William J. "Bill" Murphy
Submitted by: T. J. Cullinane
William J. "Bill" Murphy served in World War 1 with the United States Army. The dates of service are: Known June 14, 1918 - July 3, 1919.
By all accounts, William Joseph “Bill” Murphy was a good and kind man and an excellent soldier. Hailing from Lynn, Massachusetts, the small statured Irishman was employed as a leather sorter in the shoe industry.
He enlisted in the United States Army at age 26 on June 14, 1918 and received the serial number 2795649.
After completing basic training, Bill was assigned as a cook with the 4th Mobile Ordnance Repair Shop and shipped to France. With supply lines stretching across the U-boat infested North Atlantic, it was imperative for the Army to have the ability to repair broken weapons and artillery pieces in France and return these essential tools to the front line as fast as possible. This was the mission of Bill’s unit.
The 4th Mobile Ordnance Repair Shop (M.O.R.S) was divided into two sections, the equipment section and the machinery section. The equipment section, with three repair trucks and two supply trucks, focused their efforts on repairing small arms; mainly machine guns, rifles and pistols. The machinery section, with three artillery repair trucks and three supply trucks, repaired mortars, field guns and howitzers. Keeping this hardworking team fed was Bill’s job.
Upon arriving in France, the 4th M.O.R.S. was assigned to the IV Corps. The IV Corps had command and control of four subordinate infantry divisions. During Bill’s time in service, these consisted of the First, Third, Forty-Second, and Eighty-Ninth Infantry Divisions.
When the IV Corps was committed to the St. Mihiel offensive beginning in September 1918, Bill’s unit was pushed to the limit trying to keep the big guns firing throughout the desperate struggle. After suffering tremendous losses, the IV Corps would emerge victorious from this cataclysmic series of battles.
When the armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, Bill’s unit was assigned to the Army of Occupation. Bill and his fellow soldiers were stationed in Mayen, Germany, an important economic center in the Rhineland. Based on pictures from Bill’s collection, there was time enough for the men to organize social activities. Bill became a member of the Shamrock Club, which was presumably made up of soldiers with Irish ancestry.
In May of 1919, the IV Corps was demobilized in the newly established Weimar Republic. Bill and his fellow soldiers were on their way home at last. After crossing the Atlantic on a crowded troopship, Private First Class William J. Murphy was honorably discharged from the Army at Camp Devens, Massachusetts on July 3, 1919. He was awarded the Bronze Victory Button soon after discharge and would later receive the Victory Medal with the St. Mihiel and Defensive Sector Battle Clasps and the Army Occupation Medal.
After the war, Bill led a very quiet and modest life. He never married and was devoted to his sister Theresa. He kept a room at the Lynn Y.M.C.A. on Market Street and drove a truck for the St. Vincent DePaul Society, a leading Catholic Charity.
Bill passed away on July 14, 1966 and is buried at Saint Mary’s Cemetery in Lynn. Bill’s wartime memorabilia was passed to my mother by Bill’s sister Theresa. When my mother passed away, I became the custodian of these wonderful pieces of history. I hope you enjoy seeing them and will look kindly upon the legacy of a quiet and humble man.