1st Lieutenant Thomas O. Hudson (1918–1944)

Thomas O. Hudson c. 1943 (Drawing by Daria Milka, author’s collection)
ResidencesCivilian Occupation
Virginia, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Missouri, DelawareWorker at the Dupont Company
BranchService Numbers
U.S. ArmyEnlisted 32260853 / Officer O-1170428
TheaterUnit
EuropeanHeadquarters 315th Field Artillery Battalion, 80th Infantry Division
AwardsCampaigns/Battles
Bronze Star Medal, Purple HeartNorthern France, Rhineland, and Ardennes-Alsace campaigns
Military Occupational Specialty
1189 (forward observer)

Early Life & Family

Thomas Oliver Hudson was born in City Point, Virginia, on May 18, 1918. He was the eldest child of Oliver Gillespie Hudson (a civil engineer, 1886–1969) and Ruth Hudson (née Fox). He had a younger sister, Dorothy Ruth Hudson (later Lyden, 1922–2014).

Hudson’s family moved repeatedly during his youth. His family was living at 34 Brown Avenue in City Point, Virginia, when he was born, but by the time the census was taken on January 13, 1920, the family had moved to Jackson Avenue in Greenwich Township, Gloucester County, New Jersey. When the next census was taken on April 22, 1930, Hudson was living with his parents and younger sister, Dorothy, at the home where his maternal grandparents and two aunts lived: 24 West 3rd Street in Washburn, Wisconsin. The next census on April 16, 1940, found Hudson and his parents living at 209 North Olive Street in Eldon, Missouri. He was listed as having completed three years of college at that point. A newspaper article stated that he graduated from the University of Missouri in 1940.

After graduating from college, Hudson moved to Delaware, his father’s home state. When Hudson registered for the draft on October 16, 1940, he was living at 1106 North Jackson Street in Wilmington and working for the DuPont Company. He subsequently moved to 1808 Washington Street and then 2111 Washington Street in Wilmington before entering the service. The registrar described him as standing approximately five feet, 10½ inches tall and weighing 137 lbs., with brown hair and eyes. His enlistment data card described his occupation as “Statistical clerks and compilers” at the time he joined the military in early 1942. According to his aunt’s statement to the State of Delaware Public Archives Commission, he worked “Sales Promotion” for the Dupont Company.


Military Training

Hudson was drafted shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He joined the U.S. Army at Fort Dix, New Jersey, on March 19, 1942, and was assigned to the Field Artillery branch. After basic training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Hudson was promoted to corporal. He reported to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, for Field Artillery Officer Candidate School (O.C.S.) Class 31-42, beginning on July 2, 1942.

Upon graduation on September 22, 1942, Hudson was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Field Artillery. According to his aunt’s statement, that same month, Lieutenant Hudson reported to Camp Forest, Tennessee, where he remained through October 1943. That is presumably where he joined the 315th Field Artillery Battalion, a unit equipped with tractor-drawn 155 mm howitzers. The battalion, part of the 80th Infantry Division, had been activated at Camp Forrest on July 15, 1942. Hudson was promoted to 1st lieutenant effective March 25, 1943.

Hudson’s aunt wrote that he went to training in the deserts of Arizona and California from late 1943 to May 1944. That is generally consistent with the 80th Infantry Division’s movements during that period. The division was at Camp Laguna, Arizona, while operating at the Desert Training Center until March 1944.

According to Shelby Stanton’s book Order of Battle, the 315th Field Artillery Battalion shipped out from the New York Port of Embarkation on June 22, 1944, arriving in England on July 7, 1944.


Combat in the European Theater

Battery “B,” 315th Field Artillery Battalion boarded U.S.S. LST-534 at Portland Dock, Weymouth, England, on August 4, 1944. They crossed the English Channel the following day, disembarking at Utah Beach early on the morning of August 6, 1944. 1st Lieutenant Hudson had the duty of reconnaissance officer (M.O.S. 1183) when the battery arrived in France.

A 155 mm howitzer in action in France in 1944 (Wikipedia)

When the 315th arrived, Allied forces had recently broken out of Normandy. Later that month, the Germans suffered major loses in the Falaise pocket. Allied forces swept across France, but as they approached the German border, enemy resistance stiffened.

On September 20, 1944, 1st Lieutenant Hudson was transferred to Headquarters Battery, 315th Field Artillery Battalion. A morning report listed his new primary duty as motor transport officer (M.O.S. 0600). Despite that, he earned the Bronze Star Medal in northeastern France while acting as a forward observer on November 10, 1944. The medal citation, dated November 28, 1944, stated in part:

While serving as an artillery forward observer with a company of infantry on 10 November 1944, Lt Hudson was pinned to the ground by heavy enemy mortar and small arms fire.  Although in full view of the enemy and under constant enemy fire, Lt Hudson advanced to set up his radio and adjusted fire on the enemy weapons thereby neutralizing them.  Later in the advance, he voluntarily made a reconnaissance of a wooded section capturing two Germans and proceeded to clear a church steeple of enemy snipers while the town was under heavy artillery fire.  The personal bravery and sincere devotion to duty displayed by Lt Hudson are commensurate with the finest ideals of the armed forces of the United States.

Excerpt from a training manual, FM 6-135: Field Artillery Forward Observation, showing messages between the forward observer and the artillery he is directing as well as the observer’s vantage point (Internet Archive)

The 80th Infantry Division began the month of December 1944 close to the French-German border. On December 5, 1944, Hudson was transferred to Headquarters 315th Field Artillery Battalion per Special Orders No. 93, Headquarters 315th Field Artillery Battalion. His new assigned duty was forward observer (M.O.S. 1189). The division came out of the line on December 7, 1944, for rest, replenishment, and training. Their recuperation was interrupted on December 16, 1944, when the Germans launched an offensive through the Ardennes that came to be known as the Battle of the Bulge. The 80th Infantry Division was ordered north to Luxembourg.

Lieutenant Hudson was seriously wounded in action when he was hit in the head by artillery shell fragments on December 23, 1944. Despite surgery at the 110th Evacuation Hospital in Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg, he died the following day, Christmas Eve 1944.

The Chattanooga Times reported that Lieutenant Hudson’s parents were advised on January 8, 1945, that he had been wounded and were notified two days later that he had died from his wounds.

1st Lieutenant Hudson’s body rests at the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial (Section E, Row 8, Grave 57).

Lieutenant Hudson’s sister, Dorothy, and her husband raised four children. They named their eldest Thomas Hudson Lyden (1946–1963). He was just 17 when he died in Colorado after being struck by a vehicle while riding a bicycle.


Notes

City Point

City Point is now part of Hopewell, Virginia.

Bronze Star Medal

The location where Lieutenant Hudson earned his Bronze Star Medal on November 10, 1944, is unclear, as is the infantry unit to which he was attached to as a forward observer at the time. The Headquarters Battery morning report for that day stated that it left Aulnois-sur-Seille, Moselle Department, and moved to nearby Puzieux. It can be inferred that the event occurred in that general area, though of course the infantry unit he was attached to was likely in a different town.

I attempted to match the events described in the citation to those mentioned in the 80th Division History. Perhaps the best fit are the experiences of 3rd Battalion, 319th Infantry Regiment, which captured Xocourt and then continued northeast. That afternoon, they “cleared the enemy” from a forest, “BOIS DE LA FOUILOUSE PON DE CHASSE (northwest of TINCRY)[.]” I was unable to find this specific feature labeled on a contemporary French map, although La Fouillouze is labeled in a forested area northwest of Tincry. After moving through the forest, 3rd Battalion captured Tincry.

The division history for that day also mentioned that the 319th Infantry Regiment began that morning near Delme and “At 1030, the 2d Bn had advanced 300 yards into the BOIS DE [BACOURT] under heavy enemy machine gun and mortar fire. […] At 1455, the Battalion had cleared the woods and […] seized HILL 328 at 1610.”

Of course, that account mentions a forest and heavy fire but not a town.

It is also possible that Hudson was attached to the 317th and 318th Infantry Regiments, which were also in action, though the history described them facing lighter resistance that day.

Location Where Hudson Was Wounded

It is also unclear where 1st Lieutenant Hudson was mortally wounded. The Headquarters 315th Field Artillery Battalion morning report for December 23, 1944, stated that the unit was at Bissen, Luxembourg, until 1400 hours. The unit then arrived at nearby Michelbouch, Luxembourg, at 1430. Of course, as a forward observer, he presumably would have been at another location nearby.

The 80th Infantry Division was involved in heavy fighting in Luxembourg on December 23, 1944, with the 318th Infantry Regiment in action near Ettelbruck. Meanwhile, the 319th Infantry Regiment took Kehmen, Heiderscheid, Tadler, and Heiderscheidergrund. The 317th Infantry Regiment saw more limited action in the area of Niederfeulen.

Location of Death

A morning report indicates that Lieutenant Hudson was treated at the 110th Evacuation Hospital at Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg. Presumably he died there, but I have not been able to confirm that he wasn’t transferred to another medical facility prior to his death.


Acknowledgments

Special thanks to Andy Adkins, historian and webmaster of the 80th Division Veterans Association website, for clarifying some of the mysteries pertaining to Lieutenant Hudson’s service.


Bibliography

“VIII Corps: Medical Support in the Battle of the Bulge.” AMEDD Center of History & Heritage website. https://achh.army.mil/history/book-wwii-bulge-viiicorpsintro

1940s Class Rosters. Artillery OCS Alumni website. http://artilleryocsalumni.com/rosters/classrosters40s.pdf

“Butte Native, 17, Killed in Denver.” The Montana Standard, September 30, 1963. Pg. 1. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/91590904/thomas-hudson-lyden-obit/

“Former DuPont Employe [sic] Died Christmas Eve.” Journal-Every Evening, January 16, 1945. Pg. 1 and 4. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/91141821/thomas-o-hudson-kia/, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/91141691/thomas-o-hudson-kia-jim-sterner-wia/

General Orders No. 89, Headquarters 80th Infantry Division, November 28, 1944. National Archives via the 80th Division Digital Archives Project website. https://www.80thdivision.com/GeneralOrders/GO89_28NOV44.pdf

General Orders No. 115, Headquarters 80th Infantry Division, December 28, 1944. National Archives via the 80th Division Digital Archives Project website. https://www.80thdivision.com/GeneralOrders/GO115_28DEC44.pdf

“History 80th Infantry Division December 1944.” National Archives via the 80th Division Digital Archives Project website. https://www.80thdivision.com/80th-OperationalHistory/80thOperHist-Dec44_Pt1.pdf

“History 80th Infantry Division November 1944.” National Archives via the 80th Division Digital Archives Project website. https://www.80thdivision.com/80th-OperationalHistory/80thOperHist-Nov44_Pt1.pdf

“Hudson Seeks Commission.” The Chattanooga Times, July 3, 1942. Pg. 16. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/91146637/hudson-ocs/

“Lt. Thomas Hudson Dies From Wounds.” The Chattanooga Times, January 11, 1945. Pg. 3. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/91146367/hudson-dow/

“Miss Hudson Wed to Lt. C. J. Lyden.” The Chattanooga Times, April 23, 1943. Pg. 6. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/91590193/thomas-hudsons-sister-wedding/

Morning reports for Battery “B,” 315th Field Artillery Battalion, August 1944. National Personnel Records Center via the 80th Division Digital Archives Project website. https://www.80thdivision.com/MorningReports/FABn/MR315FABn_BtryB_AUG44.pdf

Morning reports for Battery “B,” 315th Field Artillery Battalion, September 1944. National Personnel Records Center via the 80th Division Digital Archives Project website. https://www.80thdivision.com/MorningReports/FABn/MR315FABnBtryB_SEP44.pdf

Morning reports for Headquarters 315th Field Artillery Battalion, December 1944. National Personnel Records Center via the 80th Division Digital Archives Project website. https://www.80thdivision.com/MorningReports/FABn/MR315FABnHq_DEC44.pdf

Morning reports for Headquarters Battery, 315th Field Artillery Battalion, November 1944. National Personnel Records Center via the 80th Division Digital Archives Project website. https://www.80thdivision.com/MorningReports/FABn/MR905FABnHqBtry_NOV44.pdf

Morning reports for Headquarters Battery, 315th Field Artillery Battalion, September 1944. National Personnel Records Center via the 80th Division Digital Archives Project website. https://www.80thdivision.com/MorningReports/FABn/MR315FABnHqBtry_SEP44.pdf

Stanton, Shelby L. World War II Order of Battle: An Encyclopedic Reference to U.S. Army Ground Forces from Battalion through Division 1939–1946. Revised ed. Stackpole Books, 2006.

“Table of Organization and Equipment No. 6-36: Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, Motorized, Field Artillery Battalion 155-mm Howitzer, or 4.5-inch Gun, Truck-Drawn or Tractor-Drawn.” War Department, September 27, 1944. Military Research Service website. http://www.militaryresearch.org/6-36%2027Sep44.pdf

Tolbert, Margaret Hudson. Thomas Oliver Hudson Individual Military Service Record, c. 1946. Record Group 1325-003-053, Record of Delawareans Who Died in World War II.  Delaware Public Archives, Dover, Delaware. https://cdm16397.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15323coll6/id/19273/rec/1

United States of America, Bureau of the Census.  Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6061/images/4313320-00431   

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6224/images/4547868_00492

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2442/images/m-t0627-02129-00305, https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2442/images/m-t0627-02129-00306

“University of Missouri Student and Alumni Casualties in the Service of War: The Spanish-American War – World War II.” University Archives, University of Missouri website. https://muarchives.missouri.edu/militarydeaths.html

U.S. WWII Hospital Admission Card Files, 1942–1954. Record Group 112, Records of the Office of the Surgeon General (Army), 1775–1994. National Archives at College Park, Maryland. https://www.fold3.com/record/703893865/blank-us-wwii-hospital-admission-card-files-1942-1954

Virginia Births, 1864–2016. Virginia Department of Health, Richmond, Virginia. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/9277/images/42967_172028008879_1036-00458

World War II Army Enlistment Records. Record Group 64, Records of the National Archives and Records Administration. National Archives at College Park, Maryland. https://aad.archives.gov/aad/record-detail.jsp?dt=893&mtch=1&cat=all&tf=F&q=32260853&bc=&rpp=10&pg=1&rid=2900923

WWII Draft Registration Cards for Delaware, 10/16/1940–3/31/1947. Record Group 147, Records of the Selective Service System. National Archives at St. Louis, Missouri. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2238/images/44003_09_00005-00530  


Last updated on January 12, 2022

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