Brookline War Memorial
Bruce H. Bracey

Private Bruce H. Bracey
United States Army (1944-1945)

United States Army (1775-present)

Bruce Hirth Bracey was born on February 3, 1917 to Bruce B. and Pauline Bracey of 2615 Plainview Avenue. He was their first child, followed five years later by sister Mary Louise. Bruce was a graduate of Brookline Elementary School and South Hills High School.

Bruce H. Bracey

After high school, Bruce, a solicitor by trade, met and married Rosemary Schulken. The couple had two children, James Warren Bracey and Sharon Louise Bracey. Bruce was drafted into the Army on January 22, 1944 and reported for bootcamp on February 2.

After his initial training was complete, Bruce was assigned as a replacement in the 180th Infantry Regiment of the 45th "Thunderbird" Division, a veteran unit of the U.S. Seventh Army that had already seen action during the North Africa, Sicily and Italian Campaigns.

                 

Private Bruce H. Bracey sailed from America on July 1, 1944 to join up with the unit in North Africa to prepare for the upcoming invasion of Southern France. The 45th Infantry Division participated in its fourth amphibious assault landing during Operation Dragoon on August 15, 1944, at St. Maxime.

The 45th Infantry Division landed the 157th and 180th regimental combat teams and captured the heights of the Chaines de Mar before meeting with the 1st Special Service Force. The German Army, reeling from the Battle of Normandy, in which it had suffered a major defeat, pulled back after a short fight, part of an overall German withdrawal to the east following the landings.

Bruce H. Bracey
The 45th Division disembarks on the beach at St. Maxime in Southern France on August 15, 1944.

Soldiers of the 180th Infantry Regiment engaged the dispersed forces of German Army Group G, suffering very few casualties. The U.S. Seventh Army, along with Free French forces, were able to advance north quickly. By September 12, the Seventh Army linked up with Lieutenant General George S. Patton's U.S. Third Army, advancing from Normandy, joining the two forces at Dijon.

Against slight opposition, the regiment spearheaded the drive for the Belfort Gap. The 180th then advanced on the fortress city of Epinal. Divided in two by the fast flowing Moselle River, Epinal was strongly defended by three battalions of infantry, reinforced by artillery, mortars and dual-purpose anti-aircraft guns. All approaches to the river were heavily mined, booby-trapped and pre-targeted for the artillery. The bridges had been demolished.

Map of 180th Infantry Regiment path through France.
The path of the 180th Infantry Regiment from the invasion beach to the German frontier.

Despite determined resistance and the formidable river obstacle, the 180th Regiment seized the town on September 24. The enemy abandoned large stores of equipment, and beat a hasty retreat towards the German frontier. The division was then reassigned to V Corps, under the command of Major General Leonard T. Gerow, for its next advance.

On September 30 the Thunderbirds moved on the heavily wooded Vosges Mountains, the last natural obstacle before Germany. For over a month, the regiment met fanatical resistance, compounded by inclement weather. Nevertheless, the Mortagne River was crossed on October 23 and the 180th fought up to the outskirts of Raon l'Etape. After eighty-six consecutive days of combat, the regiment was relieved on November 9.

Bruce H. Bracey
Soldiers of the 45th Division rest and read mail during a pleasant lull in the action.

After a fifteen day rest, the regiment was again committed against the enemy. Passing through the Saverne Gap, the 180th protected the northern flank of a general advance towards Strassburg. Once that city was taken the attack proceeded north, and on November 30, Pfaffenhoffen was captured, the western gateway to the key city of Hagenau.

The regiment continued, capturing several Alsacian towns before crossing the German border on December 15. Company L of the 180th was the first 7th Army unit to enter Germany. From then until January 2, the regiment battled the enemy in their Siegfied Line defenses.

The 180th Infantry Regiment during a river crossing
One of many river crossings made by the 180th Regiment on their way towards Germany.

In the meantime, a powerful German counterattack in support of the Ardennes Offensive, had broken through the American line south of Bitche, and threatened to push through to the Savern Gap. On January 2, the regiment was ordered to withdraw from Germany and to proceed to a staging area north of Erkartsweiller.

In snow and sub-zero temperatures, the regiment counterattacked two days later and recaptured several key villages to help form a strong allied southern defensive front along the Ardennes bulge. It was during this critical time, against an increasingly desperate foe that, on January 11, 1945, Private Bruce Hirth Bracey was killed in action. Another Gold Star would soon be hung on the window of a Brookline home.

After Private Bracey's death, the 45th Division continued to take the fight to the enemy. After a brief period away from the front in February, the men smashed through the SiegFried Line on March 17 and crossed the Rhine River nine days later. By April 20 they had captured the town of major German city Nuremberg.

The Division crossed the Danube River a week later and liberated the concentration camp at Dachau on on April 29. After that it was on to Munich and then V-E Day on May 7, 1945. The soldiers of the 45th "Thunderbird" Division returned to the United States in September and the unit was deactivated on December 7, 1945.

Looking back, the 45th Infantry Division endured over 500 days in combat, suffering 62,641 casualties during the war, enough to replace its original strength three times over. Along the way, Thunderbirds took 103,367 enemy troops prisoner and inflicted untold enemy casualties.

Even General George S. Patton had high praise for the Division, saying that it was one of only three divisions in the Army that performed like a veteran unit from its first day in action. Addressing a group of Thunderbirds, Patton said: “I hope you know how good you are, for everyone else does. You are magnificent.”

Bruce H. Bracey

The Pittsburgh Press reported Private Bracey's death on March 12, 1945. By that time a Gold Star had appeared on the window of the Bracey home at 2615 Plainview Avenue and the neighborhood of Brookline knew that another son had been lost in the global conflict. Worse, Bruce's wife Rosemary was now a widow and their two children left without a father.

Private Bruce Hirth Bracey's body is interred at the Epinal American Cemetery and Memorial, located in Epinal, Department des Vosges, Lorraine, France.

Bruce H. Bracey

* Written by Clint Burton: March 6, 2019 *




The Brookline War Memorial

The Brookline Veteran's Memorial.

Listed below are many of the sons of Brookline who gave their
lives to preserve freedom and contain aggression during
World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather, we should thank God that such men lived.”
General George S. Patton
 

United States Army (1775-present)  United States Army Air Services (1917-1947)  United States Navy (1775-present)  United States Marine Corps (1775-present)
United States Coast Guards (1790-present)  United States Air Force (1947-present)  United States Merchant Marine (1775-present)

World War I (1917-1919)

Percy Digby

Digby, David P.
Mayville Avenue
Army

Details

Raymond P. Cronin

Cronin, Raymond P.
Berkshire Avenue
USMC

Details

Charles Luppe

Luppe, Charles
Ferncliffe Avenue
Army

Details

WW1 Memorial - Washington D.C.
The World War I Memorial - Washington D.C.

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World War II (1941-1945)


Alm, William H.
Pioneer Avenue
Army

Details


Arensberg, Roy T.
Fernhill Avenue
Army

Details


Bracey, Bruce H.
Plainview Avenue
Army

Details


Brickley, Edward G.
Woodward Avenue
Army

Details


Capogreca, James J.
Merrick Avenue
Navy

Details


Copeland, Clarence R.
Creedmoor Avenue
Navy

Details


Cullison, Thomas J.
Birtley Avenue
Army

Details


Dempsey, Howard F.
Berkshire Avenue
Army

Details


Dempsey, Walter F.
Milan Avenue
Navy

Details


Diegelman, Edward R. Jr
Norwich Avenue
Army

Details


Dornetto, Frank P.
Jacob Street
Navy

Details


Doyle, Joseph F Jr.
Eben Street
Navy

Details


Fagan, Gerald B.
Woodbourne Avenue
Army

Details


Falk, Harold E.
Pioneer Avenue
Army

Details


Fehring, Robert M.
Fernhill Avenue
Army

Details


Gmuca, Joseph J.
Brookline Boulevard
Army

Details


Heil, Robert F.
Bayridge Avenue
Army

Details


Hynes, Richard E.
Waddington Avenue
Army

Details


Kestler, Paul C.
Creedmoor Avenue
Navy

Details


Ketters, Robert C.
Berkshire Avenue
Army

Details


Mahoney, Michael J.
Oakridge Street
Army

Details


Majestic, Arthur B.
Starkamp Avenue
Army

Details


Mayberry, Alexander G.
Breining Street
Army

Details


Mazza, John
Alwyn Street
Army

Details


McCann, Robert F.
Edgebrook Avenue
Navy

Details


McFarland, Hugh R.
McNeilly Road
Army

Details


Meisner, Walter F.
Berwin Avenue
Merchant Marine

Details


Miller, William J.
Norwich Avenue
Army

Details


Napier, Edward J.
Brookline Boulevard
Army

Details


Nicholson, John D.
Woodbourne Avenue
Army

Details


O'Day, John R.
Creedmoor Avenue
Navy

Details


Orient, Andrew D.
Fordham Avenue
Army

Details


Pisiecki, Raymond A.
Wolford Avenue
Army

Details


Reeves, Alfred M.
Brookline Boulevard
Army

Details


Reitmeyer, John P.
Bellaire Avenue
Navy

Details


Rhing, Vern M.
Norwich Avenue
Army

Details


Ruane, Roy J.
Berkshire Avenue
USMC

Details


Shannon, Harry C.
Midland Street
Army

Details


Shannon, Jack E.
Midland Street
USMC

Details


Simpson, James D.
Woodbourne Avenue
Army

Details


Spack, Harry
Linial Avenue
Army

Details


Tobin, Paul M.
Woodbourne Avenue
Army

Details


Vierling, Howard F.
Fordham Avenue
Army

Details


Wagner, Ralph G.
Shawhan Avenue
Army

Details


Wentz, Walter L. Jr
Woodbourne Avenue
Army

Details


Zeiler, Harold V.
West Liberty Avenue
Army

Details


WW2 Memorial - Washington D.C.
The World War II Memorial - Washington D.C.

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Korean War (1950-1953)

Patrick Gallagher

Gallagher, Patrick J.
Bodkin Street
Army

Details

James Gormley

Gormley, James W.
Brookline Boulevard
Army

Details

Gerald Hilliard

Hilliard, Gerald G.
Edgebrook Avenue
Army

Details

James McKenna

McKenna, James E.
Bellaire Place
Army

Details

Korean War Memorial - Washington D.C.
Korean War Memorial - Washington D.C.

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Vietnam War (1965-1973)

James Robert Bodish

Bodish, James R.
Plainview Avenue
Army

Virtual Wall
Additional Details

James Gilbert Collins

Collins, James G.
Dunster Street
Army

Virtual Wall
Additional Details

James Charles Wonn

Wonn, James C.
Mayville Avenue
Navy

Virtual Wall
Additional Details

Vietnam War Memorial - Washington D.C.
Vietnam War Memorial - Washington D.C.




The Brookline Monument - The Cannon

Brookline Veteran's Park - April 26, 2014.

<Brookline War Memorial> <> <Brookline History>