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US Army

9th Armored Division Tankers Evade Germans

9th Armored Division Tankers Evade Germans 
 

Many things have been written about the Battle of the Bulge.  Some are true, some not.  One thing that is not true is that there was a breakthrough and that we had been surprised by the Germans.

 
My involvement in the campaign began a few days before December 16, 1944.  We were dug in on a hill outside Trois-Vierges, Luxembourg.  A lieutenant from my Battery "B", 482nd AAA SP, 9th Armored Division, First Army, came to our halftrack and told us our planes had spotted a large number of German equipment assembled just across the border from us.  He said our commander had decided to move us out and open the line for five miles to allow them to come through.  Then we would cut them off and starve them.  This decision, instead of meeting them head on, was in my opinion the biggest blunder of the campaign.  This has been covered up.
 

We moved to a small town in Belgium and sat waiting for the Germans to move.  One morning before dawn someone knocked on our front door and said, "Get out of town fast as the Germans are coming in."   We got on our vehicles and rode out of town and kept driving until sometime before noon.  We received orders by radio to proceed to St. Vith, Belgium, and join the 7th Armored Division already there.  They had succeeded in having most of the German tanks retreat and were engaged in combat with the ones still there.

 

In a few hours the town was cleared but they dug in outside of town and continued to shell us the rest of the day.  Our tanks finally succeeded in destroying them all. We had orders to hold St. Vith for 24 hours and then move out and our planes would bomb it.   The weather did not permit this. We held it for 48 hours.  When we decided to withdraw, we found we were surrounded.  Both our flanks had withdrawn earlier without our knowledge. We kept moving around to avoid capture.  During this time we came upon a half-dozen of our own tanks, crew intact, parked on a paved road.  They planned to rescue some of our officers and men that had been captured the day before.  Our lieutenant at that time was Howard Jackson from Louisiana.  He walked in the road and was wounded.  Then one of the tanks took a direct hit and started burning -- then another and another.  It was time for us to leave which we did.

 
We came upon some units of the 106th Infantry Division.  They were tired, cold and hungry.  I remember giving one of them a can of string beans.  He cut the can with his bayonet and ate those cold beans with his fingers.  These boys were starving.  They received orders to withdraw.  We stayed there so they wouldn't get over run before they got dug in.  We learned the Germans were in a town not far from us.  The lieutenant we had left was Frank W. Winchester, of Memphis, Tennessee.  He decided we would go just outside of this town and wait for the Germans to come our way.  We proceeded down a farm road for about two miles, came to the outskirts of town, and positioned our three half-tracks off the side in a field.  Our plan was to slaughter them in retribution for their having captured some of our officers and men.
 

We hadn't slept in days so while waiting, the guard went to sleep.  You don't have to guess who that was.  The Germans woke me going up the road, laughing, and talking.  Their guns being pulled by vehicles and by horses.  I stayed quiet and watched them until time to wake my relief who was Sergeant Mabry, from West Virginia.  The Germans were too close for me to use our radio so Sergeant Mabry crawled to one of the other vehicles to contact Lieutenant Winchester to inform him of our predicament.  He told us to come to the paved road the same way we went down.  This meant we would have to get in line with the Germans and try to pass them by.  They had captured and were using some of our equipment so we were able to do this.  They would move aside and let us pass.  We were successful.

 

Upon reaching the paved road, just at the break of day, we were astonished to see nothing but smoke.  We were told later that our planes had spotted us in that pocket.  Someone had ordered some part of the 75th Infantry Division to open up that road and smoke it to let us out.  We drove 50 miles that day and spent that evening and night in the field.  I think that was Christmas Eve.  I'm not sure.  Having no maps of the area Lieutenant Winchester decided we should move farther.  About 2:00 a.m. we proceeded to move.  There was a town about a mile away that we would have to pass through.  There were Germans in that town and we had to fight our way through.

 
The successful holding of the Germans Armored Division at St. Vith kept them from proceeding to Bastogne.  St. Vith was the turning point of the Battle of the Bulge.
 

The Americans and British stopped the German advance in the Bulge with a lot of help from the Germans themselves.  When they captured our fuel and ammo dumps they would set them on fire.  They had captured so much of our equipment they could have used these supplies against us.

 

It was a sad day for us when Lieutenant Winchester was killed at Remagen when we captured the bridge, the first crossing of the Rhine River.  During the entire campaign neither my comrades nor I ever saw a photographer or journalist.

 
Source: Battle of the Bulge 1995

Jesse L. MORRISON

"B" Battery

482nd AAA Battalion

9th Armored Division

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium