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US Army

Our Band of Angels

Our Band of Angels
(At the time of this account Elmer was an ambulance driver with Combat Command "B" of the 9th Armored Division and serving with the 27th Armored Infantry Battalion of CCB.)
Ambulance driver Amburst and I relieved driver Young at the 27th Infantry Aid Station at 9:00 a.m., 20 December 1944, a Wednesday.  The Germans had their artillery zeroed in on our area, the town of Galhausen, Belgium.  Shells landed everywhere, one hit the 27th's command post, wounding four men, another blew the roof off the house next to the medical aid station.
That night we evacuated a patient to our collecting company in blackout.  It really was dark!We returned to the 27th's aid station about 2130 hours.  Driver Holland and I slept in a haymow.  We did a fairly good job of sleeping in spite of the fact that shells were whining in most all night.
We were up at 0700 hours Thursday morning.  Driver Armburst and medic Moran went up on the hill to collect some casualties.  The day was chiefly routine.The Germans shelled our location off and on all day.  We were sent to the 9th Engineers to get three patients who were suffering from combat exhaustion and bring them to our collecting company.
I went to bed about 2100 hours.  I had scarcely gotten to sleep when we were aroused with orders to move out.It was 2300 hours, we sat and waited in convoy until about 0300 hours.  The road was blocked with vehicles.  The shelling became hotter and hotter.We continually dove to the ground or into a ditch or anywhere else.  Driver Loetaert received a nasty wound in his right shoulder and his right leg, his ambulance was wrecked.  We loaded him into our ambulance and finally moved up the highway, N-26, St Vith to Trois Vierges.
Our aid station was set up in a near-by building and I slept in the front seat of the ambulance until about 0830 hours.  We then moved to another building a short distance north on the highway toward St Vith, but south of the Braunlauf Creek Bridge.
About 0930 hours we were peacefully eating our breakfast of "K" rations in our ambulance.  Suddenly there was yelling like I had never heard before!  The Germans came from the nearby woods yelling, running and shooting burp guns and rifles.  We were all scared to death.  Instinct told us to lay low in the ambulance and we were pinned down for about a half hour.  Bullets flew everywhere.  A soldier in the ambulance behind us was killed.  Finally there was a let-up in the firing and we went into the aid station.
A wounded German, with a compound fracture of the leg, lay outside of the aid station door.  He was taken from an ambulance in order to make room for one of our own men.  He kept calling for help.  Every time I opened the door in order to get him, the Germans in the nearby trees would greet my efforts with a blast of fire.  The wounded German raised himself and yelled frantically to his comrades to stop shooting.  As they lowered their guns, I and two litter bearers brought the fellow inside.
As I began to dress his wounds, Captain Russomano and driver Armburst returned from their trip with wounded Germans to Galhausen.  Captain Russomano told us we could take off if we wanted to take the chance and to send more medical help if possible.
We wasted no time in getting started.  Our ambulance overheated due to a damaged radiator.  We stopped several times to add muddy water from a roadside ditch.  We were shelled and our vehicle was riddled with shell fragments.T  hree big holes were torn in the radiator.  The windshield was punctured in about a half dozen places and two tires were blown out.  We borrowed a spare tire from the 27th and with that and our own spare we returned to the aid station.
Captain Russomano and driver Armburst then evacuated four wounded German officers to the German aid station in Galhausen--about one and one-half miles to the east  .I remained at the 27th's aid station in Neubruck in the basement to do what I could for the wounded there.
A short time after Captain Russomano and Armburst left, our tanks again moved in and gave us our chance to get away.  I was in the basement aiding a man with an injured foot when I heard them yell, "All Aboard."  This was our last chance!I helped three or four wounded up the steps and to my surprise the vehicle had just left.  I was left behind with the wounded men.  A 27th infantryman came by the aid station and we asked him if it would be okay for us to get moving.  He said he would ask and come back but I never saw or heard from him again.
A platoon of tanks, with part of "B" Company of the 27th on the rear decks, moved past to the high ground south of Neubruck, on orders.  The Germans really scrambled back into the woods.  As our tanks passed, the Germans immediately came out of the woods and reoccupied the command post.
We were waiting nervously in the aid station.  An unidentified outfit (probably Sergeant Smet of the 3rd Platoon of Company "B", 27th) came by with their hands overhead and told us to come out to surrender.  Our chaplain, Captain Gibble, went to the command post to surrender for us.  We remained at the aid station while he obtained the "dope."  The Germans agreed to let us operate our aid station if we would agree to evacuate the German wounded.  There was nothing else to do.We agreed.
About this time an assault force under command of Captain Strange and a tank platoon of the 14th Tank Battalion under Lieutenant Duck had recaptured the town of Neubruck.  My ambulance was towed from the aid station to the hilltop south of Neubruck where we found our buddies.  We left there in an ambulance back to our clearing company station.  The Germans were most courteous to me and didn't abuse me in any way although they did help themselves to three cartons of cigarettes and a Christmas present from my girl friend, three handkerchiefs, all of which I had left in my ambulance.  Next day I found a neat piece of shrapnel in my bedroll.  I was thankful that I myself remained.Such is the army.
(Editorial Comment: Captain of the 27th had been captured but escaped.  He gathered together some infantrymen and with Lieutenant Duck and his tank platoon returned to relieve the 27th's command post, which they did.  However, the battalion aid station was not evacuated as medical officer Captain Russomano would not leave the wounded men there unattended.  As a result, Captain Russomano was taken prisoner and was later repatriated in a POW exchange.)
Source:Bulge Bugle, August 2006

Company "B"

2nd Armored Medical Bn

9th Armored Division


Battle of the Bulge,