Woodbury County

Sgt. William P. Lee



Sioux City Sergeant Takes 27 Nazi Prisoners in Fall of Brest Fort

Story of William P. Lee is Told in Baltimore Paper

History has its Sgt. York and Sioux City, its Sgt. Lee. Sgt. Lee is credited with a one-man capture of 27 Nazis in a daring single handed break through that prefaced the capture of the German port of Brest. It was a total that Lee and his men raised to 250 prisoners in the space of an hour.

The Baltimore Evening Sun of September 22 told the incident in the story of the taking of Brest under the command of Lieut. Col. William C. Purnell of Baltimore. The sergeant’s wife, Mrs. William P. Lee, 2517 Jennings Street, has received a clipping.

Mrs. Lee heard this weekend from the sergeant who had “stopped a 20-mm, slug,” and was in a hospital but who reassured that he was getting along well and that she was “not to worry.” The purple heart and an oak leaf cluster received recently may have had connection with the story of Brest, she surmises.

This is the tale, according to the clipping;

“There was a temporary holding in operations*** when Jerry threw down a barrage of mortar and 20-mm, ack-ack barrage. Then came the usual concentration of rifle and machine gun fire. Only once did the companies really slow down, that time to clean out pill-boxes and strong points which had pinned down a couple of platoons.

“Almost before the G.I’s knew it they were standing at the edge of the moat of the stone fort that is part of the main wall. Company Comdr. Hecht called his communications sergeant, William P. Lee, to ask if he would try to make a breakthrough.

“With a rifle in one hand, a grenade in the other, Lee clambered down the sides of the moat, across a short open space on the bottom and then to the door of the tunnel leading into the fort. For a few seconds Lee poked his hand into the door and yelled for the Huns to surrender. Twenty-seven filed out, hands high above their heads. That was only the start for Lee returned to the fort with his squad and in the space of an hour had accounted for more than 250 prisoners.”

Stg. Lee was a longtime employee of the Sioux City Service Company and was working in South Sioux City when he entered military service.

Source: The Sioux City Journal, October 2, 1944 (photo included)

Two Sioux Cityans Reported Wounded in European Area

In a list of 30 Iowa soldiers described by the war department as wounded in action in three theaters of war were two Sioux Cityans, S. Sgt. Glen R. Vande Steeg and Sgt. William P. Lee. Both suffered their wounds in the European area.

The former is a son of First Class Petty Officer Harry C. Vande Steeg, who recently was reported as in the Pacific war area, and Mrs. Vande Steeg, 811 18th Street. He was awarded early this year the Silver Star for gallantry in action in Italy. He was graduated from Central High School in 1942. He is the winner of a sharp shooter’s medal for expert shooting.

Sgt. Lee a few months ago was accredited with a one-man capture of 27 Nazi in a daring single handed breakthrough that prefaced the capture of the German port of Brest. The sergeant’s wife resided at 2517 Jennings Street.

Mrs. Lee heard in September from the sergeant who had “stopped a 20-mm. slug,” and was in a hospital. He was the recipient of the Purple Heart and an Oak Leaf Cluster.

Source: The Sioux City Journal, December 7, 1944