Attilio Joseph Simone

Branch: ARMY
Rank: Private
Outfit: 29th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Regiment, Co. “K”

Attilio Joseph Simone was born on August 7, 1917 in Philadelphia, PA to Italian immigrant parents Joseph and Jennie Simione. Somehow, the surname was changed during the immigration process to Simone. Attilio had 2 older brothers at this time. Dominico was born in 1914 and Vincent born in 1916. 

The Simones lived at 3281 Agate Street in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia by 1920. Attilio became a big brother on October 18, 1920 when his mother gave birth to twins Anthony and Josephine. Two years later, brother Peter was born. By 1930, the family had moved across the Delaware River into 147 Shreve Street in Mt. Holly, NJ. Young Atillio attended grade school there up to 4th grade. 

It wasn't long before the Simones migrated to Camden, NJ some time prior to 1935. This is where Attilio met Caroline Bardolf and the two started dating. Some time between 1937 and 1938, Atillio and Caroline were married (possibly in Maryland) and moved into a house at 969 Florence Street in Camden. Attilio got a job as a machinist helper at Camden Forge, where his father-in-law also worked as a crane operator. 

On April 9, 1939, the Simones welcomed the birth of a baby boy, Harry Charles Simone. Some time between 1940 to 1944, Attilio and his family moved to 22 White Avenue in Mount Ephraim. On May 12, 1944, Attilio enlisted in the army at Fort Dix. Caroline was 5 months pregnant with their second child, Dorothy Mae Simone who was born on September 30, 1944. 

After basic training, Attilio was sent to a replacement depot and on March 1, 1945 assigned to “K” Company, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment of the 29th Infantry Division. The 116th, led by Major Sidney V. Bingham Jr., were located in the city of M√ľnchen-Gladbach, Germany at the time. The Division had just been placed in reserve status after nine months of nearly continuous combat from the beaches of Normandy to the Cologne Plain. More than 20,000 men were lost since D-Day, 800 of which were either killed or wounded in just the week prior. The 116th Regiment would stay in this area until March 31, when they received orders for a pre-dawn move to cross the Rhine River at Rheinberg and stage in Bruckhausen, Germany.
Their stay wasn’t long, as orders were received that afternoon to join up with the 75th Infantry Division in Marl on April 1st. Their objective was to take the city of Dortmund, a key manufacturing area for the German war machine. The 116th spent April 2nd and 3rd marching to the outskirts of the city. On April 4th they seized Waltrop, taking hundreds of German prisoners. The 3rd Battalion of the 116th was held in reserve on April 5th.

The following is an excerpt from "The Last Roll Call: The 29th Infantry Division Victorious, 1945” by Joseph Balkoski. It is a narrative of what happened to the 3rd battalion of the 116th Infantry Regiment on April 6, 1945: 
"the On April 6, Bingham decided to hold Dallas's and Meeks's 1st and 2nd Battalions in place, allowing time for those fatigued units to rest, while swinging Puntenney's fresh 3rd Battalion in an end run around the 116th's western flank. That convoluted maneuver required the 29ers to perform a three-mile nighttime approach march from their reserve bivouacs, starting around 4: 30 A.M., and cross the Dortmund–Ems Canal on a seventy-foot footbridge constructed by a platoon from Company B, 121st Engineer Combat Battalion, near Groppenbruch. Then, at 7: 00 A.M., Puntenney's men were to begin their attack, directed at the western fringe of Dortmund's industrial district, three miles south. The plucky engineers began their taxing task in the inky gloom at 1: 30 A.M. “At 0515 hours the work was completed, and the infantry started to cross at 0525 hours,” noted the sappers’ report. “In a short while the entire battalion had crossed and the platoon's mission was successfully completed.” 

Led by Capt. Berthier Hawks's Company I, the 3rd Battalion fanned out on the far side of the canal and warily headed south just as the first pink hints of dawn appeared on the eastern horizon. Company K's Lieutenant Easton recalled, “It was a little like attacking New York City. Imagine a long meadow resembling Central Park, but V-shaped, its apex pointing from the suburbs into the heart of downtown.” The 29ers crossed the empty Reichsautobahn at one of its distinctive cloverleaf junctions and headed south, giving the Dortmund suburb of Mengede a wide berth on their right. Unfortunately, that move exposed the battalion's right flank, and according to a report, “The enemy seized the opportunity and began to throw in an increasing volume of artillery.” 

Also, as Easton related in a letter to his wife, “The German FOs [forward artillery observers] were up in the skyscrapers and had a truly beautiful view of us.” The 116th's action report remarked that German resistance was “overpowered with a violent barrage from every mortar and artillery piece in the supporting units.” A vital element of that support was provided by Company B, 747th Tank Battalion, and a light tank platoon from Company D, both of which had crossed the canal at the autobahn bridge at dawn, joined up with the dogfaces as they trudged southward, and opened fire with 75-millimeter shells and machine guns on any German who dared to offer resistance. A 747th account reported that resistance “ceased as soon as the tanks closed in.” 

Puntenney's men pressed on. “We advanced rather grandly if absurdly in a broad skirmish line down the meadow toward the rising sun, dew on the grass, shot and shell flying around,” wrote Easton. “Really it was fantastic, a covey of brown-clothed men scattered over the meadow, those skyscrapers rearing up in front of us like mountain peaks with the sun coming over their summits.” By the end of the day, the 3rd Battalion had gained the three miles stipulated in Bingham's orders and settled in for the night in the Dortmund suburbs of Nette, Nieder, and Ellinghausen, alongside a major rail artery running into Dortmund. Puntenney paid a high price for that three-mile gain, as during the attack enemy howitzer and mortar fire inflicted thirteen casualties on his outfit, including three dead: two from Company K and one from Company I.”

Lieutenant Robert Easton of Company K of the 116th Infantry Regiment wrote a book entitled “Love and War: Pearl Harbor Through V-J Day” containing letters and reflections that he wrote during World War II. The following is a paragraph from this book. It was a letter he wrote to his wife, Jane that directly mentions Attilio and what happened to him on that fateful day:

"Pvt. Attilio Simone of Camden, New Jersey, twenty-seven years old, had been in the Army less than a year and had joined Company K as a replacement only a month ago. At the close of the day, I saw him lying in a plowed field in a drizzle of gray rain. They had laid his poncho over him and marked him with his own rifle, stuck in by the muzzle with his helmet over the butt. He was my man, Janie. I had led him where he was. He was following me. Perhaps the bullet intended for me hit him. If I live a hundred years, the thought of him will never leave me.” He was one of the last members of the 29th Infantry Division to be killed in action.

Attilio J. Simone is buried in Plot L Row 21 Grave 5 at Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten, Netherlands. Ever since 1945, a local resident has “adopted” his grave. This is thanks to a Dutch organization known as the Foundation for Adopting Graves at American Cemetery in Margraten. One of their main goals is "to share the stories of the 10,023 American heroes who gave their lives for our freedom, to commemorate them and to cherish the warm and good relationship between the adopting families and the next of kin in the United States of America. It is important that new generations learn from the past and honor the victims of WWII.” Presently a gentleman, Mr. Erik Kalsbeek tends to his grave. 

Attilio was survived by his wife Caroline, children Harry and Dorothy; parents Joseph and Jennie; siblings Dominico, Vincent, Anthony, Josephine and Peter (who also lived in Mount Ephraim at 16 Lincoln Ave). It was said by relative Georgette Hawks, that when the Army representatives arrived at the door of Attilio’s parents house to deliver the news of his death, Jennie collapsed onto the floor in grief. Daughter, Dorothy (Dot) said that her father would bring home roses for Caroline. After he passed, there were occasions that rose petals would mysteriously appear on the floor of the house.


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