PRIME TIME: Spielman was member of Merrill's Marauders

Published on Sunday, 17 September 2017 22:26
Written by Bob Montgomery

Staff Writer

The blue, hard-covered “Bristol, Connecticut in World War II” book outlines brief biographies of those men from Bristol who made the supreme sacrifice during WWII and here is the one on William Joseph Spielman:

“Born October 23, 1921, in Bristol, son of Frederick Spielman, South Mountain Road, and the late Catherine Spielman. School: New Haven County Home. Church: St. Joseph’s. Employer: Commercial Foundry, New Britain. He entered the Army February 19, 1943, and was a private in the infantry. He was killed in action in Myitkyina, Burma, July 2, 1944. Awards: Purple Heart; Asiatic Pacific Ribbon.”

With this being shared with readers before, I received a letter sometime ago from Bill Spielman, a nephew of his who lives in Illinois and he wrote:

“My son, who is interested in WWII, typed my late uncle’s name on ‘Google’ as part of a ‘Bristol Bits’ for December 23, 2014. ‘Bristol Bits’ had a request for more information from anyone who knew more about him. William Joseph Spielman was my uncle, although I never met him since I was born after the war. I was named after him. My father, John Joseph Spielman, also a WWII veteran, was his older brother. My father died when I was 15, so I don’t have a lot of information about my uncle, but I will write what I know.

“Frederick and Catherine (Carroll) Spielman had three children: John Joseph Spielman (1916-1962), Anna Spielman (1918-1999) and William Joseph Spielman (1921-1944). The family was living with the children’s grandmother, Anna (Buzler) Spielman, in the old Spielman farm on Chippens Hill when she died in 1928. Their mother, Catherine (Carroll) Spielman, died on July 14, 1929.

“The 1930 U.S. Census has the children listed as living in St. Francis Orphanage in New Haven. John was 14, Anna 11 and William 9. I’m not sure when the children left the orphanage. My father’s Army discharge has his education listed as eighth grade, so I don’t think the others went past that.

“He entered the Army on February 19, 1943, and was a private in the infantry. He was a part of the all-volunteer 5307 Composite Unit known as Merrill’s Marauders when he was killed in action on July 2, 1944, at the battle for Myitkyina, Burma. He was buried in Kalaikunda, India, but was later permanently interred in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii, on January 12, 1949.

“On a side note, ‘Bristol, Connecticut in World War II’ has three other soldiers who were part of Merrill’s Marauders that were killed at Myitkyina, Burma: Richard Felix Gervais was killed in  action on August 2, 1944, Elmer Roland Levesque killed in action July 2, 1944, and Edward George Zeranski killed in action June 13, 1944. All of these men including my uncle entered the Army on the same day, February 2, 1943, so they must have known each other. Elmer Roland Levesque was killed in action on the same day as my uncle. I graduated from Bristol Central High in 1965. One of my classmates was Roland Levesque who later died in Vietnam on February 22, 1968. I wonder if Elmer Roland Levesque was his uncle. (Note: According to my research, they weren’t related).

“On another note, my father John Joseph Spielman was a well digger before he entered the Army on March 21, 1941. A month after Pearl Harbor he was sent to the Pacific on January 21, 1942. He spent over three and a half years in the Pacific and didn’t come home until the war ended, departing for the U.S. on September 4, 1945.

“He was discharged from the Army on October 5, 1945. His military occupational specialty was listed as a heavy machine gunner, and he was part of Battery D, 96th AA Artillery Gunnery Battalion. During the war he spent time in Hawaii, Christmas Island, and was at the battle of Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands. His awards included: the Asian Pacific Ribbon, American Defense Service Medal, and Good Conduct Medal. Unfortunately, this is all I know about his time in service as he died on November 11, 1962, when I was 15 and is buried in West Cemetery in Bristol.”

Write to Bob Montgomery, in care of The Bristol Press, 188 Main St., Bristol, CT 06010. Call 860-973-1808, or email:

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol Blues, General News on Sunday, 17 September 2017 22:26. Updated: Sunday, 17 September 2017 22:28.