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The End of the Beginning

 

This was David Gerry Connally, Jr. in his 1930 Senior Year photo.  He was an accomplished musician and a member of the Honor Society.  Connally showed up next on October 16, 1940 filling out his registration card for the draft.

     

Connally was a self-employed Architect in his hometown of Tyler, Texas at the time he entered into active service with the Army, March 5, 1941.  He entered as an Enlisted man as a Private.  (Now Officer) First Lieutenant David Connally, Jr. next showed up February 28, 1943, coming into Company B 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion (Combat), 82nd Airborne Division.

 

The 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment came into the 82dn Airborne Division February 12, 1943.  Company B 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion (Combat) was attached with the 505th Parachute Regiment for the rest of the war. 

 

The pictures below were taken at different time periods.  The first was taken March 1943 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  The next picture was taken in Naples, Italy October 1943 with the other Officers of Company B.  Connally is on the bottom right of the picture. 

 

The next picture was taken with the Officers of Company B, March 1944 in Burbage, England.  Connally was standing to the left of Captain (center) (second from the end).

 

The last picture showed Company B marching in Burbage, England in the spring of 1944.  On the far right is Company Commander Captain Johnson followed by Executive Officer First Lieutenant Connally.  Behind him was the First Platoon of Company B. 

 

What was interesting is the two soldiers behind on the left side.  The first is First Lieutenant Alfred Cappa, then directly behind him is Private Carroll Rumbaugh.  Private Rumbaugh will be mentioned again in this article.

 

Connally took a 7 day Leave of Absence as he went to North Ireland to get married to Miss Norah Christie a Nurse who served in London, England.  The newlyweds went to Scotland for their honeymoon.  Lieutenant then went back to Company B.

 

Executive Officer Connally was the Jump Master for the first plane for the Third Platoon for the jump into Normandy.  The Third Platoon jumped with the 505th Parachute Infantry.  For this jump the First and Second Platoons went with the 508th Parachute Infantry.

Captain Johnson was promoted June 6th to Major as the Battalion Commander had been captured. 

 

Connally was promoted to Captain and becomes the next Company Commander for Company B.  He was promoted on July 1, 1944 to Captain of Company B.  When the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion come back to England Captain Connally went on a 5 day Furlough to Edinburgh, Scotland.

 

August 16, 1944 Captain Connally had written a letter to a Lieutenant.  That was Second Lieutenant Siddall the brother of Elmer Siddall who was a member of Company B and was Missing in Action at that time.  Sadly the paperwork finally caught up to Company B November 1, 1944 stating Corporal Siddall had been killed June 6, 1944.

 

The jump into Holland was next on September 17, 1944 as then Captain Connally was the Jumpmaster for one of the First Platoonís Sticks.  No paperwork showed up again until January 31, 1945.

 

On the morning of January 29, 1945 the 505th Parachute Infantry including Co B had started moving from Meyerode, Belgium towards Honsfeld, Belgium.  It had been cold, and the snow was deep making it hard to walk as it snowed on and off all that day. 

The advance for Company B reached a crossroad about a mile south of Wereth, Belgium just west of the German border

 

Artillery came in and the men hit the ground.  They all got up except for the Captain.  Private Rumbaugh rolled Captain Connally over and at first there were no obvious wounds.  One of the Medics removed the Captainís helmet and in doing so it revealed under his hairline that a small piece of shrapnel had hit his temple killing him instantly.              

His body was removed to the Collecting Point for Graves Registration back at Meyerode.  Captain Connellyís body was removed to Henri Chapelle #1 Cemetery.  His effects were cataloged and the Captain was buried at 1500 Hours January 31, 1945.

 

It was interesting to see that Graves Registration Form #1 only had spoken of Shrapnel in his legs.  When a body is brought into a Cemetery there is a Medic for each Graves Registration Platoon.  They obviously didnít see the head wound as it was under his hairline.  The Morning Report for the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion was very thorough.  Private Rumbaugh had seen the wound and recounted that years later.  The Morning Reports verified that fact as well.

 

David and Norah Connallyís daughter Gerry was born February 22, 1945 less than a month after Connallyís death.  He had been married for a little more than 10 months. 

 

Captain Connallyís mother Frankie was a very determined woman.  She was able to reach out to her Congressman.  Shortly after in March of 1945 his mother Frankie Connally received detailed information about her sonís death.  A General sent the letter to the family in Tyler, Texas.  They had the location where he was killed spelled slightly wrong Wyeth when the spelling was actually Wereth, Belgium. 

 

All of Captain Connallyís belongings was sent to his mother in Tyler, Texas because she had been the contact on his Dog Tags. 

 

The Tyler Courier-Times ran an article on November 18, 1945.  Captain Connally was awarded the Bronze Star for his service with Company B of the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion (Combat).  The Bronze Star was usually for a specific action which made this very unusual. 

 

Mrs. Norah Connally and her daughter Gerry came to visit the family in the summer of 1946.  411 wives of men Killed in Europe came over together. 

 

On April 10, 1947 Form 347 was sent back to the Army that stated Norah wanted Captain Connally buried overseas.  November 15, 1947 he was reinterred in the Henri-Chapelle Permanent American Cemetery in Belgium.

 

Just one of the 410,000 United States of Americans who died in WWII.

 

 

BN Siddall

August 25, 2022

 


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