On Monday September 14, 2018, almost 74 years after date, a memorial was dedicated to WWII soldier and MOH Recipient Cpl Horace Thorne in Grufflingen, Burg-Reuland, Belgium where he gave his life for freedom. By Reg Jans
WWII Historian Douglas Mitchell talks about how the idea and planning for the monument evolved, in cooperation with the commune of Burg Reuland, 82nd Airborne C-47 Club and the 106th Infantry Division Association. The dedication was attended by Bud’s niece Anita and his nephew Matthew.
Location: 50.222074, 6.121844
Cpl Horace Thorne had a choice to remain home on the farm but his love for people, family and country motivated his decision to serve. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during World War II.
Horace Marvin Thorne was born on 29 September 1918 in Keansburg, NJ. Thorne grew up on a 53-acre farm in nearby North Middletown. He and his eight siblings attended Port Monmouth Elementary School and Leonardo High School.
Thorne joined the Army from Keyport, NJ. On 21 December 1944, he was serving as a Corporal in Troop D, 89th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, 9th Armored Division.
Citation: He was the leader of a combat patrol on 21 December 1944 near Grufflingen, Belgium, with the mission of driving German forces from dug-in positions in a heavily wooded area. As he advanced his light machine gun, a German Mark Ill tank emerged from the enemy position and was quickly immobilized by fire from American light tanks supporting the patrol. Two of the enemy tank men attempted to abandon their vehicle but were killed by Cpl. Thorne’s shots before they could jump to the ground. To complete the destruction of the tank and its crew, Cpl. Thorne left his covered position and crept forward alone through intense machine gun fire until close enough to toss 2 grenades into the tank’s open turret, killing 2 more Germans. He returned across the same fire-beaten zone as heavy mortar fire began falling in the area, seized his machine gun and, without help, dragged it to the knocked-out tank and set it up on the vehicle’s rear deck. He fired short rapid bursts into the enemy positions from his advantageous but exposed location, killing or wounding 8. Two enemy machine gun crews abandoned their positions and retreated in confusion. His gun Jammed; but rather than leave his self-chosen post he attempted to clear the stoppage; enemy small-arms fire, concentrated on the tank, killed him instantly. Cpl. Thorne, displaying heroic initiative and intrepid fighting qualities, inflicted costly casualties on the enemy and insured the success of his patrol’s mission by the sacrifice of his life.
His love for living and for his fellow man was his first priority. Bud’s medals and recognition represent this love, self-respect and honorable life.
Thorne Middle School in Middletown was named in his honor in the 1960’s; the school is home to a display which includes photographs of the soldier, his Medal of Honor, and the original award citation. He was originally buried in a Belgian forest and his remains were later returned to the U.S. and re-interred at Fair View Cemetery in Middletown, NJ.