Veteran's accounts/Récits de vétérans/

Mardi 3 janvier 2 03 /01 /Jan 21:02

FOSSE (Trois-Ponts)  - January 03, 1945

I Co, 505th PIR, 82nd Airborne Division

By Sgt. William H. TUCKER.

 505th PIR Co I Pocket patch

 

Today the 03rd of January 2012, 67th anniversary of the battle of Fosse. I want here to pay hommage to my dear friend Bill Tucker who made his final jump in November 2008. I've been proud and honored to be amongst his friend.

 

I associate my close friend Claude Orban and my close friend in Normandy: Francine, Morgane, Barbara and Ruppert. 

 

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This is a draft of my experience in the battle to attack Fosse which I Co, 505th PIR of the 82nd Airborne Division made on January 03, 1945. 

 

We had a two days rest area after having been relieved on New Year’s day by the 517th PRCT.  We had held that position since Christmas Eve and on that day as a result of Field Marshal Montgomery’s order to pull back. We had to fight our way to the route from Rochelinval to Basse-Bodeux after encountering elements of  Jochen Peiper battle group, 1st SS Panzer Division. This group was at the same time trying to go back to Germany after they had been cut off in La Gleize area. Although we suffered some casualties and had to leave two good men at the railroad track at the Salm river, we did the move back successfully. We did not want to give up our strong position at Rochelinval on the Salm river, and believed we could have held there. 

  

On 08.00 a.m., the 03rd of January 1945, we move along the road to-and-through Basse-Bodeux to the Initial Point (IP) of the attack which was a dirt trail where the road to Basse-Bodeux turned left towards Trois-Ponts. Our route was to take the trail to the right and then go up the hill and seize the town of Fosse. 

  

Along the way to Basse-Bodeux, American heavy artillery was firing all along the front and when we were on the way about 100 yards away from us a “short round” hit and a piece of the shell stuck Pvt. DIGIRALMO in the head and killed him instantly, no one else was hit.

 

 FOSSE, monument to thirteen men of I-Company, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Div, who lost their lives on Jan. 03, 1945.

Fosse Mnt. & Mr.Tucker May 2000

 

We went along the dirt trail all over the wooded hill between Fosse and Basse-Bodeux till we reached another dirt trail going up the hill. Captain McPHEETERS was leading the company and he moved pretty close to the top of the hill when he directed that my platoon, the second platoon, commanded by Lieutenant CHRISTIAN moved along the right side of the hill, it would be some distance from where we were coming out the woods to the town or the west flank of the town. The three squad leaders of my platoon knew Charlie MATASH, had a feeling that he thought enemy guns were nearby. Captain McPHEETERS was leading us as brave fine leader. Somebody had to move on to that part of the hill and see what had to be done. McPHEETERS was killed instantly with a machine gun bullet to his head and several of us were hit, including the fine Lieutenant DEGENHART badly wounded as he tried to move his men forward McPHEETERS. PFC CUTLER was cut down and died in the arms of his buddy, Sgt THOMPSON. Near CUTLER, Corporal Bill HALLAHAN, died as several machine gun bullets hit him. 

  

MATASH’s first squad move along the upper left side of the hill and I lead my squad just to the right of MATASH’s people. By that time, we were getting heavy machine gun fire from the top of the hill and they were able to hit anybody as that went alongside of the hill. The first man hit was PFC Nick CAVALLERO who was killed instantly. Right after that,  medic Patsy PASSERO was wounded several times, trying to help other wounded, even though his red cross bags were clearly displayed and could be seen by the enemy.

 

I was just below CAVALLERO and at that time Dennis FORCE of MATASH’s squad was moving up the hill. He went down when he was wounded by machine gun fire and at that point a burst hit him in the face while he was on the ground and also, I was hit to the helmet. This made a small hole in the half rear of my helmet and it gave me hole in the front but it did not break the skin of my head. I saw Pvt. STALD just ahead of me looking up the hill and I remember saying as I looked in my helmet, ”Hey STALD, is the top of my head still there?”, and it was.

  

We moved along right flank and the other platoons were moving along by this time mostly on the right flank below the crest of the hill. However the German machine guns were very well placed all along the top of the hill running in the little town of Fosse, somewhat towards Basse-Bodeux and they were taking their toll. 

 

It had snowed off and on all morning and the snow was incredibly deep. Now, there is a combination of snow and sleet as we neared the side of the town. Some of us had got close to the town and we were about a hundred yards or so to the right of it looking towards the east. At some point very heavy and accurate German artillery began hitting our area. It was coming from Wanne, across the Salm river, so I was told later, but it got to be devastating. By that time, the closest people to the town were myself, Lieutenant CHRISTIAN and S/Sgt TEPSICK, our platoon sergeant. We were hiding behind the huge haystack and for some reason the Germans didn’t fire at it. But we were watching the artillery coming very intensely and we were loosing men strung out along the side of the hill to our rear. 

 

What this artillery and did in a chance of surviving it more than anything else – and reaching our objective – I suggested that we consider an open assault through the snow toward the town. TEPSICK and I thought that they might not be much in the town and that the Germans had dug in to the west of the town with most of the machine guns. That seemed particularly reasonable since we had not received any machine gun fires since we reached the point directly in line with the town at the haystacks. 

 

The snow was deep and it would not have been easy to assault. Lieutenant CHRISTIAN, a strong and brave officer wasn’t about to risk the company under these circumstances because he knew by then Captain McPHEETERS had been killed. 

 

Suddenly the shelling intensified as we saw some other American troops moving towards us from our right rear coming up from a little valley. We decided to move our men down the hill about 10-15 yards to take some cover by what I would call ledges and some other curbs and hedgerows. These were ridges cutting to the side of the hill with little wooden fences on the top. Ledges running parallel to the spine of the hill by Fosse running east-west. The ledges I took my squad to was only about 20-30 yards from where they had lying in the snow. We had to slide through the fence to get behind the ledge. I was the last man through and I was hit by a shell fragment in my left leg. By that time I had also received a small puncture wound in my left arm which was not bandaged but my knee wound was not good. Shells were screaming overhead and PFC Emilio INTRIERI, my gunner, had a bad luck, he was hit squarely with an artillery shell which ripped him apart just about as we went to this ledge. The last two men killed were, two close comrades, PFC HARRIS and PFC BROWN when an artillery shell landed between them. 

  

I managed to get to point where they were loading wounded onto jeeps to go back to Regimental Headquarter (HQ). Lieutenant CHRISTIAN went along with me as he received a bad head wound. When I get to the HQ’s aid station area I saw wounded and dead lying all  over the ground from this attack. I was told that C company of our regiment had a terrible fight at Reharmont and had heavy casualties there. Lieutenant Colonel KRAUSE was then Executive Officer and second in command of our regiment, he was pretty sad and had misty eyes to see so many men dead and wounded. And the snow, the sleet keep coming down. I was put in an ambulance headed back to Liège and I was able to trudge around a little bit and I had a bandage covering my knee. At that time, I had some morphine, so it was not too bad and I was able to start thinking about the attack after I climbed into the front seat beside the driver. On the road back to Liège I saw every kind of equipment that  ever been made in America from trucks,  to jeeps, to tanks, to antitank guns all moving towards the front. I had a sort of  despair about how we were going to get back to the Salm river with so few people at the front trying to fight as we were. Then, I realized all this tremendous power moving behind the front would keep going ahead, on and on. 

  

Bronze plaque that can be seen on the memorial at Fosse.

 

 

I had concerns then and I still have now. They might be called the reflections I seem to develop about how things were set up and running, how things should have been done, what things were done. At that time – as I expressed in writings – I thought about: 

Why in the name of heaven Montgomery had moved us out of a position we could hold for days at Rochelinval on the Salm River. Later in January 1945, we had to attack to regain the ground we gave up, in doing so, loosing thirteen good men out of about one hundred men and officers, killed in two hours, one day at Fosse on January 03, 1945; why didn’t we have at least done to the company level a better intelligence from a proper reconnaissance which would have found the machine guns and guns setup and so forth of what was at Fosse; why with our numerical superiority, the 505th PIR on the right and the 551st PIB and the 517th PRCT on the left of Fosse, why didn’t we just bypass the town and let the reserve units simply make it die, which is  probably the best question  in terms of military tactics. 

 

In later times, I had somewhat questions in hearing about the 551st PIB attack on Rochelinval. It was poorly planned and executed but most of all, by orders from the division staff simply to take the town of Rochelinval. The battalion reconnaissance  had found there were some pretty strong gun positions there, and they would be more going up terrible hills and cross difficult fields to enter the town. Why?? It would have been easy for the 551st to go along the right side of Rochelinval down to the river and be behind the strong point of the 62nd Volksgrenadiere Division and cut them off. I guess, there was a desire coming from WWI army philosophy that we were to sweep everything before us. 

 

In any event, I had another operation on my knee wound at the 164th General Hospital way back at La Haye du Puits in Normandy, I was back with my outfit in late February. At that time, it was on the Ruhr river still fighting.

By William H. TUCKER, Massachussetts, February 2003.  



bar1027d.jpg (1541 octets)

 

   Other publication by William H. TUCKER
  also wrote:
  - D-Day: Thirty-Five Days in Normandy -    Reflections of a Paratrooper (2003)
  - Parachute Soldier's Post War Odyssey 
    (1996)
  - Parachute Soldier (First Edition 1994, 2nd
    Revised Edition 1995)
  - Put on Your Boots and Parachutes, co-
    authored with British author Derek Wills
 

bar1027d.jpg (1541 octets)

               

Created : August 15, 2005

Updated : January 03, 2012

Copyright © 2001-2012 William H. TUCKER & Eddy LAMBERTY

 

Please send your comments, WWII accounts, WWII pictures to:

Eddy LAMBERTY 

Avenue Joseph Lejeune 45

4980 Trois-Ponts

Belgium

Or:

 

email018.gif (5229 octets)  eddy.lamberty@gmail.com

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Par Goyabelgium - Publié dans : Veteran's accounts/Récits de vétérans/
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Jeudi 26 mai 4 26 /05 /Mai 21:07

 

NEEL Malcolm Berlin Oct.1945

My personal account of

 the Battle of the Ardennes.

By Malcolm M. NEEL

Btry A, 80th A.A.A. Bn,

82nd A/B Division.

 80th-AA-Bn-copie-1.jpg

 

This page is a tribute to my dear friend Malcolm NEEL. I met him for the very first time in September 1997 while he was with other 80ers. I visited Petit-Halleux with Mr. NEEL (my native village) where he had spent several days in december 1944 and we kept in touch for several years. He send me his personal account and gave me his written permission to use it, so it's time to honor him and to remember him. I'll never forget him.           

         

I just watched a documentary on the P-47 in WWII. This reminded me of the time that I saw this planes in action. It was on Christmas Day, 1944. It had been foggy and cloudy that first week in the “Battle of the Bulge” (at that time we didn’t know that would be it’s name). As we came to the top of the mountain, the clouds opened up, and the first thing I saw was a muzzle blast of a cannon in the nose of a P-38, followed by other P-38s firing at something in the valley. These were followed by P-47s firing (strafing) and dropping bombs on the “target”. We couldn’t see that deep in the valley.

 

          We had had a tough time that previous week. After Holland, around the middle of November, we were brought to the area of Suippes, France. We were put up in a two, masonry barrack of some old French camp. We trained, some got passes to Rheims, but I didn’t. On Sunday night, December 17th, we were watching a stage show when loudspeakers started calling certain officers: “Major JONES report to Division” or “Colonel SMITH report to HQ.” We knew something was up. Soon, we all went back to the barracks. All were talking and wondering what was going on. We went to bed and had hardly gone to sleep when about 1:00 A.M. we were aroused. Jim BELL was sent on detail to the range to get sandbags. I was sent to supply and drew ammo, rubber boots (artics), etc for me and BELL. I also packed his and my “A” bags.(this activity was carried on by other members of the platoon and through-out the Division). It took us all night. By daylight, Monday, December 18, we were all loaded in trucks and jeeps and ready to go. I was in a two and a half to 6x6, sitting next to the tailgate. It was raining lightly. One of the guys looked over at the paratroopers (in what we called “cattle truck”-semis with open top trailers) and said “Boy! I feel sorry for the first German those fellows get hold of.” The troopers were packed in, standing, with heads looking over the sides.

 

          We travelled all day and all night. The left side of my face was caked with mud. By daylight, Tuesday, December 19th, we arrived in Belgium. Once when I saw the lieutenant’s map, I was able to locate where we were by terrain, narrow gauge railway by highway, etc. We were south of Basse-Bodeux and north of Houffalize.

 

          Lieutenant BULLIS and I were sent to see if we could find a passable shortcut east of area we were supposed to go. There wasn’t any way we could get jeeps and guns through there. We had to stick to the highway and went around (north, then east, then south) and finally got to Petit-Halleux on the Salm river Wednesday, December 20th. We dug in the yard of a farm house on a hill overlooking the Salm River valley. This was my squad (first) and second squad of first platoon. The other six were sent north of us and crossed into Trois-Ponts with second battalion of 505 (we were learned later) and some were killed and some wounded. I’m not sure which day this was. I think it may have been Wednesday, 20th because Lt. McNEIL joined us the next day and told us what had happened.

 

          That night, Thursday, Dec.21st I think, we 1994-06-75th-ID-054.jpgwere attacked. The troopers, who had crossed the Salm, fell back to the high ground we were on. Corporal SEDDON (our squad leader) put two of us on the north side of the farm house in front of a small shed . A machine gun pelted the shed barely over our heads. The attacking Germans were yelling (more like roaring) as they came down from other side of the river. This was the only time during the war I threw-up, waiting for them to come charging up our hill. What I didn’t know at the time was that the battalion Commander (or somebody) had planned it that way and when the Germans were in the valley, crossing the river, we opened up with everything we had (I didn’t because I didn’t see what to shoot and didn’t know what was going on anyhow). However, the 1st battalion, stopped them cold and they never reached our hill. I think that it was the next day that an “88” fired shells and hit a tree outside the farmhouse. Some of us were in the kitchen. I was talking with JENSON when suddenly he hollered and his mouth filled with blood. I was on the floor immediately and pulled him down with me. A second shell hit this time and fragment hit SEDDEN behind his left ear. He was reaching for his Thompson sub-machine gun. There was so much blood that I thought he was dead.

 

THE ONE I DIDN’T HEAR.

 

          Après SEDDEN and JENKINS were hit (about Friday, December 22,1944), a guy we called “WHITEY” (never knew his name) started going berserk. He was saying crazy things. We were afraid he’d be dangerous to us in a combat situation, so CHADWICK and I decided to take him to Battalion Aid station).

 

As we started across a field, a German machine gun opened up on us. WHITEY broke away from us and ran down the hill. I dived behind a hedgerow (about twenty feet ahead). I looked back and CHADWICK was laying on the ground laughing. I motioned for him to join me because the machine gun was “searching and traversing”. I had trained as a machine gunner in the States and knew what was happening. “Searching” is moving up range, and “traversing” is back and forth. I knew in another few seconds he’d (the German) be up to where CHADWICK was laying.

 

CHADWICK said he’d never seen anything so funny as WHITEY running with his white hair flapping up and down.

 

We picked up WHITEY’s helmet, found him in a hole (6’x 6’x 6’ for mortor emplacement), his face muddy and bloody. We drug him out, dead-weight, no help from him and got him to Battalion Aid station.

 

The next day, Christmas Eve, we got orders to pull out that night. We were the only ones left on the front line. I later found out that we were sticking out like a thumb into German lines and MONTGOMERY had given orders to pull us back to straighten line.

 

Anyway, a few more mishaps. The gun’s wheels were frozen in mud where we had set it up. The jeep couldn’t pull it free, so we were boiling kettles of water on the stove at the farm house (same one where SEDDEN and JENKINS were hit). KIBBE was on way to gun when one of the wheels came free. The gun swept around and the barrel hit KIBBE in the knee. I think it was broken; he couldn’t walk. After we got the gun out, we tied KIBBE to trails and caught up with convoy.

 

It was a dark, cloudy night and black-out driving. CHADWICK was driving, Sgt. KISH was in center and Lt. McNEIL on the right. BELL was on top of all the packs and other baggage over back seat. KIBBE was tied to the gun trails, HEYDEN and I on apron hanging on to shield. We were cold and after catching up with the others, someone said there was room on the tailgate of the truck up ahead. HEYDEN and I got on the tailgate. I was dozing when HEYDEN said, “Hey! That jeep ran off the road!” The truck stopped and HEYDEN and I ran back to where the jeep had gone over an embankment. It was about forty feet high and steep. The jeep had hit bottom (concrete) hard enough to make a bow in the chassis. I first checked on KIBBE still strapped onto the trails. He was OK but I couldn’t get a word out of him. Then I started looking for BELL, didn’t see him, called and finally got a weak answer, “NEEL, I’m over here”. He had been thrown clean across paved school yard into side of brick school. He couldn’t move arms or legs. I was afraid his back was broken. It wasn’t Lt. McNEIL and Sgt. KISH had been thrown out of the jeep but were unhurt. CHADWICK had compound fractures in both legs and was in a great deal of pain. We gave him morphine and waited. We sent someone to see if they could find medics. Fortunately, there was an ambulance up ahead in the convoy. They brought stretchers and got CHADWICK and KIBBE. I never saw those two again. We were afraid to move BELL so KISH and I volunteered to stay with him while others went on. So we spent Christmas Eve in “no man’s land”. Luckily, there were no German around, although there had been a few attacks on the way before the accident. The paratroopers took care of them.

 

The next morning, the medics got BELL and a truck got the gun, KISH and me. We went to “A” Battery Headquarters. Even tough we fought with and as infantry, we were officially Coast Artillery Corps; therefore Battery, not Company. As soon as I got there, Capt. NELSON said, “NEEL, everybody gets turkey today and I told the cook to be sure and save some for you. Go back and get it and then report back to me.” I went to the “kitchen” and they gave me a big turkey drumstick. I reported back to Capt. NELSON saying, “Captain, my whole squad’s out and jeep’s wrecked so I guess you can use me in Headquarters.” I was hoping he’s say yes. But, instead, he said, “NEEL, I’ve got another jeep, gun’s O.K. and I’ve got five new replacements. We’ll put them in your squad. None of them have ever been in combat, but one of them is a corporal and he’ll be the official squad leader, but you’ll have to show them what to do. Also, you’ve got to move out right now and get to the top of that mountain and dig in before dark. By the way, you’ll be exposed to the enemy observation, so be careful.”

 

I checked out the new men. I was twenty years old, but talked with each one with a mean, disgusted look on my face. The only one whose name I remember is ELMORE. He was slightly stout and said, “I’m thirty years old, inexperienced and I’ll be a burden to you.” As it turned out, he was my most dependable man.

 

Well, we started up the trail up the mountain. In places the snow had frozen and we had to unhook and man-handle guns. Two jeeps in tandem could hardly make it by themselves. HEYDEN, who had been reattached to my squad, slipped on ice and sprained his ankle so bad that he couldn’t walk. We topped the mountain, the sky cleared and we saw P-38s and P-47s attacking something in the valley, couldn’t see what. I described this elsewhere.

 

We got the gun dug in as it was getting dark. I was glad. I had rather work in the dark than worry about being seen.

 

I was in this position two or three days later that I was standing near my foxhole, but not in it. A large mortor shell hit so close (about three feet) that I never heard it coming. The next thing I knew, I was on the ground with the breath knocked out of me. It had saved me from itself by knocking me up in the air and letting shrapnel go under me while I was suspended in air! That was all I got from the concussion. My “artics” (rubber boots) that had been sitting on my foxhole were torn to pieces. The row of little threes were torn up by shrapnel. That, I think was closest I ever came to being killed. There were other times, but that had to be the closest. I still thank God that He had other plans for me.

 

I was later in the same area, after about a foot of snow had fallen when Lt. McNEIL came crawling up to our position. He said, “NEEL, I’ve got good news for you.” I said, “We’re pulling out!!” He said, “No, but you’ve been made P.F.C.” I just barely caught myself before saying, “Shove it up your ass, Lt.” But settled for “to hell with a P.F.C. stripe. I want out of this.”

 

By Malcolm M. NEEL, A Btry, 80th Anti-aircraft A/B Bn, 82nd A/B Div. 

 

Copyright © 2001-2011 Malcolm NEEL & Eddy LAMBERTY

 

Please send your comments, WWII accounts, WWII pictures to:

Eddy LAMBERTY 

Avenue Joseph Lejeune 45

4980 Trois-Ponts

Belgium

Or: 

 

 

email018.gif (5229 octets) eddy.lamberty@gmail.com 

 

 

 

 

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Mardi 10 mai 2 10 /05 /Mai 22:20

THE LIBERATION OF BERGEVAL.

Recollections of the night January 3-4,  1945

by Bill Bolin, 1st sergeant, Company C,

517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team

         

           The evening of January 3rd started out wonderfully. Our Christmas dinner finally caught up with us at Basse Bodeux. Roast turkey with all the trimmings. Battalion mess was set up along the road and there was an abundance of food. “C” Co. was last in the chow line and I was the last man in “C” Co.. I piled my mess kit high and put some of the extra food in my musette bag for later on. After dinner we loaded up on water and ammunition before  leaving for the attack on Bergeval.

  

          Leaving Bassse-Bordeux we went downhill through dense trees and brush to a small stream.  Fog was so thick down by the stream that we had trouble staying together. We spread out to find the best place to cross without getting our feet wet. We sounded like a herd of cattle making our way through the thick brush and there was a lot of cursing going on as men fell down. Once across the stream and organized again we climbed uphill through equally dense forest to a clearing that looked like farm land. By this time it was well past midnight. We could see Bergeval in the distance across the open ground. There were no lights on but we could see smoke from the chimneys so we knew somebody was there. The intelligence report given to us at Basse-Bodeux estimated there were about 15 of the enemy in Bergeval.

 

 

BergevalOct99 01Left to right: Bill BOLIN and Guy WELBORN above Bergeval in October 1999 

 

          We stayed at the edge of the clearing to plan the attack and get organized for it. We left the woods in our usual  formation for open ground.  Two platoons abreast in front with scouts out ahead, Co. Hq. immediately behind, and the 3rd platoon following as rearguard and reserve.  About midway across the opening were a couple of outbuildings. The scouts surprised a 5-man outpost there and captured them. The weather had turned colder and they were bundled up asleep. Our approach in the soft snow had been practically soundless. The POWs werebrought  to Co. Headquarters for questioning and our progress halted while they were being interrogated. We had one man in the Company who knew a little of the German language and he thought they confirmed  there were only 15 enemy in the village.        

 

          One of the enemy outpost was the tallest man I had ever seen. He must have been about 7 feet tall.  His uniform was much too small and he looked like a scarecrow. Men began crowding around to see the “giant” and the Company Commander became very upset by the noise they were making.  We sent the POWs to the rear and continued our attack.  We had barely started again when we were fired on by a machinegun in the village.  We were fully exposed and hid as best as possible by flopping down in the snow. For some unknown reason the gunfire stopped as suddenly as it began, possibly because the gun jammed as German machineguns were prone to do. Capt. LaChaussee got on the 300 radio and called Battalion Hq. for artillery support and got it very quickly. They must have zeroed in before because they were right on target.  

 

          While the artillery barrage was on we went up close to town. Then  Capt. LaChaussee lined up the whole Company in a single line abreast and ordered us to charge the town yelling and firing our weapons as we moved ahead. Our entire Battalion of artillery must have been bombarding and it was quite effective on such a small village. When the artillery stopped (as signaled by a smoke shell) we charged into the town as the Capt. had ordered and I didn’t detect a single shot fired by the Germans, They were still in their holes and it was simply a matter of rounding them up. We captured 121 enemy altogether, but only 2 Officers.  As we were entering the  village we heard a vehicle leaving the other end and surmised it was the bulk of the Officers escaping. Like a bunch of rats leaving a sinking ship! Our assault had been the most successful we ever coordinated with our artillery.

 

Near-Bergeval01.jpgIn the woods near Bergeval, october 1999. 

   

          We didn’t have any casualties during the assault, but later in the day one man was wounded by a booby trap.  T/5 John Wilkins picked up a small radio sitting on the end of an old civilian flatbed truck,  and it exploded.  John was our radioman and he made a mistake.  I had seen that radio on the truck earlier and thought it was incongruous at the time. You just didn’t fool around with anything that didn’t look natural! The Battalion Surgeon later operated on him and he was given several pints of blood by direct transfusion. He was still alive when transported to the Regimental Aid Station but we heard later that he died the next day. I believe the house T/5 Wilkins was operated on is now occupied by Mrs Maria Gaspar. 

 

  

          Capt. LaChaussee called Battalion Hq. and informed them of our situation and they moved up and joined us. We got a bite to eat and bedded down in the houses where it was warm. We didn’t often get to sleep in a warm house and it was much appreciated. Of course we had our usual guards on duty but they were rotated so everybody got a chance to sleep. We rested up and replenished our ammunition to get ready for the  next assignment. Little did we know at the time that we would get our noses bloodied on the ridge east of town that  night.    

ovalwings517

Author:  Bill Bolin, 1st Sgt. Co “C”, 517th PRCT

 

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Copyright © 2001-2011 Bill BOLIN & Eddy LAMBERTY

 

Please send your comments, WWII accounts, anecdotes, pictures to:

 

 

Eddy LAMBERTY

Avenue Joseph Lejene 45

4980Trois-Ponts

Belgium

Or:

 

email018.gif (5229 octets)  eddy.lamberty@gmail.com 

 

 

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Mardi 26 avril 2 26 /04 /Avr 18:33

 

505th PIR Co G Pocket patch

BULGE MEMORIES 

by T/Sgt. Chris CHRISTENSEN

Company G, 505th PIR

82nd ABN. Div.

The defense of Grand-Halleux 

December 1944

82-Division

 

 

         Christensen1944 This story will begin Dec. 16,1944, while not over in the Ardennes where the Battle of the Bulge had just begun, but in England. Here some of us troopers who had been wounded in Holland (Market Garden) had been evacuated to. On my release from the hospital where I had been treated, I would return back to Quorn, where part of our rear echelon still were. The main body of the 505PIR had by now been relieved after continuous fighting in Holland (63 days). They would now be quartered at Suippes, France, in Army Reserve. 

  

          Before preceding further, I will attempt to familiarize you with the T.O. “Table of Organization” of a parachute regiment. A, B, C Companies, Ist Battalion. D, E, F. 2nd Bn. G, H, I, 3rd Bn. These will all be light rifle companies. Also each battalion will have a Headquarters Company. There will also be a Reg, HDQ. and a Service Company. The T.O. of these 142 men companies will be, 3 platoons plus Company Hdq. Three squads make up a platoon. I was in the 3rd plt. of G Co. 

  

          The next day being a Sunday and with the day off, I had ventured out into town to visit my favorite pub. Here I hadn’t much more than got settled in when some 505 officer enters with the instructions that all passes had been canceled and to report back to camp. Here we were told to get packed as we would be moving out that evening. 

 

 

          Later about 50 of us veterans along with about the same number of rear echelon service troops would take a train down to Southampton. There we would board a LCT (Landing Craft Tank) for our journey across the channel. From there we would be trucked down to Suippes. About now we would being hearing some rumors about the German break through. On arriving at the camp it was only to find the regiment had pulled out a couple of days prior, heading for the Ardennes. None of us had any equipment, so the rest of the day and into the night was spent being resupplied from the meager supplies available. 



          Early the next morning would find us boarding trucks again and heading out to rejoin our regiment, Much later in the day we would finally reach our destination where we would be split up and would join our companies. 

 

          On reporting in to my company where I was a Squad Leader (S/Sgt) I was finally able to find out what was happening. It seemed the Germans had mounted a huge offensive along a broad front in this lightly defended area. The 505 would be in a defensive position and dug in along the Salm River. G Company had the responsibility of guarding the bridge separating Petite and Grand Halleux. No way was this small wooden bridge to fall intact into the enemies hands. Of course these two villages were also our responsibility also if possible. The entire regiment would be stretched out very thin. Mostly where it was thought the enemy might be crossing were we able to guard. 

  

          The deployment of the company would be, one platoon across the river in Grand Halleux with an outpost further up the hill, in the outskirts of town on the road leading toward Wanne. The other two platoons would be dug in on the Petite side of the river. As a safeguard, some of the 307 Engineers had placed charges to blow the bridge. On taking over my squad, I would find it dug in a line running parallel and about 50 yards above the railroad leaving town. Further back up the hill would be the mortar squad and off to the left would be an machine gun section from the 3rd Battalion Hdq. Co.  Also attached to the company would be a TD (tank destroyer) set up to fire down the road and over into Grand-Halleux if the enemy got this far.

 

 

         

         

          The Salm River, although narrow and shallow was a natural barrier for both tanks and vehicular traffic with its steep banks and questionable ground being solid enough to support the weight.  Furthermore, most roads somewhere would be going through dense forests, so to move the Germans would have to control the roads. 

 

          For the next couple of days things were relatively quiet.  You could hear the big guns in the distance and at night the muzzle flashes.  These you could see were moving ever closer to your position, also when you began hearing small arms fire, you knew Jerry wasn’t to far off. 

 

          A little after dark on the night of Dec 23-24 we begin to take a few small caliber mortar shells into our position.  This is telling me a couple of things.  He knows where we are dug in and that infantry is close by and get ready as an attack is about to happen. 

 

          Shortly afterward this shelling would let up and there can be heard rifle fire in the vicinity of where our outpost is.  When only Jerry’s weapons can be heard, you knew the outpost had been overrun. 

 

          Earlier in the day I have reminded my squad about our troops across the river over in Grand Halleux, so don’t fire until I give the signal.  About now it is hard to withhold your firing as Jerry has made a charge into town as you can tell by the intense firing and them screaming to the top of their lungs as they advanced.  They were out to take this bridge at all costs.  While all this was going on we were still holding our fire until by prearranged plans the platoon in Grand Halleux would pull back across the river.  When the bridge was blown, it was the signal to open up.  The ones who hadn’t made it back by now probably wouldn’t be coming.  When we finally opened up, I think everything started firing at the same time.  I had never seen anything before or after that could equal such a concentrated wall of fire that we laid down on them that evening.  There was fire coming from support groups I wasn’t even aware we had.  After awhile the firing stopped almost as quickly as it had started.  At this time there was a hush that fell over the valley that was real eerie.  There wasn’t a sound from either side for a few moments.  When the silence was broken you could hear them screaming in pain, begging for help, moaning, pleading, some I even remember cussing us in English.  We must have massacred them.  I can’t believe Jerry would make such stupid mistakes as he has made tonight.  Over the years, I have given this a lot of thought and the only solution I have come up with was, he thought he was facing some green troops and this would scare them into breaking and running.         

 

2001 09 USA 015          Shortly after the fighting had stopped, I was given orders to move my squad out of my present position and set up a defensive line between the railroad track and the river running parallel in between.  I had the men dig in about 50 foot apart and I stayed in the center with my assistant down on the far end.  We hadn’t much more than got dug in when our artillery starts shelling.  Luckily this doesn’t last too long as I am not too sure we aren’t getting as much as Jerry.  Anyway, things quieted down for the rest of the night.  You can still hear them on the other side of the river tending to their wounded and carting them out.  A lot of vehicular traffic also.  In this present position, it feels like you can darn near reach out and touch them.  To make things more eerie, there is now a fog beginning to settle in.  I can’t see much, but sound sure travels.  All night I am thinking about this exposed position and the trouble we will be in come daylight, but I am sure we will be pulled out before then.  As things start to get a little lighter, I begin to get concerned.  The Jerry’s on the hill at Grand Halleux are going to be looking right down our throat.  If not picking us off, he could at least keep us pinned down.  The fog is beginning to lift and I realize it is now or never.  I send word, passing it down the line from man to man for them to stay down.  I am going to try and break out and get help.  My hope is Jerry will get caught napping.  My luck runs out just about two thirds the way from where there is some cover.  One guy opens up on me, but his aim is off and I am able to jump in a hole with one of my men who is dug in there.  I stay here in this  position as long as I dare and I try to make it the rest of the way.  Either luck was with me or he was a bad shot, because I made it to cover without getting hit.  

 

          Alex Jones in the next hole sees me make it out, so he tries the same stunt.  He doesn’t go ten steps before he is hit and is down.  I crawl back as close as my cover allows and call out to him.  Getting no response, I do not know if he is alive or dead.  About this time I look over to the railroad embankment and I see one of our medics “Chris Perry” standing on top holding a Red Cross Flag.  One man starts firing at him, but his aim is off and the bullets kick up dust at Chris’s feet.  He stands perfectly still and the guy quits firing.  Chris then walks down off the embankment and over to Jones.  He rolls him over and patches him up.  He then precedes to get Jones to his feet and helps him off the field into the house where the platoon C.P. is.  I can’t believe the Germans letting him get away with this.  I suppose we let them get their wounded out last night, so maybe they were returning the favor.  About this time I made it up to the C.P.  Col. Kaiser, the battalion commander is on his way.  He no more than comes in when he sees and understands my predicament.  He will call in some smoke.  I was told to go back and alert the men what to expect and to get ready.  I hadn’t much more then gotten back when I could hear the shells coming.  It was a perfect drop.  Anyway, that was the night of the 23rd and morning of the 24th “Christmas Eve.”  

 

          After the last ordeal, we would move back to our original positions. Nobody had slept last evening, so most were catching a few winks. All day there had been rumors circulating that we are pulling back that night.  This I do not pay much attention to.  Anyway, this one proves true.  The company is to pull out very quietly at midnight so as not to alert Jerry and move to a new position.  In fact the entire regiment is pulling back.  It seems the whole front in our area is over extended.  A short time later I get called down to the C.P. and am given some special instructions.  After dark I am to move my squad back to the position we had just gotten out of this A.M.  Furthermore, when the company moves out at midnight, we are to stay until 5 o’clock the next morning, acting as the rearguard for the company.  I was also briefed on where we were to meet the next day.  On returning to my squad, I got them all together and explained everything I knew, putting special emphasis on where the company would be and how to get there in case we become separated. 

 

          That evening about 8 o’clock or so, we resumed our positions down by the river for what we knew was going to be a long night.  On schedule at midnight you could hear the company pulling out.  I immediately changed things around.  One man I pulled out of line and placed on the street in front of the house where the platoon C.P. was.  I didn’t want any surprises coming from that direction.  I moved out in back of the C.P.  From here I thought I could control things better.  I knew in my mind if we got hit down here that I would pull them back to our old positions.  There I thought we could hold them off for awhile at least.  Down here we wouldn’t  last five minutes. 

 

          The company had been gone only an hour or so when I started hearing heavy firing from the direction they would be traveling.  From the sound of things this did not sound like an isolated pocket of the enemy either.  This went on for awhile and then finally faded out.  There was also big guns firing, which seems from every direction.  My position remained quiet though until about 3:AM when one of my men came up and told me he had just heard Jerry crossing the river just below him.  On further questioning, he said it was only a small group, so I knew it could only be a reconnaissance patrol.  This I knew wouldn’t give us any trouble unless they turned around and came back into the town from the other end and found it empty.  I knew Jerry would then move in and occupy it.  I hoped they would wait until after daylight, as we would be long gone.  The rest of the night proved uneventful.  Promptly at 5 AM we vacated our positions and started out.  I had already briefed the men to stay well spread out and we would be moving at a brisk pace, also we would stay on the road.  Up until now I don’t remember any snow, but the weather is getting colder.  It must have rained or hailed sometime during the night, because the road in places was icy.  Along this route I felt at anytime we would be ambushed, but we lucked out.  It was sure a welcome relief when I pulled into the new position where the company was now dug in.  I reported to my C.O., Capt. Isaacs and the first thing he said when he saw me was “I didn’t expect to see you again.”  The Germans the battalion had encountered last night he thought I would run into this morning.  “Pleasant thought.” 



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Copyright © 2001-2011 Weathley T. CHRISTENSEN & Eddy LAMBERTY

 

Please send your comments, WWII accounts or anecdotes, WWII pictures to:

Eddy LAMBERTY

 Avenue Joseph Lejeune 45

4980 Trois-Ponts

Belgium

 

Or:

 

Par Goyabelgium - Publié dans : Veteran's accounts/Récits de vétérans/
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Jeudi 21 avril 4 21 /04 /Avr 19:00

                                                        WALBERG Gordon Dec07,1944   

 

 December 21, 1944,                     80th AA Bn

 Trois-Ponts, Belgium

 by Cpl. Gordon A. WALBERG, 

  A Btry, 80th A.A.A. Bn,

  82nd Airborne Division.

 

  

         

 

          « After 59 days of combat in Holland and the “Market Garden” mission we returned to Suippes, France. On December 7th, 1944, I received a pass to Paris where I spent four days with my friend Chuck MAHALECK. By December 17th, I cautioned my squad to get some sleep and secure warm clothes, sleeping bags and ammo. 

 

          December 18, 1944, at 04.00 a.m. Sgt. Fox woke me and said to pull out before dawn. The Germans had broken through the American lines in the Ardennes in Belgium hitting the hardest at the 106th Infantry Division. I secured all supplies I could get stored in my ‘B’ bag.  I had a good breakfast at the mess hall and lined up jeep and 57mm into a convoy and started out. Others promised to follow as soon as large trucks could be secured from the Air Force. 

 

          We could not await the arrival of the Air Corps trucks to move our 80th AAA Battalion. Paul SCHLUPP, the jeep driver, Morris KARSHENBAUM and I in rear seat departed from Suippes. We had only eight rounds of 57mm shells, our jeep and the 57mm anti-tank gun. No planes flying because of the terrible weather. Our only plans were to advance as far as possible heading for Liège, Bastogne, St. Vith or Trois-Ponts, Belgium. Our only orders were to advance until we made contact with the enemy. We later discovered this would be the advance elements of the 1st SS Panzer Division, one of Hitler’s most feared. On the way, we stopped at the Bastogne crossroads and the MP said we were not needed so we went on to Werbomont. By 09.00 p.m., our convoy had moved more than 170 miles and went into a defensive position near Werbomont, Belgium. We were not a part of a large group and we did arrive before the trucks. 

 

          We went further down to the Lienne creek. As we approached the bridge we found it blown. This was where the 291st Engineers stopped the Kampfgruppe PEIPER before his troops were surrounded in the village of La Gleize. We slept under our jeep where we laid down on the ground covered by sleeping bag afraid to get into the bag since the delay in getting out in a hurry. 

 

          December 19, 1944, at dawn I awoke and could hardly move. I was so stiff from the long jeep ride and sleeping on the cold ground. The temperature about 10° above zero, cold, fog misting and most uncomfortable. We were right in the middle of the “Battle of the Bulge”. After the coffee and discussion on what way to go, I returned to my sleeping bag rolled it up and carried it to the concealed jeep. Early in the morning, they had put planks down and we crossed the Lienne creek and turned left. We found five to seven knocked out armored vehicles of the advance element of the 1st SS Panzer Division. The dead were still lying near the vehicles and we noted the olive drab or G.I. blankets so we knew this unit had already captured American equipment, fuel and other items needed for their advance. We moved most of the day and stopped at a farm house that evening and took over an aging barn. At least it was warm and we spent the night there.

  

          On the 20th of December, in the evening we were diverted to the road toward Trois-Ponts to prevent any Panzer to cross the Salm River. We set up our gun that evening in the front yard of a farm and Paul SCHLUPP made a deal that if we were allowed to come in and get warm we would share supper rations. The farmer had fought in World War I and went to the basement and got a bottle of French Cognac of 1918. He said he was keeping it for an important occasion and if the Americans chased the Germans out this would be the day. We furnished the cheese, Nescafe and our crackers. We knew that the next day contact would be made. Lieutenant BULLIS, Paul SCHLUPP, Morris KARSHENBAUM and I slept on a bench in the farmhouse with each men staying with the gun two hours each. 

          December 21, 1944, on this day I will be shot at Trois-Ponts, Belgium. After daylight we left our little farmhouse and followed the road to Trois-Ponts. We entered the village and secured ourselves behind the stone houses and tried to understand where our best position would be adjoining the Salm River. Our only orders were then to move with the E Company, 2nd battalion of  the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment and to locate the enemy.

          We then arrived to a blown bridge on the Salm River with a Sherman M-4 tank knocked out to the left side of the bridge. Morris KARSHENBAUM, Paul SCHLUPP and I placed 2 inches by 12” planks down and Paul crossed over while Morris and I walked it to cut down the weight. Captain Norman NELSEN, A battery commander, ordered the two 57mm antitank gun to be placed on the narrow mountain road up the hill and which turn sharply to the right in direction of Wanne/Aisomont.

          I suggested to Richard SCOTT to place the first 57mm gun on top of the hill at the curve in the road. We set up our gun 30 to 40 yards behind the bend of the road to the rear of Lieutenant WERTICH’s gun. Whether the first gun would be overrun or knocked out by any German Panzers, they would proceed around the curve and would offer me a flank shot so I would fire at the bogey wheels as tank would come around the bend.  We already knew a frontal shot would not harm the Germans tanks.

          A few moments before the attack, I told Morris KARSHENBAUM and Paul SCHLUPP to remove their overshoes and long wool coat and be prepared to move rapidly. I thought the weight of the overshoes and coat would hold us back. 

 

          Shortly after we had the guns set up, everything broke loose. Sergeant Richard SCOTT was wounded and Lt. Jake WERTICH was killed by two shots to the head. He was later posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. The first gun was knocked out after firing at the tanks. It was then that Sgt. SCOTT came back to me and said that shrapnel had cut his clothing and his back. After examination of his back side  as best as I could while firing  all around us. I told him to go to the aid station located in a small stone building in Trois-Ponts.

 

          Our gun team, SCHLUPP, KARSHENBAUM and myself waited the tank and wouldTAYLOR Stokes Cpl. Kia Dec21,1944 attempt to stop it from entering Trois-Ponts. The firing was so heavy that I thought the enemy had already pushed by our defense. About the same time, my best friend Gordon SMITAL, from Chicago, with whom I went through basic training and camps every day, was killed along with Corporal Stokes TAYLOR and others from our battery. Corporal William BALLANTINE, the only member of three men of the battery point team, who survived the battle and related the events to me. 

 

          I then left the gun to see what was left of our right flank. To my left was the side of the mountain with the rough approach to the Salm River and the village of Trois-Ponts. As look up to the right, I spotted at least three Germans. The first one aimed his Mauser rifle and fired and I went down with a gun shot wound to the right shoulder. I later learned that the bullet passed the right shoulder following the clavicle going through the right lower lung and out middle of my back.                                                                                    TAYLOR Stokes Cpl. Kia Dec21,1944

 

          I was knocked backward about 12 feet by the impact with my helmet over my eyes. I waited a few seconds and leaped up with my M-1 that was close to me, flicked off the safety, and fired eight rounds at the scattering Germans to frighten the enemy and save myself. I replaced a new clip in my rifle and fired four more times. Then a stoppage in the rifle which didn’t help either. I yelled at Paul SCHLUPP to look to his right and he did and shot the German in the head. I hollered again to look to right of me and he shot the next one in the shoulder knocking the Kraut down. 

 

          I shouted to my men I needed to go to the aid station. As I started the long way down the hill, the Germans began to shoot along the road, and was kicking up parts of it. By this time, Paul SCHLUPP took over the gun allowing me to go down the side of the mountain. This is the reason I chose to go down the side of the mountain and not the road. My itinerary to the aid station was carrying my gun, running, falling, crawling the entire route down the cliff to the railroad track, embankment. I finally found a shale lined and shallow place and waded across the Salm River.

 

          As I crossed over toward the houses and approached the aid station, I saw an American officer who asked if I were deserting my position. I was a little fed up but I pulled my jacket down and showed him my wound. He directed me to the battalion aid station, the 307th Medical Co. As I walked away, I suggested he would do more good up on the hill and not here in town. 

 

          I finally arrived at the aid station with an overhang on side of La Salm.  The doctor, Captain Robert FRANCO, made leave my M-1 behind the large front door where I entered. He examined me after removing my sweater which was in shreds of unravel and cutting off my long underwear top. He told me to take 16 sulfa pills and a shot of penicillin which was a new drug being used to reduce the amount of bacteria in the wound. A blanket was spread on the dirty floor and I laid down. 

 

          At this time, a noncom came in and said it looked like the Germans were going to enter the village and he asked what he should do. The doctor notified that he couldn’t leave the wounded and added that any who wanted to escape should do so. This we did with 12 on the jeep. With the temperatures well below the freezing mark, I chose the front of the hood because it was warmer there and I only had a blanket over my shoulder. I wanted to take my rifle but was told to leave it inside the door of the aid station and I secured a red cross flag instead. Despite this sign, we were still fired on as we pulled out from between the buildings.   We located the ambulance parked about 4 miles to the edge of town. 

 

          This day of December 21st, 1944 showed courage, depression and sadness among the death and wounded of many along with confusion but later on it will also show that the German thrust was stopped and they did not enter Trois-Ponts.

 

          The ambulance took us toward Huy, Belgium and we were directed to a little schoolhouse where operations were being made in one of the classrooms with portable lights overhead. En route to the school, rear guard troops stopped the ambulance and asked us who Betty Grable  was and what kind of a team Brooklyn Dodgers was and other such questions.  Since Germans dressed in American uniforms had been captured working behind our lines, I assured them we were all Americans with wounds and shouldn’t delay us. 

 

          Again, not a normal day in the life of a 22 years old soldier. At the schoolhouse, a nurse who couldn’t believe how we got so dirty, washed my arm and my back gently because of my wounds. A couple hours later around 02.00 a.m. on December 22, 1944 they operated on me. Around 11.00 a.m. we were told to get any thing that we wanted to take along and got in an ambulance and we went to Liege. This due to an increase bulge in the Americans lines and the fear if a complete breakthrough was completed the hospital and wounded be captured. 

 

          Someday, I wish I could locate the small schoolhouse where the field hospital team operated on me. I would believe it would be in the Huy/Liege area but our ambulance did take so many detours to avoid the Germans troops pushing in the Bulge area. 

  

Gordon A. WALBERG, Illinois, USA

 

Copyright © 2003-2011 Gordon A. WALBERG & Eddy LAMBERTY

 

 

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2004 06 Wertich grave                                                        My adopted grave of 1Lt Jake L. WERTICH,

                                            KIA above Trois-Ponts on Dec 21, 1944         

           

          1997 09 09-copie-1                                 Gordon WALBERG back in 1997 above Trois-Ponts.

 

    DSCF0061

                                                  Cemetery  Henri-Chapelle Static Line Tour 2004

                                     L-R: Eric Michel, Gordon Walberg, Eddy Lamberty.

 

 

bar1027d.jpg (1541 octets)

  

Please send your comments, WWII accounts or anecdotes, WWII pictures to:

  

Eddy LAMBERTY 

Avenue Joseph Lejeune 45

4980 Trois-Ponts

                              Belgium                                   

                                                           Or:

   

  email018.gif (5229 octets) eddy.lamberty@gmail.com

 

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