Edwin Joseph NEELY


Neely Edwin J
NUMBER OF SERVICEO-1183140 (33308164)
AGE22 yo
DATE OF BIRTH17 December 1921
Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, PENNSYLVANIA

Parents: William Herbert & Catherine Justinia. Maxwell NEELY
Siblings: John Maxwell 

RANKSecond Lieutenant
JOB BEFORE ENLISTEMENTPaymasters, payroll clerks, and timekeepers PA
DATE of ENLISTEMENT12  Octobre  1942  Pittsburgh PENNSYLVANIA
BATTALION311th Field Artillery Battalion
DIVISION  79th Infantry Division
DATE OF DEATH25 June 1944neely edwin j tombe

Map of Normandy American Cemetery


Purple Heart

World War II Victory Medal 

Photo FDLM

victory medal


us army div 79

2nd Lt Edwin J. Neely was from Pittsburgh PA.
He was born in 1921. He enlisted October 12th, 1942. At that time he had attended 3 years of college, was single and had no children. His army serial number was 33308164
He was in the 311th Field Artillery Battalion, 79th Infantry Division. He was awarded the Purple Heart.
He died at Normandy on June 25th. He was part of the Allied invasion that began on D-Day June 6th. His unit landed on Utah beach in mid-June and was part of the attack up Cherbourg. He was dead within 2 weeks. He was a second Lt Warrant Officer when he died.


Neely Edwin J 1 Neely Edwin J 2
 Neely Edwin J presse 

The information below of how Edwin died was sent to me by the son of one of the men present. I am very grateful for it.

From the diaries of Col. Walton S. Van Arsdale, US Army, 79th Division :

"During the spring and summer of 1944, I was the Executive Officer of the 311th Field Artillery Battalion, 79th Infantry Division. The battalion was commanded by Lt. Colonel Thomas Foote.

The 314th Infantry Regiment was alerted for commitment on the 20th of June. The Regiment moved along very well until they reached the outer perimeter of the Cherbourg defenses. This was where the going got rough. June 21st, 1944. During the daylight hours of the first two days the regiment had been fighting hard from daylight (about 4am) until dark (about 8pm). After the day's fighting was over the planning for the next days battle was being made at the Infantry Command Post.

On June 22nd, 1944, somewhere east of Tollevast and west of the Valognes-Cherbourg Highway, at some time during the day, most likely afternoon, the regiment was encountering heavy resistance. The Artillery Fire Direction center was receiving calls for fire from all directions. Our command post on this date was an apple orchard or small field, surrounded by the hedgerows that are so common there. We were East-South-East of a small town named Negreville. Because of the Speed of the action and the type of terrain it was deemed necessary by Lt. Col. Foote to send out more Forward Observer parties than the normal three (one to each infantry battalion). As well as I can remember we had 6 F.O. parties in addition to the regular assigned 3.

During this critical time for the regiment, 2 Artillery F.O. parties were lost, one of which was commanded by 2nd Lt. Edwin Neely and assisted by Sgt. Theodore W. Miller. During a heavy concentration of enemy artillery fire both Lt. Neely and Sgt. Miller were killed in action. As they were directing our artillery fire on the enemy from a forward position a single shell hit their position, killing both. This left only the radio operator who knew nothing of artillery fire. Lt. Col. Foote was present nearby when this happened and took over the artillery fire direction and neutralized the enemy positions. After relief soldiers arrived the bodies of Neely and Miller were evacuated to an aid station. This date, the 22nd, was key to the activities that led to the successful capture of Cherbourg."Lt. Neely was apparently part of the Service Battery of the Regiment. On the day of the action it is unknown which battalion he was supporting. There is some confusion as to the exact dates. In a letter from Lt. Col. Foote it may have been the 24th or 25th, but my grandfather had pretty good records and insisted it was the 22nd. He seemed to think it fit with the documented history of the 79th Division in the Contenin Peninsula.

I can tell from his other entries in the diary that he was quite affected by the deaths of these men under his command, it was never an easy thing for him to move past.
Anyway, hope this is of interest to you, and you may freely pass it around to your other family members if you like.

Best, James

James Van Arsdale, Santa Barbara, CA
( I think finding this info was true miracle, guided by heaven, it was so unusual to find. I just wrote to James Arsdale about the unit and he had Edwin in his dad's diary.)
I also prayed and prayed for a picture of Edwin. I found a relative on Ancestry.com who had some. I think my prayers were answered here too.

World War II Victory Medal as earned by 2nd Lieutenant Edwin J. Neely, US Army, D-Day soldier. (Awarded posthumously) Rest in Peace, Sir. / The World War II Victory Medal is a decoration of the United States military which was created by an act of Congress in July 1945. The decoration commemorates military service during the Second World War and is awarded to any member of the United States military, including members of the armed forces of the Government of the Philippine Islands, who served on active duty, or as a reservist, between December 7, 1941 and December 31, 1946.
- Grateful Patriot

A soldier, a gentleman and a man of honor is at rest. The Gates of Heaven have swung open and the Heavenly Father has extended His mighty hand. Take His hand, Edwin J. Neely. You may be gone but you will never be forgotten. Go with God.
- Inge and Patrick Campbell Sr.
Added: Jan. 6, 2015


Edwin's father was W. Herbert Neely and his mother was Catherine Justinia Maxwell Neely. The Findagrave.com links to their memorials are below.
I don't know if his mother ever got to Normandy to visit his grave. It is heart-rending. My cousin told me Edwin's dad grieved all his life for Edwin.

He was the middle of 5 children: William H, John M., Edwin J, Mary and William F.

His grandfather was William Francis Neely. His memorial is at at Find a grave site 121415785,
and his grandmother was Mary Flood Neely, Find A Grave Memorial# 121388269

His great grandfather James Flood (Memorial # 121413497) came from Ireland and served in the Civil War.


I know many people who served in WWII, including 2 who were at D Day. They all deny they are heroes. They all say the true heroes are the ones who did not make it home. One of these is Edwin.

to Edwin: You were only 22 when you died, which is so terribly young. You rest forever so far away from your family. There were no children for you, no grandchildren, no Pittsburgh Steelers, no new cars, no picnics or fishing or anything else.But you did something more important than any of us will probably ever do. I hope you now dwell in peace and joy and love forever with your family and all the angels in the shelter of God.

- E.

div 79





15 Jun 1942  Days of Combat/Jour de Combat  248
   Casualties/Victimes 15 203

Entered Combat/Entré au combat

19 Jun 1944 Normandy  

Commanding Generals/Commandants généraux

Maj. Gen. Ira T. Wyche (Jun 42 - May 45)
Brig. Gen. LeRoy H. Watson (May 45 - Jul 45)
Maj. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe (Jul 45 - Aug 45)
Brig. Gen. LeRoy H. Watson (Aug 45 - inactivation)


Normandy (6 Jun 44 - 24 Jul 44)
Northern France (25 Jul 44 - 14 Sep 44)
Rhineland (15 Sep 44 - 21 Mar 45)
Central Europe (22 Mar 45 - 11 May 45)



carte campagne europe


Après s'être entraînée au Royaume-Uni à partir du 17 avril 1944, la 79th Infantry Division débarque à Utah Beach, en Normandie, du 12 au 14 juin et entre en combat le 19 juin 1944 sur les hauteurs ouest et nord-ouest de Valognes. Cherbourg. La Division prend Fort du Roule après un engagement fort et est entrée à Cherbourg, le 25 juin. Il a tenu une ligne défensive à la rivière d'Ollonde jusqu'au 2 juillet 1944 et est ensuite retourné à l'offensive, prenant la Haye du Puits dans les combats de porte à porte, le 8 juillet. Le 26 juillet, le 79e attaqua de l'autre côté de la rivière Ay, prit Lessay, traversa la Sarthe et entra au Mans le 8 août, ne rencontrant qu'une faible résistance. L'avancée se poursuit de l'autre côté de la Seine, le 19 août. Les contre-attaques allemandes lourdes ont été repoussées du 22 au 27 août et la Division a atteint la rivière Therain le 31 août. Passant rapidement à la frontière franco-belge près de Saint-Amand, la division rencontre une forte résistance en prenant Charmes dans les combats de rue, le 12 septembre. La 79ème traversée de la Moselle et de la Meurthe, du 13 au 23 septembre, a nettoyé la Foret de Parroy dans un engagement sévère, du 28 septembre au 9 octobre, et a attaqué pour gagner des hauteurs à l'est d'Embermenil, 14-23 octobre. , 24 octobre. Après le repos et l'entraînement à Lunéville, la division est revenue au combat avec une attaque de la région de Mignevine -Montiguy, le 13 novembre 1944, qui a traversé les rivières Vezouse et Moder, du 18 novembre au 10 décembre, en passant par Haguenau malgré la résistance déterminée de l'ennemi. dans la ligne Siegfried, 17-20 décembre. La division tenait une ligne de défense le long de la Lauter, à Wissembourg du 20 décembre 1944 au 2 janvier 1945, date à laquelle elle se replia sur les défenses de la ligne Maginot. La tentative allemande d'établir une tête de pont à l'ouest du Rhin à Gambsheim a donné lieu à des combats furieux. Le 79e a battu les attaques allemandes à Hatten et Rittershoffen dans une bataille de 11 jours avant de se replier vers de nouvelles positions défensives au sud de Haguenau sur la rivière Moder, le 19 janvier 1945. La Division est restée sur la défensive le 6 février 1945. En février et mars 1945, la Division retourne au combat, le 24 mars 1945, traverse le Rhin, traverse le canal Rhin-Herne le 7 avril, sécurise la rive nord de la Ruhr et participe au dégagement de la poche de la Ruhr jusqu'au 13 avril. La division a ensuite successivement occupé des fonctions d'occupation dans les régions de Dortmund, des Sudètes et de Bavière jusqu'à son retour aux États-Unis et son inactivation.


After training in the United Kingdom from 17 April 1944, the 79th Infantry Division landed on Utah Beach, Normandy, 12-14 June and entered combat 19 June 1944, with an attack on the high ground west and northwest of Valognes and high ground south of Cherbourg. The Division took Fort du Roule after a heavy engagement and entered Cherbourg, 25 June. It held a defensive line at the Ollonde River until 2 July 1944 and then returned to the offensive, taking La Haye du Puits in house-to-house fighting, 8 July. On 26 July, the 79th attacked across the Ay River, took Lessay, crossed the Sarthe River and entered Le Mans, 8 August, meeting only light resistance. The advance continued across the Seine, 19 August. Heavy German counterattacks were repulsed, 22-27 August, and the Division reached the Therain River, 31 August. Moving swiftly to the Franco-Belgian frontier near St. Amand, the Division encountered heavy resistance in taking Charmes in street fighting, 12 September. The 79th cut across the Moselle and Meurthe Rivers, 13-23 September, cleared the Foret de Parroy in a severe engagement, 28 September-9 October, and attacked to gain high ground east of Embermenil, 14-23 October, when it was relieved, 24 October. After rest and training at Luneville, the Division returned to combat with an attack from the MignevineMontiguy area, 13 November 1944, which carried it across the Vezouse and Moder Rivers, 18 November-10 December, through Haguenau in spite of determined enemy resistance, and into the Siegfried Line, 17-20 December. The Division held a defensive line along the Lauter River, at Wissembourg from 20 December 1944 until 2 January 1945, when it withdrew to Maginot Line defenses. The German attempt to establish a bridgehead west of the Rhine at Gambsheim resulted in furious fighting. The 79th beat off German attacks at Hatten and Rittershoffen in an 11-day battle before withdrawing to new defensive positions south of Haguenau on the Moder River, 19 January 1945. The Division remained on the defensive along the Moder until 6 February 1945. After resting in February and March 1945, the Division returned to combat, 24 March 1945, crossed the Rhine, drove across the Rhine-Herne Canal, 7 April, secured the north bank of the Ruhr and took part in clearing the Ruhr Pocket until 13 April. The Division then went on occupation duty, in the Dortmund, Sudetenland, and Bavarian areas successively, until its return to the United States and inactivation.
SOURCE INFORMATION & PHOTOArmydivs.squarespace.com

SOURCE INFORMATION & PHOTOAbmc.gov - Findagrave.com - Monty Mc DANIEL - Frédéric LAVERNHE - Aad.archives.gov
PROGRAMMERGarrett, Clive, Frédéric & Renaud
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