Joseph Gibbs Ferrel, Class of 1946
Born on October 26, 1924, in Kern County, California to Linnie Rebecca Gibbs Ferrel and Clarence John Ferrel, Joseph graduated from Bakersfield High School in 1942 and then entered The Citadel with the Class of 1946 at the start of the 1942-43 academic year. While there, he was a member of Cadet Company P. He was called away mid-way through his freshman year, enlisting in December 1942 and entering the U.S. Army on March 27, 1943 at Fort Macauthur, San Pedro, Los Angeles, California.
A Private First Class, he was sent to Europe in August 1944 with Company K, 414th Infantry Regiment, 104th Division. The regiment landed at Cherbourg, trained in Normandy, and then saw its first combat action in Holland on October 24. Another Citadel Man attached to the 104th, Robert A. Bates, Class of 1946, died of wounds received in combat on November 3. On November 7, the division was sent to Germany to assault the West Wall and was attached to VII Corps of the U.S. First Army. The division arrived in Aachen, Germany on November 8.
The assault began on November 15, and the regiment’s immediate objective east of Stolberg was the Donnerberg, also known as Hill 287, which dominated the terrain covered with pillboxes, bunkers, and other fortifications. On November 17, 1944, PFC Joe Gibbs Ferrel was killed in action when the “Timberwolves” were on the offensive to clear the Eschweiler – Weisweiler industrial triangle, driving through the Siegfried Line from Aachen towards the Roer River. He was just 20 years of age.
PFC Ferrel was buried at the U.S. First Army cemetery at Henri-Chapelle, Belgium. Following the war, his body was repatriated and laid to rest at Plot D, Grave 368, Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, California.
PFC Joseph G. Ferrel was survived by his mother, Mrs. Linnie G. Shackelford; his sister, Mrs. James C. Wood, né Jeane Ferrel; and an aunt, Mrs. Vesta Harmon. During his service career, he was awarded the Purple Heart medal, Good Conduct medal, and expert rifleman’s badge.
Photo courtesy of The Citadel Archives and Museum, Charleston, South Carolina.
The Bakersfield Californian, Bakersfield, California, Monday, October 27, 1947, p.1.
The Bakersfield Californian, Bakersfield, California, Saturday, November 22, 1947, p.7.
National Archives and Records Administration. U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946.
National Archives and Records Administration. U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Form.
National Archives and Records Administration. U.S. Rosters of WWII Dead.
Timberwolf Tracks. 104th Division History.
After Action Reports October – November 1944, 414th Infantry Regiment.