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A Company, 1st Battalion, 117th Infantry, 30th Division

Discussion in 'Those Who Served' started by Carole C Taylor, Jun 7, 2019.

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  1. Carole C Taylor

    Carole C Taylor New Member

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    I have been trying to search for any information about the time my father served in WW2.
    He was with the 1st Battalion, 117th Infantry, 30th Division, Company A.
    He was a pow - captured on Aug 7th 1944.
    Any help or leads for information would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,
    Carol
     
  2. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    If you are looking for information about your father, it would help if we had his name and service number, if you know it. Any other information you already have would also be helpful, too.
     
  3. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I changed the thread title to accurately reflect the correct unit nomenclature. You can also refer to it as A Company, 117th IR, 30th ID. dropping the battalion reference. A Company was always in the 1st Battalion of any infantry regiment. There were two other infantry regiments in the 30th ID - the 119th and 120th.

    Could you provide his name? I have some 30th ID records and did have contact with some men of the 117th, who have since died.

    On Aug 7th, the 117th IR was fighting north of Mortain, France, in an engagement the 30th ID is famous for. The stand by the 2nd Battalion/120th IR/30th ID on Hill 314 east of Mortain is legendary.

    A Company of the 117th Infantry Regiment (A/117) was defending St Barthelemy, north of Mortain, against an assault by the 1st SS Panzer Division (Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler). A/117 was supported by a tank destroyer platoon, from the 823rd TD Battalion, which was attached to the 30th ID. I've been to St. Barthelemy, although we did not stop, as the veteran I was with fought south of Mortain.

    There was significant fighting all day long on the day your father was captured, with heavy losses on both sides. A/117th was essentially destroyed. The next day there were one officer and 27 men accounted for. An rifle company at full strength had 193 men, although by Aug 7th, your father's company was no where near full strength.

    There are large numbers of books that talk about the fighting at Mortain and many provide names of soldiers. I might can give you the location close to where your father was captured as the battle is well documented.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
  4. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I have the battalion and regimental history books. My father was D Company (Weapons Company,1st Battalion), 117th. August 7th was horrific with probes all night and then a major armored advance right into the line at dawn. Two rifle companies, A and C, were on the line and held until ordered to withdraw at about 0900. Casualties were 80 to 90% in those two companies.
    Even books down at the battalion level don't commonly mention individual soldiers unless they are cited for an award, but I'll check if you provide the name.

    .
     
  5. Carole C Taylor

    Carole C Taylor New Member

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  6. Carole C Taylor

    Carole C Taylor New Member

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    Thank you for the responses.
    His name is Carl M Chittum.
    He was 42 when I was born in 1965 he would never talk about the time he was in the army. He passed away in 2002.
    Thank you again,
    Carol
     
  7. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Curlew History (1st Bn, 117th) entry: Chitum, Carl M, Rt 1, Fairfield, VA, S/Sgt; LWB, POW, 7 Aug, CIB DUB (M); N NF. There is no other mention of him in the account, which isn't surprising since they were overrun by panzers until reduced to individual fighting pockets that eventually surrendered. Nobody was left to tell the tales of what happened that morning. There is some controversy here because of the failure to withdraw these two companies when it became apparent they were fighting panzers with little support and poorly placed anti-tank guns. The simple truth is that they were deployed at and after dark without the usual telephone lines for communication with the battalion back at St. Barthelemy. The radios worked poorly in the hilly country of that river valley and nobody really knew what was happening until it was too late. They got right into St. Barthelemy and captured the battalion HQ. The remaining men backed off a few hundred yards, formed a new line and stopped the advance just beyond the village.

    .
     
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  8. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I have a roster of sorts compiled by the late Frank Towers, of ~30,000 men who served with the 30th ID during the war.
    He has Carl M Chittum, Staff Sergeant captured MIA (missing in action) 7 Aug and subsequently listed as POW.(prisoner of war). MIA was sort of a catchall term they used if the disposition of the soldier was unknown. Towers also shows he earned a Purple Heart.

    There is another level below "company"- "platoon." Did he ever say which platoon of A Company he was in?

    As KodiakBeer mentioned above, the events leading up to Aug 7th were significant. The Germans launched heavy attack on the area around Mortain in an effort to push to Avranches on the coast and cut off supply to the US 3rd Army that was spilling out into France. A and C Companies of the 117th were defending the St. Barthelemy, north of Mortain against a concerted attack by tanks and infantry during the night and early morning. They have very little with which to stop the tanks and were overwhelmed.

    Company A was holding the village with the supporting AT (anti-tank) guns of the 823rd TD Battalion. They had arrived hastily and did not really have much time to prepare earthworks and the like before they were hammered by artillery, tanks, and infantry. To their northwest was B/117, which was hit hard and began to fold. C/117, to the southeast also begin to disintegrate under heavy armored pressure. As B/117 and C/117 retreated, that left A/117 still in the village. The AT guns were knocked out and A/117 tried to use bazookas to knock out the German armor, but were by and large prevented from doing so by the accompanying German infantry.

    There is a passage in the book Victory at Mortain (Reardon, 2002, pg 129) that states "A number of soldiers from A Company, seeing that they almost surrounded, tried to escape capture by infiltrating to the west and north under cover of thick fog. Some made it safely to the American lines; others were captured by the Germans. The weapons platoon surrendered after firing off their final rounds of 60mm mortar ammunition." Perhaps this is a reference to your father's capture?

    A "weapons platoon" was part of the rifle company that contained mortars and heavy machine guns.
     
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  9. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Company B was actually in reserve, but since A had never found the unit to their north in the dark, the Germans passed through that gap and right into B Company. The map below cuts off the northern part of the action at St. Barth, but both 2nd Panzer and the Recon Company of the 1st SS Panzer (Knittel) moved under the area labeled "scale of miles" on the map to run right into B.
    As confused as the action was on the American side, the Germans were ever more scattered having had to form up in the dark and advance not really knowing where the roads were or the American line was.

    St. Barthelmy Battle Map.jpg
     
  10. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    This might be a better map, from Victory at Mortain, pg 125

    Did your map come from Saving the Breakout, by Featherstone?

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
  11. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Your map isn't showing up. I don't recall where i got the map I'm showing.

    .
     
  12. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Odd, I see it in my post and in your post.

    Anyone else see not see the map in post #10?
     
  13. Carole C Taylor

    Carole C Taylor New Member

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    Thank you for all the information.
    He never talked about it.
    Is there any information about where he was held captive and the conditions he had to endure.
    Thank you,
    Carol
     
  14. Carole C Taylor

    Carole C Taylor New Member

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    No I can't see the maps in the posts.
     
  15. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
  16. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    I'm not seeing any of them, Jeff.
     
  17. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    He was held at Stalag 3C Alt Drewitz Brandenburg, Prussia 52-14. Here is his record in the NARA WWII POW files.
     
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  18. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    Slipdigit likes this.
  19. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    No map for me.
     
  20. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Good show!
     

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