· Donald Pershing Dronenberg, July 26, 1918 – Dec. 24, 1944 Fairfield Twp., Bureau Co., IL
· Age at Death: 26 years old.
· Graduated Tampico High School in 1936.
· Moved to Prophetstown, July, 1939
· Employed at Eclipse Lawnmower Co., Prophetstown, IL before enlisting in the service.
· Joined Co. M in Oct. 1939
· Was in Camp Forest
· Was in Camp Rucker until the Fall of 1944.
· He was a member of the 66th Division & had been in England over a month.
ARTICLES IN THE STERLING GAZETTE NEWSPAPER
THE STERLING GAZETTE, Sterling, IL
Jan. 15, 1945; 3;2
FORMER MEMBER OF CO. M REPORTED AS MISSING IN ACTION IN EUROPEAN AREA
T. Sgt. Donald P. Dronenberg, a former member of Company M. of Sterling, is missing in action in the European area since Dec. 25, according to word received today by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Dronenberg of Prophetstown. He was a member of the 66th division and had been overseas just a little over a month. The last letter his parents had from him was dated Dec. 17, in England.
T. Sgt. Dronenberg was inducted into the federal service with Company M. March 5, 1941, and went with the regiment to Camp Forrest, Tenn. Other places in the United States where he trained were Camp Joseph T. Robinson, Ark., Camp Carson, Colo., Fort Benning, Ga., and Camp Rucker, Ala.
T. Sgt. Dronenberg was born in Tampico, July 16, 1918, and was graduated from the Tampico high school in 1936. He was employed by he Eclipse Lawn Mower Company before leaving for Camp Forrest. He joined Company M in October, 1939.
THE STERLING GAZETTE, Sterling, IL
Roll #229 Jan. 30, 1945; 6;4
ADJUTANT GENERAL ULIO CONFIRMS FACT THAT DON DRONENBERG IS CASUALTY
On January 15, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Dronenberg of Propehtstown received word from the war department that their son, Tech. Sgt. Donald Dronenberg was missing in action on Dec. 25, 1944, in the European war theater.
On Monday, Mr. and Mrs. Dronenberg received a letter from Maj. Gen. J. A. Ulio as follows:
“The war department was recently notified of the destruction at sea of an American transport which was carrying troops in the European theater of operations. Although a large number of survivors were reported, a smaller group was reported as being missing in action as a result of this sinking.
“Your son, unfortunately, was in this latter group, and it is with deep regret that I must confirm my telegram of recent date which informed you that he was missing in action. I know that added distress is caused by failure to receive more information or details.
Therefore, I wish to assure you that at any time additional information is received it will be transmitted to you without delay, and, if in the meantime, no additional information is received, I will again communicate with you at the expiration of three months.
“Permit me to extend to you my heartfelt sympathy during this period of uncertainty.”
[END OF TRANSCRIPTIONS FROM STERLING GAZETTE]
There are 3 more issues of Sterling Gazette with articles on Don. However, they are out of circulation for repair work. I will continue to check to see when they are back on file for review. I will also check corresponding dates in the Tampico Tornado and see if there are more articles available in that paper.
There is a book that tells the story of the ship that Donald was on and the sinking of the ship, etc.:
Leopoldville: A Tragedy Too Long Secret
Author: Allan Andrade
Publisher: [Philadelphia, Pa.] : Xlibris Corp, ©2009.
Edition/Format: Book : English
Review: Highly recommend this true story!
The sinking of the Belgian troopship Leopoldville by a German U-Boat in the English Channel in December of 1944 was a tragedy of monumental proportions. Because of the urgency to rush troops to the German front during the Battle of the Bulge, many safety precautions normally taken in the transport of troops were not taken. 763 lives were lost as a result. This tragedy was kept secret by the American, British and Belgian governments until much later. The families were simply told their loved ones were missing in action.
Former New York city police lieutenant Allan Andrade, because of his expert investigative experience, became interested in getting to the bottom of this incident.