Hoosick Township Historical Society

A Soldier's Story

Frank Cipperly, a local man, is one of five soldiers highlighted in the book “Five GI’s In Battle World War II.” The book was published in 2001 by GHW Books, Northbrook, IL.

The Cipperly family has lived in this area since the early 1800's. Frank’s mother were born in the USA. His father was of German or Dutch decent and his mother was of English heritage. Harry and Alice Cipperly had fifteen children and Frank was born on August 29, 1918, the middle child. He worked on the farm from an early age driving one of the teams of horses they used in farming. In 1939, he went to work for the county on a blacktop machine paving roads for a dollar an hour.

In March of 1941, his brother was drafted and in the army when WW II started. Frank was drafted in April, 1942. The local draft board took two of the boys and left four at home to help farm. The youngest was too young for military service.

Frank was assigned to the 6th Armored Division which was preparing for mechanized warfare in Europe. He received a two week furlough in July 1943. He married his five year girl friend, Mary Wells, on July 8, 1943. Mary lived in Troy and worked for Montgomery Ward.

On February 11, 1944, the 50th Armored Infantry Battalion of around 1,000 men, left New York City for England. On the way over, Frank became ill with scarlet fever. He was quarantined and as soon as the ship landed, he was transferred to the hospital. He spent more then a month in the hospital. While he was in the hospital, the 6th Armored Division became a part of Patton’s Third Army.

D-Day, June 6, 1944 was the start of the battles on the Western European front. In July 1944, the 6th Armored landed at Utah Beach and started their constant movement to liberate Europe. Frank was a Staff Sergeant in charge of a 60-mm. mortar squad of 12 men. The 6th was on the extreme right flank of the Allies pushing south through the German lines. On the 27th of July, the 6th Armored was sent through the lines of the 79th Infantry Division in the breakout of American forces. Their job was to drive fast toward objectives behind German lines. On July 30th, he was bivouacked in the hedgerow fields when he found out that the disabled tank they saw took the life of a friend from Hoosick Falls that entered the army with Frank. It was Frank O’Neil, an uncle of Marilyn Douglas. September and October found the unit in constant battle and getting closer to Germany.

On November 22, 1944 Frank’s Company B was in the town of St. Jean Rohrback after clearing the area of the enemy. He was escorting a Frenchman to headquarters when a shell landed near him. From the moment the shell landed, Frank remembers nothing. Moments later, another shell landed, and Frank was seriously wounded. There was a large hole in the helmet he was wearing.

Frank was unconscious for nineteen days. Frank described his wounds: “Well, I’ve got a 2 inch by 3 and 3/4 inch steel plate in my head....and in my right arm, the bone is completely gone. These fingers are numb - only two fingers work on my right hand.” He was lucky since if the head wound had been a half-inch either way he would of been paralyzed. After painful treatment of skin grafts, etc. he got back to England on December 31, 1944. On February 22, 1945, he was placed on a boat going home, exactly one year to the date he had arrived in England.

He spent time in the hospitals at Valley Forge, Atlantic City and then back to Valley Forge. During this time, he received his steel plate and skin grafts, while healing his broken shoulder and collar bone. He was discharged on August 12, 1946.

Frank and his wife live in their 200 year old farm house in Southwest Hoosick. Their farm is now 720 acres, and he is helped by his son Carl. They had a family of six children, four girls and two boys. In a terrible tragic accident, they lost their six year old daughter, Kay, in a school bus accident. As Frank approaches his 90th birthday, you can still see him on the tractor. He is truly an American Hero.

Compiled for HoosickHistory - Phil Leonard