Frank Alden Ramsay, Jr.
March 8, 1917 – December 11, 1944
Frank Ramsay grew up in Albany, the middle of three children in a close knit family. Frank’s mother Florence, an Episcopalian, brought Frank, sister Jean and brother James Alan, called Al, to St. Andrew’s with her. Florence roasted peanuts with the Anna Eaton Guild; Frank attended Sunday School and was confirmed in 1930. Frank’s father, Frank Sr., had lost his business in the depression bringing financial difficulties to the family. Despite this challenge, Frank’s parents insisted that all of the children finish high school. As soon as the children graduated they went to work, wanting to chip in to the family budget. Frank found a job pumping gas at the corner of Delaware and Whitehall avenues.
Frank Ramsay was among the first men in Albany called up by the 1940 draft. The first ever peacetime draft in American history, the United States in October of 1940 required all men between the ages of 21 and 36 to register. Those called for service expected a year long stint in the Army. Numbers were drawn in late October and by the end of November Frank was at Fort Dix, New Jersey – a member of the 44th Infantry Division. The 44th was largely made up of National Guard units from New York, New Jersey and Delaware.
The Army was not ready for the troops brought in by the draft. The 15,000 new recruits at Ft. Dix slept in old tents from World War I which barely kept out the winter wind. Frank’s sister Jean remembers the family mailing newspapers to Frank which he used to line his cot for extra warmth. Though the Army now had enough troops to fill out 36 divisions they had only enough equipment for seven. Without proper arms soldiers were given wooden guns to practice shooting with; logs stood in for cannons and eggs substituted for hand grenades. Frank wrote to his family every week and counted the days until he could return home. Missing his dog Flip, Frank adopted a local stray who became a mascot for the company.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor the soldiers found themselves with a new term of service: they would be members of the Army until one month after the war’s end — however long that might be. Frank Ramsay and the 44th were sent to Fort Lewis in Washington State and stationed along the coast to watch for possible Japanese attacks. Frank’s dog, smuggled onto the troop train, went with them. During his time at Ft. Lewis, Frank was able to travel to Los Angeles and meet his mother at her sister’s home. In January of 1944 the division was reorganized and a large number of the soldiers were shipped out for reassignment to other divisions.
That May Frank Ramsay left for England. His sister Jean remembers that he was stationed several places in England before participating in the D-Day invasion. In the fall of 1944, Frank Ramsay was transferred to the 104th “Timberwolves” Infantry Division. The 104th was sent into Holland to join the front line advancing toward the German city of Aachen. During a furious battle to take the German towns of Pier and Schophoven Frank was killed. He was 27 years old. Jean was able to meet the chaplain of Frank’s regiment after the war, who told her that Frank and several others had been killed instantly when hit by a German mortar shell.
Like all soldiers killed in action, Frank Ramsay was buried in a cemetery near the battlefield. His brother Al, also serving in the Army in Europe, received special permission when the war ended to visit Frank’s grave. The Ramsay family did not want Frank to remain buried away from home. They had Frank’s body brought back to the U. S. for reburial. In October of 1948, Father Hackwell held a service for Frank at St. Andrew’s. Frank was then laid to rest in the family plot at the New Scotland Cemetery, at the top of the hill under the trees, not far from his beloved Flip.