4/26/2015. There will soon be five new memorials to the soldiers who served in the 43rd Division during World War II at the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas. Fredericksburg was the boyhood home of Admiral Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific fleet during World War II. The Museum, founded in 1971, was initially housed in the 19th century hotel run by the Nimitz family. The museum has since become a world-class museum with additional buildings including a state-of-the-art exhibition hall, a memorial garden, and much more. The memorial garden contains low walls on which are mounted memorial plaques dedicated to ships, military units of all types, and individuals who served in the military.
I visited the Museum a year ago as part of a college “mini-reunion” and noted that among the thousand memorial plaques there was no memorial to the 43rd Infantry Division, which was one of the first army divisions to reach the Pacific after the Pearl Harbor attack. It was the New England National Guard division in which my father Wilber served in World War II, and about which I learned so much in tracking his story.
I therefore parted with some of my retirement funds to sponsor a large memorial plaque (20 x 40 in) to the 43rd to be mounted in a highly visible location. It features both the infantry and the artillery but all units of the division are implicitly honored. The plaque design is dramatically vivid to my thinking; the credit goes to Ms. Stephanie Hagee of the Museum staff. I also am sponsoring four smaller plaques for individuals of the 43rd Division, including its commander General Leonard Wing. I will post them later. The plaques are being fabricated as I write this. They should be mounted within a month or so.
For the record, the casualty figures the division suffered that are listed on the plaque may be disputed because different sources give different numbers. For example the 43rd Memorial at the State Veterans Cemetery in Middletown, CT, carries numbers from the Zimmer history of the 43rd Division. For this memorial, I used the numbers for the Luzon campaign that are reported in the Division’s Final Report of that campaign, “Luzon Campaign” (1945) which were also used by Gen. Barker in his book on the division artillery, published in 1961. I believe they are more reliable than those in the earlier Zimmer history of the 43rd. The differences may lie partly in the criteria used for defining “wounded in action.” See my tabulation of the various summaries here and under Resources.