A recent eBay purchase has landed me with a fantastic group of WWII portrait photos all identified to members of Company A of the 295th Engineer Battalion, a unit that landed on the Normandy beaches only two weeks after the infamous June 6th, 1944 D-Day landings. Here’s an excerpt from the unit history that described that fateful day:
“The Big Moment did come at last; actually there were lots of big moments. The battalion was divided up into three serials, and each serial was on two or more boats. The first wave started from Hindon a little after midnight on 13 June. There was battalion headquarters, parts of each line company, and the medical detachment. They all reached the marshaling area in Winchester at 0830 that morning. Before dawn two days later, half of them were awakened a few hours later and they too reached another set of docks at that port. They all sweated out a day and a night, sleeping on the quayside, before they got on the boats. The first half, after moving into the Channel, had to return to port because their ship’s anti-mine apparatus was not working. The second half joined their convoy, stayed the night off the Isle of Wight, and then started off for France. They saw the coast at about noon on 18 June. They surveyed the coast defenses, and the wreckage, and the boats sunk near the shore. It all looked very grim. That night the skyline glowed with glare of fires and bursting shells, and they were still on the boats in the Channel………”
The photo I’ve selected for this post was initially partially identified as an Ernest Chek…… of 9 Mt. Pleasant Ave, Roxbury, Massachusetts. I eventually tracked down a unit roster for the 295th Engineers that lists a Sgt. Ernest Chekoulias, serial number 31301800 from Roxbury, MA. It’s clearly a hit and a cross reference with his obituary confirms that this is indeed the same soldier. Sgt. Chekoulias is listed in the unit history as having been awarded the Bronze Star for Heroic Achievement. His obituary page confirms this.
Ernest Chekoulias was born in Boston, MA on January 21st, 1923 and passed away in Rockland, TX on December 17th, 2008 at the age of 85. His obituary reads:
Mr. Ernest Chekoulias 85, of Rockland, died Wednesday, December 17, 2008 in his home, after an illness of several months. He was born in Boston on January 21, 1923, the son of the late Theodore and Pauline Zerolis Chekoulias. He was raised and educated in Boston Schools, and has lived in Rockland for 55 years. He was the Founder and President of Star Litho, Inc. in Weymouth. Mr. Chekoulias served in the Army during WWII, and saw service in Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland and Central Europe. He was the recipient of the Bronze Star. Husband of the late Dorothy T. McEnrue Chekoulias, he is survived by 1 son, E. Scott Chekoulias of Hanover, 4 daughters, Judith Chekoulias of Rockland, Jane S. Leonard of Hubbardston, Cynthia M. Chekoulias of Pembroke and Anita L. Drapeau of Kingston, 5 grandchildren, Daniel Leonard, David Leonard, Alissa Leonard, Kathryn Drapeau and Michael Drapeau, 2 sisters, Vera Marziarz of Southington, CT and Katherine Atherton of Bernardston, and sister-in-law, Mary M. Manley of Rockland. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday, December 23, 2008 at 9 AM in Holy Family Church, 403 Union Street, in Rockland. Interment will be in Holy Family Cemetery in Rockland. Visiting hours in the Sullivan Funeral Home, 45 East Water Street in ROCKLAND on Monday from 4-7 PM.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank the late Ernest “Chick” Chekoulis for his service with the 295th Engineers during WWII. This post is for you!