Bernard Pious Bell

Posted on Feb 1, 2017

Bernard Pious Bell
Rank and organization: Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company I, 142d Infantry, 36th Infantry Division
Place and date: Mittelwihr, France, 18 December 1944
Entered service at: New York, N.Y.
Birth: Grantsville, W. Va. G.O. No.: 73, 30 August 1945
Death: Florida in 1971 at age 59, buried at Arlington National Cemetery

 

 

Citation:

For fighting gallantly at Mittelwihr, France. On the morning of 18 December 1944, he led a squad against a schoolhouse held by enemy troops. While his men covered him, he dashed toward the building, surprised 2 guards at the door and took them prisoner without firing a shot. He found that other Germans were in the cellar. These he threatened with hand grenades, forcing 26 in all to emerge and surrender. His squad then occupied the building and prepared to defend it against powerful enemy action. The next day, the enemy poured artillery and mortar barrages into the position, disrupting communications which T/Sgt. Bell repeatedly repaired under heavy small-arms fire as he crossed dangerous terrain to keep his company commander informed of the squad’s situation. During the day, several prisoners were taken and other Germans killed when hostile forces were attracted to the schoolhouse by the sound of captured German weapons fired by the Americans. At dawn the next day the enemy prepared to assault the building. A German tank fired round after round into the structure, partially demolishing the upper stories. Despite this heavy fire, T/Sgt. Bell climbed to the second floor and directed artillery fire which forced the hostile tank to withdraw. He then adjusted mortar fire on large forces of enemy foot soldiers attempting to reach the American position and, when this force broke and attempted to retire, he directed deadly machinegun and rifle fire into their disorganized ranks. Calling for armored support to blast out the German troops hidden behind a wall, he unhesitatingly exposed himself to heavy small-arms fire to stand beside a friendly tank and tell its occupants where to rip holes in walls protecting approaches to the school building. He then trained machineguns on the gaps and mowed down all hostile troops attempting to cross the openings to get closer to the school building. By his intrepidity and bold, aggressive leadership, T/Sgt. Bell enabled his 8-man squad to drive back approximately 150 of the enemy, killing at least 87 and capturing 42. Personally, he killed more than 20 and captured 33 prisoners.

Biography:

On December 18, 1944, during World War II, Bernard Bell captured more than 30 German prisoners, earning the Medal of Honor.

Bell was born at Grantsville in Calhoun County in 1911, but his family moved to Point Pleasant when he was only one. He enlisted in the Army in 1942 and attained the rank of technical sergeant. In early December 1944, his division was working with the French army to liberate the city of Colmar from German forces. On December 18, Bell and his eight-man squad captured an enemy-occupied schoolhouse near Mittelwihr and held it in the face of relentless enemy attacks. During the fight, Bell exposed himself to enemy fire, killed more than 20 German troops, and took 33 captive. President Harry Truman awarded him the Medal of Honor in August 1945.

After the war, Bernard Bell worked for the Veteran’s Administration. He died in Florida in 1971 at age 59 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. His siblings donated his military medals to the Mason County Public Library in Point Pleasant. And a bridge in Calhoun County was named in his honor in 2001.