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Margel Siron Landes
1925-1945

"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear."

Mark Twain

U.S. Army Private Margel Siron Landes was born on November 29, 1925, to parents Jonathan Siron Landes and Maude Ellen Douglas Landes. He was born in Evergreen, French Creek, Upshur County, West Virginia. The 1930 Federal Census lists Margel as a farmer prior to his military service, and The Republican-Delta newspaper of April 5, 1945, states he worked at Mays Cleaners in Clarksburg. He pursued these occupations after completing grammar school. Margel’s siblings included Fred, Harlen, Flora, Marple, Malissa, Anna, Marley, and French.

French Creek, West Virginia, is a very small, mostly Protestant, unincorporated farming town, producing primarily beef cattle, located in Upshur County, West Virginia. In the 1920s, this area was home to a variety of industries, including tanneries, printing companies, coal mines, glass plants, and even some chemical companies. The locals of this area typically attended Buckhannon High School, as it was the closest to the small town. In the 1930s, the production of this town was relatively unchanged, and students continued to attend Buckhannon High School; however, in June 1936 the Strawberry Festival began in Buckhannon as a way to encourage the production of strawberries in Upshur County. This festival originally lasted one day, but after six years it grew to include two parades, a pageant, an air show, a marble tournament, and fiddlers. The festival continues to this day, with it being held in late May each year. In the 1940s, the area’s production grew to include strawberries with the promotion of the festival. Those who stayed in school beyond the elementary grades continued to attend Buckhannon High School, and Upshur County’s population was near 18,360. (Sources: Philip Mallory Conley, “Upshur County,” The West Virginia Encyclopedia [Charleston, WV: West Virginia Publishing Company, 1929: 930-33]; Noel W. Tenney, “Upshur County,” e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia, 4 June 2013, accessed 9 June 2016, http://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/842.)

West Virginia during World War II was a very war-supporting state, boasting the fifth highest rate of servicemen enlistment among states. During the war, West Virginia produced 600 million tons of coal; manufactured steel for warships; rationed food, butter, and gas; and citizens purchased $208,997 worth of war bonds. Also, the Greenbrier Resort served as a detention center for Axis diplomats and as a hospital for wounded soldiers specializing in vascular and neurosurgery. The United States during World War II had a vast labor shortage due to the colossal numbers of men in the armed services. This shortage caused women across America (the Rosie the Riveters) to work in factories to aid in the wartime production efforts. West Virginians, as well as all Americans, understood the sacrifices that required the rationing of food, butter, and gas to aid in supplies overseas. This rationing resulted in a massive upbringing of backyard gardens to aid in food production for families. (Source: West Virginia State Archives, “From Every Mountainside [early 1942 film made by the West Virginia State Road Commission to show West Virginia's part in the war effort],” 31 July 2015, accessed 8 June 2016, https://www.youtube.com.)

Army Private Margel S. Landes was a member of Company A, 309th Infantry, 78th Division, which was deployed to Europe during the war. In March of 1945, the 309th Infantry was in Germany, approaching the Rhine. On March 4, the 78th Division was ordered to extend its guard southeast. Pvt. Landes’ battalion arrived in Flamersheim in the morning of March 7. On March 9, after capturing many towns in the region, the 309th Infantry was bombarded by German fire. The regiment continued to fight, making great progress by the 14th of the month. On March 17, Company A was relieved of its service. (Source: Sgt. Thomas P. Lockhart Jr., “‘Diehard’: History of the 309th Infantry Regiment,” 78th Division Veterans Association, June 1990, accessed 12 May 2016, http://www.78thdivision.org.)

Pvt. Landes died of wounds sustained during these battles within a week of his brother’s death in the Pacific. A death notice in the local newspaper places the date of Margel’s death at March 3, 1945. (Source: “Lose Two Sons Within Week,” The Republican-Delta, 5 April 1945.) Thus the Landes family had paid the ultimate price with the deaths of two sons occurring within a very short period of time.

Pvt. Margel Siron Landes is buried in Waterloo Cemetery, French Creek, Upshur County, West Virginia, with both of his parents and some of his siblings. In 2015, the bridge on County Route 32, Evergreen Road, in Upshur County was named “USM Cpl Marple W. Landes and U.S. Army PV2 Margel S. Landes Memorial Bridge” in memory of Margel and his brother Marple.
marker

Grave marker for Cpl. Margel Siron Landes, Waterloo Cemetery. Courtesy Ben York, Find A Grave



Article prepared by Katie Martin, Charlie Payne, and Savannah Reese, George Washington High School Advanced Placement U.S. History
May 2016

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Margel Siron Landes

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