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BRIG GEN Nelson Macy Walker

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BRIG GEN Nelson Macy Walker

Birth
Pittsfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, USA
Death
10 Jul 1944 (aged 52)
La Haye-du-Puits, Departement de la Manche, Basse-Normandie, France
Burial
Colleville-sur-Mer, Departement du Calvados, Basse-Normandie, France
Plot
Plot B Row 23 Grave 47
Memorial ID
56651144 View Source

US Army Brigadier General, he was killed in action during the battle for the hedgerows following the D-Day landing of 6 June 1944. At the time of his death, he was the Assistant Division Commander of the 8th Infantry Division. Nelson Walker was born in Pittsfield, Mass, and was a graduate of the Pittsfield High School, class of 1911, where he was a player on the school's baseball team and a runner on the track team. When World War I started up, Walker enlisted into the Army, and was sent to Officer's Training Camp at Plattsburgh NY, becoming commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Infantry in 1917, just prior to the US Declaration of War in April. While fighting in the Argonne Forest in France, he was gassed and hospitalized, for which he would later receive the Purple Heart medal. Following the end of the war, he decided to remain in the Army, and was promoted to Captain in 1920. Promotions between the wars were slow, with only one promotion, to Major, during that period. As American participation in the coming events in Europe directed a buildup of military forces in the early 1940s, he was soon promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1941, and a year later to full Colonel. Soon afterwards, he was again promoted, to Brigadier General, in 1942. He would develop a winter training program for soldiers, and helped to modernize both technical and tactical training, for which he would receive a Legion of Merit in 1944.



Seeking combat, he was appointed Assistant Division Commander of the 8th Infantry Division on 15 February 1944, then in Northern Ireland training for the Normandy Invasion. The division landed at Normandy on July 4, 1944, and immediately went into combat operations against the Germans in hedgerow country. When the 121st Infantry Regiment of the 8th Infantry Division was held up by heavy casualities, General Walker went forward to the regimental headquarters to see if he could get the unit moving forward. The Division Commander, MG William C. McMahon, believed that their orders to perform direct frontal attacks on the hedgerows was causing the higher casualties and slower advance. When BG Walker arrived at the front line to investigate, he found that Company E, 121st Regiment had been pinned down for two days by heavy German fire, just south of the main road between La Haye Du Puis and Carentan. The 121st appeared highly disorganized. BG Walker joined them for evening meal, and then went to Company E, to see if he could get the unit to move forward. He was assisted by two aides, LT Stephen S. Fry and LT Emmet Fields. Taking a platoon with him, he led them through gaps in two hedgerows, approaching where small arms fire was heard. Cutting through another gap in the next hedgerow, the men were suddenly met with heavy automatic fire from Germans and immediately six of the soldiers, including BG Walker, were wounded. LT Fry thinks General Walker was hit with the first shot. Both Fields and Fry crawled along the hedgerow and took cover behind a high dirt mount. Fry went back to find an aid man to help the general while Fields remained in cover to guide the aid men when they returned. It took some time but Fry returned with a field ambulance and three aid men, with whom they brought General Walker into safety on a stretcher. On the way back to the aid station, the medics administered plasma. The bullet had penetrated the General's right thigh and hip socket, breaking his pelvis, and causing great loss of pain. He was wounded at 11:00 pm, and would die at 1:30 am the next morning, 10 July 1944.



On the morning of July 10, both regimental commanders of the 121st Regiment and the 28th Regiment of the 8th Infantry Division refused to advance frontally, believing it to be the wrong method of attack, and both commanders were relieved. Two days later, MG McMahon, the 8th Division Commander, was relieved due to the division's failure to make faster progress through the hedgerows. The division's new commander, BG Donald Stroh, changed the method of hedgerow fighting by side-slipping and flanking movements that did not expose the Americans to the intense German fire, and enabled them to disorganize the German defense. The death of a general officer requires an official Army investigation; 2nd Lieutenant Perrin Walker, the general's son and aide to MG McMahon at the time of his father's death, performed the official investigation.



For his effort that day, BG Walker was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (second highest US award for valor, just behind the Medal of Honor).

US Army Brigadier General, he was killed in action during the battle for the hedgerows following the D-Day landing of 6 June 1944. At the time of his death, he was the Assistant Division Commander of the 8th Infantry Division. Nelson Walker was born in Pittsfield, Mass, and was a graduate of the Pittsfield High School, class of 1911, where he was a player on the school's baseball team and a runner on the track team. When World War I started up, Walker enlisted into the Army, and was sent to Officer's Training Camp at Plattsburgh NY, becoming commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Infantry in 1917, just prior to the US Declaration of War in April. While fighting in the Argonne Forest in France, he was gassed and hospitalized, for which he would later receive the Purple Heart medal. Following the end of the war, he decided to remain in the Army, and was promoted to Captain in 1920. Promotions between the wars were slow, with only one promotion, to Major, during that period. As American participation in the coming events in Europe directed a buildup of military forces in the early 1940s, he was soon promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1941, and a year later to full Colonel. Soon afterwards, he was again promoted, to Brigadier General, in 1942. He would develop a winter training program for soldiers, and helped to modernize both technical and tactical training, for which he would receive a Legion of Merit in 1944.



Seeking combat, he was appointed Assistant Division Commander of the 8th Infantry Division on 15 February 1944, then in Northern Ireland training for the Normandy Invasion. The division landed at Normandy on July 4, 1944, and immediately went into combat operations against the Germans in hedgerow country. When the 121st Infantry Regiment of the 8th Infantry Division was held up by heavy casualities, General Walker went forward to the regimental headquarters to see if he could get the unit moving forward. The Division Commander, MG William C. McMahon, believed that their orders to perform direct frontal attacks on the hedgerows was causing the higher casualties and slower advance. When BG Walker arrived at the front line to investigate, he found that Company E, 121st Regiment had been pinned down for two days by heavy German fire, just south of the main road between La Haye Du Puis and Carentan. The 121st appeared highly disorganized. BG Walker joined them for evening meal, and then went to Company E, to see if he could get the unit to move forward. He was assisted by two aides, LT Stephen S. Fry and LT Emmet Fields. Taking a platoon with him, he led them through gaps in two hedgerows, approaching where small arms fire was heard. Cutting through another gap in the next hedgerow, the men were suddenly met with heavy automatic fire from Germans and immediately six of the soldiers, including BG Walker, were wounded. LT Fry thinks General Walker was hit with the first shot. Both Fields and Fry crawled along the hedgerow and took cover behind a high dirt mount. Fry went back to find an aid man to help the general while Fields remained in cover to guide the aid men when they returned. It took some time but Fry returned with a field ambulance and three aid men, with whom they brought General Walker into safety on a stretcher. On the way back to the aid station, the medics administered plasma. The bullet had penetrated the General's right thigh and hip socket, breaking his pelvis, and causing great loss of pain. He was wounded at 11:00 pm, and would die at 1:30 am the next morning, 10 July 1944.



On the morning of July 10, both regimental commanders of the 121st Regiment and the 28th Regiment of the 8th Infantry Division refused to advance frontally, believing it to be the wrong method of attack, and both commanders were relieved. Two days later, MG McMahon, the 8th Division Commander, was relieved due to the division's failure to make faster progress through the hedgerows. The division's new commander, BG Donald Stroh, changed the method of hedgerow fighting by side-slipping and flanking movements that did not expose the Americans to the intense German fire, and enabled them to disorganize the German defense. The death of a general officer requires an official Army investigation; 2nd Lieutenant Perrin Walker, the general's son and aide to MG McMahon at the time of his father's death, performed the official investigation.



For his effort that day, BG Walker was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (second highest US award for valor, just behind the Medal of Honor).

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson


Inscription

Headquarters, 8th Infantry Division

Gravesite Details

Entered the service from Massachusetts.


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  • Maintained by: Frogman
  • Originally Created by: War Graves
  • Added: 8 Aug 2010
  • Find a Grave Memorial ID: 56651144
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/56651144/nelson-macy-walker: accessed ), memorial page for BRIG GEN Nelson Macy Walker (27 Sep 1891–10 Jul 1944), Find a Grave Memorial ID 56651144, citing Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, Colleville-sur-Mer, Departement du Calvados, Basse-Normandie, France; Maintained by Frogman (contributor 47380828) .