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October 2020
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US Army

My Unit, the 773rd Tank Destroyer Battalion

My Unit, the 773rd Tank Destroyer Battalion
 
I was the supply Sergeant for “C” Company of the 773rd Tank Destroyer Battalion and according to our T of E, I had my supplies backed in a ½ ton trailer, which was towed behind our 6X6 maintenance truck (the Oiley Bucket).
 
Each man had two duffle bags of clothing that they carried on their vehicles.  After the first engagement in combat, the M10 crews found they were in the way and it was decided that they would carry one bag of their vehicle and the other bag would be carried in the maintenance truck.  This arrangement gave the M10 crews more room, but created a problem for the mechanics and myself.
 
When the maintenance truck was needed, my trailer was dropped off and the duffle bags were tossed out next to my trailer.  I had a couple of buddies in the first platoon so I asked them to capture a truck which they did a short time later.  It was a 1-1/2 ton Ford truck made in Coblenz for the German Army.  It was almost new and in excellent condition.  With the help of the mechanics and cooks, we gave this truck a coat of “GI” paint and applied white stars.  The motor sergeant got a trailer hitch welded on and a battalion vehicle number applied.  Meanwhile, I had sorted the duffle bags by platoons and loaded the bags on the truck.  The trailer was hooked on as darkness fell and I was ready by the time we moved out that night.
 
On the 6th of January 1945, the battalion received the alert for movement from the Saar-Moselle triangle, north to the Ardennes Sector.  After a very hazardous day and night march over iced roads to Luxembourg, “C” Company was billeted in homes in the City of Luxembourg, where we managed to get a few hours sleep.  After a warm breakfast the next morning, we led the battalion convoy on the road to Bastogne.  We were told that the road was clear all the way to Bastogne.  But, about half way there, the First Platoon out on point, was fired on by two enemy tanks on a hill.  The enemy tanks missed their targets and our M10’s returned the fire, knocking out one tank and the other one withdrew in a big hurry.
 
We arrived in Bastogne at about 2000 hours on January 7th in a blizzard.  There was about 15 inches of snow on the ground and it was zero degrees.  Most of the company parked on the square in town.  Our 1st Sergeant Harry Davis sent me to Battalion Headquarters, a couple blocks away, to pick up our mail.  We had not received any mail for a couple of weeks.  Meanwhile, our vehicles were being refueled and our kitchen truck (The Greasy Spoon), made some hot coffee and the mail was handed out as the men got their coffee.
 
We crowded into rooms of the nearest buildings to get a few hours of sleep.  The next morning, battalion supply trucks replenished all vehicles with ammunition.  After a warm breakfast, the 3rd Platoon was sent a few miles out of town (I think It was east), where they set up to fire as artillery that night.  The next day just before dawn, the lieutenant in command of this platoon, attempted to return to town for more ammo, but discovered that they had been surrounded by enemy infantry during the night.  He ordered one of the M10’s to come back up the road and fire on the enemy, enabling him to get through.  Sergeant Blasé returned with the lieutenant and when they got back to Bastogne, he came to me and asked for some socks to take back to our infantry.  He said that they had not had their shoes off in over three weeks.  From my supplies, I dug out 36 pairs of socks and two pairs of shoes for him to take back to them.  The wet socks that they took off were hung on the radiators of the M10’s to dry them out.
 
A short time later, as our line companies were supporting the 90th Division push the enemy back, the weather warmed up a little and melting snow made the roads almost impassable for anything but tracked vehicles.  So I was ordered to stay back with battalion headquarters, which had moved up on some high ground on the east edge of St Vith.  My driver and I found shelter in a farm house nearby.  This family had three children.
 
The oldest was a 13 year old boy named Alfred Reich, who spoke very good English.  He told us that his parents had a herd of 36 cows.  The German soldiers butchered most of the cows for meat and they were left with only three cows for milking.  Alfred also told us that the Germans had registered him for the Army.  He would be called up for service on his 16th birthday. Meanwhile, they had him attending a special school to learn English and also the geography of England.  They gave him maps of London and he was instructed to memorize all the streets and buildings in a ten block section of London.  They told him that when the Germans occupied England, he would be sent to this section of London with their troops as part of the military government.
 
I corresponded with Alfred after the war, when I got home.  He moved to Brussels and worked as a mailman and got married there.  In 1965 I received a letter from his widow, advising that Alfred had passed away.
 
Source: Bulge Bugle February 2001

S/Sgt Edward H. McCLELLAND

Company "C"

773rd Tank Destroyer

Battalion

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium