Harold Edward Miller
January 2, 2013
After my visit at the American cemetery in Neuville-en-Condroz at the end of December 2012, I decided to adopt a grave there, as I also did before at the Henri-Chapelle cemetery. I made contact with the responsible later that evening and had myself given a random grave. Coincidence or not, but Harold E. Miller's grave is my new adoption grave and he served in the same regiment and division as Clemit Lipe, my first adoption grave. This is the biography of Harold Miller.
Before the war
Harold was born on the 20th of June in 1907 and he grew up in McLean County, Illinois (USA). Harold was the son of Edward and Florence Miller. He had one sister, Mildred. Harold lived the bigger part of his life in Winnebago County, Illinois.
Illinois, United States
McLean County, Illinois
Winnebago County, Illinois
Harold went to high school for 2 years and worked as a salesman. He sang and danced in local theaters, together with his sister Mildred. They were known as two local talents. Harold was a party animal and was ver popular among the girls.
He never got married and he was single when he enlisted in the army. In the summer of 1941, when he was at Camp Croft, South Carolina, he met a beautiful young brunette and they started a relationship.
In the army
Harold enlisted in the army on October 15, 1940 in Peoria, Illinois, at the age of 33. After enlistment he was sent to Fort Bragg in North Carolina where he went training young soldiers. He taught them the use of bayonets, rifles, machine guns and grenades. Every night Harold was studying hard to prepare training for his men.
In March 1941, Harold was transferred to Camp Croft in South Carolina, he was promoted to corporal. In June of that same year he was promoted to sergeant and he led a platoon that existed of 53 soldiers and 2 corporals, he wanted a fighting unit.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Americans joined the army to fight with the allies and the war became a real World War. Harold though, had no business fighting overseas. The army continued to shift him from base to base in the USA to postpone his going abroad.
In April 1942 Harold was promoted to staff sergeant at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. The 78th division, 309th infrantry regiment was re-activated. He had to do a course so he could learn his men aerial map photography and map reading. There were about 70.000 soldiers at Fort Bragg. Harold earned 84,00 dollar/month in that period.
In July 1942 Harold was transferred to Camp Butler in North Carolina, a newly half finished camp. His unit was to become a combat ready unit. It took between 7 and 10 months before they would leave for overseas.
Harold continued to study for a second Lt. promotion, but he didn’t really want the responsibility.
In August 1943 he was still training troops at Camp Butler. They were learning how to attack fortified positions such as pill boxes using flame throwers, nitroglycerin and dynamite. This was an indication they were going to fight the Germans in Europe.
In January 1944, Harold visited his mother, his sister Mildred and her newborn son Richard. Harold’s last words to his sister were “I’ll write u from Berlin”!
In February 1944 Harold went on manoeuvers in Tennessee for 2 months. Then he went to Camp Picket in Virginia where he continued training inexperienced troops 7 days a week for what would be D-Day. Thousands of men poured into camp. Harold felt the army was rushing the men through training too fast.
In July 1944 Harold was in Henderson, North Carolina. He got hit by a car while waiting for his girlfriend at the bus station. The driver was not paying attention. Harold suffered from a deep chest wound and several stitches in the face. The driver was charged with careless and reckless driving. Harold spent about a month in hospital. There he met a soldier from his old 9th division. The soldier told him only 17 men from that unit were still alive. It was the group that was sent to Africa.
Harold was sent to Europe on November 1 where they could finally fight the Germans. His unit arrived in England where they were lodged in a town called Bournemouth, which was approximately 3 hours by train from London. It took some time, but Harold finally got to visit London where he found where his grandmother Miller lived as a child and to do some general sightseeing. He stayed there only a short time.
In late November 1944 his outfit travelled by train in box cars through France into Belgium. Many towns and villages were bombed by both German and Allied forces. The two big trade items were cigarettes in France and soap in Belgium. A soldier could get just about anything for these two items. His outfit was living in mud and the weather was cold and raining.
Harold was declared wounded and missing in action on December 13, 1944, that would have been during the first battle of Kesternich. It appears he was involved in the attack on Simmerath. He was one of the first to be wounded by manchine gun fire. He most likely suffered a shoulder wound.
All of his action was in the heart of the Siegfried Defense Line. An on site medic believed Harold was taken prisoner while wounded and got killed by a bayonet so the Germans could spare their ammo. The War Department declared Harold dead as of December 14, 1945. His remains were recovered in Bickerath, Germany. They found him thanks to his dog tags. Harold got buried at the American cemetery in Neupré (Belgium) on April 4, 1946.
During Harolds short stay in the war, he earned a Purple Heart. He is buried at the Ardennes American Cemetery in Neupré in Belgium. His grave is located at plot D, row 22, grave 4.
Ardennes American cemetery, Neupré, Belgium
109th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division
309th Infantry Regiment
78th Infantry Division
More information soon.
I learned about adopting a war grave while surfing the internet. I immediately sent in a request to adopt a grave at the Henri-Chapelle cemetery in Belgium and got one assigned to me on June 13, 2012.
After visiting the Ardennes American cemetery in Neupré later that year I did another request to adopt a grave on this cemetery and Harold E. Millers grave got assigned to me on January 2, 2013.
I started looking on the internet to find as much information as possible on this soldier, but I couldn’t find much. I requested a personnel file, but it got destroyed in a fire in 1973 and I had to pay a big amount for what they were able to recover.
One day my Dutch Facebook friend John Bessems tipped me to contact Andi Hunting, she seems to be an expert in finding relatives of American soldiers that are buried overseas. After mailing her, she answered me later that day and gave me the name of 2 relatives of Harold, along with their addresses and some hints for writing them.
Some days later I wrote letters to Richard and Stephen Wenberg, the sons of Harolds sister Mildred and Stephen Wenbergs wife, Ronette Wenberg, added me on Facebook. We talked and talked and I started mailing Ronette and Stephen frequently, and Stephen told me all this information on Harold you can find here. I’d like to thank them a lot for this, and also a big thank you to Andi for helping me finding the relatives, and John for helping me finding Andi!
Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army
Service # 16017052
309th Infantry Regiment, 78th Infantry Division
Entered service from: Peoria, Illinois on October 15, 1940 as a Private
Born: June 20, 1907
Hometown: McLean County, Illinois
Died: December 13, 1944
Status: finding of death (FOD)
Buried: Plot D, row 22, grave 4, Ardennes American Cemetery, Neupré, Belgium
Awards: Purple Heart
Father: Edward Miller
Mother: Florence Smith
- http://www.wwiimemorial.com NARA
- http://www.wwiimemorial.com overseas American cemeteries
- Andi Hunting
- Stephen E. Wenberg and his wife Ronette, Richard Wenberg
Any information you can provide me about this soldier, can be mailed to me (nicklieten @ hotmail.com). Thank you!