Company "C" History
Robert C. Jones
Isaac H. Lucky
Company "C" was one of the original Companies that formed the nucleaus around which later was built the 628th Tank Destroyer
Battalion. Away back in 1941 we were known as the 28th Division Anti-Tank Battalion (Provisional). Our first taste of
army life started at Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. We received men from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, who had just finished their
thirteen weeks basic training. While at the Gap we did quite a bit of firing, the anti-tank weapon at that time, was an
American 75 mm. We moved from our home station to A.P. Hill, Virginia, where we undertook a series of field problems. We
had our taste of living outdoors in tents; the flies and mosquitoes certainly were a menace. At the end of our training
those who could make it were given a pass to go home. Others were given furloughs when we returned to the Gap.
Webmaster's Note: A provisional unit is one that is temporary or conditional. It means the 28th Anti-Tank Battalion did
not officially exist. Therefore, members of a provisional unit, for administrative purposes, are usually assigned on paper to
various units within the Division.
In October, we moved out for the Carolina maneuvers; this was our first experience at maneuvering against other units. At the
time, we didn't have many weapons so we had to simulate quite often, yet we managed to survive. These maneuvers brought out
our mistakes, which were many. On weekends, we were given passes to near-by towns, where we were greeted with much Southern
On 3 December, 1941, maneuvers ended and we started back to Indiantown Gap by convoy. While enroute, we bivouaced at South
Boston, Virginia where we were informed that Pearl Harbor had been attacked by the Japs Air Force. We proceeded to our home
station, where we were again given furloughs. They were cut short and we were called back. We then proceeded to Camp Livingston,
Louisiana, by motor convoy. This trip will always be remembered by the men, it was early January when we started out, and
bitter cold. Nights we would stop at Army camps and move out in the mornings. After many cases of sickness we finally arrived
at Camp Livingston.
While at Camp Livingston, many candidates were sent to OCS and a short time later several cadres were sent out. We received
recruits which were given thirteen weeks of basic training by Officers and NCOs from our battalion. The remainder of the Company
participated in tactical problems while the recruits trained. Once again, we heard that wonderful word "furlough" and off we
started for fifteen days of freedom.
Webmaster's Note: The term cadre refers to a nucleus of trained personnel around which a larger organization can be
built and trained. Example: a cadre of corporals who train recruits.
In August 1942, we moved to Camp Hood, Texas, which was the Tank Destroyer Headquarters. At this camp we received training
that proved to be very helpful. We were taught how to improvise charges for destroying tanks and armored vehicles, how to use
small arms weapons, and "Judo" in close quarter fighting. We also went through a place called "Nazi Village" where a team
consisting of three men supporting each other would proceed down the street, cleaning out each house as they progressed. For
this type of fighting, one used such weapons as a rifle, pistol, sub-machine gun, hand grenades, or knife. It was very
exciting. Further training consisted of going through the infiltration course, which was our baptism of fire. We crawled under
barbed wire fences, under machine gun fire, with explosions going off all around, as we moved slowly through the mud and water.
Another interesting part of the training was "Judo" where we were taught the art of self defense. For many weeks men went about
crippled up with sore muscles from being thrown around. Our training was strenous but we really enjoyed it.
On 20 November, 1942, we proceeded to Camp Bowie, Texas, where we took tests in small arms firing. It was here that we broke
the camp record for the fastest twenty-five mile hike with a full field pack.
In January, 1943, we moved by rail to Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, where we received our first Tank Destroyers. Many weeks
were spent learning to drive them and on care and maintenance. Next came amphibious training with the 28th Infantry Divison,
which was commanded at that time by General Omar Bradley. This training covered such operations as beach landings, with the
use of everything from rubber boats to LST's. We ended out training with
a large scale amphibious landing of the entire division and attached troops on a nearby island.
It was during this operation that several men of the division were drowned due to the bad weather and rough seas. Weekends
were usually spent on pass and Tallahassee, the capital of Florida, was one of our favorite cities.
It was during this operation that we were greeted by a major from the Tank Destroyer School. He was nicknamed by the men
"Major Midnight" because of his persistency in forcing the men to work eighteen hours each day. He was sent for the sole
purpose of teaching us motor maintenance, and this we can truthfully say, he did. During those days we would ride a few miles
on dusty roads, return to the motor park, change oil, clean and then grease the Destroyers. He really tried to work us to
the stump and when he could draw no more blood he left. To say that we were glad to get rid of him, would be putting it mildly.
After several weeks, we moved to the Tennessee maneuver area. Tennessee proved to be wonderful country for tank fighting. We
maneuvered with and against tank and infantry divisions. Here, all our previous training proved to be worth while. Maneuvers
ended and we returned to Camp Rucker.
This time our stay here was short, as we moved to Camp Pickett, Virginia,
on 27 September, 1943. It was here that we took one of those strict physical examinations that even Frank Sinatra could have passed.
Our stay was short and we made a side trip to Camp Bradford, Virginia, for advanced amphibious training. Then we moved to
West Virginia for mountain training. During our stay there we lived like a bunch of gypsies. We were issued sleeping bags
and winter boots. Some of the more fortunated managed to find sleeping quarters in small huts. The people of Davis, Thomas,
and Elkins, West Virginia, will always be remembered by us for their generosity and hospitality in providing us with sleeping
accommodations during the week-ends.
In early December we moved by rail to Fort Dix, New Jersey. We turned in our Destroyers, did some additional small arms firing
and drew personal equipment. Here we received our last furloughs and soon after, traveled to
Camp Shanks, New York, the P.O.E.
Webmaster's Note: The term P.O.E. refers to the Point of Embarkation
At Camp Shanks we were given a last physical examination to determine our fitness for overseas. On 28 January 1944, we boraded
an English ship, the Acquatania. On 29 Janaury we left port and proceeded on our journey to Scotland. A number of the men
proved they were not good sailors, which was due mainly to the food, a type of which we were unaccustomed.
Webmaster's Note: Here, as in the other 628 Company histories, the ship is referenced as the Acquatania. In fact, the ship's
name is spelled Aquatania.
On 6 February 1944 we landed in Scotland and proceeded by ferry, train, and truck to Packington Park, in the vicinity of Coventry
near Birmingham, England. While here, we received new Tank Destroyers, trained for a while and on 17 March 1944, we moved
to Brecon Range, South Wales, for firing. We fired approximately 2000 rounds and had a firing test that proved successful.
On 3 April we moved out via Packington Park to Dorchester, England. It was here that the company was used to marshall troops
who were to participate in battle on "D-Day". We stayed here until 6 of July at which time we moved to Camp D2 near Bournemouth.
Here we put new tracks on, greased our tanks, drew our basic load of ammunition and moved into a marshalling area. Leaving
this area on the second day, we loaded ship and crossed the English Channel on our way to France. Arriving on the Continent
on 29 July 1944 Company "C" was ready for battle. As being appropriate they started singing the song which they had adopted
way back in 1941. The words of which are:
THE FIGHTING COMPANY "C"
For when the doughboys are in the trenches,
And the Cavalry is out on patrol;
They'll be fighting in the air,
The airplanes are there,
They're all right as far as they go;
There is one thing you'll have to agree;
The guts of the whole damn army,
Is the fighting Company "C".
The arrival in France of Company "C" started what was to be a long list of firsts for this unit. The Headquarters, which consisted
of 4 officers and 34 enlisted men, were the first members of the Battalion to land on the continent; this, was itself, a great
thrill to all concerned. The eventful hour and day was 2300 hours, 30 July 1944 and at 0115 hours the next day, the remainder
of the Company arrived. From transient Area B, where the Battalion assembled, the units moved to Le Valdecie, France. Thus,
we spent our first day on French soil.
The fateful, long awaited day finally arrived. At 1715 hours, on the 2nd day of August 1944, the Company received its alert
order for combat. Morale immediately shot up and a bit of nervous tension was felt by all.
For the next four days nothing but movement was done trying to catch the ever moving forward units. Finally, on the move from
St. James, France to Aussey, France, our first contact with the enemy occurred. Alas and alack, snipers. A report submitted
read as follows: "First contact with enemy snipers this date. Damage done by enemy snipers this date, nil; morale of men,
excellent. Result of enemy action causes alertness among men."
After this preliminary introduction of fire, Company "C", now known as "Victory C", was attached to CCR, of the 5th Armored
Division, with whom the Company was later to shine in glory and tragedy. Further attachment was to Task Force Hamburg and the
first mission was to seize bridges along the river at Monce, Averres, and Rutiz. The company's mission was to provide flank
protection in form of road blocks at the various road junctions.
August 10th found the company in a lone role while protecting the flanks of the main column. The following actions took place;
captured 3 prisoners at RJ 1 C 75 and N 155. Captured 15 prisoners at La Perriere. Knocked out one command car and killed
5 Germans at RJ GC 4 and GC 77. Attacked the town of Le Mesle, knocking out 3 half tracks, 2 motorcycles, one Mark IV tank,
took 3 prisoners, and killed approximately 15 men. Road blocked the town until the column moved through and then proceeded
on with mission, and to sum up an eventful day another command car was destroyed 2 miles east of Le Mesle.
Thus the fighting Company "C", brought its first active encounter with the enemy to a successful conclusion and thenceforth
continued attack took place. Closing of the Falaise Gap, Le Bouz, St. Loenard, Le Pry and Hanas, just specks on the map,
took on a meaning to all the men. Slowly but surely the men became hardened. The three firing platoons were attached to Task
Force Boyer and Task Force Hamburg and set up road blocks. German 88 mm guns, German OP's, etc., all began to fall victim
to the striking power of the company. Following is the day by day account of the company's actions, the days are taken at
random so we will say - August 12 through August 19th: August 12 - CCR's mission changed to that of securing and road
blocking at Le Bourg, St. Leonard, and Gace. 1st Platoon attached to Task Force Hamburg; 2nd Platoon attached to Task Force
Boyer; 3rd Platoon attached to 95th Field Artillery. Task Force Boyer reached road junctions at La Puy au Hanas and also
Task Force Hamburg. 1st Platoon assisted Task Foce Hamburg in knocking out 12 vehicles (2 half-tracks, 3 trucks, 5 command
cars, and 2 ambulances, the latter being used to transport arms and equipment) 2nd Platoon knocked out one 88 mm gun and
a German OP. First casualty, S/Sgt. Drost, who was wounded by enemy artillery fire. August 13: 1st Platoon supported married
company at Le Bourg St. Leonard; 2nd Platoon remained in position; 3rd Platoon supported company from 15th Infantry in taking
Exames and setting up road block. Aug. 14; Company attached to CCB located 2 miles Northeast of Sees. CCB's mission was to
seize Dreux and the river crossing south of Eure River. Company moved with column, with the mission of providing protection
against tank attack. The column continued its march. Aug. 15; Company pulled into bivouac area at Marville. 3rd Platoon
assigned for anti-tank defense, 1st Platoon attached to 95th Field Artillery for anti-tank defense. August 16: Supported
15th Infantry in attack on Dreux. 3rd Platoon road blocked Dreux from North; 1st Platoon plus one Infantry Platoon seized
river crossing and Eure River bridge was blown up. No losses by enemy action. Company crossed river with CCB. 1st Platoon
attached to 15th Infantry; 2nd Platoon attached to 71st Field Artillery; 3rd Platoon in reserve. Aug. 17; CCB's mission was
to set up road block two miles east of Bonnieres and 5 miles west of Pacy. 1st and 3rd Platoons attached to task forces on
this mission. 2nd Platoon attached to 47th Field Artillery. Aug. 18: No change in situation. Aug 19: CCB given mission of
attacking north of Seine River. 1st Platoon supported 15th Infantry in attack on large wooded area and the 1st and 3rd
Platoons provided anti-tank defense for the southeast sector of the woods.
Webmaster's Note: The acronym OP in the above paragraph refers to Observation Post.
Thus we find "Victory C" a hardened fighting unit, spearheading, fighting for what we feel is right; time and again friends
have fallen, disfigured bodies litter the roads, but on and on, the slinking figure of death continously hovers over your
head - but on and on - Senlis, Mantes, Compiegne Forest, Paris, Noyon, Valenciennes, Conde, Belgium; cities one never
dreamed of seeing; La Victoria, "Vive les Americans", "Vive les Allies", were the cries of the liberated. More fighting,
on and on until finally the words "Vive les Allies" died out; in it place was "Ich nich Nazi"; so was our campaign through
France and Belgium. The move continued to the border of Luxembourg, the next country for liberation.
On September 13, Company "C" was attached to CCR of the 5th Armored Divison. We were given the mission of breaking through
the Siegfried Line and penetrating into Germany near the town of Wallendorf. We move into Wallendorf without much trouble,
capturing 10 prinsoners from pill boxes. We had road blocks north and south of the town and consolidated our positions for
the night. From the way we went in it looked like the going was going to be easy. We moved through fog to attack Hommersdingen
and Cruchten. Part of the company provided flank protection for the 10th Tank Battalion; the rest of the company remained
at road blocks for CCR Headquarters. The objectives were taken and consolidated. On the 15th of September, we were assigned
with the 10th Tank Battalion the mission of taking Bettingen from the west. We moved through Stockem without contacting
the enemy. On the outside of Oldorf we were met with intense enemy artillery fire from the south and east. We then moved
back to Oldorf and consolidated our positions. All during the evening we were shelled. From 15 September to 19 September
all positions were held against German counterattacks and artillery fire. Due to the distance that had been penetrated
into Germany, it was not possible to attempt further movement until the flanks were protected. Orders to withdraw were
given on 19 September. The third Platoon knocked out three tanks and suffered three killed and one wounded due to artillery
fire; counterattacks were many. We withdrew to the vicinity of Diekirch, Luxembourg completeing the assembly on the
morning of 20 September. From 20 September to 28 October we did very little fighting, doing mostly road blocks and performing
maintenance. We remained at Obr Forsback, Germany. On October 29, we turned in our M-10 Tank Destroyers
and were given M-36's. On 1st November, the Company was
given the mission of supporting fire of the 95th FA Battalion. We moved south of Kalterherburg, Germany. The 1st and 2nd
Platoons secured positions and set up for indirect fire mission; the rest of Company stayed in assembly area near Camp
Elsenborn. Poor weather hindered movement. Platoons stayed in position until 11 November. At that time they then moved by
way of Eysen and Kettinis to bivouac area west of Wallhorn, Belgium. CCR was given the mission of supporting the 4th
Infantry Division in the attack of Hurtgen, Brandenburg, and Bergstein, Germany, and to hold Brandenburg and a near-by town
after they had been taken. The Company closed into bivouac area just before darkness and set up for the night. Enemy
artillery fire was heavy and it was determined that we could expect to encounter a great many mine fields. 30 November we
moved to Roetgen. An attack was attempted on Hurtgen but was repulsed due to enemy action such as mines, artillery, mortar
fire, and anti-tank guns. Company remained in position for the rest of the time and occupied defensive positions.
The battle for Hurtgen and surrounding towns turned out to be the bloodiest battle ever known. Both the enemy and our lines
suffered heavy casualties. You couldn't find a tree in Hurtgen Forest which wasn't marked by shell fragments. Our losses
for Hurtgen, on 6th December, we lost 10 men killed, 10 men wounded, and one man missing in action. On 8th December, we
moved to a bivouac area at Rahrath, Belgium and rested up, performed maintenance and awaited reinforcements. On the 14th
December, we received men and started to train them. On 16th December we moved to the east to an assembly area in Rotgen,
Germany where the Company was attached to the 10th Tank Bn. The enemy counter-attacked and the battle of the Bulge started.
The Company on 1st January moved from billets in Abee, Belgium and joined the 82nd Airborne Division. the 1st Platoon was
attached to the 504th Regiment (Inf.) in defensive positions. The 2nd Platoon was with the 504th Regt.; the 3rd Platoon
was with the 325th Airborne Regt. We pushed forward and recaptured Ameomont, Fosse, and Odrimont. All through the bulge
our losses were light. We had one man killed and one wounded. On 17th Jan. we were relieved and put in XVIII Corps (AB)
Reserve. While in reserve, we performed maintenance on our vehicles, white washed our destroyers and rested.
Webmaster's Note: The author's assertion that the battle for Hurtgen Forest "turned out to be the bloodiest battles ever
known," is not far off the mark. I've seen several casualty numbers and all of them are staggering. The book, The Bloody
Forest by Gerald Astor places the number of American casualties at, "24,000 dead, wounded, captured, or missing GI's with
an additional 9,000 disabled by frozen or wet feet, respiratory ailments, and other nonbattle injuries". In comparison, the
Battle of the Bulge suffered 81,000 American casualties including 23,000 captured and 19,000 killed. For more information
on the Battle of Hurtgen Forest see my links on the main 5AD web page.
On the 26th of Jan. we rejoined the 5th Armored Division and moved to Herbesthal, Belgium and stayed in 9th Army reserve for
the rest of the month. On 5th Feb. we moved to Colmond, Holland and conducted orientation classes, maintenance, and enjoyed
a rest period. On 25th Feb. we moved to Beggindorf, Germany and finally crossed the Roer River. The rest of the story
happened so fast it is hard to describe. From the 31st March to 5th April the break through from the Rhine River to the Wesser
River was in progress. 8th April found us crossing the Wesser River to the Elbe River, where we were held up. We then went
back for mopping up operations from Salzwedel, Germany to Dannenberg, Germany. Finally, on 9th May, the Germans surrendered
The fighting Company "C" really lived up to the name adopted by the men of the outfit a long time ago. It has the distinction
of being the first unit of the Battalion to land in France, and it has the further distinction of being the first Tank
Destroyer Company to have set foot on German soil; this includes the entire United States Army.
During the time the Company was ably commanded by Capt. (now Major) Hal A. Burgess, Jr.. The 1st Platoon by Lt. Frank E. Hurt,
Jr.; 2nd Platoon by Herbert A. Pratte; 3rd Platoon by Lt. Seymour Feldman. During its brief but eventful stay in Germany, the
first time, the Company took a costly amount of enemy equipment and personnel. It later proved to be only a small portion
of the damage inflicted on the enemy by the Company during its adventurous encounters in future missions and assignments.
The Hurtgen Forest, the Ardennes "Bulge", the Roer to the Rhine River Campaign, Rhine to Wesser River, and then to the Elbe
River, were further missions the Company took part in. With the exception of the Ardennes "Bulge", the Company was closely
supporing the spearheading CCR, of the 5th Armored Division. During the above campaigns the company was commanded by Captain
Robert C. Jones.
The following is an official account of enemy equipment and personnel knocked out by this Company:
16 tanks 15 General Purpose Vehicles
4 88s 20 Pill Boxes
3 field Pieces 1 Bazooka Nest
3 Armored Cars 2 Me 109s
12 Trucks (1/2 ton) 1 Stuka Dive Bomber
Infliceted on Enemy: 2 Flak Gun Positions
1 Officer Killed
392 Enlisted Men (plus an uncounted number of others that were killed)
Today, we feel deeply sorrowful because of the absence in our ranks of many old faces. They were friends, tried and true
and we cannot help but recall them to our memory. For, without their aid we would not have been so successful in fulfilling
our missions. Their determination to win, to fight through to victory, inspired us all with an incentive and an ambition
that could not be stilled. These men killed or wounded in action have commanded our deepest respects. Some of the wounded
are scattered throughout this theatre, others have been discharged.
The men wounded and no longer with us are:
Sgt. Samuel Angel T/5 James A. Feltman
Sgt. Louis J. Wintz Pfc. Johnny L. Copeland
Sgt. William J. Kane Pfc. Romeo Mariano
Sgt. Thomas E. Walker Pfc. Jay Terry
T/4 Stephen Medack Pfc. Frank G. Wochim
Cpl. Curtis W. Griffith Pfc. William C. Miller
T/5 Anthony Riccobono
The men killed in aciton to whom the credit and tribute they deserve can never equal their sacrifice:
1st Lt. Benjamin Smith T/5 Thomas VanderVeen
Sgt. Charles Leo T/5 Louis DiOrio
Sgt. James W. Luvender T/5 Peter Kowalchik
Sgt. John A. Hydu Pfc. Earl V. Ward
Sgt. Woodrow W. Woods Pfc. Earl Higley
Cpl. Ashley C. Long Pfc. Frank Mozina
Cpl. Herman Barth Pfc. Willie B. Greene
Cpl. Henry Goffart Pfc. Joseph G. Yakaitis, Jr.
Cpl. Casimir Wydrezenski Pvt. John J. Lawler