Gilbert Edward Amos was born at home on October 22, 1921, in Peru, Illinois, to Edgar Robert and Bertha Wobrock Amos. Edgar, who was crippled since birth, worked as a bookkeeper at Vollmer Furniture Store—a local business owned by his mother’s family. Bertha also worked as a bookkeeper, but at L&B Wobrock—her family’s dry goods store in Peru. Throughout his life, Gilbert lived with and close to his extended family. In 1927, when Gilbert was six years old, his mother passed away. With his father apparently unable to care for him, his aunt and uncle, Lena and Fred Sibley, were granted guardianship and raised him as their son.
In high school, Gilbert was a competitive swimmer and a consistent “point-getter.” He served as honorary co-captain of the swim team his senior year after performing well during a 200-yard competition. While he participated in sports and was part of the Letterman’s Club his junior and senior year, he also aspired to make the honor roll. A description of him in his high school yearbook captures his dual interests and personality: “’Zarkov’…the mad scientist…amusing…athletic…agreeable…”
He was living at 407 E. Fifth Street in Peru—the home in which he was born—with his aunt and uncle, Lena and Fred Sibley, when he registered for the draft on February 16, 1942. At the time, he was a 20-year-old man, standing six feet, one and a half inches tall, with brown hair and gray eyes. He was also unemployed when he registered, but apparently only temporarily. After graduating high school he had worked as a clerk at his family’s store—L&B Wobrock Grocery—the same store his mother had worked at until her death. He also spent a year continuing his education at LaSalle-Peru-Oglesby Junior College. Eventually, he worked at Westclox—the local clock factory—before moving on to become a switchman for the Burlington Railroad.
He married Victoria Sroka on Independence Day in 1942. Three months later, he enlisted in the Army on October 8, 1942, just before his 21st birthday. He reported to Scott Field and was transferred to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, for Basic Training. A month prior, the 12th Armored Division had been activated at the camp. Perhaps Amos was there and part of the division by the time the group selected the name “Hellcats.” He was promoted to Sergeant on March 1, 1943, and eventually assigned to Camp Barkley, Texas. It’s not known if he went to Texas with the Hellcats in November 1943 or if he was moved there prior to the division’s relocation to the new camp. By January 1944 he was promoted to Staff Sergeant.
On August 8, 1944, the 12th Division received orders to move overseas. Soon Amos, along with his fellow soldiers, made their way as part of the 23rd Tank Battalion to New York, then eventually across the Atlantic to England. After remaining in England a few months, they headed to Luneville, France, in late November.
Over the next several months, the division made their way across France towards Germany. As the months rolled into March, their movements “played an extremely important part in driving the German forces across the Rhine River.” On St. Patrick’s Day they received orders to join Patton’s Third Army. They were to “race for the Rhine River, in the vicinity of Worms.” As a “mystery division” they were tasked with leading the Third Army drive to the Rhine cities of Ludwigshafen, Speyer, and Germersheim. Their participation was held as a closely guarded secret to avoid exposing the vulnerability of the Seventh Army created by their departure.
Their division history notes the day Amos died, March 19th, “proved to be a field day for the Hellcats, who now had been ordered to veer to the southeast to the Rhine and to seize all bridges found intact. On this one day, the Hellcats captured an estimated 2,500 prisoners, 3 ammunition dumps, a regimental supply train, 400 horses, and 700 trucks and wagons. The bulk of the prisoners and materials was captured in the vicinity of Birkenfeld and Baumholden.” During the onslaught, Amos was hit in the abdomen. He made it to the hospital but died of his injuries. He was laid to rest in the Lorraine American Cemetery in Saint-Avold, Moselle, France. According to the U.S., World War II and Korean Conflict Veterans Interred Overseas database on Ancestry, he was awarded the Purple Heart Medal. He would have also received the following medals: Army Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, Europe/African/Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.
This story is part of the Stories Behind the Stars project (see www.storiesbehindthestars.org). This is a national effort of volunteers to write the stories of all 421,000+ of the US WWII fallen saved on Together We Served and Fold3. Can you help write these stories? These stories will be accessible via smartphone app at any war memorial or cemetery.
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You can also access this story at the following sites:
- “U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946,” database, Ancestry.
- “World War II and Korean Conflict Veterans Interred Overseas,” database, Ancestry.
- “U.S., World War II Hospital Admission Card Files, 1942-1954,” database, Ancestry.
- State of Illinois Certificate of Birth, Gilbert Edward Amos, 1921, FamilySearch.
- “U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947,” database with images, Ancestry, Gilbert Edward Amos, serial number 328, order number 10758.
- “U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 ,” database with images, Ancestry, Edgar Robert Amos, serial number 262.
- “U.S., Headstone and Interment Records for U.S., Military Cemeteries on Foreign Soil, 1942-1949,” database with images, Ancestry, Gilbert E. Amos.
- “U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995,” database with images, Ancestry, Illinois > La Salle> 1924, p. 51, Edgar and Bertha Amos.
- “U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995,” database with images, Ancestry, Illinois > La Salle> 1940, p. 23, Gilbert Amos.
- 1940 U.S. Census, database with images, FamilySearch.
- 1930 U.S. Census, database with images, FamilySearch.
- U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999,” database with images, Ancestry, Illinois > La Salle> La Salle-Peru Township High School > 1939, p. 64 and 78.
- A History of the United States Twelfth Armored Division, 15 September 1942—17 December 1945, 12th Armored Division, 1947.
- “Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial,” Wikipedia.
- FindaGrave memorial for Gilbert E. Amos.