Harold J BlackfordUnit: 17 Engr Bn 2nd Armd Div, Company Unknown Rank: PrivateBorn: +/-1924/1925
Awards and Citations: Purple Heart
Deceased: 8/12/1944 (KIA) Killed in action
Hometown: Michigan, Wayne County
Army Serial Number: 36882668
Burial: Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
Departement du Calvados
Plot: A row 8 grave 6
GPS (lat/lon): 49°21’34.0″N 0°51’17.9″W
Location grave: Private Harold J Blackford:
Where did Harold J.Blackford lived:
The adress is “186 Delaware Dr, Lansing, Michigan, United States”
(source U.S. Sensus 1940)
Where and how was Private Harold J Blackford killed in action?
All Companies were employed as infantry in the area north of Barentan 8 August until 16 August. This was one of the hottest areas yet reached. Capt. George Youngblood, CO of Co. ”D”, and a demolition squad in the face of enemy fire blew a bridge in Lonlay-l’Abbaye on 8 August which halted an enemy column and enabled its destruction by friendly airplanes, thus earning his first Silver Star Medal. His patrols also demolished two bridges near Rouellé to nights later. Meanwhile, near Barenton, Co. ”B” under Division Reserve sent its platoons in line on the West of town, and to the north .
Co. ”C” had its platoons clearing mines, setting up road blocks, ands working with the Infantry . the 1st Platoon, working with Co. ”H”, 41st Armored Infantry Regiment on what became known to the men as “Purple Heart Hill”, had their first introduction to the “Screaming-Mimi” (Nebelwerfer) and suffered several casualties. In all, one man was killed and 13 wounded. (source: 17th Armored unit History)
The book “Hell on Wheels 2nd Armored Division 1942-1945” by Donald Houston mentions an operation with the 17th Armored Engineer Battalion, D Company.
The division was orderd to attack the norh on August 12, cutting the Ger-Mortain road, while Division Reserve was to take over and defend the Comabat Command B zone. The attack by the 41st Armored Infantry Regiment started at 11:00 AM, the terrain was so rugged that the tanks could support the infantrymen ony from a distance.
The left flank was caught in intense artillery fire and small arms fire. The attack continued to the Night. Seeking something to divert the enemy’s attentio, General Brooks conceived a plan to destroy the enemy escape routes deep in to their own territory. To carry it out he designated a platoon from A Compny of the 82nd Recon supported by Captain George L Youngblood of the 17th Armored Engineer Battalion, D Company. The patrol reached the bridge at Loulay ‘l Abbaye and silently prepared to destroy it. The bridge was destroyed including some nearby houses. The explosion brought instantanious reaction from nearby tanks and infantry. The Hell on Wheelers hid to the woods, an captured some 65 Germans who entered their area. The small taskforce returned to their lines the next day.
It is not known in what Company Private Harold J. Blackford was in so we can’t tell specific what happend to him. The sources mentioned “one man killed” in this period in August 1944, our research revealed that there are seven 17th Engineers killed in august 1944.
Was Private Harold J. Blackford part of the D Company on August the 12th 1944 special taskforce on the day he got killed? It well could be but nontheless he also could have been killed on “Purple Heart Hill” (Hill 329), hopefully one day we find out.
The region the 17th Armored Engineer Battalion were active in was around Barenton, Normandy, France.
Region where Harold J Blackford died:
Official casualty list
Temporary Burial at LeChene Guerin, Normandy, France
Marital Status: Unknown
Enlistment Term: Unknown
living at “Ward 6, Lansing, Lansing City, Ingham, Michigan, dr. Delaware street 185” :
|CENSUS 1940 Household family||Role||Gender||Age||Birthplace|
Research and text© by: Moos Raaijmakers & Martijn Brandjes
Photos© by: Moos Raaijmakers