Corporal Fred S. Shoe (1908–1944)

Corporal Fred S. Shoe, probably in 1942 (A History of Cabarrus County in the Wars, enhanced with MyHeritage)
Home StateCivilian Occupation
North CarolinaCotton mill worker
BranchService Number
U.S. Army34300862
TheaterUnit
Mediterranean Company “A,” 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion
AwardsCampaigns/Battles
Purple HeartTunisian campaign (presumed), Italy (including Anzio)

Early Life & Family

Fred Samuel Shoe was born on May 10, 1908, in Cabarrus County, North Carolina. He was the fifth of eight children born to William Robert Shoe (1877–1962) and Margaret Julia Shoe (née Hurlocker, 1873–1958). He grew up on the family farm in Mount Pleasant Township (Township 8). He was recorded as a farmhand on the census on April 8, 1930.

By May 22, 1940, when he was recorded on the next census, Shoe was still living with his family, but was now working as a hopper feeder at a cotton mill. According to the 1940 census, he had dropped out of school after completing the 7th grade. When he registered for the draft on October 16, 1940, Shoe’s employer was identified as Cannon Mills in Concord. The registrar described him as standing five feet, eight inches tall and weighing 140 lbs., with brown hair and gray eyes.


Corporal Fred S. Shoe (Courtesy of the Moose family)

Military Career

After he was drafted, Shoe joined the U.S. Army at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on April 18, 1942. It is likely but unconfirmed that he joined the 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion stateside. That unit was also stationed at Fort Bragg at the time. Shoe’s entry in A History of Cabarrus County in the Wars states that he took “part in four battles in North Africa.” That’s generally consistent with the history of the 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion, which fought at Kasserine Pass, El Guettar, and Bizerete in early 1943 during the Tunisian campaign.

Group photo of Company “A,” 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion at Fort Bragg on July 3, 1942. It is unclear if Shoe was already a member of the unit by that time, and it doesn’t look as though he is in the photograph. Note the M3 tank destroyers flanking the men. (Courtesy of Paul Stevens)

The unit reequipped after Tunisia, exchanging the M3 Gun Motor Carriage for the 3-inch Gun Motor Carriage M10. Essentially, the M10 was a medium tank chassis equipped with an open turret and a more powerful 3-inch gun. After training at the Fifth Army Tank Destroyer Training Center in Sebdou, Algeria, during the summer of 1943, the 894th shipped out to Italy in the fall of 1943. After initially acting as self-propelled artillery near Cassino, in January 1944 the unit was deployed to the Anzio beachhead.

A 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion M10 tank destroyer near Anzio on February 29, 1944. (Official U.S. Army Signal Corps photo. National Archives, courtesy of TankDestroyer.net)

If he wasn’t already, by the end of the Battle of Anzio, Shoe had been promoted to corporal and was a member of Company “A” of the 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion. As a corporal, he was likely a gunner, though he could have been an assistant section leader, or less likely, the company clerk or ammunition corporal.

On May 23, 1944, Allied forces began the long-awaited breakout from the Anzio beachhead. However, there was still a great deal of fighting ahead before Rome fell on June 4.

Patrick J. Chase wrote in his book Seek, Strike, Destroy:

PFC [sic] Fred S. Shoe, a friend of [PFC J.C.] Wright’s, was riding in the M10 just ahead of his. Shoe made the mistake of raising his head out of the turret to look around. A German sniper hit him in the neck with a rifle bullet. Although wounded himself, Wright held Shoe in his arms as he died from suffocation.

Curiously, a digitized hospital admission card for him states that Shoe was injured in the trachea by artillery fragments but apparently survived long enough to make it to a hospital. Although medical personnel attempted a tracheotomy, they were unsuccessful in saving his life. American tank destroyers, with their open turrets, were considerably more vulnerable than tanks to both infantry and artillery fire.

Corporal Shoe died on May 31, 1944, aged 36. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart. Corporal Shoe was buried at what is now known as the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Nettuno, Italy in Plot H, Row 4, Grave 31. There is also a cenotaph to him at Bethel Bear Creek Reformed Church Cemetery in Mount Pleasant, North Carolina.


Notes

Photo Enhancement

The photo at the top of this page was digitally enhanced using tools on the genealogy website MyHeritage. This software is useful in instances where the only known photograph is of limited resolution (in this case, because the original print was low resolution). I believe this to be an accurate reconstruction, but the software could potentially introduce errors by misinterpreting fuzzy details in the original photograph. A comparison of the original and enhanced versions of the photos can be viewed below.

Comparison of the original (left) and the product of MyHeritage’s enhancements (right)

Acknowledgments

Special thanks to the Moose family for their photograph of Corporal Shoe and to Paul Stevens (and TankDestroyer.net) for the use of the Company “A” unit photograph.


Bibliography

Cabarrus County Clerk Superior Court Record of Administrators, Volume 9, Years 1944 – 1948. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/9061/images/004779342_00044

Chase, Patrick J. Seek, Strike, Destroyer: The History of the 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion in World War II. Gateway Press, 1995.

“Corp Fred Samuel Shoe.” Find a Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/69754519/fred-samuel-shoe

“CPL Fred S Shoe.” Find a Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/56305843/fred-s-shoe

A History of Cabarrus County in the Wars. The War Records Collections Committee, Cabarrus County, 1947. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1862/images/1862_CabarrusCo-00033

North Carolina Death Certificates. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1121/images/S123_441-0708, https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1121/images/S123_498-2740

“Table of Organization and Equipment No. 18-27: Tank Destroyer Gun Company, Tank Destroyer Battalion, Self-Propelled.” War Department, March 15, 1944. Military Research Service website. http://www.militaryresearch.org/18-27%2015Mar44.pdf  

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7884/images/4450007_00867

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6061/images/4442118_00333

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6224/images/4608273_00095

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2442/images/m-t0627-02882-00117

U.S. WWII Hospital Admission Card Files, 1942–1954. Record Group 112, Records of the Office of the Surgeon General (Army), 1775–1994. National Archives at College Park, Maryland. https://www.fold3.com/record/705346622-shoe-fred-s

World War II Army Enlistment Records. Record Group 64, Records of the National Archives and Records Administration. National Archives at College Park, Maryland. https://aad.archives.gov/aad/record-detail.jsp?dt=893&mtch=1&cat=all&tf=F&q=34300862&bc=&rpp=10&pg=1&rid=4719138

WWII Draft Registration Cards for North Carolina, 10/16/1940–3/31/1947. Record Group 147, Records of the Selective Service System. National Archives Atlanta, Georgia. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2238/images/32892_1821100519_0069-03961

Zaloga, Steven J. M10 and M36 Tank Destroyers 1942–53. Osprey Publishing, 2002.


Last updated on December 2, 2021

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