Lt. Peter Figler
eBay listings can be a treasure chest of great genealogical and WWII material. My favorite photos are ones that can be linked to a direct individual in a combat unit serving overseas in WWII. In this case, I was able to purchase a signal corps shot taken by the well-known combat photographer Irving Katz. His last name is mentioned on the reverse side of the image. Luckily, I’m familiar with Katz’s work from my familiarity with the Smithsonian article about the famous discovery of the Rothschild furniture in a German warehouse. More on that in a later post. Also, I’m friendly with a 196th Signal Corps photographer who lives locally. The 163rd and 196th served together in similar capacities in Italy and Southern France.
(August 25th, 2017 UPDATE)
I was just informed that this photo was taken by a different Katz that served in the same unit. Irving didn’t make it to the continent until January, 1945. Thanks to Barry S. for clearing this up!
45th Division Insignia
Back to the identification portion of the blog post. Lt. Peter Figler posed for his snapshot while holding a French fire helmet next to a fire engine in the Northeastern French town of Brouvelieures. Figler was a Lieutenant with B Battery of the 160th Field Artillery of the 45th Division when they participated in the Vosges Mountain Campaign. The photo is dated October 23rd, 1944 which places it in the early portion of the campaign.
The reverse caption identifies Lt. Figler as being from the Pennsylvania town of Larksville. With a name and town I was able to easily identify him and track down some basic info on him from ancestry.com. He was born on September 28th, 1919 and enlisted on June 16th, 1941, well before Pearl Harbor. That would likely account for his status as a Lieutenant in 1944. Sadly, he passed away in 2006. I’ve attached his obituary at the bottom of the post in hopes of connecting with his family. I love to reconnect family members with images of their relatives and provide unwatermarked photos for them.
1940 Census Record
French Brass Fire Helmet
PETER FIGLER Peter Figler, 86, of Colonial Park, Harrisburg, formerly of Larksville, passed away Monday, June 26, 2006 at Community General Osteopathic Hospital in Harrisburg. He was preceded in death by his wife of 55 years, Eleanor (Sheridan) Figler, Jan. 11, 2002. Born Sept. 28, 1919, he was a son of the late Peter and Eva (Yasenchak) Figler. He graduated from Larksville High School. A veteran of the U.S. Army, he served his country in World War II. The Army took him to numerous countries including Germany, Italy, France, Africa and Austria. He received the Bronze Star Medal for Heroic Achievement in Action, in France, in September, 1944. He worked for the United States Postal Service, retiring after more than 30 years. His family says he will be remembered for his strong family values. Mr. Figler was an active, founding member of St. Anns Byzantine Catholic Church in Colonial Park, Harrisburg and the former president of the Holy Name Society. During the early part of his retirement, he enjoyed traveling with his wife to Florida, Canada and Cape May, NJ. He was a former member of the ABC North Senior Bowling League. Surviving are his two daughters, Margaret Wolfe and her husband, Robert, of Lansdale and Elaine Witmer and her husband, Jonathan, of Harrisburg; four grandchildren, Pamela, Michael and his wife, Kim, Robert and his wife, Janelle, and Karen and her husband, Pietro; six great-grandchildren, Devon, Camron, Brandon, Elizabeth, Adriana and Arden; a sister, Helen Zalora of Wilkes-Barre; a brother, Paul Figler of Shavertown; and numerous nephews and nieces. Friends will be received from 6 to 8 PM, Sunday, July 2 at Neill Funeral Home, 3501 Derry St., Harrisburg. Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at 11:30 AM, Monday, July 3 at St. Anns Byzantine Catholic Church, 5408 Locust Lane, Harrisburg, PA 17109, officiated by Father Michael Shear. Burial with military honors will be at Resurrection Cemetery, Harrisburg. Memorials in Peters memory may be made to St. Anns Byzantine Catholic Church, at the above address.