Orville Andrew May
|Orville Andrew May, son of William Harman and Martha Jane [Duffield] May, was born January 2, 1925, on Moore Fork in the Big Otter area of Clay County, West Virginia. Harman was a farmer, and he and Martha raised a large family. Orville Andrew, their youngest child, was called Andrew by everyone in the community. As a young boy, Andrew once carved his initials on a terrapin turtle. This same turtle with the letters OAM was found years later after Andrew's death by his nephew Maynard May. William Harman May passed away on January 10, 1938, leaving Martha to raise nine children on her own.|
On January 5, 1943, as a young man of 18, Andrew May went to Clarksburg, West Virginia, and joined the Army. He was sent to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, for basic training, and became a member of the 898th Field Artillery Regiment, 75th Infantry Division. After coming home for the funeral of his mother, who passed away on December 12, 1943, Andrew returned to his unit at Fort Leonard Wood and remained there until they were transferred to Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky, for additional training. From Camp Breckinridge, his unit was sent to England in November 1944.
After a brief training period in England, the 75th Division shipped out to Le Havre, France, on December 13, 1944, where they were attached to the US Army's VII Corps in preparation for the Ardennes Campaign, commonly known as the Battle of the Bulge. On December 16, 1944, the German Army's 5th and 6th Panzer Divisions, which consisted of 14 infantry and 10 armored divisions, took advantage of bad weather conditions and surprised the Allied forces by penetrating deep into Belgium in an attempt to capture the town of Antwerp. This action created a bulge in the Allied lines, but the Germans were never able to break through.
The Allied troops along the front were exhausted by the constant fighting all along the lines. The troops also suffered from the effects of the weather, the winter of 1945 being the coldest on record at that time. However, in early January the Germans began withdrawing from Belgium due to a fierce and determined Allied resistance. By January 16, 1945, the German forces were overcome, but not without the Allies having suffered about 81,000 casualties, which included about 19,000 Americans being killed.
|Andrew May was one of these men who made the supreme sacrifice when he was killed in action on January 8, 1945. He was buried in an American cemetery in eastern France. In January 1949, Andrew was brought back to the United States and reburied in the Moore Fork Cemetery near Ivydale, West Virginia, the area where he grew up.|
Andrew was preceded in death by his parents Harman and Martha May, and an older brother James Estel who died in 1920. At the time of his death, Andrew was survived by brothers Nathan Dewey "Jack," Charles Thornton, George Forest "Bill," and Isaac Clay; and sisters Mrs. Minnie Murphy, Mrs. Grace Irene Pritt, and Mrs. Mary Morris, who is the only surviving member of Andrew May's immediate family.
West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history. For more information contact Constance Baston at (304) 558-0230.
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