Gurrell, Ford J

Ford J. Gurrell was born in 1919 in West Chester, Pennsylvania. His parents died when he was young, and he was raised by his grandmother two houses away from hero Adon Wills. He was the only son among five children. Ford worked for the Daily Local News, first as a newspaper boy, and later for the paper's mechanical department.

Ford was one of the first youth of West Chester to be called into service. He entered the Army on June 7, 1941. He received training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and Pine Camp, New York. While at Pine Camp he trained with the 35th Armored Regiment. He became the assistant editor of the Regiment’s newspaper, The Turret.
Army Logo Shadow
Ford was then assigned to serve with the 35th Tank Battalion, 4th Armored Division, 3rd Army. His division left from Boston on December 29, 1943 for England. In England they received further training.

On July 11 Ford’s Division landed at Utah Beach in Normandy, part of Patton’s Famed Army. They then began their combat, clearing the enemy in western France before beginning their hard drive across the country towards Germany. His division flanked Nancy and liberated the French city of Luneville on September 16th, defeating larger German Panzer Brigades through superior tactics and training.

Ford’s division continued advancing against the enemy, with its Sherman Tanks which were lighter armored and lighter gunned than the German Panzer Tanks, but were faster and more numerous.

In late December the Germans launched a massive counter attack, known as the Battle of the Bulge. Patton’s Army raced across France, to relieve the 101st Airborne Division, surrounded at Bastogne, a critical junction town in Belgium. Ford’s Division raced northwest, traveling 150 miles in 19 hours and fighting the enemy much of the way.

It was during this action that Ford was wounded, and awarded the Silver Star for his courage. The citation reads:

Technician Gurrell’s tank was knocked out and he remained with the accompanying infantry until they were ordered to withdraw. He then assisted in carrying a wounded man to another tank and rode outside the tank, holding the wounded man on the tank, until they reached a medical aid point. He was exposed to heavy enemy fire during the entire time he was helping evacuate his wounded comrade.
His complete disregard for his own personal safety, his courage and devotion to duty reflect great credit upon himself and is in keeping with the highest traditions of the Armed Forces of the United States.

After re-supply, maintenance, and much deserved rest, Ford’s division began an attack into Germany from Luxembourg City in February 1945. The Fourth Armored crossed the Moselle River into Germany near Trier, attacked southeast to Worms, and crossed the Rhine on March 24-25.  Advancing all night, the division crossed the Main River south of Hanau, and attacked Lauterbach, which fell on March 29th. 

Technician 5th Grade Ford J. Gurrell was Killed In Action on March 31, 1945 in Germany. A Solemn Requiem Mass was held at St. Agnes Church in West Chester on Monday morning, May 21st. Ford was buried at the Lorraine American Cemetery in St. Avoid (Moselle) France with full military honors.


Research by Don Wambold, WCMSC