James Armstrong Hertz was born in Canada on October 25, 1921. He was the son of Louis and Marion Hertz and had a younger brother William. His father Louis was born in Pennsylvania in 1881, was a Major in the Army during World War I and later worked as a stock trader. His mother was born in Canada in 1894 and they all lived at various addresses in Rye, NY, including Locust Lane, Loudon Woods and on Highland Road. James Hertz was working in Toronto when the war started, and returned to the United States to enlist. James served as an officer in the U.S. Army during World War II.
James enlisted in the Army on 13 Feb 1942 in Manchester, New Hampshire.
New Years Day in 1942 saw the birth of a new armored unit in the United States Army, the
391st Armored Field Artillery Battalion, as part of the 3rd Armored Division. It was this unit James was assigned and started his training at Camp Polk, Louisiana. They also had trained war games in California, Virginia, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. James was commissioned a 2nd Lieut. during this period.
The Organizational History of Field Artillery- Chapter 7 WWII
The 3rd Armored Division arrived in England on 15 September 1943, conducting pre-invasion training in the Liverpool and Bristol areas. It remained in Somerset, England until 24 June 1944, when it departed to partake in the Normandy operations. On July 9th the 391st helped thwart a German counter attack which if successful would have split the Allied forces and wreaked havoc on the invasion forces.
The division spearheaded the U. S. First Army through Normandy, taking part in a number of engagements, notably including the Battle of Saint Lo, where it suffered significant casualties. After facing heavy fighting in the hedgerows, and developing methods to overcome the vast thickets of brush and earth that constrained its mobility, the unit broke out at Marigny, alongside the 1st Infantry Division.
Ordered to help close the Falaise Gap and Argentan pocket which contained the German Seventh Army, the division finished the job near Putanges by 18 August. Six days later the outfit had sped through Courville and Chartres and was located at the banks of the Seine River. On the night of 25 August 1944 the crossing of the Seine by the division started; once over, the 3rd slugged its way across France, reaching Belgium on 2 September 1944.
On 10 September 1944, the Spearhead Division fired what it claimed was the first American field artillery shell of the war onto German soil. Two days later, it passed the German border and soon breached the Siegfried Line, taking part in the Battle of Hurtgen Forest.
"We were in direct support of Task Force I of CCB. and the forward elements were bucking the first defenses of the Siegfried Line. We left our position near Eupen at 15:00 on the 12th and moved into a position near Rotgen, Germany. The forward elements had captured it early on
the 12th after a big battle with anti-tank guns and flak batteries. It was the first German town to fall in this war and it fell to our Task Force.
Battle history of A battery, 391st Armored Field Artillery Battalion pg. 54.
It was during this initial assault toward the Siegfried Line that Lieut. James Armstrong Hertz was killed in action on December 12, 1944, near Rotgen, Germany. He was twenty-three years old.
Lt. James A. Hertz Killed In Action
Lieut. James Armstrong Hertz, son of Mrs. Louis Hertz of Toronto, Canada, and the late Major Hertz, formerly of Rye, was killed in action in France on December 12,1944. He was twenty-three years old and served in the artillery. Lieut. Hertz was working in Toronto when the war started, and returned to the United States to enlist. He is survived by his mother and one brother, William Hertz of New York, now in the Air Corps. When the Hertz family was in Rye, they lived in Loudon Woods and on Highland Road.
RYE,NEW YORK FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 1945
Lieut. James Armstrong Hertz received the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery
U.S. Army - 3rd Armored Division