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US Army

Depressed and Trapped

Depressed and Trapped

 

December 16, 1944, we were attached to “B” Company, 1st Battalion, at Elsenborn Ridge.  Our regiment was to attack pillboxes, etc. on December 17, 1944, to secure Roer River Dams in Monschau Forest.

 

Due to snowing and wind, we crawled into pup tents and sleeping bags for dryness and warmth.  At 1900 hours, in blizzard conditions, we were given orders to go to Hunningen.

 
We rode in open trucks.  The ride ended because of drifts, so we walked all night.  Around 0600 hours December 17, 1944, we arrived in Hunningen.  We were ordered to Hunningen to give support to the 394th Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division.  Eleven “D” Company men were left at a house at the edge of town with food and ammunition.  More men were to arrive later.  At 0800 hours, six of us left for two forward machine guns out posts.  There was heavy German artillery through the night all around the area and in the town from 0600 hours to about 0800 hours.
 

The edge of town and wooded area were around 3,000 feet.  The outpost was 1,500 feet from the edge of town.  There was deep snow and wide open spaces.  The outpost was a mound held by logs with dirt on top, and a hole to crawl in, and an open port for a gun.  The quarters were cramped with sitting positions and glare ice for a floor.  Hunger, cold, and lack of sleep make you feel depressed and trapped.

 

At 1600 hours, we were to get relieved.Instead, about one-half hour or more of German artillery, mortars that warmed up our adrenalin.  When the shelling stopped, on came the S.S.  The machine gun jammed, then I got it cleared and caught them unaware.  By 1700 hours, the machine gun was knocked out of functioning.  A German concussion hand grenade fell about three feet away.  I reached for the grenade and it exploded.  I had shrapnel headaches and ear aches.  One of us, from the second gun crew, was killed by small arm fire.

 

When we were ordered out of the hole by the 12th S.S. Panzer Division, troops knowing the fate of the machine gunners and of peppering the enemy when unaware, asked if we were Ruski and how we kept warm.  Since I was the tallest and largest of the five prisoners, I was approached by a giant of the S.S. unit.  It seems that he was about seven foot tall and approximately 300 pounds.  He talked to me in German.Because of my headaches and ear aches, I could not remember German at that time; so I said to him in French, “No Compree.”  He took his rifle off his shoulder, took it by the barrel to swing like a bat.  My thoughts right then were to kick him in the groin.  Strangely enough, I did not kick and he did not swing.  He just put the rifle on his shoulder and walked away.  The other four men were amazed at the outcome, and to later learn of the not far away Malmedy Massacre.  The start of my gray hairs at age 20.  Five of us began a long, hard ordeal until we reached Hammelburg, Germany, Stalag XIII C, workcamp.  We were liberated May 9, 1945, 6 kilometers from Mooseburg by the 14th Armored Division.  I went from 185 pounds down to 128 pounds.

 

(I was seriously wounded at Hill 192 in France on June 22, 1944, with gangrene in the left leg.  I returned to combat in mid-October at Kesfeld, Germany.  On a cold rainy night in November a German lieutenant defected to our position, telling us, in perfect English, of a large battle to happen.  The 106th Infantry Division replaced us just a short time before the Bulge.)

 

Source:Bulge Bugle, May 1995

By Elmer E LIBBY

Company "D"

23rd Infantry Regiment

2nd Infantry Division

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium