HERMAN W FITTJE
Branch: U. S. Army
Status: Killed in action
Date of Service: WWII
Home Town: Nora Township
69th Signal Corps Unit Crest
Herman W. Fittje was born August 6, 1912 near Watertown in Codington County, South Dakota to parents Henry Weard and Martha Obert Fittje. Henry had emigrated from Germany in 1886 when he was two years old and settled in Iowa. He met Martha, an Illinois native, and they were married June 9, 1910 by a priest in Waverly, South Dakota. They settled on a farm in Codington County and there they had children Herbert in 1910, Herman in 1912, and George in 1917. Some time between 1917 and 1920 they moved to a farm in Nora Township, Clearwater County, Minnesota and had one more son, Johnny, in 1921. The boys grew to manhood and helped Henry out on the farm. By 1940 the three older boys were working on the farm and Johnny was working for CCC Forestry doing roadside clean-up.
Herman registered for the draft on October 16, 1940. He was age 28, single, 6’ tall and 200 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair.
Herman joined the Army on September 1, 1942 and became a member of the Signal Corps. The US Army Signal Corps began in 1860 where it developed a semaphore system to communicate between air, ground and naval units. By WWI the Signal Corps had integrated the airplane and more advanced technology into its communications systems. The Signal Corps grew to over 350,000 men and women in WWII, where they pioneered the development of radar, produced training films and documented by photograph and film every major military campaign in the European Theater of Operations beginning with the landings in North Africa, Italy and later Normandy. They also documented evidence of Nazi atrocities and the Holocaust which were transmitted to news agencies around the world.
The 69th Signal Corps, of which Herman was a member, was activated on December 15, 1942. Herman was assigned to its Headquarters. On July 19, 1944, the unit landed on Utah Beach and joined Lt. General George S. Patton’s XX Corps of the Third Army. The battalion advanced across Central Europe through France. Though often forced to fight as infantry, the battalion accomplished its mission of providing Corps Headquarters with communications support. From France, the Battalion drive to the heart of Germany and then southward to Austria, a distance of over 750 miles in 281 days.
Private Herman Fittje did not make it out of France, however. It is unknown how he died, but his family was informed that he had died October 1, 1944 in France. His mother Martha had died in 1935 and his father Henry had died in 1943 after Herman joined the Army, so there was only his brothers and his community left to mourn his passing. When his body was returned, his brothers buried him in Nora Township Cemetery near his parents. He was 32 years old.