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US Army

One of Many Battles

One of Many Battles
 
 Submitted by his wife, Marie Loveless
 
We were the engineer platoon and assigned to the point of the combat command and bivouacked just behind the lead elements Army Infantry and a company of tanks. 
 
Our orders were to report to the point commander at the designated hour to fall in column in our proper place.  All this is important because of what happened later.  As usual with a top notch platoon we came over the hill as the tanks in bivouac were warming up preparing to cross the line of departure at their assigned hour, minutes, second. 
 
As we came over the hilltop exposed to fire along a straight downward sloping road a single gun, a 88 opened fire on us.  The first round hit about 10 feet of my jeep and miraculously did not damage.  The second hit was our half track.  Obviously the German gunners knew they would only be able to get two or three rounds off, so they mentally at least pre-set the elevation knobs and before they knew if the first round hit its mark set their sights for the second. 
 
It hardly seems possible that men can react so fast but that is exactly what the gunners in our tanks did.  We leaped off of the jeep and rushed back to our people and could see the tankers guns being leveled at the spot where the shots seemed to come from.
 
Before the third round could be fired, our tanks had fired.  It silenced the gun.  In fact when we did jump off, after a short delay we had destroyed the gun.  I never did see the gunners or know if they survived.  Perhaps they were German stragglers who knew they would have to abandon the gun anyway, so they wanted to take one or two shots at us.  I do not know.
 
As those tank gunners hopped into action and how accurate their firing?
 
General Sylvester came up quickly that morning as soon as he heard the firing.  Perhaps, someone was asleep at the switch without a scout out to detect someone in the woods at the bottom of the hill.  It was certainly unexpected and I doubt it would have happened a week later.  Or, perhaps it was just one of those unexpected things that happen in war that you cannot prepare for, the road is cleared and someone slips in behind.  But I was mighty impressed that morning with how fast those tank gunners hopped into action and how accurate their firing.
 
The track and our squad were replaced several days later.  The new halftrack happened to have a fifty caliber machine gun aboard, which we welcomed heartily.  But nothing could replace our people.  The platoon was never the same after that.
 
Source: The Bulge Bugle November 2011

By Pfc Harry J. LOVELESS

 

 Dead, September 2, 2011

33rd Armored Engineer Battalion

7th Armored Division

 

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium