Here is a pre-Veterans Day salute to the Army officer for whom I was named, Capt. Philip Ingraham from Massachusetts, who went into the Army in 1942. He was killed in action in France in 1944. My dad, Harry Raymond (Ray) Roberts, served under Ingraham and had a great deal of respect for him. Following are some excerpts from my dad’s World War II memoirs regarding Ingraham, who is pictured here.
“At the end of Tennessee maneuvers, Capt. Philip Ingraham must have thought that we had been in the field so long that we needed something different. So we dressed up in our Class A uniforms and went to the city of Nashville. He had contacted the YWCA or some other girls’ organization and scheduled a dance for Company C members. All the girls lined up at the top of the stairs while the guys got in line at the foot of the stairs. As the girls came down the steps, each guy stepped forward and that was your dancing partner for the night. I don’t remember my partner’s name, but it was a fun evening. I have pictures in my Army album showing us at the dance. Every member of C Company was there, including all the officers.”
“Capt. Ingraham always went out of his way to show he cared for his men. Another incident that I remember in Tennessee was when Capt. Ingraham probably saved my neck. One day, our entire company was walking down an old dusty road in Tennessee and it was one of those terribly hot days. Along came a Jeep that was traveling too fast and, as our two columns pulled to side of the road, the Jeep was speeding between our columns. Just before the Jeep appeared, I had picked up a paper sack full of flour. It had probably been dropped by an airplane and had not broken. You see, during maneuvers airplanes would ‘bomb’ us with sacks of flour. Anyway, as I said, it was hot and dusty and this Jeep was showering us with dust. Here we were walking and two guys were riding and showing no concern for us. This I resented, so without hardly thinking, I threw that sack of flour at the Jeep and I hit the passenger. The Jeep stopped immediately as I had hit an officer in the leg. I figured I was in trouble, but thank goodness the officer was only a second lieutenant. First Lt. Ingraham came over and took care of the situation for me. In no uncertain terms, he ordered that second lieutenant to get out of there and now. It was just another time when Capt. (then First Lt.) Ingraham took care of his guys. It was such things as this that endeared him to his boys of Company C.”
“On July 4, 1944, one of our mortars was placed in the middle of the road. I was about 10 yards in front and to the right of it. Capt. Ingraham was a few feet in front of me. All of a sudden there was a terrific explosion in back of me. The captain asked, ‘What happened?’ I looked back and, where the mortar had been located, there was a big hole. I told him that a shell had hit the mortar. But later on we discovered that two guys with the mortar had placed it on a mine and, after firing it a couple times, the mortar’s base plate had sunk deeper and set off the mine. We lost two guys….On July 4, we formed a line and advanced across a wheat field for maybe 200 yards to get to the hedge rows on the other side. We had no problem until we got to the hedge rows. There they were. The Germans were waiting for us. Capt. Ingraham told me to take a couple runners and go to our left behind the hedge row, as we were out in the open. I didn’t know how far he wanted us to go, so I stopped and waved to him to see if we had gone far enough. He raised his hand, and I saw him go down. I believe that was when he was shot. As shells and hand grenades were coming along the hedge row and getting closer and closer, I decided that was not the place for me. So I started crawling toward the wheat field as I thought the field would be a safer place to be.”
Copyright 2015 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises.