Roland R. Breault
Biography: Roland Raymond Breault was born on May 22, 1920, in Linwood, Massachusetts. He was the son of Samuel Breault and Bertha B. Montville and attended local schools through the 10th grade. Prior to the war he was working as a machinist with the Whitin Machine Works in Whitinsville, MA.
Service Time: Roland entered the service on February 5, 1942, at Fort Devens, MA. After his basic training, he was assigned to Company B of the 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion, joining them while they were stationed at Pine Camp, New York. He received additional training with the unit at Camps Hood and Maxey in Texas.
While stationed at Camp Maxey and on leave, Roland married the former Rebecca Mary Claire Sauve, who was born in Northbridge, MA, and was the daughter of Adelard Sauve and Mary Livingston.
Roland and the unit were finally sent to Camp Miles Standish, Massachusetts, for final preparations before going overseas. They shipped out from the Boston port on February 27, 1944, and arrived in Liverpool, England, on March 13th. For the next four months, they received additional training in the United Kingdom. They then boarded LSTs (Landing Ship, Tank) and landed at Utah Beach on July 12th and 13th. They were first unit in the ETO (European Theater of Operations) to be equipped with M18 tank destroyers and participated in the Cobra breakout at the end of the month. They advanced into Brittany and then raced east across France, passing north of Orleans, and crossing the Moselle River to Luneville in early September.
On September 22nd, in the vicinity of Juvelize, France, Roland’s TD was fired upon by an enemy gun, which could not be seen due to fog. Additionally, two enemy tanks were coming in their direction. Although their gun did not function properly, they were able to destroy one of the tanks and another TD destroyed the second tank. Roland’s courage and bravery during the action was noted and he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
The 704th remained in the same general area through October but in November, they fought in the Morhange region and crossed the Saar River by month’s end. On December 19th, they were deployed to the Ardennes and fought around Bastogne in January, 1945. The unit then moved back south, advancing into Germany near Sinz in February, fighting through the Siegfried Line and into the Saar-Moselle triangle. Supporting the drive to Bitburg in March, they reached the Rhine River by mid-month. Crossing the river on March 24th at Nierstein, the unit roared east to Gotha by April 4th, and passed through the Harz Mountains to Bayreuth, in late April. They finally entered Czechoslovakia at Volyne on May 6th and the war ended two days later.
The 704th received credit for campaigns in Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, the Ardennes and Central Europe. Roland was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the EAME Medal, American Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. He also shared in the unit’s award of the Distinguished Unit Citation. He left the service at the rank of Staff Sergeant.
After the war, Roland and Rebecca would make their home in Northbridge and have a daughter, Patricia, born in 1949. He worked at a number of different companies but one of the last ones was as a stator assembler at the U.S. Electrical Motor Mfg. Company in Los Angeles, California. In his spare time, Roland enjoyed reading, fishing, golf and model railroading, in HO scale.
Roland passed away on August 29, 1967, and was buried in the Saint Patrick’s Cemetery in Northbridge, MA. I want to thank Roland’s daughter, Patricia, for providing information and the main photo of her father. Thank you also to Find A Grave contributor Mary Sonier for the use of the grave marker image.