2nd Lieutenant Leroy C. Six (1923–1944)

2nd Lieutenant Leroy C. Six circa 1943. Uniform details include Cavalry branch insignia, a Tank Destroyer Force patch, and what appears to be a ribbon for the American Defense Service Medal. (Courtesy of Melissa Connell, enhanced with MyHeritage)
Home StateCivilian Occupation
CaliforniaMechanic
BranchService Number
U.S. ArmyO-1822204
TheaterUnit
MediterraneanCompany “B,” 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion
Military Occupational SpecialtyCampaigns/Battles
1222 (platoon commander)Anzio

Author’s note: Delaware’s World War II Fallen occasionally highlights men and women without any known connection to the First State. Lieutenant Six’s tragic story is one such example.

Early Life & Family

Leroy Carlyle Six was born in Los Angeles, California, on the morning of August 25, 1923. He was the son of Leroy Carlyle Six (a brakeman for the Santa Fe Railroad, circa 1900–1979) and Elsie Margaret Six (née Rawsthorne, 1904–1990). His father had been born in Oklahoma and his mother in Ontario, Canada. His parents had married in Needles, California, on January 24, 1923, but were separated by March 19, 1925.

Six was recorded on the census on April 12, 1930, living at 332 Hagar Street in San Fernando, Los Angeles County, California, along with his grandparents, Herbert and Margaret May Rawsthorne, as well as his uncle and two aunts. Census records are contradictory about where Six was living as of April 1, 1935: either Santa Barbara or Los Angeles.

By May 27, 1938, when The Southwest Wave introduced him as one of its paperboys, Six had moved to 1540 West 47th Street in Los Angeles. He appeared twice in the 1940 census. Six was recorded on April 18, 1940, listed as living with his grandparents at 1540 West 47th Street. He had also been recorded on April 9, 1940, living with his uncle and aunt, Ralph and Catherine Rawsthorne, at 1237 East Hubbell Street in Phoenix, Arizona, where his occupation was listed as a “grease monkey” at a garage. Although the duplication should not have happened—since census enumerators were supposed to list only where Six lived on April 1, 1940—it seems likely that he moved from California to Arizona around that time.

Six was Protestant according to his military paperwork.


2nd Lieutenant Six and his wife, Anna (Courtesy of Melissa Connell, enhanced with MyHeritage)

Military Career & Marriage

Soon after moving to Arizona, Six volunteered for the U.S. Army. An article, printed in the Arizona Republic on May 3, 1940, stated that “Six Arizonians recruited [in Phoenix] were sent last night to join cavalry units at Fort Bliss” including Leroy C. Six. He was presumably assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division there. A photograph of Lieutenant Six taken around 1943 shows him wearing Cavalry insignia, suggesting that attended Cavalry Officer Candidate School (O.C.S.) and was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant. His Individual Deceased Personnel File (I.D.P.F.) indicates that he was commissioned on November 13, 1942, and that he was a Field Artillery officer.

By the beginning of World War II, the horse cavalry was obsolete; many cavalrymen ended up serving in other units. Some ended up assigned to the nascent Tank Destroyer Force. Doctrine held that tank destroyers would counter enemy armored breakthroughs like those that led to the collapse of France in 1940. In January 1942, the Tank Destroyer Tactical and Firing Center transferred from Fort George G. Meade, Maryland to Killeen, Texas, site of the future Camp Hood. A staging area and temporary headquarters were established in nearby Temple. Tank Destroyer O.C.S. classes began during July 1942 (with the first four held in Gatesville and subsequent classes at the new Camp Hood). Strong circumstantial evidence indicates that in 1942, Six was stationed with the Tank Destroyer Force in Bell County, Texas, where he met his future wife.

On January 6, 1943, Six married Anna Doris Lasater (1924–2007) at her parents’ home, 315 South 22nd Street in Temple. Lieutenant Six went overseas later that same year. When their son, Lanny Roy Six, was born on January 1, 1944, Lieutenant Six was stationed in Italy. Tragically, Lanny Roy died of pneumonia on January 10, 1944, at King’s Daughters Hospital in Temple. After services at the Lasater residence, Lanny Roy was buried at Hillcrest Cemetery.

An M10 tank destroyer near Anzio on February 29, 1944. The 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion used these vehicles in Italy, though this particular example is from the 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion. (Official U.S. Army Signal Corps photo. National Archives, courtesy of TankDestroyer.net)

2nd Lieutenant Six apparently joined the 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion at the Anzio Beachhead, and was initially assigned to Company “A.” Anzio, an amphibious operation intended to circumvent strong German defensive lines near Cassino, had quickly bogged down in the face of strong counterattacks. Even during lulls in the fighting, German antipersonnel bombs and artillery fire rained down on the beachhead. With their open turrets, American tank destroyers were particularly vulnerable.

At 0600 hours on February 12, 1944, Lieutenant Six joined Company “B,” 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion, assuming the duty of platoon commander. Following a recent German counterattack, the company was in defensive positions southeast of Carroceto. One week later, on February 19, 1944, Lieutenant Six was in or around one of the battalion’s M10 tank destroyers in a defensive position when a German artillery shell exploded overhead, unleashing a blizzard of shell fragments. Six was struck in the chest and killed. He was not wearing his dog tags but was positively identified from letters found on his body. The following day, Lieutenant Six was buried at the U.S. Military Cemetery Nettuno, Italy.

After the war, the War Department queried Anna Six about her preference for final burial. She initially wrote back on a form notarized on April 9, 1947, requesting that his body be repatriated to Temple “with the requirement that evidence is given to me that it is my husband’s body that is being sent back.” Failing that, she requested that he be buried in the Golden Gate National Cemetery in California. After receiving a letter from Major Richard B. Coombs of the Quartermaster Corps Memorial Division dated August 28, 1947, which explained the identification process, she requested that Lieutenant Six be interred in a permanent military cemetery overseas. In accordance with her wishes, Lieutenant Six was reburied at the permanent cemetery at Nettuno, now known as the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery (Plot C, Row 8, Grave 1).

Six’s widow remarried on October 11, 1947, to William “Billy” Connell (1921–2001), with whom she raised a son and a daughter. She completed her bachelor’s degree while raising her children and began a career in education. Initially, she worked as an elementary school teacher. Anna’s daughter, Melissa, recalls that her mother “continued her education, earning a master’s and PhD in Education. She was an elementary math consultant and lastly an elementary school principal…..she was a positive influence to many teachers and students.” Dr. Connell died in 2007, aged 83.


Leroy and Anna Six (Courtesy of Melissa Connell)

Notes

Six Family Details

Various sources place the elder Leroy Carlyle Six’s birth year between 1899–1901, but 1900 is the most common. I’ve found no indication that either Leroy C. Six ever used a suffix with their names.

Six had an older sister or half-sister, Frances Iona Mae Six (1921–2011). Six’s California birth certificate stated that he was his mother’s first child. It is possible, but unproven, that Frances was the elder Leroy C. Six’s daughter from an earlier marriage to Nora E. Neild (née Sullivan).

Six’s son’s name was listed as Lannie Roy Six in the Texas birth index but Lanny Roy in all other sources. Lanny Roy Six died in King’s Daughters Hospital, where his grandfather, John B. Lasater (1889–1990), worked as a stationary engineer.

Joe Henderson Account

I first learned about Lieutenant Six’s story in a book about his unit, Seek, Strike, Destroy: The History of the 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion in World War II, by Patrick J. Chase:

Sergeant Joe Henderson remembers well a young lieutenant named Leroy Six. Lieutenant Six reported into the 894th and was assigned to B Company. Sergeant Henderson escorted him up to his unit on the line where he lasted only one hour before being killed by an overhead shell burst.

As is so often the case, the passage of time led to a mistaken recollection. Although Henderson was correct about Six’s cause of death, the young lieutenant had been with Company “B” for a week, not a day.

Unit Documents

The 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion headquarters journal for February 19, 1944, recorded a message at 1530 hours from Company “B”: “Lt Six killed by air burst at 1500.”

On the other hand , the company morning report for that day stated that Lieutenant Six was killed in action by a “(Shell Fragment in Chest), as a result of Air Burst over Tank [sic] in defensive position.” The morning report listed his time of death as 1030 hours rather than 1500 hours.

Photo Enhancement

Two photos on this page were digitally enhanced using tools on the genealogy website MyHeritage. This software is useful in instances where the only known photograph is of limited resolution (in this case, because the original prints were rather fuzzy). I believe this to be an accurate reconstruction, but the software could potentially introduce errors by misinterpreting fuzzy details in the original photograph. A comparison of the original and enhanced versions of the photos can be viewed below.

Comparison of the original (left) and the product of MyHeritage’s enhancements (right)
Comparison of the original (left) and the product of MyHeritage’s enhancements (right)

Acknowledgments

Special thanks to Melissa Connell for providing photos of Lieutenant Six and her mother. Thanks also go out to Mary Duke for uncovering an article that provided the date and location of Lieutenant Six’s marriage, newspaper articles about his son’s funeral, and for uncovering records showing where his son was buried.


Bibliography

“2Lt Leroy Carlyle Six.” Find a Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/56314471/leroy-carlyle-six

Chase, Patrick J. Seek, Strike, Destroy: The History of the 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion in World War II. Gateway Press, 1995.

Clay, Steven E. U.S. Army Order of Battle 1919–1941, Volume 2. The Arms: Cavalry, Field Artillery, and Coast Artillery, 1919–41. Combat Studies Institute Press, 2010. https://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p16040coll3/id/197/rec/2  

Connell, Melissa. Phone interview on August 1, 2021, and correspondence on August 18, 2021.

Dunham, Emory A. “The Tank Destroyer History.” Historical Section – Army Ground Forces, 1946. https://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p4013coll8/id/5453/rec/4

“Dr Anna Lasater Connell.” Find a Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/24906881/anna-connell

“Journal of Headquarters 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion, 1350A, 19 February 1944 to 0920A, 20 February 1944.” World War II Operations Reports, 1940–48. Record Group 407, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office. National Archives at College Park, Maryland.

Lanny Roy Six record of funeral. January 10, 1944. Courtesy of Mary Duke.

Leroy C. Six Individual Deceased Personnel File. Courtesy of U.S. Army Human Resources Command.

Leroy Carlyle Six birth certificate. Births, Los Angeles, California. California State Archives, Sacramento, California. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9SJ-K3NV

“A Message—Concerning A Young Man—Your Neighbor And Servant.” The Southwest Wave, May 27, 1938. Pg. 18. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/83558230/six-paperboy/

Morning reports for Company “B,” 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion. February 1944. National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, Missouri.

“Phoenix Gets District Office.” Arizona Republic, May 3, 1940. Pg. 2. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/60396732/leroy-c-six/

Stewart, James R. “Six-Lasater.” Old Paths Advocate, March 1, 1943. Pg. 3. https://willofthelord.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/OPA-1943-NEW.pdf

“Sues for Divorce.” The Tucson Citizen, March 19, 1925. Pg. 3. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/60398816/leroy-and-elsie-six/

Temple Texas Directory Master Edition 1940. Baldwin Consurvey Company, 1940. Courtesy of Mary Duke.

Texas Birth Index, 1903–1997. Texas Department of State Health Services. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/8781/images/TXBTH_1944_001007n

Texas Death Certificates, 1903–1982. Texas Department of State Health Services. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2272/images/40394_b062248-02567

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/4531817_00456

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-t0627-00422-00319, https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2442/images/M-T0627-00104-00491

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. https://www.fold3.com/record/703911178/blank-us-wwii-hospital-admission-card-files-1942-1954

WWII Draft Registration Cards for Utah, 10/16/1940–3/31/1947. Record Group 147, Records of the Selective Service System. National Archives at St. Louis, Missouri. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2238/images/44041_03_00009-01799


Last updated on July 31, 2022

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