Category Archives: World War II

The Essex House

During college and for some time after I worked at the Essex House Hotel in New York City (1979-1982). One day while working at the hotel a Japanese business man checked in and I was escorting him up to his room. He spoke as the elevator doors closed. He said that the hotel looked very different from the last time he had been here. I then said, “Oh, you’ve stayed here before Sir”. He replied with an amazing story that I will never forget. He said that he didn’t exactly stay here in the hotel, but slept across the street in the park. He now had my undivided attention. He went on that it was right after World War II. He had been a Prisoner of War on the west coast. After he was released the U.S. military gave him passage money back to Japan. He and a fellow POW, thought they might like to see this great country they had heard so much about before they returned home. They hopped a train and lived by their wits making their way eventually to New York. They found Central Park comfortable enough so they got some whiskey and settled down, laying there looking up at the night sky and the city lights. Soon their eyes settled on a sign at the south end of the park. A large sign atop a building that read “Essex House”. This sign has been there since the early 1930’s when the hotel was built and is still there today. They got an idea and they collected the things they would need and set out to climb that tower. Somehow, they made their way to the top of the building and climbed the sign. His friend who was an electrician in the Army made the required cuts and that’s how the “Essex House” one night became the “Sex House”.

I didn’t know what to say. It was an unbelievable story. I had never heard about this from anyone before. Looking back, I wish I had asked him more questions. Anyway, I returned to the front desk. Later that day, speaking to Pete, one of the older Bell Hops, I related the story not really expecting a response. Well, he had such a look of astonishment on his face. You see, he had been working there since the hotel opened and knew just about everything there was to know about this hotel. He then said, “Follow Me”, and ran off. He lead me to the locker room and opened his locker door. He began rummaging through stuff and soon pulled out a carboard box. He dug through the papers in it and pulled out an old yellowed newspaper clipping. A blurry black and white photo showed the hotel with the words “Sex House” above it. He pointed out the date. It was 1946. He said, nobody knew how that could have happened till now. It was the joke of the town for weeks. The owners were livid. —- So now you know the real story.

Jack Maroney

Years ago I worked at the Essex House Hotel in New York City. They had a doorman there named Jack Maroney. He was an older man and prone to drink a bit too much. In fact, every break you would find him over at P.J. Carney’s Pub. Sometimes he’d be there when he should have been at the front door. Good Ol’ Jack, he always had a good story to tell you. One day out of the blue Jack starts telling me about his days as a Marine. I didn’t know you were a Marine, I said to him. Oh, sure he says, I was on Guadalcanal. Now, I’ve heard of Guadalcanal. I knew it was a battle that took place in World War II. But, I didn’t really know much about it back then. Jack filled me in. He told about the knee deep mud and giant insects, of how they would lay awake all night for fear that if they should close their eyes for a moment some jap would jump in their fox holes and cut their throats. He talked about the unrelenting artillery fire and waves of japs in banzai charges and mowing them down to the last man. But the saddest thing he witnessed in the whole war, he recounted, was when the U.S. Navy left them. They just picked up one day and left us Marines all alone on that stinkin island, he said. What jack was referring to was the strategic withdrawal of the Navy’s transport and supply ships from the waters around Guadalcanal. They did this because they didn’t have enough war ships to protect them. So they moved them far enough away so the Japanese Navy couldn’t destroy them. This of course left the Marines on the island without fresh supplies and above all no reinforcements. Whatever they had they had to make do with. But it looked to the men as if their country had left them to die out there. Jack said that he looked around and every one of the men had tears in their eyes as they watched the ships sail off. In the weeks that followed they lived off a supply of rice captured from the japs. When that ran out they ate rats and any other living creature they found, even insects. They sent men down to the beach to scavenge for fish killed by the artillery fire from the nightly naval battles. But the Marines endured it all. Because that’s what Marines do. Semper Phi Jack.

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.

Robert L Shedden

Robert L Shedden Lt -HS
Robert L Shedden, from the Lawrenceville Prep School Yearbook

Robert L. Shedden was born February 5, 1919 in Glenn Falls, New York.  His father, who practiced law in New York City, was a World War One veteran.   The family can trace their lineage back to Mayflower passenger, John Alden, through his grandmother on his father’s side.  On his mother’s side of the family, his grandparents were the Count and Countess Von Taube of Sweden.

John S Shedden Captain
His father served in World War One.
Countess Hedvig Ulrika Taube 1714 – 11 February 1744, Robert’s ancestor.

The family maintained a home in New York City, but lived first in Pleasantville and then in Chappaqua on Bedford Road.  Robert attended Lawrenceville Prep School in New Jersey and later graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts where his father had also studied.

In 1940, Robert started at Columbia Law School.  But as the war threatened to draw in the United States, his patriotism won over and he volunteered, signing up for the Army Air Force as an Aviation Cadet just three weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

He selected Navigation as his vocation.  Once he passed the rigorous training the Army gave him, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, and they pinned the wings of a Navigator on his chest.

Virginia Shaw 2
Miss Virginia Shaw

On May 21, 1942, he married Virginia Shaw of Rye, New York, whom he met at Columbia.  The marriage took place in Georgia.  However, because of her family’s standing, the event made the society pages of the New York Times.

Robert L Shedden Lt - Marriage - Feb 1942
New York Times – Coverage of their wedding.

Very soon after his wedding, Robert was transferred to England and assigned to the 2nd Anti-Submarine Squadron at the Royal Air Force base in St Eval, Cornwall.   These squadrons were tasked with hunting and destroying German U-Boats that were crippling the U.S. troop and supply convoys bound for the European Theater.  It was a very important mission, and every man knew it.

Robert was trained in anti-submarine tactics in B-24 Liberators.   This type of heavy bomber performed a variety of roles, due to its large payload, very long range and advanced radar capabilities.   Not only were they used for escorting ship convoys, but also search and rescue operations, as well as bombing and strafing enemy targets.

B-24
B-24 Liberator configured for Anti-Submarine duty.

It is not known the number of missions in which Robert participated.  However, once a crewman was overseas, the need was so great that there was little time for rest.

Leigh light used for spotting U-boats on the surface at night
Leigh light used for spotting U-boats on the surface at night.

On one mission that took place on January 22, 1943, the Liberator, on which Robert L. Shedden was the navigator, caught fire while still over England.   The plane was diverted to R.A.F. Base Chivenor for an emergency landing.  However, the fire reached the bomb bay and due to the heat, the bombs exploded.  The plane crashed in Devonshire.   Ten other crewmen died along with Robert.  The crash site is less than 50 miles from where the Mayflower Pilgrims set sail on their historic voyage in 1620.  It was only ten months after his wedding day.  He was 23 years old.

Robert L Shedden Lt - Pittsfield Mass Obit
His Obit from Pittsfield Mass. where he went to school.

He is buried at the American Cemetery in Cambridge, England.   He received the Purple Heart and Air Medal for his service.   His name is not listed on the Memorial in Chappaqua.  However, his name is listed on the Veteran’s Memorial in Rye, New York, where his wife’s family lived.

IMG_9857
Robert’s name on the World War II memorial in Rye, New York

Research and story by: David L. Egerton

Richard Cook

Richard Cook went to Mt. Hermon School Prep School and graduated in 1942.  His family lived on the corner of  Hardscrabble Road and Deepwood Drive in Chappaqua New York.  They were Quakers, and have a family monument at Fair Ridge Cemetery.

His twin brother Gerry recalls he was bold and audacious, always looking for new experiences and adventures.  He was also happy go lucky, easy going and laid back. His first interests were horses and cowboys, an interest he got from reading “The Virginian”.  Their parents got them a small horse. A pinto with wall eyes named “Pinky”   Once he was older he became interested in cars.  At 12 years old they bought their 1st car, an old “Star” which they paid $5 for.  People would call Richard by his nickname, “Dick”.  Dick worked at a Joe Deede’s Service Station on Bedford Road in Pleasantville until the outbreak of war.

10thMountainDiv
Unit Insignia of the 10th Mountain Division, which his brother Gerard belonged.

He enlisted in the Army on July 22nd, 1943 in New York City. After basic training he was assigned to a tank destroyer unit at Fort Hood, Texas.  Dick joined an Armored Division and his brother joined the 10th Mountain Division.  The Army needed more infantrymen so they transferred Dick to the 137th Infantry Regiment, 35th Division.  As it happened George Golding, also from New Castle, was in the same division.  His brother’s division, the 10th Mountain, trained in the Rocky Mountains and would later make history in Italy for attacking the Germans by ascending a shear mountain cliff.  Dick was sent to France after D-Day and fought in the Saint Lo area in July and August.

 

35thDiv
Unit Insignia of the 35th Infantry Division, which Richard belonged.

After D-Day the Allies were bogged down in Normandy by tenacious enemy resistance.  The Germans had setup formidable obstacles and fortifications using the natural hedgerow country to stop the Allied advance.  The slow daily progress made was measured in yards and thousands of men’s lives.

FieldOfFire
Soldiers advance during heavy fire.

A plan was devised to break out of the Normandy hedgerow country.  This was dubbed “Operation Cobra” and was launched on July 25th.  Once started the break out was a huge success.  The Germans were retreating across France, but they fought desperately all the way.  Patton’s Army raced through the Brittany Peninsula, and then turned to charge toward Paris.

The Germans, not yet beaten, made a decisive counter attack to slash through the American forces who were stretched thinly around the city of Mortain.

FarmHouse
A typical French farm house. Around buildings like these much fighting took place.

The fighting around this city was epic, and the 35th Division was central to this action.  The defense that the 35th Division, and others, put up would have far reaching effects on the campaign in France.  Success here allowed Patton’s army to charge forward, circle around the German Army and link up with the British Army near a town called Falaise.   This trapped or destroyed 2 entire German Armies in a short time.   This battle forever became know as the “Falaise Pocket” and was one of the greatest triumphs of the Allies during the war and a horrific and costly defeat for the Germans.

It was during this struggle, on August 13th of 1944, near the small Normandy town of Barenton that Dick was killed at the extremely young age of 20.   This happened just before the Germans were driven back.    In his last letter to his brother Gerry, Dick said to “stay in the states as long as possible, because life in Europe wasn’t worth a plugged nickel.”[i]

Map of Barenton
Map of Northern France, showing the town of Barenton.

An entry in the Regimental Report from the days fighting, states:    “The 137th Infantry drove the enemy from Barenton in some sharp fighting and moved into the area between there and le Teilleul.  The regiment’s 1st and 2nd Battalions then established posts at St. Georges de Rouelle and St. Mar – de Egrende respectively, with a motorized patrol covering the roads from le Teilleul to St. Cyr thence to the regimental boundary between Mortain and Barenton. These patrols were continued throughout the following day. The 3rd Battalion was attached to the 134th Infantry.”[ii]

Dick’s loss was devastating to his family.  He is buried in Fairview Cemetery on Quaker Street near his mother, father and brother.

IMG_9827
Richards grave

Research and Story by:  David L. Egerton

 

[i] From a personal letter from his brother, Gerald Lestrang Cook, New Castle Historical Society, gift of Ingrid Melhouse, 2005.

[ii] History of the 35th Division 1944/45, August 1944.

 

Pat Marzella

IMG_0380
Wartime photo of Pat with his ribbons displayed

 

Pasquale Anthony Marzella was born on March 22, 1925.  He came from a large family that lived in the Bronx, on Belmont Avenue and Fulton Avenue.   Known as Pat to family and friends,  he was in High School when World War Two started and had a job working at Howard Johnson’s in the Bronx.

Just before is 18th birthday, March 6, 1943 he enlisted in the Navy.  He did his basic training in Sampson New York and then was sent to Radar Operator School in Virginia Beach.  However, he would never serve as a Radar Operator.

After completing his training, he was sent to the Philadelphia Naval Yard, to join the crew of the newly commissioned aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Langley.   On this ship he would serve out his enlistment during World War Two.  Pat was quick to point out to people that he was on the second U.S.S. Langley.  The first Langley had been sunk by a Japanese air attack in 1942.  Pat would also proudly tell you how the predecessor to his Langley was the very first U.S. Aircraft Carrier from the United States and how it was converted from a World War One Cargo Ship.

USS Langley 2
USS Langley CVL 27

 

The Langley that Pat served on had an esteemed career and he was proud of it.  She engaged in the island-hopping campaigns in the Pacific that bypassed strongly-held islands to strike at the enemy’s weak points.  As part of a task force commanded by Admiral Nimitz, the Langley would be one of the key targets for Japanese air and naval attacks. Planes from the U.S.S. Langley would support the fiercely opposed landings on Eniwetok, Kwajalein, Guam, Peleliu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Langley Decorations
Decorations and Victories displayed on the bridge of the U.S.S. Langley with it’s commander.
post-828-1275332499
An Avenger on the deck of the Langley

Pat was assigned as a plane handler as his primary duty on the ship, requiring him to spend most of his time below deck in the hanger.  But later, would step into the position of signalman, which involved being on the bridge of the ship during combat.  In this roll he must have had a front row seat, for much of the action the ship was engaged in.  There he experienced firsthand, the bombings, strafing’s and kamikaze attacks on his ship. During one attack, as he related in a story to his family, “a Japanese plane came so close he could see the “meatballs” painted on the wings”.  Manning a machine gun, he emptied the belt.  “It was like throwing rice at them [for all the effect it had].”, he said.  He also saw attacks on other ships as well.  Such as when the Carrier Bunker Hill was severely damaged during the Battle of Okinawa.  The damage was so bad the crew was ordered to abandon ship.  However, a skeleton crew saved the ship and it eventually made it to Subic Bay in the Philippines for repairs.

cvl-27_nhs10
The Langley weathers a severe tropical storm that sunk many other American ships.

One of many other duties assigned to Pat was as a fireman.  It was in this roll, that Pat witnessed a terrible scene, the result of a bomb hitting the forward end of the flight deck.  As he described this event during an interview by Bell Middle School students his revulsion and sorrow were obvious.  “Many men were killed and their bodies were burned beyond recognition”, he told the students.  He and his crew had to remove those bodies.

760_vt15crew
The crew of the U.S.S. Langley

Pat survived the war and was discharged from the Navy at Lido Beach Long Island on January 18, 1946.  He returned to his home in the Bronx.  Later he would move to Chappaqua and lived on Elm Street for many years. Here he raised his 3 children with his wife Mary.  He worked for the town of New Castle, in the Parks and Recreation Department.  He was one of the men who developed Gedney Park.  For many years he faithfully marched in our town’s Memorial Day Ceremonies.  Pat was always proud of his service and his country.

Girl Scout Reading Pat Marzella Story 2015
A Girl Scout reads the story of Pat Marzella at the Memorial Day Parade.

During his service he obtained the rank of Signalman 3rd Class.  He also received the Pacific Campaign Medal with 10 stars, The Philippine Liberation Medal with 2 stars, As well as the American Theater and Victory Medals.

Pat Marzella, died on July 8, 2014.  He was proceeded by his wife Mary by 2 months, 3 weeks and 2 days.   Several of his sons, still live here in Chappaqua.  His son Fred is a volunteer Fire Fighter in town.

After the war the U.S.S. Langley was decommissioned and then later transferred to the French Navy.

 

Research by:  David L. Egerton

Story by: David L. Egerton

 

Sources:

A personal Interview with Pat by the students of the Bell Middle School, Chappaqaua, NY, 2005.

An interview with Pat’s son, Fredrick Marzella, 2015.

Gabby Rosenfeld

Gabriel I. Rosenfeld

Birth:  August 6th 1925

Service:  World War II

Rank:  Private First Class

Date of Enlistment:  7-15-1943

Service Number:  12226377

Theater:  Europe

Division:   U.S. Army, 94th Division

 

The following are the words of Gabby Rosenfeld from an interview.   Historical notes are in italics.

Pearl Harbor

It was a Sunday.  I was at home.  We had a radio that sat on the floor, an RCA.  When I heard that Pearl Harbor had been bombed, I knew then it would be war.  My father had been in World War One.  He bought and sold flour for his business, and therefore was given a special ration card, which helped us greatly.

Enlistment

Before the war I lived in Brooklyn with my parents.  I went to public High School.  It was a good school.  I took 4 years of Latin.  All of us were serious about our school work.   I had one sister.    We children participated in the War Effort by saving resources, like tin, copper and steel.

I enlisted because I believed in the War.   It was a good cause.  Almost everybody was being drafted.  Many of my friends had already enlisted.  I thought that by enlisting, I might have more of a choice.  Also, I might get more respect from people.  None of this ended up being true.  In July of 1943 I enlisted at Whitehall in New York City.  I was seventeen and a half.  Soon I was inducted into the Army at Grand Central Station.

Boot Camp

During basic training at Fort Benning Georgia which took 13 weeks and in by my estimation it was a rugged course, I was issued an M1 Garand rifle.  I also fired an M1911 pistol and an M1 Carbine.    While there I took the ASTP test.  That means, Army Specialized Training Program.   I was accepted into the program and was assigned to the “Basic Engineering School” at the University of Maine.    Sometime during the course we were told that the program was closed.  Someone had heard the announcement on the “Walter Wenchel” radio news program.  General George C. Marshall had closed the program due to the dire need of soldiers overseas.   Casualties had been high at the battles of Salarno and Anzio and we were to be sent overseas as replacements.    I ended up in the 94th Infantry Division at Camp McCain Mississippi.

94thDiv
                             94th Division Unit Patch

Voyage to Europe

It took 6 days to travel from the U.S. to Scotland on the Queen Elizabeth.  Part of the unit traveled on the Queen Mary.   We worried a lot about German Uboats.  The ocean was dark.  I was claustrophobic and the ship was very crowded, so I ended up sleeping on the stairs most nights.

The division arrived in Greenock, Scotland on August 11, 1944. We were then moved to training camps near the port of Southampton in England.  Most of the British people treated us very well.   On occasion American camps were near English villages.  Some incidents of drunken soldiers causing fights and ill will occurred.   We got paid much more than the British soldiers, which must have caused some resentment among locals.

Landing on Utah Beach

Following a brief stay in England, the 94th landed on Utah Beach, France on D plus 94, or September 8th, 1944, and moved into Brittany to relieve the 6th Armored Division and assume responsibility for containing some 60,000 German troops besieged in their garrisons at the Channel ports of Lorient and Saint-Nazaire.  These cities had been by-passed by the Allied forces.

We were assigned to surround these cities and shared this job with the French underground.   Our missions were to go out on patrol and capture prisoners.  There were some losses, but compared to other places this area was quiet.

The 65th Infantry Division had lost an entire battalion to subs based at the Saint-Nazaire port.  For this reason, when our division was moved off the line, the 65th Infantry Division took our place.

Siegfried Line

Moving east, the division relieved the 90th Infantry Division on January 7th, 1945, taking positions in the SaarMoselle Triangle south of Wasserbillig, facing the Siegfried Switch Line. Fresh for the fight, the 94th shifted to the offensive, 14 January, seizing Tettingen and Butzdorf that day.

Gabby remembers marching along the Mosel River at night.   He freely admitted to being frightened, then and many other times.  As for the weather, there wasn’t a lot you could do to stay warm in your foxhole, he said.  We were never very warm.

94th Troops
94th Division Troops in Europe

Receiving the Purple Heart

By this time, I was a seasoned veteran and was training replacements.  I told them to dig their foxholes deeper and place logs over them for protection.  After a while they got tired and stopped.  Sure enough a tree burst exploded above them.   I was hit by this, and was wounded in the hands and face.

I cannot say enough about the Aid men that tended to us wounded.  They were in combat without a weapon and often were shot at by the enemy.  Still they exposed themselves to fire and saved many lives.  After the shelling had ended, I asked a buddy to walk me to the Aid Station.  My hand was wounded so I couldn’t hold my rifle.  Once there I was taken to an ambulance to be moved to a field hospital.  It was crowded and blacked out because we were close to the front.  They moved slowly.   I had what is referred to as a “Million Dollar Wound”.  It took a couple of months for me to recover.

The Division was made up of southern men, mostly uneducated.  They were poor and illiterate.  I would write letters home for some of the men.

The kind of missions we had were; scouting, capturing prisoners, unloading ammo and supplies from trucks.  We also attacked pillboxes or spent time guarding prisoners.   On occasion we were told to relieve other units and take over their positions.

After the Battle of the Bulge

The 94th continued to fight through Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany.  The 3rd Battalion crossed the icy and swollen Saar on February 23, 1945.   They took many casualties, but eventually were successful.  They crossed the Rhine River on March 21.

In 1974 Gabby went back to Luxembourg with his division association to visit the battlefields.  At the border the bus stopped and a young lady from the area got on the bus and said “I am the secretary of the Luxembourg American Friendship Association.  I am here to thank you for what you did for us”.  She then gave everyone a memorial plaque.   It was very touching to realize that 30 years later, they still remembered that we were the ones who liberated their country.

By mid-April, the division relieved the 101st Airborne Division and assumed military government duties, first in the Krefeld vicinity and later around Düsseldorf.

Wars End in Europe

When hostilities were declared at an end on 7 May 1945 the Division was sent in mid-June to Czechoslovakia.  They stayed until the end of November serving as the military government.

I ended up in part of the British Army Signal Corp.   Thirteen of us G.I.’s took over the telephone, telegraph stations in Berlin after the war.  For 2 or 3 months I was on a British base and had to work with them.  I followed their protocols and procedures.   I have a great respect for the British people.  I thought it was a great experience.

Back Home

The trip home took 18 days.  I was allowed to go because I had 65 points.  I didn’t know anyone on the ship.   For some reason, they gave us our pay on the first day of the voyage.   But we had no place to spend the money.  So the ship was a floating crap game.   I volunteered to edit a newspaper on the ship.   This gave me the privilege to hang around the radio room and listen to the news.  I remember that everyone had German pistols and knives that they had captured.

Before leaving England, I had met a British Artillery man.   I gave him my parent’s address.  He contacted them and told them their son was OK.

When we arrived at port in New York, my mother was at the dock.  Our reunion was tearful and joyful at the same time.  I felt strange for a couple of weeks, sleeping in a soft bed and eating anything I wanted.  I had two girlfriends that I had written to during the war. I bought a very good quality G.I. Uniform to wear when we went out.  I wanted to look sharp.

After six weeks of being at home I was accepted to Cornell University.  I wanted to delay this, but they wouldn’t let me.  So I started college.

On Wars End and FDR’s Death

When F.D.R died, most men looked upon him as “Our Commander and Chief”, and he was a good leader.  Some of the men where in tears, others were in shock.

I was very happy when I heard that they had used the A bomb on Japan and ended the war.  At that time, it was the only thing to do.  It saved me from getting my head shot off by the Japanese.

 

Note:  Gabby Rosenfeld was a long time resident of Chappaqua, New York until his recent passing in 2014.  He was a much loved and recognized citizen and for years attended the Memorial Day Parade riding in his sidecar motorcycle. 

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Gabby in his sidecar with his son driving

 

From an Interview with Gabby at the New Castle Historical Society in 2005. 

Historical research by David L. Egerton.

 

Edward White Jr.

28 Overlook Dr
The White family’s former home at 28 Overlook Drive, Chappaqua, New York

Edward Ignatius White Jr. was born in Brooklyn New York.  But his family must have moved to the town of Chappaqua sometime later.  His family lived at 28 Overlook Dr. near Thomas Hill’s house and he knew Don Reynolds as well.  Ed, Tom and Don were all Greeley High School graduates.  His best friend was Bob Aylesworth who graduated in 1941.   He was engaged to Anne Larson but they never had a chance to get married.  Ann lived in the house opposite from the Horace Greeley house on King Street.  Edward attended St Johns Prep School before joining the Marine Corp on December 1st, 1942, almost 1 year after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Ann Larson 2
From the Greeley High School Yearbook

Marine Corp boot camp was tough but it prepared him for the rigors of combat.  For a young man he must have been willing to take on responsibility because he was promoted to corporal.

Corporal White was assigned to the 5th Marine Division, 26th Infantry Regiment, Company B which was stationed at Camp Pendleton in California, where they underwent intensive training.   In late December of 1944 the division relocated to Pearl Harbor for more training and refitting for combat.  By January 27th, 1945 all preparations were complete and the 5th Marine Division boarded transports and was “bound for its first combat”.[i]

5th_MarDiv
5th Marine Division Unit Insignia

The invasion of Iwo Jima was part of the final phase of the island hopping campaign in the Pacific.  America needed Iwo Jima, part of the Japanese home islands, as an emergency airfield for crippled B-29 Bombers returning from bombing missions on Japan.

IwoJimaMap2

The landings on Iwo Jima took place on Febuary 19th, 1945 starting with a punishing Naval bombardment, followed by a bombardment from the air.  Then the 5th Marine Division hit the beach on the left, the 4th on the right and the 3rd was held in reserve.  When the U.S. Marines raised the famous flag atop Mount Suribachi on the 23rd, Edward must have seen it, because it could be seen from anywhere on the island and out to sea.  Ship horns blared and the men who could, cheered.  But it did not signal the end of the battle by a long shot.  Bitter fighting would continue for 27 more agonizing days.

FlagRaising2
Flag Raising on Iwo Jima

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On the day that Corporal White was killed, March 6th, 1945 the daily combat report states that “Elements of the division were sent forward to capture the high ground.  [ ] In extremely bitter fighting against caves, pillboxes, and emplacements in rugged terrain they advance approximately 100 yards”.[ii]  This report is typical of the battle on Iwo Jima and shows the tough struggle these soldiers endured.

DeadMarines
Dead Marines being sprayed with chemical to reduce the stench.

In a letter that his mother wrote to a friend, she says; ‘Everybody has been wonderful and it does help.  There are hundreds of letters and hundreds of Mass cards.  In all the letters, as in your own, the word “shocked” stands out.  Somehow it seemed to hit harder than most.  I wrote him in the beginning of Iwo – whether he ever received it I’ll not know – but he knows now that I wrote “Wherever you are, you are in the Hands of God, for my prayers have put you there”.   Of course, to my dying day [I will never forget] the scene of Eddie [Sr] coming to me at the bedroom door and putting his hands on my arm and saying “Mother, we’ve lost our boy”.’[iii]

Burial
Burial for Marine of Iwo Jima

Years later, after the war, Don Reynolds ran into Ann Larson in an elevator at Rockefeller Center. He said “she never got married and seem sad.”[iv]  He thought that she had never gotten over Ed.

Corporal Edward I. White Jr. received the “Purple Heart” and the divisions “Presidential Unit Citation with a ribbon and 1 star.

40479_2421402106_0499-00024 (1)
Internment Order for Edward White Jr.

He is buried in the U.S. National Cemetery in Honolulu Hawaii.

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Research and Story by:  David L. Egerton

 

Citations:

[i] https://archive.org/stream/fifthmarinedivis00chap/fifthmarinedivis00chap_djvu.txt,  “The Fifth Marine Division in World War II“, Prepared by Lieutenant John C. Chapin, “HISTORICAL DIVISION, HEADQUARTERS, U. S. MARINE CORPS”, August 1945.

[ii] Logs of the 26th Infantry Regiment, 5th Marine Division, National Archives, March 6, 1945.

[iii] Letter from Mary White to Agnes [unknown], April 17, 1945, Ancestry.com

[iv] From an interview by phone with Don Reynolds, by David L. Egerton, March 2, 2015.