My mother’s father was killed in France in the Battle of the Bulge. By that late in the war (1945), they were drafting older men, even those with families who depended on them. My grandfather was 25 years old, with a wife and 2 kids when he was drafted. It was known that new draftees didn’t last long in the brutal fighting at the end of WWII, with the average time being just a few months before they were wounded or killed.
Dwight E. Harvey was in the 14th Armored Division, 62nd Infantry Battalion. There are few records of his unit in any WWII historical site because the unit was completely decimated (we infer this, due to lack of information). I did run across the general Timeline of the European Theatre in 1945, in which you can see that January-March was very active on the various fronts in Europe.
We have basic information, but his specific information and that of millions of other veterans (my father, for one) was lost in the National Archives and Records Administration fire of 1973. His date of death is listed as March 23 1945, but it’s assumed that he actually died in the aftermath of the Battle of the Bulge in January 1945 in the Rhine region of France or Germany. The Wiki timeline for 1945 does indicate that the Third Army was active in that region.
I think he was probably involved in one (or more?) of these:
1. The Battle of Metz (27 Aug – 13 Dec 1944), which was a huge battle with many casualties.
2. The Battle of Strasbourg (part of Operation Norwind) in the first couple of weeks of January 1945 when the Germans were trying to retake the city (which is on the Rhine).
14th Armored Division
Order of Battle Norwind
Paris to the Rhine
My grandmother did not receive any personal effects and no body was every recovered. All she got was a telegram. (I will get that scanned when I can.) My mother never knew her father (she was only 3 when he was killed) and neither did my uncle. He was just gone.
I’m one of only 2 people in my family (my uncle is the other) that has seen my grandfather’s marker in the American Military Cemetery in Lorraine (St. Avold), France. If you’d like to see the details of his marker, you have to do a search here. No direct links, sadly. [This site has been updated and is FAR better than it used to be. The search feature is very robust. 4/15]
It was very moving to stand in that place, with thousands of markers all around. It really brought home the meaning of WAR and the loss of life involved in such violence. As I stood there on that summer day, under the blue French sky, I realized that each and every marker represented a life. Fathers, brothers, husbands, sons and probably a few women, too. Those markers that stretched as far as the eye could see were people just like my grandfather – most of them even younger. It literally brought me to my knees. I knelt there, with tears coursing down my face and my breath caught in my throat, feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of it all. Then I realized that this was one of many WWII cemeteries (the largest for those lost in Europe) and these were only a portion of the people lost to the folly of war.
It was an experience I’ll never forget and I’m glad I took that trip. I will go back again one day. Until then, I will post whatever information I can find on my grandfather and perhaps add in my Papaw Jesse Gage.