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John Eggleton

 

Date and Place of Birth: July 31, 1919 Brooklyn, NY
Date and Place of Death:    December 11, 1942 nr. Medjez-El-Beb, Tunisia
Baseball Experience: College
Position: Unknown
Rank: Second Lieutenant
Military Unit: Company C, 701st Tank Destroyer Battalion, 1st Armored Division US Army
Area Served: Mediterranean Theater of Operations

“Aggressive, colorful, [and] armed with an individualism which seemed destined to carry him to whatever goal he might choose.”
Fiat Lux (Alfred University), January 19, 1943

John C. Eggleton, the son of Colonel and Mrs. Richard E. Eggleton, was born in New York in 1919. Colonel Eggleton served as port postal officer at The Embarkation Army Post Office (EAPO) of the New York Port of Embarkation during World War II.

John attended Erasmus Hall High School where he starred on the football team. After graduating from Erasmus in 1938, he attended Alfred University in Alfred, New York, and played baseball, basketball and football.

Eggleton entered service with the Army in March 1941 and was assigned to the armoured forces at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Second Lieutenant Eggleton, platoon leader with C Company, 701st Tank Destroyer Battalion attached to the 1st Armored Division, left for Northern Ireland in 1942. By the start of October 1943, the battalion was based in England before leaving from Wemyss Bay, Scotland, bound for North Africa.

On November 8, 1943, as part of Operation Torch, the British–American invasion of French North Africa, C Company landed in the vicinity of Mersa Bou Zodjar at Oran, Algeria. No resistance was encountered at the beach and the company moved toward Tafaraoui Airport. Lt. Eggleton’s platoon was the point of the column, and met resistance on the highway between Oran and Sidi Bel Abbes, destroying two French 75mm guns.

Beginning November 16, the 701st Battalion advanced towards Tunisia. On November 24, they advanced from Beja in the direction of Medjez-el-Beb (about 40 mileswest of Tunis) and were mortared and straffed all afternoon. One man in C Company was killed during this advance, Corporal Peter Glassman, a semi-pro outfielder from Kansas. 

On December 11, 1942, while engaging German tanks and artillery on the road between Tunis and Medjez-El-Beb, Second Lieutenant John Eggleton was killed in action.

Reporting his death in January 1943, the Fiat Lux – student newspaper of Alfred University – described Eggleton as “Aggressive, colorful, [and] armed with an individualism which seemed destined to carry him to whatever goal he might choose.” Football coach, Dan Minnick, remarked, "John was without a doubt the most aggressive football player we ever had and I'm surprised that he wasn't carried through by that aggressiveness."

In 1947, a campus American Legion was founded in the fallen hero’s honor and named John C. Eggleton Post 1662. The following year, his remains were returned home from Tunisia, and rest at Holy Cross Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York.

Sources:
Brooklyn Eagle, January 3, 1943
Brooklyn Eag;e, February 15, 1944
Ellicottville Post, April 19, 1939
Fiat Lux (Alfred University), January 19, 1943
Fiat Lux (Alfred University), November 4, 1947
Fiat Lux, The Story of Alfred University, John Nelson Norwood (1957)
www.tankdestroyer.net

Thanks to Astrid van Erp for help with this biography.

Date Added May 6, 2013. Updated August 8, 2017

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