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.
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.
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.)