ND twins who died in WWII featured in book about brothers buried in overseas cemeteries

LaMOURE, N.D. — With just days away from the 75th Anniversary of the end of World War II, a story of two brothers from LaMoure, lay buried next to each other in Europe. The two are now part of a just-released book called: "Brothers in Arms."

Not long after George and Mary Warcken arrived from Luxembourg in 1905 to LaMoure, they brought eight children into the world, including twin boys Hank and Bill.

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Twins Hank and Bill Warcken standing on a car in 1925. Submitted photo.

"Dad used to say, 'the only one who could tell them apart was their mom.' And they used to have a lot of fun with it. They would go to local dances and switch girls; they were jokesters," said Sandy Knudsen, a niece of the two men who are mentioned in the book.


Hank and Bill were later drafted into World War II in 1943 and were part of the 11th Armored Division. Despite efforts to keep the twins apart, the historic Battle of the Bulge changed everything.

Kevin Callahan, author of "Brothers in Arms," told the story of the two men together during that battle, on the cold night on January 12.

"It was tragic fate, they were sleeping in the same truck, it was so cold and so much snow that they could not dig foxholes so they slept in the same truck. When the morning came, a German 88 mm shell hit the truck and killed both brothers," Callahan said.

Hank and Bill Warcken are now buried at the Lorraine Cemetery in France.

"I didn't realize the army had a policy of burying brothers together, so it inspired me to find and tell the stories of all these brothers," Callahan said.

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Brothers Henry and Bill in uniform after being drafted into the army. Submitted photo

To this day, the family still remembers their loved ones, talking about them for years after their passing.


"He talked about when they got called up and went to war, when they got the telegrams and when they both were killed," Knudsen described.

Callahan has not only visited the cemeteries in Europe, he traveled across the United States. His book details the stories of several families across the country, including the Warckens. He came to North Dakota to talk to their relatives and hear their stories.

"The official end of World War II occurred on Sept. 2 (1945), so the 75th anniversary is coming up. But for these families, the war never ended for them, and so it was amazing to visit and meet with them because the pain and loss of those brothers, it still lasts to the present day," he said.

He visited nieces, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who have relatives buried overseas. Now, his book will not only educate, but it will be one more chance to honor Hank and Bill here at home.

"Because, like I said, that is a generation we cannot afford to forget," Knudsen said.

Callahan has a website that talks about his project of documenting brothers buried together, and can be seen here . The book, "Brothers in Arms" is available for purchase on Amazon .

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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