In the shade of a cedar tree on the playground at Cornwall School lies a memorial rock. The plaque on the rock reads: “Memorial Playground dedicated May 30, 1951 by the citizens of Cornwall to commemorate the services of all who fought and these who died in WWII,” followed by seven names. This memorial sparked interest for the eighth grade class as we studied the history of Cornwall and World War II.
We researched each of the names and learned their stories. Below is some of what each of us found out.
There are still many unsolved mysteries about this memorial. It remains unclear why there are stars next to four of the names on the plaque. We are not sure how some names are connected to Cornwall. This is a topic that we continue to learn more about and any information community members have would be happily accepted. Please contact us at Cornwall School if you have any knowledge about these names.
Manasseh Matsudaira: Ernest Dwight Clark Jr. was born in 1916 in Woodstock, West Virginia, son of Bertha Marion Branch Clark and Ernest Dwight Clark, who was born in Torrington and relocated to East Cornwall. Living in East Cornwall, he married Hazel M. Cain Clark before he was ordered to one year of active duty effective April 25, 1944 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina as a First Lieutenant. He was promoted to Captain during his service in the 5th Armored Division in the 47th Armored Field Artillery Battalion. The 5th Armored landed at Utah Beach, France, in late July 1944, seized Le Mans on October 8 and liberated Luxembourg City on September 5. On the 14th the regiment penetrated the Siegfried Line in Wallendorf and in October held defensive positions in the Monschau-Hofen Sector where we believe Ernest Dwight Clark Jr. was killed in action.
Rose Fitch and Eliza Tyson: Francis W. Cole* was a resident of both Sharon and Cornwall for most of his life. He was born in 1923 and passed away in 1942. His parents were Marie and Joseph Cole, and his close family consisted of his father, grandfather, and grandmother. Francis was an Aviation Machinist Mate, 3rd class in the U.S. Navy. On November 11, 1942, Cole was lost at sea along with eleven other men when their patrol bomber crashed into the Gulf of Mexico, just off the coast of Florida. Three of the men on the plane survived. Francis was 19 years old, and his memorial stone is located in East Side Cemetery in Sharon, CT.
Emil Urbanowicz: Calvin K. Decker* lived in Norfolk CT before he served in the U.S. Navy and is thought to have died at Pearl Harbor on November 25, 1944. His wife was Evelyn Iola Decker, but we were unable to find if he had any children or descendants. Calvin was buried at the Honolulu Memorial in Hawaii.
Indigo Fitch & Niya Borst: George Grove was a US Naval observer in the Royal Air Force in Iraq born September 6, 1894. Described as hard working, loyal, and charming to be around, he moved often, but his spouse, Katherine Grove, lived in Cornwall so it can be assumed he did at some point as well. He died on June 13, 1941 in a plane accident in Iraq.
Sidney Crouch: Thomas Lafarge* was born on September 5, 1904, in Paris, France. When he was 12, he and his three siblings moved from Paris to New Haven CT. Thomas was a lieutenant in the US Coast Guard. He was killed in action on December 17, 1942, during the battle of the Atlantic. Thomas was married to Iselin Lafarge. He loved painting and there were many artists in his family. His paintings were mainly maritime themed.
Alistair Taaffe: Reynold P. Marcou* was born in Vermont in 1926 and moved to Cornwall in 1940. He had two brothers and five sisters and served in the 175th U.S. Infantry Regiment, 29th Division. He was among the 4,414 allies who lost their lives storming the beaches at Normandy and was awarded a purple heart for his service.
Joshua Benjamin: Donald P. Smith is a WWII veteran listed on the CCS memorial plaque. My group and I had a hard time finding him due to his common name. An Ancestry.com link listed many possibilities with dates of death outside the time period we were researching, but one showed a Seaman First Class in the U.S. Navy who, like Colvin Decker (above), lost his life on November 25, 1944 and is buried in Honolulu.
—Rose Fitch and Eliza Tyson