Richard C. Corthell
Biography: Richard Calvin Corthell was born on December 30, 1921, in Melrose, Massachusetts. He was one of nine children, five sons and four daughters, born to Otis Lincoln Corthell and Marion Noyes Moore. Richard attended Haverhill High School through the 9th grade and later joined the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) in an effort to help support his family. The CCC provided jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in areas owned by federal, state, and local government .
Service Time: On July 3, 1940, Richard enlisted in the Army at Fort Ethan Allen, Vermont, and was assigned to the headquarters battery of the Second Battalion of the 7th Field Artillery Regiment. With the start of WWII, Richard was assigned to Company B of the 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion and functioned as a radio operator on a tank destroyer crew. He continued to train with them at facilities within the U.S.
The 601st shipped out from the New York port on August 2, 1942, and arrived at Gourock, Scotland, on August 9th. They continued to train in the United Kingdom but the Reconnaissance Company was chosen to travel by ship to Oran, Algeria, landing on November 8th, as part of Operation Torch. The rest of battalion arrived in December and fought in the Battle of Kasserine Pass in February, 1943, and at El Guettar, Tunisia, in March.
They converted from the M3 tank destroyer to the M10 tank destroyer before leaving Africa, and then took part in the invasion of Italy at Salerno. They continued the assault at Anzio in January 1944, and entered Rome in June. With the change to the M10, Calvin took the position of gunner in a 5 man crew.
The 601st landed in Southern France on August 15th and proceeded to move north toward the German border and the Vosges region. On September 13th, several TD’s of Company B were hit hard by a German 88mm gun that had been carefully hidden. Three units from Second Platoon were caught in the open and fired upon. The shots destroyed two of the units, killing six men and wounding six others. The third TD was able to avoid being completely destroyed by maneuvering off the road and down an embankment, which gave them some protection from the enemy gun. Records identify that everyone in the first TD was killed, including Pvt. Richard C. Corthell. Additionally killed were the TD commander, SSgt. Earl L. Prauman, Sgt. James C. Childers, T4 Joseph Thomas and Pvt. William B. Brown.
Richard was buried in a temporary grave but was later shipped home and buried in the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky, Plot E, 27-28. The memorial bears the names of four of the men from the TD, including Prauman, Childers, Brown and Corthell. Joseph Thomas was buried in France.
A memorial to the five men was erected in France and it also bears the names of 36th Infantry men that were killed during the liberation of the Saulx-de-Vesoul area. Thank you to Find A Grave contributors Dwight “Andy” Anderson and Bobby Hunt for the use of the memorial and grave marker photos respectively. Thank you also to Terry Hirsch for his assistance with the tribute.