Technical Sergeant Bernard Pius Bell, U.S. Army,
Co. I, 142nd Infantry, 36th Infantry Division, received the
Congressional Medal of Honor for his efforts at Mittelwihr, France, on
Dec. 18, 1944. He was born in Grantsville, Dec. 29, 1911, and died Jan.
His citation reads:
“For fighting gallantly at Mittelwihr, France. On
the morning of 18 December 1944, he led a squad against a schoolhouse
held by enemy troops. While his men covered him, he dashed toward the
building, surprised two guards at the door and took them prisoner
without firing a shot. He found that other Germans were in the cellar.
These he threatened with hand grenades, forcing 26 in all to emerge and
surrender. His squad then occupied the building and prepared to defend
it against powerful enemy action.
The next day, the enemy poured artillery and mortar
barrages into the position, disrupting communications which T/Sgt. Bell
repeatedly repaired under heavy small-arms fire as he crossed dangerous
terrain to keep his company commander informed of the squad’s situation.
During the day, several prisoners were taken and other Germans killed
when hostile forces were attracted to the schoolhouse by the sound of
captured German weapons fired by the Americans.
At dawn the next day, the enemy prepared to assault
the building. A German tank fired round after round into the structure,
partially demolishing the upper stories. Despite this heavy fire, T/Sgt.
Bell climbed to the second floor and directed
which forced the hostile tank to withdraw. He then adjusted mortar fire
on large forces of enemy foot soldiers attempting to reach the American
position and, when this force broke and attempted to retire, he directed
deadly machine gun and rifle fire into their disorganized ranks.
T/Sgt. Bernard Pius Bell
Calling for armored support to blast out the German
troops hidden behind a wall, he unhesitatingly exposed himself to heavy
small-arms fire to stand beside a friendly tank and tell its occupants
where to rip holes in walls protecting approaches to the school
He then trained machine guns on the gaps and mowed
down all the hostile troops attempting to cross the openings to get
closer to the school building.
By his intrepidity and bold, aggressive leadership,
T/Sgt. Bell enabled his 8-man squad to drive back approximately 150 of
the enemy, killing at least 87 and capturing 42. Personally, he killed
more than 20 and captured 33 prisoners.