Robert Augustus Lewis
First Lieutenant, United States Army
Robert Augustus Lewis was born October 26, 1920 in Quantico. Upon graduation from VMI in 1942 he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army. He served with the 15th Armored Infantry Battalion in Europe, and was the first man of that organization to enter Belgium- carried across the border by a jubilant crowd of Belgians. He was killed in Germany September 20, 1944 and is buried in Arlington with our father and mother. He was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart.
His father, Augustus
Theodore Lewis, Lieutenant Colonel, United States Marine Corps, is
also buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Excerpt from "Paths of Armor":
2 September, the combat command (CCB) broke loose and hurtled forward in a spectacular 85-mile dash; it was the deepest drive into enemy territory made thus far in a single day by any outfit on the Western Front. At daylight CC B found that most of the enemy forces which had presented the stonewall resistance the previous night had withdrawn. From its positions south of Noyon it then rolled its halftracks and tanks onto the roads at 6:30 a.m and pointed them toward the Belgian border. After grinding through Noyon, it pushed on to Ham, where the bridge over the Somme-Oise Canal had been wrecked with demolitions. Engineers of B Co, 22nd Engineers, were called forward to the site and they quickly threw a 30-foot treadway bridge across the barrier. Crossing the canal and driving beyond Ham, the column then began to pick up speed. It by-passed St Quentin to the west and, later, Cambrai to the east. Then it shot into Valenciennes and by 10:15 that night was across the Belgian border two miles north of Condé.
The first Fifth Armored member to enter Belgium was First Lieutenant Robert A. Lewis, Company Commander of A Company, 15th Infantry Battalion; he was carried across by a jubilant crowd of Belgian citizens. (in fact B Company, there is an error in Paths of Armor, note of the webmaster)
He was killed on September 20, 1944 in Germany.
As daylight brightened over the debris-laden hills and valleys that morning, 20 September, the Germans were anxious to find out whether any Americans were still in Germany. They sent a force of tanks and infantrymen intoNiedersgegen from the norteast and quickly discovered that all of the Fifth Armored troops had not departed. They were repulsed by a platoon from the married B companies of the 81st Tank Bn and 15th Infantry Bn. Two Shermans, however, were lost in the counterattack.
The German then stepped up the intensity of their artillery barrages in the Niedersgegen Valley and on Hill 375. The shell fragments caused so many casualties in the valley south of Niedersgegen that the area was dubbed "Purple Heart Valley" just as Hill 407 had been known to the men of CC R as "Purple Heart Hill".
During one of these barrages First Lieutenant Robert A. Lewis, the first Fifth Armored man to enter Belgium, was killed.
Posted: 24 July 2002 Updated: 9 March 2003 Updated: 16 May 2006