Namur has been touched by war and there is nothing tropical or lovely left. It looks as though someone with an imagination of his own had tried to make a Hollywood set for Journey’s End. Namur is a dry, hot, fetid version of the worst section of No Man’s Land that France ever had to offer–no living green thing, blasted tree trunks, huge gaping shell holes–disemboweled trucks, heaps of concrete and lumber that were once fortifications–bodies by the thousands–parts of bodies–so disfigured that they beggar description–horrible.

– 1Lt. Philip E. Wood, Jr.


First Battalion, 24th Marines On Namur
Daily Narrative

Bound For Combat: Not Afraid Of What Is Coming.
February 1: Christ, This Is It.
Night On Namur: Better Not Shoot Me, You Sonuvabitch.
February 2: Like Hunting Rats.
The Occupation: We Had To Bury Those Dead.
The Return: It Is A Sad Voyage Back.

Total Casualties, First Battalion 24th Marines.

(Not Returned)
Total Casualties (Percent Effective)
Able 189 3 23 0 26 (14%)
Baker 192 22 34 1 57 (29%)
Charlie 191 2 11 0 13 (7%)
Dog 204 4 9 1 14 (7%)
(1st JASCO)
4 (5%)
0 (0%)
Medical 33 0 0 0 0 (0%)
Total: 896 34 77 3 114 (13%)

Notes On This Table
Accounts for casualties sustained between February 1 and February 5, 1944, based on muster rolls for the battalion.
WIA: any wound caused by enemy action, qualifying for a Purple Heart.
Does not count multiple wounds suffered by individuals.

4 thoughts on “Roi-Namur

  1. A co-worker’s uncle (Frank Rossel) served in this unit in WWII. That’s how I learned of your website. As a Marine (’99-’11, 1371 and 0802) and a historian by education, I wanted to say thank you for the amazing story you have here. The whole website is a wonderful resource, not only to research, but also to remember those who’ve gone before.

  2. My uncle was part of the 20th Marines that lost their lives when the torpedo storage was blown away with a satchel charge. I would like to find the names of those men that lost their lives in that ammo dump explosion.

    1. Hi Milton,

      According to the final report of the 4th Marine Division, Companies E, B, and H (Seabees) of the 20th Marines were formed into the “Second Composite Engineer Battalion” for operations on Namur; B Company and attached units comprised the “Second Composite Company.” The report further states that “the explosion occurring at 1245 on 1 February 1944 caused the following casualties: eight killed, one injured, and one missing from the engineer platoon.”

      The 20th Marines report the following fatal casualties on Roi-Namur on February 1, 1944. All are from the First Battalion, Company B. Unfortunately, the muster rolls don’t provide any specifics – simply that these men were killed in action – so I can’t say for sure who was near the blockhouse when it went up. (Lieutenant Barkwell received a posthumous Silver Star for helping to hold the line against infiltration during the night, so we can rule him out as a casualty of the explosion.)

      1Lt. Robert L. Barkwell (Platoon Leader, 3rd Platoon)
      Sgt. William G. Reynolds
      PFC David M. Bahmer
      PFC Forrest B. Moran
      Pvt. Ralph P. Nielson
      Pvt. Albert D. Oswalt
      Pvt. Robert C. Smale

      A possible six out of eight. (A further three B/1/20 Marines lost their lives on 2 February, and a fourth died on 4 February of wounds sustained on 2 February.) Unclear where the other two fatalities came from; the “missing” case was evidently resolved. The wounded man is not known for sure, but Private Edward M. Brown (demolitions) suffered “deafness, total and amputation, traumatic, first joint, second finger, right hand” on 1 February, which could be due to that explosion.

      If you could let me know your uncle’s name, I can look into this further for you.


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