After his high school education Arthur Whitbeck enlisted in the army. At Camp Claiborne in Louisiana, he was trained as a tank technician and assigned to B Company, 784th Tank Battalion. Arthur was part of a crew of a Sherman tank.
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784 Tank Battalion embarked on Oct 30 '44 in America and arrived on Christmas Day in Le Havre (F). The front line lay along the German border and the Batlle of the Bulge (Ardennenoffensive) was in full swing. The battalion immediately moved further. Within one week, on Dec. 31, they had entered Germany at the border at Eschweiler.
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Task Force Byrne went smoothly. That changed on March 2, when Arthur's B Company fought at Sevelen, which was strongly defended by German paratroopers. The Americans were sealed off from reinforcements and supplies ...
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On March 4 Arthur and his comrades were ordered to attack Kamperbruch. The commander expected little opposition, but the Germans had set up tank guns. Arthur's tank was directly hit.
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to the UK
Landing on Utah Beach
Died on pleasure flight
Buried in Margraten, Block RR, Row 12 Grave 290
Germany invades Poland, Britain
and France declare war on Germany
Nazi Germany declares war on the US
Battle of Stalingrad: Red Army defeats Germans
In March 2015, Arthur Whitbeck's
relatives visited Margraten
for the first time.
Left to right: Brandon, Charles and Erica
Whitbeck. Charles' father Irving was Arthur’s brother.
Brandon and Erica are Charles’s children.
Charles: “I always wanted to pay my respects to my uncle who served in WWII. Coming to Margraten is something I always thought about doing, but I never made it over here. My uncle died in 1945 and I was born in 1951. I’m 63 years old now and I finally got the chance to do this. Nobody else in the family has done it. But somebody had got to come by and say a prayer and pay their respects. My dad still remembers him. His sisters have died recently, but of course they remembered him also. He is still part of the family history. His memory is fading but he is not forgotten…”
"After Arthur's death, his family received two
letters from officers of the 784 Tank Battalion.
Personnel officer Wilbur Smith wrote the letter on March 9
to inform the Whitbeck family
about the death of their son.
In an undated letter to the Whitbeck family,
1st Sergeant Evans of 784 Tank Battalion
later writes about the memories
the men of the battalion had of
Arthur: “Arthur was a clean cut soldier and held
up the morale of the army. We, the men of the
company, have missed him so much, he was the life
and soul of the company.”
Jefferson Wiggins was one of the African-American grave-diggers in Margraten. Mieke Kirkels wrote down his story in the book Van Alabama naar Margraten.
Arthur Whitbeck was awarded
various medals, which his family
received in 2002. That seems late,
but it is not unusual. When medals were
awarded to fallen soldiers, something regularly
went wrong. Many forgotten medals were only
recently awarded. At the time of the war little attention
was paid to the role African American soldiers played.
Recently this has changed, with extra attention being given
to their part in the war. This may be one reason why
Arthur Whitbeck's medals were only recently awarded.