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US Army

Thank Goodness for Duds


Thank Goodness for Duds


December 18, 1944:  We were awakened by the sound of a breaking glass window; by a piece of shrapnel breaking a glass window and piercing a closet containing some hanging clothes.


All of us god up—didn’t speak a word and got our clothes on.  It was exactly three o’clock in the morning.  For us, that was the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge.


We were on the fourth floor of the cable works (still there but greatly expanded) in Eupen, Belgium.


We went down to the cellar of the building where an ordnance company was staying.  They had had a previous experience where they suffered some casualties and knew better than that.  We were then told to line up for chow.  Before we could form the line, three shells came screaming in.  The shells were really screaming.


After we were outside on the ground, we heard three shells screaming at us to hit the ground—which we did.  I was told by a fellow ordnance man that my carbine really hit the ground.  That was followed by three more shells screaming at us to hit the ground—which we did again.  None of the shells exploded nearby and were duds.


A fellow ordnance man followed up the recovery of the shells.  They were 170mm shells.

About two nights later, a couple of our guards were walking off a detail when they heard a shell coming in.  They heard a bomb hit the wall of a small building.  It put a large hole through the wall of the building.  A recovery technician from the ordnance was later available to defuse the shell.

That was our experience of the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge.  It was over a week before we were told to leave and make our way to Huy, Belgium.

Source: Bulge Bugle August 2007


"Tank" Company,

557th Ordnance Heavy Maintenance

1st Army


Battle of the Bulge,