Harry J. Kauffman, 88, was a POW during WWII

Posted: April 17, 2012

HARRY KAUFFMAN didn't like to talk about his Army experiences in World War II.

Like a lot of veterans, he felt much of it was better not resurrected, too many bad memories better left buried and forgotten.

However, some events came out gradually over the years, and often inadvertently. As a prisoner of the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge, he recalled, he found a horse's head in the bucket of soup the prisoners were given for food.

A fellow prisoner was a Philadelphian named Hal Albertson, who Harry found out had a child back home. So, Harry, then childless, would give Hal half his soup because he thought it was important to keep him alive for his child.

The prisoners were freed when George S. Patton's 3rd Army arrived to help rout the Germans' final offensive of the war in the Ardennes Forest in the bitter winter of 1944.

Harry suffered frostbite of the feet that bothered him the rest of his life, and shrapnel wounds that earned him a Purple Heart. He also received two Bronze Star medals and attained the rank of sergeant.

Harry J. Kauffman, an accountant for the Army Corps of Engineers at the old Frankford Arsenal for 25 years, a clarinet player who dug Dixieland and polka music, and a devoted family man, died April 11. He was 88 and lived in the Northeast.

Once when his son, Thomas, had to climb a utility pole as part of his job, his father said, "I did that in the war."

A little prodding revealed that one of his jobs was to restring wire that the Germans had cut, a dangerous activity that the Germans were inclined to stop.

Harry was born in Philadelphia to Harry and Jane Kauffman. He graduated from Northeast Catholic High School and entered the Army in 1944. He was assigned to the 106th Infantry, just in time to help stop the Germans' last gasp of the war.

After the war, he used the GI Bill to attend Villanova University, from which he received a degree in accounting. He went to work for the Corps of Engineers.

After retiring from the Frankford Arsenal, he became an accountant for five years for Family Court, and then five years at Smith, Kline and French, now GlaxoSmithKline. He also had a private income-tax-preparing business that he didn't give up until he was 75.

He married Anne McCardle in 1951.

Harry was a handyman, much in demand by the family. For many years, the family had a three-story vacation home in North Wildwood, which he enjoyed improving with aluminum siding, paint, paneling and whatever else he thought it needed. He also happily worked on the homes of his children after they had grown and started families.

"He was a good family man," said his son Thomas. "He was a caring father and doted on his wife. He would do whatever he could for his family."

Harry and fellow prisoner of war Hal Albertson, now deceased, became lifelong friends.

Harry enjoyed his family on vacations to the seashore, trips to petting zoos and amusement parks, as well as bus rides to New England, Niagara Falls, Cape Cod, and a country-music tour to Nashville and Memphis.

Besides his wife and son, he is survived by two other sons, Michael and Robert; a daughter, Anne O'Brien; a sister, Mary O'Rourke; eight granddaughters, and four great-grandchildren.

Services: Were yesterday. Burial was in Our Lady of Grace Cemetery, Bensalem.

Donations may be made to Christ the King Church, 3252 Chesterfield Road, Philadelphia 19114.

Contact John F. Morrison at 215-854-5573 or morrisj@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @johnfmorrison.

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