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Record of Funerals Overseas -- Australia

Edgar R. Cochrun, Chaplain

Base Section #2
After the United States entered World War I, my grandfather, the Reverend Edgar Roy Cochrun, a Methodist preacher, believed that he should join the Army as a chaplain. As the story goes, the Methodist bishop at that time did not want "any of my boys in that sinful conflagration," so Uncle Roy (as we grandchildren were to call him many years later) changed denominations and joined anyhow. I do not know if he ever saw Europe during that first world war.

During World War II, my grandfather served both in the Pacific and in Europe after the invasion. His service in the Pacific began in 1942 when he sailed aboard the USAT Anscom to Adelaide, Australia. He arrived in Australia May 14, 1942.

While in Australia he maintained two records, a diary (which sadly was not always well maintained) and a list of men whose lives were lost during the war. I recently ran across that latter notebook and thought perhaps there were those who would like to see the names of the men at whose funerals he officiated. According to a note at the beginning of the record he sometimes also officiated at Jewish funerals.

It is with reverence for the past and those lost in the Pacific during that second world war that I present below in alphabetic order the names of those heros, as well as any additional information about the individual, from my grandfather's notebook.

Elmer F. Beckett, Corp.
(See further below)

Sgt. Harris H. Coffey
Third Bombardment Group
3 November 1942
American Cemetery
P. Moresby
Wife Mrs. Bessie M.
307 E. Pk. A
Savannah, GA
(letter of condolence sent)
Died in plane crash following mission over enemy territory 2 November 1942. Landing gear of plane shot off by enemy fire.

S/Sgt Richard M. Cullison
43 Bomb Gr.
3 December 1942
220 So St. Harrisburg, PA.
Mother Mrs. Violet B. Cullison
(letter of condolence sent)

Willard J. Currie, Jr.
500 Bo. Sq. - 90th Bomb Gr.
3 Jan. 1943
Mrs. Claude Currie
Box 511
Sterling City, Texas
(There is no indication a letter was sent)

2nd Lt. Robert Farnsworth
319 Bo. Sq. 90th Bo. Gp.
3 Jan 1943
Guy Faqrnsworth
RFD #1
Ontario, Oregon
(There is no indication a letter was sent)

Corp. Marvin D. Frandsen
3 Dec 1942
320 Bo. Sq. 90th Bo. Gp.
Mrs. Lula S. Frandsen
Basalt, Idaho
(Letter of condolence sent)

S/Sgt Richard C. Frankforther
Townsville, N (illegible)
Died of injuries about Nov 8-10, 1942, of injuries (sic) received in a plane wreck (see under Lt. Platt). I attended this soldier at hospital before he was taken back. He showed very great courage. (Mother) Mrs. Naomi Frankforther
(Letter of condolence sent)
516 Conant St.
Maumee, Ohio
Letter of condolence sent (3rd Bomb. Gp.)
(It is unknown if the two entries regarding letter of condolence means the 3rd. Bomb. Gp. also sent a letter).

1st Lt. Robert K. Freeman,
3 Dec. 1942
43rd Bomb Gr.
Mrs. Constance L. Freeman
8855 So. Aberdeen St.
Chicago, Illinois
(Letter of condolence sent)

Blakely Fryman, Sgt
(See further below)

Chas. G. Glimpse S/Sgt
400th Bo. Sq. 90th Bo. Gp.
3 Jan, 1943
Mrs. Mable Glimpse (M)
Walnut Street, Indiana
(Signal Ooletic? Ind.
(The above entry is reproduced precisely as it appears. In addition, there is no indication a letter was sent).

S/Sgt W.H. Grogan
3 Dec 1942
43rd Bomb Gr.
Eva B. Gorgan
2353 Elizabeth Ave.,
Winston-Salem, No. Carolina
(Letter of condolence sent)

Walter L. Husher
400th Bo. Sq. 90th Bo. Gp.
3 Jan 1943.
Mrs. Betty Seidlitz (S)
4823 No. Winthrop
Chicago, Ill.
("S" probably indicates "sister." In addition, there is no indication a letter was sent).

Staff Sergeant J.M. Iverson
3 Dec. 1942
43rd Bomb. Gr.
Mary Iverson
Depot Road
Falmouth, Me
(Letter of condolence sent)

Robert F. Knerr. Pfc.
400th Bo. Sq. 90th Bo. Gp.
3 Jan 1943
(F) Frank G. Knerr
218 So. Melcalf St.
Lima, Ohio
("F" probably is "father." There is no indication a letter was sent)

Corp. Guy A. Kynerd
14 Dec 1942
Mrs. F.B. Kynerd (Mother)
725 Pecan St.
Waco, Texas
(Letter of condolence sent)

Pfc. Bernard E. Leake
Co "H," 128 Inf.
6 November 1942
American Cemeter - Port Moresby
Died of wounds received in enemy air raid.
Ltr. to J.E. Leake
Reedsburg, Wis.
(Letter of condolence apparently sent)

2nd Lt. Philip D. Lissner
8th Photo Squadron
Nov 30, 1942
American Cemetery, Port Moresby.
Died in plane crash while on mission
Ltr. 12/2/43 to
Mrs. C.W. Gibson (Mother)
Laredo, Texas
(Letter of condolence sent)

Sgt. Gilliam R. Mefford
Third Bombardment Group
3 November 1942
American Cemetery
P. Moresby
Mrs. Rosa Ellen Mefford (Mother)
Route 8
Springfield, Tenn.
Died in plane crash following mission over enemy territory 2 November 1942. Landing gear of plane shot off by enemy fire.
(Letter of condolence sent)

2nd Lieut Harry L. Moy
43rd Bomb Gr.
20 Dec 1942
Mrs. Joay (sic) Moy
Wilburton, Okla
(Letter of condolence sent)

Sam Nash, Corp.
(See further below)

2nd Lt. A.C. Oxley, Gilbert L.
35th Fighter Sq. 8th Fighter Gr.
Died in plane crash
Woodstock, Qd (probably Queensland)
July 27, 1942.
Home Address:
747 Vermilya Ave
Flint, Mich.
Next of kin:
Cecil L. Oxley, Father.
Townsville, Qd
3 PM July 28.
Burial New Townsville Cemetery
Sect C-3, Row No 1, Plot No 17.
Text. Jer 48:17.
(Letter written to father)
(As the earliest date in his notebook, my grandfather probably originally intended to keep detailed information, but later found he was unable to do so.)

2nd Lieut. Theron G. Platt
Third Bombardment Group
3 November 1942
American Cemetery
Port Moresby
(Mother) Mrs. A.R. Platt
The Oaks
Died in plane crash following mission over enemy territory 2 November 1942. Landing gear of plane shot off by enemy fire.
(Letter of condolence sent)

Pvt. Harold E. Rainwater
(American Indian)
72nd Ord. Bn.
11 Dec. 1942
Killed in motor accident. Was very much liked by his comrades. Musical and lively spirited.
Mrs. Susie Rainwater
R.F.D. #1
Box 7,
DeQuincey, La.
(Letter of condolence sent)

1st. Sgt. Lester L. Risch
153rd Sta Hosp.
Port Moresby
(17 mi.) (sic)
Dec 21, 1942
Henry Risch
1501 4th St.
Davenport, Ia.
Died of illness following operation. Funeral largely attended by EM - Doctors and Nurses.

Lieut. Jerome L. Simpson
6th Troop Carrier Sq
Jerome L. Simpson Sr.
Iva, So. Carolina
(Letter of condolence sent)

Snyder, Earl W. Sgt
63rd Bomb Group. 43 Bomb Sq (H) attached 19 Bomb Gr.
KIA on bombing mission
New Guinea
Funeral held Townsville, Qd (Queensland)
Aug. 29, 1942
Internment, New Townsville Cemetery.
Aug. 29, 1942 (sic)
Next of kin -
(No indication of next of kin or if letter of condolence was sent).

Estie E. Stewart, Pvt
Pvt (sic) 37 Sig. Pl. 27 Serv. Sg.
28 Jan 1943
E D Jenkins
Drummond, Okla.
(Letter of condolence sent)
(Also see further below)

Sgt/T William J. Theodore
391st Engrs. Lost at sea enroute Townsville - Port Moresby aboard USAT Geo. Matthews -
Accident due collision 1:30 A.M. Oct 17, 1942, with USAT Edgar Benson. Soldier sleeping in truck on gun deck. Cot with soldier thrown overboard. Searchlights were used. Ship stopped & small boat searched for 1/2 hour. No trace. Memorial service held aboard ship 10 A.M. Sunday, Oct 18, 1942.
N-K - Mr & Mrs. Theodore
Star Route - Box 18
Pleasanton, Calif.
(Letter of condolence sent)
(It should be noted that owner of the Ship Index Page formerly at"> clarified the name of the Edgar Benson as the Egbert Benson. Both the Matthews and Benson were Liberty Ships and not USAT ships. (The Ship Index Page is gone). There is additional information about the collision itself from my grandfather's diary. Theodore was the only person killed in the collision).

At the front of the notebook was noted: "At Port Moresby, N.G. Oct 1942 -- Capt. Sidney G. Rubenfelt, M.C., in absence of Jewish chaplain, officiated on my invitation at several funerals of Jewish soldiers. See - Picture - ABX." (The photo may be the one below, although it is of services held in 1943).

Port Moresby Funeral, 1943

The photo above is of a funeral for four men, one of whom was Estie E. Stewart from the list above. As the others were not Protestant, there were no notes about them in his notebook. Those three men were:

Elmer F. Beckett, Corp. Co "M" 128th Inf. Catholic

Blakely Fryman, Sgt 708 C.A. Catholic

Sam Nash, Corp. Co "K," 163rd Inf. Jewish.

The officiating chaplains in the photo are identified as:

E.R. Atterbury - 41st Div. Prot 1.
E.R. Cochrun - HQ Adv. Base Prot. 3.
J.I. Kane - 10th Evac. Hosp. Catholic 5.
S.M. Kerr - 171st Sta Hosp. Protestant 2.
S.G. Rubenfelt (Capt. M.C.) Jewish 4.

Additional notes written on the back of the photo were:

Jan 28, 1943
9:30 A.M.
American cemetery
Anyone who would like to comment on this information or discuss it is welcome to contact me by e-mail at