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Jame’s Father

Melvin E. DAVIS – 811th Tank Destroyer Battalion

Mel served with the 811th Tank Destroyer.  He grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and joined the U.S. Army in 1943 after he graduated from High School one month before D-Day.  He went into basic training at Ft. Hood, Texas and then was transfered into the tank group and trained at Twenty Nine Palms, CA as both a driver and a gunner.  He was sent to Europe after D-Day into France and was assigned to Patton’s Army.  He was assigned as a tank driver of a Hellcat and fought in a series of battles in August through October.

When the fighting stopped for the “Winter of 44” he was stationned away from the front lines with Patton waiting for the Spring to begin the march to Germany.  Around December 9th or 10th his group of 4 tanks were sent up to Bastogne to relieve another group of 4 tanks who where sent back to where Patton’s Army was stationned.  Every 3 weeks tanks were being cycled up to the front line to replace other tanks that were stationned there to give each tank crew some “time to relax” because they did not expect any more fighting until the Spring when the Winter was over.

When the Battle of the Bulge began on December 16th, his group of 4 tanks were told to head East from Bastogne and told to “stop the Germans”.  As they headed out, Mel’s tank ran out of gasoline and the other 3 tanks were told to keep going forward.  Mel asked for more fuel to be sent up, but there were told no fuel was going to be sent to them and they should get out of their tanks, dig foxholes, grab their rifles and stop the Germans.

Sometime on December 17th the Germans attacked his position, he was seriously wounded with shrapnels from artillery fire and the Nazis charged forward and moved right passed his foxhole thinking he was dead.  He was picked up a day later by U.S. medics, brought back into Bastogne and then sent to a hospital in Luxembourg where he had surgery and recovered from his wounds.  He was then assigned to the supply division in Paris and drove a supply truck and back to the front lines for the remainder of the war.