T/Sgt BERNARD P. BELL
Co. I, 142d Infantry
36th Infantry Division
Mittelwihr, France
18 December 1944

bellOn the morning of 18 December 1944, T/Sgt Bell led his squad against an enemy position in a local schoolhouse. Bell rushed toward the building surprising the  2 guards at the door and took them prisoner without firing a shot.

The rest of the Germans were in the cellar where Bell trapped them and offered to chuck a hand grenade or two down. The Germans chose to surrender, 26 in all to emerged “Hande Hoch.”

His squad occupied the building and prepared to mount a defense against the expected counter attack. . The enemy poured artillery and mortar barrages into the position, disrupting communications which T/Sgt. Bell repeatedly repaired under heavy small-arms fire as he crossed dangerous terrain to keep his company commander informed of the squad’s situation.

German armor fired round after round into their position, partially demolishing the upper stories. Despite this heavy fire, T/Sgt. Bell climbed to the second floor and directed artillery fire which forced the hostile tank to withdraw. He then adjusted mortar fire on large forces of enemy foot soldiers attempting to reach the American position and, when this force broke and attempted to retire, he directed deadly machinegun and rifle fire into their disorganized ranks.

Calling for armored support to blast out the German troops hidden behind a wall, he unhesitatingly exposed himself to heavy small-arms fire to stand beside a friendly tank and tell its occupants where to rip holes in walls protecting approaches to the school building. He then trained machineguns on the gaps and mowed down all hostile troops attempting to cross the openings to get closer to the school building.

By his intrepidity and bold, aggressive leadership, T/Sgt. Bell enabled his 8-man squad to drive back approximately 150 of the enemy, killing at least 87 and capturing 42. Personally, he killed more than 20 and captured 33 prisoners.

 

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