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William B. Turner

William Bradford Turner
William B. Turner - WWI Medal of Honor recipient.jpg
Medal of Honor recipient
Born 1892
Boston, Massachusetts
Died September 27, 1918 (aged 25–26)
Ronssoy, France
Buried Somme American Cemetery and Memorial
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1915 - 1918
Rank First Lieutenant
Unit 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Division
Battles/wars World War I
Awards Medal of Honor

William Bradford Turner (1892 – September 27, 1918) was a United States Army officer who received the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in World War I.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Turner lived in Garden City, New York, and attended St. Paul's School there for one year.[1][2] In 1907 he transferred to Trinity-Pawling School, which was founded by the former headmaster of St. Paul's, Dr. Frederick Luther Gamage. [3] He was a graduate of Williams College, class of 1914, where he played football, basketball, and baseball. [4] Turner is a direct descendant of the Europeans who settled New England in the early 1600s, including Massachusetts Governor William Bradford, and Dorothy Quincy, the wife of John Hancock. [5]

Turner joined the New York National Guard in the fall of 1915 serving in Machine Gun Troop, A Squadron. Mobilized on June 19, 1916, he served as a private when his unit pulled duty on the Texas-Mexico border from mid-July to mid-December 1916. His unit returned to New York and was demobilized on December 28, 1916. With the start of WWI, Turner was offered and accepted a commission as a lieutenant in the 12th New York Cavalry (redesignated the 105th Infantry once it was mobilized).[6]

By September 27, 1918, he was serving in France as a first lieutenant with the 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Division. During an attack on that night, near Ronssoy, he and a small group of others became separated from the rest of their company. Turner led the group forward despite intense artillery and machine gun fire, several times personally attacking machine gun positions which were firing on his men. Although wounded three times, he continued to lead the group forward, capturing and clearing three lines of trenches. After reaching their objective, a fourth line of trenches, Turner was killed while defending the position from a German counter-attack. For these actions, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor the next year, in 1919.[2]

Aged 25 or 26 at his death, Turner was buried in France at the Somme American Cemetery.[7]

Medal of Honor Citation

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company M, 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Division, American Expeditionary Forces. Born: 1882, Dorchester, Massachusetts. Action location: Ronssoy, France. Action date: September 27, 1918. War Department, General Orders No. 81 (June 26, 1919)


He led a small group of men to the attack, under terrific artillery and machinegun fire, after they had become separated from the rest of the company in the darkness. Single-handed he rushed an enemy machinegun which had suddenly opened fire on his group and killed the crew with his pistol. He then pressed forward to another machinegun post twenty-five yards away and had killed one gunner himself by the time the remainder of his detachment arrived and put the gun out of action. With the utmost bravery he continued to lead his men over three lines of hostile trenches, cleaning up each one as they advanced, regardless of the fact that he had been wounded three times, and killed several of the enemy in hand-to-hand encounters. After his pistol ammunition was exhausted, this gallant officer seized the rifle of a dead soldier, bayoneted several members of a machinegun crew, and shot the other. Upon reaching the fourth line trench, which was his objective, Lieutenant Turner captured it with the nine men remaining in his group and resisted a hostile counterattack until he was finally surrounded and killed.[2]

Military Awards [8]

Turner's military decorations and awards include:

Silver star
1st row Medal of Honor Mexican Border Service Medal
2nd row World War I Victory Medal w/one silver service star to denote credit for the Somme Offensive, Ypres-Lys, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne and Defensive Sector battle clasps. Croce al Merito di Guerra (Italy) Medalha da Cruz de Guerra, Third Class (Portuguese Republic)

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.
  1. ^ Petrellese, Stephanie (January 29, 2010). "Resident Pushes For Veterans' Memorial Upgrade". The Garden City News. Garden City, New York. Archived from the original on January 31, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c "Medal of Honor recipients - World War I". Medal of Honor citations. United States Army Center of Military History. August 3, 2009. Retrieved January 31, 2010. 
  3. ^ Turner, Charles (1920). William Bradford Turner. Garden City, New York: Charles B. Turner, Country Life Press. 
  4. ^ "LIEUT. N.B. TURNER KILLED IN ACTION; Former Member of Squadron A Met End in Battle Near Le Catelet. 27TH LOSES NINE OFFICERS Casualty Lists Contain Names of Several Leaders of the New York Guard Division". The New York Times. November 3, 1918. 
  5. ^ Turner, Charles (1920). William Bradford Turner. Garden City, New York: Charles B. Turner, Country Life Press. 
  6. ^ Turner, Charles (1920). William Bradford Turner (PDF). Garden City, New York: Charles B. Turner, Country Life Press. pp. 15–18. 
  7. ^ "William B. Turner". Claim to Fame: Medal of Honor recipients. Find a Grave. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  8. ^ Image of Turner's grave marker which indicates he was awarded the Italian Croce di guerra al merito and the Portuguese Medalha da Cruz de Guerra. Retrieved October 12, 2017.