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Denvil Dale Summers

Courtesy James Summers

West Virginia
Veterans Memorial

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Denvil Dale Summers
1917-1944

“It takes twenty years or more of peace to make a man; it takes about twenty seconds of war to destroy him.”

Baudouin I, King of Belgium

United States Army Corporal Denvil Dale Summers, known to his family as “Dale,” and as “Denvil” by his comrades was born August 21, 1917, at Advent, Jackson County, West Virginia, and attended grammar school there. Dale’s parents were Leftridge Romeo Summers and Ida Virginia Jordan Summers. Leftridge and Ida had nine children: Ruby Myrtle Summers Hayes (1910-1937), Robert William “Bob” Summers (1913-1985), Audrey Summers (1916), Denvil Dale Summers (1917-1944), Faris Ray Summers (1920-2000), Eugene Odare Summers (1923-1951), June Geraldine Summers Torchio-Elliott (1925-2001), Camden Stafford “Staff” Summers (1929-), and Hansford Iven “Hank” Summers (1932-2009).

Dale enlisted in the Army on June 26, 1940, in Kanawha County, West Virginia. On February 14, 1943, while in the Army, he married Rosemary Harriet Cole in Riverside, California. She was born July 24, 1923, in Orting, Pierce County, Washington, the daughter of Elis Edward and Lillian Harriet Antrim Cole. Dale and Rosemary had two children, Dale Ellis Summers and Virginia Jean Summers Rhine. Rosemary is still alive at the time of this writing (2016) and living in the state of Washington.

Losing his life in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, Dale was buried at the Allied War Memorial Cemetery, Grand Duchy, Luxembourg. Rosemary remarried about 1953 to Lloyd C. Barnett. Lloyd was born November 5, 1923, a son of James W. and Bertha Bailie Barnett. Lloyd passed away August 15, 2010.

Dale enlisted in the Army on June 26, 1940. He served during World War II in Headquarters Company of the 60th Armored Infantry Battalion of the 9th Armored Division and was killed in action in December 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge. At the time the date was estimated to be the 28th, when he was listed as KIA, but was most likely December 19th, just two days before his second child was born. Although his unit had no official nickname at the time, Hitler himself dubbed it the “Phantom Division” because it took on the appearance of a phantom. The Division seemed to be everywhere on the front when three different German commanders reported they were fighting the 9th Division. The “Phantom Division” would later become the official nickname of the 9th. The Division saw its severest action at St. Vith, Echternach, Beaufort, and Bastogne, its units fighting in widely separated areas.
Insignia of the 9th Armored Division

Insignia of the 9th Armored Division

Dale died at Beaufort from shrapnel wounds to his thigh and back from a mortar. He most likely met his death the evening of 19th or sometime in the early morning hours of the 20th. He was hit with shrapnel wounds from a “Screaming Mimi” (or “Meemie”) mortar attack the evening of the 19th.

The information below was related to me, his nephew, and better told by Paul Crucq, author of the book Strike, Fight, and Conquer: 60th Armored Infantry Battalion [Personnel List], August 1944 – May 1945 (Drukkerij Truijen, 1993). The information was corroborated by family members of Sgt. Roy Hojio, Dale’s good friend who over the years told them of his Army experiences, as well as published stories in local newspapers in Nebraska. All these sources indicate Roy’s good friend was Denvil Summers.

I have written and published (in 1993) the Battalion’s history of the 60th Armored Infantry Battalion during WWII. While working on this book I interviewed many members of the Battalion including Sgt Roy Hojio whom I met twice in the States during Battalion reunions.

In short: I am almost for 100% sure that Cpl Denvil Summers was part of a two men messenger group, sent by Battalion HQ at Savelborn, to contact the 1st Platoon and AT Platoon, Co C who were surrounded by German troops since December 16, the start of the Battle of the Bulge. They were on the Scheidberg just north of the hamlet of Bigelbach, cut off and out of communication with Bn HQ.

Roy Hojio was a member of Headquarters Company Assault Gun Platoon, captured on the outskirts of Beaufort but escaped and joined the 1st Plat & AT Platoon, Co C. He must have been well befriended with Denvil Summers.

I quote from his recollections:

Just after one of those Screaming Meemie attacks, the Lt came over and told me Cpl Summers had just come up with a search party and the first thing he asked was, “Is Sgt Hojio here?” The Lieutenant told him I was. Just after the Lt left we received another barrage and then they were yelling for us to move out. The Germans were coming up the hill….

That night, before we stopped for a break, some of the men were having trouble to keep up. At this break I asked the sergeant where Cpl Summers was and he told me Cpl Summers got hit and wanted the rest of the men to go on because he would just slow them down.

I have a few more recollections from 1st Platoon & AT Platoon men who relate about messengers coming in into their positions on the Scheidberg.

This all happened during December 19. The withdrawal of 1st Plat & AT Plat, C Co was during the evening of December 19 and early morning of December 20.

According to the Bn Morning Reports, Cpl Summers was MIA as of December 20 and reported KIA December 28. This fits because the group reached friendly lines early morning December 20. I assume heads were counted and it was reported that Cpl Summers was not there.

I hope the information is of use. The above is just a brief account of the situation. Looking forward to hearing from you. In the meantime I remain with kind regards...

Yours Sincerely,

Paul M. Crucq
Hon. Mem. 60th AIB

Another account from Stars and Stripes:

Nobody told the doughs of the 60th Armd. Inf. Bn. to pull out, so they stayed and fought until word finally got through to them. A few days later they showed up in German helmets and with blankets draped over their shoulders, their rifles slung with bayonets fixed. They walked through German lines that way.... They kept right on going until they reached the U.S. lines. After that, they fought some more. (Source: The 9th: The Story of the 9th Armored Division [booklet in a series published by the Stars & Stripes in Paris, 1944-1945], accessed February 11, 2016, http://www.lonesentry.com/gi_stories_booklets/9tharmored/index.html).

These soldiers were the soldiers that Dale and another soldier were sent to locate and relay the message to fall back to their unit in at Savelborn. Again this information was corroborated by family members of Sgt. Roy Hojio in recollections of his experiences.

The 60th Armored Infantry Battalion of the 9th Armored Division was known for its fierce defenses, and its operations are well-chronicled in military history. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum offers several stories about the unit (“9th Armored Division,” accessed February 11, 2016, http://www.ushmm.org/search/results/?q=9th+armored+division). Additional detail can be read in the accounts of the U.S. Army Center of Military History, “Combat Chronicles of the U.S. Army Division in WWII” (accessed February 11, 2016, http://www.history.army.mil/html/forcestruc/cbtchron/cc/009ad.htm).

Afterwards, in January, Dale would be buried at the Allied War Memorial Cemetery, Grand Duchy, Luxembourg. During the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944, his unit, the 60th AIB, received a Presidential Unit Citation (PUC) for gallantry against the attacking German forces at Echternach, Luxembourg.

After Dale’s death, his unit would go on to help open the road to Bastogne for the trapped 101st Airborne unit there. The division took part in the fierce fighting to stop the German offensive in the Battle of the Bulge. The 9th withstood the repeated attacks on the town of Bastogne, Belgium. His unit then raced on to Germany, where on March 7, 1945, the unit captured the last remaining bridge over the Rhine, the Ludendorff Bridge over the Rhine River at the city of Remagen, before the retreating Germans could destroy it. This allowed the Army to speed on into Germany. They placed a sign on the bridge for the crossing troops to read: “Cross the Rhine with dry feet courtesy of 9th Arm’d Div.” The operation was later depicted in the 1969 movie The Bridge at Remagen. The 9th continued its drive into central Germany and had advanced by war’s end into Czechoslovakia. On May 8, 1945, troops of the 9th, along with comrades from the 1st Infantry Division, liberated Zwodau and Falkenau an der Eger, both subcamps of the Flossenbürg concentration camp. Both camps were located in the territory of what today is the Czech Republic. German SS entrepreneurs had established Zwodau in 1944 for the production of air force equipment, and, by March 1945, it housed some 1,200 female prisoners. Falkenau housed 60 prisoners. At the time of its liberation, the camp in Zwodau held some 900 to 1,000 starving women prisoners. The army divisions procured food from the neighboring areas and provided badly needed medical attention to the survivors. The 9th Armored Division was recognized as a liberating unit by the U.S. Army’s Center of Military History and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1993.

As a footnote, after the war, Sgt. Roy Hojio told family members many times he wanted to make a trip overseas to visit the grave of his good friend Cpl. Denvil Summers and pay his respects, but he was never able to do so.

Purple Heart

Purple Heart

Among other honors, Dale was awarded the Purple Heart for his sacrifice, and he continues to be honored in the Luxembourg Cemetery.
Luxembourg American Cemetery

Luxembourg American Cemetery. Courtesy American Battle Monuments Commission


James Summers, nephew of Denvil Dale Summers, researched his uncle’s story and prepared this article.
February 2016
Revised August 2017

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Denvil Dale Summers

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