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US Army

A Soldier’s WWII Experience

 A Soldier’s WWII Experience
 
I was in the 16th Field Artillery Observation Battalion, Battery “A”.  We were the eyes and ears of the Field Artillery.  We fought our way from Utah Beach to the border of Belgium & Germany at a place named Auw, Germany—not a town, just a place.  We were there in the winter.  Our area was considered a light fighting area.  The heavy fighting was North of us at Cologne, Germany and South of us in Southern France.  We were fired on by German artillery and the German infantry was very close. 
 
The Germans fired Buzz Bombs over us frequently.  A Buzz Bomb is an unmanned airplane that flew very low and is filled with flammable liquid and shrapnel.  We could near the motor as it flew over us and when the motor stopped, we knew it would crash in seconds.  We had three lands close to us, but no one was injured.  Buzz Bombs killed & injured many Americans. 
 
We were in the Hurtgen Forest in the Schnee Eifel Mountains where the snow was deep, the ground was frozen and we did not have winter clothes. On December 16, 1944 Nazi General Von Runstedt made a break through on a fifty mile front.  He came through with the 5th Panzer Army, the 6th Panzer Army and the 7th German Army.  He had brand new King Tiger tanks, new heavy artillery and thousands of infantry, most dressed in white for camouflage.  Auw, Germany was in the very center of this onslaught.  We lost much equipment and pulled back to St. Vith, Belgium.  We were overpowered there and retreated back to Bastogne where we were surrounded.  Many of the American soldiers there were killed, wounded or went insane from the constant bombardment.
 
When the Battle of the Bulge started, it was cloudy and very foggy.  We could hear tank treads coming toward us, but could not tell if it was a Nazi Tiger Tank or an American Sherman Tank.  General George Patton ordered the 101st and 82nd Airborne up to Bastogne.  They could not jump from planes because of the fog.  They were brought up in 6x6 Army trucks and it took them two days to reach us.  A paratrooper asks me where the front line was and I told him he was standing on it.
 
Somehow our battery escaped the Bastogne encirclement.  Three of us came upon a Belgium farmhouse in the middle of the battlefield.  We went inside and there was a father, mother and two children, a boy and girl about 7 or 8 years old.  The mother gave us some soup and black bread and we save them some candy.  This was Christmas Eve.  We sang Christmas songs that night.  We sang “Jingle Bells” and “Silent Night.” The words were different, but the music was the same.  We were wet and cold, but we dried off that night.  We could hear machine guns rattle and artillery shells bursting all night. We didn’t get much sleep, but we got warm and dry. 
 
We left the next morning and the family didn’t want to see us go. The 16th FAOB was badly shot up and the 285th FAOB in the same area was badly shot up.  The two Observation Battalions decided to form one unit, so they could be more effective in the war.  This did not happen, the Nazi SS Troops captured a Battery of the 285th and herded them into an open snowy field and machine-gunned them down in cold blood.  This was not war, this was murder and was known as the Malmedy Massacre.
 
The clouds and fog started to break up and the Air Force flew thousands of sorties over the area.  They bombed tank positions, artillery positions and machine-gunned infantry troops and supply lines.  We watched C-47 planes fly low over the battlefield and drop by parachute food, guns, gasoline and medical supplies, we were out of everything. We begin to hold our own and gradually fought our way back to Auw, Germany.
 
On January 30th, 1945 we were at the same location we were on December 16, 1944.  Up to now we were liberators.  From now on, we will be conquerors.  Over one million men fought in the “Battle of the Bulge” — 600,000 Americans, 500,000 Germans, and 35,000 English, French, Canadians and others.  This is the largest land battle ever fought by any American Army.  We fought our way to Koblenz, Germany, crossed the Rhine River, were at the liberation of the Ohrdruf concentration camp, the first camp liberated on the Western Front, fought through Nuremberg into Czechoslovakia, met the Russian Army and on May 8, 1945 was VE. Day.
 
The War in Europe was over. From the time we went ashore on Utah Beach, until we met the Russians, I was on the front lines the whole time.  I know that Freedom is not Free!
 
Source: The Bulge Bugle November 2014
By Pfc Francis Keith DAVIS

 

Battery "A"

 

16th Field Artillery Bn

 

VIII Corps, 3rd Army

 

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium