English -> 1945 Deceased in St. Wendel

Deceased in St. Wendel

(Excerpt from my book: Kriegszeiten (times of war), volume 1, published in 2015.
Book was published in German language. This is my translation with the help of Mr. Bing.)

note: all dates are German style: day.month.year =

        At the beginning of the 1970s, St. Wendel’s mayor Franz Gräff commissioned an "Honorary Book of the City of St. Wendel for the Victims of the World Wars", which was compiled by Hans-Klaus Schmitt.
        It contains on more than 80 pages most of the names and data of the men and women who died in First and Second World War due to the consequences of war in St. Wendel or came from St. Wendel, but were not in St. Wendel at the time of their death. In the book a distinction was made between

- died by air raid
- died as a result of war

The part "Second World War" was divided into the sections
1. fallen German soldiers known by name
2. unknown fallen German soldiers who are buried in St. Wendel
3. civilian air raid victims
4. Foreigners who perished in St. Wendel as a result of war
5. unknown foreigners who perished in St. Wendel due to the consequences of war

In section 4 I found five entries in 1994:

Dennis Neville Napier De Brath (Sergeant, Pilot)
Renalt Cole (Sergeant, Observer)
both fallen 03.09.1941 St. Wendel

Douglas Arthur Innes (English infantryman)
died by war 17.05.1940 St. Wendel

Frederik T. Lecher (American infantryman)
+ 26.09.1944 St. Wendel

Friedrich Balch (American infantryman)
died by war 15.03.1945 in St. Wendel
=> see „William "Bill" Balch, deceased in St. Wendel in 1945“

De Brath and Cole died when their plane, a British Handlipage Hampden bomber, crashed in the area of The Psyaten Road on the night of 2 to 3 September 1941 in St. Wendel-Alsfassen.
        Douglas Arthur Innes served as second lieutenant in the 5th Battalion of the British Gordon Highlanders, who was wounded and captured during the retreat of his Battalion from Amiens to Saint Valery. Like the other two Britons, he was buried in the British military cemetery Rheinberg near Krefeld; Lt. Lecher is located in the American cemetery Lorraine in St. Avold.

Bruno W. Zawacki

The 7th Armored Division landed in Normandie on 11 August and received its baptism of fire at Chartres in France on 15 August. On September 6, it reached the Moselle near Mondelange. When the division tried to cross the river in the bridgehead Metz on September 10th, it was repelled.

        Private First Class Bruno W. Zawacki, number 36706146, born on 01.05.1912 in Chicago, Illinois, belonged to Charlie Company, 38th Armored Infantry Battalion, 7th Armored Division. Around September 10, 1944, he suffered a head shot near Marengo and was captured by German troops. On 14 September he was admitted to the hospital of St. Wendel located located in the former barracks on Tholeyerberg.
        The head injury got infected and meningitis followed. Zawacki died on 17 September and was buried the in the war section of the cemetery of St. Wendel (Tomb 94). His wife Florence learned about her husband's death much later.

Frederic T. Lecher

The 80th Infantry Division, which later took over St. Wendel, landed at Utah Beach in Normandy on August 3, 1944, and was sent into battle a few days later. She fought her way through France and reached the Moselle at the beginning of September. On 27 November she captured St. Avold, on 23 December Merzig. Over the next two months, the division was deployed along the entire front section - from Dillingen via Bollendorf up to Pruem.

        On September 16, a lieutenant of the 317th Infantry Regiment named Frederic T. Lecher of New Jersey was captured during the fighting in France; he had suffered a gunshot blow to the abdomen, and a kidney infection followed. He died on 26 September 1944 in a hospital in St. Wendel. His wife Gladys did not know in July 1945 what caused him to die or where he was buried. His grave is in the American cemetery in St. Avold.

Five other men were taken to St. Wendel Hospital with serious injuries, where they died of their wounds. Of two we only know the name and the date of her death:

John Elmer + 18.12.1944 St. Wendel
Warren F. Johnson + 02.28.1945 St. Wendel

After the war, their bodies were exhumed in the St. Wendel cemetery and returned to the USA or at least abroad. The principle of the Americans was that no fallen G.I. would be buried on German soil or remain buried. Even today, American soldiers, whose remains are found (e.g. in aircraft wreckage), are transferred to cemeteries outside Germany.

The others belong to the 94th Infantry Division

Charles J. Dutton
Son of Jesse and Orlene Dutton
* 12.21.1925 Calhoun, Georgia
+ 21.02.1945 St. Wendel
Buried in Erwin Hill Cemetery, Calhoun, Georgia
Private in 376 Infantry Regt, 94th Infantry Division

Ralph S. DiLellis
from Union City, New Jersey
+ 23 February 1945 St. Wendel
buried in the military cemetery of St. Avold
Private Deadline Class in 301 Infantry Regt, 94th Infantry Division

Gordon Roland Gibson
Son of Lewis Gibson, Trinway, Ohio
* June 1926 Harrisonville, Meigs, Ohio
+ 10 March 1945 St. Wendel
buried in the military cemetery of St. Avold
Private 1st Class in 302 Infantry Regt, 94th Infantry Division

On March 18, 1945, the Americans lost at least two Sherman tanks. One was shot when the advancing column of the Havlowitz team, which was part of Hankin's task force, left Bliesen in the direction of St. Wendel. German 8-8 shot one tank and a halftrack of the Americans within seconds just as they passed the last house of Bliesen (house No. 10 on the corner of today's St. Wendeler Strasse and Zaeselstraße - Hermann Scheid from Oberthal showed the right place). There were precise shots over 1,300 meters from hill top not far from Rassiersmuehle. In between there is another hill, which makes the terrain towards St. Wendel impossible to observe. It was a classic ambush, the Americans had no chance. The Germans were able to orientate themselves on the basis of the houses; the first shot hit the said house in the gable, the next hit the lead tank. In the American tank died the entire crew of five men, among them:

Ruben J. Cuevas
Son of Ruben Cuevas and Candis Alexander.
* 1921 in Hancock, Mississippi
+ 18.03.1945 Blew
Sergeant in the 3rd Tank Bn, 10th Armored Division
buried in the military cemetery of St. Avold

His niece spent years trying to get her uncle's body home, but after the war the army had told the family that it was impossible to tell which parts belonged to his body and which to the other soldiers who also died in the tank. She always feared that he was in an unmarked grave or something like that. Until her daughter found out in 2007 that he was buried in the American military cemetery in Luxembourg (where General Patton also found his final resting place).

William H. Helsel
Son of Cleo and Mary Helsel
* 1921 in Grand Rapids, Kent, Michigan
+ 18.03.1945 Blew
Sergeant in the 3rd Tank Bn, 10th Armored Division
buried in the military cemetery of St. Avold

The second tank belonged to a platoon of the Hankins Task Force, which in these days was assigned to Team Barnes, Task Force Cherry, and made its way through Alsweiler and Winterbach; it was the 3rd Platoon, B-Company, 3rd Tank Battalion. The tank was shot somewhere on the line between the Harschbergerhof and the underpass under the railway at the foot of the Tholeyerberg. This cannot be determined precisely, because the American documents are also quite vague.

The crew of tank No. 35 - one of three - consisted of commander Hay, driver Benesch, his deputy and MG shooter Trottier, gunner Armstrong and loader Siehr.

I couldn't figure out what became of the driver and the gunner.

Sylvester Siehr
* 04.05.1921 Maniwotoc, Wisconsin
+ 18.03.1945 near St. Wendel
Private in the B-Co, 3rd Tk Bn, 10th Armored Division
Buried in Calvary Cemetery, Maniwotoc, Wisconsin

Robert "Bob" E. Trottier
Son of Edward and Mary Trottier
* 08.12.1925 Marquette, Michigan
+ 18.03.1945 near St. Wendel
Private in the B-Co, 3rd Tk Bn, 10th Armored Division
Buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Marquette, Michigan

The commander Hay made it out of the tank with serious injuries, he died two days later from his wounds.

Plan G. Hay
Son of Carroll and Dorothy Hay
* 12.12.1924 Crocketsville, South Carolina
+ 20.03.1945 in the hospital
Sergeant in the B-Co, 3rd Tk Bn, 10th Armored Division
Buried in Harmony Cemetery, Crocketsville, South Carolina

These men of the 10th Armored Division also died in the march into St. Wendel, without me being able to find out where.

Tommey W Harris
Son of Dennis and Ethel Harris
* 19.06.1922 in Kentucky
+ 17.03.1945
Private 1st Class in the D-Co 3rd TkBn 10 10th Armored Division
buried in Steward Cemetery, Benton, Calloway, Kentucky

Joner Black
Son of Luther and Pelzie Black
* 17.05.1914 in Tifton, Georgia
+ 18.03.1945 where?
Private 1st Class in der B-Co 21 TkBn, 10th Armored Divison
buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery, Tifton, Georgia

Wayne A. Pierce
Son of Covella A. and Pearl A. Pierce
* 19/08/1922 in Fulton, Missouri
+ 19.03.1945 near Primstal
drowned when his vehicle fell into a river (Prims?)
Sergeant (Tec5) in Troop F of the 90th Cavalry Recon Squad, 10th Armored Division
buried in the military cemetery Hamm near Luxembourg

It would be helpful if search for the German fallen were only half as difficult as search for the Americans.

Historische Forschungen · Roland Geiger · Alsfassener Straße 17 · 66606 St. Wendel · Telefon: 0 68 51 / 31 66
E-Mail:  alsfassen(at)  (c)2009

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