Soldiers from New York: Jewish Soldiers in The New York Times, in World War Two: The Gans Brothers – 2 Lt. Solomon Gans – January 3, 1945

The Second World War was characterized by near-universal military service among the warring nations, either voluntarily, or through conscription.  As such, multiple members of a single family – fathers and sons; sets of brothers – would find themselves wearing the uniforms of their countries, serving in combat or military support duties on land, in the air, or at sea.  Sometimes, this would occur in the same geographic theater of operations; sometimes, even in the same branch of service. 

Sometimes, fate – or God – would cast a favorable face upon a family: All its members would return, and resume their civilian lives in the fullness of time.  Or, like soldiers throughout history, they would be transformed, traumatized, or inspired (often in reinforcing or contradictory combination) by their military experiences, and embark – by decision or chance – upon new and unanticipated paths through life.

Sometimes, God – or fate – would cast an entirely difference “face” upon a family, perhaps manifesting what is known in Hebrew (most notably in the book of Isaiah) as an aspect of “hester punim”.  (Perhaps; perhaps.)  For such a family, the course of life would unalterably, irrevocably altered… 

In that sense, while my prior posts about Jewish soldiers reported upon in The New York Times have by definition covered specific individuals, in 1945, for the Gans family of the Bronx, life indeed took that different course.  The Gans brothers – Ralph (Rafael bar Yaakov) and Solomon (Zalman bar Yaakov) – lost their lives in military service with four weeks of one another, and their loss was covered in the Times on April 17 of that year.

Ralph, born in 1920 and the older of the two, lost his life in England on January 31 under non-combat circumstances while serving with the Ordnance Corps.  Solomon, a Second Lieutenant who had been enrolled at City College, was killed in combat while serving in I Company, 253rd Infantry Regiment, 63rd Infantry Division on January 3. 

The sons of Jacobs and Mary Gans of 494 Claremont Parkway (East 171st St.) in the Bronx, their obituary appeared in the Times on April 17.  They are buried adjacent to one another at Mount Lebanon Cemetery, in Glendale, N.Y. (Workmen’s Circle Society, Block WC, Section 5, Line 28): Solomon in Grave 12, and Ralph in Grave 13.

(While this post covers both brothers, information about other Jewish servicemen is limited to those soldiers who became casualties on the same day as Lt. Gans: January 3, 1945.  As such, the earlier post (about Sgt. Ralph Gans) presented the same biographical information about the Gans brothers as “this” post.  That post included information about Jewish military casualties on January 31, 1945.)

Bronx Family Loses Its Only Two Sons

War Department notification of the deaths of Lieut. Solomon Gans and T/Sgt. Ralph Gans, only sons of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Gans of 495 East 171st Street, the Bronx, has been received.

Previously reported missing, Lieutenant Gans, 22 years old, was killed in action in France Jan. 3, while attached to the 253rd Infantry.  He was a graduate of Theodore Roosevelt High School and had completed three years at City College before entering the Army, on June 16, 1943.

Sergeant Gans, 25, died in England on Jan. 31, according to the War Department.  Also a graduate of Theodore Roosevelt High School, he worked for the Noma Electric Company prior to induction.  He entered the Army on Jan. 20, 1942, and was serving with an ordnance battalion at the time of his death.

This image, by S. Daino, shows the matzevot of Ralph and Solomon, at Mount Lebanon Cemetery.

Some other Jewish military casualties on Wednesday, January 3, 1945, include…

Killed in Action

– .ת.נ.צ.ב.ה. –

Bank, Louis, PFC, 32117222, Purple Heart
United States Army, 44th Infantry Division, 71st Infantry Regiment
Mr. Sam Bank (father), 2459 East 23rd St., Brooklyn, N.Y.
Casualty List 2/22/45
Long Island National Cemetery, Farmingdale, N.Y. – Section H, Grave 10353
American Jews in World War II – 269

Danchik, Samuel, Cpl., 32622948, Purple Heart
United States Army, 100th Infantry Division, 398th Infantry Regiment
Mr. Max Danchik (father), 826 Park Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y.
Mrs. Lillian Danchik (sister in law), 217 Hart St., Brooklyn, N.Y.
Mr. Maurice Gherman (friend)
Born 1921
Place of Burial – unknown
Casualty List 2/22/45
American Jews in World War II – 295

Druskin, Zalman, Pvt., at Liepaja (region), Latvia
U.S.S.R., Red Army, 16th Lithuanian Rifle Division, 294th Infantry Brigade
Mr. Shepsel Druskin (father)
Born 1919
Road to Victory, p. 293

Gildenberg, Isaac, Pvt., 42124609, Purple Heart
United States Army, 99th Infantry Division, 394th Infantry Regiment
Mrs. Lena Y. Gildenberg (mother), 386 South 2nd St., Brooklyn, N.Y.
Born 1925
Mount Lebanon Cemetery, Glendale, N.Y. – Block WC, Section 5, Line 24, Grave 5, Society Workmen’s Circle
American Jews in World War II – 320

Gross, Harold J., Cpl., 35280304, Purple Heart
United States Army, 2nd Armored Division, 66th Armored Infantry Regiment
Mrs. Julia Gross (mother), 10511 Greenlawn Ave., Cleveland, Oh.
PFC Lawrence Gross (brother)
Address also 1400 South Kenmore, Los Angeles, 6, Ca.
Born 12/16/17
Place of burial: Los Angeles, Ca.
Cleveland Press & Plain Dealer, February 24 & 25, 1945, October 26, 1948 (at Cleveland Veterans Memorial)
American Jews in World War II – 489

Hafter, Ralph Lewis, EM 1C (Electrician’s Mate 1st Class), 3825644, Purple Heart
United States Navy, Submarine USS Swordfish (SS193)
Mrs. Mae Mary Agnes Hafter (wife), 6922 Southeast Morrison St., Portland, Or.
Tablets of the Missing at Honolulu Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii
Date of 1/3/45 is conjectural; See the following references:
Account of the loss of the USS Swordfish (at “On Eternal Patrol”)
Account of the loss of the USS Swordfish (by Ed Howard, at Subsowespac.org)
Crew list of the USS Swordfish (at “On Eternal Patrol)
American Jews in World War II – 506

Heymann, Gerhard E., PFC, 32799312, Belgium (Wounded 1/3/45; died same day)
United States Army
Mr. and Mrs. Julius and Hanna (Braun) Heymann (parents), 42-42 Ithaca St., Elmhurst, N.Y.
S2C Werner L. Heymann (brother)
Born Landau in der Pfalz, Germany, 5/8/24
WW II Memorial database gives name as “Gerard”, while Long Island Star Journal gives name as “Gerald”
Tablets of the Missing at Epinal American Cemetery, Epinal, France
Aufbau 2/9/45
New York Times 2/23/45
Long Island Star Journal 2/21/45
American Jews in World War II – Not Listed

Hurwitz, Julius Nathaniel (“Jay”), 2 Lt., 0-698120, Navigator
United States Army Air Force, 20th Air Force, 498th Bomb Group, 875th Bomb Squadron
Mrs. Ruth (Marks) Hurwitz (wife), 560 West Hudson Ave., Dayton, Oh.
Mr. and Mrs. Samuel [1886-1950] and Freeda [1888-1990] Hurwitz (parents), 701 Lexington Ave., Dayton, Oh.Dayton Daily News 11/18/43, 12/3/43
Riverview Cemetery, Dayton, Oh. (at FindAGrave.com)
American Jews in World War II – 490

Julius Hurwitz, originally in training as a pilot at the 63rd Army Air Forces Flying Training Detachment, in Coffee County, Georgia, was presumably reassigned to navigation training. 

Julius and his entire crew were lost on their first combat flight, a bombing mission to port facilities and urban areas of Nagoya, Japan.  Their aircraft, B-29 42-24748 (“T square 42“, piloted by 1 Lt. Richard C. Stickney), the loss of which is covered in MACR 10853, crashed on Anatahan Island, an island in the Marianas about 75 miles north of Saipan. 

As reported in the Stickney crew’s Missing Air Crew Report, “When last contacted [the] aircraft did not report difficulty of any kind,” while the plane did not respond to attempts at radio contact.  Similarly, it is notable that the MACR makes no reference of damage to the aircraft by anti-aircraft fire or enemy fighters, attributing no specific cause for the plane’s disappearance.

According to MACR, the B-29, “…had entered the crater at the Northeast side of the island through the lowest point in the rim of the crater, encircled to the left and crashed head-on into the higher peaks on the Southeast side.  The aircraft exploded and burned and partially buried itself in the mountain side.”

Though the cause of the plane’s loss will be forever unknown, it is notable that the description of Anatahan Island included in the MACR mentions, “…the crater rim rises to an elevation of 2,585 feet.  Inside the rim there is a relatively level grassy area two miles long and one mile wide.  Elsewhere on the island slopes are steep and furrowed by deep ravines.”  Given what seems to have been a controlled descent by T Square 42 into the crater – through the lowest point on the rim – perhaps (perhaps) Lieutenants Stickney and Langdon were attempting to make a controlled landing within the crater.

Well, perhaps…  It is a moot point, now.

This extremely high resolution image of the island, at the University of Tokyo’s Earthquake Research Insitute’s website, gives an appreciation of the extremely rugged nature of the currently uninhabited island.

This image of the crater rim, from the Photostream of Southern Methodist University, also reveals the forbidding nature of Anatahan’s terrain. 

Additional information about this incident can be found in the history of B-29 42-24748, at Pacific Wrecks

The image below, from the blog of William C. Atkinson, former radar-navigator in the 874th Bomb Squadron, 498th Bomb Group, shows most of the crew members lost on the mission of January 3. The men (left to right) are the following:

Front Row

AMG – Boyd, Jack L., Sgt.
Gunner – Quinn, John P., Sgt.
Thomas (not on fatal flight)
Gunner (Central Fire Control) – Merriweather, James O., Sgt.
ROM – Haynes, Paul M., Sgt.
Elec. Sp. Gunner – Zeone, Edward M., Sgt.

Rear Row

H.A. Brandt (not on fatal flight)
Pilot – Stickney, Richard C., Jr., 1 Lt.
Co-Pilot – Winslow, Langdon G., 2 Lt.
Bombardier – Thompson, Richard F., 2 Lt.
Navigator – Hurwitz, Julius N., 2 Lt.

Flight Engineer 2 Lt. Howard G. King, Howard G. and Radar Countermeasures operator Sgt. John E. Burns do not appear in the photo.

This photo of Julius’ matzeva, from his FindAGrave biographical profile, is by Mary Downing-Mahan (“gravehunterMary“). 

Melinsky, Abraham, PFC, 31242242, Purple Heart, Medical Corps
United States Army, 26th Infantry Division, 328th Infantry Regiment
Mr. and Mrs. Louis and Jennie Melinsky (parents), 3 Lamont St., Roxbury, Ma.
Born 1915
Luxembourg American Cemetery, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg – Plot G, Row 10, Grave 27
American Jews in World War II – 171

Minsker, Faivel, Pvt., at Mezotne, Latvia
U.S.S.R., Red Army, 16th Lithuanian Rifle Division, 294th Infantry Brigade
Mr. Shmuel Minsker (father)
Born 1919
Road to Victory, p. 293

Pruzan, Murray, T/5, 32992938, Medical Corps (near Phillipsbourg, France)
United States Army, 70th Infantry Division, 275th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Battalion, Medical Detachment
Mrs. Pauline Pruzan (mother), 1446 Carroll St., Brooklyn, N.Y.
Mount Judah Cemetery, Ridgewood, Queens, N.Y. – 1-BB2-R09, Wolkovisker Society
Casualty List 9/11/45
American Jews in World War II – Not Listed

Robbins, Lawrence, Cpl., 12049477, Purple Heart
United States Army
Mr. and Mrs. Morris and Helen Rabinowitz (parents), Raymond and Robert (brothers), 325 West 86th St., New York, N.Y.
Born 1924
Acacia Cemetery, Ozone Park, N.Y. – Lots 216-217, Marks Goldstein
Casualty List 3/14/45
The New York Times (Obituary Section) 1/6/46
American Jews in World War II – 414

Roberts, Sidney J., PFC, 12111003, Purple Heart
United States Army, 70th Infantry Division, 275th Infantry Regiment
Mr. and Mrs. Louis and Tillie F. Rabinowitz (parents), 33-21 69th St., Jackson Heights, N.Y.
Born 1924
City College of New York Class of 1945
Epinal American Cemetery, Epinal, France – Plot B, Row 24, Grave 30
Casualty List 2/22/45
Long Island Star Journal 2/21/45
American Jews in World War II – 414

Schaeffer, Samuel, Sgt., 32916161, Aerial Gunner, Purple Heart
United States Army Air Force, 8th Air Force, 801st Bomb Group, 406th Bomb Squadron
Mrs. Rose Schaeffer (mother), 89 Heddon Terrace, Newark, N.J.
Born 2/6/20
MACR 15974, Aircraft: B-24H 42-52650, “Cancer”; Pilot: 1 Lt. Roy L. Hendrix; 10 crewmen – no survivors
Isserman Cemetery, Newark, N.J.
Casualty List 2/22/45
American Jews in World War II – 252

Wasserman, Gerald, Sgt., 32887164, Purple Heart
United States Army, 84th Infantry Division, 335th Infantry Regiment
Mrs. Anna Wasserman (mother), 1506 Boston Road, New York, N.Y.
Born 1925
Long Island National Cemetery, Farmingdale, N.Y. – Section H, Grave 10449
Casualty List 3/8/45
American Jews in World War II – 465

Wolfe
, Marvin L., PFC, 36639407, Purple Heart

United States Army, 63rd Infantry Division, 255th Infantry Regiment, L Company
Mrs. Sylvia Wolfe (mother), 5480 South Cornell St., Chicago, Il.
Born 11/1/23
Westlawn Cemetery, Norridge, Chicago, Il.
American Jews in World War II – 121

Prisoners of War

Cole, Sidney L., 2 Lt., 0-1185213, Purple Heart
United States Army, 776th Field Artillery Battalion
POW at Stalag 4F (Hartmannsdorf-Chemnitz, Germany)
Mrs. Lena Cohn (mother), 79 Shoreham Road, Buffalo, N.Y.
Casualty List (Liberated POW) 6/20/45
American Jews in World War II – 293

Becker
, Meyer D., S/Sgt., 36035573

United States Army, 87th Infantry Division, 346th Infantry Regiment
POW at Stalag 13C (Hammelburg, Germany) (German POW # 98440)
Mrs. Beatrice L. Becker (wife), 6810 East End Ave., Chicago, Il.
Born Illinois, 8/3/17
Casualty List (Liberated POW) 6/12/45
American Jews in World War II – Not Listed

Fine
, Howard L., Cpl., 35077112

United States Army, 70th Infantry Division, 275th Infantry Regiment
POW at Stalag 4B (Muhlberg, Germany)
Mrs. Bessie E. Fine (mother), Route 1, Laura, Oh.
Casualty List (Liberated POW) 6/11/45
American Jews in World War II – Not Listed

Klein
, Leonard, 2 Lt., 0-556880

United States Army, 70th Infantry Division, 275th Infantry Regiment
POW – location of camp unknown
2 Lt. Arthur Klein (brother)
Mr. Charles Klein (father), 109 States Ave., Atlantic City, N.J.
Born 1923
Philadelphia Bulletin 1/30/45
Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Record (Liberated POW) 5/9/45
American Jews in World War II – Not Listed

Rosen
, Murray, Pvt., 12096956, Purple Heart, 1 Oak Leaf Cluster

United States Army, 70th Infantry Division, 275th Infantry Regiment
POW at Stalag 12F (Forbach Bei Saarbrucken, Germany)
Mr. Jacob Rosen (father), 159 Delancey St., New York, N.Y.
Casualty Lists 4/20/45, 4/24/45, Liberated POW List 5/25/45
American Jews in World War II – 416

Wounded in Action

Applebaum, Herbert, PFC, 33775404, Wounded in Belgium
United States Army
Born 1926
Mr. and Mrs. Harry and Betty Applebaum (parents), 1025 Wagner Ave., Philadelphia, Pa.
Born Philadelphia, Pa., 12/4/25
Jewish Exponent 2/23/45
Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Record 2/18/45
American Jews in World War II – Not Listed

Novick, Joseph, Pvt., 33467896, Purple Heart, Wounded in Belgium
United States Army
Mr. and Mrs. Isadore and Anna Novick (parents), 924 N. 6th St., Philadelphia, Pa.
Born Philadelphia, Pa., 10/27/21
Philadelphia Record 3/17/45
American Jews in World War II – 541

Lenger, Robert J., Cpl., Purple Heart, Paratrooper
United States Army
Mr. Fred Lenger (uncle), 175-47 Underhill Ave., Flushing, Queens, N.Y.
Pvt. Carl Lenger and Sgt. Joseph Lenger (brothers)
Born Germany, 1919
Casualty Lists 9/21/44, 3/12/45
Long Island Star Journal 3/12/45
American Jews in World War II – 375

Other Incident (An aviator rescued after “ditching” in the Pacific Ocean…)

Lynch, Bertram Gerald, Capt., 0-669240, Bombardier / Navigator
United States Army Air Force, 20th Air Force, 497th Bomb Group, 871st Bomb Squadron
Aircraft ditched on January 3; Five survivors rescued by January 5
Mrs. Shirley (Golden) Lynch (wife), Ross D. Lynch (son), 1934 Spring Drive, Louisville, Ky.
MACR 10901, Aircraft: B-29 42-63418, “A square 50”, “JUMBO – KING OF THE SHOW”; Pilot: Capt. Howard M. Clifford; 11 crewmen – 5 survivors
Chaplain Cederbaum Files at Center for Jewish History, New York, N.Y.
American Jews in World War II – 129

______________________________

Captain Lynch was one of the survivors of the crew of “JUMBO – KING OF THE SHOW”, a B-29 which was ditched northwest of Saipan during the evening of January 3.  Though all crewmen were aboard the aircraft, uninjured, and at their assigned ditching positions at the time of the plane’s water landing, only five men eventually reached life rafts (four crewmen in one, and one in another).  These men were rescued by the USS Grayson on January 5 and 6, respectively. 

As stated in MACR 10901, “Capt. Clifford and crew ditched at 2127Z 3 January 1945 due to engine trouble and lack of gasoline.  Capts. Clifford and Lynch, Lt. Whitely and Sgt. Lodato were picked up 6 miles west of plane at 16 28 N, 144 38 E on 5 January 1945 by the Destroyer Grayson.  Sgt. Smith, who was alone in the raft, was picked up at 16 27 N, 144 19 E at 09 40 K 6 January 1945, by the Destroyer Grayson.  No one was seriously injured.  Capt. Lynch who was slightly injured is being hospitalized.”

“Upon interrogation, the following facts were obtained in regards to the other crew members who are still missing:
Lt. Heiden the co-pilot, was out of the water and last seen hanging on the wing.
Lt. Barnes wasn’t observed.
All the remaining crew members with the exception of Martin, Tail Gunner, are certain to have gotten out.
The search is still being continued.”

As is sometimes encountered in Missing Air Crew Reports covering aircraft lost at sea – where at least some men were rescued – the MACR only lists the next-of-kin and addresses of airmen still missing at the time the Report was actually created. 

Along with Captain Lynch, the survivors were:

Airplane Commander: Capt. Howard M. Clifford
Navigator-Bombardier: 2 Lt. Montford S. Whiteley
Radio Operator: Sgt. Piere V. Lodato
Gunner (Left Blister): Sgt. H.J. Smith, Jr.

Those presumed to have been killed in the ditching (or in the case of Lt. Heiden known to have survived, but not rescued) were: 

Co-Pilot: 2 Lt. Robert L. Heiden
Flight Engineer: 2 Lt. Harold C. Barnes
Radar Operator: Sgt. William R. Fast
Gunner (Central Fire Control): Sgt. Jack F. Estes
Gunner (Right Blister); Sgt. Oscar L. Niece, Jr.
Gunner (Tail): Sgt. Delmas D. Martin, Sr.

The following two images, from MACR 10901, show the crew roster, and next, the list of still-missing crewmen, respectively.

These three images (the format of which is doubtless immediately familiar to anyone who has researched MACRs) are post-war Casualty Questionnaires completed by Captain Lynch, and Sergeant Smith, in response to efforts to resolve the status of the missing crewmen. 

Remarkably, images of JUMBO exist in both photographic print (now, JPG) and film (now, MP4) format. 

The print?…  Presented below, is an official Army Air Force picture of the JUMBO’s nose art, which quite appropriately is a baby elephant carrying a bomb in his trunk.  The picture (number A-55324AC / A45730, for those interesting in a visit to the National Archives!) is show below, both in its original appearance as a photographic print attached to an 8 ½ by 11 filing card, and, as a cropped and enhanced digital image. 

The film?…  Show below, is a newsreel (clip # “638274042”) from the Sherman Grinberg Library Collection, credited to Pathe Newreels. at the Getty Image Archive.  With a creation date of December 1, 1944, the location is given as the Northern Marianas Islands.

Fortunately, the Getty Image website presents a complete breakdown of the subject matter in the one-minute-long film, which is listed as follows:

Movie World War II: B-29s and their names

1) Generals Emmett O’Donnell and Haywood Hansell, and, Vice Admiral John Hoover talking together
2) O’Donnell and Hansell walking
3) B-29 “DAUNTLESS DOTTY
4) 3 B-29s on tarmac
5) Crewman paints boxing dog on nose of B-29
6) Other painted B-29s:
6A) “JUMBO – KING OF THE SHOW
6B) Close-up of JUMBO
6C) Close-up of “Miss Behavin
6D) Close-up of “Special Delivery

JUMBO can be seen at the 41 – 53 second interval.

References

Dublin, Louis I., and Kohs, Samuel C., American Jews in World War II – The Story of 550,000 Fighters for Freedom, The Dial Press, New York, N.Y., 1947

Leivers, Dorothy (Editing and Revisions), Road to Victory – Jewish Soldiers of the 16th Lithuanian Division, 1941-1945, Avotaynu, Bergenfield, N.J., 2009

USS Swordfish

Crew list of the USS Swordfish (at “On Eternal Patrol”) http://www.oneternalpatrol.com/uss-swordfish-193.htm

Account of the loss of the USS Swordfish (at “On Eternal Patrol“)

Account of the loss of the USS Swordfish (by Ed Howard, at “Subsowespac.org”)

Julius N. Hurwitz

498th Bombardment Group Information (at “William C. Atkinson” / aka “AKINSOPHT”)

World War II Flight Training Museum and 63rd Army Air Forces Flying Training Detachment (at wwiiflighttraining.org)

2 thoughts on “Soldiers from New York: Jewish Soldiers in The New York Times, in World War Two: The Gans Brothers – 2 Lt. Solomon Gans – January 3, 1945”

    1. Hello Holley and Bill,

      And, thank you (two) for visiting, too!

      I updated information about the Stickney crew to include two images of Anatahan Island, and, speculation about the nature of the plane’s loss.

      Regards,
      – Michael

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