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Woodrow Wilson Phillips

Welch Daily News, November 18, 1944

West Virginia
Veterans Memorial


Woodrow Wilson Phillips

"I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity."

- General Dwight D. Eisenhower

Woodrow Wilson Phillips was born at Maybeury, McDowell County, West Virginia, on September 25, 1918, to Foster Phillips and Stella Jane Wellman Phillips. (Some sources give a birth date of February 25, 1917.) He grew up in a family of five siblings: brothers Neubert Johnson, James Grover, Edward Lee, and sister Elizabeth. According to U.S. Army World War II Enlistment Records, he had three years of high school. His enlistment record notes that his civilian occupation was that of "skilled meatcutters, except in slaughtering and packing houses," and this is borne out in a death notice in the Welch Daily News ("Maybeury Soldier Killed in Holland," 18 November 1944) that states he "was employed as a butcher at the Maybeury company store prior to his entry into the service March 11, 1944."

On April 9, 1938, Woodrow Wilson Phillips was united in marriage with Beulah Lee Smith of North Fork. They were married in Bland, Virginia, and Woodrow stated on the marriage certificate that he was a miner employed by the Pocahontas Fuel Company, a fact that concurs with information from the 1940 Federal Census. Their daughter Brenda Joyce was born in 1939. It appears that sometime between 1940 and 1944 Woodrow switched careers from miner to butcher, although he remained in the employ of the coal company.

But World War II intervened, and the young family could not live "happily ever after." On October 16, 1940, Woodrow had registered for the draft, as required by law. His draft card shows that he was of light complexion with brown eyes and brown hair. He was six feet, one inch, tall and weighed 148 pounds. His enlistment record shows he was called up or enlisted on March 13, 1944, at Fort Thomas, Newport, Kentucky. He received his training at Camp Blanding, Florida. Originally a National Guard camp and training site, Camp Blanding was leased to the United States Army as an active duty training center. The post was originally used by New England and Southern troops preparing for deployment overseas. However, during the course of the war, Camp Blanding served as an infantry replacement training center, an induction center, and a German prisoner-of-war compound.

It would not be long before Private Phillips would see action in the European Theater of war. He was assigned to Company A, 48th Armored Infantry Battalion. The 48th Infantry traces its lineage to World War I, where it was constituted in May 1917. Deactivated in 1922, it was reconstituted in 1942 in the Regular Army as the 48th Armored Infantry, then redesignated (less the 1st and 2nd Battalions) in the 7th Armored Division as the 48th Armored Infantry Battalion. Its route after the D-Day invasion through the end of the war would have taken it through Northern France, Belgium, the Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, and Central Europe. ("48th Infantry Lineage," in "Lineage and Honors Information: Infantry," U.S. Army Center of Military History, accessed 11 September 2020,

Private Phillips would be killed in action in Holland on October 15, 1944. His death would not have been in Operation Market Garden, as the dates for that operation were from September 17 through September 25. We do know that he was in Holland just subsequent to Market Garden.

Operation Market Garden, under the command of Field Marshal Sir Bernard Law Montgomery, was an airborne assault ("Market") and ground attack ("Garden"). Its objective was to secure a bridgehead over the Rhine, and it advanced along the Eindhoven-Nijmegen-Arnhem Corridor. But the Allies' inability to gain control of the bridge at Arnhem meant ultimate failure for Market Garden. Hostilities continued in Holland. The Arnhem Road Bridge that the British had fought so hard for was bombed by the Allies in October to deny its use by the Germans. Had the operation been successful, the war might have been over by Christmas.

In the words of one history site:

In the fall of 1944, the Allies attempted to get across the three major water obstacles in the Netherlands (the Maas, Waal, and Lower Rhine), to outflank the West Wall, and to put the British in position for a subsequent drive into Germany along the relatively open north German plain.

It was a join [sic] airborne-ground operation, Operation Market-Garden. The airborne attack—which included the famed 101st Airborne "Band of Brothers"—was called Operation Market; the corollary ground attack, Operation Garden. Unexpectedly strong resistance limited the gains to a 50-mile salient into Holland—far short of the objective of securing a workable bridgehead across the Rhine. ("World War II in Holland [The Netherlands]," World War II History Info, accessed 11 September 2020,

The Battle of the Bulge had not yet begun. Private Phillips's death occurred between those two notable events of the war: Operation Market Garden and the Ardennes Counteroffensive (BotB). It appears that he died in the context of prolonged fighting in the Netherlands (Holland) after the failure of Market Garden.

Interred originally in a European cemetery, Woodrow Wilson Phillips was returned to the U.S. in 1948, where he lies in Section K, Site 1480, of the Danville, Virginia, National Cemetery.
Marker for Woodrow W. Phillips in Danville, Virginia, National Cemetery. <i>Find A Grave</i> photo courtesy Janice Hollandsworth

Marker for Woodrow W. Phillips in Danville, Virginia, National Cemetery. Find A Grave photo courtesy Janice Hollandsworth

Article prepared by Patricia Richards McClure, who gratefully acknowledges the assistance of his niece Claudine Jenkins
September 2020


Woodrow Wilson Phillips

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