William Frank Hughes Sr.
PFC in 406th Engineer Combat Co
Military occupational specialty: 189 (rigger)
Born 1923 in NJ, Died 2012
County of residence at enlistment: Camden County, NJ
Other residence(s): Gloucester City, NJ; Mt. Ephraim, NJ
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Bill Hughes was born on September 25, 1923 in Gloucester City NJ—the fourth of six children in his family, and the only boy. His father was an upholstery weaver in a textile mill.
He completed three years of high school; at the time of the 1940 census he was working as a laborer in road construction. When he registered for the draft, on June 30, 1942, Bill was working at the Atlantic Ice Company.
He was one of 15 young men from Gloucester City who enlisted in the Army between March 15-22, 1943; all but three of them were 18 or 19 years old. On March 25, they found themselves on a train headed to Camp Gordon, Georgia. There they would join the newly activated 293rd Engineer Combat Battalion, and be assigned to Company A. That spring and summer they trained in Georgia and Tennessee, and that fall boarded a train for Camp Pilot Knob, aka the Desert Training Center, five miles from Yuma, Arizona (just inside the California border). In mid-January 1944, the commander of the 293rd received an order to detach his best company for a secret mission. He selected Company A, and by January 30, 1944 the men were back in Tennessee. On April 7, 1944, Company A of the 293rd was officially reassigned and renamed as the 406th Engineer Combat Company, and the unit boarded a ship to England in early May.
That July, as the men of the 406th headed across England on their way to the war, the train stopped in the city of Gloucester. Here the local NAAFI (the organization that runs recreation, canteens, and PXs for British servicemen) served them tea, which was quaffed amid cheers from the soldiers from Gloucester City, New Jersey.
After their service in the Ghost Army all 15 men returned to the states. They were feted on July 14, 1945 by the Third Ward Regular Democratic Club while back in Gloucester City on 30-day furloughs. Bill returned to Gloucester City after his discharge; by 1950 he was working as a slitter in a paper mill. In June, 1951, he married Anna Storms who had been working as a cutter in the paper mill.
Bill and Anna would go on to have three sons: William Jr., Michael, and Donald.
In 1949 Bill was one of 80 Gloucester City veterans honored with a new memorial stained-glass window at Second Methodist Church (now Trinity Methodist) in Gloucester City.
By 1979, when his mother died, Bill and Anna were living in Mt. Ephraim, NJ. Nothing else is known of his life or work. He died on March 9, 2012, and is buried at Eglington Cemetery in Clarksboro, NJ. Anna died the following year.
1942 draft card
1943 article in the Morning Post (Camden, NJ) about him and 14 other Gloucester veterans of the 406th Engineers—all of them (plus others from the area) were being sent to Fort Dix for training
1945 article in the Morning Post (Camden, NJ) about him and 15 other Gloucester veterans of the 406th Engineers
1949 article in the Courier-Post (Camden, NJ) re his church honoring WW2 vets in stained glass
1951 NJ marriage record
1979 mother's obituary in the Courier-Post (Camden NJ)
2012 NJ death index
2012 US Cemetery & Funeral Home Collection
406th Unit History Compiled