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US Army

My Story in January 1945

My Story in January 1945
 
In January 1945 I was reassigned to the 2nd Battalion Patrol Section, which was detached from the Regimental Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon.  Our tasks during the Bulge were decided by the Battalion S-2.  Mainly, we were to place our selves between the German (Kraut) and friendly lines beyond the outposts and observe the enemy activity.  We would attempt to locate enemy fire from machine guns (shoot an azimuth and reverse same, estimating the gun’s position), listen for other activity such as vehicles and tanks moving behind the lines, possible location of mortars, etc.  These patrols were conducted at night.  This meant lying in the snow for some time, usually one to 2 hours.
 
We were ordered to search a barn that was on a hillside over looking the Battalion’sposition.  The barn was a suspected location of a Kraut Observation Post for artillery.  The Battalion Command Post in the village of Heiderscheidergrund, Luxembourg was at the mercy of the enemy artillery a good part of the time.  The Battalion S-2 reasoned the O. P. must be in that particular barn.  We were issued jury-rigged snow sheets made by the Belgian women.  These simulated “snow suits” covered us slightly below the waistline and had tie downs for our legs and arms.  Unfortunately, the sheets were somewhat awkward since they caught on every piece of brush, or so it seemed.
 
The five us (patrol leader’s last name Snyder) from a nearby wood line, crossed an open farm field covered with 2 feet of snow and leading to the barn.  If the barn was occupied, it was likely we would be fired on if discovered.  For this reason, we proceeded only a few steps at a time and would stop and listen for warning or discovery signs of possible habitation in this barn.  When we came within approximately 50 feet of this barn, we detected loud and clear, the sound of what appeared to be the bolt of a weapon being pulled back into the firing position.  Immediately, Sgt. Snyder turned us around and we began to retrace our steps in the direction and cover of the original wood line from where we had proceeded, earlier.  Suddenly a mortar round hissed over our heads and exploded between the wood line and us.It could have been simply a stray round.  But, shortly afterward, this was followed another round which exploded between the barn and our new retreating position.  It was clear to Snyder we were being bracketed by these mortar rounds and he shouted aloud, “Move out“.  We were making tracks as fast as our legs would allow in 2 feet of snow, when four or five more rounds struck behind us and we hit the dirt immediately.  Snyder‘s shout again had recognized the mortar crew had fired for effect.  Again, our legs carried us back to the wood line and safety from being mortared.
 
Once in the light command post’s basement, luckily, I had a half a dozen holes in my snow suit where shrapnel had passed through with out penetrating my clothing, or so I thought.  However, there was some blood on my underwear and shirt.  Undressing, it seemed so small shards of shrapnel had penetrated one of my arms.  As it were, the platoon medic was sleeping in the basement (a few troops at a time were allowed to come from the sharp cold of their foxholes and sleep in the cellar, too.  I don‘t recall his name, but he treated me, removing these pin points of shrapnel, covered the wounds with sulfa.
 
I did not go to the Battalion Aid station, which was also under artillery fire a good part of the time and subsequently was not considered for the Purple Heart.  At the time, perhaps influenced by an incident, a few days prior wherein one of the patrol members was cut on the hand by a "C" ration can and was awarded the Purple Heart.  It seemed to me at the time, my wounds were insignificant and undeserving of the Purple Heart.  Besides, the other members of the patrol section were disdainful of the Corporal who we believed undeservingly claimed the Purple Heart.  These past few years, I have lived to regret my decision not to submit myself to a claim for the Purple Heart.
 
Source: Submit by Ralph Bozorth
 
1st Sgt Richard GILE

"E" Company

104th Infantry Regiment

26th Infantry Division

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium