CECIL J. CANTRELL, FIRST SERGEANT

63RD ARMORED INFANTRY BATTALION

            December 31st - The enemy had employed the following weaponry: numerous dug in 88 MM guns as flat trajectory and artillery pieces; extensive time fire artillery and mortar fire; as well they utilized mines especially on the shoulders of roads and the fringes of woods; they infiltrated our lines during the hours of dusk to harass and accomplish sniper missions; and they defended key points with machine gun and rifle fire.  The enemy had fought stubbornly and had launched counter-attacks after having been forced to give ground.  Although he fought defensively, it was with determination, and every effort was made to inflict maximum damage before yielding ground.

            The weather was partly cloudy in mid-morning but clear at night.

January 1, 1945: Rechrival and Hubermont

            On the January 1, 1945, Company “A” of the 63rd along with TF BLUE captured RECHRIVAL, after receiving heavy losses from a counter-attack launched by the enemy from the direction of HUBERMONT. Company “B” of the 63rd gained the high ground at HOUMONT and held positions there.  The remainder of the Battalion was ordered to RECHRIVAL to assist TF BLUE in holding the town.  The Battalion received artillery, mortar, and rocket fire constantly, from enemy positions in the HUBERMONT vicinity.  In the afternoon, the commanding General of CCA, W. A. HOLBROOK, JR organized TF RICHTER composed of COMPANIES “B” and “HEADQUARTERS” of the 63rd AIB plus Company “A” of the 42ND TANK BATTALION, and ordered this task force to capture or destroy the enemy in the vicinity of HUBERMONT.  He was expecting a counter-attack by enemy forces from the HUBERMONT area against TF BLUE that was holding the high ground north of RECHRIVAL.  The task force commander’s decision was to attack, mounted with tanks, leading north along the western edge of the BOID DES VALETS (a large wooded area just to the east of Houmont and Rechrival) and then attack towards HUBERMONT.   The attack jumped off from HOUMONT at 1600, and crossed into the enemy positions and gained the high ground ringing HUBERMONT.  Enemy killed was estimated at 150, and 10 prisoners were taken.  TF RICHTER was withdrawn to the high ground at HOUMONT and there reorganized and dug-in, suffering only occasional artillery fire during the night.  Company “A” reverted to Battalion control, while Company “A” of the 42nd Tank Battalion was relieved from attached.

            Other sections on the Division front were generally quiet with some sporadic small arms, mortar, and artillery fire.  The enemy was driven from MANDE ST. ETIENNE at 1730, and launched a counter-attack with machine guns and Nebelwurfers that was repulsed at 2245.

            Buried in the Luxembourg American Cemetery. He was awarded the Silver Star Medal for valor and the Purple Heart Medal.