BARRE – During World War II, dispatches would be sent back to this small Central Massachusetts town and run in the weekly Barre Gazette, denoting the heroic deeds of local soldiers serving in the European Theater of Operations.
Soldiers from Barre would leave the comfortable confines of their hometown to serve on the battlefields of the Anzio Beachhead and Normandy, Pearl Harbor and in such faraway locales as China, the Philippines, Japan, Germany, France and Belgium.
In addition, many young men whose ancestors came from Italy would have the opportunity to visit their homeland, despite the fact that it was wartime.
This is the continuation of the series Remembering Local World War II Heroes.
Sgt. Harry L. Miller (1923-1945)
Harry Lewis Miller was born on May 6, 1923 in Skaneateles Falls, New York, which was also listed as Merrifield, New York. He moved to Barre with his mother, Bessie C. (Nickerson) Miller, and lived on Front Street in Barre Plains.
Miller was employed at the First National Store at 7 Exchange St. prior to his enlistment in the U. S. Army in February of 1943. Upon his induction, Miller was sent overseas and assigned to the 342nd infantry, 86th Black Hawks division.
According to an item in the Boston Herald on May 2, 1945, he was listed among the wounded in the European Theater.
Sgt. Miller died on Dec. 15, 1945 in Amberg, Germany, from injuries received in a fall at the age of 22. He was buried in Glen Valley Cemetery in Barre.
Besides his mother, he was also survived by a brother Donald of Barre Plains, and a sister Josephine Whigham of Needham.
On May 22, 1949, the Barre swimming pool off Route 122 on Worcester Road along the banks of the Ware River was dedicated to his memory and is today known as Miller’s Beach.
Pvt. Francis R. Sinclair (1922-1944)
Francis Raymond Sinclair was born on Dec. 20, 1922 in Wales, Massachusetts, the son of John Harcourt Richard and Viola C. (Wiecenski) Sinclair. After his parents divorced, his mother moved to Barre with her five sons.
Francis was the eldest of the five, which also included Richard, John, Donald and Timothy. On Aug. 14, 1943, Timothy was visiting relatives in Ashford, Connecticut, when the youngster was knocked from a bicycle in a collision with an automobile. He wound up sustaining injuries that resulted in his death at the age of 14.
Pvt. Sinclair was employed at one time at the Barre Wool Combing Co., and was later working at the San-Nap-Pak plant in Wheelwright at the time he entered the Army. He was spoken of by those who knew him as “a young man of excellent character, and one who was generally well-liked.”
He was a member of the 351st Infantry Regiment, 88th Infantry Division known as the Blue Devils.
On June 20, 1944, Mrs. Sinclair received a telegram from the War Department that her son was killed in action in Italy on May 29. He was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously, and also received a citation for meritorious conduct in action at the time of his death.
Pvt. Sinclair was buried in the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Nettuno, Italy.
A marker at Sinclair Corner joins those of Sgt. Joseph A. Illiscavitch and Staff/Sgt. Thomas W. Power at the triangle in Barre Plains at the intersection of North Brookfield and Wheelwright roads and Main Street, and was also dedicated on May 22, 1949.
Sgt. Lenwood E. Tuttle (1918-1944)
Lenwood (or Linwood) Everett “Buster” Tuttle was born on July 2, 1918 in Canaan, Main, to Peter Warren and Dora May (Brown) Tuttle. He came to Barre with his mother after she married George Lashua of Gardner, and he attended high school for two years.
His mother worked as a housekeeper for Walter W. Gates, a farmer who lived at 22 Williamsville Road in Barre. Lenwood had three other siblings, William, Geneva and Mildred.
In 1940 he was living in Athol and working as a laborer with the Union Twist Drill Company. Tuttle married the former Barbara McLean and they had a daughter Florence Patricia.
In April of 1941, he volunteered for paratrooper service before enlisting with the National Guard in Orange on Jan. 16, 1941.
Prior to his induction into the Army, he sustained a severe compound fracture of the leg in an automobile accident. It was expected that the injury would render him lame, but he was accepted for service. Moreover, he was surprisingly assigned to duty with the paratroopers.
In September 1943, he landed in England and was a member of the first battalion to jump in France on D-Day, with his regiment winning a Presidential citation.
He described his D-Day experience in a letter to local attorney Frederick W. Hiller, “The night we took off from England was just as good a night to jump as I have seen. A whole bunch of the leading men of Eisenhower's staff, some naval officers and the general himself, watched us take off and wished us lots of luck. And we sure needed it, too."
The trip over the channel wasn't bad until we hit the coast of France, and then the Germans threw everything but the guns at us. We got a 20-minute warning prior to jumping, and we were all ready to go then, because it didn't feel so hot to see the tracers coming up through the tail of the plane. When you were standing up waiting to jump."
The flak threw the plane all over the sky, and the pilots had a tough job keeping the planes in formation, which is so important when you are jumping a lot of planes full of men. We finally got the green light to go – and talk about feeling funny! I thought this was the last, but when I got out of the plane, I was still all in one piece."
The field below had a crossfire of machine guns on it, but with the grace of God, I got through it somehow, without getting touched. Then came the job of getting that ‘chute off, sweating at every little sound I heard, thinking it was a German, because we had been warned they would just as soon as not kill us, while we were in our ‘chutes, when we were helpless."
After we got assembled the real tough going started, but the average U.S. soldier will beat the Jerry at his own game. They are tough, and pull all kinds of tricks on you."
Well, to make a long story short, I'm sure proud to be a paratrooper and to be in the first battalion to jump in France. Our regiment got a Presidential citation for its work, and the men sure earned it, too.”
One year later on Sept. 24, 1944, as a member of the 101st Airborne, Sgt. Tuttle was killed in action in Holland at the age of 26. He was buried in Highland Cemetery in Athol.
Comments and suggestions for Remembering Local World War 2 Heroes can be sent to Mike Richard at firstname.lastname@example.org or in writing Mike Richard, 92 Boardley Rd. Sandwich, MA 02563.
This article originally appeared on Gardner News: WWII heroes from Barre Harry Miller, Francis Sinclair, Lenwood Tuttle