Once his training was completed, the Army sent PVT Burcaw to the ETO (European Theater of Operations) in July 1944 as a replacement soldier, and was placed in Company E, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division. At this time, the 116th was heavily involved in the taking of the city of St. Lo, with the 2nd Battalion to the east of Saint-Lo at the village of la Madeline.....it is likely that PVT Burcaw was placed in Company E at the end of this campaign as one of many designated to bring the Battalion’s fighting strength up to capacity. After Saint-Lo, PVT Burcaw would continue on with his fellow soldiers in Company E, fighting thru the hedgerows of the Normandy countryside, taking the city of Vire. By the second week in August, the 116th had ended is combat mission in Normandy and welcomed a brief period of rest and rehabilitation. On 22 August 1944 the 116th was on the move once again toward the port city of Brest, needed by the Allies as an entry for supplies in the ETO.
By late August the 116th was occupying territory west of the city of Brest near the towns of Plouzane and la Trinité......on 1 September near la Trinité, Company E came under artillery fire from the defending Germans and PVT Burcaw was severely wounded, dying from his injuries soon after.
PVT John Francis Burcaw, Jr. is buried along with many of his comrades at the Brittany-American Cemetery in Saint James, Basse-Normandie, France. PVT Burcaw was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and was presented to his next of kin (most likely his Mother Caroline).
contributed by John Simmons