Freedom Fighters: Bill Gignilliat - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Freedom Fighters: Bill Gignilliat

By Joan Hallmark

The Battle of the Bulge began early in the morning of December 16,1944.  It would be the largest land battle in American history.  On that morning Bill Gignilliat was on guard duty in the little Belgium town of Buchholz Station.  The surprise attack, launched by Hitler, took Allied troops completely by surprise. Most of Gignilliat's  company was either killed or captured.  Gignilliat was taken prisoner when he was surrounded by German soldiers in a cabin with only one entrance. He says he often thinks back to that time and wonders if he would have done anything differently.

Although the Allies ultimately won the Battle of the Bulge, Gignilliat found that as a prisoner of war, he was in danger from both sides. A starvation diet of one bowl of cabbage soup a day, forced labor, and allied bombings took their toll and still Gignilliat survived. After being sent to a POW hospital for a hernia, Gignilliat was able to escape and find his way back to American lines.  He has written about his experiences in his book: "A POW's Memoirs."

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