|'AMBUSH' The Ambushsite
of Jack Roberts "C" Battery, 592nd FAB re-discovered.
When I found the photograph of an American
weapons carrier while visiting the German War Archives in
Koblenz, Germany, I immediately became rather curious as the
weapons carrier was disabled and sitting on the side of a
road with the rear wheels in a ditch and its front wheels
on the edge of the road. I then noticed that there were markings
on the rear bumper clearly visible reading on left side 592
and C5 on the right side. On the ground lay a dead American
| (pic.: c5 Weapon Carrier of the 592nd Field Art. BN / 106TH
ID. In front lays the body of CPL. HOWARD HOFFMEYER. Ambushed
on the road from Auw towards Roth. In the background German
horsedrawn artillery moves in the direction of Auw and Laudesfeld
(Prop. 18th Volksgrenadier Division)
|I never dreamed at that time that this photograph would eventually
bring together a soldier and the exact spot where he and other
members of an artillery unit were ambushed and captured by the
Germans on 16 December 1944 while on their way to a forward
observation outpost at Roth, Germany.
The photograph was taken by a German PK-Berichter (News Reporter),
showing the destruction of U.S. equipment. On the back of the
photograph was a notation which stated that the photograph was
taken about noon on 16 December 1944. Since the vehicle in the
photograph was American I decided to send the photograph to
John Kline, Editor of THE CUB magazine of the 106th Infantry
Division Association telling him of my findings. John Kline
decided to see if any member of the 106th Division Association
could identify the vehicle. The photograph then appeared in
the OCT-NOV-DEC issue of THE CUB.
When the magazine arrived at the home of John M. (Jack) Roberts
he gasped in surprise because he recognized the vehicle as the
second vehicle behind a jeep that he was riding in when the
forward observer party was ambushed about 0830 on the morning
of 16 December 1944. Jack immediately sent off a chilling letter
to Mr. Kline telling him in detail what happened on that morning
of 16 December 1944 to cause the C5 weapons carrier, as well
as the jeep, to become disabled. He explained that his party
was ambushed with crossfire from small arms from both sides
of the road as the vehicles approached the village of Roth.
He also identified the dead soldier lying on the ground in the
ditch at the rear of the C5 weapons carrier.
Jack Roberts' letter to John Kline was then published in the
JAN-FEB-MAR 1997 issue of THE CUB. In his letter he stated that
of the 10 enlisted men and one officer in the two vehicles,
two men were killed and seven were severely wounded. Jack and
one other soldier were unscathed. Fortunately, through a chain
of events as described in his letter, Jack and the others were
able to escape their captors after being marched deeper into
German held territory. Jack tells of falling through the ice
while crossing the frozen Tennenbach Creek while carrying his
severely wounded buddy Larry Loudon, the driver of the jeep
he was in when the two vehicles were ambushed.
After Jack Roberts' letter appeared in THE CUB we began to correspond
by telephone, regular mail and e-mail. I asked Jack if he had
any further detailed information about the ambush that was not
in his letter. He told me that he had written his autobiography
and had several chapters about his war years and volunteered
to send more detailed information about the 16 December ambush.
|(pic: APRIL 1997. 53 YEARS AFTER THE AMBUSH I RETURN
TO THE SAME SPOT; ON THE ROAD TO ROTH. JUST THE SNOW IS MISSING,
EVERYTHING ELSE LOOKS THE SAME, EVEN THE TREES STILL STAND IN
LINE AS THEY DID 53 YEARS AGO).
With his detailed account of the ambush along with an enlarged
photograph of the C-5 weapons carrier, I drove from my home
on April 3rd, 1997 to Roth to begin to look for the exact location
of the ambush. In due time I was able to match the picture and
the detailed write-up with the present terrain. I took photographs
of the area and sent them to Jack and asked him if he recognized
the ambush site. He sent me a message stating that he was almost
positive that I had found the spot and expressed a desire to
revisit that site someday in the future. I could tell by the
tone his message that he was determined to make that happen.
I promised Jack that when he returned to Germany I would personally
take him to the exact spot where he and his comrades were ambushed.
When John Kline arranged for the RETURN TO THE ARDENNES 1999
Jack signed up to take the trip with the other group members.
Jack sent me a message telling me that he was returning to Germany
in May 1999 and we agreed that on 18 May I would drive to Pruem
and take him to the ambush spot. I could read the excitement
in his message. This was the visit that he had dreamed about
for 55 years and was about to become a reality.
On may 18th 1999 the 'Ambush-spot'
was revisited by me, this time accompanied by Jack Roberts himself.