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US Army

A fearful Incident Turned Humorous

A fearful Incident Turned Humorous
 
It was Christmas Eve at midnight, 1944, when we started out across a snow covered field to take the town of Eschdorf, Luxembourg, to relieve the pressure on Bastogne.  Our squad walked up a road on the right side of town when all hell broke loose.  Heavy and light German tanks painted white started running among us like fire engines looking for a fire.  Three of us ducked into a barn filled with cows.  The rest of my squad went to the left and took cover behind an old wooden barn.  A tank’s machine gun fired right through the barn killing all nine men of my squad.
 
We were unnoticed in the barn until the afternoon when the three of us were moving in the barn past a large open doorway.  Two white clad Germans were approaching to enter the barn.  We saw them first and brought them down and dragged their bodies inside where they couldn’t be seen.  From then on, all we thought of was an attack on our barn.  Surely they would miss those two soldiers, but it was deathly quiet the rest of the day and through the night.   We survived by drinking milk from the cows and moving around to keep from freezing. 
 
 

Today this house was that barn

 
The next morning, my buddy came running to me saying, “Hurry Ballinger, they’re coming!” We all ran to that side of the barn and peered out through the cracks.  There was a hedge just beyond the barn, and there they were, white forms moving down along the other side of the hedge towards the barn.  They seemed to be coming after us in full force.  Fear struck me, but I didn’t panic.  My body was numb and my mind was frozen with the thought of being among the casualties, because they weren’t taking any prisoners.  The field outside was littered with dead GI’s.  I kept peering through the cracks when I saw red parts moving also.  After a few seconds, I gave a sigh of relief.  Being a farm boy, I realized those white forms weren’t the white clad Germans, they were white leghorn chickens scratching for food.  I could have shot my buddy, Gonzales, for scaring the hell out of us. 
 
Soon after this, a battle broke loose at the other end of town.  The sky cleared and the P-47′s of the 9th Air Force were bombing and strafing anything that was a target I decided we’d better make a run for it while the enemy was busy and before they bombed our barn.  We ran about 1,000 yards across a cow pasture with barb wire fences to distant woods and safety. 
 
Of course there is more to this story about the Battle of Eschdorf, but after reading many books, I still don’t know what really happened to the rest of my Company that Christmas Day.  I left the line with trench foot and spent 2 1/2 months in a hospital, and was then assigned to limited service. 
 
Source: Bulge Bugle, May 2014 
Cpl Samuel W. BALLINGER

"E" Company

328th Infantry Regiment

26th Infantry Division

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium