Private 1st Class John Frame (1915–1945)

John Frame (Courtesy of the Delaware Public Archives)
Home StateCivilian Occupation
DelawareMill worker at Continental Diamond Fibre
BranchService Number
U.S. Army32076682
TheaterUnit
EuropeanCompany “C,” 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division
AwardsCampaigns/Battles
Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart with three oak leaf clustersSicily, Italy (including the Volturno and the Anzio beachhead), Southern France, Vosges Mountains, Colmar Pocket

Early Life & Family

John Frame was born in Newark, Delaware on September 28, 1916, the fifth of eight children born to James Rudolph Frame (1875–1954, a worker in a local fibre mill) and Mary Ann Frame (1881–1962, née Mooney).  His father was born in Pennsylvania and his mother in Ireland.  An older sister died as a young child before John was born.  He grew up with three older brothers, a younger brother, and two younger sisters. According to his military paperwork, he was Catholic.

Extant records indicate that Frame lived most of his life (from at least February 12, 1920 through October 16, 1940) on Creek Road (Road 311).  Today, very few homes remain on Creek Road, which mainly follows the west bank of White Clay Creek north from downtown Newark into Pennsylvania; the road is largely closed to vehicular traffic and portions have been incorporated into the White Clay Creek State Park trail system.  The family was recorded on the census on February 12, 1920 and again on April 10, 1930 (with the family name erroneously listed as Fraim).  One of his neighbors in 1930 was James Roland Wilson, destined to die during the Normandy campaign. 

Census and enlistment records state that Frame’s highest completed level of education was eighth grade.  Frame was recorded on the census for the final time on April 24, 1940, working as a farm laborer. 

When Frame registered for the draft on October 16, 1940, he was working for Phillips Brothers Contractors in Elkton, Maryland.  At the time, he was described as standing 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighing 135 lbs., with brown hair and blue eyes.

After Frame was drafted in 1942, his occupation was recorded as “semiskilled occupations in manufacture of textiles, n.e.c.”  A March 3, 1945 article in the Wilmington Morning News stated that before entering the U.S. Army, Frame “was employed at the Continental-Diamond Fibre Company.”  Two brothers also served during World War II: Thomas in the U.S. Army and James in the U.S. Navy.


Training & Mediterranean Theater

Frame was inducted into the U.S. Army in Camden, New Jersey on July 22, 1942.  According to a State of Delaware Individual Military Service Record filled out by his mother, Private Frame went on active duty at Fort Dix, New Jersey in August 1942 and attended basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia.  The only unit that the document listed was the 7th Infantry; it also stated that Frame shipped out from New York in March 1943 en route to North Africa. 

If so, Private Frame must have joined the 7th Infantry Regiment as a replacement.  Known as the Cottonbalers, the regiment―part of the 3rd Infantry Division―went overseas several months before Frame, in late October 1942.  The regiment participated in the invasion of French Morocco (territory under the control of Vichy France, which was collaborating with Germany) beginning on November 8, 1942.  (Frame was serving in Company “C,” 7th Infantry Regiment as of early 1945, but it is not possible to confirm that he did not transfer between companies during his nearly three years overseas.) 

Beginning around the time when Frame arrived, the 7th Infantry Regiment started training for the invasion of Sicily, where Private Frame first saw combat.  The regiment landed in the vicinity of Licata on July 10, 1943.  The unit overcame Italian resistance as it worked its way north―up the west side of Sicily―to Palermo, which fell on July 22.  In early August, the 3rd Infantry Division headed east, where Allied forces were converging on Messina.  Messina fell on August 17, 1943, though much of the Axis forces managed to escape to mainland Italy.  The Allies followed, with landings at Salerno beginning on September 9, 1943.  The 7th Infantry Regiment arrived on the Italian mainland on September 20.

In early October 1943, the 3rd Infantry Division reached the soon-to-be infamous Volturno River.  German forces had mined the near bank before withdrawing to the strongly fortified the far bank.  On the night of October 12, 1943, the 7th Infantry Regiment crossed the Volturno, suffering heavy casualties in the process.  It is unclear if Private Frame participated in this action, because he was hospitalized for at least three months due to an illness starting sometime in October 1943. 

In February 1944, Frame returned to his regiment, now located at the Anzio beachhead, where an amphibious operation (intended to bypass the German defensive line to the south near Cassino) had bogged down.  He likely participated in defending the beachhead from a strong German counterattack that began on February 29.  After several days of tough fighting, the counterattack failed.  Months of stalemate followed.  Frame’s unit endured occasional firefights with Germans nearby, but also air raids, artillery fire, and chilling winter rain (the latter three even when the regiment had been rotated off the front line).

The long-awaited breakout from Anzio began on May 23, 1944.  The following day, while the 7th Infantry Regiment was struggling to capture Cisterna, Frame was wounded.  A hospital admission card stated that Frame was wounded in the shoulder by artillery fragments in May 1944 and discharged back to duty the following month. 


U.S. troops land in the South of France (Official U.S. Army Signal Corps photo, National Archives)

Combat in France

With the capture of Rome on June 4, 1944, and the beginning of the Allied landings in Normandy two days later, Frame’s division spent the next few months recuperating and training.  Their next mission was another amphibious operation, Operation Dragoon, against the South of France.  On August 15, 1944, the 7th Infantry Regiment landed west of Cape Cavalaire, roughly halfway between Marseille and Cannes.  Although the Germans were soon routed, John C. McManus wrote in his book American Courage, American Carnage: 7th Infantry Chronicles that “The regiment lost 58 killed” on the first day of Operation Dragoon, “the single deadliest day the regiment experienced in World War II.” 

Private Frame earned the Bronze Star Medal during combat in France.  An excerpt of the citation, printed in Journal-Every Evening on August 7, 1945, stated:

On 25 August 1944, Private Frame and an officer braved the fire of three tanks, four machine guns, and small arms at point-blank range that had killed or wounded 12 men, in order to rescue one of the casualties near * * *, France.  When Private Frame, who had crawled approximately 100 yards to the wounded man, found himself unable to evacuate the casualty alone, the officer came to assistance and completed the act of mercy.

Although the location was censored in the citation, the regiment was in the vicinity of Montélimar at the time.  Private Frame’s medal was presented posthumously to his family one year later.

At some point, apparently after August 1944, Frame was promoted to private 1st class.  During the remainder of the summer and fall of 1944, Allied forces pursued German forces across France, with resistance stiffening close to the German border. 

Frame’s mother stated he was wounded again in France on September 29, 1944.  That is supported by a hospital admission card, which stated that Frame was wounded in the shoulder and back by artillery fragments in September 1944.  The 7th Infantry Regiment would have been in the vicinity of the Vosges Mountains at that time.  Frame returned to duty in October.

Frame was wounded for the third time, probably in the vicinity of Saint-Dié-des-Vosges in northeast France, on October 31, 1944; his admission card stated that he was wounded in the chin and forearm by a bullet or “missile” (presumably an unidentified projectile).  John C. McManus wrote in his book that the on that day, the 7th Infantry Regiment were advancing on “the crossroads at Le Haut Jacques” when “All at once, a diverse array of enemy weapons opened fire on the riflemen: mortars, machine guns, artillery, flak wagons, rifles, mines, and machine pistols.”  It took six days and hundreds of American casualties before Le Haut Jacques fell.  Once again, Frame returned to duty the following month, in November 1944, during which his unit supported the capture of Strasbourg. 


The Colmar Pocket

In December 1944, the Germans launched a counterattack through the Ardennes popularly referred to as the Battle of the Bulge.  However, the German offensive did not constitute the only threat to Allied forces on the Western Front.  McManus wrote that

To the south of Strasbourg, the Germans had forged another bulge west of the Rhine in Alsace, a concentric ring of German-held territory commonly referred to as the ‘Colmar Pocket,’ after the Alsatian city that constituted the center of gravity, if not quite the center point, of the pocket.

With the Allies still preoccupied with the Ardennes and then another German offensive known as Operation Nordwind (which began on December 31, 1944), Frame’s regiment was initially assigned to prevent the Germans from advancing out of the Colmar Pocket.  Once the German offensives had been defeated, the Allies began an operation to cut off the Colmar Pocket. 

John C. McManus wrote in American Courage, American Carnage:

The attack would begin on January 22, 1945. A few days previous to the attack, the 7th Infantry was withdrawn from the front.  The men enjoyed a few days in the rear, warming up, sleeping, washing, and eating hot food.  They welcomed the respite, but knew it was only temporary. […] At 2100 hours on the twenty-second, the 1st [which included Private 1st Class Frame’s company] and 3rd Battalions led the attack in frigid conditions.  In total silence they crossed Bailey bridges at Geumar over the Fecht River.

McManus wrote that the men of the 7th Infantry Regiment wore improvised snow camouflage and carried extra bandoliers of ammunition.  “On the right flank of the regiment, 1st Battalion soldiers moved forward as best they could through the thick snow.  Their objective was Ostheim, a small village” defended by a minefield and strong German positions.  McManus added that “A and C Companies battered their way into Ostheim by the early-morning hours of the twenty-third.  Working with tanks, they destroyed German resistance in Ostheim by the afternoon of the twenty-third.” 

During combat that day, January 23, 1945, Private 1st Class Frame was struck in the head by artillery fragments and killed.  He was buried at a temporary cemetery and reinterred after the Epinal American Cemetery in Dinozé, France.  During his career, Private 1st Class Frame earned the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart with three oak leaf clusters.

Private 1st Class Frame’s report of burial (National Archives)

Notes

Full Name and Date of Birth

Frame’s draft card gave his date of birth as September 28, 1916 and his enlistment data card recorded his year of birth as 1916; his draft card and military records do not give any middle name.  His birth certificate recorded his date of birth as September 28, 1915 and his full name as John Lee Frame. 

First Wound

The document filled out by his mother stated that Frame was wounded for the first time in Italy on May 24, 1943.  A March 3, 1945 article in the Wilmington Morning News states that the date was actually May 24, 1944.  Indeed, the 7th Infantry Regiment was not in combat in May 1943, and the Allies had invaded neither Sicily nor mainland Italy at that point.  Furthermore, his hospital admission card data also gives the date of his first wound as May 1944.

Unit

The World War II Memorial Volume completed by Delaware’s Public Archives Commission in 1949 erroneously listed Private 1st Class Frame as a member of the 7th Infantry Division rather than the 7th Infantry Regiment, apparently due to his mother simply writing “7th infantry” on his form.


Acknowledgments

Special thanks to the Frame family for providing a family history, and to the Delaware Public Archives for the use of their photo.


Bibliography

“4 Delaware Men Killed in Action; 7 Receive Wounds.” Wilmington Morning News, March 3, 1945.  Pg. 1 and 8. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/53843111/john-frame-killed-in-action-7th/, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/53843230/john-frame-page-2/

“11 State Soldiers to Receive War Medals Posthumously.” Journal-Every Evening, August 7, 1945.  Pg. 1 and 16. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/63455617/beaman-and-frame-posthumous-medals/, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/63455871/frame-citation/

The Family of James & Mary Ann Frame.  Unpublished family history booklet courtesy of the Frame family.

Frame, Mary.  John Frame Individual Military Service Record, dated March 19, 1946.  Record Group 1325-003-053, Record of Delawareans Who Died in World War II.  Delaware Public Archives, Dover, Delaware. https://cdm16397.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15323coll6/id/18739/rec/1

Headstone Inscription and Interment Records for U.S. Military Cemeteries on Foreign Soil, 1942–1949. Records of the American Battle Monuments Commission, 1918–c. 1995. Record Group 117. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/9170/images/42861_647350_0539-00315

John Lee Frame certificate of birth.  Record Group 1500-008-094, Birth certificates.  Delaware Public Archives, Dover, Delaware.

McManus, John C. American Courage, American Carnage: 7th Infantry Chronicles. Tom Doherty Associates, 2009.

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920.  National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6061/images/4295771-01030

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930.  National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6224/images/4531890_00880

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940.  National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2442/images/m-t0627-00546-00335

World War II Memorial Volume.  Public Archives Commission, State of Delaware, 1949. https://archives.delaware.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/156/2017/05/WWIIMemorialVolume.pdf

U.S. WWII Hospital Admission Card Files, 1942-1954. Record Group 112, Records of the Office of the Surgeon General (Army), 1775–1994.  National Archives at College Park, Maryland.  October 1943: https://www.fold3.com/record/704690116-frame-john, May 1944: https://www.fold3.com/record/704690113-frame-john, September 1944: https://www.fold3.com/record/704690115-frame-john, October 1944: https://www.fold3.com/record/704690114-frame-john, Jan 1945: https://www.fold3.com/record/700339661-frame-john

World War II Army Enlistment Records. Record Group 64, Records of the National Archives and Records Administration.  National Archives at College Park, Maryland. https://www.fold3.com/record/85970973-john-frame

WWII Draft Registration Cards for Delaware, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947.  Record Group 147, Records of the Selective Service System.  National Archives at St. Louis, Missouri. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2238/images/44003_05_00002-01614


Last updated on May 28, 2021

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