PVT James Dotson Duke
First Army, 1st Division, 16th Infantry, Company "G"
Killed in Action 20 November, 1944
Your proud daughters
Daddy was born in Cullman County, Alabama on March 17, 1917. He was the youngest of 4
brothers and 2 sisters. They later moved to Birmingham, Alabama and that is where he met
our mother Grace Littlejohn. They were married in January 1940. Jamie was born in September,
1940 and Madelyn was born in December, 1942.
He was drafted on March 22, 1944, at Draft Board 8 and was sent to Ft. McClellan, Anniston,
Alabama for 17 weeks of basic training. That was about 60 miles from Birmingham, where we lived.
We got to see him several times during that period, and a few times he left to come visit us
without permission. One of those times was when Madelyn was very sick with the chicken pox and
had a fever of 106. His leave was turned down by the Red Cross, but he managed to come home for
a few hours, anyway. He was a very loving and devoted father and husband.
After being away for the 17 weeks of basic training he only had 10 days of home leave before he
was sent overseas. He left in September, 1944, sent to Fort Mead, MD, then port of embarcation
being New York. His ship landed in Scotland. He finally ended up in Germany where he was with
the 1st Army, 1st Division, 16th Infantry, Company "G". This was called the "Bloody Red One" under
On November 20, 1944 in Aachen, Germany, he was killed in action. Two soldiers later told our
family that he was in or near a foxhole and it was a very fierce battle. The shelling was so
intense that no one could get to him. When they finally could get to him it was too late. They
said his last words were "Tell Mama not to grieve and tell my wife that I love her".
He was buried in Belgium, Henri-Chapelle, and his grave was "adopted" by a Belgium family. They
took care of it & placed flowers there. Three years later in November, 1947, his body was shipped
back to the United States to be reburied in Elmwood Cemetery, in Birmingham, Alabama.
Our mother never did remarry and she did her very best over the years raising two daughters alone.
We know that it was a hardship financially with only the income she received due to our father's
Our mother and other family members never hesitated to talk about him or answer our questions. Our
mother had wonderful memories of our dad, and we have wonderful memories of him because of her.
In a letter to his mother dated October, 1944 he wrote:
"I'm like Sgt. York; remember what he told his mama when he left." "I'll be a coming back!"
Daddy, we have not forgotten you.
"I will too. I know it won't be easy but, there's several million more boys' over there.
I hope I won't have to stay too long. I don't want you to worry, Mama. Take good care of
yourself so we can have a good time when I come back."
"I'd hate for the children to forget me. Maybe it'll be over before so long."
-- Jamie and Madelyn --
Please visit "Dotson's Purple Heart" - a tribute to our father at