HALL OF FAME TANK ACE Clifford Elliott
CLIFF ELLIOTT INTERVIEW
(One Of My Favorites) – Sparks, NA 1990
Cliff came into the 3 AD as a replacement Officer in combat in July 1944. He was
a fearless hard charging platoon leader and quickly became a Tank Ace, and
Company Commander of 33/E Company He had lost eight tanks and was
wounded four times. This is his story about the Ardennes Trois Ponts, Belgium,
on the Northern Shoulder fighting under Task Force Lovelady. He charged with
E/33 from Stolberg, Germany to Petit Coo, Belgium on Dec. 20, 1944 to cut the
lines of Col. Peiper of the 1st SS Panzer Division. and continued to Trois Ponts
My name is Cliff L. Elliott. I joined the Third Armored Division as a replacement on 24th. of July, 1944.WE were alerted on the 18th, of December 1944 in Stolberg, Germany. E Company left the afternoon of the 19th. I remember traveling through Spa, Belgium late at night, very dark. On Dec. 20, we run into a column of Germany tanks at Grand Coo. We engaged these tanks and they backed off and we rolled into Trois Ponts. I had a short Company, nine tanks, and the rest of the seventeen being in maintenance for repair. We were working with E Company of the 33rd. We were battling the First SS Panzer Division. After going through the double underpass or viaduc on the way to our objective in Stavelot to link up with the 30th, Infantry Division. We lost four of our M-4 Shermans to fire from an antitank gun. Lt. Hope, E Company Commander got out of his tank and went down the road with his pistol and was hit by an 88 shell, leaving me a Company Commander. We were cut off from the rest of the outfit on Dec. 21. The Germans had put up a bridge and made a crossing at Petit Spay and cut though our aid station at Petit Coo, on Dec. 21 and cut us off until the evening of the 24th. of December.
We were harassed badly by mortars. Every time one of the men stuck his head out the houses or ran from one tank to another, a mortar shell cut him down. We checked every building in the area, thinking that an observer was living with us.
There were four Officers with us, two from 33/E and two from 36/E, and I survived them all. The Company Commander of 36/E and myself were standing in the front of a cafe when a mortal round came in and crashed in front of the door. I yelled run and we ran to the back, and he fell over into my arms, the entire blast had caught him right in the stomach. I was standing shoulder to shoulder with him and my combat jacket was touching his, and I had a hole through my combat jacket and was never touched.
CORBIN: Cliff tell us what it was like in the tanks when the weather was very cold.
ELLIOTT: The winter of 44-45, it was awful cold, I remember the temperature in Trios Ponts was 32 degrees Below 0 Farenheight. I went out to check on my tanks and make sure the tank crew were on guard and not asleep, I would use a pair of asbestos gloves to keep my hands from freezing on the metal, we spent 4 days in Trois Ponts and we didn't move the tanks in that period. later after it snowed and in the second phase of the BOB we moved into Malempre It wasn't quite as cold, we had snow, but the equipment seemed to work fairly well. If we left the tanks overnight we had to start " little Joe" to warm up the oil so the engines would turn over. The oil would get so stiff the engines wouldn't turn over. Otherwise the men and the equipment functioned as well as possible under the conditions.
In Trois Ponts I was concerned because we were facing the 1st. SS Panzer Division. The 82nd. Airborne were across the Ambleve River in back of us. Jokingly I told the men in the Company that I hoped everyone could swim because I was going to swim the Ambleve River before they would capture me. They said with all the chunks of ice floating down there. I said I would try it.
CORBIN: Did you know about the Malmedy Massacre?
ELLIOTT: I had not heard about the Malmedy Massacre at that time. In the buildings we were in, we found 10 massacred civilians.
The balance of my tanks, the eight that were in maintenance with the 30th. Infantry Division broke through to us in the afternoon of the 24th. to relieve us. and take over our position.