Carroll’s Yesteryears

30 May 1993

Ultimate sacrifice: Some soldiers never returned home from World War II

By Jay Graybeal

Included in the Historical Society of Carroll County’s extensive photograph collection is a group of World War II press release photographs of local service men and women. The images show personnel working at military installations, training, receiving promotions and decorations and enjoying their off-duty hours. Tragically, three of these men shown in happier times were among the 111 Carroll Countians who paid the supreme sacrifice in World War II.

The Gold Star Mothers tablet was dedicated on Memorial Day 1949. An article in the Westminster Democratic Advocate described the event:

“One of the leading features of the Memorial Day festivities was the unveiling of the bronze and granite tablet by the Mayor and Council to the Gold Star Mothers, located in the flower garden at the City Hall.

“The bronze tablet is in the memory of those who made the supreme sacrifice in World War II. Mr. Mitten opened the brief dedicatory service and introduced Rev. J. Keller Brantley, who offered the invocation. A trumpet trio composed of members of the Westminster Band played ‘Somewhere.’

“Mayor Mathias presented the tablet on behalf of the City of Westminster to the Gold Star Mothers. Mrs. Horace Greenwood, President of the Gold Star Mothers, gratefully accepted the tribute.”

Photo credit: Courtesy of the Historical Society of Carroll County

Photo caption: Staff Sgt. Horace Kenneth Greenwood (back row, second from left) and fellow B-17 bomber crew members at Alexandria Army Air Base, La. Sgt. Greenwood was lost over Germany in February 1944. An article in the March 24, 1944 Westminster Democratic Advocate noted that he was initially reported as missing in action: “Missing in Action in Germany – Radio Gunner S. Sgt. Horace Kenneth Greenwood with the U.S. Bombing forces in Europe was reported missing in action over Germany as of February 25. S. Sgt. Greenwood is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Horace I. Greenwood, near city. His wife is the former Bertha Myers and he has a four-month-old daughter Lanetta Darlene, whom he has never seen. He was 22 years of age last August 28. Before joining the Army he farmed with his father. He enlisted in the Army Medical Detachment and was stationed at Carlisle Barracks, Pa. It will be five years this May 5, since he enlisted. In August 1942, he was transferred to the Air Corps at Scott Field. In December of that year he was sent to Tomah Radio School, Tomah, Washington.”

Photo caption: Aviation Cadet Rene Edward Lash, USNR, posed in his flight jacket while in training at Pensacola, Fla. The young flyer was killed in a flying accident in May 1944. His obituary appeared in the Westminster Democratic Advocate: “Cadet Lash Buried Here – Rene Edward Lash aged 22, air cadet, U.S. Navy Reserve, Pensacola Florida, met death as the result of an airplane crash according to a telegram received by his parents. He was the son of Edward and Louisette Lash, Hollow Rock Road. The family moved to this county about two years ago. The mother teaches French in the Park School, Baltimore. The young cadet was to have received his wings Tuesday. Besides his parents he leaves a brother Roger, seaman 1/C, U.S. Navy Reserve, and a sister, Marie, at home. The body arrived here on the 9:21 train Wednesday morning and was taken to St. John’s Catholic Church where a requiem mass was celebrated at 1 o’clock in charge of the pastor, Rev. John C. Broderick. Burial in the Church Cemetery.”

Photo caption: Staff Sgt. Norman S. Cope (center), fellow squadron members and their pet Italian pig “Little Flower.” The Westminster Democratic Advocate of May 18, 1945 included an article about Sgt. Cope being listed as missing in action: “Woodbine Soldier Missing In Action – S/Sgt. Norman S. Cope, Woodbine is reported missing in action April 10, during the U.S. and British aerial assaults which paved the way for the subjugation of Italy, the aerial gunner’s father, James O. Cope near Woodbine, has been officially notified by the War Department. S/Sgt. Cope was a tail gunner on a B-24 bomber of the U.S. Fifteenth Air Force and had been awarded the Air Medal with clusters as well as the Presidential Unit citation for tactical accomplishments in support of the U.S. Fifth and British Eight Army ground troops in Northern Italy.

Explanation of the gunnery sergeant’s being reported missing is contained in a letter from his squadron chaplain to the gunner’s father:

‘On the tenth of April our group bombed a tactical target in Northern Italy. Norman was on this sortie. Immediately after bombs away a burst of flak struck the right wing of the ship between the engines. The wing broke and the other half fell away. Observers say the plane seemed to stop in mid-air, then spun downward. Some report two chutes blossomed before the ship struck the ground and burst into flames. It often happens that more get out a falling plane then are seen by returning crews. We hope and pray that this will prove true in this case.’”