Monday, May 29, 2017

My Growing Family Memorial Day

When I was a child, Memorial Day meant that summer was officially here. That it was time for beach, barbecue, beach barbecue, frisbee, and best of all... no school!

We didn't have any close family who were lost in war, so we didn't have anyone to remember at a solemn cemetery visit. We skipped that, and moved directly on to the fresh ice cream and swimming lessons.

Life was carefree and untouched.  The meaning of Memorial Day was abstract and a little lost. Memorial Day honors those who have fallen in the line of service for their country. Not knowing any of those, we had to really stretch. We honored neighbor's cousins, friends of friends, veterans who died of old age, and even living veterans (forgetting that's what Veterans' Day is for).

As I've dug into our family history, I have found some of the fallen. Not very many, to be sure, but the list keeps growing ever year as I track down second cousins, third cousins, and more. Genealogy has many surprises, and finding relatives who gave up their lives for their country is one of the heart-stoppers for me (others include infant deaths and holocaust victims).

So on this Memorial Day here in the United States, I'm taking the time to list out my family's patriots who gave their lives in service to their country. Their home country is not always America, but it was the home country of my family. This is my personal memorial day, honoring those who've fallen in protection of their home and family.

The List of the Fallen

1914: Erich Lachmann, German in WWI France
24 August 1891 — 29 August 1914

Death of Erich Lachmann
Erich Lachmann was born in Berlin on 24 August 1891 to Louis Lachmann and his wife Caroline, geb Rosenbacher.  Erich was my great grandmother Rosi's first cousin, and the brother to her close cousins Vera and Nina, both of who I knew about as a child -- I just didn't know that they had lost a brother in WWI.  

Unteroffizier in the 6. Batterie of the 1. Garde-Feldartillerie-Regiment

On 17 August 1914, the 1st Guard Field Artillery Regiment was assigned to the following command structure: 1. Garde-Feldartillerie-Brigade / 2. Garde–Division / Garde-Korps / 2. Armee and by clicking on the 2nd Guard Division you can see a list of all the battles that his regiment was involved in.  

Berlin, March 13, 1915
The 2nd reserve of the first Garde-Feldartillerieregimentes (army artillery regiment) announced that the Unteroffizier (seargent) of the 6. Batterie (battery) Erich Lachmann, bank clerk, single, 23 years old, of the Mosaic religion, residing in Berlin, Wilsnacker Straße 29, born in Berlin, son of the master builder Louis Lachmann, deceased, last residing here, and his wife, Karoline née Rosenbacher, residing in Charlottenburg, at was killed in action at Colonfay on the twenty-ninth of August of the year one thousand nine hundred and fourteen. The exact time of death is not given.

The town of Colonfay mentioned in his death certificate is about 30 km due East of Saint-Quentin.  

Erich died in the 3rd battle of the war while the 2nd Army was fighting in the Battle of St. Quentin on 29 August 1914 on the Western Front.   

Western Front, WWI in August 1914

As the Germans advanced into France in August 1914, thus began  The Great Retreat of the British and French forces. The Battle of St. Quentin (also called the First Battle of Guise) was one of a string of German victories along the way to the River Marne. 

Erich is buried in grave 361 at De Le Sourd French and German Military Cemetery in Leme, France. 

Erich was 23 years old and unmarried.

1914: Kurt Goldschmidt, German in WWI East Prussia
4 March 1887 — 11 September 1914

Death of Kurt Goldschmidt
Kurt Goldschmidt was born in Thorn, West Prussia on 4 March 1887 the son of Julius Goldschmidt and his wife Sophie, geb Wolff.  Kurt was my great grandmother Rosi's 2nd cousin.  

Unteroffizier Kurt Goldschmidt of the 11th company of the 148th infantry reserve died on 11 September 1914 at Klein Beynuhnen in East Prussia.

The Infantry Regiment No. 148 has announced that the officer (seargent) of the reserves of the 11th Company of this regiment, painter Kurt Goldschmidt, 27 years of age, of the Mosaic religion, residing in Berlin-Schöneberg, Kufsteiner Strasse 6, born in Thorn, unmarried, son of the merchant Julius Goldschmidt and his wife Sophie née Wolff, residing in Posen, died in action at Klein-Beynuhnen on the eleventh of September of the year one thousand nine hundred fourteen. The hour of death is not determined.

His exact military placement was 5. Westpreußisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr.148 under the command of 74. Infanterie-Brigade / 41. Infanterie-Division / XX. Armee-Korps / 8. Armee and by click on these links you can build up a picture of where his regiment or division was positioned on September 11th.  

Eastern Front in WWI, September 1914

On 11 September 1914, his regiment as part of the 8th army was involved in the First Battle of the Masurian Lakes, which was a German offensive to push the Russian army back across the entire front out of Germany. 

Kurt is listed on the honor roll for his regiment online under 11. Kompanie from the history of the 5th West Prussian Infantry Regiment No. 148, edited by Gustav Ponath. 

Kurt's Gold Star mother, Sophie was murdered in the Holocaust. 

Kurt was 27 years old and unmarried.

1914: Otto Scherk, German in WWI France
17 June 1889 — 30 October 1914

Otto Scherk was my great grandfather Ernst Levy's 2nd cousin. Both men were born in Berlin, and both served in WWI.  Ernst made it out alive. Otto didn't; in fact he was lost at the very start of the war. 

Otto Scherk was born in Berlin on 17 June 1889 to Herimann Scherk and his wife Rosalie, geb Fliess. 

On 2 August 1914, Gefreiter Otto Scherk's regiment was mobilized for war in Berlin.  He was in the 9th company of the 24th Infantry Reserve:  Infanterie-Regiment Großherzog Friedrich Franz II von Mecklenburg-Schwerin  (4. Brandenburgisches) Nr. 24 of the 12. Infanterie-Brigade of the  6. Infanterie-Division of the III. Armee-Korps of the 1. Armee.  

All that information is important, as by viewing the history of his regiment, and his brigade, and his division, and the history of the 1st Army it is possible to figure out what battles he was in and where they all were on the day he died. 

German Soldiers of Infanterie-Regiments Nr. 24 in December 1914 back at garrison Neuruppin outside Berlin 

As part of the 6th Division of the 1st Army, the 24th was sent to the Western Front at the beginning of the war. 
  • 4th-16th August 1914 : Conquest of Liège
  • August 18-19, 1914: Battle of the Gette
  • August 23-24, 1914: Battle of Mons
  • August 25-27, 1914: Battle of Solesmes and Le Cateau
  • August 28-30, 1914: Fighting on the Somme
  • September 1, 1914: Battle at Villers-Cotterêts
  • Sept 4, 1914: Battle at Vieils - Maisons - Montmirail
  • September 5-9, 1914: Battle of the Ourcq
  • September 6-7, 1914: Montceaux - Esternay
  • Sept 10, 1914: Rearguard battles near Neuilly - St.Front
  • Sept 12, 1914 to July 1, 1915: Fighting on the Aisne
  • Oct 30, 1914: Battle at Vailly
Otto died on 30 October 1914 during the battle at Vailly, France which turned out to be an important battle as to the doctrine of trench warfare.  It was the first battle in which the 1st Army produced an after-action report of the important lessons they'd learned about aerial reconnaissance targeting of artillery.  The 3rd Army Corps also made first use of fire waves from which rolling barrages and box barrages were born, their success serving as the model for this new type of coordinated and carefully planned warfare.  

The Battle of Vailly, 30 Oct 1914 in WWI France

Otto was 25 years old, unmarried with no children.

1914: Werner Gottschalk, German in WWI Belgium
9 July 1895  16 November 1914

I have a lot of Gottschalk relatives as they both married into the family and were direct relatives in a couple different ways.  Gottschalk turns out to be a fairly common name, but if you have any connection to the Gottschalk family of Märkisch Friedland... well, that's my family. 

Many of the families from Märkisch Friedland made their way to Berlin, but not Max Gottschalk. He stayed in Märkisch Friedland and at the age of 52 he had his only child with his wife Käthe: a son named Werner Gottschalk.  

Werner Gottschalk with his parents Max and Käthe, c1900

Werner Gottschalk was born on 9 July 1895 in Märkisch Friedland, and was my 2nd great grandfather Louis Philipp Maass' 3rd cousin (who has Gottschalk connections via both of his parents). 

At the start of WWI, Werner joined up with the Colbergsches-Grenadier-Regiment Graf Gneisenau (2. Pommersches) Nr. 9 out of Stettin (about 110 km west of his hometown).  He was assigned to 7th company.  

An important source for both his birth and death, including his regiment comes from a book listing all the Germany Jewish soldiers who died for their country in WWI.  There are five listings for his town, shown below.  Note that his death year is 1914 instead of 1915 as misprinted in this list -- he is listed in a German causality list from 31 Dec 1914, and his correct date of death is in the official history book of his regiment. 

Werner Gottschalk of Märkisch Friedland

His 9th Grenadier-Regiment was in the 6th Garde Infanterie-Brigade of the 3rd Division of the German 2nd Army, and from the history of the 3rd Division we can learn a little more about his death. In the days before Werner's death -- 16 Nov 1914 -- his regiment was involved in the Battle for the fortified village of Wytschaete.

The reason I think the death year is incorrect above is that The Honor Roll of the Colberg Grenadier Regiment Graf Gneisenau (2nd Pomeranian) No. 9  lists Kriegsfrw. Werner Gottschalk as missing and declared dead at Wytschaete, West Flanders, Belgium on 16 Nov 1914 (not 1915).  Company 7 lost many soldiers at Wytschaete during that period, and the information is more detailed.  Also, that date a year later doesn't really correspond with any particular battle, while the 1914 absolutely does. 

The First Battle of Ypres, in November–December 1914 was a component of the 'Race to the Sea', and from the 4th to the 14th of November, Werner's division was involved in the Battle for the fortified village of Wytschaete on the plateau of Messines Ridge. See also The Battle of Messines (1914).

Werner was 19 years old, unmarried without children.

1914: Paul Lachmann, German in WWI Poland
20 November 1885 — 9 December 1914

A random infantryman from R.I.R. 93
Paul Lachmann was born in Braunschweig, Niedersachsen, Germany on 20 November 1885, the third of four children born to Hermann Lachmann and his wife Henriette Sachs. Paul was my grandfather Edgar's 3rd cousin. He was named after his Uncle Paul Lachmann who died earlier that year on 10 January 1885 in Berlin -- my great grandmother Rosi's 2nd cousin

Paul joined the German Army in 1914 as a Grenadier and was assigned to the 8th Kompanie of Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment, Nr. 93

The 93rd was formed up in Berlin, which is where Paul was living at the time, and was part of the 15. Reserve-Infanterie-Brigade  of the 1. Garde-Reserve-Division of the Garde-Reserve-Korps of the 9.Armee at the time of his death.  

At the start of the war, the 1. Garde-Reserve-Division was attached to the 2nd Army and sent to the Western Front where they saw their first action on 20 August 1914 near Andenne during the Siege of Namur in Belgium.   

Then spent a few more days fighting in the aftermath of the Battle of Namur (as the Germans called it) from 22 August 1914 to 25 August 1914.  

The Battle of Namur in WWI Belgium, August 1914

Following that battle, his Korp was reassigned and transported to the Eastern Front between 26 August to 3 September, where they eventually were assigned to the 9th Army. 

On 1 Sep 1914 Verlustliste Preußenthe published a report that Paul Lachmann had been lightly wounded in battle. Since he'd been in only one battle, it's sadly clear that he was wounded in the first action his regiment was involved in.

"8th Company Grenadier Paul Lachmann of Braunschweig -- lightly wounded"
Verlustliste Preußen Nr. 15 from 1 Sep 1914

By looking at the war record for his division, the 1. Garde-Reserve-Division, you can see that he was involved in a lot of battles on the Eastern Front after getting wounded in Belgium.  
  • 26 Aug 1914 - 3 Sep 1914 : Reserve of the OHL, transported to the Eastern Front
  • 5 Sep 1914 - 15 Sep 1914 : Battle of the Masurian Lakes (Goldap-Angerburg) under the 8th Army
  • 9 Sep 1914 - 9 Sep 1914 : Battle of the Alley
  • 28 Sep 1914 : Battle near Jendrzejow as part of the 9th Army
  • 30 Sep 1914 : Battle at Kelce
  • 1 Oct 1914 : Battle near Bzin
  • 4 Oct 1914 - 5 Oct 1914 : Skirmishes near Opatow and Radom (Battle of Opatow)
  • 9 Oct 1914 - 20 Oct 1914 : Battle of Ivangorod
  • 22 Oct 1914 - 28 Oct 1914 : Fighting on the Pilica
  • 24 Oct 1914 - 26 Oct 1914 : Lipa
  • 5 Nov 1914 - 15 Dec 1914 : Fighting near Czenstochau
  • 15 Nov 1914 - 3 Dec 914 : Fights near Zarki

Then on 17 Feb 1915 it was reported that Paul had died in WWI two months earlier on 9 Dec 1914.  He died in a hospital in Beuthen, Oppeln, Schlesien of an illness. It is not clear whether he died of an on-going infection from his earlier wound, if he never got better, or if he otherwise took ill as Winter rolled in. Perhaps the "lightly wounded" phrasing was vastly understated to keep morale up? 

The horrific conditions in WWI were host to huge numbers of fevers, parasites and infections in the trenches, with the most prevalent being influenza, typhoid, pneumonia, sepsis, cholera, trench foot, dysentary, trench fever, and more. While 1914 is too early for the Spanish Flu Pandemic, there are clearly plenty of other diseases to choose from if it wasn't from an infected wound.  Penicillin wasn't discovered until 1928, so there weren't any antibiotics to treat festering infections -- even from a "light wound."

In any case while the 9th Army was just outside Warsaw, he was 300 km Southwest in Beuthen at a Reserve-Lazarett, which is a military hospital established outside the combat zones during wartime -- a normal Lazarett exists during peacetime as an everyday city hospital. He died there on 9 Dec 1914, and I suspect Paul is buried in Beuthen. 

1914 Map of the Eastern Front with starred locations of the 9th Army and Beuthen hospital

In total, Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment, Nr. 93 from Berlin lost 88 officers and 4,150 soldiers in the war.

Paul was 29 years old and unmarried.

1915: Leo Martyn, Australian in WWI at Gallipoli
December 1892 — 25 April 1915

Leo Dorman Martyn (1892-1915)
Private Leo Dorman Martyn of the Australian Infantry was born in Moruya, New South Wales, Australia in December 1892 to policeman Thomas Martyn and his wife Emily Maude Smith. Leo was my grandfather Kessler's second cousin via the Lukes and Martyn families of Cornwall. Leo went to North Goulburn Public School in New South Wales, and was trained as a blacksmith.

Leo joined up with the 2nd Australian Infantry Battalion at Liverpool, New South Wales on 27 October 1914 -- service number 1381.

The 2nd Battalion was part of the 1st Brigade, charged with attacking Gallipoli. Leo was mortally wounded six months after enlisting during the first landing at Gallipoli in WWI on 25 April 1915.

Australian 1st Brigade landing at Anzac Cove on 25 April 2915

During the Landing at Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915, the 2nd Battalion, under Lieutenant Colonel George Braund's command, came ashore in the second and third waves, landing a total of 31 officers and 937 other ranks. Upon landing, the 2nd Battalion dispatched two companies, 'A' and 'D' to assist the 3rd Brigade who were pushing inland towards a high feature known as "Baby 700", which overlooked the beachhead. One of the 2nd Battalion's platoons, under Lieutenant Leslie Morshead, advanced further than any other Australian unit, making it to the slopes of Baby 700, before a determined counter-attack by Ottoman forces drove them back in the afternoon.

After landing, Leo Martyn was in the group attacking at the top of the ridge about half a mile from the beach. He was struck by a bullet and fell backwards down the cliff, breaking his back. Leo died a few days later on 2 May 1915, at the age of 22, aboard a hospital ship as it was leaving the Peninsula.

Leo Dorman Martyn, final military accounting
Sadly, as is often true in wartime, that neat and tidy description of his falling was confused, slow in coming, and filled with false hope and rumors. From the accounting above, you can read that his parents didn't really get full closure until 1922!

  • 25 Apr 1915 Leo is mortally wounded at the Gallipoli Landings at Anzac Bay
  • 2 May 1915 Leo dies aboard a hospital ship and is buried at sea
  • 15 Jun 1915 Military letter sent to Leo's parents informing them that Leo is "Missing" 
  • Aug 1915 first rumors about him being a POW in Turkey
  • 27 Sep 1915 Pleas from a District Railways Superintendent in New South Wales begging for any information about him being listed as "missing" for some time, which naturally distresses his parents.    
  • 13 Oct 1915 Letter from parents asking if rumors of Leo being wounded and a prisoner of war in Turkey can be verified.  
  • 16 Nov 1915 The matter is being investigated
  • 2 Dec 1915 Still missing
  • 12 Jan 1916 Unofficial POW report is just that. He is still officially "Missing" only. 
  • 31 May 1916 Official Court of Inquiry in Alexandria found "Killed in Action" confirmed and noted. 
  • Jun 1916 Telegram sent listing Leo as Killed in Action on 2 May 1915.
  • 11 Oct 1916 Father sends telegram asking for Death Certificate
  • 27 Feb 1918 Personal effects returned to the family: a mirror and 5 handkerchiefs. 
  • 13 Jun 1921 Leo's father Thomas Martyn writes that while he still has no official notice of the circumstances of his son's death, he has heard from a Chaplin that he was seriously wounded at the landing and was taken aboard a transport, and that he was likely buried at sea. A fellow solider also had told him that he'd spoken to Leo about noon on the day of the landing as they were heading for the cliffs, and that was the last he saw of him. 
  • 4 Aug 1921 Memorial Scroll delivered to father.
  • 8 Aug 1921 Father informs military that no medals have been yet received. 
  • 2 Sep 1921 Officer in Charge reports that medals are with Base Commandant at Victoria Barracks and have been dispatched to Mr. Thomas Martyn at the Police Station in Cobar. 
  • 1 Dec 1921 Medals and Memorial Plaque with King's Message received by family. 
  • 4 Oct 1922 Victory Medal delivered to family. 

The King's Message

I've seen the 1981 movie, Gallipoli, with Mel Gibson, but now I really need to see the movie again. Urgently.  With this new context, it will surely take on a new meaning to me. It will probably make me cry. I certainly didn't cry the first time I saw it back in the 1980s.

Leo Martyn is one of the honored heroes on the Roll of Honour each Anzac Day on April 25th. I only just discovered him recently, missing that date by about two weeks. Watch out for next year!

Leo was 22 years old, unmarried with no children.

1915: Arthur Bodenheimer, German in WWI Belgium
11 February 1892 — 9 May 1915

Arthur Bodenheimer's grave at Langemark
Landsturmmann Arthur Bodenheimer was the brother of Gustav Bodenheimer, listed below, and thus also my great grandfather Bodenheimer's third cousin.

Arthur Bodenheimer was born in Waibstadt, Baden on 11 Feb 1892 to Bernhard Bodenheimer and Adelheid Friedberger.

It took a long time to sort out and find his death, and I had to research every Arthur Bodenheimer to make sure that a certain grave on FindaGrave was actually his.   Through a process of elimination, I'm 95% certain that the grave at Langemark German Military Cemetery near Ypres in West Flanders, Belgium is indeed his.

Location of Ypres, Belgium

From the dates and places, it looks like Arthur and Siegfried Bodenheimer (listed next) were both killed about the same time at about the same place: May 1915 near Ypres.

Arthur's grave shows that he died on 9 May 1915 on the Western Front in Belgium, likely near Ypres.

Arthur was 23 years old, unmarried with no children.

1915: Siegfried Bodenheimer, German in WWI Belgium
5 January 1892 — 31 May 1915

Siegfried Simon Bodenheimer was my second great grandfather Benno Bodenheimer's third cousin on his mother's side. He was from the next town over, being born in Wiesloch, Baden on 5 Jan 1892 to Bernhard Bodenheimer and Mini Stauss. Siegfried is from the same Bodenheimer branch as ESPN's George Bodenheimer -- his second cousin twice removed.

Siegfried reportedly died in Aachen as a result of injuries sustained in the First World War on 31 May 1915.

After much research, I found a site devoted to the Jews of Aachen which lists Siegfried Bodenheimer, born 5 Jan 1892 in Wiesloch, living in Aachen of regiment 10. I. R. 161,  dying in Aachen on 31 May 1915, in their list of the fallen.

Getting the regiment was a huge breakthrough as with that I was able to figure out that between 11 Apr 1915 and 4 Aug 1916 10. Rheinisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 161 was part of the 29. Infanterie-Brigade of Aachen and 15. Division of Köln -- all part of the VIII Army Corps of Koblenz. And finally the 4th Army of the German Empire.   With that information, I was able to discover that the 4th Army fought on the Western Front at the First Battle of Ypres in late 1914, and then faced the British at Flanders for the rest of the war.

WWI - The Western Front (1914-1918)

During May 1915 the German Fourth Army was involved in the Second Battle of Ypres:
The Second Battle of Ypres began in the northern sector of the Ypres Salient. It started on 22nd April 1915 when the German Fourth Army carried out a surprise attack against two French divisions holding the Allied Front Line. On that day the warm, sunny spring afternoon was suddenly shattered at 5pm with a devastating and frightening new development in modern warfare: a cloud of poisonous gas. 
The Second Battle of Ypres comprised four phases:
  1. The Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge,  22-Apr-1915—23-Apr-1915
  2. The Battle of St. Julien,  24-Apr-1915—04-May-1915
  3. The Battle of Frezenberg Ridge, 08-May-1915—13-May-1915
  4. The Battle of Bellewaerde Ridge, 24-May-1915—25-May-1915
My best guess is the Siegfried was wounded at Ypres, and then died of his injuries at his home in Aachen. Otherwise if he died on the field of battle "auf dem Feld der Ehre," it was All Quiet on the Western Front the day he died as the battle ended on the 25th.  He died on the 31st.

Writing about the death of the fallen in the war, the journal The Israelite of 17 June 1915 covered the loss of Siegfried Bodenheimer:
Wiesloch, June 12 (1915). Even in the local community, the horrors of war have not left their mark. On June 1, Siegfried Bodenheimer died at the age of 23, the hopeful son of our revered head, Mr. Bernhard Bodenheimer. The family is deeply saddened by the heavy blow that afflicts them and the whole community with them. In spite of his youth, the too early departed was already a fully trained merchant, and he had sought to expand his commercial career in various large trading cities abroad. For a short time he was destined to fight against our Western enemies when the enemy bullet struck him. May the consolation of the grieving family be found in the thought of God, and further protected from all misfortunes. We will keep faithful remembrance to those who have passed away.His soul is bound in the covenant of life.

Siegfried was 23 years old, unmarried with no children.

1915: Max Wolff, German in WWI France
5 July 1890 — 3 June 1915

German War Cemetery Neuville-St. Vaast
Max Martin Wolff was my great grandmother Levy's first cousin. Max was born in Charlottenburg, Berlin on 5 July, 1890 to Leopold Wolff and his wife Ida Wolff, geb Lazarus.

Max was an Unteroffizier (non-commissioned officer) in the Artillery, a member of the Reserve-Feldartillerie-Regimenter No. 5 (of Würzburg), 9. Batterie.  His peacetime profession was listed as Studiert Mathematik in Charlottenburg, ledig.

Max died on the field of battle in France on 4 Jun 1915 during the Second Battle of Artois. His death was on the third day of intense French artillery bombardments, launched to prepare for a June 6 infantry attack.

He was first buried at Soldatenfriedhof Farbus. After the war, in 1919, all the nearby German graves were consolidated into the Neuville-St. Vaast German military cemetery, which is located about 8 km from Farbus.  Also called La Maison Blanche, after a nearby farm, it s the final resting place for 44,833 German soldiers.  8,040 were never identified and are buried in a common grave.

Max was 24 years old and unmarried.

1915: Fritz Lachmann, German in WWI Poland
26 May 1894 — 12 June 1915

Fritz Salomon Lachmann is my 2nd cousin 4x removed, meaning he was my great grandmother Rosi's 2nd cousin.  He lived in Berlin, as did she and a great number of her Lachmann cousins.  

Fritz was born in Berlin on 26 May 1894 to my 2x great grandmother Henriette's first cousin, Leopold Lachmann and his wife Rike Löwendorff.   He was the 2nd cousin, once removed of Paul Lachmann listed above. 

I don't have a lot to go by other than his death certificate and the amazing book that lists all the Jews who died fighting for Germany in WWI: Die jüdischen Gefallenen des deutschen Heeres, der deutschen Marine und Schutztruppen, 1914-1918

Those sources say that he was a Grenadier in the 9th Kompanie of the Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 12 which was formed up in various places, including his hometown of Berlin. 

The 12th Reserve was mobilized on 2 August 1914 and attached to 10. Reserve-Infanterie-Brigade / 5. Reserve-Division / III. Reserve-Korps / 9. Armee at the time of his death.

Looking at the military history of the 5th Reserve Division, from 18 December 1914 to 16 July 1915 they were fighting the Battle of the Bzura River as part of the 9th Army. 

Fritz died on 12 June 1915 in the trench warfare around Kozłów Biskupi, Poland on the Eastern Front, just before Russia's Great Retreat and the Battle for Warsaw. 

The 9th Army's headquarters was in Łódź, which is where I'd expect him to be buried all things considered. 

Fritz was 21 years old and unmarried.

1915: Alfred Rosendorf, German in WWI France
16 March 1897  29 November 1915

Death Certificate
Alfred Abraham Rosendorf was born in Danzig, Westprussia on 16 March 1897, the son of Gerson Julius Rosendorf and Thekla Rosendorf geb Lachmann. 

This is relationship is a bit more distant, as Alfred is a third cousin of my great grandmother Rosi via the LACHMANN family.  They probably didn't know each other, as his branch of the family moved to Danzig and my branch moved to Berlin. 

Alfred is also a third cousin of Richard Julius Lachmann and Franz Salomon Lachmann listed later on this page. 

List of the Fallen
Alfred's death was reported in Berlin in Dec 1915 as a Unteroffizer (Corporal) gefallen from the 3rd Compagnie of the Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 26.    His final death certificate in Jun 1916 lists his official date of death as 29 November 1915, and his place of death as St. Pierre.

His regiment was part of the 13. Infanterie-Brigade / 7. Infanterie-Division / IV. Armee-Korps / 1. Armee. 

On 29 Nov 1915 the German 1st army was around the city of St. Pierre in the Somme region. It doesn't look like there were any major battles at that time, both sides were dug in and stuck in a horrible trench warfare stalemate.  

German Trenches in 1916
Alfred's division was mobilized as the 7th Infantry Division in August 1914 and sent to the west for the opening campaigns of the war. It fought in the siege of the Belgian fortifications at Liège, and then participated in the subsequent march into France and the Race to the Sea. The division then spent time in the trenches where Alfred was lost in Nov 1915. Without him, they went on to fight in the Battle of the Somme in 1916 in the same area, including the Battle of the Ancre right around St. Pierre.  During the German Spring Offensive of 1918, the division fought in the Battle of the Lys. It then fought in the defensive battles against the Allied offensives, including the Hundred Days Offensive and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. 

His division was rated a first-class division by Allied intelligence and was disbanded in 1919 during the demobilization of the German Army after World War I.

Alfred was 18 years old, unmarried without children.

1916: Alexander Hirsch, German in WWI France
20 May 1878  9 March 1916

Alexander Hirsch
Alexander Hirsch was born in Heidelberg on 20 May 1878. He was a lawyer in Heidelberg. His parents were Joseph Hirsch and his wife Rosalie, geb Kahn.  Alex was my great grandfather Siegmund's 3rd cousin, who was also born in Heidelberg just a few years earlier. 

Kriegsfreiwilliger Gefreiter Alex Hirsch was in the 6th battery of the 2nd Baden Field Artillery Regiment 30. 

The history of 6. Batterie, 2. Badisches Feld-Artillerie-Regiment Nr. 30 is documented in these links for it's command structure throughout the war as part of 29. Feldartillerie-Brigade / 29. Division / XIV. Armeekorps / 7. Armee

By looking at the history for the 29th Division, we find that his regiment was positioned in Champagne from January to October 1916.   At some point during the early part of 1916 he was either wounded or fell ill and was sent back behind the lines to a large war hospital in Sedan, France where he died on 9 March 1916.

The loss list just says "in einem Krgs. Laz" -- a  Kriegslazarett is a war hospital, but a larger newspaper announcement reports that, Lawyer Alexander Hirsch, a war volunteer Private in the 30th Field Artillery Regiment died in the war hospital in Sedan after a short serious illness, at the age of 38, in faithful performance of duty in the service of his fatherland. The funeral will take place Monday, March 13, in the afternoon at 5 o'clock, from the mortuary of the Israelite cemetery in Heidelberg. Please refrain from paying condolence visits.   

There are many photos of Alexander and his family that survived, and he has a memorial grave with his parents in the Heidelberg cemetery

Alexander Hirsch on left with parents (seated) Joseph and Rosalie and siblings (standing) Hedwig, Friedel, and Heinrich

Alexander was 37 years old and unmarried.

Alexander's sister and four of his nieces were murdered in the holocaust.

1916: Franz Aberle, German in WWI Belarus    
5 April 1878  27 March 1916

1916 death of Franz Aberle
Franz Kurt Aberle was born in Berlin,  Germany on 5 April 1894, the son of Julius Aberle and Elisabeth Henriette Aberle (geb Wolff). 

Franz was my great grandmother Rosi's 3rd cousin via the Wolff family of Märkisch Friedland. He was two years older than her, and they both lived in Berlin. I just don't know how close the families were and if  they knew that they were 3rd cousins. 

On May 5, 1916 in Berlin-Wilmersdorf the commander of the 62nd Replacement Battalion of Kulm Infantry Regiment no. 141 announced that the vice sergeant ( Vizefeldwebel ) of the 12th Company of the Infantry Regiment no. 343 Franz Kurt Aberle, 21 years old, Jewish, residing in Berlin-Wilmersdorf, Eislebener Straße 12, born in Berlin, unmarried, son of factory owner Julius Aberle residing in Berlin-Wilmersdorf was killed in action as a result of bullet in the head at the Narocz Sea on March 27, 1916.

Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 343 was in the 172. Infanterie-Brigade of the 86. Infanterie-Division and by looking at the battle history of the 86th division, they were indeed fighting in the battle of Lake Naroch on the day he died. 

Eastern Front in March 1916

Lake Naroch (Narocz, east of Vilna and north of Minsk in today Belarus) was on the Eastern Front
the Lake Naroch offensive -  The Lake Naroch offensive in 1916 was an unsuccessful Russian offensive on the Eastern Front. The battle raged from March 21 to April 30, with Franz falling on March 27, 1916.  

XXI. Armee-Korps memorial at Naroch
The 86th Infantry Division was under the command of XXXX Reserve Corps of the 10th army at the time, and General Lizmann sent the 86th north from Smorgon to assist XXI Army Corps in the defense. 

In 1937 Leutnant a.D. Gerhard Neumann, a veteran of Infantry Regiment 343 wrote a book about it, Das Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 343 im Weltkriege 1914/18 which lists Franz in the honor roll.

Franz is most likely buried in a german war cemetery in Belarus near the village of Narach. After 10 days the main offensive was brought to an end with over 120,000 Russian and 20,000 German casualties. 

Franz's Gold Star father and brother were murdered in the holocaust. 

Kurt was 21 years old and unmarried.

1916: Gustav Bodenheimer, German in WWI France
22 April 1885 — 19 April 1916

Grave of Gustav Bodenheimer
Canoneer Gustav Bodenheimer was my great grandfather Bodenheimer's third cousin, and a first cousin of Ludwig Bodenheimer below.  Cousins Ludwig and Gustav were both from Waibstadt, so they knew each other. Gustav's brother Arthur Bodenheimer, listed above was also lost, and it looks like a third brother, Siegmund Bodenheimer could also have died during WWI, but only Arthur, Gustav, and Louis are listed as Gefallenen from Waibstadt.

Gustav's death certificate reads, the commander of the field artillery regiment nr. 241 reported, that the canoneer of the 7th battery of this regiment, merchant Gustav Bodenheimer, 30 years old, Jewish religion, last residing in Frankfurt/Main, Elbestreet 31, born in Waibstadt, county Sinsheim in Baden, unmarried, son of the merchant Bernhard Bodenheimer and his wife Adelheid geb Friedberger, residing in Waibstadt, at the battleplace Merancourt-Ferme (Verdun) at the 19th April 1916 past midday at 4 o'clock due to a wound is deceased.

German War Cemetery Hautecourt-lès-Broville

Gustav is buried along with 7884 other German solders at German War Cemetery Hautecourt-lès-Broville near Verdun.

Gustav was 30 years old and unmarried.

1916: Richard Lachmann, German in WWI Romania
23 February 1885 — 7 September 1916

Grave at Friedhof Ohlsdorf, Hamburg
Richard Julius Lachmann was my great grandmother Rosi's first cousin on her mother's side.  Richard was a twin to Edwin Julius Lachmann, both being born on 23 Feb 1885 in Hamburg, Germany to Julius Lachmann and Emma Rose. Richard's twin Edwin died at 21 in 1906. Richard Julius Lachmann was a second cousin of Baron von Hünefeld who flew across the Atlantic the hard way in 1928 -- the first to do so.

Richard was a noted German geologist, famous enough to have his own Wikipedia article in Germany.

Richard's military records show that he was in the Jägerregiment, An Infanterie of the Jäger und Radfahrer Unit of Jäger-Regiment No. 3. 1st Battalion. (Oder Bayer Schneeschuh Bataillon 1). I think this translates to, "Bavarian Jägerregiment No.3 (1st Bavarian Ski Battalions)".  Jäger Regiment Nr. 3 was originally formed in May 1915 as part of the Alpenkorps.

Richard died on 7 Sep 1916 during the Battle of Transylvania against the Russians and Romanians in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania (Karpaten-kämpfen).
The Battle of Transylvania was the first major operation of the Romanian forces Campaign during World War I, beginning on 27 August 1916. It started as an attempt by the Romanian Army to seize the disputed province of Transylvania, and potentially knock Austria-Hungary out of the war. Although initially successful, the offensive was brought to a halt after Bulgaria's attack on Dobruja. Coupled with a successful German and Austro-Hungarian counterattack after September 18, the Romanian Army was eventually forced to retreat back to the Carpathians by late October. 
In the second phase of the offensive (3–10 September), the Romanian Second Army crossed the Olt river and captured Sfântu Gheorghe on 7 September. By the end of the second phase, the Second Army controlled all of the Brașov Depression, reaching the Cătălina-Arcuș-Vâlcele-Feldioara-Șercaia-Șinca Veche line. 
In September, the elite Alpenkorps was dispatched to fight in the Romanian Campaign. The Infanterie-Leib-Regiment suffered a number of losses in the mountain fighting in Romania.
The exact details of his last days are written in his obituary as:
Im September 1915 trat er als Freiwilliger Schütze in die Schneeschuh-Erstaz-Abteilung in Immenstadt ein. Im Juni 1916 kam er als Gefreiter des 3. Jäger-Regiments ins Feld und machte die Stürme auf Douaumont vor Verdun mit. Er erhielt das Eiserne Kreuz für das Eindringen in das franzosische Fort Souville, über das er seinem Regimentskommandeur Meldung erstattete. Am 7. September ist er in den Karpathenkämpfen durch Kopfschuß beim siegreichen Sturmangriff am Carny Czeremosz gefallen. 
This roughly translates to in September 1915 he joined as a volunteer Schütze in the snowshoe-Erstaz-division in Immenstadt. In June 1916, as a private of the 3rd Hunters Regiment stormed Douaumont before Verdun. He received the Iron Cross in the invasion of the French Fort of Souville, It was reported to his regimental commander that on September 7 he fell in the Carpathians from a headshot during the victorious assault at Cheremosh River.

Battle in the Carpathian Mountains during October-November 1916; German infantry firing rifles and machine guns and throwing hand grenades from a hill at left at Romanian and Russian troops, suffering heavy losses in foreground.

Richard was 31 years old, married with one child.

1917: Eugen Heymann, German in WWI Germany
12 April 1876 — 24 June 1917

Eugen Ludwig Heymann was born in Stuttgart on 12 April 1876. 

Nr. 119
Berlin Friedenau, on 20 March 1918
The commander of the First Reserve Battalion of Infantry Regiment No. 27 has reported that the Musketeer in the Second Genefenen Company of this Reserve Battalion, the businessman Eugen Heymann, 41 years of age, of the Jewish religion, whose last residence was in Berlin Friedenau, and who was born in Stuttgart, in the district of Stuttgart, an unmarried man, died in the "Salvator Hospital" in Halberstadt on the twenty-fourth of June of the year one thousand nine hundred seventeen at nine o'clock in the morning.

After an official investigation, it was determined that the deceased had the given names of Ludwig Eugen, and lived most recently in Berlin Friedenau, Sieglindestrasse 7 and was the son of the businessman Siegfried Heymann and his wife Ernestine nee Grünwald, both deceased.
The registrar

Eugen was 41 years old and unmarried.

1917: Fritz Mecklenburg, German in WWI Belgium
18 September 1890 — 21 September 1917

Weissensee grave of Fritz
Fritz Max Mecklenburg was born in Berlin on 18 Sept 1890 to one of my great grandparent's favorite uncles, Max Theodor Mecklenburg and his wife Ernestine Lachmann. Fritz was a first cousin of my great grandmother Rosi's, and is related to many of the Lachmann family listed on this page.

Fritz had a brother and sister, and in fact my great grandparents Rosi and Siegmund signed as witnesses on his brother Gustav Max Mecklenburg's 21 Aug 1919 marriage to Anita Margarete Fischer.  So, yes they knew cousin Fritz.

His official Berlin death certificate states that Fritz Max Mecklenburg died in Maria-Aalter, Flanders, Belgium fighting for the Germans on 21 Sep 1917 during WWI. 

Maria-Aalter was an airfield between Ghent and the Belgian coast that were used as emergency landing grounds for the German bomber groups coming back from England, which strongly suggested to me that he was a bomber pilot — well, that and the text on his Berlin grave that says und Flugzeug ührer (and Airplane flyer).

As it turns out Bogol I was stationed to Maria-Aalter on 20 Sep 1917. Bogohl I was a Bombengeschwader der Oberste Heeresleitung (Bomb Squadron of the Supreme Army Command), that made up the Kampfgeschwader (Specialized Bomber Units) in the Luftstreitkräfte (Imperial German Air Service). In May 1917 the Bogoh I returned to Flanders and exchanged it’s AEG’s for the larger Friedrichshafen bombers. It is most likely that Fritz was piloting a 3-man crewed Friedrichshafen G.III in Sept 1917.

Friedrichshafen G.III in WWI
So, yes Fritz was a bomber pilot. He was a medical student before he became an officer in Dragoner-Regiment König (2. Württembergisches) Nr. 26, attaining the rank of Leutnant d.R.  

Manfred von Richthofen, The Red Baron, was seriously injured at Wervik, Flanders on 5 July 1917, which is about 45 km Southwest of Maria-Aalter and 15 km west of the main airfields of Marke, Bissegem, and Heule used by Richthofen’s famous Flying Circus.  Richthofen began his career as an observer for the bomber groups. Make of that what you will. Maybe they knew each other.

Fritz Max Mecklenburg's 2nd cousin Franz died in Flanders just a few days later (see next record).

On September 21st our beloved son and brother Fritz Mechlenburg, Leuteant der Res. died for the Fatherland as a pilot in a Dragoons Regiment of the Iron Cross
Fritz died from his injuries on 21 Sep 1917 at Maria-Aalter. Some references list Mariakerke as the place of death, so that might be where the injury was sustained.  Most records state that it was a wound or injury, and one site denotes his death with an “i”, meaning he died of illness. So, that’s clear as mud, but certainly close enough for now.

Fritz’s body was returned to Berlin and is buried at Jüdischer Friedhof Weissensee along with his brother and sister.

Fritz was 27 years old, unmarried without children.

1917: Franz Lachmann, German in WWI Belgium
6 September 1896 — 26 September 1917

Lachmann Family Plot
Franz Salomon Lachmann was born in Berlin on 6 Sept 1896 to Siegbert Lachmann and Helen Henriette Cohen.  He was the first-born son of four children, of which only one lived past the age of 23 -- his brother Kurt died at the age of 85 in the United States.

Franz was my great grandmother Rosi's second cousin on her mother's side, making him my 2nd cousin 3x removed. Franz Salomon Lachmann was also Baron Günther von Hünefeld's second cousin, who in 1928 was the first to fly the Atlantic the hard way.

Franz was lost during battle at Zonnebeke, West Flanders in Belgium on 26 Sept 1917.  At that time, the Battle of Polygon Wood was being fought in that area  by the German 4th Army.

Franz has a grave in the Lachmann family memorial at Jüdischer Friedhof Schönhauser Allee in Berlin, although his body is buried elsewhere -- likely in Belgium.

Franz was 21 years old, unmarried without children.

1918: Max Frank, German in WWI Belgium
20 November 1884 — 8 June 1918

Max Frank was my great grandaunt Flora's brother-in-law.  At the start of the war, brothers Max, Samuel, and Hermann volunteered for military service.  Max died of his wounds in the last year of the war, while his brother Hermann went on to marry Flora Bodenheimer and have two girls -- cousins of my grandfather Edgar. 

Max was a Landsturmmannin in 12 Kompanie of Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 88 of Mainz assigned to 21. Infanterie-Division for the course of the war. 

Regiment 88 fought in the entire war from 1914 to 1918 starting first on 20 August 1914 at Longlier, Belgium on the Western Front, then to the Eastern Front for the summer of 1917 before heading back to the West in October 1917. 

Max died of wounds on 8 June 1918, and just before that his division was involved in fighting on the Ancre, Somme and Avre in the trenches of the western front.  He was involved in the Second Battle of the Somme, and was likely wounded in the aftermath of that offensive.  

Western Front in WWI France, 1918

While some online trees have Max dying in a military hospital back in Mainz, his grave is number 191 (Block K) at the Menen German Military Cemetery in West Flanders, Belgium. Many German graves from 1917 and 1918 were consolidated there after the war. It's more likely that his death was reported in Mainz, the headquarters of his regiment, while he died behind the lines at a field hospital in German occupied Belgium.   

Three of Max's sisters, his decorated WWI veteran brother Samuel, and three nieces were murdered in the Holocaust. 

Max was 33 years old, unmarried with no children.

1918: Ludwig Bodenheimer, German in WWI France
23 April 1879 — 23 August 1918

Ludwig Bodenheimer (1879-1918)
Gefreiter (Corporal) Ludwig Bodenheimer was also my great grandfather Bodenheimer's third cousin -- a first cousin of Gustav mentioned above. I'm quite certain my great grandfather never met him and probably never even knew about him. However I have tracked down living descendants of Ludwig and reunited our Bodenheimer family!

Ludwig was born in Waibstadt, and died on the field of battle during WWI on 23 August 1918. He fought for Germany, and as I've read more of the history of WWI, it seems that the entire thing was a real mess and probably should never have happened.

From a single page of German military history, it looks like Ludwig was in 1 Infanterie-Regiment 87 as a Gefreiter, (Verlustmeldung 1874). That German regiment was stationed out from Mainz, only about 60 km south west from Bad Nauheim.  They were assigned to the 21. Division, which was at Schlacht Albert-Péronne from 22 August 1918 to 2 Sept.  So, from that, I can tell that Ludwig fell on the 3rd day of the Second Battle of the Somme, likely at the Second Battle of Bapaume.

While his body may be in a grave at Fricourt, a commemorative plaque to honor him and the other fallen of his hometown of Bad Nauheim was placed in 1921. Sadly, during the Nazi period, his part of the memorial plaque was defaced as he was Jewish. I've tried to do as many Photoshop tricks as I know to clean up the photo, but as you can see it's still a bit mangled. Many Jews fought for Germany in WWI, which is one of the reason that they didn't immediately leave when Hitler came to power -- they were decorated veterans or families of the fallen. What could be more German than that? His wife, what Americans would call a gold star widow, was killed by the Nazis on 30 September 1942 in Treblinka Concentration Camp.

Ludwig was 39 years old, married with two children.

1918: William Streeter, New Zealander in WWI France
July 1888 — 29 September 1918

William Sendall Streeter (1888-1918)
Lance Corporal William Sendall Streeter was my grandfather Kessler's 2nd cousin via the Lukes family. Both of their mother's were Lukes, and first cousins at that.  He is not blood related to Leo Martyn listed above, William is the great nephew of Leo's great aunt -- so basically second cousins by marriage of the Lukes and Martyn families.

William was born in Addington, Christchurch, New Zealand and somehow ended up in Perth, Australia as a young man, probably looking for work as a miner.  On January 9, 1917 he enlisted in the Australian Army.

He joined the 44th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force, Service Number 3351.  He headed for England in June of 1917 and saw battle at Flanders Field and other places.  The 44th was on-hand the day the Red Baron was shot down near Vaux-sur-Somme on 21 April 1918, and the current theory is that the Red Baron was shot down from the ground by Australian forces.

After that, in September 1918, he was promoted to Lance Corporal and the 44th joined the Americans at the Battle of St Quentin Canal in France.

He was killed in action on the first day of the main assault, 29 September 1918.   He was buried 1,300 yards South of Bony, just West of the Road (approx). After the war, his grave and others was moved to the main Bellicourt British Cemetery.

William was 30 years old, unmarried without children.

1943: Edward Fry, American in WWII Italy

Edward John Fry, Jr. (1922-1943)
My mother's first cousin is probably the closest relative we've lost in war. Corporal Edward John Fry, Jr. was killed in action in Italy during WWII.  He was born in Garrison, Benton County, Iowa on 3 December 1922. Edward Fry enlisted in the army on 3 October 1941 and went overseas with the first American troops following Pearl Harbor. He was in the US 133rd 34th "Red Bull" division, and after some training in Ireland they shipped out to North Africa. News that he was wounded arrived in Iowa in June 1943. At that time his division was securing the Chougui Pass near Eddekhila, Tunisia in preparation for the invasion of Scilly.

9 September 1943 was D-Day in Italy, as US troops landed at Salerno. It appears that Edward had recovered enough from his injuries to join his regiment as they crossed the Volturno river in Italy to secure the town of Alife.  He was killed in action near Alife on 21 October 1943.

Edward was 20 years old, unmarried with no children.

1944: Harris Fehr, American in WWII Italy

Harris Wendel Fehr (1917-1944)
Harris Wendel Fehr served in the same "Red Bull" division as Edward Fry. 

Harris Fehr served in Tunisia, Sicily, Italy; participated in Battle for Rome, 1944, invasion of No. Africa. Stationed in Algiers several months and was at one time attached dto Hqs. of Gen. Eisenhower as Honor Guard

He was born in Tama County, Iowa on 5 December 1917 and was Killed in Action on June 3, 1944 in Italy during the Battle for Rome, most likely near the town of Lanuvio, Italy -- that was where the 133rd Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division, wasa at the time.

Harris is a little more distantly related to me, as he was the first cousin of Dean Gilliatt's wife. Dean is the next entry.

Harris was 26 years old, unmarried with no children.

1944: Dean Gilliatt, American in WWII in the Pacific

Dean Willis Gilliatt (1920-1944)
This is probably the story I know the most about, and I need to sit down and properly write the entire case up. It hit me the hardest.

Dean Willis Gilliatt was born in Benton County, Iowa on 6 December 1920.  He is my great uncle, Edward George Fry's first cousin twice removed. Edward Fry is indeed the father of the Edward Fry listed above, so that also makes Dean the second cousin once removed of Edward John Fry, Jr.

Dean was a Naval Aviator, flying off the U.S.S. Gambier Bay. He was killed in action off the coast of Saipan during the Pacific campaign. On 19 June 1944, the Wildcat fighter plane he was flying wasn't properly trimmed for takeoff and he crashed into the sea as all his shipmates watched in horror. His wife got the news of his death on the same day that his daughter was born.

The exact location of Dean Gilliatt’s fatal accident was 43.5 miles east of the island of Saipan in the Marianas at 15°12’00”N,146°27’00”E

Dean was 23 years old, married with one child.

1944: Leslie Martyn, New Zealander in WWII

Leslie Arthur Martyn (1911-1944)
Flight-Lieutenant Leslie Arthur Martyn was my grandfather Kessler's second cousin. I doubt they ever met, and I don't have any pictures from that entire branch of Martyn cousins.

Leslie was born in Kumara, New Zealand on 30 March 1911, the son of Edward Martyn and Jessie Andrews.  He was one of ten children.

On 21 November 1944, his Lancaster Mk.I NN745 AA-A took off at 13:46 with him in the pilot seat. This was a three-aircraft operation to lay mines in the Oslo Fjord. Two aircraft planted their mines in good visibility and without opposition. One aircraft captained by NZ417082 A/F/L L. Martyn, failed to return.

All seven crew are commemorated on the Runnymeade Memorial.
  1. F/L Leslie Arthur Martyn, RNZAF NZ417082 – Pilot.
  2. F/O Thomas Issac Elliot, RNZAF NZ421364 – Navigator.
  3. F/O Allan Roy Frank Dunkerley, RAAF AUS.423083 – Air Bomber.
  4. F/S John Calverley Crabtree, RAFVR 1492180 – Wireless Operator .
  5. Sgt. Charles Ronald Starkey, RAFVR 1863956 – Flight Engineer.
  6. Sgt. George Lindsay, RAFVR 1624589 – Mid Upper Gunner.
  7. P/O Andrew Roy Wright, RCAF J.88789 – Rear Gunner.
Leslie was 33 years old, and as far as my research shows no wife or children.

1968: Thomas Lukes, American in Vietnam War

Thomas Burton Lukes (1947-1968)

Thomas Burton Lukes is my mother's third cousin. I don't think she ever knew about him, as I'm not sure she even knew or met all her first cousins.

Thomas was born in Waterford, Pontiac County, Michigan on 18 December 1947 to my grandfather's second cousin, Thomas A. Lukes. His grandfather, Thomas B. Lukes was my great grandmother's first cousin. That's how cousining works.

Thomas was a member of company A, 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 50th Infantry which served in Vietnam beginning on 22 September 1967. Thomas's tour of duty started 27 February 1968.

On day 137 of his tour, 13 July 1968, Specialist 4th Class Thomas Burton Lukes and another member of "A" Company (Ronald Pillow) were killed near the base of Cay Giep Mountain (about 14.346353, 109.085670) in Binh Dinh Province by a 105mm artillery shell that had been modified as a pressure detonated mine. Death was instantaneous.  Thomas was promoted to the rank of Sargent posthumously, and awarded the bronze star for meritorious service. He is honored on Panel 52W, Row 23 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC.

Thomas was 20 years old, unmarried with no children.

Thomas B Lukes on Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Memorial Day's Real Meaning 

I took an informal poll the last few days, with a sample size of about 4. Many people have been very lucky just like me. They didn't have any family members who were killed in wartime. They were able to enjoy Memorial Day without thought or pain. They honored the memory of those who've given their lives to protect our way of life, but it didn't really hit home. It wasn't really real. While I still can't even imagine losing a son, brother, father, or close friend; this growing still hits me where I live. It's real to me.

The lesson here is that genealogy makes history relevant and relatable. Memorial Day is not an abstract concept now. It's a real thing, and as you find your connections to history through genealogical adventures, you too will discover how many new things really matter to you. Truly matter.


  1. Great post. War touches us all in some way.

  2. Thekla and Gersun Rosendorf are my great-great grandmother and grandfather. Kurt and Albert would have been her uncles, Ernst was her father.