A Time to Remember William H Ritchie – Redux

I did not expect this when Serge Ritchie wrote me about a message he got on Ancestry.

He thought it would be important to transfer it.

Salut.! Pierre

Sujet:
Sgt William H. Ritchie….je pense bien que c’est le fils de Frank
Ritchie & Odna Lagasse…..

Un message sur Ancestry, je trouvais cela important que je te transfère
ce message, parce que tu es celui qui a fait un travail remarquable, en
plus je ne parle pas vraiment anglais, cet honneur te revient, tu pourras
peut-être communiquer avec eux….

Bonne journée.! Pierre….

Si tu peux, tu m`en donneras des nouvelles….

Serge

If you can read French then you can feel how Serge was excited about all this.

Ditto…

Original post

One of William H Ritchie’s nephew had sent a picture of Robert J Ritchie to a memorial site about SS-332 Bullhead.

Robert J Ritchie

His name was beside the picture.

I wanted to get in touch so I could get a picture of William who died in Holland on September 22, 1944, and be able to pay homage to Robert’s brother. 

With this piece of information I went ahead and used Facebook to look for him.

Piece of cake…

I found him on the first try. It was easy because he had some Ritchies as friends.

So I sent him a message…

Paul replied and he invited me as a friend.

Paul did not know at that time that I was his second cousin once removed. I broke the news.

He is just getting to know me. I told him I knew quite a lot about his mother’s ancestors who once lived in Quebec back in 1800s.

While browsing a little on his Facebook page, I came across this…

William or Bill is on the left and Robert is on the right.

Now I can pay homage to William just like I did for Robert who is on eternal patrol.

A site has already done this. Click here.

William H Ritchie died in Holland on September 22, 1944.

If you want to learn more about Sergeant William H Ritchie, U.S. Army Service, # 31271954, 327th Glider Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, you can visit this site about Operation Market Garden.

This site pays homage to all those who participated in that operation.

Sergeant William Ritchie was in a glider regiment. He was in Company G.

You can go from there.

You have a lot to learn about Operation Market Garden.

As a footnote, I found these pictures on the Internet.

We see members of the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment. Both were taken in Eindhoven.

This other photo struck me.

I think I recognize William Ritchie on the right…

But I could be wrong just like I could be wrong with this picture that started all this…

Odna Lagasse?

Does it really matter?

No it doesn’t.

As a footnote, these notes taken on this Website

Operation Market Garden
MARKET-GARDEN was planned as a two phase operation. Operation MARKET was the airborne phase of the assault, with Operation GARDEN being the ground attack. The paratroopers of First Allied Airborne Army were to jump into the Netherlands and secure a corridor from Eindhoven north to Arnhem, through which the ground forces of the British 30 Corps could advance and push on to the IJesselmer (Zuider Zee). The eventual goal was to cross the Rhine River and breach the German West Wall defenses. The Dutch countryside, criss-crossed by innumerable dikes, drainage ditches, rivers, and canals, however, would prove difficult to traverse if the ground troops could not advance by road. For the plan to be a success the paratroopers had to keep the roadway open and the bridges along the route intact and secure.

D-Day was set for 17 September 1944, and the 101st, along with the 82d Airborne Division, the British 1st Airborne Division and 52d Lowland Division (Airportable), and the 1st Polish Parachute Brigade were set to jump. Unlike the Normandy jumps, this operation, by order of Lt. Gen. Lewis H. Brereton, (picture right) commander of the First Allied Airborne Army, was to be carried out in daylight. Shortages in transport planes, however, prevented the three divisions from dropping all their troops on D-Day, and the commanders had to decide which units would go in first. The 101st Airborne Division was to anchor the British Airborne Corps’ southern-most flank and secure a 15-mile sector between Eindhoven and Veghel. Taking this into consideration, General Taylor decided that the three parachute infantry regiments would jump on the 17 September. The 327th Glider Infantry was to arrive on D+1, and the artillery units were scheduled for D+2, the 19th.

The planes carrying the 101st encountered heavy antiaircraft fire as they approached their targets, but the pilots were able to hold formation, and the paratroopers, for the most part, were delivered to the correct drop zones. These were located to the west of the main highway and in the center of the division’s sector, near the villages of Zon, St. Oedenrode, and Best. The 506th Parachute Infantry dropped near Zon, with the mission of securing the highway bridge over the Wilhelmina Canal, south of the village. Once the bridge was secure the regiment was to advance further south and seize Eindhoven. The 502d’s zone was north of the 506th, and its mission was to guard both regiments’ drop zones for later use by the gliders. It was also to capture the road bridge over the Dommel River at St. Oedenrode. Additionally, General Taylor ordered the regiment to dispatch a company to the south of Best to capture the bridges there that crossed the Wilhelmina Canal. The 501st Parachute Infantry jumped north of the 502d, near the town of Veghel. Elements of the regiment were to gain control of the rail and road bridges over the Willems Canal and the Aa River.

The 501st accomplished its mission, capturing Veghel and the surrounding bridges against only limited enemy resistance. The 502d also completed its main assignment of securing St. Oedenrode and the bridge over the Dommel River. The company that had moved south of Best, however, had great difficulty and could not take the bridges over the Wilhelmina Canal. The 2d and 3d Battalions, 506th PIR, methodically cleared Zon, while the 1st Battalion, accompanied by General Taylor, moved around the village to the south to seize the bridge crossing the Wilhelmina Canal. The progress of the battalions in the village was slow, but enemy fire stopped the 1st Battalion completely as it approached the bridge. When the two battalions emerged from Zon and the 1st Battalion also appeared to advance, the Germans blew the bridge.

Elements of the 506th managed to cross the river, neutralizing the enemy force that had destroyed the bridge, and a footbridge was improvised to allow the remainder of the 506th to cross. The following day the regiment liberated Eindhoven, clearing the enemy from the town. The local citizens were ecstatic, and that evening when the Guards Armoured Division, the spearhead of the British 30 Corps’ Operation GARDEN, passed through the town, it was like a carnival. British engineers replaced the blown bridge over the canal, and the ground forces continued north. With the exception of the bridges south of Best, the division had achieved all its D-Day objectives. The next mission was to hold what it had taken and keep Hell’s Highway, as the road north became known, open despite German counterattacks.

In the days following the link between the airborne and ground forces the 101st, now in defensive positions, faced enemy counterattacks as the Germans attempted to cut the road and stop the flow of Allied forces north. General Taylor received information that the Germans were planning a large scale offensive, coming from both the east and west sides of the road in the vicinity of Veghel and Uden, to the northeast. Ordered to Uden on 22 September, elements of the 506th arrived to defend the village moments ahead of the Germans, but the main assault came at Veghel.

Taylor dispatched the 327th Glider Infantry to reinforce the 2d Battalion, 501st PIR, at Veghel when he received intelligence about the attack. As luck would have it, General McAuliffe was also in Veghel on the 22d. He had been searching for a new division command post when the word came, and General Taylor gave his artillery commander responsibility for the defense of the town.

The SCREAMING EAGLES turned back the first attack on Veghel, which came from the village of Erp to the east. The Germans, however, swung to the northwest and cut the highway between Veghel and Uden, then turning south, the enemy force attacked. As the German armored column approached Veghel, McAuliffe ordered an antitank gun brought up, and although there is debate over which unit fired, the American defenders knocked out the lead tank, and the enemy column turned back. Additional battalions of the 327th arrived, as did other elements of the 506th, along with British tank squadrons. The enemy continued attacking Veghel through the afternoon, including several heavy artillery bombardments, but McAuliffe and his forces held. The next important step was to reopen the highway; men and equipment badly needed further north were backing up on the closed road.

The British 30 Corps commander Lt. Gen. Brian Horrocks, agreed to send the 32d Guards Brigade back south on 23 September to help reopen the road. At the same McAuliffe sent two battalions of the 506th north to confront the enemy position on the highway. When the American soldiers arrived they found that most of the Germans had withdrawn. The 101st soldiers cleared the remaining opposition and proceeded northeast towards Uden, where they met the British tankers. Hell’s Highway was open for business once again.

The Germans continued their attack on Veghel the following day, but to no avail. They did, however, cut the road once again, this time near the village of Koevering, between Veghel and St. Oedenrode. On 25 September elements of the 506th, ordered south from Uden, the 1st Battalion, 502d PIR, and units of the British 50th Division, moving north from St. Oedenrode, enveloped the enemy position on the road. During the night, after mining the road, the Germans withdrew. The following day Allied engineers were called in to clear the road of mines, and the highway was open once again. While the enemy continued to harass the SCREAMING EAGLES along their sector of Hell’s Highway, the division’s positions remained intact and kept the road open. Allied operations had forced the Germans to spend precious resources on the defense of the Netherlands. Although MARKET-GARDEN did not achieve its original goals, successes in Holland provided the Allies with a foothold from which to launch future drives.

In early October the British moved their 8 and 12 Corps into position along the highway, and it was thought the 101st could be better used elsewhere. On 5 October the division moved north to take up defensive positions in the British line, in an area known as the island. This area, a narrow strip of land north of Nijmegen, situated between the lower Rhine and Waal Rivers, was subjected to numerous German attacks. The division suffered heavy casualties in defense of this “island”. Shortly after the 101st assumed its positions in the line, the British Corps returned, without either of its American divisions, to England. The 82d joined the 101st on the island later in October. It was not until November that the two divisions were released to prepare for the next airborne mission. The 101st, in late November, moved back to Mourmelon, France, for a well-deserved rest. There the men of the 101st received replacement equipment and new clothes and trained for the next jump. Events in the Ardennes forest, however, interrupted their rest, and the next jump never came.

For a good overview of Operation Market Garden…

 

End of the original post

Dear Pierre,

Thank you very much for your email.
I checked out you blog and I was stunned bye the research you did on those 2 heroes.
You did a great job. We would love to use some of the information and pictures on our database.
As you can see on our database, we dont have a lot of information on Ritchie, William H,  so everything you would like to share, will be a wondeful contribution for his memorial page.
We look forward to hear from you again,
Sincerely,
Jasper van Haren

Fields of Honor – Database
www.fieldsofhonor-database.com

Stichting Verenigde Adoptanten Amerikaanse Oorlogsgraven / Foundation United Adopters American War Graves
www.adoptiegraven.nl

Robert J. Ritchie, the son of a Gold Star Mother Redux

What is so special about Odna?

This picture of young Odna…

This has to be her picture.

Donna pictures 5

Odna was born on October 18th, 1893 in Connecticut. She died on March 19th, 1983.  I am sure Odna never got over the lost of her two boys Robert Ritchie and William Ritchie.

This is the same article I posted on this blog in 2012. I did not have any picture of Odna to show you. Odna was just a name in a family tree in 2010… A daughter of Dennis Lagassey III and Amanda Ménard.

Just a name.

Then she became a name in an obituary. Then she became a Gold Star Mother.

START

Sometimes when you look for relatives while doing your family tree, you come across obituaries…

Like the one I posted yesterday on this blog.

Sometimes an obituary has to get to the point.

The obituary quickly mentions that Odna lost two boys in WWII, William and Robert.

Both were my 2nd cousins.

William Ritchie (1921 – 1944) and Robert J Ritchie (1925 – 1945) who were

the sons of Odna Lagasse (1893 – 1983) who was

the daughter of Dennis Lagasse III (1864 – 1922) who was

the son of Dennis Lagasse II (1842 – 1927) who was

the father of Léo Lagacé Senior (1888 – 1964) who was

the father of Léo Lagacé Junior (1927 – 1995) who was my father…

Odna Lagasse was a Gold Star mother twice.

Just in case you would like to know more about Robert J. Ritchie who gave his life for his country and did not have the chance to have his own descendants, and more about his mother Odna Lagasse…

Please take the time to read what I found and just try to imagine how Odna or Odna felt being a Gold Star mother for the second time when she received a telegram from the War Departement when everyone else was rejoicing because WWII was finally over…

Just try to imagine the look on her face.

Probably the same look as the five Sullivan brothers‘ mother when they broke the news to her about her five boys.

USS Bullhead (SS-332) – Ship’s History

Researched by: Robert Loys Sminkey

Commander, United States Navy, Retired

USS Bullhead (SS-332), named for any large-headed fish, especially the catfish, miller’s thumb, and sculpin, was constructed by the Electric Boat Company at Groton, Connecticut. Her keel was laid down on 21 October 1943. Mrs. Howard R. Doyle christened the submarine and she was launched on 16 July 1944. The Balao Class boat was commissioned on 4 December 1944 with Commander Walter T. Griffith in command.

When commissioned, the Fleet Type submarine displaced 1,526 tons on the surface when in diving trim and drew 16’10” of water when in that condition; displaced 2,391 tons when submerged; was 311’8″ in length overall; had a beam of 27’3″; could make 20 1/4 knots on the surface and 8 3/4 knots submerged (for one hour); could dive safely to 400 feet; was manned by 6 officers and 60 enlisted men; and was armed with one 5-inch deck gun and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes (six in the bow and four in the stern). Twenty-four torpedoes were carried. The submarine could also carry and lay mines.

The Second World War operations of USS Bullhead extended from 21 March to August of 1945 during which time she completed two war patrols. Her area of operations included the Java and South China Seas and the Gulf of Siam.

USS Bullhead sank four enemy ships, totaling 1,800 tons, and damaged three ships, for 1,300 tons, during her first two war patrols.

Her first patrol was made in the South China Sea from the latter part of March to the end of April 1945. No enemy contacts were made, but, on 31 March, and again on 24 April, USS Bullhead bombarded Pratas Island with her 5-inch deck gun. She also rescued three airmen from a downed B-29 bomber following an air strike on the China coast.

In May and June of 1945, USS Bullhead patrolled the Gulf of Siam and the South China Sea during her second war patrol. There, she sank two small freighters, a schooner, and a submarine chaser…and damaged two more submarine chasers and another small freighter…all in gun actions on the surface.

Departing Fremantle, Australia, for her third war patrol, USS Bullhead, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Edward R. Holt, Junior, on 31 July 1945, started for her patrol area (from Longitude 110 Degrees East to Longitude 115 Degrees East…in the Java Sea). She was to leave her patrol area at dark on 5 September and head for Subic Bay in the Philippine Islands. USS Capitaine (SS-336) and USS Puffer (SS-268) were also to patrol in the Java Sea area, as were the British submarines HMS Taciturn and HMS Thorough.

USS Bullhead arrived in her assigned area on 6 August, but USS Capitaine did not arrive until 13 August. On 12 August, USS Capitaine ordered USS Bullhead to take position the following day in a scouting line with USS Capitaine and USS Puffer. There was no reply from USS Bullhead, and, on 15 August, USS Capitaine reported to headquarters:

“Have been unable to contact USS Bullhead by any means since arriving in area.”

Since those submarines named above were in the same general area as USS Bullhead…and USS Cod (SS-224) and USS Chub (SS-329) passed through in transit at various times, it is difficult to point to one Japanese antisubmarine attack as the one which sank USS Bullhead. However, the most likely one occurred on 6 August 1945, when an enemy army plane attacked with depth charges in:

Position: Latitude: 8 Degrees 20′ South Longitude: 115 Degrees 42′ East.

The Japanese aircraft claimed two direct hits, and, for ten minutes thereafter, there was a great amount of gushing oil and air bubbles rising in the water. Since the position given is very near the Bali Island coast, it is presumed that the proximity of mountain peaks shortened USS Bullhead’s radar range and prevented her from obtaining early warning of the approach of the airplane…which sank her.

USS BullHead (SS-332) received two battle stars for her service during the Second World War.

The following personnel were USS Bullhead’s ship’s company during that submarine’s third war patrol…and all went with her on the last dive:

Alfred Aiple, Junior…Quartermaster Second Class

Harold A. Anderson…Yeoman Second Class

Robert H. Barringer…Seaman First Class

George L. Bell…Motor Machinist’s Mate First Class

James D. Benner…Seaman First Class

Walter E. Bertram…Motor Machinist’s Mate Second Class

Harold R. Bridgstock…Radio Technician Second Class

Ralph M. Brume…Motor Machinist’s Mate Second Class

Kadzmir J. Buczek…Torpedoman’s Mate Second Class

Richard B. Burns…Chief Torpedoman’s Mate

Ray W. Church…Motor Machinist’s Mate First Class

James F. Collins…Electrician’s Mate Third Class

Howard E. Crandall…Motor Machinist’s Mate Third Class

Elmer M. Dahl…Motor Machinist’s Mate Third Class

Glen M. Davidson…Fireman First Class

Jerry K. Davidson…Motor Machinist’s Mate Second Class

Charles J. Day…Electrician’s Mate Second Class

Charles W. Dougherty…Ship’s Cook First Class

Edward M. Engebretsen…Chief Quartermaster

James R. Fahey…Radioman Third Class

Ralph G. Foster…Fireman First Class

Kenneth E. Foust…Quartermaster Third Class

Fred C. Fritz…Radioman Second Class

Charles W. Gay…Electrician’s Mate Third Class

Joseph P. Gilheany, Junior…Radioman Third Class

Paul A. Gossett…Lieutenant Junior grade

Clyde M. Graves…Seaman First Class

William F. Greaves…Electrician’s Mate Third Class

Hubert B. Hackett…Signalman Second Class

E. D. Hackman, Junior…Lieutenant

John L. Hancock…Gunner’s Mate Second Class

John J. Harris…Quartermaster Third Class

William P. Hawkins…Boatswain’s Mate Second Class

George V. Heaton…Motor Machinist’s Mate Second Class

Thomas P. Helferich…Chief Motor Machinist’s Mate

Donald O. Hendrikson…Lieutenant Junior Grade

Edward R. Holt, Junior…Lieutenant Commander…Commanding

LaVerne W. Huisman…Seaman First Class

William Ireland…Torpedoman’s Mate Second Class

Lester L. Jenkins…Electrician’s Mate Second Class

James R. Jensen…Electrician’s Mate Third Class

Fred J. Jewell…Quartermaster Second Class

Percy Johnson, Junior…Signalman First Class

Joseph W. Jones…Chief Electrician’s Mate

Richard A. Keister…Radio Technician Third Class

Jacob J. Kopf…Electrician’s Mate Third Class

W. A. Kulczycki…Ensign

Oscar V. Nassas…Torpedoman’s Mate Second Class

Roy K. Marin…Motor Machinist’s Mate Second Class

Jack P. Markham…Torpedoman’s Mate Third Class

Harry A. McDermott…Motor Machinist’s Mate Third Class

George P. Morgan…Torpedoman’s Mate Third Class

Paul W. Olson…Fireman First Class

Paul F. Overbeek…Seaman First Class

Richard W. Palmer…Fireman First Class

William J. Parks…Gunner’s Mate First Class

Joseph J. Parpal…Lieutenant Junior Grade

Robert M. Pattengale…Torpedoman’s Mate Third Class

Robert S. Patterson…Sonarman Second Class

William M. Peart…Electrician’s Mate First Class

Robert J. Perry…Motor Machinist’s Mate First Class

Keith R. Phillips…Lieutenant…Executive Officer

Carl W. Piatt…Ship’s Cook Third Class

Richard A. Pinder…Chief Motor Machinist’s Mate

William J. Ralston, Junior…Torpedoman’s Mate Third Class

Robert J. Ritchie…Electrician’s Mate Third Class

John A. Roberts…Electrician’s Mate First Class

Jesse Sandoval…Seaman First Class

Lee A. Schlegel…Fireman First Class

Orville G. H. Schmidt…Fireman First Class

William F. Short…Torpedoman’s Mate First Class

Bert Shuey, Junior…Ship’s Cook Third Class

Dale M. Siefken…Fire Controlman Second Class

Jack Simms, II…Lieutenant Junior Grade

Edward M. Smida…Pharmacist’s Mate First Class

Carl J. Smith…Chief Radioman

William M. Smith…Chief Electrician’s Mate

Frank T. Stifter…Radio Technician Second Class

Raymond W. Strassle…Lieutenant Junior Grade

Charles H. Taylor…Seaman First Class

Melvin Tobias…Motor Machinist’s Mate Third Class

Andrew T. …Chief Motor Machinist’s Mate

Lyle L. Webb…Seaman First Class

Elmer J. Wiersma…Motor Machinist’s Mate Third Class

9 Officers

75 Enlisted Men

—————

84 Total…Lost in USS Bullhead (SS-332)

A Memorial Website exists…

Click here.

Wikipedia…?

Some pictures…

END

We now have a better picture of Robert to share with you, and a clearer picture of how Odna felt when she read the telegram about Robert.

Donna pictures 6

Robert Ritchie and William Ritchie

Odna Lagasse Ritchie Redux

Two years ago I thought this woman was Odna Lagasse on a picture that was in little Sylvia Marie’s collection of old pictures. 

Robin who lives on the West Coast scanned a few pictures for me in 2011 even if she had never met me before.

A few pictures? More than 100! 

Since there was no caption with the above picture I had to try guessing who was on it and I thought at first it had to be Odna and I began a little search on her just for fun.

Robin had also scanned this group picture below also without a caption. I believed rightfully that Odna was on the right in the third row with her brother Levi Napoleon Lagasse on the left.

When I saw that picture, I did this montage trying to make sense of all this and who was who.

There were many ressemblances.

Then there was this obituary sent in October 2011 by my 3rd cousin Dennis Lagasse IV whose grandfather was Levi Napoleon Lagasse.

It told us a lot about Odna’s life…

Since 2011 I have found out more about her two boys who were both killed during WWII with the help of my good friend and 3rd cousin Joe from Plainville, Connecticut.

Robert J. Ritchie was an EM3c (Electrician’s Mate Third Class) aboard SS 332 Bullhead.

William H. Ritchie was a sergeant in Company G in the 327th Glider Infantry of the 101st Airborne Division.

The submarine SS 332 Bullhead was the last American ship sunk in WWII. Most probably it was sunk by a Ki-51 Japanese aircraft on August 6, 1945. Robert J Ritchie’s body was never found. The news of the sinking came on August 15, 1945, when another submarine SS Capitaine sent this message…

“Have been unable to contact USS Bullhead by any means since arriving in area.”

Robert J Ritchie 1925?-1945

William H. Ritchie was killed in Holland on September 22, 1944, during Operation Market Garden.

In 2011 I didn’t have a picture to show you. Only this.

William H. Ritchie

Sergeant, U.S. Army

Service # 31271954

327th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division

Entered the Service from: Connecticut Died: 22-Sep-44 Buried at: Plot J Row 10 Grave 6 Netherlands American Cemetery Margraten, Netherlands Awards: Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster

Then I started looking and looking for William and I contacted someone related to the Ritchie family who had posted Robert’s picture on a memorial paying tribute to the sailors of SS 332.

He sent me this…

William RitchieI kept looking for more information about William and his unit 327 Glider Regiment and I found these two pictures on the Internet…

eindhoven2 eindhovenWilliam Ritchie died in Operation Market Garden. They made a movie out of it.

A Bridge Too Far!

Bridge Too Far

William never came back.

William Ritchie

A Time to Remember William H Ritchie

One of William H Ritchie’s nephew had sent a picture of Robert J Ritchie to a memorial site about SS-332 Bullhead.

Robert J Ritchie

His name was beside the picture.

I wanted to get in touch so I could get a picture of William who died in Holland on September 22, 1944, and be able to pay homage to Robert’s brother. 

With this piece of information I went ahead and used Facebook to look for him.

Piece of cake…

I found him on the first try. It was easy because he had some Ritchies as friends.

So I sent him a message…

Paul replied and he invited me as a friend.

Paul did not know at that time that I was his second cousin once removed. I broke the news.

He is just getting to know me. I told him I knew quite a lot about his mother’s ancestors who once lived in Quebec back in 1800s.

While browsing a little on his Facebook page, I came across this…

William or Bill is on the left and Robert is on the right.

Now I can pay homage to William just like I did for Robert who is on eternal patrol.

A site has already done this. Click here.

William H Ritchie died in Holland on September 22, 1944.

If you want to learn more about Sergeant William H Ritchie, U.S. Army Service, # 31271954, 327th Glider Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, you can visit this site about Operation Market Garden.

This site pays homage to all those who participated in that operation.

Sergeant William Ritchie was in a glider regiment. He was in Company G.

You can go from there.

You have a lot to learn about Operation Market Garden.

As a footnote, I found these pictures on the Internet.

We see members of the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment. Both were taken in Eindhoven.

This other photo struck me.

I think I recognize William Ritchie on the right…

But I could be wrong just like I could be wrong with this picture that started all this…

Edna Lagasse?

Does it really matter?

No it doesn’t.

As a footnote, these notes taken on this Website

Operation Market Garden
MARKET-GARDEN was planned as a two phase operation. Operation MARKET was the airborne phase of the assault, with Operation GARDEN being the ground attack. The paratroopers of First Allied Airborne Army were to jump into the Netherlands and secure a corridor from Eindhoven north to Arnhem, through which the ground forces of the British 30 Corps could advance and push on to the IJesselmer (Zuider Zee). The eventual goal was to cross the Rhine River and breach the German West Wall defenses. The Dutch countryside, criss-crossed by innumerable dikes, drainage ditches, rivers, and canals, however, would prove difficult to traverse if the ground troops could not advance by road. For the plan to be a success the paratroopers had to keep the roadway open and the bridges along the route intact and secure.

D-Day was set for 17 September 1944, and the 101st, along with the 82d Airborne Division, the British 1st Airborne Division and 52d Lowland Division (Airportable), and the 1st Polish Parachute Brigade were set to jump. Unlike the Normandy jumps, this operation, by order of Lt. Gen. Lewis H. Brereton, (picture right) commander of the First Allied Airborne Army, was to be carried out in daylight. Shortages in transport planes, however, prevented the three divisions from dropping all their troops on D-Day, and the commanders had to decide which units would go in first. The 101st Airborne Division was to anchor the British Airborne Corps’ southern-most flank and secure a 15-mile sector between Eindhoven and Veghel. Taking this into consideration, General Taylor decided that the three parachute infantry regiments would jump on the 17 September. The 327th Glider Infantry was to arrive on D+1, and the artillery units were scheduled for D+2, the 19th.

The planes carrying the 101st encountered heavy antiaircraft fire as they approached their targets, but the pilots were able to hold formation, and the paratroopers, for the most part, were delivered to the correct drop zones. These were located to the west of the main highway and in the center of the division’s sector, near the villages of Zon, St. Oedenrode, and Best. The 506th Parachute Infantry dropped near Zon, with the mission of securing the highway bridge over the Wilhelmina Canal, south of the village. Once the bridge was secure the regiment was to advance further south and seize Eindhoven. The 502d’s zone was north of the 506th, and its mission was to guard both regiments’ drop zones for later use by the gliders. It was also to capture the road bridge over the Dommel River at St. Oedenrode. Additionally, General Taylor ordered the regiment to dispatch a company to the south of Best to capture the bridges there that crossed the Wilhelmina Canal. The 501st Parachute Infantry jumped north of the 502d, near the town of Veghel. Elements of the regiment were to gain control of the rail and road bridges over the Willems Canal and the Aa River.

The 501st accomplished its mission, capturing Veghel and the surrounding bridges against only limited enemy resistance. The 502d also completed its main assignment of securing St. Oedenrode and the bridge over the Dommel River. The company that had moved south of Best, however, had great difficulty and could not take the bridges over the Wilhelmina Canal. The 2d and 3d Battalions, 506th PIR, methodically cleared Zon, while the 1st Battalion, accompanied by General Taylor, moved around the village to the south to seize the bridge crossing the Wilhelmina Canal. The progress of the battalions in the village was slow, but enemy fire stopped the 1st Battalion completely as it approached the bridge. When the two battalions emerged from Zon and the 1st Battalion also appeared to advance, the Germans blew the bridge.

Elements of the 506th managed to cross the river, neutralizing the enemy force that had destroyed the bridge, and a footbridge was improvised to allow the remainder of the 506th to cross. The following day the regiment liberated Eindhoven, clearing the enemy from the town. The local citizens were ecstatic, and that evening when the Guards Armoured Division, the spearhead of the British 30 Corps’ Operation GARDEN, passed through the town, it was like a carnival. British engineers replaced the blown bridge over the canal, and the ground forces continued north. With the exception of the bridges south of Best, the division had achieved all its D-Day objectives. The next mission was to hold what it had taken and keep Hell’s Highway, as the road north became known, open despite German counterattacks.

In the days following the link between the airborne and ground forces the 101st, now in defensive positions, faced enemy counterattacks as the Germans attempted to cut the road and stop the flow of Allied forces north. General Taylor received information that the Germans were planning a large scale offensive, coming from both the east and west sides of the road in the vicinity of Veghel and Uden, to the northeast. Ordered to Uden on 22 September, elements of the 506th arrived to defend the village moments ahead of the Germans, but the main assault came at Veghel.

Taylor dispatched the 327th Glider Infantry to reinforce the 2d Battalion, 501st PIR, at Veghel when he received intelligence about the attack. As luck would have it, General McAuliffe was also in Veghel on the 22d. He had been searching for a new division command post when the word came, and General Taylor gave his artillery commander responsibility for the defense of the town.

The SCREAMING EAGLES turned back the first attack on Veghel, which came from the village of Erp to the east. The Germans, however, swung to the northwest and cut the highway between Veghel and Uden, then turning south, the enemy force attacked. As the German armored column approached Veghel, McAuliffe ordered an antitank gun brought up, and although there is debate over which unit fired, the American defenders knocked out the lead tank, and the enemy column turned back. Additional battalions of the 327th arrived, as did other elements of the 506th, along with British tank squadrons. The enemy continued attacking Veghel through the afternoon, including several heavy artillery bombardments, but McAuliffe and his forces held. The next important step was to reopen the highway; men and equipment badly needed further north were backing up on the closed road.

The British 30 Corps commander Lt. Gen. Brian Horrocks, agreed to send the 32d Guards Brigade back south on 23 September to help reopen the road. At the same McAuliffe sent two battalions of the 506th north to confront the enemy position on the highway. When the American soldiers arrived they found that most of the Germans had withdrawn. The 101st soldiers cleared the remaining opposition and proceeded northeast towards Uden, where they met the British tankers. Hell’s Highway was open for business once again.

The Germans continued their attack on Veghel the following day, but to no avail. They did, however, cut the road once again, this time near the village of Koevering, between Veghel and St. Oedenrode. On 25 September elements of the 506th, ordered south from Uden, the 1st Battalion, 502d PIR, and units of the British 50th Division, moving north from St. Oedenrode, enveloped the enemy position on the road. During the night, after mining the road, the Germans withdrew. The following day Allied engineers were called in to clear the road of mines, and the highway was open once again. While the enemy continued to harass the SCREAMING EAGLES along their sector of Hell’s Highway, the division’s positions remained intact and kept the road open. Allied operations had forced the Germans to spend precious resources on the defense of the Netherlands. Although MARKET-GARDEN did not achieve its original goals, successes in Holland provided the Allies with a foothold from which to launch future drives.

In early October the British moved their 8 and 12 Corps into position along the highway, and it was thought the 101st could be better used elsewhere. On 5 October the division moved north to take up defensive positions in the British line, in an area known as the island. This area, a narrow strip of land north of Nijmegen, situated between the lower Rhine and Waal Rivers, was subjected to numerous German attacks. The division suffered heavy casualties in defense of this “island”. Shortly after the 101st assumed its positions in the line, the British Corps returned, without either of its American divisions, to England. The 82d joined the 101st on the island later in October. It was not until November that the two divisions were released to prepare for the next airborne mission. The 101st, in late November, moved back to Mourmelon, France, for a well-deserved rest. There the men of the 101st received replacement equipment and new clothes and trained for the next jump. Events in the Ardennes forest, however, interrupted their rest, and the next jump never came.

For a good overview of Operation Market Garden…

Robert J. Ritchie, the son of a Gold Star Mother

Sometimes when you look for relatives while doing your family tree, you come across obituaries…

Like the one I posted yesterday on this blog.

Sometimes an obituary has to get to the point.

The obituary quickly mentions that Odna lost two boys in WWII, William and Robert.

Both were my 2nd cousins.

William Ritchie (1921 – 1944) and Robert J Ritchie (1925 – 1945) who were

the sons of Odna Lagasse (1893 – 1983) who was

the daughter of Dennis Lagasse III (1864 – 1922) who was

the son of Dennis Lagasse II (1842 – 1927) who was

the father of Léo Lagacé Senior (1888 – 1964) who was

the father of Léo Lagacé Junior (1927 – 1995) who was my father…

Odna Lagasse was a Gold Star mother twice.

Just in case you would like to know more about Robert J. Ritchie who gave his life for his country and did not have the chance to have his own descendants, and more about his mother Odna Lagasse…

Please take the time to read what I found and just try to imagine how Odna felt being a Gold Star mother for the second time when she received a telegram from the War Departement when everyone else was rejoicing because WWII was finally over…

Just try to imagine the look on her face.

Probably the same look as the five Sullivan brothers‘ mother when they broke the news to her about her five boys.

USS Bullhead (SS-332) – Ship’s History

Researched by: Robert Loys Sminkey

Commander, United States Navy, Retired

USS Bullhead (SS-332), named for any large-headed fish, especially the catfish, miller’s thumb, and sculpin, was constructed by the Electric Boat Company at Groton, Connecticut. Her keel was laid down on 21 October 1943. Mrs. Howard R. Doyle christened the submarine and she was launched on 16 July 1944. The Balao Class boat was commissioned on 4 December 1944 with Commander Walter T. Griffith in command.

When commissioned, the Fleet Type submarine displaced 1,526 tons on the surface when in diving trim and drew 16’10” of water when in that condition; displaced 2,391 tons when submerged; was 311’8″ in length overall; had a beam of 27’3″; could make 20 1/4 knots on the surface and 8 3/4 knots submerged (for one hour); could dive safely to 400 feet; was manned by 6 officers and 60 enlisted men; and was armed with one 5-inch deck gun and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes (six in the bow and four in the stern). Twenty-four torpedoes were carried. The submarine could also carry and lay mines.

The Second World War operations of USS Bullhead extended from 21 March to August of 1945 during which time she completed two war patrols. Her area of operations included the Java and South China Seas and the Gulf of Siam.

USS Bullhead sank four enemy ships, totaling 1,800 tons, and damaged three ships, for 1,300 tons, during her first two war patrols.

Her first patrol was made in the South China Sea from the latter part of March to the end of April 1945. No enemy contacts were made, but, on 31 March, and again on 24 April, USS Bullhead bombarded Pratas Island with her 5-inch deck gun. She also rescued three airmen from a downed B-29 bomber following an air strike on the China coast.

In May and June of 1945, USS Bullhead patrolled the Gulf of Siam and the South China Sea during her second war patrol. There, she sank two small freighters, a schooner, and a submarine chaser…and damaged two more submarine chasers and another small freighter…all in gun actions on the surface.

Departing Fremantle, Australia, for her third war patrol, USS Bullhead, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Edward R. Holt, Junior, on 31 July 1945, started for her patrol area (from Longitude 110 Degrees East to Longitude 115 Degrees East…in the Java Sea). She was to leave her patrol area at dark on 5 September and head for Subic Bay in the Philippine Islands. USS Capitaine (SS-336) and USS Puffer (SS-268) were also to patrol in the Java Sea area, as were the British submarines HMS Taciturn and HMS Thorough.

USS Bullhead arrived in her assigned area on 6 August, but USS Capitaine did not arrive until 13 August. On 12 August, USS Capitaine ordered USS Bullhead to take position the following day in a scouting line with USS Capitaine and USS Puffer. There was no reply from USS Bullhead, and, on 15 August, USS Capitaine reported to headquarters:

“Have been unable to contact USS Bullhead by any means since arriving in area.”

Since those submarines named above were in the same general area as USS Bullhead…and USS Cod (SS-224) and USS Chub (SS-329) passed through in transit at various times, it is difficult to point to one Japanese antisubmarine attack as the one which sank USS Bullhead. However, the most likely one occurred on 6 August 1945, when an enemy army plane attacked with depth charges in:

Position: Latitude: 8 Degrees 20′ South Longitude: 115 Degrees 42′ East.

The Japanese aircraft claimed two direct hits, and, for ten minutes thereafter, there was a great amount of gushing oil and air bubbles rising in the water. Since the position given is very near the Bali Island coast, it is presumed that the proximity of mountain peaks shortened USS Bullhead’s radar range and prevented her from obtaining early warning of the approach of the airplane…which sank her.

USS BullHead (SS-332) received two battle stars for her service during the Second World War.

The following personnel were USS Bullhead’s ship’s company during that submarine’s third war patrol…and all went with her on the last dive:

Alfred Aiple, Junior…Quartermaster Second Class

Harold A. Anderson…Yeoman Second Class

Robert H. Barringer…Seaman First Class

George L. Bell…Motor Machinist’s Mate First Class

James D. Benner…Seaman First Class

Walter E. Bertram…Motor Machinist’s Mate Second Class

Harold R. Bridgstock…Radio Technician Second Class

Ralph M. Brume…Motor Machinist’s Mate Second Class

Kadzmir J. Buczek…Torpedoman’s Mate Second Class

Richard B. Burns…Chief Torpedoman’s Mate

Ray W. Church…Motor Machinist’s Mate First Class

James F. Collins…Electrician’s Mate Third Class

Howard E. Crandall…Motor Machinist’s Mate Third Class

Elmer M. Dahl…Motor Machinist’s Mate Third Class

Glen M. Davidson…Fireman First Class

Jerry K. Davidson…Motor Machinist’s Mate Second Class

Charles J. Day…Electrician’s Mate Second Class

Charles W. Dougherty…Ship’s Cook First Class

Edward M. Engebretsen…Chief Quartermaster

James R. Fahey…Radioman Third Class

Ralph G. Foster…Fireman First Class

Kenneth E. Foust…Quartermaster Third Class

Fred C. Fritz…Radioman Second Class

Charles W. Gay…Electrician’s Mate Third Class

Joseph P. Gilheany, Junior…Radioman Third Class

Paul A. Gossett…Lieutenant Junior grade

Clyde M. Graves…Seaman First Class

William F. Greaves…Electrician’s Mate Third Class

Hubert B. Hackett…Signalman Second Class

E. D. Hackman, Junior…Lieutenant

John L. Hancock…Gunner’s Mate Second Class

John J. Harris…Quartermaster Third Class

William P. Hawkins…Boatswain’s Mate Second Class

George V. Heaton…Motor Machinist’s Mate Second Class

Thomas P. Helferich…Chief Motor Machinist’s Mate

Donald O. Hendrikson…Lieutenant Junior Grade

Edward R. Holt, Junior…Lieutenant Commander…Commanding

LaVerne W. Huisman…Seaman First Class

William Ireland…Torpedoman’s Mate Second Class

Lester L. Jenkins…Electrician’s Mate Second Class

James R. Jensen…Electrician’s Mate Third Class

Fred J. Jewell…Quartermaster Second Class

Percy Johnson, Junior…Signalman First Class

Joseph W. Jones…Chief Electrician’s Mate

Richard A. Keister…Radio Technician Third Class

Jacob J. Kopf…Electrician’s Mate Third Class

W. A. Kulczycki…Ensign

Oscar V. Nassas…Torpedoman’s Mate Second Class

Roy K. Marin…Motor Machinist’s Mate Second Class

Jack P. Markham…Torpedoman’s Mate Third Class

Harry A. McDermott…Motor Machinist’s Mate Third Class

George P. Morgan…Torpedoman’s Mate Third Class

Paul W. Olson…Fireman First Class

Paul F. Overbeek…Seaman First Class

Richard W. Palmer…Fireman First Class

William J. Parks…Gunner’s Mate First Class

Joseph J. Parpal…Lieutenant Junior Grade

Robert M. Pattengale…Torpedoman’s Mate Third Class

Robert S. Patterson…Sonarman Second Class

William M. Peart…Electrician’s Mate First Class

Robert J. Perry…Motor Machinist’s Mate First Class

Keith R. Phillips…Lieutenant…Executive Officer

Carl W. Piatt…Ship’s Cook Third Class

Richard A. Pinder…Chief Motor Machinist’s Mate

William J. Ralston, Junior…Torpedoman’s Mate Third Class

Robert Ritchie

Robert J. Ritchie…
Electrician’s Mate Third Class

John A. Roberts…Electrician’s Mate First Class

Jesse Sandoval…Seaman First Class

Lee A. Schlegel…Fireman First Class

Orville G. H. Schmidt…Fireman First Class

William F. Short…Torpedoman’s Mate First Class

Bert Shuey, Junior…Ship’s Cook Third Class

Dale M. Siefken…Fire Controlman Second Class

Jack Simms, II…Lieutenant Junior Grade

Edward M. Smida…Pharmacist’s Mate First Class

Carl J. Smith…Chief Radioman

William M. Smith…Chief Electrician’s Mate

Frank T. Stifter…Radio Technician Second Class

Raymond W. Strassle…Lieutenant Junior Grade

Charles H. Taylor…Seaman First Class

Melvin Tobias…Motor Machinist’s Mate Third Class

Andrew T. …Chief Motor Machinist’s Mate

Lyle L. Webb…Seaman First Class

Elmer J. Wiersma…Motor Machinist’s Mate Third Class

9 Officers

75 Enlisted Men

—————

84 Total…Lost in USS Bullhead (SS-332)

A Memorial Website exists…

Click here.

Wikipedia…?

Some pictures…

Edna Lagasse Ritchie

Note

This post was written on December 20, 2011.

This woman is not Edna but her sister Ida. Click here for an update.

End of note

I think this is Edna Lagasse in this picture that was in little Marie’s collection.

Edna Lagasse?

There was no caption.

So I could be wrong about that picture, but I know that Edna Lagasse is related to me.

Robin had scanned also the picture below where I believe Edna could be on the right in the third row. Her brother Levi Napoleon Lagasse seems to be on the left.

When I saw that picture, I did this montage.

There are many ressemblances.

This is the obituary Dennis Lagasse IV, whose grandfather was Levi Napoleon Lagasse, sent me about Edna last October.

It tells us a lot about Edna’s life…

I have found more on her two boys who were killed during WWII with Joe’s help.

Robert J Ritchie was an EM3c (Electrician’s Mate Third Class) aboard SS 332 Bullhead.

William H Ritchie was a sergeant in Company G in the 327th Glider Infantry of the 101st Airborne Division.

The submarine SS 332 Bullhead was the last American ship sunk in WWII. Most probably it was sunk by a Ki-51 Japanese aircraft on August 6, 1945. Robert J Ritchie’s body was never found. The news of the sinking came on August 15, 1945, when another submarine SS Captaine sent this message…

“Have been unable to contact USS Bullhead by any means since arriving in area.”

Robert J Ritchie 1925?-1945

William H Ritchie was killed in Holland on September 22, 1944, during Operation Market Garden.

I don’t have a picture to show you.

William H. Ritchie

Sergeant, U.S. Army

Service # 31271954

327th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division

Entered the Service from: Connecticut Died: 22-Sep-44 Buried at: Plot J Row 10 Grave 6 Netherlands American Cemetery Margraten, Netherlands Awards: Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster

Just this…