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US Army

Shot in Stoumont, Belgium

 

Shot in Stoumont, Belgium 
 
Third Battalion, Headquarters Company, 119th Infantry Regiment, 30th Infantry Division, was in Aachen, Germany, on December 16, 1944.  We had been stationed at Aachen for several days, not much was gong on at that time.  Our battalion was among one of the first U.S. troops to enter Germany.T  he scuttle butt was that we were waiting on the Russians to come in front the East.
 
Late in the evening of the 16th December, the battalion started moving back toward Belgium, although no one seemed to know why.  We traveled stop and go all night of the 16th and into the evening of the 17th.  The roads were clogged with heavy equipment and heavy artillery and other troops were moving with us some one way and some the other.  A few German plans would make an appearance occasionally and strafe and bomb.  This would cause us to be delayed for a couple of hours.  Road signs were turned in the wrong direction.Many times we would travel for several miles before we would realize we were headed in the wrong direction; and would have to turn around and go the direction we had just traveled.  After a day and two nights, we arrived in Stoumont, Belgium.  Since, we had previously cleared the enemy from Belgium, we felt we were in safe territory and did not need to have troops stand guard at night.  We left our equipment and vehicles in the road and went into the buildings for sleep and warmth.
 
My group was the "A" and "P" Platoon; the platoon leader, Lieutenant Goodman, woke me in the middle of the night and asked me if I heard noise outside.  I told him I did and why weren't those troopers sleeping and why didn't they wait until daylight before they started making so much noise.  He informed me that the noise were German Tiger Tanks hauling off our 57mm gun.  The guys from my company were Jim (Red) Aldridge (Maryland) and Garrison (Menphis, Tenessee).  I cannot recall the names of the machine gunners but they were from "I" Company.
 
We took 12 antitank mines with us that was all we had available to us.  We laid four mines across the street and were able to knock one tank out immediately.  Then, we laid out four more mines and destroyed another tank and were able to do that a third time.  By this time it was getting daylight and more tanks kept coming, replacing the one we destroyed.  We ran out of mines so we took refuge in a store with a glass front.  One of the tankers pulled up, stuck his 88 barrel in the window and in perfect English asked us if we wanted to surrender.  We told him we would surrender to him.
 
I looked around, saw a side door, and told the others to run for it; there was a jeep 3-16 setting outside the door idling.  I jumped into the driver's seat and the other guys piled in and we made a run for it out of the alley and down the road.  We had gone about a 100 yards when we saw a German half-track in the middle of the road.  The half-track started firing on us.  When that happened, the front wheels were shot off the jeep and I was shot in the right forearm.  The other guys slid down the road into the ditch and got away around the curve.  I never saw those four guys again.  I saw an open door and ran into the building.  Unfortunately for me, the room was full of Germans.  A German put a burp bun in my face and I was able to grab the barrel with my good arm and shoved it away from me.  He either emptied the gun into the wall or it jammed — I'm not sure what happened.  I then backed out, and ran to the corner of the same building.  I was standing there when Joe Duvall, from my company, came by and applied a tourniquet to my arm.  He then ran between two buildings and I never saw him again.
 
While I was standing there trying to decide what to do, I noticed an American tank down the road in a curve.  He would shoot and then back up in the curve to get out of the way of the enemy tanks.  He was close enough to me that I could holler and wave and he saw me.  He said he couldn't get me in the tank but if I could use my good arm to hold onto the barrel, he would throw me over onto the other side and put the tank between me and the Germans and their small arms fire.  He told me when I heard the tank rev up three times he would come in and throw the barrel in my direction.  Somehow, I was able to wrap my left arm around the barrel and hold on while he backed out with me.  I never knew the name of the company the American tanker was with.  He dropped me off around the curve and I dropped and kept moving.
 
By this time, I was getting weak from the loss of blood.  I would walk as far as I could and then stop to rest.  At times other soldiers moving back would see me and carry me until they would become tired.  About noon a medic outfit found me and picked me up in their ambulance.  By dark of December 19th, I was in a tent city hospital.  I stayed in a Paris hospital for a week or two and then transferred to England.  I was sent back to the States in April on the George Washington hospital ship.
 
Source: Battle of the Bulge August 2001

Pfc James C. PENDLETON Sr

3rd Battalion

HQ Company

119th Infantry Regiment

30th Infantry Division

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium