Captain Robert S. De Gurse
– Company L, 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division –
Robert Stanley De Gurse was born on November 23rd, 1911 in Ovid, Clinton County, Michigan.
He graduated with a degree in business administration from Michigan State University in 1933. It’s possible that he entered the service as an officer, because he was a college graduate and he was already doing many drills and military training in college. Based on a news article published after his death, he was a very good leader, and beloved by the men under his command.
In 1933, his Senior year of college, he was a member of the fraternity Phi Kappa Tau, Alpha Alpha Chapter, and the Scabbard and Blade National Honorary Military Fraternity, Company K, First Regiment. Here he graduated with a degree in business administration from Michigan State University in the same year.
Robert was working as a farmer when he married his love Edna Sillaway on August 19th, 1933, in Elkhart, Indiana.
It is not sure at the moment when Robert enlisted, but we know he enlisted in Ovid, Clinton County in Michigan. Most probably, Robert enlisted before the US entered the war. A newspaper article mentions Captain de Gurse leading a training platoon at Fort Bragg, and the 9th Infantry Division was reactivated at Fort Bragg on August 1st, 1940, so we can assume that he trained there after this date. It’s possible that he entered the service as an officer, because he was a college graduate and he was already doing many drills and military training in college.
On November 8th, 1942, the 9th Infantry Division went overseas and fought in North Africa. Captain de Gurse was now part of Company L, 60th Infantry Regiment of the 9th Infantry Division. In late March, the 60th Combat Team was detached to fight the battle of Maknassy, while the remainder of the Division moved to El Guettar. At El Guettar, the 9th Infantry Division fought for the first time under the command of Major-General Manton S. Eddy. The enemy was well entrenched and possessed air superiority. The mass of steep, rugged hills and eroded gorges provided a natural fortress. The 9th and 1st Divisions were to seize opposite sides of the El Guettar Pass, enabling the 1st Armored Division to roll through without being fired on from its flanks.
Sergeant Stewart A. Salters, who trained with Captain de Gurse at Fort Bragg, related what happened to the Captain on the day he went Missing In Action in a newspaper article:
“On March 26th, 1943 the Germans entrenched on a hill and had to be routed out. Company L, led by Captain de Gurse, was the spearhead of the attack through a wheat field. There were some German machine gun nests which kept knocking off de Gurse’s men. I was with Company F on his flank and about 150 yards away when a big mortar shell landed right in the middle of Company L. We kept advancing and I never saw Captain de Gurse again. Later I contacted some of the Company L men and they told me that mortar shell got him“.
The article also mentions that Captain de Gurse’s feet were swollen from a forced 25 mile march the day and night before. Some of the officers and men told the Captain to get his feet fixed up, but he refused to go back.
Captain Robert de Gurse’s name can now be found between the many names on the Wall of Missing at the American cemetery at Carthage, North-Africa.
We will forever remember the sacrifice made by Captain de Gurse, and will never forget him.
Thank you to: Angelo’s Angels researcher Francesca Cumero.