Letters & Papers from the Trunk in the Hall:
Letter from 1st. Lt. Norman Mecklem Jr. – April 6, 1945
The “Trunk in the Hall” held the letters and papers my grandparents saved – and they saved everything from cancelled checks, postcards telling of the next VFW meeting and family letters. My mother reminds me, of in those days, people didn’t throw things away like today. My grandmother unraveled burlap sacks and reused the string, the muslin tobacco bags were saved and sewed together for quilt backs, old clothes were ripped apart and re-used; the list could go on and on.When I think back now of how granddaddy’s farm looked, I can see various items laying around. There was always a pile of scrap metal pieces behind the smoke house – I guess that was his work-pile when he needed to repair something. My grandfather, like many others during those years, were very conservative people; mama still calls herself today a frugal person!
The “Trunk in the Hall” will be an Heirloom post in the future.
Germany – 6 April 45
Dear Mrs. McKinley,
I received your letter concerning your son Edgar.
There is very little that I can say, or that anyone else would say about his death. He was killed by an enemy rifleman as we were cleaning out a woods, a few miles inside Germany. he died instantly and endured no suffering at all.
I know it is quite a blow to you, losing such a fine boy. I wish there were some way I could soften the shock. Edgar was a very good soldier in every respect, and was doing a fine job at this time. I was very close to him when it happened.
May God Bless you and comfort you in your sorrow.
Norman Mecklem Jr.
1st. Lt. 2nd Inf.
Co. C. B.
I found it heartwarming how Leroy’s commanding officer took the time to pen a personal note to my grandmother. He wrote that he had received a letter from her – what had she written? I’m sure she had many questions – did he suffer – was he killed instantly – what were his last last words? Wouldn’t we all want to know… were there last words meant for you to hear… we all have a need for those words.
I found it interesting that Lt. Mecklem referred to him as Edgar as everyone called him Leroy or Lee; it made me wonder how well he really knew him – how big was his unit? But I believe that Lt. Mecklem was near him when he was killed by enemy fire.
In wanting to put a face to his name I searched for Lt. Mecklem, but came up empty. Sometimes you just need another set of eyes to see what you did wrong. I had searched for him before and found information, but today I was finding nothing. After my mystery researcher searched and sent me sites, I finally saw what I did wrong…. it was a typo in his name. I mistakenly turned his name of Mecklem into Mecklum. But their search turned up a photograph, which mine had not done. Thank You “mystery researcher” – you know who you are!
Lt. Norman J. Mecklem received the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery three days before Leroy was killed. As noted below, he was injured by armed enemy near the town of Schankueiler, (Schankweiler) Germany. I feel that this pinpoints the area for me as where Leroy was killed and why Lt. Mecklem didn’t want to be evacuated – he knew they were preparing to attack in three days; he wanted to remain with his men.Info found: http://valor.militarytimes.com
Clipping from google book “Second Infantry Regiment, Fifth Infantry Division by United States Army. 2nd Infantry. Pg. 84
This clipping gives me the correct spelling of the town – it is Schankweiler. Lieut. Mecklem’s letter above also mentioned they were cleaning out woods as they advanced into Schankweiler; this seems to pinpoint that he had remained with his unit when Leroy was struck by enemy fire. I feel confident that this was the area where my uncle was killed.
Like to read more letters….
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