CHARLES JOSEPH HAEBERLE
Branch of Service: Army
Service years: 1941-1944
Honors: Purple Heart
Glen Rock: Lived in Glen Rock on Harding Road
Charles ‘Habe’ Haeberle was born in 1919 in Patterson and lived in Allendale. When he was one year old, his parents divorced so he moved to Glen Rock and lived on Harding Road with his mother and stepfather, Mr. & Mrs. Dockray. They attended All Saints Episcopal Church. He went to elementary school in Glen Rock and attended Ridgewood High School, graduating in 1938. While he was there, he played intramural basketball, football, and bowling. He pitched for the Glen Rock Athletic Club, worked for Mathieson Chemical Company in New York, and later worked with the Wright Aeronautical Corp in Patterson.
Charles Haeberle entered the army in 1941 and he was one of the first boys from Glen Rock to do so. During his time in the Army, he trained at Fort Bragg and Fort Dix. There, he was voted the most popular soldier and was asked to act as an escort for movie celebrities who were visiting and were touring the training camps. He was also offered the opportunity to go to Officer Candidate School but he turned it down to stay with his friends among the enlisted men. He continued as a pitcher on the Army baseball team touring many bases. His unit was sent overseas in August of 1942 causing his second season to be cut short. He and his unit were first put into action in Africa where he sustained an injury to his leg. Haeberle was put back together by Amry doctors and recuperated in time to participate in the liberations of Sicily and Italy.
The Battle of Monte Cassino took place from 17 January 1944 to 18 May 1944. It was a series of four offensives carried out by Allied troops in central Italy in an attempt to break through the Winter Line and occupy Rome. Monte Cassino was the mountain above the town of Cassino where the Germans had installed several defenses in preparation for the Allied invasion. An Abbey sat on top of the mountain. Allied troops had to take Monte Cassino to take Rome to the north.
The first attack at Monte Cassino started on 17 January 1944 as British Empire, American, and French troops fought uphill against the strategic German defenses. The German defenses were extremely well integrated into the mountainside, and, had civilians trapped in the Abbey on top of the mountain. The Allies suspected that the Germans were using the Abbey (which was situated at the top of a large hill and protected as neutral territory under the Concordat of 1933) as a military observation point. In response, the Allies bombed the Abbey, starting the second offensive of the battle, on 15 February 1944. German troops were using parts of the abbey walls as defensive positions. 250 women, men, and children were killed in the bombing. And the Allies still could not blast their way through the German defenses.
The third attack on Monte Cassino, the one that Charles Haeberle was a part of, was launched from the north on 15 March. After a large bombing campaign, Allied troops advanced through the town of Cassino. The defences were tough and both sides experienced heavy losses. The German parachute divisions held onto the Abbey.
The Allies fell back and planned Operation Diadem – the fourth and final battle.
When the Battle for Monte Cassino was finally over, the Allies broke the Winter Line, leading to the Allies' capture of Rome on 4 June 1944. Despite this success, the Battle of Monte Casino came at a very high cost. There were over 55,000 casualties for the Allied troops in comparison to 20,000 German casualties. Charles Haeberle paid that cost with the ultimate sacrifice for his country, he was killed in March of 1944 in the third battle for Monte Casino.
After his death, All Saints Episcopal Church in Glen Rock engraved his name on an oak communion rail dedicated in his memory to honor his services.
Born: 1919, Paterson, NJ
Died: 1944 Monte Cassino, Italy