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US Army

Caught in the Woods

Caught in the Woods
 
I was with Headquarters Company of the 630th Tank Destroyer Battalion on the 16th day of December 1944.  I was a member of “A” Company but had been sent back to Headquarters Company to help in doing “6,000 miles checks” on half-tracks.  “A” Company had gone out on the 15th preparing positions for a “training exercise.”  When they got there on the 16th, the Germans were in them with small arms.  The first we knew of the “Bulge”, a jeep came back to headquarters with a spring shot loose.  I was called out and told that a man who was supposed to man a .50 caliber gun was ill, and I would take his place.  The gun was mounted on an M20.  They parked me at one end of the village.  I could see a section of the highway to my right.  Before mid-morning, German armor began to pass continuously.  I could hear them to the left.
 
About 2.30 p.m. it was decided we would try to get out but I knew it was too late.   When all the vehicles were in line, the motor officer climbed up beside the driver and told him to pull around the others.  We led the convoy.  The first village we came to, the people ran out crying “Bosche up there,”   The motor officer could speak German, he was told two light tanks had a road block set up just up the road.  The Commanding Officer called for the bazooka teams to see if they could make their way up there and knock them out.  We happened to be by an opening between two buildings.  The motor officer told our driver to back in there.  About that time we heard one of the tanks coming and everyone scattered.
 
I had my leg over the ring mount to go with them and a man going under a fence looked back and said, “Stay with the gun.”  I though I might as well get it here as get out there and get shot like a rabbit.  When the tank came in view, I opened up and jammed his turret, then lowered the gun to where I thought his armor was lighter while emptying a belt of 150 rounds.  He fired one shot, missing me by 10 or 12 feet.  I didn’t try to reload.  I just fell down and got my “grease gun.”  The next thing I knew the Commanding Officer was calling for medics saying we had a wounded man.  I stood up and asked, “Who’s hurt?”  He said, Aren’t you hurt?”  I said I was only scared.  We tried to take a field road but didn’t get far until there was firing up ahead.  Three men in a jeep went up to check but didn’t come back.  We abandoned our vehicles and started out on foot.  It began to get dark.  We were told if those in front of us stopped to lie down.  We came into the edge of some woods and those in front of us move out.
 
 When we knew we were left behind, Willis Johnson and myself began to crawl until we were some distance from the Germans.  We were out in the woods for five days.  We couldn’t find food and went into a village hoping to get food but we were caught by a squad of German soldiers.  We had to walk from place to place as they moved us back from the front.  I can’t remember the names of places or dates.  The most time we spent in one place was at Wittlich, Germany.  We rode trucks to Coblenz, Germany, then a train to Limburg and the first POW camp 11B.  I believe it was.  A short time there, then walked for 3 days to Bad Orb IXB and Stalag 12A near Limburg from which we were liberated on April 2, 1945.
 
Source: The Bulge Bugle February 2000
By Pfc Charles H McPHERSON

 

 

"A" Company

 

630th Tank Destroyer

 

Battalion

 

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium