September 30, 1920 (Norwalk, CT) – April 12, 1945; 24 years old
Married Army nurse 1st Lt Velma Simpson Coffin (1922-2016) on March 24, 1944, at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.
Last local address: 186 East Avenue, Norwalk
Enlisted September 29, 1942
Service number: O-1058759
Unit: 104th Infantry Division, 413th Infantry Regiment
Born to Floyd W. (1889-1942) and Naomi H. Corcoran Coffin (1894-1975). One brother, Floyd Jr. [Colonel, U.S. Army, retired] (1918-2005).
Awarded the Silver Star Medal and Purple Heart Medal.
Norwalk High School Class of ‘38
In an e-mail on August 24, 2022, family member Cindy Coffin wrote:
“Velma Simpson and Harold Coffin met each other in the service and were married on March 24, 1944 at Hillsborough, Florida. Harold was Velma’s first love and true love. She never really got over her loss after he was killed. She kept their wedding photo for the rest of her life. Like Harold, Velma achieved the rank of 1st Lieutenant while she was in the service. Velma later remarried and had four children with her second husband. One of her daughters digitized Velma & Harold’s wedding photo and sent it to me. She gave me permission to share it with you for his memorial page. Another relative of mine was killed during WWII and buried at Margraten. When I learned of Harold Coffin’s grave there, I felt that he had been forgotten. So I decided to do some research and create a Coffin family tree for him. I no longer feel like he has been forgotten.
He was awarded the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy (see below). Headquarters, 104th Infantry Division, General Orders No. 158 (1945).
From Timberwolf Tracks, the History of the 104th Infantry Division: The Silver Star is awarded to individuals who distinguish themselves by gallantry in action to a degree that does not merit the award of the Medal of Honor or the Distinguished Service Cross:
Entry: Harold E. Coffin, 1st Lt. (413th Inf.) with a footnote that the medal was awarded posthumously.
Citation to accompany the award of the Silver Star Medal
First Lieutenant Harold E. Coffin (Army Serial Number 01058759), Infantry, Company K, 413th Infantry, United States Army, for gallantry in action in Germany on 13 April 1945. When his lead scouts hesitated in the face of extremely heavy enemy sniper and machine gun fire, Lt Coffin, at great risk to his life, moved to the head of his platoon and boldly made his way into the outskirts of the town which was his platoon’s objective. After he had organized his platoon Lt Coffin engaged in a bitter fire-fight with the enemy and entirely neutralized several enemy positions before he was killed himself by sniper fire. His courageous actions, above and beyond the call of duty, reflect the highest credit on Lt. Coffin and the military service.
Excerpt 413th Infantry Regiment History, Company K
The regiment was now approaching the Hartz mountains, a patch of steep, forested hills in which a number of stubborn enemy units had organized a last-stand defense. On April 11, the drive eastward slowed by Corps orders, and the regiment prepared to attack from positions around Neuhof and Bartofelde.
Late that same day some 300 Germans drifted into the 2nd Battalion’s prisoner cage. The battalion had entered a town that was clear of Germans, but a little later the advance party of a Kraut outfit came marching in to pick billets. The 2d rounded them up and were ready with open arms when the main body of the Heinie unit came into town.
The 413th set up a blockage on the south side of the mountains and from April 12 to April 15 the regiment was busy with skirmishes, ambushes, and similar chores of large-scale combat guard duty. Lines of communication were long and it was necessary to wait until divisional supply and maintenance units closed in before resuming definite offensive operations.
The 1st Battalion subdued two tanks and 60 Infantrymen to clear Bad Sachsa while the 2nd Battalion went into Walkenreid and Ellrich. Bad Lauterberg was entered by the 3rd Battalion only after a bitter fight against enemy artillery, mortars, and machine guns—resistance that recalled the old yard-by-yard fighting of November and December. Snipers continued to infiltrate into Bad Lauterberg although the town was officially “captured”. Machine guns fired from nests in the cliffs overlooking the town and raiding parties ambushed lone vehicles on all roads, disappearing into the hills before they could be caught.
From The Norwalk Hour April 25, 1944
Promotion of First Lieutenant Harold Coffin, 23, son of Mrs. Floyd Coffin of Strawberry Hill to this rank from Second Lieutenant, has been announced. Lieutenant Coffin, now in Germany with Lieutenant General Hodges’ First Army, 104th Division, enlisted on December 29, 1942, and was sent to OCS at Camp Davis, North Carolina from where he graduated in August 1943. While in school he met and married the former Lieutenant Velma Simpson of Maysville, North Carolina, who is now stationed at Stuttgart with the Army Nurse Air Corps. Lieutenant Coffin, who left this country in November 1944, has an older brother, Captain Floyd Coffin, with the Army Engineers at Fort Lewis, Washington.
Three days later from The Norwalk Hour April 28, 1944
Mrs. Floyd Coffin of Strawberry Hill was notified by telegram last night of the death of her son, First Lieutenant Harold E. Coffin on April 12. The young Army man’s death was the result of wounds received in the fighting with Germany, where he was serving with Lieutenant General Hodge’s First Army, 104th Division. Lieutenant Coffin is also survived by his wife, Lieutenant Velma Simpson Coffin, a nurse with the Army Air Force, and an older brother, Captain Floyd Coffin, stationed with the Army Engineers at Fort Lewis, Washington. Lieutenant Coffin enlisted in the Army on December 29, 1942, and was trained at Officers Candidate School, Camp Davis, North Carolina, received his commission as a second lieutenant in August 1943. Before enlisting, he spent three years with the Bullard Company in Bridgeport as an apprentice tool maker. He had served overseas since November 1944.
Lieutenant Coffin is buried at Netherlands American Cemetery, Amerikaanse Begraafplaats 1, 6269 NA Margraten, Netherlands; Plot N, Row 19, Grave 13.