MAGNUS MERLIN ANDERSON
Branch: U. S. Army
Rank: Private First Class
Status: Killed in action
Date of Service: WWII
Home Town: Popple Township
Magnus Anderson and his headstone in St. Peter Lutheran Cemetery near Lengby
Magnus Merlin Anderson was born in Bagley on August 18, 1925 to Magnus Jornevik and Tilda Peterson Anderson of Popple Township, Clearwater County, Minnesota. Magnus J. had been brought from Norway in 1881 at the age of one to live with Mr. and Mrs. Simon Knutson of Popple Township, the farm which he later purchased and farmed for 42 years. Magnus M. was third from the youngest in a line of 11 children: Clifford, Anna, Ethelia, Melvin, Clara, Lloyd, Earl, James, Viola and Patricia.
Magnus was brought up on that farm and after regular attendance at Sunday School was confirmed by Rev. Onstad in the St. Peter Lutheran Church. Like many rural children, he attended country school at Hillside School, District No. 30 and once he completed elementary school he attended Bagley High School. He graduated from there in 1943, where he was an active Future Farmer of America.
He got a job at the Coast to Coast store in Bagley after high school, then moved on to Strom Construction Company. He registered for the draft in Bagley on his 18th birthday which was August 18, 1943. He was working for Rustebakke Bros. on a farm near McCanna, North Dakota when he was called into service “for the duration of the war plus six months.”
He left for Fort Snelling on July 14, 1944 with a contingent of selectees from Clearwater County. From there he was sent to basic training at Camp Joseph T. Robinson, Arkansas. He was able to spend a short furlough with his family in Popple after basic training. After his leave ended he reported to Fort George G. Meade in Maryland and was sent overseas in December for active combat duty to serve in Co. I, 346th Infantry, 87th Division with General Patton’s Third Army.
The 87th Division, which had battles in the Saar, the Ardennes and Luxembourg behind them, was poised for a new battle at that time – its orders were to drive the enemy from Belgium and crack the Siegfried Line. By February 1, the entire division was moving east through deep snow and mountain forests with the 346th setting the pace. They captured German supply bases at Schonberg and Andler and then captured Roth, the last remaining town before the Siegfried Line.
On March 1, Magnus’s unit moved along heavily-mined and booby-trapped roads toward the town of Ormont, the initial objective for the 346th and 347th infantry regiments. Enemy resistance at Ormont consisted of emplaced infantry and machine gun positions, extensive mine fields, and heavy artillery shelling. After it had been blasted with a 540-round concentration, the town was taken in a brisk 20-minute action. Unfortunately, PFC Magnus Anderson did not survive. He had been killed almost instantly by shell fragments of an enemy artillery shell.
Magnus was buried with other victims of the Battle of the Bulge in the U.S. Military Cemetery No. 1 at Foy, Belgium with a service by a protestant chaplain. His body was later disinterred and returned to his family who buried him in the family plot at St. Peter Lutheran Cemetery near Lengby.