Andre Whelan

Second Lieutenant G. Andre Whelan
Andre Whelan

He was born George Andre Guinzburg on November 5th, 1921[i]  in New York, but his family called him Andy or Andre.  He had two older brothers, Donald and Robert.  His father was George Kleinert Guinzburg, who was a Vice President at his family’s manufacturing company. His mother, Rosemary Whelan, can trace her family’s roots back to Ireland.

Whelan Boys
Rose Mary Whelan with her 3 sons; Andre is the youngest.

They were part of the larger Guinzburg family that settled here in Chappaqua in the early part of the 20th century.  All the Guinzburgs; grandparents, uncles and cousins shared a mansion on King Street. The mansion was named “Chislehurst”, by his grandfather, after his wife who was a sculptress.  His grandfather’s name was Victor and he worked at the Kleinert Rubber Company based in New York City and founded by his wife’s father.  They made products used in the manufacture of undergarments.  Andy’s great grandfather was a German immigrant who served in the Civil War.

George and his brothers grew up in Chappaqua and attended school here.  When he was 7 years old the family visited relatives in Ireland and returned to the States, via the French port of Cherbourg.[ii]  Sometime before Andy was 14 years old, his brothers and mother lived in an apartment in New York City on 57th Street[iii].  However, the Whelan’s also maintained a home on Poillon Drive in Chappaqua.  When his parents divorced Andy and his brothers changed their last name to Whelan, his mother’s maiden name.

Gray Williams, a longtime resident of Chappaqua, knew Andre when he was a young boy.  As he related recently, “He was a fine swimmer, and gave swimming lessons at the Guinzburg pool to a group of boys (including myself) in the summer of 1941.”[iv]

In his early years Andre attended the Riverdale Country School in the Bronx.  Then in 1935 he started at a private High School in Simsbury, Connecticut, called the Westminster School.[v]

Andre Whelan - Westminster YB 1939
Andre Whelan from the Westminster School Yearbook, 1939

After High School he was accepted into Yale University to study Industrial Administration.[vi]  With his chosen course work, he would be very prepared to assume an important role in the family’s growing business.  He joined the Glee Club, the Swim Team and also played Football.  He lived at Vernon Hall and was a non-resident member of Saybrook College.[vii]   When the war broke out in late 1941, Yale expanded its R.O.T.C. program.  Andre joined their Field Artillery program and went with them on practice missions to set up defensive positions around New Haven.  Before long, he was promoted to Cadet Lieutenant of the First Field Artillery Battalion.[viii]

Andre Whelan - Yale - ROTC 2
First Artillery Battalion – R.O.T.C. , Andre Whelan 4th from right in first row. From the Yale University Year Book

While still in college, Andre married Jeanne Ashley on December 30th, 1942 in Hempstead, New York.  She was the girl whom he had been with since he took her to the Westminster High School prom.

Andre was slated to graduate in May of 1943, but was allowed to graduate earlier.  The war was not going well and there was a shortage of officers in the Military.  He willingly put off his career goals and went directly from Yale to the Fort Sill Officers Candidate School from January to April.[ix]

From there, he was sent to Replacement Officer Candidate School at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland.   He was then assigned to the 229 Field Artillery Regiment, 28th Infantry Division.

28th Div
28th Infantry Division Insignia

The 28th Division was originally a National Guard unit from Pennsylvania, that was activated into Federal service in February, 1941.  Named the “Keystone Division,” it would famously be called “The Bloody Bucket” by the Germans once it went on the attack, both for the color of its shoulder patch and its reputation in battle.  The 28th Division was sent overseas on October 8th, 1943, arriving in South Wales.[x]  Here the division would spend their time training for the eventual invasion of Europe.  The soldiers had little time for rest or relaxation.  However, they did get the chance to mingle with the locals and most 28th Division soldiers liked the British people.

“On July 22nd, 1944, the division landed in Normandy.” [xi]  As part of First Army, the 28th drove towards Paris[xii] under the command of Brigadier General James Edward Wharton.     Andre had once visited the Normandy countryside as a young boy. He must have been appalled by the vision of this once beautiful land that now lay in waste by the epic struggle that was taking place there.

229 FA
229 Field Artillery Regiment, in action in France.

As the American forces took ground on their drive towards the cities of Brest and Mortain, the Germans launched a counter attack on August 7th called “Operation Lüttich”.  This caught the Allies off balance and the enemy gained ground.[xiii]  With the help of air power, the Allies would eventually gain the upper hand.

It was during this time that Second Lieutenant George Andre Whelan would be killed in action near the town of Champ du Boult in the Calvados region of France. He was mortally wounded by shell fragments on August 9th, 1944 while on a forward observation mission for the field artillery he supported.[xiv]  Two days later, the division commander, Brigadier General James Edward Wharton, would be killed in action as well.

After the liberation of Paris, the men of the 28th were given the honor of marching down the Champs-Elysées on August 29th.  Andre and many of his fellow soldiers, were not there to receive this honor. During the war, the division would lose 2,316 men killed in action.  The next day the division was back on the front lines.

 

After his death, a friend of his from both his Westminster and Yale days, Stuyvesant Wainwright II, wrote a letter telling a friend of Andre’s passing. In it, he lamented; “In fact the last time I saw Andy was just before he took off for Fort Meade.  Tonight I have written his widow a trite letter ….. what can one say?  She is not alone!” [xv]

In a letter from his brother Donald, sent to the dean at the Westminster School, he says “My last letter from him was a few days before that, written in a foxhole where he was spotting with his jeep and radio as his only companions. [] [His commanding officer] said Andy had been a very good soldier and had the respect and friendship of all the men under him.” [xvi]

 

His widow, Jeanne lived in Hempstead, Long Island after the war, but would come to Chappaqua to visit her mother-in-law on the weekends. Eventually she would marry again.  She died in 2007 and is buried in Florida.[xvii]

His brother Robert, was in a Tank Destroyer unit during the war. When the war ended he lived on the West Coast from where his wife Gene came from.  In 1946, he moved to the Chislehurst estate with his wife and infant son, George Andre, (named for his uncle)  and raised his family.[xviii]  George Andre (Robert’s son) is living in Florida and is a Photographer and Christian Missionary there.[xix]

Donald Whelan, served in the military as well during the war.  He married Jennette Winter, his childhood sweetheart who lived on Quaker Road in Chappaqua.  They lived on Haights Cross Road until the late 1990’s.  Don was the architect that designed the New Castle Town Hall.[xx]  He died in 2006 in Vermont. His daughter Lynda graduated from Greeley High School in 1963.

Donald Whelan - Westminster YB 1939
Donald Whelan from the Westminster Yearbook.

One more relative of Andre deserves special mention.  It is his cousin Ralph Victor Guinzburg.  They grew up together living in the Chislehurst estate in separate apartments.  Ralph served in the Army Air Force during the war and was a Navigator on a B-17 Bomber based in England.  Ralph was killed in action in November of 1943, ten months before George Andre’s death.

George Andre Whelan, was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received in action.  His name is listed on the New Castle Veteran’s Memorial at the Chappaqua Train Station. However, the location of his grave is unknown at this time.

Andre Whelan Purple Heart
Purple Heart Certificate for Andre Whelan

 

Credits

Research done by G. Andre Whelan and Megan Kilburn.

Additional research and historical notes by David L. Egerton

Story by David L Egerton

 

End Notes

[i] “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957”, Year: 1928; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4380; Line: 24; Page Number: 17, Ancestry.com, 2010, [Accessed April 3, 2016].

 

[ii] “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957”, Year: 1928; Page Number: 17, Ancestry.com, [Accessed April 3, 2016].

[iii] 1940 United States Federal Census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: T627_2654; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 31-1271, Ancestry.com, 2012, [Accessed April 2, 2016].

 

[iv] Gray Williams, Email on Andre Whelan’s death, sent 5 May 2016.

[v] “U.S. School Yearbooks, 1880-2012”, The Westminster School, Year 1938, Ancestry.com, 2010, [Accessed April 12, 2016].

 

[vi]  “In memory of G. Andre Whelan”,  http://gandrewheln.webs.com/, Education,[Accessed April 12, 2016].

[vii] “U.S. School Yearbooks, 1880-2012”, Banner and Pot Pourri Yearbook, Year 1941, Ancestry.com, 2010, [Accessed April 11, 2016].

[viii] Yale Year Book, R.O.T.C., First Battalion, 1942.

[ix]  “In memory of G. Andre Whelan”,  http://gandrewheln.webs.com/, In Memory,[Accessed April 12, 2016].

 

[x] Wikipedia, “28th Infantry Division (United States)” , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/28th_Infantry_Division_(United_States)#World_War_II, Wikipedia, [Accessed April 14, 2016].

 

[xi]   Wikipedia, “28th Infantry Division (United States)” , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/28th_Infantry_Division_(United_States)#World_War_II, Wikipedia, [Accessed April 14, 2016].

 

[xii] The Battle for Normandy, “Wednesday, August 9th 1944”, http://www.dday-overlord.com/eng/9_august_1944.htm, [Accessed May 7th, 2016].

 

[xiii] Wikipedia, “Operation Lüttich”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_L%C3%BCttich, [Accessed May 7th, 2016].

 

[xiv] “In memory of G. Andre Whelan”,  http://gandrewheln.webs.com/, In Memory,[Accessed April 12, 2016].

 

[xv]  “In memory of G. Andre Whelan”,  http://gandrewheln.webs.com/, Letters,[Accessed April 19, 2016].

 

[xvi] “In memory of G. Andre Whelan”,  http://gandrewheln.webs.com/, Letters, Letter from his brother Robert, [Accessed April 19, 2016].

 

[xvii] “U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014”, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2011, Jeanne Bennett, [Accessed April 19, 2016].

 

[xviii] New Castle News, 24 Oct 1946.

 

[xix] G. Andre’ Whelan’s missions journal, My Goals & Objectives, http://www.gawmissionary.com/, [Accessed on 05/17/2016].

 

[xx] Gray Williams, Email on Andre Whelan’s death, sent 5 May 2016.

3 thoughts on “Andre Whelan”

  1. I was an officer in btry c 229th fa bn 28th inf div and served with George. Contact me and I’ll send you a copy of an e mail I’ve just written after trying to comment on George’s ph certifate “ww2 in color”.

  2. To: Lee Christensen. That is wonderful news. I am glad that you contacted me. If you could send me your email address, then I could communicate with you directly. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *