This photograph shows James F. Doran (1919-1997) of Harrison, NJ with an Army buddy from the neighboring city of Bayonne, before shipping out to Europe during World War II. The two friends look so carefree, confidant, and ready for whatever the future has in store for them. They were in the 4th “Ivy” Division of the United States Army. James served in Company I of the 12th Infantry Regiment, with his basic training in Augusta, Georgia. His date of induction was 25 March 1941, and his date of separation at Fort Dix was 18 November 1945.
James Doran participated in the Normandy invasion, and landed on Utah Beach on D-Day with the 3rd Wave at 7 o’clock. He was wounded in Normandy, France on 8 June 1944, and sent to G012 53rd General Hospital in England. Some of his Decorations and Awards were: American Campaign Medal, American Defense Service Medal, Bronze Service Star – Campaign “Normandy”, Bronze Service Arrowhead, Combat Infantryman Badge, European-African-Middle Eastern Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Purple Heart, and WW II Victory Medal. He told me he was most proud of the Combat Infantryman Badge. These are the positions he served in during the war: Months 2 – Grade Pvt – Basic Training Infantry (521); Months 39 – Grade Staff Sgt – Rifleman (745); Months 12 – Grade Pvt – Military Policeman (677).
As Veterans Day approaches I think of him, and the multitude of men and women like him across the globe that fought for our freedom during World War II. James was severely wounded, with most of the men in his unit killed, after they encountered a nest of Germans hidden in the hedges. After he was stitched together and patched up at a hospital in England, the doctors decided he suffered from shell-shock, and that he shouldn’t return to battle. Today his condition would be called Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Instead of sending James home to New Jersey, the Army made him a Military Policeman for the duration of the war in France.
Here is a newspaper article that my sister and I found while doing research at the Newark Public Library in 2004. It is from the Newark Evening News, Newark, New Jersey, and it was published on 21 June 1944, with mention of S/Sgt. James F. Doran of 525 Hamilton Street. The library had a surname file that helped us find this article. If you click on the article it will open in a larger format to magnify the image.
At the bottom of this article it reads, “Mr. and Mrs. Doran have three other sons in the services, Cpl. Bernard Jr., in the South Pacific; Pvt. John, in England, and Peter, Navy seaman, in Florida.” Previously I posted about John J. Doran, who gave his life in France serving in the U. S. Army during World War II. I have also posted about Bernard Doran, Jr., who also saw many tragic events in the Pacific Theater. Peter Doran’s ship was torpedoed while in the Atlantic Ocean and he spent a week drifting the Atlantic in a lifeboat with his shipmates, but they all escaped without physical injury.
I wonder about the other young serviceman mentioned in this article, Sgt. Peter Manto, of 446 North Seventh Street in Newark. Did he survive the war? The article said he wrote daily letters home until getting ready for the invasion of Normandy, and I wonder if his family retained these letters.
We do not know of any letters that the family saved from James Doran. He was young, single, and not much of a letter writer. Here below are two of his photos from that time. These photos were taken in Normandy, France. From records he saved, most likely this was the 389th Military Police Battalion, Western District, Normandy Base Section.
These photos were in an old-fashioned album with black pages and the pictures were pasted in, or sometimes put in with photo splits. After the 50th anniversary of D-Day we went through the photos, taking them out and reading what, if anything, was written on the back. I teased him that it should be called the girlfriend album – and he loved that. We had a good chuckle over some of his happy memories, but his horrific memories James had learned to guard with a personal firewall, and he didn’t want to walk those roads again. What was remarkable to me was that even fifty years after these photos were taken James could name the ladies before looking at the back. Who are these women shown below? Our family doesn’t know any of their surnames. Here are a few of his photos, all taken between 1941 and 1945.
Any leads, no matter how small, as to the identity of any these friends are very welcome. If you enjoyed this post, or have any information, please re-share. I’m hoping to break down a few brick walls for my family and others.