While going thru Ancestry Hints for my Wells line, I found an intriguing military record for a distant cousin, Byron Peake (Cleo Byron Peake). The records said he was reported missing in action on 28 April 1944. (“World War II and Korean Conflict Veterans Interred Overseas.” Database. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2018.)
Cleo Peake has two Find a Grave memorials – one in England and one in Kansas. His Kansas memorial states that he died in the English Channel. (Find a Grave, database and images, Find a Grave (www.findagrave.com : viewed online April 2018), memorial for PFC Byron Peake (1914-1944), Find a Grave Memorial no. #56877325.)
Since I was unsure how to record a “missing in action” for a death event or two different memorials, I turned to the RootsMagic Users Group on Facebook for help.
From Facebook, it was suggested that I put in the missing date as an ‘abt’ date for the death and then cite the “missing in action” source. I also learned a new term, cenotaph.
Based on the definition of cenotaph, Cleo Peake likely has two cenotaphs and no actual burial.
Facebook also suggested checking Fold3 to see if Cleo Peake was ever declared dead. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find more specific information about Cleo Peake on Fold3.
Since I was driving thru Topeka, Kansas and had time, I stopped at the Kansas State Historical Society to use their Kansas newspaper collection. I hit ‘pay dirt’ on roll Y37 of the Yates Center News.
Thursday, May 18, 1944
PFC Byron Peak Reported Missing
Chas J. Peake received a telegram from the War Department May 11, reporting that his son Pfc Cleo Byron Peake was reported missing in action since April 28.
“Byron” as he was known to all his friends, was with the 3206 Q.M. Service Co. Special Supply Troops. It was the duty of his company to take supplies of food and ammunition to the forces at the fighting front. It is believed that it was on one of these amphibious missions, possibly to Italy, that they met with misfortune.
Relatives have made contact with some of the families of Byron’s close buddies to find out that these buddies have also been reported missing since April 28. Most of these friend believe that the boys are prisoner of war.
Thursday Jun 15, 1944
Missing in Action over Italy
PFC Cleo Byron Peake who is reported missing in action over Italy since April 28. He was connected with the 3206 QM Service Co., special Supply troop
Thursday August 17, 1944
Confirms death of PFC Byron Peake
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Peake have a letter this week from the War Department confirming the death of their son, PVC. Cleo Byron Peak, reported missing in April:
The letter states:
“It is with profound regret that I confirm the recent telegram informing you of the death of your son, Private First Class Cleo Byron Peak of the Quartermaster Corps, who was previously reported missing in action April 28 1844, in the English Channel.
“An official message has now been received which states that he was killed in action on the date he was previously reported missing in action.
“I realize the burden of anxiety that has been yours since he was first reported missing in action and deeply regret the sorrow this later report brings you. May the knowledge that he made the supreme sacrifice for his home and country be a source of sustaining comfort.
J. A. Ulio, Major General, The Adjutant General.”
August 31, 1944
Cleo Byron Peake
Cleo Byron Peake, only son of Charles J and Mary E Peake, was born March 10, 1914, near Yates Center, Kans. He gave his life for his country in the early dawn of April 28, 1944 somewhere off the southwestern coast of England, where his company had gone for pre-invasion rehearsal. German E boats darted in and sank the two LST crafts loaded with troops of his company. The crafts sank at once. It is thought that the bodies of 312 soldiers, first reported as missing, were still in the crafts when they went down.
Byron’s mother died when he was five years of age. His father took him and his sister to the home of their grandparents, where he lived until he was inducted into the army.
Byron received his grade school education in the Finney rural school where he always stood at the head of his class. He attended the Yates Center high school four years, where he made an outstanding record as a student making the highest grade of any boy in his class for the entire four years. He was also elected as a member of the national Honor Society, selection being based on scholarship, character school spirit and activities. He graduated with the class of 1932.
Byron accepted Christ at the age of 14 years and always lived an upright Christian life. He was a member of the Christian church. He loved music and all things good and beautiful, He was by nature very studious , a great reader and a deep thinker. He had truly a brilliant mind. Byron was inducted into he Army; February 5, 1943. He received his basic training and rifle practice at Camp Young. He was also trained for a while at Camp Haen. He received warehouse training and Camp Ono, spent five weeks and Donley , in the heart of the desert, for rail head training. All of these camps being in California.
Byron received his Amphibious training at Fort Pierce, Fla. he was then sent to Camp Pickett, Va., for more rifle training and three moths intensive training in other lines, including physical condition. He belonged to the 3206 quartermaster’s Service Co, special Supply troops. He knew the grave danger his training would cause him to face yet he never faltered, answering the call of duty just as he had been doing all his life. He went overseas in January and was stationed in England.
Byron is survived by his father, stepmother, sister Mrs. Vernona Volland, brother-in-law, Virgil Volland, a niece, little Barbara Sue. Alsy by his aunt Susie Peake, of the home, who was a mother to him,an aunt Mrs. Dolla Beavers of Malta, Mont. He is also survived by the following uncles, A. L. Peake of the home, John R. Peake, Chester, Nebr. Jess and Frank Wells of Lawrence, Kans, a number of cousins, one step-sister and three brothers and other relatives and legions of friends.
Memorial services were held Sunday afternoon, August 27 at the Christian church, conducted by the pastor Rev. Miles M. Cook, and the American Legion.
As stated in the various newspaper accounts, Cleo Byron Peake was a member of the 3206 Quartermasters’ Service Company. During April of 1944, this Company was participating in ‘Exercise Tiger‘ which was a rehearsal for the D-Day invasion. During the operation, German E-Boats stumbled upon the ships and fired upon them. Of the 251 members of the 3206 Quartermasters’ Service Company, 201 were killed or wounded during the German attack. According to the Exercise Tiger Memorial website, Cleo Peake was aboard LST 531 which sank within 6 minutes of being hit by a torpedo. The LST 531 had 424 Army and Navy personnel aboard when it sank. (List of honored dead) (Exercise Tiger – Wikipedia)
Cleo B. Peake was awarded the Purple Heart.