The Search for Private Andrew E. Lincoln - SN 39148637

United States Army

78th Division, 309th Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion, Charlie Company (C-Co), Killed in Action March 20, 1945

Stieldorf, Germany

World War II

Updated 29 Sept 1999

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The 78th Division Veterans Association

"To Preserve The Contacts and Traditions of the Lightning Division"


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Andrew E. Lincoln was my uncle, an uncle I never knew.  I never got to meet him, as I was not born until May of 1950. He was killed in action in WW2 near a little township in the western part of Germany, a placed called Stieldorf. The date was 20 March 1945. He was serving as a rifleman with Company C, 1st Battalion, 309th Infantry Regiment of the 78th Division. You see, I didn't always know this. Members of my family had always told me he was killed in the Battle of the Bulge and that he had been a clerk typist. That is what they had been told by other members of my family. The fact of the matter was they really didn't know they truth either. His memory got buried in the tragedy and aftermath of the War. My grandmother and grandfather never discussed it or about him. I knew, however, that he had been a Sea Scout before the War, and that he loved sailboats and cats. That was really about all I knew until just a few months ago. When my grandmother passed away back in 1967, my dad acquired for safekeeping, some of her family papers. Then about two years ago, my dad passed these papers onto me for safekeeping. One day I had some time and started looking through them. Amongst them, I found a War Department letter, addressed to my grandmother, Helen Lincoln, dated 23 April 1945, from the chaplain, Ralph L. Cannon, concerning Andrew's death. A copy of the letter appears below. To my total surprise, the letter stated that Andrew had been killed in action at Stieldorf, Germany on 20 March 1945! That put his death at least 3 months after the Battle of the Bulge, and was nowhere near Belgium. How the Battle of the Bulge story came about is complete mystery. Rumors start and no one says to the contrary. Grandma may have completely wiped out of her mind the letter she received from the chaplain. The problem today is you see, there is no one living from my mom's (Andrew's sister) side of the family who would know, and the possibly still living cousins have had no contact with me for over 30 years now. Efforts to locate the elder cousins has turned up nothing but dead-ends. These were my mom's cousins, Julie and Sally Morton, of Martinez, California.

One day after talking with my dad, about how I might go about finding a WW2 veteran who might have known or served with Andrew, or finding someone who might be able to provide more details on his death, I decided to try a Web search using InferenceFind, to try to see if I could find anything about Andrew's unit, now that I knew he had been with the 309th Infantry of the 78th Division, based on the chaplain's letter. What I turned up was the 78th Divsion History homepage. From there, I proceeded to write an e-mail letter to the 78th Division Commanding Officer, Wes Beal, seeking help.

All of the following are the results of what this initial search has provided me. This is a true Internet success story.

One thing out of this search for answers is very clear to me - that Andrew was not a clerk typist at all, but a "Diehard" Combat Infantryman, serving with one of the most distinguished combat active units in the war, the 309th Infantry Regiment of the 78th Division. The 78th Division's World War II Honor Roll lists: One Medal of Honor Winner: Nine Distinguished Services Crosses; 599 Silver Star Medals; 3,909 Bronze Star Medals and 5,454 Purple Hearts. 1,368 Officers and Enlisted men paid the supreme sacrifice. Andrew was one of them.

If anyone out there reading this web page is a veteran, or knows a veteran who might have served with C-Company, 1st Battalion, 309th Infantry Regiment, or who might know anything about the action around Stieldorf that day, 20 March 1945, or who might have known Andrew personally, please get in contact with me. My mailing address and email address is at the bottom of this page.

Here is the rest of the story.


Subject: Looking for Information on an Old 309th Infantry Soldier, WW2 KIA'd in Stieldorf, Germany

Date: Mon, 03 Aug 1998 21:26:16 -0700

Dear Sir:

Ref: http://www78div.pica.army.mil/78div/hist.htm

I am writing you because I am trying to find out more information concerning battle actions taking place during the time period in which my uncle Andrew E. Lincoln, 39148637, was killed, while serving in the 309th Infantry, in action on 20 March 1945 in Stieldorf, Germany.

For our family, for almost 50 years, the circumstances surrounding his death have remained a total mystery. I have only a copy of a letter from the unit Chaplain, which states:

-----

"My Dear Mrs. Lincoln: Recently the War Department had the solemn duty of informing you of the death of your son, Andrew E. Lincoln, 39148637. He was killed in action on 20 March 1945 at Stieldorf, Germany. An Army Chaplain conducted appropriate burial services, and his remains were interred in a United States Military Cemetary located at henri Chapelle, Belgium, along with others who have fallen in battle.

"I realize that this loss to you is irreparable, and my only wish at this time is that I could express my sympathy adequately. His manifestation of strong character, manliness and courage remains a memory in this Regiment. This memory gives us additional strength and determination to fulfill our mission. We are proud to have had him in our Regiment."

"The great things of the world have been purchased by sacrifice and suffering. God gave His only begotten Son that men may be redeemed and inherit eternal life. May you be comforted with the knowledge that your sacrifice was given that the good and worth while things of the world might endure."

Signed: Ralph L. Cannon, Chaplain

-----

For many years, the family told the story that he was killed during the Battle of the Bulge, which is simply not true, because the letter from the Regimental Chaplain specifically describes him having been killed in action at Stieldorf, Germany. Stieldorf is very near and just to the east of Bonn, north of Remagen, on the east side of the Rhine. Action in this sector must have been intense, with the recent events at Remagen.

I realize that the exact details may never be know, but there may exist a daily journal in your 309th Infantry history files, which may describe the action encountered against the Germans during that time period, which only you possess.

I will gladly pay for any research costs, accept any referrals, "old comrades" lists, or for any reproduction work required to get at the answer.

My mailing address is:

Greg Farrell 5509 Dupont Drive Santa Rosa, CA 95409

Andrew was my mother's brother. He is interred at Golden Gate Cemetary near South San Francisco, California. His grave headstone validates the documented date of KIA.

Any help you can provide me will be greatly appreciated. Andrew is one of the 5,454 Purple Heart recipients referenced in your 78th Division History and I have it in my possession, with his name on the back.

I found your website using a search engine called Inference.

Many thanks in advance for any help you can render.

Very truly yours,

Greg


The very next day, 04 August 1998, I received a reply:

Greg-

Thanks for contacting the Lightning Division. I've forwarded your request to our Public Affairs Officer, CPT Kenney who will get you the information and contacts you need to help with your search.

Please let me know if you find want you need - and good luck!

Thanks, BG Wes Beal


Two months later on October 3rd, I received a lead:

Dear Sir, Recently you contacted Brig. Gen. Wes Beal, commander of the 78th Division, with historical questions relating to a relative who had served and gave his life in WWII. We don't keep in-depth historical files here at Div. HQ (although I personally am very interested in history, especially that of our brave veterans) but I can refer you to people who can probably assist you in your research. The 78th Div. has a veterans' association, with a wonderful publication. They're a very active group and appreciate hearing from and about old comrades. Their publication, The Flash, is chock-full of stories from the war, and they communicate via it across country. The name of the editor, and his address: Mr. Bill Parsons, 224 Myers Corners Rd., Wappinger Falls, NY 12590. Phone # 914-297-2877. The historian of the association is a Mr. Stanley Polny, at 921 Liberty Street, McKees Rocks, PA 15136, Phone # 412-771-2240. Wishing you luck in your search,

Cpt. Laura Kenney, 78th Div. Public Affairs Officer



I then wrote letters to both Stanley Polney and Bill Parsons on 07 December 1998

Dear Bill and Stanley,

I am writing you on a referral from Captain Laura Kenney of the 78th Division Public Affairs Office, in hopes that you might be able to help me locate some information about my uncle, Andrew Lincoln, who was killed during action in Stieldorf, east of Bonn, on 20 March, 1945. His unit was part of the 309 Infantry which I understand was part of the 78th Infantry. I made the connection with the 78th from a web search I did a few months back The website I made contact with and was able to email their commander was at http://www78div.pica.army.mil/78div/hist.htm

Though I realize that there may exist no record of Andrew himself, or any veterans who may remember who he was, just a young kid, fresh out of high school, I am hoping that your unit histories may have some record of the action around Stieldorf on that date. From this information, our family may be able to solve a mystery that has existed for over 50 years, i.e. no one ever determined or was able to determine the exact circumstances of his death. Today, I am the caretaker of his Purple Heart, posthumously awared, and it is my duty to try to finally, maybe, just perhaps, be able to determine what happened that day. My grandmother never ever really recovered from the loss of her son, Andrew. Being a father of a 21 year old son, I now know, what that sense of loss must have been like. Sadly, my family's tragedy goes even beyond Andrew's death. My mother Carol, Andrew's sister, died of leukemia when I was fifteen years of age. Andrew's dad died when I was sixteen, his mother, Helen, died when I was just seventeen, so the lineage and heritage of that family, rests soley with me.

I am enclosing copies of a map showing the exact location of Stieldorf and a copy of Chaplain Ralph L. Cannon's letter to my grandmother, dated 23 April 1945, which references also his service number 39148637, and a copy of Captain Laura Kenney's email to me.

Any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated. If you have email and wish to correspond with me that way, would be fine. My email address is at the top of this letterhead. If there is any reproduction costs, I would be happy to cover any costs incurred.

Very truly yours,

Greg Farrell


Additional Letters

Letter from Stanley Polny, 78th Division Association Historian, dated 23 December 1998, informing me he confirmed Andrew's name in the 309th Regiment's KIA listing and company assignment.

Letter from me to Bill Parsons, Stanley Polny, Mervin Sheppard and Stephen Dobrenchuck, dated 29 December 1998

Letter from Stephen A. Dobrenchuk, who was with C-Company, dated 02 January 1999 and page 2

Letter from Mervin H. Sheppard, who was with C-Company, dated 10 January 1999 and page 2

Letter from Stanley Polny, dated 12 January 1999, and page 2, in which he included After Action Report copies concerning action around Stieldorf, Germany:


Many people recently have been of great help to me in trying to reconstruct the circumstances of his death, which until about 2 years ago, the truth of which, was unknown. With the miracle of communication today via the Internet, a young German patriot and friend of the 78th Division, Ralf Klodt, who shares my love for history, came across my letter to Bill Parsons, which Bill had (unknown at the time to me) published in "The Flash", back I guess in January 1999. Ralf sent me an e-mail which hit me literally, like a bolt of lightning. I just could not believe my luck and good fortune. I wrote Ralf (via his friend Arno) back immediately.

Ralf sent me some detailed photos, showing the countryside and battlefield area around Stieldorf, for clues on the course of the battle that day. Several other fine gentlemen, veterans of the 78th Division, have also been of great assistance in my research.

Andrew E. Lincoln's basic training picture, July 1944.

Thanksgiving 1944 - last time home on leave. Note the Son-in-Service Star Flag in the window above Andrew's right shoulder.


Stieldorf, Germany

This is the center of Stieldorf today, where five roads intersect. All Stieldorf area photos courtesy of Ralf Klodt (sitting next to friend, Guido Gemein on right, Ralf on left - very nice hot rod!) , who lives about a mile away in Oberscheuren, just northeast of Stieldorf). Stieldorf lies about 9 km north of Remagen, where the 78th Division crossed the only bridge left intact on the Rhine on 07 March 1945. Andrew and the 1st Battalion crossed the bridge on the 7th of March.

Copy of Ralf's Letter of 19 February 1999, which describes the maps and photos he included. He also included an empty powdered lemon juice ration packet, which he found in one of the B-Company foxholes near Vinxel.

Maps of the area in varying scales (courtesy of Ralf Klodt):

See Ralf's letter pages 1, 2, 3    for descriptions of maps and photos.


Letter I received from Ralf, 04 March 1999, that he had located some C-Company Foxholes:

And now finally: I´ve found some C Company foxholes!!! At the most unthinkable (?) place I´ve found some advanced positions of C Comp. A few days ago I´ve spent some more time to look for their foxholes in the area. I´ve checked some smaller woods in the near of Frankenforst for four hours. It was really "nice" - with snow and mud and a hail storm. I gave up there with no results, but shortly before dusk I´ve checked a very small wood very close to Frankenforst - and there were some foxholes! Really unbelieveable, because those advanced troops (maybe two squads) spent the night only hundred yards away from the first buildings of Frankenforst. On the map you can see Frankenforst and the road directly to the south. Between this road and Frankenforst there´s this small wood I´m talking about. A real high tactical risk to spent the night there! The main troops of C Company must have spent the night somewhere deep in the woods south of this road.

I then replied to Ralf with some lunar information concerning the early morning (00:00-03:00 hrs) of 20 March 1945:

This is more good news! Who knows? Maybe Andrew dug one of those foxholes.

I suspect this was a forward listening post, or perhaps the farm was deserted at the time. I agree with you, seems very close, but that night, the moon was in 1st quarter phase and set around 01:46 hrs. Moving through the woods, two small squads could have easily moved up to set-up advanced positions around 02:00 am, in preparation for the morning assault at 05:45 on Frankenforst. This moon phase calculator I searched for and found as I am writing this to you, and gives you this information. It can be downloaded by you from http://www.iserv.net/~bsidell/moonrise.htm   and can give you moonrise, set, and phase for any date. I used -1 hours from Greenwich Meantime and 7' 11" east longitude, 50' 40" north latitude for Konigswinter, to determine the exact time of the moonset. Transit occured at 18:35 hours (moon at highest point in the sky) with sunset at 18:44 pm. C-Company would have had to have waited to very late at night to move into the forested area, and then very quietly. The AA reports of the 16th-19th will be very helpful to us to try to detail their movements, I agree.

Area to South of Stieldorf described in After Action Reports of 20 March 1945

Click on any Stieldorf area photo to view it in full size.

Looking southeast towards Frankenforst

View northeast from Frankenforst towards Stieldorf. Note the Stieldorf church steeple on the middle left in photo.

Frankenforst from Vinxel

View of Oelinghoven from Vinxel. Rott (church) on left and Bockeroth on far right horizon. Artillery barrage came from both Rott and Bockeroth.

View of Frankenforst (left) and Vinxel (right) from Bockeroth, just southwest of Stieldorf. Note the valley in the middle of the photo.


Above, is a panorama of the little valley or draw, southwest of Oelinghoven and Stieldorf, where the artillery barrage hit C-Company in the open, according to the AA reports of 20 March. Here is where we think Andrew may have been killed. View is looking east from the vicinity east of Vinxel. The countryside is beautiful. Let's hope and pray fine men, American or German, never have to fight again here, against any enemy.


This is Andrew's headstone today, taken 07 March 1999, at Golden Gate National Cemetary, just south of San Francisco, California (link to article by my cousin about GGNC).Andrew is in Section D-376.

Admiral Chester Nimitz is also buried here in section C (link to a 2nd article by my cousin about GGNC), within a few hundred feet of where Andrew is.

This is Andrew's Purple Heart, awarded posthumously, and Son-in-Service Star that belonged to my grandmother.

Reconstruction of the medals, ribbons, and unit patches Andy Lincoln would have worn. Palo Alto High School Class of 1944, you can be very proud of this classmate's service.

Top left to right: 1st Army shoulder patch, Remagen Bridge Commemorative patch, 78th Division patch, Combat Infantry Badge (CIB). Next row: 309th Regimental Crest, Presidential Unit Citation (Schwammenauel Dam), Infantry Branch and US Collar Brass; Medals: Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, Europe-Africa-Middle East Campaign Medal, WW2 Victory Medal; bottom is Markmanship Medal, with Rifle, Bayonet and Grenade bars (my best guess).


Andrew before the War and Family

Andew loved sailing and was a dedicated Sea Scout        My mom's headstone at GGNC today, not far from Andrew's, Section 2C-2464.

Andrew, Eldon (my grandfather) and my mom at the 1939 World's Fair in San Francisco. Eldon's headstone today, not far from my mom's, Section 2C-1005.

My grandmother Helen (Andrew's mom) and my mom, circa 1940. Grandma's headstone today (backside of Eldon's), buried alongside Eldon. Helen died on my birthday, 1967, the end of a long family tragedy.

My Mother, Carol Marie Lincoln, Senior Picture, Palo Alto High School Class of 1945 - a stunningly beautiful woman, active in athletics, lover of the arts and intellect.


Additional Photos and Links:

Palo Alto High School Alumni Homepage

Julie Alger (Hill) Memorial Website - Created by her beloved daughter, Victoria Alger White. Julie was a classmate of Andrew's (Palo Alto High School Class of 1944). Victoria has been a big help to me in providing Paly High School 50th Reunion information her mother had received just prior to her death in 1994.

Palo Alto High School Class of 1944 - 50th Reunion Photos

More photos of Andrew Lincoln and Julie Alger from 1942 and 1944 Palo Alto High School Yearbooks


For information, comments, and any information you might have, please write me:

Greg (Lincoln) Farrell

5509 Dupont Drive

Santa Rosa, CA 95409

Email: gregf@NOSPAMMEpon.net (for emailing me, just remove the "NOSPAMME" and leave the rest)


Visitors since 20 March 1999
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