‘Wild Bill’Guarnere: Bemedalled soldier whose exploits in Europe were dramatised in the HBO series 'Band of Brothers'

 

William "Wild Bill" Guarnere was one of the Second World War veterans whose exploits were dramatised in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. Based on the book by historian Stephen Ambrose, and with Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg among its producers, it followed the members of Easy Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division from training in Georgia in 1942 through some of the war's fiercest European battles, including the D-Day Normandy invasion, through the war's end in 1945.

Following Pearl Harbour, Guarnere left high school to work in a Sherman tank factory, before enlisting. As depicted in the series, he displayed strong hatred for the Germans, since his elder brother Henry had been killed at Monte Cassino. Guarnere, whose exploits earned him the nickname of "Wild Bill", subsequently lost a leg trying to help a wounded comrade during the Battle of the Bulge. His commendations included the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts.

In 2007, with his fellow south Philadelphian veteran Edward J "Babe" Heffron and the journalist Robyn Post, he wrote a bestselling memoir, Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends. The former comrades, Guarnere and Heffron, remained friends until Heffron died in December.

Jake Powers, who operates a Band of Brothers tour company in Grafton, Massachusetts, said Guarnere worked behind the scenes to ensure that his comrades received the recognition they deserved. "He did more things behind the scenes for other veterans than for himself," Powers said.

William Guarnere, soldier: born South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 28 April 1923; married Frances; died Philadelphia 8 March 2014.

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