Donald L Giles (USA – Adoptiegraf)

“HERE WE AND ALL WHO SHALL HEREAFTER LIVE IN FREEDOM WILL BE
REMINDED THAT TO THESE MEN AND THEIR COMRADES WE OWE A DEBT
TO BE PAID, WITH GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE OF THEIR SACRIFICE AND
WITH THE HIGH RESOLVE THAT THE CAUSE FOR WHICH THEY DIED SHALL LIVE.”

Dwight D Eisenhower

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In August 2006 I’ve adopted the grave of Technical Sergeant Donald L Giles at the Margraten Cemetery in the Netherlands. This is his story:

Donald Lee Giles was born on January 21, 1919 in Wyoming Township, Otoe County, Nebraska. Just nine miles northwest of Nebraska City. His parents were Karl and Maude Giles. Karl farmed 260 acres. In 1860 Karl’s granddad, Joseph Giles, started there with fifty acres when he arrived in Nebraska. Joseph grew up on the Island of St Helena, west of Africa where his dad, Thomas Giles, had been one of the guards during Napoleons exile and death.

When Donald started school he went to the Giles school District No2. The school was about 1/3 of a mile west of the farm on the southwest corner of the Giles’s farmland which had been given to the county in November 1889. Therefore the school was named after the Giles family. It was one of many country schools in Otoe County at that time. He went there for grades 1-8, for grade 9 he went to Nebraska City to attend the Junior High School. For grades 10-12 he went to Nebraska City Senior High School. He played on the Football team and according to The Otoean, the school’s newspaper, his ambition was to boss people around. Donald was graduated with high honors from Nebraska City High School in 1936.

He engaged in farming until he volunteered to serve his year’s training in the army at Camp Robinson, Little Rock, Arkansas. He entered service on February 23, 1941. Originally he was in the 134th Regiment, as evidenced from a picture with the 134th lapel pin, and later he was assigned to the 320th Infantry Regiment.

On April 27, 1941 he married Eileen Harris in Little Rock. The bride was attended by miss Myra Sherry of Little Rock and attending the groom was Robert Wirth, Nebraska City soldier stationed at Camp Robinson.

Donald’s Army Serial Number was 37035106. The first digit meant that he was a draftee who served with the National Army and the second digit corresponded to the region where he entered service (7 = Seventh Corps Area).

Donald was Staff Sergeant in 1st platoon, 2nd Battalion, G Company, 320th Infantry Regiment of the 35th Infantry Division. The 320th Infantry Regiment landed in Normandy at July 6, 1944 (D-Day + 30). Soon after arrival the Regiment was involved in the battle for St Lo in Normandy. On July 11, 1944 he was shot in the shoulder by a sniper. Despite of his wound, he remained at the head of his men, destroying a machine gun nest with automatic rifle fire and continued to lead his men for 10 hours before allowing himself to be evacuated for first aid. His qualities of leadership and unusual devotion served as an inspiration to his men. For this action he received the Silver Star and for the injury the Purple Heart medal.

On July 31, 1944 he returned to the Regiment and after the rush through France, he was wounded for a second time on November 8, 1944. He had penetrating wounds on the left buttock and right arm and it lasted longer to recover.

On March 13, 1945 he returned to duty. The 35th Infantry Division was at that time in Germany preparing for the advance through Germany. The division was now part of General Simpson’s Ninth Army.

On April 15, 1945, G Company crossed the Saale River and held a Bridge head. They were supposed to attack a nearby village the next day, but the Germans made a surprise attack in the early morning. The Company was cut off and Donald was shot through the hip and, together with other soldiers from his platoon, taken prisoner. He was reported Missing In Action and died from lack of medical care on April 16, 1945.

On June 19, 1945 Edwin Don Owens wrote a letter to Eileen: “We were protecting the right flank of the bridgehead over the River. We were in the attack that evening & was supposed to take a town, but ran into resistance; we held up for night & were to attack the next morning. But at 5:00 the Jerrys were attacking our co and we had no help from the rest of the Bn. Don & his platoon was out on the point. They slipped up on them & when the guard spotted them went to warn the Lt & Don & Jerrys wounded him. And Don was shot through the hip. The Jerrys captured all but the 1st pt. The Lt was wounded bad. Therefore Eileen we thought that Don was a prisoner till we got our other boys back 18 days later by liberating them & they said that Don died from lack of medical care. They hauled him & the Lt. on horse & wagon for two days.”

On April 21, the Regiment was relieved and went into reserve. For the 320th Infantry Regiment the war was over.

During the war Donald Giles was promoted to Technical Sergeant and received 3 Purple Heart and 1 Silver Star medal. He was buried in a temporary cemetery in Breuna, Germany, plot 1, row 8, grave 157. But was soon taken to the cemetery in Margraten, the Netherlands where he was buried in plot SS, row 12, grave 279. Nowadays he is buried in plot E, row 11, grave 26. A memorial stone is located at the family Grave at Cowles Hill Cemetery, Nebraska and his name is written on the Otoe County War Memorial in Nebraska City.

On October 3rd, 2011 I went to Nebraska City to visit the farm, school and Cowles Hill Cemetery.

Donald L Giles has been inducted into the 35th Infantry Division’s Hall of Fame during the annual reunion of the 35th Infantry Division in 2013.

Source of Information: Documents daughter of Donald Lee Giles/Richard van Kessel/Story of the 320th Infantry Regiment/Letter Colonel Byrne, commander 320th Infantry Regiment/Silver Star Citation

Een volledige Nederlandse vertaling volgt z.s.m..

Sinds augustus 2006 ben ik adoptant van het graf van Technical Sergeant Donald L Giles op de Amerikaanse begraafplaats in Margraten. Dit is zijn verhaal:

Donald Lee Giles werd geboren op 21 januari 1919 in Wyoming Township, Otoe County, Nebraska, nabij Nebraska City. Zijn ouders waren Karl and Maude Giles en Karl had een boerderij van 260 acres. Toen de grootvader van Karl, Joseph Giles, in 1860 in Nebraska arriveerde begon hij met 50 acres. Joseph groeide op het Island of St Helena, ten westen van Afrika waar zijn vader Thomas Giles een van de bewakers van Napoleon is geweest toen Napoleon op het eiland was verbannen en daar is overleden.

Tijdens de oorlog is Donald Giles gepromoveerd naar de rang van Technical Sergeant en ontving 3x de Purple Heart en 1x de Silver Star medailles. Nadat hij gesneuveld was is hij op een tijdelijke begraafplaats bij Breuna (D) begraven in plot 1, rij 8, graf 157. Maar al vrij snel is hij verplaatst naar de Amerikaanse begraafplaats in Margraten waar hij werd begraven in plot SS, rij 12, graf 279. Tegenwoordig ligt hij begraven in plot E, rij 11, graf 26.
Op de Cowles Hill Cemetery in Nebraska is herdenking steen geplaatst bij het familiegraf en staat z’n naam op het Otoe County War Memorial in Nebraska City vermeldt.

Op maandag 3 oktober 2011 heb ik een bezoek gebracht aan Nebraska City en daarbij de boerderij, school en Cowles Hill Cemetery bezocht.

Donald L Giles is in 2013 tijdens de jaarlijkse reunie van de 35th Infantry Division opgenomen in de Hall of Fame van de divisie.

Bronnen: Documenten dochter van Donald Lee Giles/Richard van Kessel/Story of the 320th Infantry Regiment/Brief Colonel Byrne, commandant 320th Infantry Regiment/Silver Star Citation

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Giles School Nebraska City 2011
Giles School Nebraska City 2011. Foto R van Kessel
Bezoek aan het Giles familiegraf op Cowles Hill Cemetery Nebraska City 2011
Bezoek aan het Giles familiegraf op Cowles Hill Cemetery Nebraska City 2011. Foto R van Kessel
Voormalig Giles Boerderij Nebraska City 2011
Voormalig Giles Boerderij Nebraska City 2011. Foto R van Kessel
War Memorial Nebraska City
War Memorial Nebraska City. Foto R van Kessel

Artikel door: Richard van Kessel