George William Dunham Jr.
PFC in 406th Engineer Combat Co
Military occupational specialty: 345 (truck driver, light)
Born 1923 in NY, Died 1987
County of residence at enlistment: Camden County, NJ
Other residence(s): Westville, NJ; Gloucester City, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; Wildwood, NJ
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
George Dunham was born on August 21, 1923 in Port Jervis, NY, the oldest of four children and the only boy in the family. His father was a lineman with the power and light company.
By 1930 the family was living in Hudson Falls, NY. But by 1935, George's parents were separated, and George's mother had taken a job as a housekeeper for a divorced father and his two young children in Westville, NJ. She brought along her own four children to live on the property.
George completed at least a year of high school, but by the time of the 1940 census he had taken a job as a gas station attendant. He was still in that job at Echenroder Esso Station in Gloucester City when he registered for the draft on June 30, 1942. A few months later, on October 3, 1942, he married Ruth Holt in Wilmington, DE; she was a waitress in Philadelphia.
George was one of 15 young men from Gloucester City who enlisted in the Army between March 15-22, 1943; all but three of them were 18 or 19 years old. On March 25, they found themselves on a train headed to Camp Gordon, Georgia. There they would join the newly activated 293rd Engineer Combat Battalion, and be assigned to Company A. That spring and summer they trained in Georgia and Tennessee, and that fall boarded a train for Camp Pilot Knob, aka the Desert Training Center, five miles from Yuma, Arizona (just inside the California border). In mid-January 1944, the commander of the 293rd received an order to detach his best company for a secret mission. He selected Company A, and by January 30, 1944 the men were back in Tennessee. On April 7, 1944, Company A of the 293rd was officially reassigned and renamed as the 406th Engineer Combat Company, and the unit boarded a ship to England in early May.
That July, as the men of the 406th headed across England on their way to the war, the train stopped in the city of Gloucester. Here the local NAAFI (the organization that runs recreation, canteens, and PXs for British servicemen) served them tea, which was quaffed amid cheers from the soldiers from Gloucester City, New Jersey.
After their service in the Ghost Army all 15 men returned to the states. They were feted on July 14, 1945 by the Third Ward Regular Democratic Club while back in Gloucester City on 30-day furloughs.
George returned to Gloucester City after his discharge from the Army, and was living in Philadelphia, PA for a time in 1947. He and Ruth would go on to have five children: George III, Dorothy, Kathy, Nancy, and Cheryl. The family moved to Westville, NJ at some point, and eventually to Grassy Sound, a small seafaring village in Wildwood, NJ (on Cape May).
Nothing else is known of George's life or work. He died on August 25, 1987.
1923 birth record
1925 New York state census
1942 draft card
1942 Delaware marriage records
1943 article in the Morning Post (Camden, NJ) about him and 14 other Gloucester veterans of the 406th Engineers—all of them (plus others from the area) were being sent to Fort Dix for training (George is listed in the “Out of Town” section)
1945 article in the Morning Post (Camden, NJ) about him and 15 other Gloucester veterans of the 406th Engineers
1987 Social Security applications and claims index
1987 Social Security death index
1987 VA death record
1987 New Jersey death index
1987 obituary in the Courier-Post (Camden, NJ)
406th Unit History Compiled