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Daley Barracks - the Story Behind the Name

Tens of thousands of American troopers passed through Daley Barracks in Bad Kissingen from 1952 thru 1992.  It existed as a place name on orders, an APO number and finally a physical location as the TMP shuttle van, military bus or German taxi swung through the town, climbed the hill on to Ring Strasse and then made the turn at the gate.  The first impression for arriving troops, the Daley Barracks gate sign and then the Frontier Movie theater.  I guess I’ve arrived … wonder what’s playing at the movies?

Soldiers, young men who thrive in the present, seldom consider the distant past and I think I speak for many - I seldom gave thought to who Daley was or how his name came to that arched sign.  I have a faint memory of one of the few times I went to the Offices of the Post Commander located over the 2 - 41 FA mess hall.  On the wall was a oil portrait of a soldier in WW II uniform;  I asked the secretary about the painting and she simply replied, “That is Daley“.

So who was this soldier and how did his name come to occupy the sign at the Main Gate? Decades after departure, you may not be able to recall the names of all the men in your platoon or section, stumble over the details of the chain of command and draw a blank as to the Supply Sergeant - but that place name, Daley Barracks - always is recalled.  Let me introduce you to the man you never met. 

Tech 5 William T. Daley

In early April 1945, the US 14th Armored Division, operating just to the west of the 3rd Infantry Division, briefly passed through Bad Kissingen and then continued north moving parallel to what we recall as Highway 19. On 9 April, the division CP was located at Unsleben, the first small town just north or where our border camp would be located a few years later. There had been a brief but sharp fight by Wollbach.

With the 94th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron running fast in front, the division continued to just southwest of Meiningen and then turned hard right. Rather than attempt to meet the Russians, the 14th Armor would now thrust east by southeast against where planners believed the Germans would make a final stand.

The Cav squadron leading, on the 14th of April, the division was in the vicinity of Bayreuth. The following day, a Headquarters Troop transportation section leader and truck driver, Tech 5 William T. Daley would win the Distinguished Service Cross, lose his life and lend his name to US Army history as remembered at Daley Barracks.

Tech 5 William T. Daley and the fight at Creussen on 15 April 1945

The 14th Armored Division around Bayreuth, the 94th Cavalry Recon Squadron pushed south along the Bayreuth - Nurnberg Autobahn and through adjacent towns and villages. There had been little major opposition from the German forces but seemingly everyday, there was an ambush and casualties were taken. Often, the cavalry troops fought running battles; attached to the squadron were least two platoons of tanks as well as a few armored anti tank guns, usually enough to carry the attack. The squadron moved forward, POW’s and wounded troopers evacuated to the rear.

Squadron Commander, Major George W. England Jr., began to wonder if his units had raced too far forward to be supported by the division. With one Troop over 30 kilometers south of Bayreuth by the town of Pegnitz and two other Troops in the towns of Creussen and Trockau, about 20 kilometers away from the city, it was not an ideal position to defend. When a lone German scout plane passed back and forth over the area, Major England acted to consolidate his forces near the small town of Creussen. He also informed his higher command, Combat Command" R" that he sensed a possible attack and requested reinforcements. It was sunset on April 14 and they began to hear tanks in the woods.

Gruppe Grafenwoehr was an ad hoc unit formed from training cadre, available tanks, half tracks and light artillery found in the large training area. With thirty five tanks and over two battalions of infantry, the unit, although fast composed, was still a potent combat force and for one final time, a German unit would go on the attack to try and clear American forces from the area south of Bayreuth. The final objective was to fight into the city and continue to engage the 14th Armor Division. Their attack on 15 April was the last coordinated Wehrmacht offensive action above battalion level mounted in southern Germany. Attacking out of Grafenwoehr on several different routes they soon closed on the 94th Cav at Creussen.

Major England and his Troop commanders realized this would be a fight and they had one surprise. The town of Creussen, although little more than a village, had a small arms factory staffed with slave laborers from conquered Eastern countries. Although the weapons were of suspect quality, the newly freed workers were more that willing to help out in the battle and as the sun rose on 15 April, the scouts could hear the approaching German tanks.

From the 14th Armored Division History:

"By 1030 in the morning, enemy tanks and infantry had surrounded Creussen on three sides, south, east and north"

"E Troop had gone into firing positions in the hills just northwest of the town, and E Troop‘s assault guns were caught in the crossfire of five German tanks. E Troop knocked out three attackers, lost an M 7, an M 8 and a half track and finally managed to pull back into Creussen."

"HHT Commander, the Squadron S-4 and Squadron Liaison officer were captured near Gottsfeld (one of those roads that had been open only an hour before, but the Germans had cut it off), and all but the Liaison officer escaped later."

"Two of the squadron gas trucks were knocked out in that same area and the drivers killed"

COL [Ret]  Karl Keyser:

"I was the Troop D commander for much of our time in Europe but by the time we got to Creussen, I was the S3. I wish I could help you out more with Daley but I just don’t recall much beyond the fact that the road leading into town from the north (our rear ) was cut for a while, several of our staff were captured in that area but then escaped and the truck convoy was ambushed. It did not get through."

"The battle on the 15th was a surprise because we did not think the Germans were capable of anything of that size at that point of the war. Major England got the 94th into a good defensive position and although there were several attacks, none of them were particularly well coordinated and we held our positions. During the battle, Major England and I would meet on occasion at the CP but we spent most of the time at the Troop positions. We wanted to keep Combat Command " R " informed of the situation and we knew that sooner or later, they would push through to the town. I never felt we were in any danger of being overrun. I do recall we used the liberated Czech laborers as infantry and they were happy to do the job. This helped because we just did not have the troops to properly defend a town. I don’t recall our casualties from the day, they could not have been too bad because we were back on the move the following day."

Frank Coffee, gunner, Company F (light tanks), 94th Cav, from his unpublished memoir:

"At Creussen we had freed 600 slave laborers who had been making anti-aircraft weapons and rifles for the German armies. This was a select group, as they were doing precision factory work. Many of the females were young and attractive, either Czech or part of the Service du Travail Obligatoire, the French labor force that the Vichy government had sent to work in German war factories."

"As our units took up position, I was sent on a patrol back to the labor camp. When the laborers realized that we had liberated them, a spontaneous celebration broke out. In the middle of Germany, in the middle of the war, they were dancing and singing. As we joined in, they found some German liquor and the bottles went around and around. There was one particular young woman who was the most beautiful thing I had seen in months."

"There were just seven of us on foot investigating the camp when we became aware of a large German patrol probing the area. We figured the camp was not the target and we took off through the woods back towards Creussen. Much running and crawling and a few short bursts of fire and we safely made it. Two of our guys who had had too much to drink to make the run were hidden back in the camp by the Czechs."

"Early the next morning, under a rising fog, two German tanks made a run through our end of town and cut back towards the work camp. The men at the infantry anti - tank position were so surprised, they abandoned their position. Sergeants Ruder and Hayes had taken a jeep back towards the camp to retrieve the two guys when they were caught by machine gun fire. All Creussen was alerted and the next wave of three German tanks moved into range and were hit by our tank destroyers and medium tank fire. But other tanks slipped past and we were aware that they now had cut the roads leading into town from the north. At that point, I recall the weapons were handed out to the Czech laborers who had fled into Creussen."

"Troop E was located in the woods northwest of town and they engaged the new German tank threat and scored some hits. Other German tanks set up a cross fire and the Troop was forced out of position and pulled into town after losing an M7, M8 and one half track. From what I know, that is when the party from Squadron HQ was ambushed and captured on the road and the gas trucks were destroyed and Daley was killed. I never knew him personally but I knew him by sight, he brought fuel to us many times."

" The enemy attacked several times and it was only through our artillery that was just in range and then air cover, that we turned them back. The weather was perfect and four nearby towns that had been used as German assembly areas were reduced to rubble. Later in the day, as the battle seemed to stop, I was ordered forward with a patrol to investigate the slave labor camp. "

"We found that the camp had been hit either by artillery or bombs and that several of the laborers had been killed. I found the pretty girl I had seen so alive just 24 hours earlier, dead in one of the buildings. I guess I considered myself a battle seasoned soldier but I recall that sight to this day as the single saddest, most depressing event I personally encountered in the war. We continued the patrol and took fire from a 20 mm cannon mounted on a truck."

"Later that night, there was a second thrust and heavy German patrolling. Col. Hudelson sent a strong counter attack towards Trockau and Gottsfeld and after a sharp fight, the Germans retreated. It should be noted that part of the initial relief force that reached Creussen while the first fight was still on were members of the Negro Provisionals, the supply and labor unit in the Division who had received infantry training at Compiegne and authorized into combat as of 26 March. They fought well, we got ready to move."

Tech 5 William T. Daley was from the small upstate New York town of Jamestown. He was a truck driver and assistant section leader for the Headquarters and Service Troop fuel and ammunition section. On the same road where the HHT Commander and party were captured, German tanks closed in on Daley’s truck and one driven by Tech 5 Leslie Perry as they tried to run much needed supplies into Creussen. As observed by US forces, both trucks were soon disabled and burning ...

Tech 5 William T. Daley's recommendation for the Distinguished Service Cross:

"... when hostile tanks and supporting infantry ambushed a supply column which Technical Fifth Grade Daley’s truck was leading into Creussen, Germany, he dismounted beside his vehicles and firing his carbine from his exposed position, successfully diverted enemy fire away from his comrades seeking cover. Leaving this position for one offering a better field of fire, he ran to the doorstep of nearby house and resumed his gallant effort, even as an enemy 75 mm shell demolished a truck close by. While the enemy maneuvered for better positions, he continued to hold them off until all of his comrades had secured cover. Technical Fifth Grade Daley was mortally wounded in this action, but his unselfish courage and supreme devotion to duty will live on in the finest traditions of the military service."

As the day wore on, fierce fighting continued just outside of Creussen and in the nearby hills.

From Vernon H. Brown ‘s memoir of service in Troop D, Mount Up .... We’re Moving Out:

"By noon things in general began to not look so good. The enemy now held all the towns around us and it was apparent that D Troop was surrounded and cut off some fifteen miles out ahead of the rest of the Division. Combat Command" R" radioed that they were on the way to relieve the pressure but were meeting stiff resistance and unable to make headway. Our tank destroyer had meanwhile lost a track and was immobilized which left our one remaining M4 to protect all the roads leading into town by rumbling from one to another."

Colonel Hudelson, commander of CC "R", continued to push down towards Creussen and by late afternoon, had captured the adjacent towns of Trockau and Gottesfeld. This relieved the pressure on Creussen and created a coordinated defense.

From Vernon H. Brown Jr.:

"At 1802 hours, the grim faces turned into incredulous smiles of joy as out of the dust came five scarred, sandbagged, tired, wheezing beautiful M4 Sherman tanks mounting a couple of platoons of the 7th Provisional (Black) Infantry, the first black troops we had ever seen. CCR had arrived ... and destroyed ten German tanks on the way."

COL [Ret] England picks up the story:

"This was the first time I saw the black troops in combat. By that time, each division had a company of those soldiers set up as a supply and services unit. Through the balance of my career, I saw the Army successfully integrate and it was the right thing to do. During the war, the black support troops often had the worst jobs, grave digging and brute labor. Towards the end of the war, they were allowed to form volunteer combat platoons under a white chain of command. These units then were attached to the Combat Command "Reserve". This is how they got into the fight at Creussen and helped turn the tide."

Through the night of the 15th and the following day, the 94th Cav and reinforcing units from the 14th AD continued the fight south of Bayreuth and the German counter attack was destroyed. Within a day, the US forces were back on the attack. Tech 5 Daley was buried with the other fallen US forces from the battle in a temporary cemetery and Major England informed his commanders that any recommendations for awards related to the fighting of Creussen needed to be submitted quickly and accurately for his consideration and endorsement.

On 17 February 1953, General Order # 21, published by the Headquarters, United States Army Europe, designated the former Manteuffel Kaserne in Bad Kissingen and newly occupied Army Barracks as" Daley Barracks" under the signature of BG L.V. Warner, Adjutant General as drafted by MG Edward T. Williams, Chief of Staff. John Bandy, a trooper with the 2/14th ACR as they moved from Schweinfurt to Bad Kissingen does not recall any sort of formal ceremony for the "naming" of the new barracks.

William Treet Daley: forgotten then found

Verlah Daley, William’s younger sister:

"William was my older brother and he was everything you could have hoped for. Always with a smile and joke, a joy to my parents and my sister. He was a few years older than me and I don’t recall if he graduated from the high school or not. As the war year began, he had worked for the local railroad and for a commercial dairy. In July 1941, he married his sweetheart and was drafted in November. William was already on the way to Europe when his son was born. We received several letters over the years and then he was killed. My brother was returned to Jamestown for burial in 1946. Many of the war dead were returned that year after initially being buried in Germany or France and it seemed so odd and sad that the war was over, and we were reading about and going to funerals just as the first waves of veterans came back. We laid Willy to rest at Lake View."

The story then takes an interesting twist after 44 years. Verlah was contacted by the Veteran’s Association of the 14th Armored Division to let her know that they were placing a memorial to the actions of the Division at Fort Knox and one panel would include the names of those soldiers who had received significant decorations. As the next of kin of one of seven soldiers who had received the DSC, they wanted Ms. Daley to be aware of the event. She thanked them for the honor and noted that no one in the family could recall the DSC award ever being sent. The telephone call was the first time anyone was aware of Willy being awarded this medal.

Through the actions of the 14th Armored Division Veteran’s Association and then Mr. Amo Houghton, member of the US House of Representatives for lakes region, New York, the medal and citation were presented to Verlah in August 1992. She sent it to Willy’s son in Tennessee.

I was able to locate Ms. Verlah Daley through luck and diligence and explained the web site, the reason for my research concerning her brother and how the Army had come to honor his name by designating Daley Barracks in 1951. She and the family were totally unaware that his name had lived on for so many years with the US Cavalry in Germany. I sent copies of photographs showing the various signs that carried the name " Daley Barracks " at the main gate and a brief history of the barracks and the units that had garrisoned there. Verlah Daley was thrilled to learn that the Army had chosen to honor her brother in this way.

Creussen today is larger, but still just a small town off the Autobahn. The factory area, much remodeled, once used by the slave laborers, is still an industrial space. No one could recall the day long fight; they were convinced that Creussen had been bombed by mistake in the last days of the war. There is a memorial to the sixteen "forced laborers" who died in the bombing.

Telling this story required the assistance of a number of individuals. I would like to thank Ms. Verlah Daley, COL [Ret] George W. England, COL [Ret] Karl Keyser, Mr. Frank Coffee, Historical Society of Panama - Jamestown and Lakes Region New York and Mr. Jim Lankford, Deputy National Historian for the 14th Armored Division Association.

Post Script: COL [Ret] Keyser wanted to add, "As a note, I commanded the 2/11 ACR when it was first re-constituted in 1951 at Camp Carson, CO. As the unit was built, we did much or our training at Fort Irwin and we won several gunnery and unit inspection awards in the process. I am proud of my war time service with the 94th Cavalry, proud to have led men like William T. Daley and proud to have commanded the Second Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment when it rejoined the active Army."

Through the Daley Barracks Main Gate – Through the Years



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