Bill Lowery was born 1924 and raised in the small rural community of Saltville, Virginia, where he and his brothers played and sang mountain music. He received Army Infantry Basic Training at Fort McClellan, Alabama. He served with the 34th Infantry Division, 133rd Regiment, Company “B” as a rifleman for twelve months during the Italian Campaign of WWII. He was a veteran of the battle of Anzio Beachhead where he pulled two continuous months on the front lines. His unit was dug in defensive positions on the far right aspect of the beachhead line along the elevated bank of the Mussolini Canal in an area dubbed coffin corner. Lowery fought at Anzio during what is commonly referred to as the stalemate period. He was a veteran of many tough close-range firefights, combat patrols and raids into the dead country of no-man’s land. During one such incident, he won the Bronze Star award.
On 20 May, Bill was involved in an attack by his battalion against German strong points beyond the Mussolini Canal. The following excerpt is taken from the 133rd Regiment Narrative History.
The First Battalion launched an attack on enemy strong points in the vicinity of (049266) and (253263) across the Mussolini Canal on May 20th. 46 PWs were taken. A strong enemy counter-attack was repulsed with "B" Company being forced to withdraw to their original positions. Company "A" held their objective. After a heavy fire fight the enemy was repulsed with losses leaving "A" Company in control of the junction of the Cisterna River and Canal. Companies "B" & "C" 100th Infantry Battalion relieved Companies "B" & "C" First Battalion and a platoon of Company "I" relieved a platoon of Company "A" 100th Battalion on May 21st.
Lowery was wounded by a mortar shell as his company was taking heavy fire while attempting to beat back the German counter-attack. The terrible battle of Anzio was over for him. He would not fight again until autumn when he rejoined his unit during the campaign against the formidable Gothic Line in the Northern Apennines. During his life, he spoke of how very lucky he had been during the war.
Lowery passed away in 2005 near age 81. He is buried at Elizabeth Cemetery in Saltville, Virginia.