52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 22: Military
PROMPT: What is something you’ve learned about one of your military ancestors?
I recently discovered information about a family member who died in combat in Germany in World War II. I knew that this new (to me) information would be material most appropriate for this post. However, preparations for an upcoming trip kept me from composing this post prior to Memorial Day, and the day before the national holiday, I flew to Oklahoma. I visited with my parents and then embarked on a road trip to Kansas and Missouri.
It just so happened that one of my destinations was the very cemetery in which this cousin is buried. Thus, while I was unable to properly tell his story as a relevant Memorial Day post, I was appropriately contemplative about this cousin’s sacrifice when, a few days after the actual holiday, I visited his final resting place.
Eugene Price Davies–my 3rd cousin 2X removed–was born on March 24, 1912, in the same small town in which I was born: Winchester, Kansas. He attended Kansas State College (now Kansas State University) and then worked in the Farm Security Administration in numerous offices in Eastern Kansas.
It’s likely that Eugene’s and my grandfather’s paths crossed. As detailed in an earlier post, my grandfather worked for numerous agencies that aided farmers, including the FSA. The gentlemen’s paths diverged, however, when Eugene was inducted into the Army in April of 1944.
While Eugene was training at Army camps in California and Missouri, the Normandy invasion and subsequent push back of German forces across France was taking place by Allied forces, including the 39th Infantry Regiment of the 9th Infantry Division.
On August 26, 1944, the 39th was among the forces that successfully pushed through to Paris and the Seine. The Division then pressed to the northeast, securing the Mons pocket, and then moved eastward toward Belgium.
Eugene was deployed to France in September of 1944. From the description below, it seems that he joined a regiment that saw some of the very worst combat.
Day by day throughout the rest of September, October, and the first week of November, the 9th Infantry Division battled its way through the Hurtgen Forest. These were terrible fights, and often named the ‘worst of all battles’ according to many veterans of this Division. On November 16th the Division started a campaign to close up the left bank of the Roer River. This was finally accomplished on December 16th, 1944. By New Year’s Day 1945, the 39th Regiment and all of the 9th Infantry Division were on the move again.”From the website 9th Infantry Division in WW2, author uncredited.
Eugene Price Davies did not live to see the campaign’s success nor New Year’s Day 1945. He was killed in action, presumably in the Hurtgen Forest, on October 13, 1944.