644-TDB – (William R. Lally)

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My name is Daron, and I am a collector of vintage. My latest obsession is with Vogue Picture records. They were made in the years 1946-1947. An ad in a paper led me to a lady with vintage records, but not the ones I sought after. However, it did lead me to a collection of WW-2 materials belonging to a now-deceased relative of hers, T/Sgt William Robert Lally, Jr., of the 644th Tank Destroyer Battalion. The family didn’t want the items, so I ended up buying the whole collection and thereby preserving it from possible destruction.

‘God of our fathers, known of old,
Lord of our far-flung battle-line,
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!’

Rudyard Kipling

644th Tank destroyer Battalion – Redesignated from the 44th Antitank Battalion (Provisional) at Fort Dix, New Jersey, on December 15, 1941, the 644th Tank Destroyer Battalion shipped out on January 2, 1944, and arrived at Gourock, Scotland, in January 1944. Almost half a year later, the unit landed on Utah Beach on July 11/12 equipped with M-10’s and was sent south of La Haye Du Puits in support of the 8th Infantry Division (July 15). The Battalion participated in Operation Cobra beginning on July 26, advanced into Brittany during the month of August and helped capture Brest in early September.
The 644-TDB moved then to Luxembourg (late September), fought in the Hürtgen Forest (November). During the Battle of the Bulge, Able and Charlie Co moved to the northern Ardennes sector rejoined a little later by Baker Co. After the Battle of the Bulge, January 1945, the 644-TDB participated in the Roer River Offensive during the month of February. The Battalion reached the Rhine River south of Cologne (March), Crossed the river at Remagen and supported the reduction of the Ruhr Pocket in April. The Battalion then swung eastward to the Elbe River and rolled toward the Baltic coast with the 82d Airborne Division, stopping in Schwerin.

During WW-2, under the Command of Col Ephraim F. Graham Jr, the 644-TDB was attached to the 82d Airborne Division, the 3rd Armored Division, the 1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th, 86th, 99th, 104th Infantry divisions, and the 102nd Cavalry Group.

Campaigns 644-TDB (Hazard) Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe.

My Request: Let’s talk about Bob Lally, Jr (aka ‘Mick’)(1916-1977) of the 644th Tank destroyer Battalion. Bob was originally from Union City, New Jersey, and was the son of William Robert Lally (1916–1977) and Hazel Spencer Lally (). Bob married Barbara Syble MacDougall (1924-2007) from Seattle, Washington. He had one brother, Jay Lally (1927-). During WW-2, he was stationed in Hqs Co, 644-TDB. Even though I don’t know what his exact duties were in the battalion, from the negatives and photos that were in the collection it was obvious he didn’t spend the war behind a desk.
Any information on this would be very much appreciated. There are photos of him with the tank destroyers, posing amidst what appears to be the aftermath of an engagement with the enemy, and even donning a German uniform for a gag! It certainly looks like Bill saw action. He was the recipient of a Good Conduct Medal.

One of the surprising discoveries in the Lally collection was that along with the usual war trophies (helmets, badges, pieces of uniforms, etc.) there was a collection of photographic negatives that appeared to have been taken from a German soldier. Perhaps Bob Lally’s interest in photography is why he obtained and kept them?
How similar were the two sets of photos in many instances! Posing with cigarettes, posing on the armored vehicles (in this case German tanks, not American tank destroyers), and group photos in conquered cities (well, ‘liberated’ cities in the case of the Americans in Lally’s photographs). He also took photos of what appears to be a stop at a Stalag, French peasants having a picnic, the seaside of France, and gardeners working in a patch of sunflowers. One can almost trace his feelings as he and his tank squads make their way toward Bob Lally’s battalion, not suspecting it would spell their doom.

So that is all that I can tell you about William Robert Lally, Jr. of the 644th Tank Destroyer Battalion. I welcome all information that anyone can tell me about him, his battalion, and the unknown German tank squads.

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