Maddox, Kenneth G. (P2, C3, L18)
First Lieutenant Kenneth G. Maddox, 25, of Louisville, Jefferson County, died in a German field hospital on Christmas Day, 25 December 1944 of wounds received in battle. Maddox was wounded during the second day of the Battle of the Bulge on 17 December 1944 near Clerf (Clervaux), Luxembourg. Maddox was serving on federal active duty with the Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 110th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division.
He joined the 38th Division's 138th Field Artillery Band in 1941. He was selected to attend officer candidate training while on federal active duty and graduated as a second lieutenant. He was assigned to the 28th Division. In July 1944.
Seven weeks after the Allied invasion of France, Lt. Maddox and the rest of the 28th Infantry Division landed on the beaches of Normandy, France. They became engaged in Operation Cobra and Lt. Maddox would fight through France, reaching Paris in late August 1944. The Liberation of Paris ended on August 25, 1944. The 28th Infantry were selected to lead the victory parade held on August 29, 1944. Kenneth Maddox rode in his jeep through Paris as large crowds lined the street. The 28th Infantry Division was the first Allied division to enter Germany in September 1944 Maddox's troops moved to Luxembourg in November.
He was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart posthumously.
An administrative building was named for him at Ft. Knox, KY in 1945. We have not been able to verify if the building is still standing or in use at Fort Knox or if the designation may have been transferred to a building at Fort Benning when the United States Army Armor School moved from Fort Knox to Fort Benning.
Maddox was originally buried in, Germany and after the war he was moved to the American Military Cemetery in Luxembourg. At his family’s request, his body was returned to the U.S. in 1948 and buried in the Maddox Family section of Evergreen Cemetery in Louisville.
Silver Star Citation
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to First Lieutenant (Infantry) Kenneth G. Maddox (ASN: 0-1293433), United States Army, for gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving with the 110th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry, in directing one of his antitank gun crews guarding a main road into Clerf, Luxembourg, when his position was attacked by enemy tanks and infantry on 17 December 1944. Busily engaging in destroying one of the enemy tanks, the men of his gun crew failed to notice the approach of an enemy soldier with a machine gun. Seeing that the enemy soldier was about to fire on his group at close range, Lieutenant Maddox courageously jumped in front of his men and received the entire burst from the machine gun, at the same time wounding his assailant with his weapon. The gallantry displayed by Lieutenant Maddox in sacrificing his own safety, undoubtedly saved the lives of several men of his gun crew and reflects great credit upon him and the armed forces of the United States.
A portion of Clyde Collins letter to Kenneth's father dated September 19, 1945 details the incident from Collins perspective.
“Kenneth was wounded the afternoon of the 17th of December, the same day when my aid station and I were captured by the Germans. Now the aid station was in a little town named Klerf, which lay in a valley. On top of the adjoining hill three companies of our battalion were trying to hold back German Tiger tanks with rifles machine guns and several bazookas. Kenneth had his small antitank guns lined up along the road leading down into town. When the tanks broke thru the rifle companies they sent their infantry thru the woods to pick off the crews of the antitank guns, and Kenneth, not the one to back down in face of impossible odds defended the last gun with his carbine against six or seven Panzers each of which had an automatic weapon. Well, one of the Germans finally got Kenneth and the tanks come on into town and took us. Then they brought Kenneth in and we patched him up. He had a broken arm and leg, but other than that did not have any serious wounds, and was in fair condition when we left him. However they would not let us evacuate him to one of our own hospitals.”
Alamo in the Ardennes: The Untold Story of the American Soldiers Who Made the Defense of Bastogne Possible by John C. McManus - Pages 116-117 has a more detailed description of the action when Maddox was injured.
“… a long column of German armor descended the ridge and closed in on the bridge. Ahead of the armor, enemy reconnaissance troops were crawling or running for the bridge. At the bridge, a lone 57-millimeter gun stood in their way. Lieutenant Kenneth Maddox, and officer from Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, was pointing out targets to the gun crew. Out of the corner of his eye he spotted an enemy soldier drawing a bead on the gun crew with his burp gun (MP 40 submachine gun). Maddox tried to shout a warning, but loading and firing as they were, they could not hear him. Maddox ran between the crew and the German, whose name was Sergeant Schulz, and shot the enemy soldier. At the same moment, Sergeant Schulz unleashed a burst from his submachine gun into Maddox's chest. Both men were mortally wounded. Moments later, the Germans blasted the 57-millimeter position, knocking out the gun and killing or wounding the crewmen. Enemy vehicles now rolled unopposed across the bridge…”
Maddox's niece relates what she knows of the action and one mystery surrounding it in a letter to The Bulge Bugle, Battle of the Bulge Association, Inc., November 2017 letters section “Anyone Have Info on Kenneth G. Maddox, 28th INFD?”
Maddox, 28th Infantry Division, 110th Infantry Regiment, HDQ Company (formerly “E” Company), was in charge of 1 (or more) 57mm gun crews on Dec. 17th, 1944. It was his lone gun crew that was set up directly across the Our River from the Claravallis Hotel in Clervaux, Luxembourg where Col. Fuller's headquarters was located. They were trying to hold off the Second Panzers trying to come down the small winding north road into Clervaux while Fuller and other officers were destroying records in preparation to evacuate the building and the area.
What then happened is described in Robert F. Phillips’ book, To Save Bastogne. A Nazi grenadier came over the ridge and was about to fire on his men. Uncle Kenny stepped in front of them and received a blast across the chest from a German burp gun. He fell and his men were able to get away before a Panzer blasted their gun position to bits. They hid and circled back around to try to find Uncle Kenny's body. They found his Jeep but “all of his personal effects were gone” - and no body. At that point, their situation was so dangerous they had to go. Three of his men, Robert Weisenseel, Charles Shumaker, and Joseph Russinbro, visited my grandparents after the war. That's how we know what little details we do know. The strangest part of the story comes next.
My family did not know until sometime in early 1945 that Uncle Kenny had died on Christmas Day 1944 of his wounds in a German field hospital. They thought he was a POW being held somewhere in Germany and the whole family searched the weekly news reels for his face in the pictures of POWs. What we think now is that he was most likely in the Clervaux Sanitarium, on the ridge above Clervaux, which was being used as a field hospital, first by American forces and then by the Nazis after they took the area.
When I started all of this research, I went through and read all of my Uncle's letters home and the very last item was a Dec. 20th, 1944 Western Union telegram to my grandparents. It expressed “loving wishes for Christmas and the New Year.” And it was signed “Keep Smiling. Kenneth Maddox” It didn't hit me at first… then I realized that on Dec. 20th, my Uncle was in the German field hospital, most likely in very serious condition and probably unconscious. Having just read all of his letters, the wording sounded just like my Uncle, especially the “Keep Smiling.” Only, he didn't sign letters Kenneth or Kenneth Maddox. He signed his letters and cards with just Ken or Kenny. Who reported my Uncle as captured and in a field hospital and who reported his death specifically on Christmas Day in a German “Lazarette” (an infectious disease hospital which the Clervaux Sanitarium was)? I just can't imagine the Nazis stopping to take such a seriously wounded American soldier for aid? And the biggest mystery of all: Who sent the Dec. 20th telegram? I can't really see the Nazis doing that either? Were other American soldiers with him at the Lazarette? Were Red Cross workers present? Were civilians from the village where he was billeted working in the Lazarette and recognized him? And on Dec. 20th, when the 110th had reached a place where the headquarters could be re-established, the first Daily Report since Dec. 17th listed my Uncle as Missing in Action so all of this information came from a source other than the U.S. Army.”
Photo Caption: An US Army M1 57mm antitank gun similar to what Maddox's men would have been using on display at the Talladega, Alabama VFW Post 4261.
Robert F. Phillips recounts the incident in his book To Save Bastogne by Robert F. Phillips Pages 135-136
“With the forces of the 2nd Battalion, 110th, shattered or falling back, the ring around Clervaux was already closed on three sides by 1500 of the 17th and would grow tighter by the hour. A single 57mm antitank gun guarded the bridge near the railroad station where the road coming down from the north entered the town. It was at this antitank gun position that 1st Lieutenant Kenneth G. Maddox of Headquarters, 2nd Battalion, 110th, was directing the gun crew in a last desperate attempt to keep the enemy from the gates of Clervaux. Although the head-on clash with a small tank force from the 707th at 0930 had momentarily stopped the German push on Clervaux, the enemy forces were once more putting pressure on that city.
The crewmen of the antitank gun were so busy firing at the oncoming 2nd Panzer tanks that they didn't notice an infiltrating German grenadier moving up on one flank of the gun position. Lieutenant Maddox saw that the enemy soldier was about to fire at the gun crew and realized, after he had shouted a warning to them, that his men could not hear his shouting above the din of battle. There seemed only one other course of action open to him; he leaped in front of his men, firing at the German grenadier as he did so. Lieutenant Maddox received the full burst from the German machine pistol in his chest. At the same time, the German soldier pitched forward, felled by the lieutenant's one hastily fired shot. Maddox's sacrifice was in vain, however, for the advancing German tank-infantry team, Battalion Monschau," from the 2nd Panzer's 2nd Grenadier Regiment, obliterated the single antitank gun and its crew, thus breaching the defenses of Clervaux from the north.*
As if to emphasize this fact, a Mark V (Panther)Ětank crossed the bridge and destroyed an American Sherman near Colonel Fuller's command post at the Claravallis Hotel. A German panzerfaust team, one of many who were working their way into town, had knocked out and set fire to another Sherman near the Clervaux post office. The defenders of Clervaux fired on both the enemy tanks and the enemy infantry from the houses with whatever weapons they could muster. They defended themselves so fiercely, in fact, that for several hours the attacking Germans found it necessary to use armored vehicles to pass through the streets of the town.
* Lieutenant Maddox, severely wounded, was evacuated by the Germans to one of their field hospitals, where he died of his wounds on Christmas Day.”
A World War II Odyssey: Lt. Kenneth G. Maddox's Journey from Louisville to Luxembourg
The Kentucky Historical Society (https://history.ky.gov ) has an extensive collection of items, photos and documents from the Maddox family See Kenneth G. Maddox Papers MSS 38 Kenneth G. Maddox Papers, 1930-1985
Kentucky Historical Society M. Hunt Maddox Collection