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US Army

How I remember The Battle at Coulee,

 

How I remember The Battle at Coulee,
 
This is how I remember January 9‑13, 1945. 
 
We moved in around Spineux, Belgium, the night of January 9th. As we approached the house where I planned to set up Company Headquarters we heard a noise in the basement.  We threw in a few hand‑grenades and the German soldiers who had occupied the house got away in the dark. 
 
 
 
We remained in the area until early morning January 13th.  Company “A” and “B” of the 424th Infantry Regiment moved forward and by 12h00 noon we had accomplished our first mission of the day.  It was about noon when 1st Lieutenant McKay, Commanding Officer of “A” Company was killed.  Soon after noon we moved on toward Coulee with “C” Company taking the lead position.  At 14h00 we stopped for a break and it was at that time an artillery shell landed near us.  1st Lieutenant Herman Slutzky, Commanding Officer of “B” Company was wounded.  1st Lieutenant Charles E. Brown assumed command of “B” Company, 424th Regiment at that time.  I assigned a man to take Lieutenant Slutzky to the Battalion Aid Station. 
 
We continued on toward Coulee, through the deep snow, until 17h00 (5:00PM). Near Coulee the German 88's hit us very hard. 
 
The Battalion Commander Lieutenant Colonel Lamar A. Welch and S‑2, Lieutenant Huddleston were hit.  About fifteen men in my weapons platoon were killed on the spot.  Colonel Welch was hit in the hip and leg and could barely walk.  He told me to take charge of the Battalion, and to please not let the men run. 
 
Lieutenant Huddleston had both legs blown off but was still alert enough to pack snow on the remaining part of his legs to help stop the bleeding.  He directed the two men carrying him to the Aid Station and died after arriving there. 
 
Lieutenant Daniel B. Woolcock of Company “B” was hit the same time as the others in the weapons platoon. T/Sgt Clair D. Adams and Pfc Thomas B. Cowan were assisting Lieutenant Woolcock when a shell landed near them killing Woolcock and Cowan and wounding Adams.  All of the killing and maiming happened within five minutes.
 
We moved back several hundred yards and set up the best defense we could.  It was dark at that time and there was no other action for the next few hours.
 
Colonel Welch had been wandering around for the past few hours in a daze.  About 9:00PM he found me and wanted a cigarette.  I could tell he was weak and had lost much blood.  After he smoked and rested awhile I had a man take him to the Aid Station.  I did not see him again until April 1945.
 
A Major that I was not familiar with was sent, later that night, to take command of our Battalion.  The next morning we were relieved by another Battalion and moved from our position near Coulee.
 
January 13, 1945 was without a doubt, the worst day of my life.
 

Source: THE CUB, 106th Infantry Division Association, April-May-June 1988

 

By 1st Sgt Roger M RUTLAND

 

"B" Company

424th Infantry Regiment

 

 106th Infantry Division

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium