On This Day 12-JAN 1945, We Honor a Fallen Hero

William F Landa Jr. was born 2-August 1913.  His parents were Mr. and Mrs. William Landa of Glen Carbon IL.  His wife was Mrs. Mary Virginia Garrett Landa.  They lived on 1022 Dardenne Street in St. Charles MO.  William enlisted at Scott Field in Illinois. He was a Sergeant and tank commander in the 774th Tank Battalion of the U.S. Army during World War II.  On 25-JUN the Battalion arrived at Camp Shanks, New York and on 1-JUL boarded the troopship Domininion Monarch. 

The battalion arrived in Scotland on 12-JUL after being trailed the last few miles by enemy U-boats and arrived on the 15th in Barnstaple, England. The battalion unit came ashore at Utah Beach on 7-AUG 1944 D-Day +31 days.  The unit quickly joined the fighting around Argentan and then moved eastward across France to Lorraine as part of a cavalry screen and the 7th Armored Division. 

In September, the 774th participated in fighting around Metz and fought along the Saar in December, and then began the rush north to the Ardennes.   During this entire period icy roads deep snow, mines and difficulty of identification made tank fighting extremely hazardous and restricted fire and movements tactics. The 1st and 2nd platoons of C Company began an attack against Petite-Langlois on 12-JAN 1944 with 10 tanks and reached their objective with only three operational.

The after-action report for his company reads:  

Company C  1st and 2nd platoon began operation with 331st Infantry Regiment in attack on Petite-Langlois with 10 tanks.  Had three remaining in action after reaching the objective.  

William was killed in action in Belgium 12-January 1945 during the counterattacks following the Battle of the Bulge and the attack on Petite-Langlois.  He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart. William F. Landa is buried at Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Belgium.

William is honored and remembered at the St. Charles County Veterans Museum on the Wall of Honor. 

Please contact the St. Charles County Veterans Museum Oral History project at sccvetsmuseum@gmail.com or call 636-294-2657 for more information and lets’ talk. We want to hear from you because we know…Every Veteran has a story.