WWII Heritage Days
Netherlands connection special to Cowetans
by Alex McRae
On Saturday, the Commemorative Air Force Dixie Wing will build a bridge between the Fayette/Coweta area and the Netherlands during a special program honoring local World War II veterans — part of the group’s annual World War II Heritage Days.
The celebration also has special significance for Cowetans who followed the story of a man from the Netherlands who tends the grave of a Coweta soldier killed in World War II.
Ewoud Swaak, the Honorary Consul to the Netherlands for Georgia and South Carolina, will be the keynote speaker at the WWII Heritage Days Opening Ceremony Saturday at the Dixie Wing’s hangar at Falcon Field in Peachtree City. The theme of the program, Operation Market Garden: History and Legacy, will commemorate a battle in September 1944 when 40,000 Allied paratroopers attempted to liberate a series of cities, towns and bridges in Holland in an effort to shorten war. Dutch communities have since marked the event each year.
That battle took place before Coweta’s Albert Partridge was killed in May 1945 and was later buried at the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten, Netherlands.
Six years ago, when the graves of American soldiers were eligible for “adoption” by locals, Marco Weijers, of Heerlen, Netherlands, was chosen to tend the grave of Albert Partridge.
His efforts were reported in The Newnan Times-Herald, as were the details of Weijers’ efforts to learn more about Partridge’s life and family back in the U.S.
When Weijers’ search of records in the Netherlands came up empty, he contacted the mayor of Partridge’s hometown, Newnan, and asked Mayor Keith Brady for help. Brady contacted local veteran Dick Stender and asked him to look into the matter. Stender contacted The Newnan Times-Herald and asked for the paper’s help in finding more information about Albert Partridge.
It was learned that Partridge was born on Dec. 6, 1919, and entered the U.S. Army on June 22, 1942. He died on May 17, 1945, at an unnamed place in Germany near the spot where the borders of Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany intersect.
According to Army records, Partridge’s mother was Rosa Partridge, whose last known mailing address was RFD (Rural Free Delivery) Route 2, Newnan, Ga. His sister is listed as Ann Partridge.
At the time of his death, Partridge was married to Fannie Mae Partridge, according to Army records. Coweta County marriage records show that a Fannie Mae Partridge married Quintard Billingslea on Sept. 10, 1947, two years after Albert Partridge died in Germany. It is not known if this is the same woman who was married to Albert Partridge. Funeral records show that a Quintard Billingslea, believed to be the same man who married Fannie Mae Partridge, died on March 30, 2011, in Detroit.
The WWII Heritage Days Opening Ceremony is expected to be one of the largest gatherings of WWII veterans in Georgia this year. Activities begin at 9:30 a.m.
Swaak, a native of the Netherlands, will share with the public the lasting impact of Operation Market-Garden. In addition to serving as Honorary Consul, Swaak is a member of the Real Estate Honorary Board at Georgia State University, the Board of Advisors of the Netherlands American Chamber of Commerce and the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO). He was also the founder and CEO of Westplan Investors and chairman of the Board of Director of C5 Youth Foundation of Georgia.
Joining Swaak will be Bob Anzuoni, director of the U.S. Army Signal Corps Museum and published author of books about the history of 82nd Airborne Division in World War II. Anzuoni will provide a historical overview of the battle.Maj Gen George Harrison, USAF, Ret. will serve as master of ceremonies.