North High School Wall of Honor
Rowland Rupert Blue
Would have graduated from North High; June, 1943
Graduated from West High; June, 1943
blue grad pic
Research done by Claradell Shedd, class of 1953. As accurate information is received for Rowland, it will be entered on this page appropriately.
Rowland Rupert Blue
Rowland would have graduated from North High in the June, 1943 class, but transferred during his senior year to West High and graduated from there in June, 1943. His next of kin was Mr. and Mrs. John Paul Blue, 3410 Jefferson Avenue, Des Moines, IA. Rowland was drafted into the US Army at Camp Dodge. His service number was 37673818.
Rowland Rupert Blue
Year x Rank/Event x Status
June, 1943 x Graduated x Would have graduated from North High School, but transferred to West High where he graduated in June, 1943.
June 24, 1943 x Drafted
US Army/
x Drafted at Camp Dodge, IA. 85th "Custer" Artillery Division, 5th Army?
1944 x US Army x Two months of Boot Training near Camp Pendleton, CA.
1944 x Enroute
x California to Texas to New York.
1944 x Enroute x Troop transport to France.
June 6, 1944 x Enroute x D Day in European Theater. WWII.
date x Enroute x France to New York.
date x US Army/
x Discharged in New York.
date x Enroute x Train from NY to Des Moines, IA
date x Civilian x Where and when?
date x Married x Married Leota M. in ?
date-Present x Retired x Retired. Living in CA.
December 5, 2013 x Deceased x Castro Valley, CA
*85th "Custer" Division, 5th Army
World War II
Activated: 15 May 1942. Overseas: 24 December 1943.
Campaigns: Rome-Arno, North Apennines, Po Valley.
Distinguished Unit Citations: 5.
Decorations: Medal of Honor- 4 ; Dinstinguished Service Medal- 3 ; Silver Star- 545;
Legion of Merit- 29; Soldier's Medal- 37 ; Bronze Star Medal- 4,988.
Commanders: Maj. Gen. Wade H. Haislip (May 1942-Feb 1943),
Maj. Gen. John B. Coulter (Feb 1943 to inactivation).
Returned to U. S.: 25 August 1945, on which date it was inactivated.

Combat Chronicle:
The 85th Infantry Division arrived in Casablanca, French Morocco, 2 January 1944. It received amphibious training at Port aux Poules near Arzew and Oran, Algeria, 1 February to 23 March, then embarked for Naples, Italy, arriving on 27 March. A selected advance detachment appeared on the Minturno-Castelforte front north of Naples, 28 March. The Division was committed to action as a unit, 10 April 1944, north of the Garigliano River, facing the GUSTAV Line, and held defensive positions for a month. On 11 May, it launched its attack, taking Solacciano, Castellonorato, and Formia. Itri fell, 19 May, and the 85th continued to mop up the Gaeta Peninsula. Terracina was taken and the road to the Anzio beachhead was opened. The Division pursued the enemy to the hills near Sezze until pinched out by friendly forces from Anzio. The GUSTAV Line had been smashed and the 85th started for a rest area, 29 May, but was ordered to the Lariano sector, which the Division cleared by the 31st. Driving on Rome, the 85th pushed through Monte Compatri and Frascati, entered Rome, 5 June 1944, and advanced to Viterbo before being relieved, 10 June.

After rehabilitation and training, the 85th took over the defense of the ARNO RIVER Line, 15 to 26 August. The Division attacked the mountain defenses of the GOTHIC Line, 13 September, and broke through, taking Firenzuolaon the 21st. The 85th advanced slowly through mud and rain against heavy resistance taking La Martina and gaining the Idice River Valley road, 2 October, and reaching Mount Mezzano on the 24th overlooking the Po River Valley. From 27 October to 22 November, 1944, defense areas near Pizzano were held. On the 23d, the Division was relieved for rest and rehabilitation

The 85th relieved the 1st British Division, 6 January 1945, and limited its activities to cautious patrols until 13 March. After a brief training period, the 85th thrust southwest of Bologna, 14 April, pushing through Lucca and Pistoia into the Po Valley as enemy resistance collapsed. The Panaro River was crossed on tile 23d and the Po River the next day. The Division mopped up fleeing Germans until their mass surrender, 2 May 1945, in the Belluno Agordo area.

Campaigns: Rome-Arno; North Apennines; and Po Valley

Ship Transports for the 85th Division:
Dec 1943 - USA to Casablanca, N. Africa
USS General Alexander E. Anderson (1) - Div. HQ, 339 IR & 328FA
USS General William A. Mann - 338 IR, 329FA, 310 Med, & 310 Engr
HMS Andes - 337 IR, 910FA & Special Units
Mar 1944 - N. Africa to Naples, Italy
10 March: HMS Letitia - 339 IR
24-27 March: SS Nightingale, SS Lyon, SS Stanton, HMS Almanzora - Remainder of Division
Aug 16 - 25, 1945 - Naples, Italy to Hampton Roads, VA
USS West Point
*Oran, North Africa
Operation Torch started on 8 November 1942, and finished on 11 November 1942. In an attempt to pincer German and Italian forces, Allied forces (American and British Commonwealth), landed in Vichy-held French North Africa under the assumption that there would be little to no resistance. Nevertheless, Vichy French forces put up a strong and bloody resistance to Allied forces in Oran and Morocco. But not in Algiers, where a coup d'état by the French resistance on 8 November succeeded in neutralizing the French XIX Corps before the landing and arresting the Vichy commanders. Consequently, the landings met no practical opposition in Algiers, and the city was captured on the first day along with the entire Vichy African command. After three days of talks and threats, General Mark Clark, and Eisenhower, compelled the Vichy Admiral François Darlan (and General Alphonse Juin) to order the cessation of armed resistance in Oran and Morocco by French forces on 10–11 November with the proviso that Darlan would be head of a Free French administration. During Operation Torch, American, Vichy French and German navy vessels fought the Naval Battle of Casablanca, ending in a decisive American victory.

The Allied landings prompted the Axis occupation of Vichy France (Case Anton). In addition, the French fleet was captured at Toulon by the Italians, something which did them little good as the main portion of the fleet had been scuttled to prevent their use by the Axis. The Vichy army in North Africa joined the Allies (see Free French Forces).
**USS General W.A. Mann (AP-112)
The U.S.S. General W.A. Mann (AP 112) was 622' 7" long, had a 75' 9" maximum beam, and a 20,270 ton maximum displacement. It was powered by two DeLaval 8,500 horsepower geared turbine main engines capable of producing a maximum speed of 21 knots.

The peacetime troop capacity was 2,135 and the maximum wartime capacity was 6,800 troops. It had cabins available for 363 cabin-class passengers.

Operating out of Norfolk, Virginia, General W. A. Mann delivered troops and supplies to the North African theater, making four successive round-trip voyages to Casablanca and one to Oran before mid-May 1944. She stood out 5 June 1944 for Oran again and after touching North Africa sailed thence to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to load troops bound for Naples, Italy. General W. A. Mann subsequently visited Oran and Liverpool before returning to New York 14 August. On 2 September the transport got underway for Rio de Janeiro and Naples, returning to Norfolk on 21 October.
***USS West Point (AP-23)
Between 15 June 1941 and 28 February 1946, the USS WEST POINT (AP 23) sailed 436,144 nautical miles, and transported 505,020 souls to their destinations all over the world. During that period of time, she never lost a single passenger to hostile action.

WEST POINT had the largest capacity of any USN troopship in service during World War II. On one voyage, she carried over 9,000 people, including the ship's company of approximately 750 sailors and marines. Affectionately called "The Grey Ghost" by her faithful crew, she crossed the Pacific 15 times and the Atlantic 41 times, almost always sailing alone and depending on her speed and maneuverability to avoid the enemy.
appropriate photos coming: Troop Transports; VA to Italy to VA
USS General Mann (AP-112) USS West Point (AP-23)
**USS General Mann (AP-112) ***USS West Point (AP-23)
photo of Rowland photo of Rowland
caption caption
Rowland Rupert Blue
Staff Sergeant
85th Custer Division
Battery B, 293rd Observation Battalion
US Army

US Army Seal

85th Infantry "Custer" Division

Rowland Rupert Blue

5th Army Patch

Staff Sergeant Stripes

Examples: Purple Heart; European-African-Middle East Campaign Medal; Bronze Star
(1) The World War II Army Enlistment Records contain information on more than nine million indivdual enlistments. These records can be found online at

(2) The comprehensive list of names from North High's 1893-2018 graduation classes are from Claradell Shedd's North Des Moines High School website. The names of North High School graduates can be found online at: Rowland Rupert Blue's 1943 class page is:
12/04/10. Living in CA. 12/05/13: Died in Castro Valley, CA.
Music: "Wind Beneath My Wings"
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