|Thomas A. Edson|
Corporal Thomas A. Edson (1942)
|Allegiance||United States of America|
||United States Army|
|Years of service||1942–1945|
|Unit||B Company, 21st Tank Battalion, Combat Command B, of the 10th Armored Division|
|Battles/wars||World War II
*Central Europe Campaign
*Battle of the Bulge
|Awards|| Silver Star
Presidential Unit Citation (United States)
Army Good Conduct Medal
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
WWII Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal
Thomas A. Edson (born March 3, 1921) was a former American soldier who fought with distinction as a Corporal in Company B, 21st Tank Battalion, Combat Command B, of the 10th Armored Division (United States) during World War II. At the conclusion of the war, Edson spent the remainder of his life living in Barre, VT with his wife and two children.
- 1 Family and early years
- 2 World War II
- 3 Postwar life
- 4 10th Armored Division Combat Chronicle
- 5 "Stone of Bastogne"
- 6 Casualty Statistics 10th Armored Division
- 7 Photo Gallery
- 8 Company B, 21st Tank Battalion, CCB, 10th Armored Division
- 9 10th Armored Division on Film
- 10 External links
- 11 References
Family and early years
Thomas Edson was born on March 3, 1921 in Burlington, VT to Herbert and Ethel (LaPorte) Edson. Edson was one of twelve children in the family. After attending school in South Burlington, VT, Edson moved to Detroit, MI where he worked as a sheet metal worker for the Wolverine Porcelain and Enamel Company.
World War II
On November 5, 1942 Edson answered his country's call of duty and enlisted in the United States Army. He was assigned to B Company, 21st Tank Battalion, Combat Command B, 10th Armored Division of the Third United States Army.
Edson's division officially entered combat on November 2, 1944 in Mars La Tours, France. Shortly after the division participated in the capture of Fortress Metz. On November 19, the 10th attacked the Siegfried Line and plowed into Germany. On December 18, 1944 the 10th's charge across Europe was halted due to the Ardennes Offensive. The 10th Armored Division executed a 90 degree turn and rushed 75 miles into the German onslaught. Edson and Combat Command B were sent directly into Bastogne with orders to hold. For over eight hours CCB held Bastogne alone, against eight German Divisions. When the 101 Airborne Division arrived both military outfits were surrounded and trapped. However CCB and the 101 Airborne Division maintained a defensive posture and held until the German offensive burned out several days later. At the Conclusion of the battle, Edson's battalion, the 21st Tank Battalion was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for their extraordinary heroism from December 17, to December 27, 1944 Battle of the Bulge. The 101 Airborne Division was also honored with the Presidential Unit Citation for their actions at Bastogne.
At the conclusion of the Ardennes Offensive, or "Battle of the Bulge", Edson and the 10th Armored Division returned to the offensive. On March 19, 1945 Edson was awarded the Silver Star for Gallantry in action against Germany. The citation reads; "The President of the United States of America by act of congress, July 9, 1918 has awarded the Silver Star to Corporal Thomas A. Edson, Army of the United States for Gallantry in action at Fussgoenheim, Germany on 19 March, 1945. When forced to abandon his blazing tank, Corporal Edson, gunner carried his unconscious tank commander over 100 yards of fire swept terrain to safety. Corporal Edson's gallant achievement reflects great credit upon himself and the military forces of the United States." On March 21, 1945 Edson was wounded during combat and he was awarded the Purple Heart.
After being discharged from the medical unit, Edson returned to the front and remained with his division until the conclusion of the war. Edson received additional decorations during the war; Army Good Conduct Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three battle stars: (Rhineland, Ardennes, Central Europe), American Campaign Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, WWII Victory Medal.
Edson never considered himself as a hero, when asked years later why he recieved the Silver Star he always said, "I was lucky."
Edson had two brothers who also served during the war: Private Edward Edson and Staff Sergeant Julius Edson. By chance Edson met his brother Julius while both were in Germany.
After the conclusion of occupational duties in Germany, Edson was discharged from the Army on December 9, 1945. Upon his return to the United States in 1946, Edson settled in Graniteville, Vermont where he worked at the Rock of Ages Corporation until he retired in 1986. On October 23, 1948, Edson married Doris Lavigne from Barre, VT at the St. Monica Church. Thomas and Doris where married for 46 years, until Edson passed away in 1994. They had two children during their marriage, Ronald and Doreen. Edson was an avid bowler (ten-pin) who played in several men's leagues individually and also couples leagues with his wife Doris. He was an outdoors sportsman who enjoyed both hunting and fishing. Edson was also a member of the St. Monica Church, the American Legion Post 10, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 790 in East Barre, VT.
10th Armored Division Combat Chronicle
On 2 November 1944, Edson and the 10th Armored Division (United States) entered combat at Mars La Tours, France. Later that month, the 10th participated in the capture of Metz. It was the first time in 1500 years that the ancient fortress at Metz fell. After fierce fighting, the 10th slammed into the vaunted Siegfried Line and led General George S. Patton's Third Army into Germany on 19 November 1944.
On 17 December 1944, the Allied tide of battle came to a screeching halt. In the north, the Germans had launched their Ardennes Offensive later called The Battle of the Bulge. The 10th was the first division to rush north against insurmountable odds in the attempt to impede the German assault. Combat Command A moved 75 miles in a single day, directly into the attack. The 10th assumed responsibility to protect Luxembourg and the Third Army's right flank. Edson and Combat Command B were dispatched directly to Bastogne by Patton on 17 December 1944. At that time, the 101st Airborne Division was on respite in France; Combat Command B of the 10th Armored Division was the only combat unit defending Bastogne at the time. Combat Command B held Bastogne against eight German Divisions for over eight hours, until the 101st arrived. Combat Command B also held the line with the 101st Airborne during the entire fight at Bastogne.
The 10th Armored Tigers played key roles in several of the war's greatest battles, including Combat Command B's gallant defense of Bastogne. Years after the war, General Anthony McAuliffe praised the men of the Tiger Division, noting that, "In my opinion, Combat Command B of the 10th Armored Division never properly was credited with their important role in the Bastogne battle."
In early February 1944, the 10th reassembled at Metz and rejoined the XX Corps (United States). For security reasons, the 10th stripped all identification from their vehicles and uniforms.
On February 20, 1945, the 10th again attacked the German defenses. In one day, they smashed the vaunted German lines, and after 48 hours, the division blitzed 85 miles, overrun the Saar-Moselle Triangle, and reached the Saar River. The 10th then crossed the Saar and pressed on to capture Trier and a bridge across the Moselle River. The shocking loss of this heavily defended city caused German defenses to collapse. Generals Dwight Eisenhower and Patton personally visited the 10th Armored Division to congratulate them on this remarkable achievement.
The 10th continued forward never allowing the defending Germans to reorganize. In one week, the 10th advanced 100 miles and captured 8,000 prisoners from 26 different enemy divisions.
After a four-day respite, the 10th spearheaded General Alexander Patch's Seventh United States Army drive to Bavaria. As it drove into the heartland of Bavaria, the "Tiger" division overran one of the many subcamps of Dachau concentration camp in the Landsberg area on April 27, 1945. The 10th Armored Division was recognized as a liberating unit by the United States Army Center of Military History and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1985.
The division raced through Kaiserslautern, crossed the Rhine River on 28 March 1945, and continued east. The division helped to seize Heilbronn, defended the Crailsheim Salient, and moved south to isolate Stuttgart. On 23 April 1945, the 10th crossed the Danube River. Then on 27 April 1945, it leads the Seventh Army into Austria. By the conclusion of hostilities on 9 May 1945, the 10th had reached Mittenwald, Bavaria where they halted, their mission accomplished.
The 10th occupied southern Bavaria until September 1945. On 3 October 1945, the division sailed from Marseilles, France. It arrived at Newport News, Virginia on 13 October 1945 and was deactivated at Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia on 15 October 1945. The 10th Armored Division had captured 650 towns and cities along with 56,000 German prisoners.
Division nickname The "Tiger" nickname of the 10th originates from a division-wide contest held while it was training in the United States, symbolizing the division "clawing and mauling" its way through the enemy. It appears from their battle history, the 10th did just that.
"Stone of Bastogne"
The following is excerpts from Ray Moore’s "Terrify and Destroy" pamphlet (circa 1944)
“Stone of Bastogne” Blunts Nazi Blitz
Greying dusk shrouded Bastogne as CCB’s lead Sherman tanks, tank destroyers and half-tracks rolled through the town December 18, 1944. These were the first combat troops to reach the threatened city and before leaving they would write a glowing chapter in the history of WWII. CCB’s commander, Col. William L. Roberts, split his command to form a crescent-shaped arc facing eastward five miles from the city. A task force commanded by Maj. William R. Desobry went north to Noville, while a similar group under Lt. Col. Henry T. Cherry wheeled east to Longvilly. Lt. Col. James O'Hara’s group shifted southeast to Bras.
While the Tiger’s steal treaded tanks ground over Bastogne’s cobble-stoned streets, the avalanche of German might rolled westward with increasing momentum.
Capture Bastogne, hub from which seven main roads spread spoke-like in all directions, was essential to the swift movement of Rundstedt’s panzers. Riding the crest of a 14 mile advance, five Nazi divisions knifed through the fog and engaged CCB in the pre-dawn darkness of December 19.
For the first time since he launched his assault, Von Rundstedt was stopped!
Bazooka-armed doughboys and a single platoon of tank destroyers came to grips with a column of German Panzer IV tanks on the Houffalize-Noville highway, turned them back after a furious engagement. More enemy armor followed and with the road blocked, the battle spilled into the snow-mantled fields and woods, raged unabated.
For eight hours, CCB alone withstood the multiple blows of the Nazi’s Hydra-headed attack. Then help arrived. First reinforcements of the 101st Airborne Div., which had moved into Bastogne under the screen of the 10th’s actions.
Drawing from a seemingly endless reservoir of might, Germans still maintained an overwhelming balance of power. The outnumbered Americans shifted their defensive arc nearer Bastogne.
Balked frontally, the German attack swirled around the city, shooting pincers to the north and south. The night of December 21, the pincers met and closed west of the city. Bastogne became the “hole in the dough-nut.”
In the center of the hole, the 10th assembled a highly mobile reserve force to strike in any direction. Bastogne’s “Fire Brigade,” as it was called, fought wherever the battle flamed hottest. This force was Bastogne’s indispensable backbone of steel.
The remainder of the epic, like the beginning, is a tale of the individual soldier’s raw courage.
The Tigers saw the fanatical enemy press in from all sides; rocked beneath terrific artillery barrages and repeated bombing; froze in ice-filled foxholes and along the snow-covered slopes; watched supplies and ammunition dwindle. Threatened with extinction, they echoed Maj. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe’s reply of “Nuts” to the German surrender ultimatum. Men of the 10th stood, fought, died.
Fourth Armored Division tanks cracked the ring on December 26, but CCB’s fight wasn’t over. The weary, triumphant Tigers did not take their final ride through Bastogne’s rubble strewn streets until January 18.
In 30 days of hell, these men of CCB had earned the Distinguished Unit Badge (Presidential Unit Citation).
Casualty Statistics 10th Armored Division
|Battle Casualties||Killed in Action||Non-battle Casualties||Total % of Division Wounded or KIA|
Company B, 21st Tank Battalion, CCB, 10th Armored Division
10th Armored Division on Film
In the 2001 HBO show, Band of Brothers (TV miniseries), a 10th Armored Division Officer is depicted handing out ammunition and supplies to Easy Company Paratroopers from the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division during the Battle of the Bulge.
- 10th Armored Division web page
- 10th Armored Division web page
- 21st Tank Battalion web page
- 10th Armored Division
- 10th Armored (West) web page
- WWII Silvers Star Recipients
- United States Memorial Holocaust Museum
1. Impact: The Battle Story of the 10th Armored Division (2000) , Impact: The Battle Story of the 10th Armored Division (Book/Hardcover), Divisional Histories, 54 (2nd ed.), The Battery Press, Inc.; 2 edition (2000), ISBN ISBN-13: 978-0898393033 Check
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2. Index to the General Orders of the 10th Armored Division in World War II (2004) [2004 10th Armored Division web page], Index to the General Orders of the 10th Armored Division in World War II (Book/Hardcover), Divisional Histories (1st ed.), D-Day Militaria (January 2004), ISBN ISBN-13: 978-1932891492 Check
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3. Tenth Armored "Tiger" Division (1989) , Tenth Armored "Tiger" Division (Book/Hardcover), Divisional Histories (1st ed.), Turner Pub Co (March 1989), ISBN ISBN-13: 978-0938021278 Check
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4 10th Armored Division web page
5 United States Memorial Holocaust Museum