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US Army

Interview of Captain Charles Mitchell, 526th A.I.B.

Personal Narrative of the Commanding Officer
Of Company "A" 526th Armored Infantry Bn.
 
Interview of Captain Charles Mitchell held by Captain Franklin Ferriss
Historian, A.U.S.
XIX Corps, U.S. Army
 
CP of 526th Armored Infantry Battalion on 7 January 1945
 
We arrived at Stavelot at 0400 hours, 18 December 1944.  We picked up Major Paul Solis and Lieutenant John Pehovic from Battalion Headquarters.  Company "A" and one platoon of 825th Tank Destroyer parked on road on outskirts of Stavelot, while Major Solis, Lieutenant John Pehovic and myself went into town to get the situation from the Engineer Company that was in the town at the time.  They had a road block across the river on the hill and it had been fired on and the men retreated back into town.  I sat up our CP in the Engineer building near the bridge.  At 0430 hours I sent the 2nd Platoon and one section of Tank Destroyer along Route #4 to the left to occupy the Engineer's road block.  I sent the 3rd Platoon at the same time along Route #4 to the right to establish a road block at the road junction.  The 1st Platoon was in positions around the CP for internal security.  The Antitank platoon and TD platoon less one section of guns, was held in reserve to be used as the situation warranted.
 
At 0500 hours the 2nd and 3rd Platoons engaged the enemy in force on the way to their objectives, and were forced to withdraw back across the bridge with a loss of 2 tracks of the 2nd Platoon and some of their personnel.  The 1st Platoon was sent to take up positions near the bridge to cover the withdrawal of the 2nd and 3rd Platoons.  At 0600 hours the CP moved to the square by the church.  The 2nd Platoon was withdrawn and put in reserve and the 1st Platoon occupied positions on the right side of the road near the bridge and the 3rd Platoon went into position on the left side of the road near the bridge.  One antitank gun was dispatched to the bridge for antitank protection the TD platoon on the road near the bridge covering the road leading from the river up the hill on the other side. 
 
On or about 0800 hours two tanks were reported by the 2nd Platoon moving down Route #4.  The Tank Destroyer platoon engaged the enemy and knocked out one of them.  The other tank continued to the bridge where it was taken under fire by S/Sergeant Irvine with a bazooka and the tank continued across the bridge where it came under direct fire of the antitank gun manned by Sergeant Carl Smith and Pfc Roscoe Taylor.  They fired point blank at the tank.  The tank fired its 88mm gun at them but was unable to depress its muzzle far enough to hit them.  In the face of approaching tank Sergeant Carl Smith and Pfc Roscoe Taylor continued to fire at the tank until it threatened to overrun the gun and its machine gun forced them to abandon the gun. 
 
At 0900 hours we radioed for reinforcements but we received no reply.  At 0930 hours the CP withdrew to the high ground along route #3 and Major Paul Solis gave the order to evacuate the town.  Nine tracks left at that time.  Some of the men were pinned down near the bridge and Lieutenant James Evans was killed.  Lieutenant James Whellwright organized the remaining men and withdrew up the street to the square where he passed through a group of men organized by Lieutenant John Pehovic to hold until the rest of the men could be evacuated.
 
 
Lieutenant Doherty continued to fire at the tanks until a tank entered the street occupied by his gun and took him under direct fire.  I ordered him to withdraw.  Some of his men joined mine and we mounted up in two trucks and evacuated the town.  Reinforcements arrived at 1230 hours.  Company "A", 526th Armored Infantry Battalion moved forward to high ground north of the town at 1230 hours, to act as flank protection for the 117th Infantry.  We were relieved at 1700 hours and placed in mobile reserve.  We bivouacked at the crossroads north of Stavelot at 1730 hours.  Drew rations and ammunition from the 117th Infantry Regiment.
 
The following day, 19 December 1944, we moved back to the high ground Northwest of town.  Lieutenant James Wheelwright had organized the remaining men into a platoon, and he was placed in command of the platoon.  At 1700 hours, the company moved into the line to fill the gap between "A" and "C" Company of the 1st Battalion, 117th Infantry Regiment.  We established CP on high ground 1 ½ miles north of Stavelot at 1730 hours.  We moved CP back 2 miles of Stavelot at 0700 hours, 20 December 1944 and attached to 1st Battalion, 117th Infantry Regiment.  Lieutenant John Pehovic left the CP for Battalion Headquarters at 1105 hours, 20 December 1944.
 
Relieved from line at 1115 hours, 20 December 1944 and returned to bivouac area.  We issued rations and ammunition, filled mussette bags with one blanket for each man.  Issued entrenching shovels and returned to the line at 1300 hours, 20 December.  We established CP on high ground ¼ mile north of Stavelot, north of railroad.  We received rations, ammunition, and gas at 1400 hours.  Company went into defensive position in support of Company "C", 1st Battalion, 117th Infantry under artillery and mortar fire.
 
21 December we are still in support of Company "C", 1st Battalion, 117th Regiment.  Weather - cloudy and snow.  Morale-good.
 
22 December 1944 we are on line with Company "A" 1st Battalion, 117th Regiment.  Again under artillery and mortar fire, morale-good; weather-cloudy.  Two officers and 103 enlisted men attached to the 120th Infantry at Malmedy and Stavelot.  Lieutenant James Whellwright and Pfc Thompson and Pfc West blew up a foot bridge under enemy fire. 
 
23 December 1944, company on line with Company "A", 1st Battalion, 117th Infantry under enemy mortar and artillery fire.  Snipers still in the town and enemy plane strafed the town at 1600 hours.  Morale-good, weather-fair and cold.
 
24 December 1944, company on line with Company "A", 1st Battalion, 117th Infantry and repelled two enemy counterattacks.  Enemy planes appeared today and our own air force out in strength.  Weather-clear and cold, morale-good.  US Air Force bombed Malmedy and Captain Charles Mitchell, 1st Sergeant Lowry, Pfc Jack Mocnik, and Pvt Schottlaender were cut off by a bomb crater and had to spend the night at Service Company, 526th Armored Infantry Battalion.
 
25 December 1944, Service Company, 526th Armored Infantry Battalion sent turkey sandwiches, coffee and cranberry sauce to the men on the line.  Morale-good, weather-cold and clear.
 
26 December 1944 the company still on the line of defense with Company "A", 1st Battalion, 117th Infantry.  US Air Force bombed Stavelot.  One casualty, Pvt Shureck with minor wound in thigh. 
 
Organization pretty well accounted for now and up to the present has lost 2 halftracks, 16 EM wounded, 3 EM missing in action, 1 officer and 4 EM killed in action.
 
Source: N.A.R.A..

Captain Charles MITCHELL

Company "A"

526th Armored Infantry Bn

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium