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US Army

Wanted: One German Prisoner

Wanted: One German Prisoner

 
I left for Fort Benning, Georgia about 27 October 1944, and sailed to Europe first class on the Queen Elisabeth, which had been converted to a troop carrier.  I boarded the ship 3 November 1944, and arrived in Europe 10 November 1944, somewhere in Scotland, then by plane to England.
 
It was rumored that most of us would be sent to the 101st Airborne as replacement for the men lost on D-Day.  I am not sure what area we were sent to fight in, but learned this was for real — a man could get killed and never know what happened.  I remember walking dirt roads, alongside wooded areas, cold and snow making walking difficult, not to mention carrying rifle, ammo, and a back pack. 
 
An officer kept yelling, “Spread out, one shell will kill you all.”  When the German shells began coming at us, we knew what the officer was saying was very true.  We finally had to move up into the wooded area and take cover.  The shelling’s were coming steadily.  We were ordered to dig in.  The men paired off and dug two-man fox holes.It was not easy; the ground was frozen down to at least 12 inches.  Fox holes were dug a couple of trees back from the tree line.  Holes were dug in record time, as all the soldiers wanted to be down in the hole for protection from the incoming fire. 
 
I’ll never forget the whistling sound the shrapnel from the shells made when they exploded in the trees near our fox holes.  We were also getting small arms and machine guns fire coming at us.  Then came the tank mounted 88s.  We held our position for several days, but we were losing men faster than they could be replaced. 
 
The Germans would put up a bright flood light at night so that we could not see past the light and therefore couldn’t see what they were doing.  If we shot at the light, they could see where the shot was coming from and all hell would open up.  It was better not to shoot at the light. 
 
We found we were at the edge of the Ardennes Forest on the border between Belgium and Germany. At one point, we had Germans directly in front of us and beyond them Americans were dug in.  Behind us were our own troops.  After days and nights of this, we started thinking it would be nice to get out of his war.  So, if you and your buddy shot each other just enough to draw blood, you might get out.  Then we would consider that we could both bleed to death there in the fox holes and the idea would pass without a second thought.  We had tried making small attacks out of the woods, but were driven back each time, sustaining heavy losses.  We had to leave the dead lying where they dropped.  My fox hole buddy and I pulled a wounded man into our hole.  He died before a medic could get him.  We had to keep his body in the hole with us for a while before we could get him out.Thing were getting worse every day. 
 
One morning we were told Headquarters wanted a prisoner from the German lines in front of us.  My buddy and I decided just before daylight that we would creep along a small creek bank that would give us some cover.  There was a thin coat of ice on the water and we, by being quiet, could get behind one of their machine gun emplacements and surprise them while they were still have asleep.  We were around almost behind them when they saw us, but they were not minding their emplacement, they were crawling towards the creek. 
 
With my gun, I motioned for them to get up ahead of us and go towards our lines on their hands and knees.  Half way back we stopped to rest and one of the German soldiers said there were a lot of them that wanted to surrender.  I asked why they didn’t.  He said that if any soldier wanted to surrender, they had to first get by the outpost that had orders to shoot anyone trying to surrender.  I asked how they managed to get by the outpost without getting shot.  He said, “We are the outpost.”  About that time, we were laughing and small arms fire was coming at us. 
 
Up the creek we went, breaking ice as we went on hands and knees, delivering the prisoners as ordered.  The next day we made the attack and pushed the Germans way back. 
 
Our group could not follow them.  We were drawn back.I don’t think there were more than a dozen of our original group of approximately 150 left.  Our remaining men were scattered out among other units.  I remember fighting for a bridge, but don’t recall what company or division I was in with at the time. 
 
It was now the end of January 1945.  The Battle of the Bulge was over and the Germans were fighting their way back into their homeland. 
 
Source: Battle of the Bulge February 2007 

By Robert L. MARTIN

"B" Company

194th Glider Infantry Regiment,

17th Airborne Division

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium