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Sawatzky, Martin W. (772nd)

Martin W. Sawatzky

Biography: Martin Walter Sawatzky was born on November 15, 1906, in Willow City, North Dakota. He was the son of Friedrich Sawatzky and Caroline Canarsky. By the time he was 4 years old, the family was living and farming in Kroschel Township, MN. The 1927 and 1928 Minneapolis City Directories show him employed as a fitter at the Flour City Ornamental Iron Company. The 1930 Census indicates he was boarding in Minneapolis and working as a Conductor on the St. Louis and Minneapolis Railway. The 1930 Minneapolis City Directory shows him working as a fitter for the General Bronze Corporation.

On January 4, 1931, he married the former Anna M. Hickle who was born in Hinckley, MN. She was the daughter of Heinrich Hickle and Marie Hermann. They had one son, Jack R. in 1932.

The 1940 Census shows him back farming with his brother, Albert, in Kroschel. But, his draft card, dated October 11, 1940, in Minneapolis, states he is employed by the Flour City Ornamental Iron Co.

Service Time: We don’t know exactly when Martin entered the Army but he is listed as a Corporal in the 1943 Christmas meal menu for Company C, 772nd Tank Destroyer Battalion. The 772nd was originally a self-propelled tank destroyer unit but they were converted to a towed anti-tank gun battalion during training. They shipped from the New York port on September 29, 1944, and arrived in England on October 10th. Landing in France on December 20th, they entered the line near Birgel, Germany, on December 22, 1944, joining up with the 83rd Infantry Division. Fighting in Belgium in January, 1945, with the 75th Infantry Division, they then shifted south to the Seventh Army’s sector along the Rhine River in February. Conversion to the self-propelled M36 tank destroyer began in late March. The unit supported operations against the Ruhr Pocket in April.

On April 6, 1945, the 3rd Squad (Martin’s TD), of 1st Platoon was operating in an area about 1000 yards southwest of Oestrich, Dortmund, Germany. At about 1415 hours, the TD commander was ordered into the town to eliminate snipers and machine gun emplacements. As they were maneuvering to fire on enemy positions, they were hit by a high velocity enemy round and the entire crew was killed. Martin was awarded a Purple Heart Medal and the EAME, with credit for the campaigns of Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe along with the American Defense and Good Conduct Medals.

Corporal Martin W. Sawatzky was buried in the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands. We would like to thank Martin for making the ultimate sacrifice for his country. Thank you also to Sadie Nelson for use of the main photo and Find a Grave contributor Fred for use of the grave marker photo.