December 24, 1944 - Chester W. Owens

From our forum member James Davis...




The fire fighters of World War II’s Army Engineer Fire Fighting Platoons were mostly Selective Service inductees with no fire fighting background or experiences. The same is largely true of the officers who commanded these Platoons. The training in these skills was brief with the result that most of the learning was done “on the job” with insufficient and often inadequate equipment.


And so it was that the 1219th Engineer Fire Fighting Platoon created in late June 1943, trained briefly August 1943 and shipped overseas to Barry, Wales in early December 1943 found itself fire guarding a large Army Depot. Attached to the 9th US Army it entered France in late June, 1944. Following the 9th Army and setting up fire stations as needed and where directed the 1219th set up a fire station close by Malmedy, Belgium in the days of the Battle of the Bulge.

On December 24, 1944 - Christmas Eve – units of the 1219th responded to fires in Malmedy alledgedly set by aerial strikes by Allied aircraft. Whether going to, return from or fighting the fire is unknown as all records around that date, if created, no longer exist. During the going, the returning or the fire fighting Private Chester W. Owens was killed. His autopsy report says Massive Internal Injuries due to concussion. Whether a mortar or artillery round or a major vehicle mishap is unknown.


He rests with 7991 American soldiers in the US Military Cemetery located outside Henri-Chapelle, Belgium. I was privileged in 2009 to visit Chester’s resting place to pay my respects and offer my salute to a fallen brother fire fighter.


Chester was not the only Army fire fighter to fall in the war. Several dozen and maybe many more unknown live with him in the ultimate Fire House beyond the stars.


Corporal James G. Davis

1204th Engineer Fire Fighting Platoon


Attached Files
.jpg   Jim visits Private Chester Owens in Europe.jpg (Size: 63.04 KB / Downloads: 0)
Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"

WOW! I never gave thought to there having been Active Duty Firefighters on the frontlines. As a firefighter's daughter, Salute and Thank You!


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