Discovering Liberty Tremonte

Ken Wirfel is an alert “06880” reader.

He’s an even more alert Boston Globe reader.

The other day Ken spotted a story about a recently discovered letter. It described the execution of 15 American soldiers during World War II.

One was a Westporter: the wonderfully named Liberty J. Tremonte.

The stunning document — unearthed by a librarian in Natick as part of a project to dedicate a town memorial to veterans — described a 1944 OSS operation behind enemy lines in Italy.

The mission was to destroy a railroad tunnel used by Germans. But it ended tragically, with every American dead.

The World War II memorial on Veteran’s Green, across from Westport Town Hall, includes Liberty J. Tremonte’s name.

A spokesman for the National Archives and Records Administration was stunned at how much of the letter made it past war censors. He thinks the writer — a commanding officer — hoped to provide solace to a widow, by offering details of her husband’s death.

The unit’s 1st attempt at cutting German lines of communication — prior to a spring offensive to liberate Rome and move beyond Florence — failed because the night was too dark to locate the target.

The next try turned into a battle with a German convoy.

A storm prevented a 3rd attempt. Finally, on March 24, Germans captured the Americans. All were executed 2 days later.

The 15 — 2 officers and 13 enlisted men, including Tremonte — were discovered later in a common grave. Their hands were tied behind their backs.

According to the Globe:

German General Anton Dostler, acting on a 1942 order from Hitler to execute commandos without a trial, had ordered the execution despite resistance from officers within his own ranks. He was found guilty of war crimes and was shot by firing squad on Dec. 1, 1945.

Paul Carew, Natick’s veterans services director, said the executions were astonishingly brutal.

“I’ve heard a lot of stories about atrocities involving veterans, but nothing to this extent,” he told the Globe.

These men were executed in uniform.”

(Do you know any more about Liberty J. Tremonte? If so, please click “Comments” to share.)

11 responses to “Discovering Liberty Tremonte

  1. Angela McKelvey

    I remember the day Mrs Tremonte brought the telegram which said Liberty was Missing in Action to my father’s store in Saugatuck for my Mom to read to her. Angie Arcudi McKelvey

  2. Fasanating! That’s more like it Dan!

  3. Can we get a transcript of the letter? It sounds fascinating.

  4. Thanks, Dan. The Tremontes were longtime Saugatuck residents. Liberty’s nephew, Tommy (SHS ’66), was my classmate and football teammate at Staples where he was a big and very tough lineman. I never knew the whole Liberty Tremonte story until now. When I was growing up in Saugatuck it was one story among many and difficult for a kid to sort out. Unfortunately, what happened to Lliberty occured hundreds, maybe thousands,of times to Allied servicemen in WWII in all theaters. Commandos and paratroopers/glidermen were routinely executed, as were downed pilots and crewmen. In the Far East Allied POWs were executed by the thousands, often for sport. As with Liberty, the fates of these individuals were closer to home than we knew as kids. Sig Schreiner, longtime Staples industrial arts teacher, is a case in point — he was a survivor of the Bataan Death March and spent three years as a guest of the Empire of Japan in brutal POW camps and as a slave laborer in China. He witnessed many executions of American and Filipno POWs (http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1916&dat=19891023&id=xP4gAAAAIBAJ&sjid=QnQFAAAAIBAJ&pg=3319,3711507). Like Mary, I’d also appreciate seeing a copy of the letter from the War Dept that his mom received but was not able to read until Mr. Arcudi translated it for her.

  5. Thank you Dan
    and Thank you Liberty, I said a prayer of thanks and rest in peace and hope we all do….

  6. Apparently, his brother Albert Tremonte is still alive and living in Westport, according to the late sister’s obit:

    http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=56087906

  7. Thank you for sharing this, Dan.

  8. Liberty J. Tremonte Memorial Bridge

    Let’s rename the Post Road Bridge.

    Doesn’t get much better.

  9. There must have been medals beyond posthumous Purple Hearts awarded. Any info on that?

    LIBERTY bridge. Nice.

  10. I just received this from Loretta Tremonte:

    Liberty Tremonte was one of nine children – 5 boys and 4 girls born in Saugatuck to my grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Eduardo Tremonte. My father was Tom Tremonte, the eldest of the siblings.

    The telegram sent to my grandparents was actually delivered to my mother who read it to my grandmother. My grandmother immediately took it to Arcudi’s store because she didn’t want to believe what was read to her. Later the family was informed that my Uncle Liberty was one of 15 American soldiers captured and executed in March of 1944, two days after their capture. My Uncle Liberty was the recipient of the Silver Star and the Purple Heart.

    Your story was brought to my attention by Patty Struass, Westport Town Clerk, when she called to ask if I was related to Liberty Tremonte and how proud I must be of my uncle.

    Yes, I am very proud of my uncle and all of his brothers, Tom (my father), Tony, Saundo and Ernie, who all served during World War II and Albert (the youngest brother), who served during the Koren War. I am also very proud of my brother Tom Jr., who served in Viet Nam and his son, Petty Officer Michael J. Tremonte who is currently serving in the U. S. Navy.

    I would like to thank you and Ken Wirfel for acknowledging my uncle and a part of our family history.

    Sincerely,
    Loretta Tremonte
    Westport, CT.