Retired Nashville Fire captain reflects on time running supplies in WWII

London McGill

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Many World War II veterans are approaching the century mark in age so preserving their stories of sacrifice for our country carries a high priority.

It’s been nearly 70 years since London McGill served in the US Army running supplies for the Red Ball Express.

London McGill (Photo: WKRN)
London McGill (Photo: WKRN)

PHOTOS: Heroes of Tennessee 

“I was in 43-19 Q-M Trucking Company. Repeat, 34-19 Q-M, which means quartermaster trucking company,” said McGill.

Sgt. McGill saw plenty of action during World War II. Like thousands of African American soldiers in the Army, he drove a military supply truck for the biggest supply convoy ever known, the Red Ball Express.

“One time we were hauling ammunition, another time we were hauling fuel, and another time we were hauling food,” added McGill

Getting those vital supplies to General George Patton and his troops on the front lines was a dangerous assignment.

“Many times I saw field artillery shooting heavy ammunition over our heads.”

McGill often drove at night with no headlights to avoid enemy detection. He would feel the grooves in the dirt roads beneath his tires and follow the tail lights in front of him.

The 92-year-old veteran remembered one very close call when a driver turned on his headlights.

“The Germans, they fly around and they saw the light and they started shooting over us. A bullet fell from me about 12 feet and I saw the blaze when the bullet hit,” said McGill.

But McGill said he didn’t worry about the danger.

(Courtesy: London McGill)
(Courtesy: London McGill)

“I was young then. You know sometimes they say when you’re young, you’re a fool.,m” he told News 2.

His commitment to his country was unwavering.

“We had a job to do, and I knew we had to do it,” he said.

McGill said he made the most of his military service after the war.

“It helped me tremendously. I never regretted a day I was drafted into service,” he said.

McGill credited the lessons he learned from Uncle Sam with helping him build a 30-year career as a Metro Nashville firefighter.

He retired as a captain from the department in 1987.