Snow was falling and it was bitterly cold as First Lieutenant James “Maggie” Megellas brought his weary platoon to an abrupt halt. Quietly he ordered his men down – something was wrong.
It was Sunday 28th January 1945 and, in the aftermath of the Battle of the Bulge, he and his small unit had been advancing all day along heavily wooded, snow-clad tracks towards their objective – the small town of Herresbach. Almost immediately he spotted movement. Advancing out of the town through the tree line ahead, and oblivious to the American’s presence, was a large force of German infantry.
Megellas realized they were heavily outnumbered and that surprise was their best weapon. Seizing the moment, the American paratroopers charged the unsuspecting enemy, firing from the hip. Caught off-guard the dazed Germans were routed and within minutes over a hundred enemy lay dead, the survivors threw down their weapons and surrendered. Incredibly not a single American had been killed or injured.
But the day’s action wasn’t over: the unmistakable sound of heavy armor now carried across the snow-covered battleground as a German MkV Panther tank lumbered ominously towards them. With total disregard for his own safety, Megellas single-handedly charged the steel monster, placing a grenade into one of its tracks he disabled the tank, before throwing another grenade inside, eliminating the crew.
For this selfless and heroic act Megellas was immediately nominated for the Medal of Honor. The regimental account of his action, however, was somehow omitted from the official battle report and instead he was awarded the Silver Star.
Simon Smith’s dramatic new image Act of Valor, picks up the story as, with the Panther rendered harmless, Megellas readies his men for their final advance into Herresbach.
This is an historic release and “Maggie” Megellas – who gave his own unconditional approval to Simon’s stunning rendition – has personally signed every print in this new edition as a living reminder of one of the most inspirational stories of World War II.
Joining artist Simon Smith every print has been personally signed by one of the great heroes of World War II:
Lieutenant Colonel JAMES “MAGGIE” MEGELLAS