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US Army

A Wager Paid Off

A Wager Paid Off
I would like to submit a story regarding our outfit – the 955th Field Artillery Battalion which occurred way back when.  A story of a different mode – one that may bring on a chuckle or two for some of you readers. 
A group of us in Headquarters Battery were sitting around during a break in the action – We were in the Bullingen – Kalterherberg area of Belgium/Germany in October-November 1944.  We were just chewing the fat. (GI Style) speculating about this and that and whatever.  Well, this was during a period where there was quite a bit of talk about the war being over by Christmas 1944 – remember????  The Stars and Stripes, in fact, had just printed an article outlining the discharge plans – 85 points and out – remember???? 
Well our “Talk” finally centered on the Stars and Stripes article and the speculation of whether or not the war would be over by Christmas 1944.  A couple of the fellows thought “Yes” it would.  Others felt “no.”  Well, the discussion became hot and heavy with each side providing facts and reasons for their beliefs.  Fred Lane one of our group was the most vocal in the belief “Yes,” the war would be over by Christmas.  Bob White was the most vocal of the opposition, stating “no” the war would not be over by Christmas 1944.  Well the discussion became a real heated argument resulting in a wager being made, i.e., if the war was over by Christmas 1944, Bob White would kiss Fred Lane’s bare fanny in front of a battery formation, and if the war was not over by Christmas 1944, Fred Lane would kiss Bob White’s bare fanny in front of a battery formation. 
Well, of course, we know the war was not over by Christmas 1944. 
We all went through those miserable expletive – expletive – expletive days of the Battle of the Bulge. 
No! The war was not over by Christmas 1944. 
Well now, it was payoff time. 
Several months later, March 1945, our Headquarters Battery went into position at Rheineck, Germany, and we occupied a large castle (Schloss Rheineck) overlooking the Rhine River.  It was a strategic military position.  It also gave us a thrill to remember – living in a castle for several days.  The castle had a large courtyard so we prevailed on our First Sergeant Ted Econ to call a battery formation (when feasible) so the wager could be settled – which he did.
When the troops were assembled, Econ ordered Fred Lane and Bob White – “Front and Center !!!.”  He then called on Sergeant Gallagher of our medical detachment to approach the group.  Gallagher was pre-advised of the purpose of the formation and of his role.  He came well prepared for his action.  Bob White was then ordered to drop his trousers and expose his fanny.
Gallagher, getting into the spirit of the proceedings, proceeded to go into an elaborate act of opening his first aid kit, putting on gloves, spreading out a clear white towel, reaching into the medical kit for a cotton swab and then the alcohol.  He then proceeded to apply the alcohol at the “point of contact” on Bob White’s fanny.  He then declared the area medically approved for the planned action.
Fred Lane was then ordered to carry out his role, i.e., the loser’s part of the wager, kissing Bob White’s bare fanny before a battery formation.  When he proceeded he was met with hoots, cheers, comments, etc., etc., from the assembly.
Yes it was a few moments of fun.  The only regret we had was that no one had the presence of mind to have a camera to preserve the action for posterity or whatever.
PS:  Just a brief comment re: the 955th: We were a great outfit, we landed at Omaha Beach June 16, 1944, and earned 5 battle stars and received several commendations for our role during the Battle of the Bulge.
Source: Bulge Bugle August 2003

By Pvt Felix J. MELLENO


HQ Battery

955th Field Artillery Battalion

V Corps


Battle of the Bulge,