William H. Borst
106th Cavalry Recon Troop / 106th Infantry Division
One Soldier’s Story – William H Borst
Part 2 of the story of “The Map”
As told by Henrietta Borst, his wife – May 2014
(At the time of this interview, Henrietta “Yetta” Borst lived in the Holland Christian Home in North Haledon, N.J. At now nearly 97 years of age, her eyesight is not as good as it use to be but her memory is sharp and clear and remarkably parallels referenced historical records.)
William (“Bill”) Herbert Borst was born May 9th, 1915, in Jersey City, New Jersey, to parents William Herbert and Anna (Steenhuisen) Borst. (Interestingly, Bill Borst had the same full name as his father but was never referred to or ever used Jr.).
Bill began working for the Central Hanover Bank and Trust Company as a messenger boy while still in high school. He continued at the bank after graduation in 1933 from Ridgewood High School and also continued his education by taking night classes at City College of New York.
A lifelong member of the Reformed Church, Bill met his future wife, Henrietta Van Den Berg, in church one Sunday in Midland Park. As they both worked in NYC (she as a secretary to an import company) they rode the same train to and from work each day. One day Bill asked if he could give Henrietta a ride home from the train station and shortly after they started dating.
Bill and Henrietta (“Yetta”) were married on Yetta’s 24th birthday, October 9th, 1942.
Shortly afterwards Bill was able to obtain a job closer to home and was hired by E.R. Coven Mortgage Company on Hamilton Street in Paterson, N.J. Yetta also changed jobs and found work as a secretary for an insurance company in Midland Park typing insurance policies. They often went on family trips to Bear Mountain where hiking, cook-outs and roller skating were the activities of the day.
But world events were catching up with the young family. Uncle Sam sent a draft notice and in March 1943 Bill joined the Army – he was just shy of his 28th birthday.
Yetta moved back home and lived with her parents, Cora and Jacob Van Den Berg and sister Clarissa (brother Jake had already joined the Army and left home). Bill’s first duty station was Ft Jackson, in Columbia, S.C., where he went through basic and advanced training with the 106th Infantry Division.
Basic Training Ft Jackson, S.C.
After communications training at Ft. Riley, Kansas, Bill participated in multi-division maneuvers in Tennessee. He told Yetta that Tennessee was a very pretty state and that he loved it with so many sheep farms and friendly people.
The division was next moved to Atterbury, Indiana, for specialized training.
Camp Atterbury, Indiana
After several weeks of advanced training at Camp Atterbury, the 106th was ready for deployment. In the fall of 1944 they packed and headed to their departure station which was Ft Myles Standish, Massachusetts. But there was one more family matter to deal with before final deployment to Europe, Bill Borst was headed overseas a father. On September 5th, 1944, Bill’s oldest daughter (Carol) was born.
Bill Borst and twelve day old Carol. Notice on Bill’s left shoulder the patch for “The Golden Lions” and Corporal Tech 5 chevrons
Yetta recalls that Bill traveled each weekend from Ft Myles Standish to Midland Park to see Carol and Yetta prior to being shipped out on November 10th to Cotswolds, England.
Bill and Yetta Borst R&R at Camp Myles Standish. One month before Bill’s Division is shipped out to England.
Bill Borst the Person (continued)
Yetta’s war memories about Bill
After the war Bill spoke very little about his time as a POW. But this is what Yetta recalls:
Getting back to normal:
Bill and his pipe with Tyson and granddaughter Lindsay
Bill and Prince
Remembering Bill Borst:
To everyone, Bill was an easy person to like. He was always calm and quietly in control while possessing a warm smile. He was never one to anger or raise his voice. Yet in his 115 days of captivity by the Waffen SS he was made to endure awful hardships and saw terrible acts of cruelty.
Yetta was asked, “Did Bill have any hatred for the Germans or the prison guards? How did he deal with it?”
“Bill never talked about hating the Germans. In fact, he never talked
about hating anybody. He really came back home the way he left.”
That’s the way he was, just a nice guy.
June 2015 ems
|courtesy of the family of William Borst, specifically his wife and widow, Mrs. Henrietta Borst. Compiled by their Nephew, Mr. Edward Strand. 06/2015|
Page last revised
James D. West