S Sgt John T Urbank’s binoculars
I recently bought this named case with binoculars at an auction. The name and serial number are those of staff sergeant John T. Urbank, a paratrooper who jumped into Normandy with the 3d platoon Co.’G’ 501 PIR. Urbank led the mortar squad and was usually the jump master, although I don’t know if he was on D-Day.*
My online search on this name quickly led to Mark Bando’s “Trigger Time” site, where I found a copy of a list of equipment for D-Day made by John Urbank on a V Mail form.
John (Jack) Urbank was born in Ohio in 1922 and enlisted at Akron, Ohio on November 30, 1942. He was a sergeant at Normandy and from what I can tell from George Koskimaki’s book “Hell’s Highway”, he had made staff sergeant either before or after the Holland jump. He got wounded at his hands in Holland and was hospitalised in England. I have not yet found any direct evidence that he was there in Bastogne, but I will keep searching.**
He survived the war and in 1946 he returned to live and work in Ohio and passed away in 2005.
* John’s cousin Gary sent me an e-mail to say that John was not the jump master on D-Day. That duty was taken over by a lieutenant, although he does not recall his name.
** Also, Jack was returned to his unit shortly before Bastogne.
Nice! Any specs on those binoculars?
Yes, these are marked ‘Binocular M3 6×30′ and Nash-Kelvinator Corp. 1942 H.M.R.’. They have the original leather neck strap in good condition, which is rare. Usually, if you do find one with a strap, it’s a post-war strap. I also found some initials lightly scratched on the left: ‘JTH’. And this was at some point painted on them in white, but later overpainted in black, on the right: ‘CO. A’. Serial No. is 12444. I think it’s a serial number anyway. Does this tell you anything? Let me know.
It probably means that the binoculars were ‘completed’ by a collector or that they either switched owners.
You should take a look at the carrier, if it says Westinghouse somewhere inside you know enough. That would mean someone completed them. If not, my guess is as good as yours.
Like you suspected, the inside of the case lid is marked Westinghouse. I hadn’t noticed it was there. I found the same marking on the other case I have (which did come with Westinghouse binoculars). Still, I think it’s just a mismatch, because if someone had tried to ‘complete’ them, he would at least have made sure the initials and unit markings on the binoculars matched those on the case. We can only guess…
I still think it’s a nice pair of binoculars. I do have a Westinghouse set myself and it seems that Westinghouse binoculars were always issued with Westinghouse carrying cases, I’m sure that Westinghouse delivered them to QMC that way. So it’s very likely that the binoculars you have are not original to the case Urbank had, unless they switched owners at some point in history, be it in the army or by a collector. Some collectors don’t really care about ID at all, they just want their items complete. ID’ed helmet liners for instance are completed with seperate shells all the time… One could have thought that maybe someone just added the strap on your binoculars, but the Westinghouse ID in the carrying case says enough. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to know exactly what happened to these binoculars, but you could however find yourself a nice pair of Westinghouse binoculars that is not ID’ed, that is if you mind the different makers. That would give the impression that the complete set has been together since it was first issued. Given they ID you are probably gonna keep them anyways, you might as well do it. But that is up to you, of course. Anyways, congrats on a nice pair of binoculars. Cheers
Jack Urbank was my cousin and I have been doing some family research and ran into this post. To fill in a couple of holes for you, he was not the jump master on D-Day. That duty was taken over by a lieutenant, although I do not recall his name. Also, Jack was returned to his unit shortly before Bastogne.
Thank you for sharing this Gary. I will send you an e-mail.