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US Army

I Was at Baugnez on December 17, 1944

 I Was at Baugnez on December 17, 1944

 

December 20, 1944

Sworn Statement of

Tec 5 Warren R. Schmitt, 37210448

 

I am a member of the 285th FA Observation Battalion, Battery “B”.  We were attached to the 7th Corps of the First Army and on December 17th 1944 were being transferred to the 8th Corps.  The transfer made necessary a change of locality and on the morning of December 17 at 0930 hours we moved out of our old position in convoy.
 
At 1330 we were moving along a road 3 miles south of Malmedy, Belgium, and approximately 300 yards past the cross road of the cut off to St Vith the convoy was ambushed by a large concentration of machine gun fire and also heavy mortar fire.T  he machine guns were 50 cal, slow firing and using red tracer bullets.
 
The convoy stopped immediately and the personnel all jumped into the ditch on the left or north side of the road.  The violence of the mortar and machine gun fire increased for a period of 30 minutes (estimated) and during thistime I personally crawled on my stomach about fifty feet from the road to a small stream about 1 foot deep.
 
After the machine gun and mortar fire lifted a large number of tanks started moving down the road in the same direction the convoy had been moving.  The tanks (estimated 40) were Tiger tanks. (only Panther tanks).  They stopped at the convoy and men in black uniform dismounted and began rounding up prisoners.  I submerged myself in the stream and covered myself with grass and mud so that I wasn’t captured.  All together about 125 prisoners were taken and searched for watches, gloves and cigarettes.  Then they were moved into a field surrounded by barb wire and the tank men returned to their tanks.
 
A command car came down the road and an enemy officer fired the first shot at a Medical Officer which he killed.  His second shot apparently was a signal because it started a number of machine guns firing into the group of prisoners.
 
During this time I was lying in the stream and playing dead.  I don’t know whether they saw me or not.  For about an hour after they first started firing into the group of prisoners all of the tanks that passed fired into them along with 4 guards that were left at the crossroads.  Forty half-tracks fired as they passed also.
 
I lay in the stream for approximately 2 hours and after that time was so numb that I could not move the lower half of my body, but by crawling and dragging myself, I made my way to some woods.  I rubbed my legs to get back circulation and then by means of my compass found my way back to the road.  I want down the road until halted by a friendly guard and was then taken to an aid station.  That was about 2030 hours when I arrived there.
 
Some of the men in the captured group made a break for it about 1530 hours and 12 (approximate) went into a house at the crossroads.  Two more went on down the road and escaped.  The house was burned down by the enemy and undoubtedly the men in it were killed.
 
I was treated at the 44th Engineer’s Aid Station (in fact 44th Evacuation Hospital) for exposure and there I met Pvt Mattera and T/5 Paluch.  We made our way to 5th Corps HQ in Eupen, 18 December and told our story.
 
I know of 8 men all together that escaped without injury and possibly 15 that escaped but were injured.  The 8 men are Pvt Mattera, Pvt Bower, Cpl Greaff, T/5 Garrett, Lt Kezac, T/5 Paluch, myself and one man whose name I do not know.  Lt Lary was injured but he was treated at the same aid station I was so I know he is safe? 

S/ Tec 5 Warren R. Schmitt

37210448

I certify the above statement transcribed in quadruplicate by Richard G. Zimmerman, Special Agent, CIC Det #8, was voluntarily written by me on this 20th day of December 1944.

I further certify the above statement has been transcribed exactly as written and is true of my own knowledge.

I have request Lts Arthur J. Newton and Fred Habermann to witness my signature hereto, the day and year above written.

 

S/ Tec 5 Warren R. Schmitt

37210448

Warren R. Schmitt at right with the webmaster. (Baugnez, May 3, 2011)
 
Source: Documents N.A.R.A.

T/5 Warren R. SCHMITT

"B" Battery

285th Field Artillery

Observation Battalion

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium