His capture in the Battle of the Bulge
His capture in the Battle of the Bulge
By Ellen Myers’ Daughter
of Pfc Norman F. Myers. 31200149
52nd Armored Infantry Battalion
9th Armored Division
Norman F. MYERS 1944
Medals: POW medal, Good conduct Medal, Victory Medal, European African Middle Eastern Theater Campaign Ribbon, American Theater Campaign Medal.
My father was a WWII Veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was reported missing in action in Luxembourg since December 18, 1944.
Letter to Mrs Jennie E. Stratton Myers
On December 17, 1944, while playing a significant role in the greatest land battle of our time, "The Battle of the Bulge," Norman was captured by the Nazis and remanded to a POW work camp, ArbeitsKommando #1315, in Oberullesdorf (occupied Poland), near Zittau, Germany, which today is located near Germany's border with Poland and the Czech Republic, where he was imprisoned for six months. Liberated by the Russians in May 1945, Norman returned to the United States in June of 1945 and was honorably discharged on 12 Jun, 1945.
Most of the men were captured in the Battle of the Bulge in mid-December, 1944. They were marched in the cold, then packed onto boxcars, then eventually taken to a larger camp called Stalag IV-B in Muhlberg-on-Elbe.
Photo du Stalag IV B
From there, the lower ranking Soldiers were sent to labor camps. Of the thousands at IV-B, only 300 or so were sent to Arbeitskommando 1315 in Oberullersdorf (modern day Kopaczow, Poland) (this is where my father was sent). The camp they lived in was several miles east of Zittau
Their worksite was another fenced enclosure/industrial area called Hirschefelde which was northeast of Zittau. Think of the three sites as forming the points of a triangle. The men were held there from February until May at which point the Germans marched them out of the camp to avoid the oncoming Russians. They were attacked on route and scattered, then found their own way into Czechoslovakia and eventually into American hands. Those who were sent to the POW hospitals had a different route home.
Extract from the After Action Report, 52nd Armored Infantry Battalion, 9th Armored Division
4 December - 31 December 1944
Per verbal orders received 13 December, the Battalion moved to Vicinity of Huldingen, Luxembourg. The 1st Platoon, Co “B” was attached to CCR to act as road guides and MP's for the combat command. At approximately 09h00, 16 December a fairly heavy enemy artillery concentration was received all along our positions. Orders were received 17 December creating a task force of “C” Company plus tanks and Engineer called Task Force Rose. This task force was sent to establish road block #1 vicinity of Clervaux, Luxembourg.
“B” Company was ordered to set up defensive position on the high ground East of Asselborn, Luxembourg. The remainder of the Battalion less Service Company was ordered to move to the vicinity Drinklange, Luxembourg. Service Company was to remain at Hautbellain, Luxembourg. At approximately 16h00, 17 December, Combat Command “R” issued orders for the entire combat command to move to vicinity Oberwampach, Luxembourg. The order creating Task Force Rose was rescinded and the Battalion was again full strength less 1st Platoon “B” Company. Our mission during the move to Oberwampach was to protect the flanks of the Combat Command Column. Immediately upon closing into Oberwampach orders were received to “C” and “B” Companies to the North to effect road blocks 2 & 3 to stop and delay the enemy who had broken thru the 28th Infantry Division our front. These road blocks consisted of a company of Armored Infantry plus a Company of Tanks from 2nd Tank Battalion plus attached Engineers. The 1st Platoon “A” Company was ordered to vicinity of Bourcy, Belgium to guard Corps installation. The 1st Platoon “B” Company was returned to Battalion control and left immediately to join the company at their road block. At approximately 10h00 the Battalion (Minus) moved to the vicinity Longvilly, Belgium and set up defensive position prepared to defend the high ground and repulse any enemy attacks from the Northeast. At approximately 15h20, the Battalion (Minus) received orders ,to move immediately to vicinity of Moinet, Belgium to defend the high ground and repulse enemy tanks reported moving South in that vicinity. One platoon light tanks from 2nd Tank Battalion plus 1 platoon Tank Destroyer from 811th Tank Destroyer Battalion was attached.
Our orders were to hold our position at all costs. These were the orders received by this battalion and to the best of our knowledge the last official communication from any higher unit. Service Company moved to vicinity Mageret, Belgium and later moved to Bastogne. At approximately 1030 the leading elements of the enemy main effort made contact with the roadblock #2. Large numbers of enemy tanks supported by infantry assaulted this position. Several waves of armor were beaten off but finally at approximately 15h00, enemy columns managed to by-pass and completely surround this road block. Many of our vehicles were destroyed and our casualty rate was high approximately 50% of the personnel at this position managed to withdrawby foot and in vehicles and attached themselves to the task force command by Lieutenant Colonel Harper at roadblock #3. At approximately 1545, this position was initially assaulted by enemy armor and armored infantry and finally was surrounded and over-run at approximately 17h00. The casualty rate among personnel and vehicles was also very high.
What was left of this task force withdrew to Longvilly, Belgium and along with other elements of Combat Command R finally made their way through devious route to Bastogne. Meanwhile the remainder of the Battalion (Battalion HQ, "HQ” Company, “A” Company, less the 1st Platoon, Moinet and received only moderate artillery and small arms fire. At approximately 18h30, our observation posts reported enemy armor to our immediate rear on the Longvilly – Bourcy Road. Several attempts were made to effect communication with Combat Command R but all runners failed to return. Reconnaissance patrols sent out in all directions revealed that we were completely surrounded by enemy armor from the Northeast and South by what was estimated as about at least a German Panzer Division. The Commanding Officer decided that only chance we had was to attempt to escape to the Northwest and make our way toward Bastogne thru Bourcy.
At 08h00, 19 December, the Battalion (Minus) moved Northwest toward Bourcy and after proceeding approximately 1 mile ran into element of our “B” and “C” Companies who were placed in our column. At Bourcy, Belgium the head of our column was attacked by 3 armored vehicles and dismounted infantry. Leaving a small delaying force to protect the rear, the column turned around and moved Northwest, toward Boeur, Belgium. At Boeur we received fairly heavy enemy mortar and small arm fire which we silenced in about 20 minutes. The column then proceeded toward Hardigny, Belgium, where, almost without warning, we were attacked from three sides by large numbers of heavy enemy tanks and an estimated Battalion of armored infantry. After a violent but hopeless battle, practically our entire column was wiped out and casualty rates were terrifically high. Many of our man made their way thru machine gun and mortar fire to the woods East of Hardigny where compasses were equally divided and small groups attempted to make their way at West toward friendly lines. After spending 2 to 6 days behind the German lines, approximately 225 men and officers made their way into Bastogne and were immediately attached to either Combat Command B, 10th Armored Division or the 101st Airborne Division. These men and officers were very instrumental in the successful defense of Bastogne and fought well and bravely until relieved on 31 December 1944.
On 31st December per orders from Combat Command R the remainder of the 52nd Battalion withdrew to vicinity to Saulces-Monclin, France and rejoined elements of the 52nd Armored infantry Battalion. Orders were received to begin reorganization of the unit.
PS: The 1st Platoon “A” Company was ordered to vicinity of Bourcy, Belgium to guard Corps installation. So I would have to assume my Dad was captured during this time as he disappeared on the 17th of December 1944.