Paddock, Thomas J.

Date of death:
March 27th, 1945
Nationality:
American (1776 - present, Republic)

Biography

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Private 1st Class
Unit:
10th Armored Infantry Battalion, 4th Armored Division, U.S. Army
Action:
On March 26, 1945, Taskforce Baum made a daring action into enemy territory to liberate Allied prisoners held by the Germans in a POW Camp Oflag XIII-B near Hammelburg, Germany.
Task Force Baum was made up at the 37th Tank Battalion en 10th Armored Infantry Battalion a total of 296 men. Against ever-stiffening resistance by an enemy who thought an entire division had broken through the Main River defense line, Captain Baum's decimated column finally reached the stockade near dark on 27 March. After a hot fight, the prisoners were released, armed, and mounted on the back decks of Company C's tanks for the ride back to friendly lines. Captain Baum directed the remnants of his force northeastward, but by now the area was swarming with German infantry and armor. By morning of the 28th all the task force's vehicles had been knocked out. The force then broke into groups of fours and fives and attempted to exfiltrate back to American lines. Finally, about 35 men made it. The rest were killed or captured. Of the 296 officers and men of Task force Baum, 32 were wounded, 9 killed and 16 who were missing in action are still unaccounted for. Of the remaining 239, virtually all, including Captain Baum, were prisoners at one time or another.
Although they did not accomplish their mission successfully, the tankers and infantry of Task force Baum contributed a great deal to the Central European Campaign. No less than an entire German Corps was diverted to the seeking out and destruction of the two company task force. Only the loss of the means to fight on kept them from continuing. The story of Task force Baum will serve as a stirring example of individual courage and small unit leadership as long as nations have armies.
Silver Star Medal (SSM)

Sources