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US Army

A Soldier’s Story …. Krinkelt, 1944

A Soldier’s Story …. Krinkelt, 1944
 
In action, December 13, 1944 to January 31, 1945.
 
At 09:50 hours, December 13, 1944, the 2nd Battalion, of the 393rd Infantry Regiment stacked their duffle backs (never to be seen again) and joined Combat Team 395th Regiment for an attack on German position northeast of Krinkelt, Belgium.  Prior to this, we had spent about five weeks in a holding position east of Krinkelt.  During that time we had some limited action but mostly it was improving positions, digging new foxholes, patrols, and learning to live wet and cold with harassing mortar fire.
 
The terrain over which we attacked was very rough, steep, and not very accessible.  By the 14th we were beginning to receive mortar fire and opposition from the enemy.  Mostly we were digging in (not easy with our small trenching tools in frozen ground) and probing for mines.  Late in the afternoon a team from “E” Company attacked one of the pillboxes without success.  The 15th was much the same.  We were beginning to have several casualties by now from artillery and mortar fire and from crossfire from pillboxes.  Nearly all books and reports say that we took these pillboxes and proceeded with our attack, but I do not remember nor does anyone that I have corresponded with ever remember this happening.
 
Early on the16th we could hear heavy shelling and the sky was almost light from heavy mortar and artillery fire and from the German’s beaming spotlights against the clouds.  This was to our right.
 
Probably about noon on the 16th, we were ordered to pull back even though we were not encountering any enemy opposition at that time.  We pulled back to the rear and to our right to a road junction, then moved east into the woods (this was to protect the road so the 395th Regiment and 2nd Division could get out).
 
I was the lead scout or point on this advance.  Just before night, I walked into an SS outfit coming up the draw.  They shot my BAR in two as I flopped to the ground.  The Pvt Alvin T. Swisher, who was with me, was lying on top of me firing back until he was killed.  After Company “F” (My Company) returned their fire, I ran up the hill and escaped.  The next morning (the 17th) we received considerable mortar fire, probably from American and Germans both.  The tree bursts were deadly and we had many casualties.  Later that day we moved more to our right toward Krinkelt.
 
Early on the 18th, we heard German tank motors and in a few minutes we could hear the unmistakable squeak and noise of the tanks on the move.  They moved to our right and fired directly at us with their 88s.  We repulsed all attacks that day but we were about to run out of ammunition and food.  This day was a day of considerable action and confusion.  After retreating for the second time, we were ordered back to our former positions (the rumor was that the Germans were on our walkie-talkies).
 
In returning, we found the German soldiers had occupied our foxholes.  After quite a fight with bayonets and rifles, we retook our position but with considerable loss.  That night we pulled back, carrying and dragging the wounded that could not walk.  We were a ragged group, many without packs or overcoats, moving without knowledge of what had happened or where we were going.  As we walked out, we could see German tanks lined up to our left.  Also we could see the fires from burning buildings in Krinkelt.
 
Sometime before morning we approached Elsenborn.  As soon as we halted, we all just fell on the frozen ground and went to sleep.  We probably were the last organized outfit to pull back.
 
On the 20th, we occupied a position east of Elsenborn and started digging foxholes, none too soon for the shelling started.  Soon we moved to a forward position by a road with the 2nd Division on our right.  Our CP was a cistern a few yards back. 
 
The Germans attacked several times during the next fw days, usually up the road to our right.  The attack that I remember most was one to our left up a draw.  I fired until my BAR got too hot to fire.  Our artillery dropped round after round in on them and they retreated, leaving wounded that you could hear moaning.  It seems that all their attacks were preceded by a heavy artillery barrage. 
 
Just before Christmas the sky cleared and it seemed every airplane the Americans had, flew over on bombing runs.  Also American P-38 planes strafed the Germans just in front of us.  The German attack stopped sometime before the first of the year and the artillery fire slowed.  Most of our time in January 1945 was spent improving our foxholes, patrols, and just trying to stay alive in very adverse weather conditions. 
 
On January 30 we moved on attack again.  We moved out soon after midnight in a terrible snowstorm.  The going was very tough, with snow waist deep in places.  As we tried to enter woods about daylight the Germans took a heavy toll on us.  They had a good field of fire and we just couldn’t move in that snow.  All day we lay out there and every time someone moved they picked us off.  That night the 3rd Battalion aided us and we took the woods with little opposition. 
 
On February 1, we were relieved and out of contact with the enemy for the first time since the 10th of November 1944. 
 
To my knowledge, there has never been anything written about 2nd Battalion action during this period of time, other than General Lauer’s account in his book, “Battle Babies.”  I do not claim complete accuracy as to all dates and accounts, as 40 years have passed. 
 
Source: The Checkerboard – October 1985

By Sgt James R Mc ILROY

 

Company "F"

393rd Infanty Regiment

99th Infantry Division

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium