In England, when the threat to the island was at it’s greatest, and there was a shortage of big guns, they planted large logs all along the coast to make the Germans think they were Long Toms. And again in Germany, the Germans tried to fool us by setting up logs to look like anti-aircraft batteries. Well, we all agree these were good ideas, but if Private First Class Cassio of D Company were given the job of protecting our coastline, he would have used something different.
It was our first time out with 80th Recon and unfortunately our lead tank hit a mine. This put everyone on the alert, especially Sergeant McFeely’s tank crew. P.F.C. (Always on the Ball) Cassio was the most alert member in Mac’s crew. In an excited tone, he called McFeely, “Over to the right, there’s an anti-tank gun!” On Mac’s order, the turret was swung quickly to the right. “Put a round of H.E. (High Explosive) in there Cas!”, Mac shouted. “Okay Mac, I’m on the target!”, replied Cas, but Mac by this time, was looking through his binoculars. “Hold your fire Cas, that’s a lawnmower!”
Yanks Boner Boomerangs
With the 80th Infantry Division in France; December 5th, 1944-Wrong Way Corrigan, according to the men in the 80th Infantry Division’s attached tank battalion, has nothing on their Wrong Town Sandusky, of B Company, 702nd Tank Battalion.
During the current Lorraine offensive, Staff Sergeant Michael Sandusky, leading a tank section that was hacking at German defenses, was ordered to smash into Juville, clearing the German heavy stuff so the infantry could move in.
Sandusky moved his tanks up, tore into the town, and was pounding the Germans, but discovered that he needed infantry support-and quickly. He frantically radioed back, “Where the hell are the doughboys?”
The answer, prompt and emphatic, almost blasted his headset off, “Right in the middle of Juville. Where the hell are you?”
Sandusky gulped, looked around and found the answer. He had entered the wrong town. Explaining his mistake, he pleaded for immediate infantry support. A few minutes later the doughs were moving in to support his tanks, and, in addition to Juville, the 80th had taken Moncheux, thanks to Wrong Town Sandusky.
Anyone from C Company remembers Heiderscheid, Luxembourg, and they will all tell you it was a red hot town. Not everyone though, knows that Bingo games were held nightly on the second floor of one of the few undamaged buildings in the town.
The game was just a local affair with Sergeant Beadle’s and Sergeant Glofka’s crews participating. A few doughboys from downstairs occasionally joined in. Ten francs was the price of a card; comfort and food were provided, but one thing not on the schedule, was an impromtu entrance on behalf of the German artillery.
It all began when they called out under the “N”, 39. No time was spared to look for that number. The whistle of the shells came so quickly that they all assumed this was it. The landing of the shells started the stampede to the ground floor; francs were hastily retrieved and Bingo became the least of their worries.
When the barrage subsided, it was back to Bingo again. During the remainder of the evening, they would often dash under the bed instead of under the “N”.
The heinies over at Dahl may have tried to spoil the Bingo affair, but all their efforts were in vain. The game ended abruptly when orders came down for both crews to pack up to go on outpost at Ringel. The sounds of Bingo became only echoes as the tanks started on their journey. The social evening was complete; now there was a job to perform. One regret remained; Ringel was too busily preoccupied with Germans to bother about Bingo games.
A Big Frog In A Little Pond
It was Gisperslebin in the heart of Germany and the 2nd Platoon of Company A was just pulling to a halt, when a bazooka shell pierced the engine compartment of Staff Sergeant Szymanski’s tank, setting it ablaze immediately. The crew dismounted under small-arms fire and took cover beside a house. A burp-gun opened up on them from across the street. It wasn’t the only tank on fire, the heinie figuretively set T/4 William Horn afire with rage. Disregarding his own safety, he dashed across the street with a trusty grease-gun in his hands, and circled the house from where the burper was located.
He moved forward cautiously until he was in a position to riddle the Kraut with good ole Yankee lead. The grease-gun again proved it’s usefulness by killing the Kraut and saving the lives of the other four members of his crew. His courage and devotion to duty and regard for the lives of his crew won for him not only the award of the Bronze Star, but also the admiration and respect of all his fellow tankers.
About two days after the german counter-attack on the Moselle bridgehead, the men of the Second Platoon, Company B, 702nd Tank Battalion jumped off in the attack on Mousson Hill. It was important ground, for it served as an excellent observation point over the entire bridgehead. The hill was taken by the Second Platoon and infantry. The gunners had a hey-day picking off targets up to, and even over 2500 yards. On the hill the tanks had to constantly change positions as the enemy artillery would soon zero in on them. The platoon was relieved by the First Platoon just before dark to gas up and get ammunition. The enemy, however, counter-attacked and cut off the hill before the Second Platoon could return.
For four days and nights they fought off fanatical attacks of SS troopers. The small arm and sniper fire was so heavy the men could not leave their tanks to reieve themselves, so they had to use empty shell cases.
The only way of getting the necessary supplies to the men on the hill was to supply them by plane. This was done but the situation was getting worse and something had to be done about it. On the fourth day the Second Platoon jumped off to drive the heinies from their positions and free the First Platoon. But at the same time, the Germans launched another counter-attack against the bridgehead and caught the Second Platoon on it’s flanks. Then all hell broke loose. Although the tanks succeeded in knocking out several anti-tank guns and inflicting many enemy casualties, they lost four of their five tanks.
Sergeant Tehan’s tank was the first hit and burst into flame. The gun that got him was knocked out. The next two tanks were hit simultaneously as they were firing at other anti-tank guns. One of the tanks was Staff Sergeant Mangiacotti’s, who was up for a field commision. The other tank was under the command of Sergeant Moore. The last tank to be hit was Sergeant Corey’s and it too burst into flame. Sergeant Sandusky managed to get under cover and he raised so much hell with the Germans that they thought it was another armored attack and shifted their own direction of attack. When Sandy was finally forced to abandon his tank, he had only three rounds of smoke left from a full load.
Meanwhile, the enemy in their new line of attack heard the 105mm Howitzers running around and thought it was another armored thrust, and again changed their direction of attack. This sent them directly across a battalion front of our infantry, who cut them to pieces. When Staff Sergeant Mangiacotti’s tank was knocked out, he was seriously wounded in the legs and got out of the burning tank only with the help his Gunner, Sergeant George Sidella (then Corporal). Sidella, who was badly burned himself, was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for this action. [Staff Sergeant Matthew “Matt” Mangiacotti, who was much loved by his men, died of his wounds soon after.]
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