Donald  Kingdon SANDERS 




AGE27  yo
DATE OF BIRTH19 December 1917 from St Louis 

Married of : Helen

REGIMENT  121st Infantry Regiment 
DIVISION   8th Infantry Division
DATE OF DEATH8 August 1944ip

Map of St James American Cemetery


Silver Star

Soldier’s Medal 

Purple Heart

World War II Victory Medal 

Combat Infantryman Badge




Photo FDLM

victory medal

combat infantryman badge


us army div 8 Div 8 1 121ri 
8th Infantry Division

Captain Donald Kingdon SANDERS, Army number O-1287953, was born on 8 November 1916 in Saint-Louis, Missouri. He studied at Washington University where he practised athletics, boxing and swimming. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce as head of his class. He married Helen Armstrong MILLER on 21 July 1942 and their only daughter Dona was born on 20 November 1944, after the passing of her father.

He enlisted on 16 July 1942 and became 2nd Lieutenant of 63rd Training Bn., C Coy. He joined the 8th Infantry Division on 18 July 1944 as Commander of I Coy, in the 3rd Bn of 121st Inf. Reg. After training in Ireland, the men of 8th Inf. Div. had landed at Utah Beach on 4 July 1944. They fought in La Haye du Puits from 8 to 15 July. Operation Cobra was launched on 25 July in order to break the German lines between Périers and St Lô.

On the evening of 30 July, the 6th Armoured Division, commanded by General GROW, liberated Avranches. Pontorson would follow, thus paving the way for the Allied Forces towards Brittany. On 2 August, General PATTON set Brest as his objective. However, the German forces had come to strengthen the garrison in the fortress of Saint-Malo which had to be taken at all costs. The 3rd Bn of Lt-Col. EYLER, including Don SANDERS’ unit, was sent on 6 August to Dinan where the American forces obtained the surrender of the German troops.

On 7 August at 7:00 a.m., the men of the Combat Team 121, the «JETER Task Force» (named after its commander), now attached to the 83rd Division, headed towards Dinard to attack the German garrison. The 1st and 3rd Bn as well as the 83rd Cavalry Recce Troop opened the march and met a weak enemy resistance. Then they encountered a German patrol which they also eliminated.
At approximately 11:00 a.m., the 3rd Bn was subjected to intense enemy machine gun fire near Tréméreuc.
It should be noted that the Germans had blocked all the functional roads in the direction of Dinard: concrete, rocks, fallen trees and barbed wire. They had also set up strongholds of 20 to 80 soldiers with MP40s and heavy machine guns all along the front. The terrain was therefore hardly recognizable, except for the railway and the motorway, and this hindered the troops. The Engineers were sent to blow up these defences.

On 8 August at 7:00 am, the 2nd and 3rd Bn advance as best they can: through the obstacles placed by the enemy for the 2nd Bn, and into a minefield for the 3rd Bn, which slows them down. Around noon, after clearing a stronghold on the road, thus opening an access South of Pleurtuit, the 3rd Bn continues its advance towards the city; the leading elements of the L Coy enter its outskirts without meeting any enemy soldier.
At 1:05 p.m., four German tanks appear and attack them.
Don K. SANDERS is fatally shot in the chest by a Sturmgeschutz III tank from the Stug Brigade in the courtyard of the Pleurtuit Girls' School. His friend, Lieutenant Elbert EPPERSON, is seriously wounded by shrapnel and hides for three days in the cellar of the school before being evacuated to the infirmary of Ville-Aubée, towards Tréméreuc. He loses his signet ring from the West Point military school during the transfer.

On the night of 8-9 August, the Germans blocked again the access to Pleurtuit (chevaux de frise, etc.) and they dug in on either side of the road. The 3rd Bn was now isolated, surrounded and trapped. They would only be delivered by the 1st and 2nd Bn, supported by a platoon of the A Coy of the 709th Bn tanks on 12 August, after several days of intense fighting, at the cost of many victims on both sides as well as civilians.
American troops were finally able to go ahead towards Dinard for the attack planned on 14 August.


Don SANDERS’ body remained where he had fallen for six days and his death was not recorded until 14 August. He received posthumously, among others, the Silver Star and the Purple Heart.
A plaque in his memory was unveiled on 12 August 1994 in the courtyard of the former girls' elementary school in Pleurtuit.
Captain Don K. SANDERS is now resting at the Brittany American Cemetery in Saint-James.
Incidentally, Lt EPPERSON’s signet ring was found on 22 August 1986 in a carrot plant by its owners. Elbert EPPERSON, now Colonel, returned to Pleurtuit on 14 August 1988 to recover it. Victor VOLTZ, a local, approached him during the ceremony and handed him an identification tag that was recently found in the school’s flowerbeds so that he could give it back to the soldier’s family.
On this 'dog tag' was engraved the name of Captain SANDERS...
Jayson Clark, his grandson, who lives in Colorado, regularly returns to Pleurtuit for the commemorations in August and pays his respects on the grave of his grandfather whose name will forever remain etched in the collective memory of the small town.




With Jayson Clark (grandson of Captain Don K. Sanders), to City of Pleurtuit.

div 8





1 Jul 1940  Days of Combat/Jour de Combat  266
   Casualties/Victimes 13 986

Entered Combat/Entré au combat

8 Jul 1944 Normandy  

Commanding Generals/Commandants généraux

Maj. Gen. Philip B. Peyton (Jun 40 - Dec 40)
Maj. Gen. James P. Marley (Dec 40 - Feb 41)
Maj. Gen. William E. Shedd (Feb 41 - Feb 41)
Maj. Gen. Henry Terrell, Jr. (Mar 41 - Mar 41)
Maj. Gen. James P. Marley (Apr 41 - Jul 42)
Maj. Gen. Paul E. Peabody (Aug 42 - Jan 43)
Maj. Gen. William C. McMahon (Feb 43 - Jul 44)
Maj. Gen. Donald A. Stroh (Jul 44 - Dec 44)
Maj. Gen. William G. Weaver (Dec 44 - Feb 45)
Maj. Gen. Bryant E. Moore (Feb 45 - Nov 45)


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


After training in Ireland the 8th Infantry Division landed on Utah Beach, Normandy, 4 July 1944, and entered combat on the 7th. Fighting through the hedgerows, it crossed the Ay River, 26 July, pushed through Rennes, 8 August, and attacked Brest in September. The Crozon Peninsula was cleared, 19 September, and the Division drove across France to Luxembourg, moved to the Hurtgen Forest, 20 November, cleared Hurtgen on the 28th and Brandenburg, 3 December, and pushed on to the Roer. That river was crossed on 23 February 1945, Duren taken on the 25th and the Erft Canal crossed on the 28th. The 8th reached the Rhine near Rodenkirchen, 7 March, and maintained positions along the river near Koln. On 6 April the Division attacked northwest to aid in the destruction of enemy forces in the Ruhr Pocket, and by the 17th had completed its mission. After security duty, the Division, under operational control of the British Second Army, drove across the Elbe, 1 May, and penetrated to Schwerin when the war in Europe ended.


Après s'être entraîné en Irlande, la 8th Infantry Division débarque à Utah Beach, en Normandie, le 4 juillet 1944, et entre en combat le 7. Traversant les haies, il franchit la rivière Ay, le 26 juillet, traverse Rennes le 8 août et attaque Brest en septembre. La péninsule de Crozon a été défrichée le 19 septembre et la Division a traversé la France jusqu'au Luxembourg, s'est installée dans la forêt de Hurtgen le 20 novembre, a défriché Hurtgen le 28 et Brandebourg le 3 décembre et s'est dirigée vers la Roer. Cette rivière fut franchie le 23 février 1945, Duren fut prise le 25 et le canal Erft traversa le 28. Le 8 a atteint le Rhin près de Rodenkirchen, le 7 mars, et a maintenu des positions le long de la rivière près de Cologne. Le 6 avril, la division attaqua le nord-ouest pour aider à la destruction des forces ennemies dans la poche de la Ruhr. Le 17, elle avait achevé sa mission. Après la sécurité, la Division, sous le contrôle opérationnel de la deuxième armée britannique, traversa l'Elbe le 1er mai et pénétra à Schwerin à la fin de la guerre en Europe.

PROGRAMMERGarrett, Clive, Frédéric & Renaud
Partagez moi ...
# RE: SANDERS Don K - 121 IR 8 IDDona K. Sanders 2020-08-05 22:51
I am infinitely proud of my father's service and his contribution to the liberation of France. When I was there at Brittany Cemetery, I did not know the circumstances of his death. I plan to return and visit Pleurtuit, Utah Beach and the field where so many soldiers died in this battle. I hope to meet some of the people of Pleurtuit and hear the stories just as my son Jayson has done.