661st Tank Destroyer Battalion

Unit History:  Activated on 17 April 1943 at Camp Bowie, Texas.  Arrived at Le Havre, France, on 21 January 1945, equipped with M18s.  Committed to battle at Rocherath-Krinkelt, Belgium, on 16 February, 1945.  Fought along the Siegfried Line near Helenthal, Germany, in March.  Crossed the Rhine on 27 March and advanced across Germany to Leipzig by 17 April, where the men saw their last fighting.  Attached to: 28th, 69th, 106th Infantry divisions.  History text from the book The Tank Killers by Harry Yeide. Used by permission.

Combat Equipment:  2/45 – M18

Commanding Officers:  Major Joel B. White; Lt. Col. Donald B. Miller

Code Name/s:  Detonate

Campaign Credits:    Rhineland……………………Sept. 15, 1944 to Mar. 21, 1945

                                 Central Europe……………..Mar. 22, to May 11, 1945

Awards:  None

Location August 1945:  Camp Shelby, MS

Additional Information/Materials:

1.)  Detailed History of the 661st Tank Destroyer BattalionWritten by George H. Straley in June of 1945, while the unit was still in Germany. It was then published in a booklet and then reprinted in 1995, in the 69th Infantry Association Bulletin (Volume 48, No 2). What isn’t mentioned in the history is that the 661st was one of the first units to cross the famous bridge at Remagen and was involved in the fighting in that area.

2.)  Unit History Booklet – Has short history, company staff personnel listings and a complete listing of Company C Personnel.  Also includes several Bronze Star recipients.  Courtesy of the Tank Destroyer Association by L. L. Gill, TDA Historian.

3.)  Group photos of the Companies of the 661st TD Bn, provided courtesy of the 69th Infantry Division website, except as noted.

         Reconnaissance – I had another image of this same photo but it had been cropped and the information at the bottom cut off.  This photo was provided by Rose Weed, daughter of Donald J. Weed of the unit who is shown in the top row, on the far right.  He was only 17 at the time.  Page one includes a listing of the unit’s commanders as well at the photographer who is identified as C. Ekmark of Box 72, Grayson St. STA, San Antonio, Texas.  Due to the address of the photographer, I am reasonably sure this was taken at Camp Hood.  Officers listed are Captain Eugene E Oja, 1st Lt Aliton S Hogard, 2nd Lt Robert M. Wilkins, 2nd Lt James L Carlin, 2nd Lt James McAlexander, 2nd Lt Anthony Zielkitz and 1st Sgt Eugene A Jackson.  I know Capt. Oja is sitting in the first row, to the far left.  I believe the other officers are sitting in order next to him.

Page two is a numbered listing of men in the photo identifying their positions.  The list contains 56 names so it is not complete but a very nice addition by Rose Weed.

         Company A – Was labeled as taken while the unit was at Camp Hood, TX.

         Company B – Was not labeled but it looks very similar to the Company A photo.  Text at the bottom identifies the following names:  Capt. William J. King (Commanding Officer), 1st Lt. Gilbert J. Romero (Exec. Officer), 2nd Lt. Robert L. Kirchner (Asst. Exec. Officer), 2nd Lt. William T. Fitzgerald (Communications Officer), 2nd Lt. James McManus (1st Platoon Leader), 1st Lt. George W. Reaves, Jr. (2nd Platoon Leader), 1st Lt. Walter W. McFarland (3rd Platoon Leader) and 1st Sgt. Sebastian Irla.  Douglas Filbeck, is standing in the fourth row from the front and is the last person at the far right.  This photo also includes a roster of the men on page 2 of the document.  Provided courtesy of Paul Stevens.

         Company C – Was labelled as taken while the unit was at Camp Hood, TX.  The text at the bottom of the photo is very difficult to read but I was able to confirm most of the names:  Capt. William A. Connolly Jr. (Commanding Officer), 1st Lt. Robert H. MacLoed (Exec. Officer), 1st Lt. Verle L. McNealy, 2nd Lt. Bernard A. Menard (3rd Platoon Leader), 2nd Lt. Howard K. Matlack (2nd Platoon leader), 2nd Lt. Alan D. Cameron (1st Platoon Leader), 2nd Lt. Ted H. Tyner and 1st Sgt. Paul L. Miller. Provided courtesy of Paul Stevens.

         HQ Company – Our original copy of this image was provided courtesy of Lester L. Ross, whose father Lester M. Ross served in HQ Company and is shown standing in the second row from the back, third from the left. This better quality image was provided by Donna Andrew, whose father George Wyatt, also served in HQ Company and is shown standing in the fourth row from the front, tenth from the left. Listed at the bottom of the photo is Lt. Col. Donald B. Miller, Battalion Commander; Cpt. Joseph L. Marquis, Company Commander; Cpt. Robert L. Doupe, Battalion Motor Officer; 1st Lt. Gerald V. Robertson, Company Executive Officer; 2nd Lt. James P. Ferrell, Company Transportation Officer; Warrant Offficer Frank H. Labor, Assistant Battalion Motor Officer. Also listed is 1st Lt. John H. Millsapps, 1st Lt. John E. O’Shaughessy and 1st Sgt. Robert M. Barrows. This photo was also taken by C. Ekmark from San Antonio and since the background is the same also, it was probably taken at Camp Hood, TX.

4.)  Unit History and Battalion Staff Listing – Excerpt from 69th Infantry Division Assoc. Newsletter, Vol. 48, No. 2, Jan – Apr 1995, pages 39 to 41.  The history information is similar in content to what’s provided on the 69th Inf. Div. website but also includes background on the 661st’s Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. Donald B. Miller, as well as a Bronze Star award listing and each Company’s staff personnel.  It is thought to originate from a booklet printed in Europe at the end of the war. 

5.)  After Action Reports – from the Combined Arms Research Library of the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

              Jan. 24 to Feb. 28, 1945…..2 Pages (S-2 Report)

              Feb. 1 to 28, 1945………….4 Pages (S-1 Report)

              Feb. 1 to 28, 1945………….2 Pages (S-3 Report)

              Mar. 1 to 31, 1945………….2 Pages (S-2 Report)

              Apr. 1 to 30, 1945………..11 Pages (Difficult to read, includes awards)

              May 1 to 9, 1945……………5 Pages (Includes awards)

6.)  Daily Tank Destroyer Reports-from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home, Abilene, Kansas

              Feb. 28-Mar. 31, 1945………………………….62 Pages

              Feb. 28-Mar. 31, 1945, Recon. Company……6 Pages

              March 1, 1945, Company A…………………….2 Pages

                   March 3, 1945, Bn, Cos A, B, C………………..8 Pages

              April 1-30, 1945, Part 1………………………..38 Pages

              April 1-30, 1945, Part 2………………………..41 Pages

7.)  Miscellaneous Documents-from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home, Abilene, Kansas

              History, Apr. 17, 1943-Feb. 10, 1946………..35 Pages (Inc casualties & awards)

              Award Citations, 1945…………………………..39 Pages

              Commendations, 1945……………………………6 Pages

              News Articles, Aug. 12, 1942-Jan. 27, 1944…1 Page

              Various Documents, 1943-1945………………..8 Pages  

8.)  Photo Gallery