CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY
WILLIAM KIGGINS, SR.
William Kiggins was born on May 11, 1912 to James and Dorothy Lee Minner Kiggins in Camden NJ. He was the second of three children, coming after brother James, and before sister Nettie Kiggins. By 1920 his father had passed away. At the time of the 1920 census the family lived at 513 Washington Street, just off of Broadway. Dorothy Kiggins was supporting her family as a finisher in one of Camden's leather works. Older brother James, 14 at the time, was working as an errand boy in a local store. William Kiggins attended grammar school in Camden, but left in 1928 after completing the seventh grade, to go to work.
By April of 1930 Dorothy Kiggins and her two younger children were living in a rented house at 828 Kimber Street. Dorothy Kiggins was working odd jobs, and William, then 18, had gone to work as a spinner at a wool mill in Camden. Sister Nettie was not working then, presumably she was still in school. Dorothy Kiggins also let a room to a man named Edward Gaunt, who was a machine operator at the Armstrong Cork Company in Camden.
William Kiggins had gone to work in the 1936 as a truck driver for the A.J. Boyd Company in Oaklyn NJ. His discharge papers stated that he "drove an 8 ton truck, with four forward speeds, hauling freight from railroad freight yard. [He] loaded and unloaded freight, kept record of amount and type of merchandise, and upon delivery, collected money and made out cash receipts. Hauled a large variety of goods, such as safes, machinery, furniture, clothing, refrigerators, and perishable articles such as fruits and vegetables."
On May 17, 1941 William Kiggins and Irma Laura alter were married in Maryland. Their first child, William Jr., was born in the spring of 1943. William Kiggins Sr. was still working for the A.J. Boyd Company when he received his draft notice on September 6, 1943. The Kiggins family during this time made their home at 938 Penn Street in Camden, not far from where his mother lived. William Kiggins Sr. reported for active duty in the United States Army on September 27, 1943.
After completing basic training, Private Kiggins qualified as a rifleman on December 10, 1943. He performed various duties while in service, as a light truck driver, rifleman, and as an MP. He was sent overseas in May of 1944 as part of the 1st Provisional Trucking Company. According to his separation qualification record he "drove a 2 1/2 ton truck, hauling military equipment from seaport to quartermaster depot. Drove in convoys, hauling crated military vehicles and truck parts. Hauled military personnel. Performed minor emergency repairs such as changing tires, adjusting motor and lubricating parts. Served in England and Scotland with headquarters detachment, First Provisional Trucking Company.
When the Germans attacked in the Ardennes in December of 1944, the need for infantry replacements became critical. Support units were stripped of men, and William Kiggins, by this time promoted to Private First Class, was sent to Company F, 302nd Infantry Regiment, 94th Infantry Division.
Activated on September 15, 1942, at Ft. Custer, Michigan, the 94th Infantry Division left New York on August 1944, stopped in Great Britain and finally landed in the Utah-Beach-section, Normandy, on September 8, 1944. Until January 1, 1945, she stayed in the area of Lorient and St. Nazaire until she got released by 66th Infantry Division. On Jan 7, 1945, she relived the 90th Infantry Division, south of Wasserbillig, Germany, and entered the Saar-Moselle-Triangle. Through fierce fights the 84th advanced through Tettingen and Butzdorf to Nennig but had to retreat a couple of times, at Orscholz January 20, at Berg on January 23-25, and at Campholz on February 15.
Supported by heavy artillery and air support the division attacked with her three regiments and broke thru the Siegfried Line and following 10th Armored Division she cleared the Saar-Moselle-Triangle south of Orscholz and Saarbrug until Feb. 21, 1945. Under heavy German fire they crossed the Saar River and built two bridge heads, one near Ockfen on February 22 and one near Serrig-Taben shortly afterwards. Fierce fights began but the bridge heads could be united and a heavy bailey bridge was build near Saarburg on February 26, 1945
During the .fighting at the Serrig-Taben bridgehead Private First Class William Kiggins rescued two wounded men for which he was awarded the Bronze Star.
By March 2, 1945, the Division stretched over a 10-mile front, from Hocker Hill on the Saar through Zerf, and Lampaden to Ollmuth. A heavy German attack near Lampaden achieved penetrations, but the line was shortly restored, and on 13 March, spearheading the XX Corps, the 94th broke out of the bridgehead and drove to the Rhine, reaching that river, March 21. Ludwigshafen was taken, March 24, in conjunction with CCA of the 12th Armored Division. The Division then moved by rail and motor to the vicinity of Krefeld, Germany, assuming responsibility, April 3, for containing the west side of the Ruhr pocket from positions along the Rhine. With the reduction of the pocket in mid-April, the Division was assigned military government duties, first in the Krefeld and later in the Dusseldorf areas.
During the time William Kiggins was serving in the Army, his wife had relocated to the then relatively new Westfield Acres Public Housing Project on Westfield Avenue in East Camden, renting an apartment at 364 Dudley Avenue.
At the end of hostilities, William Kiggins returned to his original military of specialty of driving a truck. He served in Europe until November 16, 1945 during which time he was transferred to the Troop E of the 38th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron. He arrived in the United States on November 27, 1945, and was sent to Fort Monmouth NJ with that unit. He received an honorable discharge on December 4, 1945 after serving 2 years, 2 months, and 29 days. He had fought in four major campaigns, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe. Besides the Bronze Star, which was presented to him in a ceremony in late September 1945, he was awarded the European-African-Middle-Eastern campaign ribbon, the Good Conduct Medal, and the Victory Medal.
William Kiggins Sr. came home to his wife and son in December of 1945. The Kiggins' were blessed with a daughter, Marylou in the fall of 1946. He stayed in touch with some of his Army comrades, attending a reunion in 1956.
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William Kiggins Sr.