World War II Memories

My uncle Wilfred Minielli was a member of the 749th Tank Battalion in World War II; he was wounded December 11, 1944 at Petit-Rederching, a small village just a few miles from the Maginot Line and the city of Bitche. The Battalion landed at Utah Beach, (see Route Map 1 ), participated in the St. Lo breakout with the 6th Armored Division, joined Patton's Army August 6th and formed part of the southern flank at the Falaise Gap, was part of the first armored column to cross the Seine River, bypassed Paris on the way to Belgium (Route Map 2) to help trap the German Army in France, turned to the east and went through Alsace and Lorraine (Route Map 3), spent two months clearing out the German Army from the Forest de Parroy near Luneville, went through the Saverne Gap to Haguenau and Strasbourg, returned through the Gap, fought north through and around the Vosges Forest to Rohrbach and Bitche, retreated to Sarrequemines and Forbach/St. Wendel during the Battle of the Bulge,  returned to Bitche and fought at the breakthrough at the Maginot Line, then helped take southern Germany to end the war.  

The stories my uncle told me (when I was a child) about his experiences led to this attempt to record the memories of others in his battalion. This document is a tribute to a group of men who heroically served their country. Their experiences are recorded here to commemorate their achievements and to serve for our edification and amazement.

The 749th Tank Battalion was assigned to various military units during the war. During this sojourn, the 749th Tank Battalion spent the first five months of its time fighting with the 79th Infantry Division. A summary of these assignments based on the daily operations log (based on actual events, not on official orders of assignment):



1 Jul 1944 3 Dec 1944

First U.S. Army, VIII Corp, 79th Infantry Division, 313th/314th/315th Regiments.
On 6 August, the 749th and the 79th Division joined the 3rd Army of General Patton and stayed with Patton until 21 Oct 1944. After 21 Oct 1944 until 3 December only a portion of the 749th fought with the 79th Division as it headed toward the Saverne Gap and Hagenau/Strasbourg.

21 Jul 1944 30 Jul 1944

83rd Infantry Division: 749th "C" Company only

21 Oct 1944 5 Feb 1945

Seventh Army, 44th Infantry Division - 71st/114th/324th Infantry Regiments

18 Dec 1944 12 Jan 1945

100th Infantry Division, 397th Regiment

15 Feb 1944 -- 8 Mar 1945

70th Infantry Division, 274th/275th/276th Regiments

3 Mar 1945 - 12 Mar 1945

63rd Infantry Division, 253rd/255th Regiments

13 Mar 1945 - 25 Mar 1945

71st Infantry Division, 5th/14th/66th Regiments

26 Mar 1945 - 30 Mar 1945

42nd Infantry Division

31 Mar 1945 - 6 Apr 1945

3rd Army, XX Corps, 65th Infantry Division, 259th/260th/261st Regiments

7 Apr 1945 30 Apr 1945

76th Infantry Division, 259th/260th/417th Regiments

After talking to these men, I came away with two thoughts. First, I cannot imagine how any of these men survived, either physically or mentally. These are the stories of men who have seen German tanks place an armor-piercing shell through their tank from 3,000 yards, killing and wounding others in the tank. Men who have climbed out of a burning tank and dodged enemy machinegun and mortar fire in order to get to safety - some successfully, others not. Men who then climbed back into another tank to have at it again, knowing that their tanks are effective against the enemy tanks at only a few hundred yards. Men who have seen, as one man put it, dead soldiers piled up like cords of wood logs. Amidst tank, artillery, and mortar shells by the thousands, they stayed at their station even though they usually could only see the outside world through a 2 X 5 inch slit. When you finish these pages, I suspect you will share with me a new appreciation of what "combat exhaustion" might mean.

The second thing that struck me about these men is how easily they have borne their burden, how quietly they carry their courage, how gently they have survived the brutality they have seen.

The people interviewed are listed below. Some of the interviews were conducted in person, and some were conducted via telephone. Names with an asterisk provided their comments via the 749th Tank Battalion newsletter. There are also occasional stories given to me by family members who have contacted me.

George Baker, Sergeant, Medical Officer, Company D, 2nd Platoon
Harold Niemeyer, Driver for Captain Redford, Commander Company B
William Kincheloe, Driver, Company B, 3rd Platoon
Jack Tribbey, Sergeant, Company B, Headquarters group.
Clarence Kohler, Driver, Company B, 2nd Platoon
Ellsworth Troutman, Driver, Company B, 2nd Platoon
Robert Cooley, Sergeant, Tank Commander, Company B, 2nd Platoon
William McFadden, Sergeant, Gunner and Tank Commander, Company  B, 2nd Platoon
Clem Osborne, Driver, Company B, 2nd Platoon and 3rd Platoon
Bob Myers, Sergeant, Driver and Tank Commander, Company B, 2nd platoon
Loren Rosencrantz, Lieutenant, Tank Commander and Platoon Leader, Company B, 2nd Platoon
J.W. Breakbill, Sergeant, Driver and Tank Commander, Company B, 2nd Platoon
Leonard Szarowich, Loader, Company B, 1st Platoon
Mr. Swandance (via his daughter Glenda), Company B
*John Jones
*Dale Rozema
*Dudley Coney

Comments and pictures from historians Bruno Renoult and Genevieve Havelange, currently living near Mantes, France are included. Additional background information came from other French sources: Fabrice Avoie (Lemans, France), Christophe Martino (Petit Rederching, France), Ulrich Koch (Griefswalder, Germany). Regis Giard (Loue, France) Marc Betton (Evruex, France: near Caen), Frank Hubert (Wingen-sur-Moder, France). Mireille Fuseleir (Haute-Marne, France), Gerald Mauffre (Joinville, France). Timothe Loock (Bordeaux, France) provided the ship manifests for the return of the 749er's after the war (see below).

The document will also contain, in addition to the actual interviews and my comments (noted as Editor), some actual log entries from the daily operations log (After Action Reports) of the 749th Battalion. These log entries are included to provide a context for the interviews. I have selected them on a purely arbitrary basis - that is, those entries which I found most relevant and interesting (or sometimes astounding). In most cases, a specific log entry will not be the complete log entry for that day, but only a portion of it.

The interviews and log reports are grouped in chronological sets:

Training in Texas/England    Feb 1944 - June 29, 1944

Normandy and the First Month   June 30th, 1944 - Aug 1, 1944

Avranches, Laval, Paris, and Belgium   Aug 5, 1944 - Sep 5, 1944

Belgium, Luneville and Sarrebourg   Sep 6th, 1944 - Nov 19th, 1944

Saverne Gap, Bitche, Maginot Line   Nov 20, 1944 - Dec 15, 1944

Battle Of the Bulge, End of War   Dec 16, 1944 - May 9, 1945

Official Battalion Pictures in England  

          Index by Name  (use this to find which picture a person is on)

          A Company     B Company     C Company     D Company

          Service Company   Medical Detachment   Headquarters Company 


Training Pictures

          From Gordon Mize

          Camp Bowie 1    Camp Bowie 2
          Louisiana           England 1           England 2

          From Desiree Cruz Da' Vila

          Picture 1      Picture 2     Picture 3     Picture 4

Honor Roll


          By Date

          By Name

    Medals By Name

Return To The United States After The War:

         Ship Exchange, left La Havre, France

         View An Image Of The Ship: Also on the ship with the 749th was the 146th Signal Division,
              and the 44th Armored Infantry Battalion (6th Armored Division). Total 2,199.

         Search by Name To Locate By Company

         View Data By Company Created From Ship Manifest
              Company:  A     B     C     D     HQ     MED     SV


          American M4 Medium Tank

          M4 Manual: Front View

          Other Tank Battalions - ArmedForces.Com

          Tiger Tank

          German Tanks in World War II  (opens in separate window)

Last Update: 12/06/2012

David Heathcott



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