomas H. Appleton Jr.

    William R. Buster’s commitment to public service did not end in December 1948, with his retirement from active duty. Though he found managing the family farm near Midway a satisfying and fulltime job, the father of three agreed in 1953, at age thirty-seven, to join the Kentucky National Guard and organize the 23rdCorps Artillery as assistant commander. He held that position until 1960, when he was named corps artillery commander. On 15 March 1960, he accepted Governor Bert Combs’s offer to become assistant adjutant general of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, a position he would hold until December 1967. On...

  17. A FINAL TRIBUTE
    (pp. 158-158)
    Robert C. Pryor
  18. Index
    (pp. 159-165)