2nd Lt. Maurice Friel
702nd Tank Battalion Red Devils
I was recently contacted by the family of 2nd Lt. Maurice E. Friel. Lt. Friel was Killed In Action on March 17, 1945. I have scoured the existing 702nd records, and can find no mention of his death, except at the end of the March summary. I have eliminated Company A & Company B. That leaves Company C and Company D as his likely assignment. Maurice graduated in 1938 with honors from Houlton High School in Houlton, Maine. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and was honorably discharged in 1941, at which point he returned to Houlton to work at the Boston Shoe Store. He re-enlisted in 1941 after Pearl Harbor and joined the U.S. Army. In December 1942, he was sent to OCS at Fort Knox, KY and received his commission the following summer. He was sent overseas with the 702nd in January of 1945. His sister Ada was notified of his death on March 17, 1945. He was 23 years old. He was survived by 10 other siblings and is now buried at Luxembourg American Cemetery in Hamm, Luxembourg.
The cemetery records state:
Maurice E. Friel
Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army
Service # O1018884
702nd Tank Battalion
Entered the Service from: Maine
Buried at: Plot C Row 6 Grave 23
Luxembourg American Cemetery
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Awards: Purple Heart
Lt. Friel's enlistment records state:
Name: Maurice E. Friel
Army Serial Number: 31282202
County of Residence: Aroostook
Date of Enlistment: 9 Dec. 1942
Place of Enlistment: Bangor, Maine
Year of Birth: 1921
Marital Status: Single, with dependents
Race and Citizenship: White, citizen
Education: 4 years of high school
Civilian Occupation: BANDSMAN, OBOE or PARTS CLERK, AUTOMOBILE.
Source of Army Personnel: Civil Life
Component of the Army: Selectees (Enlisted Men)
Branch: Branch Immaterial - Warrant Officers, USA
Term of Enlistment: Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law.
Card Number: #
Box Number: 0420
Film Reel Number: 3.142
From my book, Patton's Troubleshooters, the 702nd Tank Battalion S-2 Intelligence Journal recorded the following for March 17, the day Lt. Friel died:
March 17-6:13am-The road at 338997 is heavily defended with small arms and machine guns. 10:00am-Preparing to move to Losheim. Noon-Arrived at Losheim-no German action. 12:52pm-All roads leading east out of Weierweiler are mined. 2:02pm-All roads leading east out of Wadern are mined. 2:53pm-Air Observation Post reports that the bridges are intact in the towns of Buprich Q3591, seven kilometers south of Neunkirchen, Primsweiler, and an estimated eight kilometers south of Neunkirchen. 2:55pm-Direct fire being received from Dogstafe. 3:27pm-At 381975, three gun crews took off when they were fired on. 5:00pm-All roads leading east and northeast out of Weierweiler are mined-type unknown. 5:08pm-Germans in town at 354920. Ten German troops were at 352928 at 4:20pm. A roadblock, supported by small arms is located at 358963. Nebelwerfer located at 350990 and 403959 at 1:00pm. A German is moving east at 381947. 8:00pm-Scattered resistance from strong points near the towns, road junctions and critical points met our advancing forces. Many roadblocks and other defensive works were encountered throughout the division zone. German artillery and nebelwerfer was light. The following towns were cleared; Wahlen Q3099, Noswendel L3703, Wadern L3805, Morscholz, Michelbach Q3496, Lockweiler L4003, Krettnich L4203, Niederkirchen Q3598, Weiskirchen L3306 and Weierweiler L3306.
From the above description, I would guess that the place that Lt. Friel was killed, was Dogstafe, Germany as it is mentioned as a source of direct fire, which was the usual cause of death for tankers. Unfortunately, there are simply too few men left from C & D Companies for me to get further information on where or how Lt. Friel was killed from them. By this point in the war, the 80th Division and 702nd Tank Battalion was moving so fast that records tend to be sketchy. In any case, the Friel family would like to know what happened to Maurice, and if you can help by providing any details about him, they and I would greatly appreciate it. If so, please contact the webmaster.
Ada & Maurice Friel High School Photo
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