Benton, Mortimer Murray (P2, C4, L39)
Major Mortimer Murray Benton, 37, of Lexington, Fayette County, was killed on August 16, 1943 in a vehicle accident during combat in Sicily. The vehicle he was riding in dropped off a bridge just blown by the retreating German forces. The Allies Sicily Campaign ended the next day. The German and Italian forces were completing an orderly withdrawal from Sicily to Italy using mines, demolitions and other obstacles to delay the allied forces advance.
Benton enlisted in the Kentucky National Guard in February 1926 serving with Troop C of the 53rd Machine Gun Squadron while attending the University of Kentucky. On 1 April 1930 the unit was redesignated as Troop B of the 123rd Cavalry. During his time he was promoted from Private to First Sergeant. He was promoted to Second Lieutenant on 30 April 1930. In May 1930 he moved to the inactive rolls and attended Flying Cadet training for two months at March Field in California from mid June to mid August 1930. He returned and continued to serve with his unit. He apparently did not receive a pilot rating. In Jun 1934, then living in Ft. Thomas, he was promoted to First Lieutenant and worked as a salesman for the Lubrizol Chemical Company.
In April 1935 he began serving as the Adjutant for the 3rd Squadron of the 123rd. Benton was promoted to Captain in May 1940 serving with Headquarters of the 123rd Cavalry. By this time he had returned to live in Lexington and had graduated from the Louisville's Jefferson School of Law in 1939. He was inducted into federal service with his unit in December 1940 and the unit was redesignated as Headquarters 103rd Coast Artillery. Members began training at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. In April 1942 he finished an Anti Aircraft Refresher Course had his unit was no the 103rd Separate Coast Artillery Battalion (Anti Aircraft). Benton was promoted to Major in December 1942
Benton, born April 12, 1906 in Fayette County was a graduate of Lexington High School. He attended the Citizens Military Training Camp learning Cavalry in August of 1922. He attended the University of Kentucky majoring in commerce and military science for three and half years. He also participated in the ROTC program at UK.
His civilian occupations included Broker, Salesman; Internal Revenue Service and lawyer. Benton was married to the daughter of A. H. Bowman – the namesake of Louisville's Bowman Field. He had two daughters.
Benton's remains were returned and he was laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery in December 1948. He is buried in Section 12qq, grave 7170.
Other casualties of the 103rd Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion (Automatic Weapons) (Mobile) during World War II were: CPL Opal E. Cornn; PVT Buster Criswell; 1LT Hal T. Hackney; 1LT Thomas L. Hehman; T/5 Richard A. Heidkamp; 1LT Jeff Johnson, Jr.; PFC Kenneth Walsh and T/5 Owen W. Whitaker.
The reorganization of the United States Army shortly before World War converted Kentucky's 123rd Cavalry on November 1, 1940, as the 103rd Coast Artillery (Antiaircraft) Separate Battalion and the 106th Coast Artillery (Antiaircraft) Separate Battalion.
The 103rd Coast Artillery (Antiaircraft) Separate Battalion the battalion began training at Fort Sheridan, Lake County, Illinois on March 4, 1942. On April 30, the 103rd left New York, arriving in Northern Ireland on May 15. The unit was transferred to North Africa, arriving December 8. On July 2, 1943, the 103rd left North Africa and went to Sicily. The battalion participated in the Operation HUSKY, the Sicily Campaign from July 9 to August 17, 1943. Departing Sicily on November 17, the 103rd arrived in Scotland on December 9 1943. On September 29 1944, it was stationed at Belgium, remaining there until October 22. From October 1944 to April 28, 1945, the 103rd was in Germany. Between April 28 and May 6, the 103rd was in Czechoslovakia. The 103rd arrived at New York November 30. On December 1, 1945, the 103rd Antiaircraft Artillery Amphibious Automatic Weapons Battalion (Mobile) was inactivated at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. Redesignated May 13, 1946 as the 441st Field Artillery Battalion, Kentucky National Guard with Headquarters at Lexington, Kentucky. Currently the lineage and honors of the 103rd is carried by the 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery , with Headquarters at Lexington.
Death Claims Major Benton
unidentified newspaper clipping
Maj. Murray Benton, 37, son of Mrs. Frances Keller Benton of 158 Woodland avenue, and the late William Terry Benton, was killed in North African theater of operations on Aug 16, according to word received from the War Department yesterday by his mother.
Details of the manner in which Major Benton met his death were not revealed in the War Department communication which stated that he had been killed in a motor vehicle accident.
Major Benton, a graduate of Lexington high school and who attended the University of Kentucky, participated in the invasion of Sicily. Long interested in military life, he was a former member of the local cavalry unit and the National Guard. He also was a member of the Episcopal church and the Lexington bar.
Besides his mother, Major Benton is survived by his wife, Mrs. Pauline Bowman Benton of Louisville, daughter of the late A. H. Bowman for whom Bowman Field there was named, and two children, Betty Benton, 4, and Terry Benton, 7. His wife is with her mother in Louisville.
Major Benton's paternal grandfather, Mortimer Murray Benton, a priest in the Episcopal church, served as archdeacon of the Diocese of Kentucky. He also was an officer in the Confederate navy. His maternal grandfather, John Esten Keller, was a member of the staff of Gen. John Hunt Morgan. [picture included]
War Victims Brought Home
Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Kentucky) · 8 Nov 1948, Mon · Page 9
Twenty-seven Central Kentucky veterans of World War II who lost their lives in the European Theater of Operations today had arrived in the United States from Italy aboard the Army transport Lawrence Victory. Ten of the deceased veterans are Lexingtonians.
Remains of 7,129 Americans were on the transport. Of these, 194 were Kentuckians.
Bodies of these Lexington veterans were returned: Maj. Mortimer M. Benton, Pvt. George L. Coons Jr., Pvt. Starling J. Ewton, Second Lt. James T Harris Jr., Cpl. John S. Horine, Capt. John P. Lacket Jr., Second Lt. Earl B. Rose Jr., Pvt. George P. Scruggs Jr., Cpl. Olevers S. Vinegar and T/5 Owen W. Whitaker.
Other Central Kentuckians returned were: Pvt. Charles E. Patton and Pvt. Isom Durbin, Richmond: Cpl. Edgar L Ham, Pvt. William B. Hopkins and S/Sgt. Andrew B. Metcalfe, Carlisle; Pvt. Leonard W. Haggard, Cpl. Isaac E. McKinney and Cpl. William H. Morguson, Winchester; Pfc. Charles E. Gregory and Pfc. John R. Humphrey, Stamping Ground; T/Sgt. Clarence W. Bailey, Sharpsburg; Pvt. Nick V. Feeback, Mt. Sterling; T/5 James a Gibson, Danville: T/4 Paul A. Goodlett, Lawrenceburg; S/Sg. Marion F. Lay, Harrodsburg; Sgt. Clyde S. Layton, Lancaster, and Pfc. William L. Morris, Barterville.