Theodore O. Miles
Biography: Theodore Orval Miles was born on March 22, 1920, in Imogene, South Dakota and was youngest of five boys born to Albert Edward Miles and Nona Claire Clements. He grew up in Spearfish, SD and attended high school there. Theodore’s family owned a laundry in Spearfish before moving to Bradenton Beach, Florida.
Service Time: Theodore entered the Army and after his basic training was assigned to the 702nd Tank Destroyer Battalion. The unit trained at a number of military facilities throughout the U.S., including Fort Benning, Georgia, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Camp Hood, Texas, Camp Gruber, Oklahoma, Camp Myles Standish and Fort Devens, Massachusetts. They also took part in the Louisiana Maneuvers.
The unit was equipped with M18 tank destroyers before shipping out, which they did on February 14, 1944, from the Boston port. They arrived in Gourock, Scotland, on February 25, 1944, only to be issued M10 tank destroyers while there. After four months of additional training, they were loaded on transports and landed at Omaha Beach on June 11th. Entering the line at Livry, France, on July 2nd, they formed part of the 2nd Armored Division’s spearhead during the Cobra breakout in late July.
The photo above left was Theodore’s high school photo. The photo at right was taken about 1940.
The battalion, as part of the 2nd Armored Division, were supported by the 41st Armored Infantry Regiment and accomplished approximately 165 indirect firing missions until they were relieved by composite anti-tank units controlled by British Command on the 17th. The unit received no driect enemy attacks during the period but there was heavy shelling throughout that time and 19 enlisted men, and a few officers, were injured by shrapnel and evacuated.
The photo on left is Theodore in 1942, while on leave at his parents home, in Bradenton, FL.
Portions of the unit were utilized for actions south, including an attack on Saint Gilles and objectives further south. There was no actual direct combat against the enemy but 2 M10s were temporarily out of action, one from shell fragments and the other from damage incurred by a mine.
On the 28th the unit was alerted for an attack in three columns of CCA (Combat Command C), south toward Moyen and Villerboudon, France. They encountered heavy resistance with all but Company B, attached to the 66th Armored Regiment, placed in the west column to proceed the attack. A number of enemy tanks attacked CCA column from the flanks (sides) and both shell fire and machine gun fire were encountered. Return fire was given by the unit.
On July 29th, a platoon of B Company, along with dismounted squads from the 17th Engineers of the 2nd Armored Division, attempted the clearing of crossroads at La Denisere. Twenty prisoners were taken and one Mark IV German tank was destroyed as well as one enemy 88mm gun silenced. Units fired on the town of Moyen and on the crossroads at La Denisiere.
It was during these actions on the 29th that Pfc. Theodore O. Miles was killed in action. To our knowledge, no details of his death were ever provided to the family but an article in the Queen City Mail, from Theodore’s hometown, mentions that he was serving in a reconnaissance group and it may have been as part of these duties that he gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Theodore was initially buried in a temporary grave and then later reburied in his permanent resting place in the Brittany American Cemetery in St. James, France, Plot D, Row 1, Grave 3.
I want to thank Theodore’s relative, Shari Rosenberg, for providing photos and documents for this tribute.
Theodore’s grave marker at the Brittany cemetery is shown on left. The lettering has been highlighted, using sand, from the Normandy beaches.