Blakely, Ewel T. (702nd)

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Biography:  Ewel Thompson Blakely, “ET”, was born on December 31, 1914, in Laurens County, South Carolina. He was the son of William Beaufort Blakely and Nannie Thompson and attended local schools through the 10th grade. After leaving school, he worked as a farm hand.

Ewel married the former Myrtle Trammell. 

Service Time:  Ewel entered the service on July 17, 1941, at Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Georgia. He was eventually assigned to B Company of the 702nd Tank Destroyer Battalion and shipped out with them from the Boston port on February 15, 1944. They arrived in the United Kingdom on the 22nd equipped with M18s, which they had received just prior to shipping out. After their arrival, they were re-equipped with M10s.

After a few months of training and last minute preparations, they were loaded on transports and landed at Omaha Beach on June 11th. They entered the line at Livry, France, on July 2nd and formed part of 2nd Armored Division’s spearhead during the Cobra breakout in late July. Fighting at Mortain, they established first contact with Canadians troops during the encirclement of the Falaise Pocket. They entered Belgium on September 5th and crossed the German border near Gangelt, fighting against the Siegfried Line along the Wurm River in October and November. 

Ewel T. Blakely 6Shown in the photo at left is Ewel and his two brothers who also served. Milton on the left, Ewel center and Roger on the right.

From the Unit History: “From October 5th through the 9th, the unit was in action on the slightly rolling but open terrain of the Wurm River. The last of the enemy’s pillboxes were encountered and reduced but enemy infantry defended them tenaciously from hastily built field fortifications. In some cases, they did not surrender until the unit’s TDs had rolled over their heads. Enemy Anti-Tank guns took a heavy toll of our forces. The enemy massed fires of their batteries, and possibly an entire battalion, quickly and accurately using air bursts and keeping up an intensity of fire not previously experienced in this campaign.”

“Elements of Company B, in direct support of CCB (Combat Command B) were divided into two platoons of three guns each, after the loss of three additional guns. Two M10s were later recovered and one M10 was destroyed by 67th Armored Regiment to prevent it from falling into enemy hands during a counterattack on the 7th. Two enlisted men were killed and three were slightly wounded. 2nd platoon supported the right column of CCB and large amounts of ammunition were expended on probable enemy targets from their observed muzzle flashes, strong points, etc. without confirmed results. Company B was placed on road blocks to provide security for the main communication and supply routes. They remained in position on the 8th.” The unit was in the vicinity of Palenburg, Germany.

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On October 8, 1944, Technical Sergeant Ewel T. Blakely was killed in action (unit history lists the 6th). The exact circumstances of his death are not provided but he played a critical role in the prior days’ actions and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (postumously). A synopsis of the award is provided by the following citation:

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The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Ewel T. Blakely (34085473), Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with the 702d Tank Destroyer Battalion, in action against enemy forces on 6 and 7 October 1944. Technical Sergeant Blakely’s intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty at the cost of his life, exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.” At the time, the unit was operating as part of the 9th Army, which also issued the award under General Orders No. 199 (1945).

The photo at left shows Ewel’s brother, Lt. Roger Blakely, serving in the Military Police, visiting Ewel’s temporary burial site in Europe.

Ewel was ultimately brought home and buried in the Ora ARP Church Cemetery in Laurens County, SC. We want to thank Army Veteran Marvin Bennett, who is a distant relative of Ewel’s, for providing the information and photos for this tribute. We also want to thank Chase Brown for the photo of Ewel’s grave marker.

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