March 14, 2014
These are all articles from the Scrap Book of Ona Couris
Oroville Mercury Register
May 16, 1945
In The Fight
Sgt. Atkin With 9th Army Crossing of the Rhine
Sgt. George A. Atkin, Jr., son of Mrs. L.A. Vardon of Yard Street, is in Germany with
the American Ninth Army, having spent nine months over seas. He is in Headquarters Battery
of the 16th corps artillery, which was attached to the Ninth Army during recent months,
and which provided artillery protection for this army’s crossing of the Rhine on March
24. Sgt. Atkin has seen service in France, Belgium and Holland, and has been in Germany
since the first of March of this year. Before entering the service Atkin had attended
local schools, graduating from Oroville High with the class of 1941. He attended Yuba
Junior College until his entry into army training in February, 1943, and it was while
attending Yuba that he met his wife, the former Wilma Johns, then of Marysville. They
were married in October, 1943, when he was sent from Louisiana to California for desert
training near Indio. He writes that the GIs do not have the friendly feeling toward
the German civilians that they had for those in the other countries despite the fact
that many of the Germans seemed relieved to see the boys. The weather now in that country
is quite like our own spring time and is a welcome change from the extremely cold winter
they endured. Mrs. Atkin is making her home with her parents at Eugene, Oregon, during
her husband’s absence.
Sgt. Sprowl’s Unit Cited: Has Meeting with Brother
Sgt. Vernon Sprowl, 24 of Oroville is one of the “webfoot” engineers of the 37th Engineer
Combat Battalion that was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for heroic conduct
in an action that claimed more that 20 per cent casualties in the battalion. The engineers,
who have dubbed themselves “webfoots,” had removed beach obstacles and opened passage
for personnel and vehicles through mine strewn meadows and over anti tank ditches, and
had maintained the openings under fire. Their action makes understandable their objection
to being called reinforcement following foot troops ashore. This objection was expressed
recently in an article in the Infantry Journal. Sgt. Sprowl is the son of Mr. and Mrs.
E. Sprowl of Huston Avenue. He was graduated in 1939 from the local high school, where
he had won his letter in track. Prior to his entry into the service August, 1942, he
was employed as a car-man’s helper at the Western Pacific roundhouse. In Germany now,
he has been overseas two years. Recently he had a meeting in Belgium with his brother,
Cpl. Henry (Hank) Sprowl, 25, of a transportation corps. When both the men were in England
Hank arranged a meeting there. Later he tried to see Vernon in France but Vernon had
gone to Holland. Vernon’s chance to return his brother’s visit came when they were both
in Belgium. Hank also saw Sgt. Ellis Smith of Oroville on two occasions at Antwerp.
The transportation man attended Oroville schools and was also a car-man’s helper at
the W. P. before going into the service in December 1942. With the supply forces in
Belgium, he has named his big truck the “Feather River Special.” His engagement to a
British nurse was recently announced. Vernon’s wife, the former Virginia Payne, lives
with his parents here.
Well, thanks to the rain, did we ever need it, and hopefully more, but soon it will
warm up, as it always does and this will open the batch plants that make the asphalt
and we can lay down our roadway. Then that ugly fence can come down. That will be a
After writing and bringing back news clips of Oroville’s Tom Couris, I thought I should
take another look at Tom’s Wife, Ona’s scrapbook. She started collecting Oroville Mercury
news clips when Tom was captured in France November 13, 1944. It ends May 28, 1945.
This was a treasure to me, I cannot thank Ona enough for saving the Book all those years.
I just found I had not used all those stories, like those above. At one of our meetings
long ago, I think April of 2002, we talked about getting a column in the Mercury and
write about the “Forgotten” Veterans of Oroville which we changed to All of Butte County,
later. Well no one’s hand went up, some pointed at me, which I said hey I flunked bonehead
English at Yuba College. Maybe they didn’t hear the flunked part, just that I went to
college, so I said ok, I’ll do it. I didn’t even know how to type any more. I went home
and asked Lynn if “we” could do it, she said yes. So I went to Carmen Biano and told
her what we were up to, about stories of Oroville Veterans going way back. Carmen was
the Editor of the Oroville Mercury Register back then. She thought it was a good idea.
July 6, 2004 was my first article, this coming July will be 12 years of articles. This
article is number 624. Years ago I was given 1,000’s of old Oroville Mercury Registers
that had been found in an old attic, which I still use to this day. Other’s helped me
find stories in the Chico ER, Kathleen Hillman, Jan Bales and Joan Lee Van Campen.