PRIVATE WILLIAM R. McKEE was born in 1924 in New Jersey. His mother, Gladys McKee had married at 16. By 1930, the marriage had broken up. William was living with his grandfather, William J. McKee, on High Street in Glassboro NJ, who had a poultry farm. His mother and younger sister Dorothy were living a short distance away in Pitman NJ, where she worked as a laundress. She later married a co-worker, Floyd Cattrell, and moved to 210 North 27th Street in Camden NJ. By the early 1940s, William McKee was living at 4 Gloucester Avenue in Mount Ephraim NJ.
William McKee was drafted into the United States Army. He volunteered for paratroop duty, and was assigned to the 507th Parachute Regiment. He trained in North Carolina, and Nebraska before going overseas in December of 1943. As part of the preparations the 507th was attached to the 82nd Airborne Division.
At 2:00 AM on June 6, 1944 the main body of the 82nd Airborne started to drop in Normandy. Unfortunately it turned into a complete shambles. Fewer than 50% of the men of the 508th Parachute Infantry landed within 2 miles of their drop zones, consequently it was 4 days before they regrouped. The 507th Parachute Infantry faired even worse. Over half fell a mile to the east of their drop zone and ended up in the swamps created by the Germans by the banks of the river Meredet. Laden with all their equipment many men drowned before they had a chance to fight. By the end of D-Day, 4,000 out of the 6,209 assigned to the 82nd Airborne were listed as missing. Eventually the stragglers made it back to the Division and the final figures were put at 156 known dead, 347 wounded, and 756 missing, presumed dead. Although the mission had started out as a disaster, the 82nd captured St. Mere-Eglise and secured the eastern bank of the Meredet, preventing any German reinforcements reaching Utah beach.
Private William McKee was one of the 756 paratroopers lost on D-Day. He was declared missing presumed dead on June 10, 1944. He was survived by his mother, Mrs. Gladys Cattrell, of 210 North 27th Street, Camden NJ, and his sister, Mrs. Dorothy Randolph, of Harrisonville NJ. He was 19 at the time of his death.
North 27th Street, Camden NJ
Photograph taken December 27, 2002
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