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Staff Sergeant Matthew Mangiacotti

Company B, 702nd Tank Battalion

 

The following comes from the 702 News, the newspaper published by the 702nd Tank Battalion "Red Devils" just after the war:

Mousson Hill

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 relieve 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 commission.  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.]

 

Recently, the family of "Matt" Mangiacotti contacted me, and they were kind enough to share some photos related to Matt.  Matt's nickname was "Rocky", and his tank was named "Rocky's Rough Riders".  If anyone has information or photos of Matt, please contact the webmaster, and I will pass it along to his family.

 

Shadow Box Montage Tribute To Matt

 

Corporal George Sidella, Who Pulled Matt From The Burning Tank

 

Corporal Albert Liccioli

 

"Rocky's Rough Riders"

 

 

 

 

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