|U.S. Army Officer
34th Tank Battalion, 5th Armored Division
Captain James W. Ray O-452886
Killed In Action September 1st 1944, France
|SERVICE HISTORY OF JAMES W. RAY
Captain Ray was from Tennessee. He was killed in action on Friday, September 1st 1944. He is buried at Epinal
American Cemetery, Epinal (Vosges), France, Plot: B Row: 17 Grave: 71
His awards include the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster.
|Envelope or "Cover", above photo.
This envelope was mailed to LIEUT JAMES W. RAY, CO C 34TH TANK BN. APO 255, INDIANTOWN GAP PA., on
September 28th 1944 from The U.S. Cavalry Association, 1719 K St. N.W., Washington 6 D.C.
The envelope was marked "Deceased" and stamped "Return to Sender". The reverse of the envelope is
postmarked by INDIANTOWN GAP PA. SEP 29TH 1944.
The envelope is unopened and has been sealed since it was sent in September of 1944.
|AFTER ACTION REPORT AUGUST 31ST AND SEPTEMBER 1ST 1944, HEADQUARTERS 5th ARMORED DIVISION
Report After Action Against Enemy - August 1944
On 31 August the delaying tactics of the enemy continued, as he retreated slowly to the Northeast, in order to
keep an escape route open West of CISE RIVER along the FORET DE COMPIEGNE and the FORET DE L'IGUE
for units in the path of our advance.
The advance or the Division was resumed at 0600 31 August. CCB made contact with an enemy roadblock at
0630 just North of SENLIS, quickly reduced the resistance and contained a rapid advance. At 1000 both
columns or CCB were moving forward without opposition in an attempt to obtain crossings over the OISE
RIVER at COMPIEGNE and Southwest of COMPIEGNE . At 1100 CCA still advancing had made no contact with
enemy. At 1115 CCB reported the bridge at VERBERIE blown. Also reported by CCB was the capture of an air
field near VERBERIE with concrete runways not greatly damaged and believed repairable for heavy bomber
use. CCR reported contact made with the enemy at BETH at 1215, that bridges were blown and the enemy
observed digging in across the river. At 1315 troops A B and C, 85th Cav Rcn Sq were attached to Combat
Commands A, B and R respectively and the Squadron less A, B and C attached to Division Trains in vicinity of
BARON to furnish protection. At 1430 CCR was closing in on the river. Enemy resistance was strong but
undetermined, CCB reported that an enemy horse-drawn artillery column had run into its column and was
being destroyed by tanks. At 1500 CCB reported the bridge out at GRLEL. CCB made first contact (small arms
fire) with the enemy at the same hour. At this point in the advance all routes ran through heavily wooded areas
and the advance slowed considerably. The bridges at COMPIEGNE and POMMIERS were reported intact.
Effort was being made to force crossings the night or 31 August and push forward to a line CHAUNY - NOYON
- LASSIGNG. At 1800 the right column of CCA crossed the river at POMMIERS, unopposed, at 2000 CCB was
five hundred yards South of COMPIEGNE, preparing to attack to secure bridges there. CCR was meeting heavy
enemy resistance in the forest North of ORROUY and GILOCORT. Enemy resistance made it impossible to
cross any units over river on 31 August, except the right element of CCA. This crossing was made at
POMMIERS on the extreme flank of the Corps Zone. At 2310, 31 August, the left column was in the vicinity of
PONT ST MAXENGE helping the 28th Infantry Division to hold a bridge head there until a bridge could be built.
The right column of CCB was just short of COMPIEGNE . The 112th Infantry Regiment was passing through to
attack the town and secure crossing. During the day 180 enemy were killed and 194 PW's captured. The
advance was fast and the enemy were forced to abandon five Russian 76,2mm AT guns, five 105mm howitzers
complete with prime movers, and 12 trucks intact. 4 tanks and 13 artillery pieces were destroyed.
Total enemy casualties for the month of August were: Enemy killed 2811; captured, 2960; tanks, captured and
destroyed 203; armored cars captured and destroyed, 11; motor vehicles captured and destroyed, 404; artillery
pieces captured and destroyed, 125.
While the Division was now engaged in operations in the FORET DE COMPIEGNE, its supply points were
located Southwest of PARIS, resulting in a long turn-around. Traffic congestion and much confusion around
PARIS complicated the process of resupply.
At 0150, 1 September 1944, CCA with the 47th and 400th Armd FA Bns attached was attached to the 4th
Infantry Division. Task Force Burton of CCA was advancing rapidly Northward in the Eastern part of the Corps
The attack on the town or COMPIEGNE progressed slowly with elements of the 112th Inf Regt, 28th Infantry
Division, entering the town at 0138, 1 September. Bridges were destroyed by the enemy here and at other
places on the river, but our Engineers rapidly constructed bridges, and the Division pushed on. During the
early hours of 1 September a combat team of the 28th Infantry Division was attached to assist CCR to clear the
forest in an attack in the direction of CHOISSY. Contact between the CT and CCR was made at 0730. At 1115
CCR reported that both columns were moving satisfactorily against minor resistance, and that the infantry was
being carried forward on the tanks. At 1400, they were moving into CHOISSY and found the bridges there had
Most of the opposition in the FORET DE COMPIEGNE came from elements of the 47th Infantry Division and the
312th Mobile Battalion. Both the 104th Infantry Regiment of the 47th Infantry Division and the 312th Mobile
Battalion suffered very severe losses at the hands of CCR before they withdrew across the AISNE RIVER to the
North. The 348th Infantry Division, sharing the defense of the area with the 47th Division, was also driven to
the North, but managed to withdraw without heavy losses.
Meanwhile, at 0535, orders for the advance of the Division were received. The mission was to proceed rapidly
North to the Corps Objective: COUDE on the Belgian border.
CCB was ordered to cross the river at the earliest possible time and to proceed rapidly North until contact was
made with the 4th Infantry Division or elements of CCA, then to follow on their axis. It was presumed that the
4th Division with CCA would effect a crossing to the East, prior to the crossing of the 5th Armored Division at
COMPIEGNE and PONT ST MAXENCE.
The bridge at PONT ST MAXENCE was completed at 1300 1 September. The left column of CCB crossed at
1600 and advanced steadily with no enemy resistance. The Division CP at this time was about three (3)
kilometers South of COMPIEGNE. At 1700, CCR was ordered to make contact with CCB at COMPIEGNE and be
prepared to follow the Division Troops' column across the bridge and to move North following CCB's route,
prepared to move abreast and to the right of CCB following 4th Division elements. The bridge at COMPIEGNE
was completed at 1815 and the remainder of CCB started crossing at 1820. The advance was rapid until 2200
when enemy resistance consisting of anti-tank artillery and dug-in infantry with rocket launchers was
encountered just North of CHIRY.
By the close of operations at midnight on 1 September, the main body of the enemy was North of NOYON. The
enemy was using road blocks, artillery, and mortar fire to impede our advance. Enemy casualties for the day
were: killed 100, captured 115. We captured 100 bicycles used by enemy reconnaissance troops, and 35 motor
vehicles, as well as 100 machine guns.
(Letter, Report After Action Against Enemy - September 1944, Hq 5th Armd Div)
During 2 September, the enemy withdrew rapidly to the North but he was not sufficiently motorized at this time
to get out all his troops and material. At NOYON, however he fought with determination, using reinforced
infantry battalions of the 348th Infantry Division and various elements of other Divisions to slow down our
advance. At 0030, 2 September, the left column of CCB encountered enemy anti-tank troops and infantry at
GAGNY. At 0525, both columns were still advancing slowly against stiff resistance. The right column was
approaching NOYON; the left approaching GAGNY. The left column had found that bridges over canals were
out and a crossing was not found until 0845, after which time the advance of this column was again rapid. The
right column cleared NOYON at 0915. The enemy resistance was no longer heavy. Some anti-tank troops and
some infantry were encountered. At 2225 the task force or CCB which composed of the Combat Command's
right column, was in bivouac in vicinity CONDE-sur-EXCAUL. The remainder of the Division was bivouacked off
the road to the South with the Division CP in vicinity of MAING. At 2230 orders were received to halt the
advance on the general line LANDREEIS - LE CATEAU - CAMBRAI, to await orders and protect the Corps' left
flank. At this time however the Division had reached the original Corps objective well north or the line
mentioned in the new order. Enemy casualties for the day: were killed 200; captured 219. We destroyed 21
enemy vehicles and captured two batteries of 105mm howitzers intact. CCA reverted to division control 2
September, and was ordered to assemble in the vicinity of ESNES. Lt col Karl L. Scherer was assigned to the
34th Tank Battalion on this day, and assumed command. Major Foote remained with the Battalion as Executive