A World War II Odyssey: Lt. Kenneth G. Maddox’s Journey from Louisville to Luxembourg

Kentucky Historical Society

Lt. Kenneth G. Maddox was born in Louisville, Kentucky on May 6, 1919. He enlisted in the US Army in 1941 and in 1943 his unit, the 28th Division, was stationed in the Pembrokeshire region of Wales. In July 1944, Lt. Maddox was sent to the front lines in France. He spent the next five months fighting through France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg.

England
In October 1943 Lt. Kenneth G. Maddox arrived in Great Britain. For most of that time, Lt. Maddox was located in South Wales in the Pembrokeshire area. Lt. Maddox remained in Britain for the next 6 and a half months training for the invasion of France. While Lt. Maddox was in the UK, he met the Lewis family and an American nurse named Joyce Hornberger. He would stay in contact with them throughout his deployment.

A postcard sent by Joyce Hornburger to Lt. Maddox. He forwarded the postcard to his parents in October 1944.

A photograph of Joyce Hornberger taken circa 1943 by Lt. Maddox.

In a letter dated June 22, 1944 to his brother and sister-in-law, Lt. Maddox writes about an American Air nurse (Joyce Hornberger) whom he met.

France
Seven weeks after the Allied invasion of France, Lt. Maddox and the rest of the 28th Infantry Division landed on the beaches of Normandy, France. They became engaged in Operation Cobra and Lt. Maddox would fight through France, reaching Paris in late August 1944.

“I tried my French on a little ten year old boy yesterday but didn’t do too well. If they could just slow down their speech a little I might be able to understand a little.”

“Lately we have been the first troops through the various towns and the people all line up to welcome us. It is a very inspiring sight and makes us feel like we are accomplishing something.”

“I’ve almost fallen in love with France. It is truly a beautiful country and the French people seemed to be extremely grateful to see us.”

“Another sight I’ll never forget is when were passing through a fairly large town the FFI were cleaning up the Nazi lovers.”

Liberation of Paris
The Liberation of Paris began on August 19, 1944 and ended on August 25, 1945. The Nazi surrender of Paris ended their over four year rule of Paris. The 28th Infantry were selected to lead the victory parade held on August 29, 1945. Kenneth Maddox rode in his jeep through Paris as large crowds lined the street.
Germany and Luxumbourg
The 28th Infantry Division was the first Allied division to enter Germany in September 1944. They would engage the Germans at the Battle of Aachen and the Battle of the Bulge. Throughout his journey, Lt. Maddox stayed in touch with his family even sending his father, George, a letter for his birthday.

While most of Lt. Maddox's letters home to his parents or brother and sister-in-law were generally positive. However in a letter to his parents sent on November 23, 1944 Lt. Maddox wrote, “At times it seemed absolutely impossible for me to come through a day with being injured or killed but I survived.”

On December 15, 1945, Lt. Maddox sent his brother and sister-in-law his last message before joining the Battle of the Bulge.

Missing in Action
As part of the Battle of the Bulge, Lt. Maddox and his unit were guarding a bridge in Clervaux, Luxembourg when the Germans launched a counteroffensive overrunning the American lines. Lt. Maddox valiantly put himself between his men and enemy fire saving the lives of at least three other soldiers. Lt. Maddox was wounded around December 17, 1944. On December 20th he was listed as missing by the International Red Cross. After he went missing, several of his fellow soldiers, Joyce Hornberger and the Lewis family wrote to Lt. Maddox’s family from January, 1945-September 1945. They wrote letters expressing their hope that Lt. Maddox was okay; they wrote to tell his family what Lt. Maddox meant to them.

A letter written by American nurse Joyce Hornberger to Lt. Maddox’s family on January 28, 1945. “I know how you feel because I thought a lot of Ken too. He left a lot of pleasant memories and I shall never forget him.”

A letter written by the Lewis family to Lt. Maddox’s family on February 1945. “For 6 months whilst he was stationed in this town, we had the pleasure and the privilege of his friendship and companionship.”

A letter written by Capt. Clyde Collins to Lt. Maddox’s family on September 19, 1945. “He [Lt. Maddox] was the type that won all our battles, that made the invasion in France and penetrated the Siegfried line and finally defeated the Germans...I trust this country will remember them by doing her best to prevent ever again any such conflict as we have just gone through.”

Legacy
When the war in Europe ended on May 8, 1945, Lt. Maddox’s family and friends expected Lt. Maddox to come home. However, on July 6, 1945 Lt. Maddox’s father, George Maddox, received a telegram informing him that his son had died in a German military hospital on December 25, 1944. 

Lt. Kenneth Maddox was awarded the Silver Star for his actions defending a bridge in Clervaux, Luxembourg on December 17, 1944.

Honoring Lt. Kenneth G. Maddox
In Honor of Lt. Maddox, Fort Knox military base named a building on base Maddox Hall.

Kenneth Maddox's parents, George and Oma Mae Maddox, and aunt, Edwin Hill, in front of Maddox Hall at Fort Knox.

In 1985 the town of Clervaux, Luxembourg honored Lt. Maddox.

To the right is the bridge that Lt. Maddox died defending in Clervaux, Luxembourg in 1985.

Credits: Story

Material used in this exhibition can be located at the Kentucky Historical Society. For more information please contact KHS via email at khsrefdesk@ky.gov or via phone at 502-564-1792.

If you click the link below you can view more letters and photographs from Kenneth G. Maddox’s collection at KHS: http://www.kyhistory.com/cdm/search/searchterm/mss%2038/field/source

Preferred citation: [Identification of item]. Kenneth G. Maddox Papers, 1930-1985, MSS 38, Kentucky Historical Society.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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