Army Memorabilia

Sebena, Steve W.

Rank: Private
Serial Number: 35399622
Military Branch: Co. B, 329th Regiment, 83rd Division
Origin: Ohio
Date of Death: 1944-8-5
Brittany American Cemetery, France
Featured: No

Private Steve Sebena born May 12, 1921, enlisted October 10, 1942, and was killed in action on August 5, 1944 near St. Malo as the 83rd advanced against strong German defensive forces. His group includes his officially engraved slot brooch posthumous Purple Heart with ribbon bar and presentation case. Also included are two military registration cards for his brother, James. His IDPF is included in the group. That document shows that his father, Joseph, lived in Youngstown, Ohio.

The 83rd Division (Thunderbolts) began landing on Omaha Beach (Normandy) June 18, 1944, wading through eight days of fighting to Carentan. Next offensive action was against high ground at Periers. The 83rd crossed the Periers-St. Lo road, rested briefly astride the St. Lo-Coutance Highway, then wheeled south to Avranches and west to Brittany. "Impregnable" St. Lo fell to the 83rd: its commander, "Mad Col." von Aulock, surrendering (August). The Thunderbolts captured Dinard, St. Lunaire and St. Brieuc with 13,000 Nazi prisoners. Assigned to protect the right flank of the Third Army, then racing across France, the 83rd in patrol action, Loire Valley area, accepted surrender of Brig. Gen. Botho-Heming Elster with 20,000 Nazis at Beaugency Bridge.

The 83rd Division assembled near Feugeres, and on 3 through 5 August they moved out of the Cotentin Peninsula and turned west into Brittany. The roads were strewn with German tanks, trucks and staff cars, and often with dead Germans. On the coast near Mont St. Michel, Pontorson, and Dol-de-Bretagne they received orders to capture the port towns of St. Malo and Dinard.

St. Malo was the main port on the northern coast of Brittany. Because of its turbulent past as a privateer stronghold, the town was protected by stone walls. U.S. Intelligence estimated between 3,000 and 6,000 German troops occupied St. Malo. Actually 12,000 defended the walled city, and they vowed to "fight to the last stone." It would take two weeks of street fighting to raze St. Malo. On 6 August, the Germans demolished all the quays, locks, breakwaters and harbor machinery and set fire to the city. On 9 August, the enemy defenders were forced back to the Citadel at St. Servan and to Dinard on the west bank of the river just opposite St. Malo. There they held the GIs at bay from underground pillboxes and camouflaged strong points. Days of house-to-house fighting under thick smoke, artillery fire, and fighter-bomber attacks could not convince the Germans to give up. Finally, direct hits by 8-in. guns destroyed much of the enemy artillery and machine gun emplacements and forced them to surrender. Frank Reichmann in the 1st Battalion of the 331st said that a platoon of captured Germans started singing farewell to their commander. Most of them were in tears.

Spring 2022 sold to a collector. 

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