A penciled drawing of a young man in Army garb is the most tangible remembrance she has of her first husband, 2nd Lt. Frank Burrows. Ruth Arnold of Heritage Oak Park in Port Charlotte had the drawing matted and framed to preserve it.
“My son had it and it was deteriorating before I got it framed,” she said. “My husband had been in the Battle of the Bulge as a member of the 213 antiaircraft battalion attached to the 28th Division, part of Gen. Omar Bradley’s 9th Army.”
What makes the drawing of her husband, Frank different is that it was drawn by a Storm Trooper he was guarding after the most decisive battle on the Western Front.
Ruth knows little about how the drawing came about other than, “Frank could speak a little German and he had the gift of gab, he never met a stranger.”
The only thing she learned from her first husband about the battle was, “It was three days after Christmas before they knew Christmas had come and gone. After the battle, Frank lived in a Belgium lady’s hay loft for six months.”
A scrap of an official Army document notes he received three battle stars for serving in three campaigns: Northern France, Rhineland and the Ardennes. The Ardennes was The Battle of the Bulge.
“It was 69 years ago Good Friday that Frank was drafted into the Army on April 11, 1941,” she recites with certainty. “After going to OCS they sent him to Iceland the first year and from there he was shipped to England and eventually France.”
The young couple – sweethearts who attended Crafton High School in Pittsburgh, Pa., were married in June 1942 while he was serving stateside in the Army.
After the war he went to work as a salesman for Sears, Arnold said. She also worked for the big retailer as an auditor for 20 years until she retired and moved to Port Charlotte in the 1980s. Frank died of a massive heart attack in 1958. He was 49-years-old.
She remarried 21 years after his death.
There is one other point to Frank’s story. Shortly after the war was over he received a letter from the lady in Belgium whose hay loft he slept in. The letter was kept for years and one day their son, Roger, decided to return to Europe, go to Belgium to find the house and the family who had befriended his father.
Roger was lucky and located the house, but the woman who let Frank use her hay loft had passed on. However, her daughter still lived in the same house. More important to Roger, she had a couple of tiny black and white pictures showing Frank, as a young soldier, standing with her mother in front of the decades old house in Belgium a lifetime ago.
Name: Frank L. Burrows
Age: 49 (deceased)
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pa.
Entered Service: April 11, 1941
Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Unit: 213 antiaircraft battalion attached to the 28th Division, part of Gen. Omar Bradley’s 9th Army.
Married: Ruth Arnold
Children: Roger, Frank and Pat
This story was first printed in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Fla. on April 19, 2010 and is republished with permission.