James Thomas Anderson
T/4 in 406th Engineer Combat Co
Military occupational specialty: 14 (automotive mechanic, second echelon)
ASN#32487853 Casualty: Wounded
Born 1923 in VA
County of residence at enlistment: Kent County, DE
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: farm hands, vegetables
James "Tommy" Anderson was born on February 2, 1923 in Waverly, VA. He was the only child of a ship's captain, and he lived with his parents on a barge that carried freight up and down the East Coast. This came to an end when his father died in 1931, and he and his mother settled in Dover, Delaware.
Tommy had only a few years of formal schooling; he dropped out at the age of 12 to go to work at the Dover Packard dealership. After that he got a job at Dover Airfield with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), digging out tree stumps so the airfield could be lengthened. His daughter reports that "he took the job, not knowing that it paid wages, but because he heard that they gave you breakfast every morning. He went the first day and found that they gave you breakfast of scrapple, scrambled eggs, toast, and coffee, and you could go back for seconds! . . . He then discovered that the job paid 15 cents an hour and he thought he had gone to heaven. They worked 10 hours a day digging stumps; . . . there was no lunch break because none of the young men had anything to eat for lunch. He loved that job."
Eventually his mother remarried, to a man named Robert Baker; the 1940 census lists him as Lucy and Robert's stepson. Tommy went to work for Edgell Construction and learned to be a truck mechanic. He was drafted on June 30 1942, at which time he was working for the Eastern Shore Public Service Company, and enlisted on February 18, 1943. He was assigned to the 406th Engineer Combat Company as an auto mechanic and served in Europe with the unit. He reports that he landed in Normandy the day after D-Day where his first assignment was to drive a heavy truck towing a bulldozer. Later he was one of the soldiers who made the phony tank tracks for the inflatable tanks. Tom was wounded with a piece of shrapnel in his arm, and later got frostbitten feet during the Battle of the Bulge.
After he returned from Europe, he married Gladys Warren on August 4, 1945. He returned to Fort Dix to serve out the remainder of his time, while Gladys stayed with her father. After his discharge, with the rank of SGT, they settled in Dover and he and Gladys had two children: Cathy and Richard. Tom worked many different jobs. He got up early in the morning and milked cows for Nelson Masey, then went to his mechanic's job in Dover. At night he milked cows again. His family reports that "he carried his daughter around with him when she was little and told her, over and over, that she was going to college." She did, graduating from the University of Delaware.
Tom worked his way up to be service manager at Bolan Motors, the Ford dealership in Dover. He worked there for more than 35 years, while also working nights and weekends at the Trader Funeral Home. He stayed on at Trader after the dealership closed, continuing to work until 2020 when the pandemic forced him to stay home.
Tom is still alive as of this writing (May 13, 2022). He is a daily visitor at the Modern Maturity Center, a senior center in Dover, and serves as the head usher at Wesley United Methodist Church.
1942 draft card
1943 enlistment record
1945 US World War II Young American Patriots, 1941-1945
1945 marriage record
1945 article in The Morning News (Wilmington DE) about his marriage
1975 article in The News Journal (Wilmington DE) re his daughter's military service
1984 mother's obituary in The News Journal (Wilmington DE)
1993 US Public Records Index for Delaware
2012 wife's obituary in the Delaware State News (Dover DE)
2022 article in Bay to Bay News
2022 article on 47 ABC-TV (wmdt.com)
2022 biographical notes from his daughter Cathy Anderson Snyder.