Monday, February 15, 2016

Cousins: Served Together, Died Together

Two young men died within days of each other during World War II. Not unusual, sadly, until I discovered they were cousins and served in the same Army infantry regiment. Wallace Jennings Horton, son of Richard White Horton and Virginia "Jennie" Ellen Jennings served with the 119th Infantry, 30th Division. He died on 13 September 1944 near Henri-Chappelle, Belgium, two days after the city of Maastricht fell. He was awarded the purple heart. So he may have been wounded some days earlier.

Wallace's third cousin once removed, Nathaniel Thomas Miller, son of Napoleon Bonaparte Miller and Annie Etta Stinnett and grandson of Anne Marie (Jennings) Miller, was born on 28 February 1919 in Amherst County, Virginia. He was born on the family farm where he lived until he was drafted. By 1940, he was 21 years old and worked as an assistant machinist for the state highway department. He entered the Army on 1 October 1941, almost two years before his cousin, Wallace, likely during one of the first rounds of the new draft created by the Selective Service and Training Act of 1940.

Little Hampton, one of the 30th Infantry Division's training areas in England;
photograph courtesy of Britain from Above

The 119th Infantry Regiment sailed for England on 12 February 1944 aboard the S/S Brazil and joined the largest convoy ever assembled until that time 100 miles east of Boston the next day. The regiment arrived in Liverpool on 22 February and continued training in Sussex and Buckinghamshire. On 8 June, two days after D-Day, they arrived in Southampton and began marshaling for their transport to France. They landed on Omaha Beach on 13 June and moved to Les Oubeaux, the division's assembly area. By the end of August, the 119th Infantry Regiment had liberated 83 French cities and towns and entered the Netherlands on 12 September.

By 18 September XIX Corps, of which the 30th Infantry Division was a part, had reached the German border. 2nd Armored and 30th Infantry Divisions were to attack the Sigfried Line, or West Wall, as early as 20 September and assist in the encirclement of Aachen. However, Operation Market Garden, farther to the north, had begun on 17 September and was given priority over other operations. Eisenhower issued a moratorium on offensive operations on 22 September due to critical supply shortages. As a result, the 30th Infantry Division's attack on Aachen never really got off the ground.

Sigfried Line, or West Wall, which 30th Infantry had to attack; image courtesy
of the 104th Infantry Division
The Sigfried Line; photograph from The Sigfried Line
Center for Military History, U.S. Army

The division wasn't idle, though. While top brass planned the next attack on the West Wall, which was set to jump off on 1 October, the soldiers were involved in intensive patrolling of their front lines. Nathaniel Thomas Miller likely was injured or killed in action during one of those patrols. He died on 29 September 1944 and was also interred at the Henri-Chappelle American Cemetery and Memorial.

Be sure to read my brother John's guest post, When Pursuit Comes to an End, for more on the 30th Infantry Division's story.

I have often wondered if Wallace Jennings Horton and Nathaniel Thomas Miller knew they were cousins or that they served in the same regiment.

Chart illustrating how Wallace Horton and Nat Miller are
related and how I am related to both of them; created using
Microsoft Powerpoint

Killed in Belgium During Heavy Fighting
When Pursuit Comes to an End

MacDonald, Charles B. The Sigfried Line Campaign, (Washington, DC: Center for Military History, U.S. Army, 1993) pages 251-322


  1. I love the look of your charts illustrating the relationships. I have Powerpoint but it's been years since I tried doing anything with it. ~ Cathy

    1. Thank you. Powerpoint has a Smart Draw Organization Chart feature, but I don't use it as it has a mind of it's own. I just draw rectangle shapes, format them to the colors I want to use, align them, and connect them together using lines. It's quite easy.

    2. Well at least you make it sound easy. I'll have to check it out. ~ Cathy