Sergeant Wayne Frederick Bathe
– Company G, 39th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division –
Sergeant Wayne Frederick Bathe was born in 1916 in the small town of Sullivan, Illinois. He worked on his father’s farm to help support his mother, two sisters, and his fiancée until he was drafted in July 1941.
After induction in Chicago, he was transferred to Camp Wheeler, Georgia for basic training. He was then transferred to Fort Bragg in North Carolina for further training in late 1941 and early 1942.
In November 1942, Wayne traveled across the Atlantic to Iceland as part of the 39th Regimental Combat Team. He then made his way to North – Africa. During the invasion of Northern Africa, Wayne suffered a minor injury caused by shrapnel to his knee.
According to a letter he wrote home in July 1943:
“It sure was tough going as there are several big mountains we had to fight over. . . We came through Ferryville and part of our bunch hit Bizerte and the eighth army hit Tunis about the same time we were at the turning point. The people at Ferryville waited for us for six months. They sure were a happy bunch, and it made us feel good. We were in the invasion. We hit Algeria. We got a ribbon for the invasion”.
In August 1943, Sgt. Bathe was wounded in action by a bullet to his shoulder while in Sicily and was sent to a hospital in North-Africa. He returned to action in September. Wayne wrote to his parents in December 1943 that his unit had been transferred to England. In May 1944, he was hospitalized again to have surgery on his gums and to receive dentures.
Sgt. Bathe landed on Utah Beach on D-Day +4, June 10th 1944, with Co. G. of the 39th Infantry Regiment and safely made his way into France. After fighting through France and Germany he received his next wound on October 6th, 1944 in the Hurtgen Forest. During his service overseas he became friends with Private Frederick Allen Fonner. As the Regiment started their attack to cut the main B399 Monschau – Duren road and to take the village of Germeter, he received a shot to his face and was sent from the front lines to a hospital.
After returning to combat in December 1944, Sgt. Bathe was involved in combat action near the city of Kalterherberg, Germany. On December 30th, 1944, the 39th Infantry Regiment was relieved from combat in Kalterherberg to bivouac at Camp Elsenborn, Belgium.
As darkness fell over Camp Elsenborn, a group a soldiers were sitting together, and a shot rang out through the night. Sgt. Bathe slumped lifeless onto his friend, Pvt. Frederick Allen Fonner, after being shot by a German sniper. Sgt. Bathe was killed instantly.
After Sgt. Bathe’s death, his body was interred in the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial. His family elected not to bring his body home so that his final resting place would be with the men he served with. His actions, which resulted in our freedom today, will never be forgotten.
I would like to thank Frederick’s Fonner‘s Grandson Daniel for showing such an interest in his Grandfather’s World War 2 history.
Through this he learned of his Grandfather’s friend Wayne, and was able to share this story and pictures with me.