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Merrill, Robert S

Robert Merrill U.S. Army WWII
Robert Merrill U.S. Army WWII


 
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Date of Birth: 6/20/1919
Died On: 11/9/1944
Street Address: 319 Oakland Beach Avenue
Service Number: 0-1310476
Branch of Service: U.S. Army - Company D,2nd Battalion, 377th Infantry, 95th Division

Veteran Code: KIA-15


BIOGRAPHY
 
Robert S. Merrill


Robert Sheldon Merrill was born in Illinois on June 20,1919 to Ralph W. Merrill and Marguerite Sheldon Merrill. He had an older brother John and two younger sisters Betty and Marilyn. The family resided at 319 Oakland Beach Avenue. Robert was an honor student, played the trumpet and enjoyed sports and was a graduate of Rye High School class of 1936, and Storm King Prep School in Cornwall. He received his AB degree from Princeton University in 1941 where he was a member of the university band. He married his wife Sara in 1942 and they had a daughter born in 1943.


Robert S. Merrill received his basic training in the fall of 1942 at Camp Roberts, Calif. , upon completion of which he was sent to Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia. At the end of three months he received his commission as a second lieutenant and was assigned as an instructor in the Weapons Section of the Academic Department of The Infantry School. Lt. and Mrs. Merrill resided in Columbus, Ga. during this time. He took the Advanced Officers Training Course prior to being sent abroad as a member of Company D, 2nd Battalion, 377th Infantry Regiment, 95th Division in General Pattons Third Army.

In September of 1944 the U. S. Third Army had come to a halt in face of the German defenses at the city of Metz located between the rivers Moselle and Seille. The fortifications of Metz consisted of several forts and observation posts with connecting entrenchments and tunnels.

Operation Casanova was the plan to cross the Moselle River. The main effort of crossing the Moselle above Metz was in the Uckange zone. The orders were to establish and hold a bridgehead on the heavily defended German side. First Battalion took its orders, rehearsed the details letter perfect and stood by for zero hour on the night of November 8.

By daybreak on 9 November, the 1st Battalion had two rifle companies and a heavy weapons platoon across the swirling river. They had begun to move further inland, by passed the village of Bertrange and established themselves on a low hill to the east, out of reach of the spreading water. Although not directly menaced by enemy infantry, shelling and mortar fire were heavy and the men dug in to keep warm. At 0905, the battalion reported back to Regimental HQ : "Two companies are across river. River is very high and were not sending others over". They were now isolated on the enemy side of the river.

The racing, swirling flood waters of the turbulent Moselle were stained bloody red many times during the next seven days of topsy-turvy, fever-pitch battle at the Uckange Bridgehead . Help finally arrived in the form of the Infantry-Armor Task Force to relieve the two companies. In spite of cruelly-painful foot , muscles fagged from lack of food and sleep, and minds stark from the perils of savage fighting behind enemy lines, they had held the bridgehead

But in the small picture, those hundred-and-one minute acts of bravery and heroism etched in memory of survivors of the bridgehead, is the one that counted for participants. Among the recipients of the Silver Star for heroism at Uckange was 1st Lt. Robert S. Merrill (pg 25).

On November 9th the situation was grim for the two isolated companies who had crossed the river. Robert volunteered to attempt to get ammunition across the raging river and bring the casualties back from the cut off GIs of the 1st Battalion. He was killed while on this volunteer mission in France on November 9, 1944.







COMMENDATIONS

★ World War II Victory Medal
★ Silver Star
★ Purple Heart
★ American Campaign Medal
★ Army Presidential Unit Citation
★ Army Good Conduct Medal















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