CALDWELL COUNTY, NC (March 15, 2017)…James C. Hoyle is an American hero. He is one of your own. He was born in Caldwell, NC in 1923, and as a 20 year old, enlisted in the US Army at Camp Croft, SC. After completing training at Ft. Benning he found himself fighting for Holland’s liberation as a member of 101st Airborne Division, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment. As a Screaming Eagle he parachuted behind German lines into a field near the town of Best. General S.L.A. Marshall, when describing the battle in which PFC Hoyle fought, said, “I doubt that any operation in American annals was fought out more bravely than the Battle at Best.”
For three days, PFC Hoyle and Company H were surrounded by German forces that outnumbered them four to one. He, along with PFC Joe E. Mann, were the company’s scouts. While facing heavy machine gun fire, they led their comrades safely through a forest to a bridge that lay over the Wilhelmina Canal. The bridge was to be taken from German control so allied forces could pass through Southern Holland with tanks, push the Germans up “Hell’s Highway,” and force them out of Holland. During this battle, Hoyle and Mann were often separated from the rest of their company, fighting the enemy by themselves. In one skirmish, they killed at least six Germans before Mann knocked out an ammunition dump with a bazooka. After getting shot four times he handed the bazooka to Hoyle who shot and destroyed an 88mm gun that was 150 yards away. They were later described by their commander as two of the bravest soldiers he had ever known.
Hoyle assisted Mann back to a foxhole where he was treated for his wounds. The following day, the Germans charged the foxhole, throwing grenades. One of the grenades landed behind Mann, whose arms were bandaged to his side. He yelled, “I’ll take this one.” He lay on top of the grenade and died, saving the life of Hoyle and five other men. Based on Hoyle’s account of Mann’s actions, Mann was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Joe Mann’s heroism has been well documented, but what about Hoyle? What was his upbringing like and what made him so brave? He is more than a footnote and his story deserves to be told. If you know James Hoyle please contact Byrne Bennett, firstname.lastname@example.org. Mr. Bennett would like to share Hoyle’s life story in an upcoming book about Joe Mann.
Byrne Bennett is a Caldwell Journal Contributor.
Copyright 2017 Caldwell Journal on behalf of Byrne Bennett. All rights reserved.