February 2014 a post appeared on Mark Bando's Trigger Time Forum in which a regular forum member requested more information about a helmet he found in the vicinity of Bastogne, Belgium.
The helmet belonged to Staff Sergeant Harry L Pillow of B-Company, 50th Armored Infantry Battalion. Sergeant Pillow was killed in action on January 14, 1945 near Arloncourt, North East of Bastogne.
After some heavy fighting in the first week of January 1945, the 50th Armored Infantry Battalion was placed in Division Reserve on January 9. On January 12, Companies A and B were back on the lines in the vicinity of Bizory, 1,5 miles North East of Bastogne.
A and B Company were part of Task Force Wall (Lt. Col. Wall, commanding officer 50th Armored Infantry Battalion), which also included on company of tanks of the 69th Tank Battalion and a section of Tank Destroyers.
Task Force Wall would start an attack towards the east on January 13 at 13.45 in the afternoon. Main objective of the attack was the town of Mageret. This town had previously, in the first week of January, been taken by Task Force Davall, but had to be returned to the enemy when the Division had to shorten its defensive line after strong counter attacks by the Germans.
The little town located on the main highway between Bastogne and the Luxembourg border was vitally important to the German Wehrmacht. Therefore it was heavenly defended.
Under cover of fire from Tanks of Task Force Kennedy, B Company entered the town for the second time in two weeks. B Company commenced clearing the town as A Company passed on through the high ground on the east of the town stopping just short of the woods at Bois St. Lambert. The enemy counter attacked, re-entered the town and fought savagely from house to house. Employing an unprecedented number of bazookas, they knocked out three of our tanks and battled throughout the night with unabated fanaticism. It was not until the following morning (January 14) that B Company, with the assistance of A Company was able to root the last Germans from their positions.
On January 14, C Company joined Task Force Wall and together with A and B Company, the Task Force continued with their next objective. Bois St. Lambert was cleared against little opposition. The Task Force consolidated its positions and established contact with Task Force LaGrew at a point between Mageret and Bois St. Lambert.
During one of these actions, Sergeant Pillow was killed in action.
Harold Luck Pillow was born on September 27, 1913 in Roanoke, Roanoke County, Virginia of John Holcome Pillow and Ora Bessie Adams. He had a sister named Ruth and a brother named Eugene. His father died shortly after his son's passing in July 1945.
A few articles appeared in the local newspaper about Sergeant Pillow:
Mrs. Ethel L. Pillow of 155 Holbrook Avenue, has been informed by the
acting adjutant general of the War Department that she will be presented the Bronze Star Medal, which will be awarded posthumously to her husband, Staff Sergeant Harold L. Pillow, who was killed in action in Belgium in January, 1945.
An officer of the Third Service Command will come to Danville to make the presentation, the letter stated. The decoration will be awarded for the late infantryman's heroic service in connection with military operations in France and Belgium during, the period of July 28, 1944 to January 14, 1945.
The citation slates: "Serving heroicly until killed in action, he fought as a front line infantryman and squad leader , through the bitter fighting and unrelenting pressure of all campaigns."
Sgt. Pillow was the son of Mrs. J. H. Pillow of 1215 Claiborne Street, and entered service in March. 1942. He went overseas with the 6th Armored Division January, 1944.
The Bronze Star Citation in General Order #260 1945: