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US Army

Alternate Position "Ambush"

Alternate Position "Ambush"
 
The gun crew of Battery "B", 589th Field Artillery, was busy taking over the howitzer positions that the 2nd Infantry Division had vacated, when the kitchen truck and the supply trailer, driven by Private Clayton Rice, came to a stop just short of where the observer wanted it to be.
 
Captain Brown, who was watching the operation, gave the order to pull ahead.  The right wheel of the trailer was in the mud pretty good and as the truck inched ahead, the left wheel of the trailer rolled up on some unforeseen object and over the trailer went, spilling supplies, including a lot of loose potatoes, into the mud.  Captain Brown did a well-executed military about-face and left, washing his hands of the entire mishap.  He had more important things to tend to.  The 589th Field Artillery was here to furnish the 422nd Infantry Regiment with artillery support.
 

The 11th of December, 1944, went well with the boys settling into positions.  The men were informed that they would be served two meals a day by the kitchen helpers who were set up in a big tent.  Needless to say, the men of the 2nd Infantry Division were not too happy about leaving "the quiet sector and the comfort (?)" of their quarters which consisted of partial dug outs and well constructed camp-like tops, a good place to spend the winter of 1944 and 1945.

 
The lonely guard duty out on the perimeter was spooky, with the buzz bombs going over one after another and with one eyes glued on the clumps of brush that seemed to change into shapes of men and at times seemed to move.  Once in a while a big rabbit would be seen running across a large open space.
 

The bottom of the foxholes had water in them and it was very, very, very cold.  Early in the morning of December 16, 1944, the men sleeping in their huts were jolted from a sound sleep with dirt from the roof falling on their faces and by the earth below shaking and making lots of noise.  The men were experiencing the first incoming mail; heavy shelling delivered by the Germans.  Unbeknown to the boys, this was the beginning of the "Battle of the Bulge."  The attack came as a big surprise and created a lot of excitement among the group.

 
The gun crew went to work and everything seemed to be okay.  About mid-morning, a casualty from "C" Battery was carried into our position and the word was that "C" Battery was hit hard.  "B" Battery had escaped with little damage.It was not yet noon and it was reported that the German tanks and soldiers were close by.
 

A bazooka team was dispatched and after a short time one of the team members returned.The soldier was out of breath and white as a sheet.  He reported that the Germans had taken his partner's head off with an 88 fired from a tank.  It was plain to see, even to the privates, that the 589th was in trouble, but at this time no one could have guessed how bad!

 

There was a strong, eerie feeling of bewilderment and shock that settled over the young men.The gun crews stayed active and, as the day progressed, at intervals fired just over the hill, which would suggest that they had lost contact with any forward observers.  It was reported that a couple of enemy tanks had been knocked out.

 

As daylight faded, it was plain to see that "B" Battery had made it through the day in good shape.  The word was that we were to pull out during the night and proceed to an alternate position.

 

About 3:00 a.m., Battery "B" could be found out on the road proceeding to the next position in complete black out (not even the Cat's Eyes were allowed).  The light equipment was up front.  Next came the gun trucks followed by the kitchen truck.  The maintenance crew in their Dodge was in the rear.

 

The convoy was to travel real slow, but had only progressed a short distance on the main road when some one up front got in trouble and the column came to an abrupt stop.  Evidently the night vision of the GI driving the kitchen GMC was not too good because that truck didn't stop until the gun barrel was through the radiator stopping at the dashboard.  "Hope the gun isn't damaged," blurted the truck driver and the Great Old Cook riding next to him shot back, "To hell with the gun, how about the truck?"

 

You know he was right.  That Jimmy was inoperable and had to be abandoned.  The crew jumped up onto the truck ahead with the help of the gun crew riding in the back.  The kitchen truck was burned so it would not fall into the hands of the enemy.Being out on an open hill, the fire could have been seen for miles.

 

Battery "B" of the 589th Field Artillery Battalion made it to the alternate position as the day broke on the 17th of December.  The gun crew didn't even get the guns in place and the trails spread when a jeep came flying in with the driver shouting the German tanks were right behind him.But that's another story, a very sad story for many.

 

Source:Bulge Bugle, November 2001

By Pvt Clayton I. RICE

Died August 30, 2005

Battery "B"

589th Field Artillery

106tht Infantry Division

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium