September 1944… our town Margraten, in the South of the Netherlands, was liberated by (mostly) US soldiers. The rest of the Netherlands had to wait untill May 1945 to be liberated from German occupation.
During the battle in Europe many US soldiers died. Many of those fallen soldiers were buried in Margraten. The American cemetery here was started in 1944 by Captain Shomon. The last burial there was on March 30, 1946. By then 17,742 killed US soldiers were buried. Later on, many of them are repatriated to their home soil in the United States. As of now some 8,301 soldiers are buried here and some 1,722 names are listed on the wall of the missing in action. The cemetery is American soil, donated to the US by the Dutch Government.
Dutch citizens who live near the cemetery started taking care of the gravesites immediately when the first bodies were buried. Many of the GI’s where known by the local Dutch people since the soldiers where located in the neighborhood before going to battle. The local Dutch people took care of the gravesites as if they were family members. Many also came in contact with the family members of the fallen ones back in the US. For many US families, it was a big relief to know that their sons’ (or daughters’) graves were adopted in the lives of other families and that they would be remembered forever.
I, Robbert Lasoe, 31 years old, am the caretaker of 2 gravesites. One of them is that of 1st Lt. Jospeh E. Roseberry, and the other one is that of Private George J. Ryan.
Jospeh E. Roseberry is from Springfield, IL. George J. Ryan is from Bronx, NY.
The only information available on a given gravesite is the name, his/her registration number, the division/regiment information and the day he/she died. That is where my search for information on the falled soldiers started. My main goal was and still is to inform the family members that their son/brother/father/uncle is still remembered and that his gravesite is being taking care of.
As it relates to 1st. Lt. Joseph E. Roseberry, I was able to retrieve a lot of information and was also able to come in contact with his family members.
The brief story of 1st. Lieutenant Joseph E. Roseberry:
Joseph Roseberry was born on December 7, 1921. He was the son of Hesse Earl (born in 1892) and Lulu (born in 1891) Roseberry – Parsons. In 1930, Joseph was an eight-year-old boy living with his family in Riverton, IL, near the Sangamon River and just outside of Springfield, the state capital of Illinois.
Joseph had two brothers, Bobie (born in 1920) and Raymond (born in 1926). Joseph also had a sister named Rosemary (born in 1924). Each member of his family and his grandparents were born in Illinois. Joseph’s father, Hesse Roseberry, worked as a blacksmith in Riverton and his mother kept house. In 1930, the family home in Riverton was worth $3,000 and according to the census, they owned a radio. Joseph Roseberry went to, and graduated from Springfield College, Illinois.
Joseph Roseberry enlisted in the army on September 18, 1942 as a staff Sergeant. First, he was assigned to the 865th Bombardier Training Squadron, San Angelo, TX, and later transferred to the Field Artillery School, Fort Sill, OK, for the Pilot Training Course. After that training course, he was assigned to Headquarters Battery, 901st Field Artillery Battalion, Camp McCoy, WI.
On July 30, 1944, he accepted a commission as second Lieutenant. On January 10, 1945, he arrived in Europe. On March 1, 1945, he became first Lieutenant after a commission.
Roseberry was assigned to the 901st Field Artillery Battalion as a staff Sergeant with the Headquarters Battalion and as a pilot of L5 observation planes.
Before Lt. Roseberry left the United States. He married Rosemary Ann Wertz.
Roseberry’s job as a L5 pilot was to spot the enemy troops, and the movements of these troops. On one day, his plane radio malfunctioned. Sending messages still worked, but he couldn’t receive any messages.
On April 12, 1945 he was killed in action.
The 901st FAB was stuck down and Major Mckee of the 901st FAB did not see any movements and targets of the enemy anymore. Major McKee called Lieutenant Roseberry. He asked if Roseberry would pilot his plane together with him, to spot the frontlines of the enemy. Roseberry said ok, and they took off that same day. A few moments later, the ground troops of the 901st FAB received a message that they spotted an armored train. That was one of the last messages they received from Lt. Roseberry and Major McKee.
Later that day, the 901st FAB received a letter from which they learned that Lt. Roseberry and Major McKee were shot down by the train guns they had reported. If they themselves were hit I do not know but the plane came down and hit a stone mile marker along the road.
A veteran with whom I am corresponding, saw their bodies before grave registration took them away. He believed Lt. Roseberry was alive when they hit the stone marker, because he apparently tried to land on the road but the plane would not respond.
Lt. Roseberry was first buried in a small cemetery in Eisenach, Luxemburg, there he was buried on April 15, at 13:30, next to Major John L. McKee Jr, who was in the same plane as Lt. Roseberry.
Lt. Roseberry was reburied in Margraten, Holland on June 20, 1945 at 11:00 in his OD uniform. And officially buried in 1949, when his parents decided they wanted their son to rest in peace in Europe.
Before Lt. Roseberry left the States for his overseas duty in Europe, he put together his last will and testament. He did this on November 23, 1944 at Camp McCoy, WI. A detail to this, is that Major John L. McKee Jr, was one of the witnesses for Lt. Roseberry’s last will and testament. Five months later, they would be killed in action, together, in the same plane.
Lt. Roseberry was awarded several outstanding awards. He received the Air Medal and the Silver Star for a flight under heavy fire when he dropped food, medical equipment and blood plasma to the ground troops. These awards he received posthumous. After his death, he was also awarded the Purple Heart.
I adopted the grave of Joseph Earl Roseberry on May 26, 2005.
I came in touch with Lt. Roseberry´s sister-in-law and also his sister, Rosemary. After this, I came in contact with other family members of Lt. Roseberry. They really appreciate the work I have done and still do.
Lt. Roseberry’s sister, told me some childhood stories of her brother.
“Joe was a very active young fellow and he always wanted to fly a plane, but when he applied to get into the Air Force he was under weight, so he ate bananas and anything to get some weight on.
It was too hard to do so that is why he went to the army where ever they had a plane to fly.
When we were both teenager in Riverton, IL. high school we loved to dance, and on Friday or Saturday nights we would go to the next town to mix with the other teens and dance to the Jute Box music. Joe had a couple of girls there that our family knew well, and they would dance, but poor old me, the fellows in that town were afraid to ask me to dance thinking Joe was going with me steady because we came in together. We had some good times together.”
When Joe graduated from high school he went to Springfield Junior College, was in the little theatre guild and he was good. Played the lead role in ‘CEILING ZERO’ a play about a flyer that was trying to land in a terrible fog, and crashed. At the time of the play, Joe was also taking flying lessons at the Springfield Airport. He was so proud of his WINGS. The only person in our family that Joe ever took up for a ride in the plane was our Brother Robert. He enjoyed the ride as Joe took him on a ride over some farms of people we knew.
“Joe was very active all his life, so when he was about 9 or 10 years old, our grandfather hired him to help grandpa deliver groceries in Riverton, IL.
Well grandpa did not hear too good, and when they came to the railroad tracks (inter-urban) grandpa did not hear the whistle to warn him, and so the tail end of the truck was hit by the inter-urban train. Joe was riding in the back end with the groceries. Joe was knocked out of the truck up in the air and landed in the catholic church yard. Some of the people who lived real close, knew who Joe was, but he was bleeding over his left eye. They carried him to our home and luckily there was a nurse living next door. She put him on our kitchen table, examine the wound and ask for a needle and thread. She cleaned up the cut and sewed it up. He had a scar for years in his left eyebrow. This never caused any trouble with his sight.”
Private George J. Ryan:
The search regarding George J. Ryan is harder. The only information I was able to retrieve until today is the following:
Private George J. Ryan was born on October 13, 1922 and was killed on April 13, 1945 in Germany. He was enlisted in the 76th Infantry Division as well. Other names which appear in the official papers are Therese Shevinell (his sister) from Flushing, NY and Edward J. Ryan from Inglewood, CA (relation to George unknown).
George’s mother was his next of kin and they both lived at 385 East, 184th Street, Bronx, NY before he left for Europe.
Unfortunately, this is the only information I was able to find until now. My wish is to complete his story as well, and let family members know that his gravesite is taken care of.
They are fallen, but will never be forgotten!