Delmar Albert Delaney was born on 21 August 1917, in Peru, Illinois, to John and Edith (Meyer) Delaney. When Delmar was born his parents had been married for five years and had two older children: John and Lucille.
Delmar had Irish ancestry through his paternal great grandparents John and Mary Cusick Delaney who immigrated to America from Ireland in the 1800s. However, he also had a strong German background through his other set of paternal great grandparents Philip Fouth and Philipena Walter Fouth who had arrived in America from Germany in the early 1800s and settled in Bureau county. Delmar also had German ancestry through is maternal grandparents, Henry and Louisa Koehler Meyer, who were both from Germany. They had arrived in America in the 1880s.
Delmar spent his childhood growing up in a home at 1815 Ninth street in Peru and attending local public schools. Over the years he gained two more brothers Walter and William and two more sisters Bernice and Mildren.
However, Delmar’s mother, Edith, struggled with a heart condition for ten years from the time Delmar was about 2 until he was 12 when she eventually succumbed to her illness on 28 November 1929. Delmar’s aunt Emma came to live with the family to help her brother take care of the children. Then, in a heart-wrenching event, Delmar’s father, John, suffered a fatal heart attack only a few years later on 6 April 1934, leaving Delmar and his younger siblings orphaned.
By the early 1940s, Delmar had grown into a young man and lived with his aunts Marie and Emma and siblings. Most likely he chose not to attend high school so he could enter the work force and help support the family. Fortunately he and his brother Walter found employment at the local clock factory, Westclox, in Peru. There Delmar worked as a buffer and his brother Walter as a painter.
As World War II loomed on the horizon, Delmar Delaney like so many other young Americans experienced their country’s call to duty. On 16 October 1940, at the age of 23, he registered for the draft. At the time, he stood 5 foot 9 inches tall weighing 159 pounds with blue eyes and blonde hair. Almost two years later, Delmar enlisted in the U.S. Army on 14 September 1942. His military journey began at Camp Grant in Illinois before he was sent to Camp Livingston in Louisiana for training. He honed his skills in amphibious warfare at Camp Gordon Johnston in Florida and then moved to Camp Pickett in Virginia, preparing for deployment overseas.
Delmar was assigned to Company M in the 112th Infantry Regiment of the 28th Infantry Division, a unit with a storied history. In late October 1944, the 28th Division was given a challenging mission: to capture the German-held high ground near the River Kall. The regiment’s assault began on November 2nd, with Delmar’s comrades moving towards Vossenack and Schmidt.
After taking Vossenack in a combined effort with the 707th Tank Battalion, the units entered the Hürtgen Forest. There they found themselves in small arms battles with the enemy. From November 2–19, the regiment fought to hold their line. This effort resulted in the loss of 248 officers and 5,452 enlisted men, one of which was PFC Delaney who was killed in action on 5 November 1944. He was buried in a temporary grave in the Margraten Cemetery, Aachen, Holland.
In 1951, the remains of PFC Delmar Albert Delaney were brought back to the United States to be buried in Peru City Cemetery, alongside his parents, John and Edith. PFC Delmar Delaney was posthumously awarded several medals for his service, including the American Campaign Medal, WW2 Victory Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and the Army Good Conduct Medal. (He may also have been eligible for the Purple Heart but the award of this could not be confirmed.) His sacrifice was not in vain, as his memory lived on in the hearts of his family and in his nephew who appears to have been named Delmar in his honor.
Delmar Albert Delaney’s story is one of courage, sacrifice, and a deep sense of duty to his country. His life was marked by hardship, but his legacy endures as a symbol of the sacrifices made by countless individuals during World War II.
This story is part of the Stories Behind the Stars project (see www.storiesbehindthestars.org). This is a national effort of volunteers to write the stories of all 421,000+ of the US WWII fallen saved on Together We Served and Fold3. Can you help write these stories? These stories will be accessible via smartphone app at any war memorial or cemetery.
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- SBTS Historian: Pam Broviak
- 1850 U.S. Census, Wilhelm Walters, Ancestry.
- 1900 U.S. Census, Henry Meyers, Ancestry.
- 1920 U.S. Census, John Delaney, Ancestry.
- 1930 U.S. Census, John W. Delaney, Ancestry.
- 1940 U.S. Census, Marie Delaney, Ancestry.
- 1950 U.S. Census, John W. Delaney, FamilySearch.
- “Illinois, U.S., Marriage Index, 1860-1920,” Philip Fouth and Philipina Walter, Ancestry.
- “Illinois, County Marriages, 1810-1940,” John Delaney and Edith Meyer, FamilySearch.
- Death Certificate, Edith Delaney, FamilySearch.
- Death Certificate, John Delaney, FamilySearch.
- “U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947,” Delmar Albert Delaney, Ancestry.
- “U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1861-1985,” Delmar A. Delaney, Ancestry.
- SGT 1st Class Aaron Heft, “Into The Hürtgen: The 28th ID in World War II’s Battle of Hürtgen Forest,” Pennsylvania National Guard.