Clement H. Nadeau
Biography: Clement Herve Nadeau was born on September 19, 1920, in Fall River, Massachusetts. He was the son of Henri Nadeau and Virginie Lavoie and attended local schools through the 9th grade. His enlistment record indicates he was employed in the weaving and textile industry and his military registration card lists the Arkwright Mill #2 as his employer.
Service Time: Clement entered the service on September 16, 1942, at Boston, MA. After completing his basic training, he was assigned to A Company of the 825th Tank Destroyer Battalion and trained with them at a number of military facilities within the U.S.
In early 1944, while on leave, Clement married the former Lila Berube, who was born in Fall River and was the daughter of Arthur Berube and Irma Dufour.
The 825th sailed from the New York port on May 30th, 1944, aboard the Queen Elizabeth, arriving in Scotland on June 5th. After an additional 2 months of training, the men and equipment were loaded on LST’s and arrived on Utah Beach in Normandy, France. They were equipped with 3″ towed guns and were initially assigned to the Communications Zone where they performed 12th Army Group security duties between August and December, 1944.
Corporal Clement Nadeau was part of a three man team, tasked with providing ammunition to Third and Fourth squads of A Company. Pfc. Joseph Soares and T5 John Aliskevicz made up the balance of the team. The battalion entered combat on December 17th. They were alerted by Headquarters 12th Army Group and orders were received from the Task Force Hansen Commander that General Courtney Hodges of the First Army directed the unit to Malmedy, Belgium, with the 526th Armored Infantry Battalion and the 99th Infantry Battalion (Separate-Norwegian speaking Americans).
When the battalion arrived in Malmedy on December 18th, Captain Joseph H. Dibert immediately sent A Company to Stavelot. The Fourth Squad joined the group later, using another way to reach the town. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Jack Doherty, commanding the 1st Platoon of A Company, had already sent his First and Second gun Squads, commanded by Sergeants John Armstrong and Jonas Whaley with their half-tracks, across the Amblève River bridge.
After teaming up, the Third and Fourth Squads, commanded by Sergeants Martin Hauser and Louis Celentano, stayed on the right bank of the river with the aim of protecting the two first squads going up the Old Castle Road. Also on the right bank was the Security Jeep driven by Sylvio Ferrigno, Staff Sergeant Vester O. Lowe in his Jeep, driven by Arthel Gibson, Jack Doherty’s Jeep, driven by Earl Shugart, and the GMC Ammunition truck driven by Pvt. Gaines. Meanwhile, the Germans had pulled a tank in a curve and began to shoot, hitting Sgt. Armstrong’s unit. Then, SS men used a burp gun to kill him and 5 other members of his crew trying to get out the burning half-track.
The armored spearhead of Kampgruppe SS Joachim Peiper came near their goal of establishing a bridgehead across the River Meuse during the Battle of the Bulge. The determined American resistance, among them Sgt. Celentano and Sgt. Hauser, disrupted the German timetable and cost Peiper’s tanks precious time. Lt. Jack Doherty ordered the Third and Fourth Squad’s 76mm guns moved into position Allée Verte to fire on the German Panther tanks, a distance of about 650 yards. From across the river, Sgt. Celentano and Hauser’s squads now aimed their guns at them. Sgt Celentano decided to shoot down more of the buildings because the enemy seemed to be hiding behind them. His gunner, Cpl. Roy Ables and Hauser’s, Cpl. Paul Lenzo, managed to stop the first and last tanks of the column almost immediately. The antitank gun crews continued to load and fire. Cpl. Nadeau and his team did their job in perfect rhythm by providing ammunition to allow continuous firing of the guns.
There were many shots fired and Celentano’s Fourth squad gun hit the turret of a second Panther that was pointing its main gun towards them. As the enemy armor rolled into Stavelot, another tank appeared on the other end of the street from Sgt. Hauser’s gun. Both started firing their guns and the German tank completely destroyed Lt. Doherty’s Jeep, which was in the front position. Sgt. Hauser’s half-track, which was just behind the Jeep, was also hit. The half-track was disabled and on fire but at the same time Sgt. Hauser’s gun hit the German tank in the turret. The tank then backed away and never reappeared.
Lt. Doherty and his driver, T5 Earl Shugart, escaped from their jeep just before it was set ablaze by the German tank, however, Jack was groggy and slightly hurt, both his mouth and legs had been injured and he was temporarily unable to command. T5 Earl Shugart had light wounds and the driver of the Security Jeep, Pfc. Sylvio Ferrigno, also received some shrapnel wounds to his chest. SSgt. Lowe took command and ordered his driver, T5 Gibson, to put Lt. Doherty on the hood of their jeep. He also ordered Sgt. Hauser and Cpl. Lenzo to destroy their gun using a canister shell and for the rest of the Third Squad to escape to Malmedy using the GMC ammunition truck. The Security Jeep led the column, followed by the GMC and SSgt. Lowe’s Jeep with Lt. Doherty on the hood. However, the Fourth squad, which had left the town a few minutes before the Third, took a wrong way and ended up in Spa instead of Malmedy. Sgt. Hauser and Cpl. Lenzo escaped on foot, climbing the wall behind the Institute Saint Joseph school. Both men were picked up the next day.
As the result of this action, six men from the First Squad were killed and two were wounded. All the men of the Second Squad sought refuge in nearby houses and escaped later. Both Sgt. Celentano and Sgt. Hauser were awarded the Bronze Star for knocking out or disabling four German tanks.
The 825th returned to security duties on January, 16. 1945. They received credit for participation in the campaigns of Northem France, Ardennes-Alsace, Rhineland and Central Europe. Clement left the service at the rank of Corporal.
The photo at left is Clement at the unit’s reunion, probably around 2000. The image at right is a drawing of Clement, made by his grandson Toby.
Clement returned to Fall River and Lila. The couple had four daughters, Jeanine, Paulette, Lucille and Melanie. The family moved to Somerset in 1959, and Clement worked as an electronics inspector for the Sylvania Company. He retired in 1985 after 22 years with the firm. In his spare time, he enjoyed carpentry and woodworking and was also a member of the St. Louis de France Church in Swansea, MA.
Clement’s grandson recalled a story his grandfather told concerning a supply run that he and another soldier made. They encountered some German soldiers and hid in a large pile of leaves. The Germans were so close to them that they tossed their cigarette butts into the leaf pile where they were hiding. Thankfully Clement and his friend were not discovered.
He passed away on September 13, 2009, and was buried in the Notre Dame Cemetery in Fall River, MA. I want to thank Toby for providing photos and information for this tribute. I also want to thank Serge Lemaire for his help with the tribute.