Dettmer, Stanley (657th, 823rd)

Stanley Dettmer

Biography: Stanley Dettmer was born on May 16, 1907, in Murton, England. He was the son of John R. F. Dettmer and Mary E. Davison. John emigrated to the U.S. in 1910 and worked as a ship builder in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, area. In 1912, the rest of the family joined him and by 1917, the family was living in Alameda, California. Stanley attended Alameda High School and was elected Recording Secretary for his class in 1924. He was very involved in R.O.T.C. (Reserve Officer Training Corps) at school, eventually holding the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He was a member of Company B in 1924 and also played on the football team that year. He belonged to both the Military Council and the Sword and Shield Society in 1925.

In 1927, he joined the California National Guard as a Private in the 159th Infantry Regiment. He was promoted to Sergeant on July 18, 1927 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on May 22, 1929. The 1930 U.S. Census shows he was working as a clerk in a haberdashery. He was promoted to 1st Lt. on February 13, 1931 and is commanding the 1st Battalion Headquarters Company in 1934. Later that same year, he was transferred to Oakland, becoming Commander of the Regimental Headquarters Company. On June 30, 1934, Stanley married the former Norma I. Frediani, daughter of Pietro P. Frediani and Pompilia E. Mei. He was promoted to Captain on May 13, 1936. A news article, dated 1937, states he received his 10-year service pin. The 1940 U.S. Census shows he was working as an auditor with a sporting goods establishment. He and Norma had a son, Dennis B., born in 1941.

Service Time: Stanley entered active Army duty on March 3, 1941 and was commissioned as a Captain in the Regular Army on the same date. On June 8, 1942, he was promoted to Major. While we don’t have the date he was originally assigned, Stanley was the Commanding Officer of the 657th Tank Destroyer Battalion but was transferred out prior to the unit being disbanded on April 10, 1944. On February 11, 1944, he assumed command of the 823rd Tank Destroyer Battalion. The 823rd trained at a number of military bases including Camps Bowie and Hood, Texas, and Camp Clairborne, Louisiana, where they were located prior to participating in the Louisiana maneuvers.

The unit boarded trains on March 9, 1944. enroute to Camp Myles Standish, and the Boston port, where they arrived on the 12th to begin their final preparations for the trip overseas. On April 6th, they loaded on the U.S.S. Sea Porpoise and sailed for England, arriving in Newport, Wales, on the 17th after an uneventful trip. After some additional training and a delay, they boarded three LSTs and landed on Omaha Beach, Normandy, France, on June 24, 1944. They were equipped with 3″ towed guns and went into action within 24 hours of their arrival. Stanley was awarded the Silver Star for actions during the period July 7 & 8, 1944, while serving with the 30 Infantry Division. His citation reads as follows:

“Colonel Dettmer was serving as the Commander of a Tank Destroyer Battalion engaged in offensive action against the enemy, which included a river crossing. While the river crossing was under way, heavy hostile artillery and small arms fire was being directed on the crossing troops. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Colonel Dettmer made the crossing with the leading elements of his battalion, personally directing operations. In the prolonged fire fight after the crossing, he remained with his forward troops, encouraging them when enemy fire became heavier, and personally selecting and supervising the establishment of his gun positions though constantly subjected to heavy enemy fire. The effective fires of the battalion materially aided in the overall success of the operation. The personal gallantry, and outstanding leadership exhibited by Colonel Dettmer reflect great credit on himself and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the Armed Forces.”

Supporting the drive on St. Lô, they fought at Mortain in August and passed through Belgium and Holland, entering Germany on September 17th. Fighting along the Siegfried Line in October, which included the encirclement of Aachen, the 823rd converted to M10 tank destroyers beginning in November, and shifted to the Ardennes in late December, fighting to eliminate the Bulge in January, 1945. They crossed the Roer River on February 24th. Crossing the Rhine River on March 24th, the unit raced eastward to the Elbe River, at Magdeburg, in April and finally began military occupation duties on April 21st. Stanley earned the Silver Star, the EAME medal, with credit for the campaigns of Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe, along with the WWII Victory and American Defense Service medals. He left the military in June, 1967, at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

We don’t have information regarding Stanley’s life after he left the military but the 1950 U.S. Census shows he was working as a credit manager at a retail men’s clothing store. He passed away on May 5, 1987, and was buried at the Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, California. Thank you to Find A Grave contributor, Cindy S, for use of the grave marker photo.