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T/5 Louis J. Archambeau

By Terry D. Janes 

 

 

T/5 Louis J. Archambeau hailed from Chicago, Illinois.  Louis was the son of Louis and Violet Archambeau who lived on West 50th Street in Chicago.  On October 31, 1939, Louis enlisted in the Army.  Louis was of French ancestry.  In December 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge, Louis was in Company C, 1st Battalion, 317th Infantry Regiment and his job was infantry rifleman.

 

As the 317th Infantry Regiment reached Neiderfeulen, Luxembourg, it became imperative for the regiment to take and secure the road net north of there along the mountain ridges.  This road was being used by the Germans to supply their forward troops directly from Germany itself.  The village of Kehmen, Luxembourg sat on that road, atop the ridge that soon became known as "Bloody Knob".  For a veteran combat unit like the 80th Division and its attached units, taking a village the size of Kehmen was something they did several times a day, and not a big challenge.  The German military was genius at defensive warfare, however, and had turned the mountains and valleys of Luxembourg into fortresses and killing zones.

 

The 319th had already made a brief attempt to take Kehmen, but ran into very stiff resistance.  The 319th was needed more to the west and northwest, so the 317th was assigned the task of taking Kehmen and then Bourscheid to the east.  The 317th sent it's 3rd Battalion into the fray first, to take Kehmen.  The 3rd Battalion quickly ran into very stiff resistance, and had to fight hard for every yard of ground gained.  The Germans had artillery, mortar and machine gun positions carefully placed and spaced so that they all supported each other, yet all provided complete cover over every inch of ground the Americans had to cover.  Add in the knee deep snow and brutal cold the Americans had to endure as they trudged up the mountain, and it is easy to see why this was such a dreadful battle. 

 

Behind the 3rd Battalion, the 317th's 1st Battalion added depth to the American lines.  The 2nd Battalion was mostly in reserve and filling in where needed.  Company C, 1st Battalion dug foxholes in the frozen earth and tried to take cover from the hellish artillery fire they were being subjected to.  One of those men in Company C was T/5 Louis Archambeau.

 

A family member of Louis Archambeau sent me a copy of Louis Archambeau's Death Certificate.  From the Death Certificate, I learned that Louis had been declared MIA on December 26, 1944.  He was not declared KIA until February 23, 1945, when his body was finally found.  Louis had a Life Insurance policy that would send money to his parents Louis and Violet.  Louis's unit was simply listed as 317th Regiment, but which company he was assigned to, was not listed.

 

Recently, I began the search anew for information about Louis Archambeau.  Attempts had been made to scour the 317th records to determine what company Louis was in, and what that company was doing at the time he died.  With a roughly 5,000-man regiment, searching through 70-year-old records for one man was like finding a needle in a haystack under a haystack.  I finally found Louis in Company C, 1st Battalion, 317th Regiment.

 

On December 26th, 1944 seven men from Company C were declared MIA (Missing In Action), a squad leader and six riflemen.  On that same day, a surgical technician from the 317th Medical Detachment also went missing.  1st Battalion HQ reported being dug in at the base of Bloody Knob and receiving heavy concentrations of artillery fire, which caused them to dig in further.  The next day, their position became unbearable, and they withdrew to the relative safety of Neiderfeulen.  The names of the missing men were:

 

Cpl. Andrew Mihalsky 35065497

Tec 5 Louis J. Archambeau 6725546

Pvt. Claude E. Dailey 39053548

Pvt. Rufus S. Carter 31465206

Pvt. Lester E. Powell 37743696

Pvt. Joseph H. Rank 35838313

Pvt. Charles N. Holmes 37490267

 

And the Surgical Technician:

 

Sgt. Robert B. Booker 38128405

 

 

 

 

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