» wreathlaying at the monument at Ligneuville

The photo was taken on or about May, 18, 1945, in Ebermanstadt, Germany, by an Army photographer to be send to the States and our local newspapers.  I am at the left and with me is the S/Sgt Dominic Accatato, from New York State.

At about noon 22nd December, 1944, I was helped into a 6 X 6 and for the first time since the 17th of December I was warm and was comforted; I fell into a very deep sleep and can only remember bits and snatches of the ride toward Malempré, Belgium.  I will relate the events that I did not witness. 

<>The continuing time line for the 27th Armored Infantry 23rd December, 1944, Field Marshall Montgomery ordered the abandonment of the Saint-Vith Goose Egg.  The 82nd Airborne Division provided road guides along the route.  We moved toward the town of Salmchâteau on the Salm River south of Vielsalm.  I was unaware of the order of march and it consisted of the 7th Armored Division, the 28th Division’s 112th Regimental Combat Team and the 106th Division’s 424th Regimental combat Team and CCB of the 9th Armored Division.  <>The movement started late in the evening of the 22nd of December.  The German 1st SS Panzer Division was pressing from the North and the 2nd Panzer Division was coming up from the South. 

There were other German Units on the move including the 18th, 62nd and 560th Volksgrenadiers Divisions and several Brigades of Panzer and Infantry units. 
<>We moved over one back road and it was a mess.  During the night Lieutenant K. P. Larson and his then driver T/5 Jack Grote were checking on A Companies condition.  Jack Grote recalled seeing T/4 Clem Fischer cleaning the tracks of his half-track, as they were full of mud.  They continued back to A Companies old field position to recover the maintenance trailer.  They also assisted getting Almond Parson’s half-track and its 57mm anti tank gun out of the mud.  Sometime that night Clem Fischer’s half-track was hit in the gasoline tanks with a violent explosion; by a round from, probably the 2nd SS Panzer Division, south of the one way road the column was on.  The hit started the half-track on fire; Clem was pinned under the steering wheel and could not escape.  Others of the squad jumped over the side including Joe Peoples, Pfc Joe Perdue, who was seriously wounded and he lost a leg.  A bulldozer pushed the burning half-track off the road so the column could get by.  It was a great sorrow that Clem could not be saved, his remains were found long after that incident.  There were no dog tags or identifiable body parts and he is listed as Missing in Action.

<>At this time the Battalion was attached to the 82nd Airborne Division.  Tanks from the 14th Tank Battalion were however used in several local attacks by the 82nd Airborne Division.  I recall several days later being briefed on proposed action by the 82nd in on of its battalions forward CP, I was told that we may attack south to link up with the 101st Airborne in Bastogne. 

We were in several different towns and we received a lot of replacements.  (The correct word is reinforcements and the word replacement was considered to gruesome).  Our replacements of about 150 men were retrained AAA men that were to used as infantry.  They were all fine men and I had no complaints about them a soldiers.  I found it very difficult to try to build relationships that I had with those men killed, wounded or taken prisoner in the platoon that I trained with.  I don’t recall even thinking getting close to many people since December 1944.  At one of our reunion my good friend T/Sgt Jim chandler, the Second Platoon Sergeant (POW) and I talked of such feelings.  We determined that seemed to be the universal feeling of surviving soldiers. 

We were billeted in several small towns on the Northern Shoulder somewhere near the Battalion Command Posts that were as follow:  Malempré 23 December 1944, Paradis 23 – 25 December 1944, Filot 25 – 28 December 1944, Heyd 28 December – 1 January 1945, Rahier 01 – 07 January 1945, all in Belgium.  We were to the rear of the 82nd Airborne Division and at times, part of the battle plan to attacks towards Bastogne and meet up with Third Army Forces there. 

<><>We were now in the mist of a crash course of Infantry Tactics and formations.  One of our minor problems was during chow call and trying to eat in some town square with Belgium urchins watching our every bite.  I decided either to eat in hiding or go without.  One night as we were sleeping in a billet we were awakened by a loud explosion and heard the shingles of the house we were in sliding and falling off the roof.  Upon investigation we found that an 8” artillery outfit was positioning one of its batteries just North of our house, when they fired for registration the muzzle blast acted just like incoming shells; almost!   <>

Squad and platoon tactics were a very hot issue at the time as the platoons lost most of their squad and platoon leaders and non-commissioned officers.  In my platoon only my Mortar Squad Leader (Hart) and the Assistant Squad leader of our machine gun squad (Carter) were on the muster roll.  We promoted several of our older men to some positions, and used the replacements with grade to command two of the Rifle Squads.  Finding the right men to fill these spots was a real concern. 

We anticipated that we would continue to be part of the attack force that was to close off the escape channel for the Germans, to the East.  On or about 6 January 1945 we were ordered to move to France and form up as a full division for the first time since entering combat.  Our route of march was to the west of the Meuse River on to Rocquigny, France, Verdun and to Altroff where we were in SHAEF Reserve.  We were east of Thionville, north of Metz and some of the division units were getting totally re-equipped.  Company “B” was in a small town of St Hubert (Belgium) and well to the rear of the Third Army forces attacking toward Saarbrücken.  I was conducting some demolition training with my platoon one day and we did make a lot of noise.  When we returned to town for lunch we discovered that the French civilians were packing up to move to the rear.  I did get a chuckle from that; training was on the front burner and we finally got some good combined Tank-Infantry work done.  In the states we did not do much of this type training. 

One day the Red Cross club mobile visited our company for about an hour or so.  Two Red Cross girls with some records danced in the street with our men and they also gave out doughnuts and coffee, our cooks supplied the coffee.  I was very pleased when the girls would not eat lunch at the company headquarters.  They spent all their time with the men of the company. 

<>Our days were spent cleaning and repairing our equipment and we were also able to do some live firing exercises.  The time of day did not matter so at night it was not unusual for the platoons to be out in the field. 

We were billeting in vacant houses, I am sure the owners were in the rear somewhere they felt safe.  Wally Bryzek and I set up housekeeping near the Company CP.  We never really got to learn to learn to use the European coal stove.  It was a space heater and looked like the cannon heaters that were in the Quonset house in England.  We loaded the coal from the top and ended up with the house full of smoke.  I don’t remember if we ever got it right, but it was not that cold anyway.  We all could get passes, and the 8th Armored Division was just south of us and some of our guys including Walter got to see some old friends.  He came back with some tales of activities in Pont a Mousson and Lieutenant Del Campo, a friend of both Wally and I. 

<>In February the Division was given a march order and I know that the 27th was on the road to somewhere, I knew it was a Third Army order, so my guess was that I had something to do with the German Army.  Several hours had passed and we returned to our billets, to find out that General Patton could not deploy the 9th Armored and we were still in SHEAF Reserve.   <>

But on 22nd February 1945 we left Third Army and France to Fraiture, Belgium, and we were assigned to First Army.  We were still getting a lot of training in, one day the Engineers (Probably Lieutenant Mott) was showing us the latest in German Anti Tank mines, along with the anti lifting devices that were very deadly.  As each mine was shown a small charge of TNT was attached to the mine and with a time fuse they were disposed of in a nearby river.  This action always brought a gleam in my eyes as we watched the geysers that the blast formed. 

Later that day I was on my way to Battalion Headquarters and I passed a ferry-crossing at a small village on the river and the entire population was in and on the river collection belly up fish into the ferry and perhaps all; the small boats in the area.  In my youth we would call this type of fishing, (Using DuPont Spinners) 

<>On the 28th of February we were in our half-tracks, we passed thought Hürtgen Forest and over the Roer River the Battalion Headquarters stopped in Sollar and “B” Company went on the Siervenich, Germany.

I was taking out of action on March 2, 1945 about 1000 meters east of Steinbrück (Nefel River) Germany, on a line from Düren to Remagen, Germany.  I was hit in the right thigh with a shell fragment from a 105mm artillery shell.  I did return to my unit on about the 18th of May 1945 after two months in the 48th General Hospital in Paris, France.  Part of the time in confessant Hospital near St Dennis and the Replacement Depot in Etampes, France.