In memory of JOHN R FOREHAND JR. (424/G)


John R Forehand, Jr. was born on 11 December 1924 at Statesboro, Georgia. He was the only child of Mr. John Forehand Senior and Mrs. Jewel Cook. John Jr. or "JR" as he was nicknamed by his friends, grew up in the small Georgia town of Metter. His father was the operator of a barber shop there. His mother was a seamstress. John and his family had  lived on a small farm in Metter since he was seven.  Metter is a small town in South-East Georgia about 65 miles from Savannah and is located on the east coast of the United States. John Forehand Jr. graduated from Metter High School in 1942. Being 6 ft. tall and weighing around 185 lbs., he was an excellent football player in high school. He also attended Mt. Berry untill he decided to enter the service in August of 1943.

John R Forehand was sworn in on the 5th of August in 1943 at Fort McPherson in Atlanta.
He was first assigned to an Anti-Aircraft unit.  When the Army drained other units for infantry replacements, "JR" was assigned to the newly formed 106th Infantry Division at Fort Jackson in South Carolina. Designated: Private First Class John R Forehand Jr, G-Company, 2nd Battalion, 424th Infantry Regiment. ASN: 34826734


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When the German Army attacked the Ardennes front on December 16th, 1944, the 424th regiment held the southern part of the 106th's front. As two regiments of the 106th, the 422nd and 423rd were cut off and forced to surrender on the Schnee Eifel, the 424th escaped from the trap.  Being the only surviving infantry unit, it pulled back and participated in the defense of St. Vith and the effort to counterattack and ush the Germans back through the so-called "Bulge".

On December 25th, the 424th (under Colonel Alexander Reid) participated in the attack for the strategic crossroads town of Manhay. For this action, the 424th was attached to the 7th Armored Division. The 2nd Battalion, commanded by Lt. Colonel Leonard Umanoff, was called back from the rest area near Houssonloge to carry out the attack.

Lt. Robert Logan, 2nd Battalion S-3, 424th Infantry:

"On December 25th, the 2nd Battalion of the 424th Regiment left the area of Harre at approximately 0700 AM. At 1400 hours, it moved towards Chêne-al-Pierre accompagnied by the 48th and 23rd Armored Infantry Battalions and a platoon of tanks. They attacked in the direction of Manhay. The 2nd Battalion fought on the right side of the N-15 road.

The result was pitiful and the most powerfull battalion was reduced to ashes. The approximate casualty estimate was 35%. Support was requested to retrieve the wounded as the Germans fired on medical personnel. They hid in the cellers of the Manhay homes and fired at the knees of approaching soldiers. Every enemy tank had its barrel leveled which prevented the battalion from coming any nearer than 80 yards of the village. As night fell, the second battalion was ordered to fall back to the heights north of Manhay. As the men retreated, many casualties were inflicted by 88mm bursts that came down on the retreating force."

During this time G-Company had layed in reserve to the north of Manhay, along with the 38th Armored Infantry Battalion.

On December 26th, a new attack was launched on Manhay. The assault started at 0915 AM. The men of the 2nd Battalion, 424th Infantry were again subjected to heavy casualties. Concentrated artillery and mortar fire bring a rain of destruction down on the men of the 424th. Despite the heavy American artillery barrage, preceding the attack, it did not seem to have any influence on the German defensive positions.  The 424th does not succeed in capturing the village. The second attack had failed.


Manhay's main crossroads with the completely destroyed village around it. (NARA)

The attack during the day and through an open field was a bad choice and caused many of the men of the 424th to lose their lives.

Among the casualties that day was PFC John R Forehand Jr. of Metter, Georgia. Although unconfirmed, he was most likely killed by artillery fire. He died at Manhay, not more than two weeks after his 20th birthday, on the second day of Christmas. He was buried at Henri-Chapelle and by request of his family, his body was returned to the United States for reburial. He now lies interred at Lake Cemetery in his hometown of Metter. The war memorial in front of the Candler County Courthouse is engraved with his name.


The Candler County War Memorial at Metter, Georgia. (Photo courtesy of Hu Daughtry)

Several years after the battle, with peace again in the Ardennes region, it is still possible to find material of this decisive period of WWII. In the early 1990ies John R. Forehand Jr.'s Army duffle bag was found in a barn near Manhay.  As many of these duffle bags were lost or left behind during the war, local farmers put them to good use in post-war years. Because of the sturdy heavy canvas material they were preferred by locals as cattle feeding bags, or just for storing or transport purposes. To have served for more than 65 years, PFC Forehand's duffle is still in remarkably good shape.

 
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To me, it is a memorial for the bravery of so many like John R Forehand Jr. who came as young men to fight for the freedom of Europe and to rid it from oppression. He and so many like him have made the ultimate sacrifice and therefore earn our fullest respect and gratitude. He will be remembered...

May he rest in peace
John Ro Forehand Junior
(1924-1944)

I wish to thank the following people for the information they have passed on to me in order to make this article about PFC John R Forehand Jr.:

Jerri Goodman (Metter Advertiser)
Hu Daughtry (Metter, GA)
John E Jones, Sr. (Metter, GA)
Montell Lanier (Metter, GA)
Eddy Monfort (Manhay, Belgium)
Joey and Linda Cook (Metter, GA)
Jennie B Hall (North Carolina)
Albert Lanier (San Francisco,CA)
Addie Lanier (San Francisco, CA)
Kelton Cook (Metter, GA)
Edgar L Helmey (Raleigh, NC)
Ann Craig (Metter, GA)
John Kline (423/M) and Jim West (Indianamilitary.org)



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