Purple Heart
 

Tec5
Lewis Szakacs

1916 - April 13, 1945

Turin, New York - Klötz, Germany

 

 

Lewis Szakacs was born in 1916 in New Jersey. At some point he moved to Turin, New York were he worked as a truck driver. He enlisted in the Army on April, 30 1940.

He was with HQ Battery, 561st Field Artillery Battalion.

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561st Field Artillery Battalion

The 561st landed at Utah Beach in Normandy on June 29, 1944. From that point on the men of the 561st were continually involved in combat until the War ended on May 8, 1945. They were involved in five major campaigns, including the battles for Normandy, and Brest in France. From October of 1944 until December 16, 1944 the 561st was dug in just East of St. Vith, Belgium, near the village of Schlerbach. This was the exact spot where German Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt sent his Panzers to attack the American lines in what became the Battle Of The Bulge.

The 561st Field Artillery Battalion was an Artillery Battalion consisting of five Batteries. Three of these Batteries were firing Batteries, with each firing Battery having four Guns. The Guns were 155 mm, known as "long toms." The barrel was 19 feet long. Each Gun weighed 9,595 lbs., and each Gun was pulled by a Prime Mover (a 6X6 truck weighing 43,570 lbs.). The projectile fired by these guns weighed 95 lbs. The muzzle velocity was 2,800 feet per second. The range was approximately 13 miles. The 561st was known as a "Bastard Battalion" in that it was not assigned to any particular division or unit. It was a Battalion which was built right into the system, meaning that it could pick up and move to provide artillery fire support to a division whose own artillery might not have had enough fire power to get the job done.

T5 Szakacs died on April 13, 1945. He was a member of an "advance party" comprised of about 15 American vehicles. The Colonel in charge of the "advance party" decided to bypass the American Infantry and to take the group further than was ordered. As the American vehicles approached a hill, German troops hiding on both sides of the road ambushed them with machine-gun and rifle fire. Capt. Holliday, 1st Sgt. Mac Donald, T5 Lewis Szakacs  and one other man from his jeep jumped into a shallow ditch. Capt. Holliday and 1st Sergeant Andrew Mac Donald both carried Thompson Submachine Guns. They stood up and started firing at the enemy. Both were hit by fire from a German Burp Gun and killed. Some of the Americans at the rear of the column were able to get away. Those that were not killed were taken prisoner. One of the Battery Commanders raised his hands to surrender and a German soldier walked up to him and shot him in the arm.

T5 Lewis Szakacs is buried at Margraten American Military Cemetery, Plot J Row 15
Grave 17.


Margraten, The Netherlands

See Also:
Capt. Karl Owen Holliday
1Sgt Andrew V. Mac Donald

All casualties of 561st Field Artillery Battalion buried in the Netherlands

Acknowledgements:
Mr. Bob Holliday, Son of Captain Karl O. Holliday


Directions to Margraten American Military Cemetery

If you have any suggestions, comments or additional information, please contact me.

This website is dedicated to the men and women who died and/or are buried in The Netherlands during World War II.

 

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