MEN OF OLD 128TH PILING UP HEROIC DEEDS IN BATTLE
St. Louisans Who Saved Ammunition Truck After Shell Hit It Are Among Medal Winners.
By RICHARD L. STOKES Of the Washington Bureau of the Post-Dispatch, now representing this newspaper on the “Western Front as an accredited war correspondent. HEADQUARTERS THIRD ARMY. France, Dec. 21.
Amazing battle experiences of some of the St. Louis and Missouri men fighting through mud, rain and cold in this sector of the Western Front were told to this correspondent recently. Several of the Missourians in the 128th Field Artillery Battalion of the Sixth Armored Division, which was developed from components of the former 128th Field Artillery Regiment of the Missouri National Guard, are sporting Bronze Stars.
Sgt. George Torlina of 6701 San Bonita avenue, Clayton, and Sgt. Alvin Glascock of 1056 Rock Hill road, Rock Hill Village, are two of those who have been decorated. They extinguished a fire in an ammunition truck near St. Jean Rohrbach.
Torlina and Glascock said Battery A, the unit to which they are attached, took up a position beside the highway to the town on Nov. 22. A column of vehicles of the 777th Anti Aircraft Artillery largely a Missouri unit, drew up beside them and parked on the road, although it was under fire.
Shell Hits Truck.
It had only been there a short time, the soldiers said, when a German shell hit an ammunition truck. Bedrolls atop the vehicle flamed up and the fire spread to boxes of shells in the truck. With Cpl. Robert Fechner of South Dakota, Torlina and Glascock raced to the truck and kicked the burning bedrolls into the mud. With fire extinguishers they fought the fire and finally put it out. None of the ammunition exploded. Glascock, who suffered minor burns on his hands, said he noticed a box burning in the truck and kicked it off. He said he wasn't particularly worried about the box, because “at the time I didn't know what was in it". He learned afterward it was full of TNT.
Cpl. Malvin George Mueller of 1930 Provenchere place, also wears a Bronze Star. During the Lorraine push he was leader of a squad of the 777th Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion which performed exceptional service. In another recent action Cpl. Mueller shot a German soldier who had stuck to his position in a captured town.
Saves Drowning Man.
Several member; of the 231st Battalion of the 777th Antiaircrait Artillery, which originally was a Missouri National Guard unit, also have received awards. Among them is Sgt. Cecil Hildebrant of Windyville, Mo., who jumped into a water-filled cellar to rescue a drowning Frenchman. Hildebrant gave the man artificial respiration and was credited with saving his life. He was awarded the Soldier's MedaL
Certificates of merit have been awarded to Sgt. Hoadley Smith of Sedalia and Sgt. Bates L Griffith Of Clinton for relaying fire commands from observation posts at the front lines to their batteries when no officers were present. Capt. Reginald Johnson, of Maryvllie, commander of the 231st service battery, also has won a certificate of merit for extraordinary resonrcefulness under extreme conditions.
Tragedy In a Tank.
A tragic story of how two Albany (Mo) boys were killed and another was wounded seriously was related by Lt. Donald C. Peake of New Milford, N. J. The three Albany boys were members of a tank crew in the thrust toward Puttellange, Peake said. They were starting on a reconnaissance mission for the 128th battalion when they ran off road to escape hell fire. The tank bogged down in mud. The crew of an 88mm German gun, in a concrete emplacement 1200 yards away, spotted the helpless tank and sent a shell through the front of it. The assistant driver was killed, the driver's skull was fractured and the legs of a sergeant standing in the turret were mangled.
Lt. Peake had left his tank for some scouting work on foot when he saw the other tank burning. He and a gunner from his tank dragged the sergeant and the wounded driver from the reconnaissance tank. Lt. Peake received an oak leaf cluster to his Silver Star for this exploit, he said. The sergeant, whose legs were amputated, died several days later, after talking to his commanding officer, Lt. Col.Thomas R. Bruce Jr., of Mexico. Mo., and learning that one of his companions had been killed and the other badly wounded. 25 St. Louisans in Battery. Of the original 103 St. Louis men in Battery A of the 128 Field Artillery, 25 still remain in the unit after transfers of experienced men to newer outfits. The remaining 25 have kept up their record of no casualties, although there was one case of battle fatigue in the Seilie Saar push.
The battery has a new commander, Lt. William T. Gully of Boston, Mass. The former commander, Capt. Guy R. Shelton of Jefferson City, is now executive officer of the 128th Battalion. On a tour of the battalion’s sector, this correspondent met Cpl, John E. Devaney of 5372 Odell street, who proudly exhibited two shrapnel dents in his helmet, which struck him and knocked him down, but did not hurt him.
Pvt. Burt Roberts, 1915 Park avenue. who also has had some close‘ calls with shrapnel, said his principal memory of the war will always be that of stumbling about in the middle of the night in deep mud with cases of ammunition on which he fell several times. Other boys seen by the writer were Cpl. George R. Horlivy, 2015 South Thirtheen street; Pfc. John H. Lauman, 5025A Lindenwood avenue; Sgt. William F. Adamec, 1616 South Twelfth street; Cpl. Thomas Burke, 2608 Ohio avenue, and Pfc. Curtis Retz, 822 Monroe avenue. Vinita Park. Adamec, a proud section chief, declared his M-7 gun is in perfect shape and the oldest in the battery.
Visit to Battery B.
Battery B of the 128th Field Artillery Battalion retains 36 of its original 99 Missouri men,chiefly from Mexico, Fulton, Vandalia and Centralia. Records of the battery show its six guns had fired 11,500 rounds of ammunition since its arrival in France, and although it participated in the big Lorraine drive, there were no Missourians killed. Several Purple Heart awards have been made, however, to Missouri men. This writer visited B Battery outpost and met Pvt, William A. Lovett, 3915 De Tonty street, a cannoneer; Pvt. John Mayer Jr., 4435 Chippewa street, also a cannoneer; Cpl. Austin Simms, a truck driver of Clark, Mo., which is the home town of Lt. Gen. Omar N. Bradley; Cpl. Robert G. McDonough, tank driver from Mexico; Cpl. Walter Senor, radio operator of Mexico; Pfc. Northbert J. Kehoe, cannoneer of Mexico; Cpl. Hershel R. Golden. a truck driver from Salem; Pvt. Roland Hamilton, cannoneer of Rayville, and Sgt. Herbert (Slats) Hinze of Mexico, who was in charge of the battery's ammunition supply, with 10 years of service in the National Guard.
Capt. Orville S. Brightwell of Slater is commander of B Battery. Some of the men seen in his unit by the writer were Sgt. Ralph M. Denmark, radio communications chief, of Vandalla; Cpl. Ralph E. Gladwell, messenger, of Milan; Staff Sgt. Walter D. Jones, mess sergeant, of Fulton; Sgt. Walter R. Winfrey, radio operator, of Sturgeon; Sgt. Charles J. Mann, chief of a gun section, of Centralla; Cpl. Claude L, Hoffman Jr., gunner, of Centralia; Pfc. Fred W. Klick, ammunition handler, of Fulton; Cpl. Wilmer W. Butts, machine gunner, of Vandalia; Staff Sgt. William F. Bishop, in charge of supplies, of Mexico; Sgt. J. C. Gould, chief of a gun section, of Fulton, and Cpl. Glennon P, Wenzel, a reconnaissance man, of Martinsburg.
Two C Battery Casualties.
At the headquarters of Battery C of the 128th Battalion, which has fired 14,944 rounds of ammunition, weighing 375 tons, I was informed that maintenance of equipment had been so expertly handled that no gun barrels had been changed and only one piece had been replaced. This battery has had two Missouri casualties, both of whom have been sent home. While visiting c Battery’s positoins, the writer encountered Pvt.John Paxton, radio operator of Columbia; Cpl. Lawrence Malum, half-track driver of Maryville; Sgt. Floyd Githens, communications unit of Coffey; Cpl. Woodrow W. Graham of Sikeston and Cpl. Charles W. Gibson of Ridgeway, both truck drivers; Cpl. Robert H. Drumond. a wireman of Coffey. and Cpl. Stanley Curtis of Independence, who at Brehal. during the Brest campaign, shot a German who stuck his head above a stone wall. After this incident, Curtis said, 19 other Germans came running from behind the wall and surrendered.
Others in C Battery, who were met by the writer, were Pfc. Darrell Flowers, ammunition handler of Hopkins; Cpl. Fred H. Stein, a gun driver of Kansas City; Sgt. Dick Jones, section chief of St. Joseph; Pfc. Jesse Cochran, cannoneer of Myrtle, and two section chiefs, Sgt. Joseph P. Davis of Engleville and Sgt. Jack Obermiller of Jackson. Sgt. Trevis Wyatt of Maryville showed me holes in the thumb and middle fingers of his left hand glove and explained that the glove was cut by shrapnel in the St. Jean Rohrbach sector, but his hand was not scratched. Talking with Wyatt when I met him were Sgt. Robert J. Barber, of Skidmore, and Pvt. Joseph Swalley, an M-7 driver of Pickering. Lt. Col. Robert S. Perkins of Maryville, commander of the 231st Field Artillery Battalion, has been invalided home and replaced by Maj. Benjamin A. Goodin, of Desloge. This battalion, units of which include many Missourians, has fired 18,000 rounds of ammunition since it came to France.
The battalion’s executive officer is Maj. William It. Pills of Maryville; the liaison officer is Capt. Edwin L. Moehle, of Boonville, who won a certificate of merit in the Lorraine drive, and the motor officer is Capt. Ben H. Darnell, of 519 North Polo drive, Clayton. About one fourth of the members of this battalion are from Sedalia, Clinton and Fayette. Men of the 231st Battalion boast a little about Pvt. Clifford W. Maschmeier, formerly of St. Louis and now of Jefferson City. His friends declare that he has driven the ration truck twice as many miles as any other driver in France. He has braved enemy fire and all kinds of weather day or night, but always gets the food to the men on time.
Other Missourians seen on the tour were Tech. Sgt. Samuel E. Heriford, motor unit, Maryvilie; Sgt. George Dewyr, mechanic of Burlington Junction; Staff Sgt. Carl Palmer of Columbia, who, under the guidance of an officer, has charge of all of the battalion’s ammunition; Pvt. Jack Beasley, of Columbia, who is in headquarters battery.
Some men from Missouri. mentioned to the writer, but whose home towns were not designated were Sgt. Willard Heark; Staff Sgt. Carl E. Gerding; Sgt. Raymond L. Spencer; Sgt. Denver F. Weymeyer, who won a certificate of merit for repairing telephone. wires for an hour and a half under constant enemy fire. For two days Gerding maintained wire communications under fire in the Jalincourt sector. Tech. Sgt. Joseph E. McDonald of Quitman received praise from his fellow soldiers. It is he who is in charge of the recovery of broken down tanks as chief of the forward echelon maintenance shop.