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US Army

Antwerp X and the Battle of the Bulge

 Antwerp X and the Battle of the Bulge
Upon reaching the outskirts of Paris, the Americans were stopped.  The Free French by General de Gaulle were to be the first to enter Paris.  The Germans had left Paris without any organized resistance. They left very little damage to the city.  However, there were some snipers still present August 25, 1944. 
The British went forward to liberate Brussels, Belgium; we went east to Nylan, Belgium and to Antwerp, Belgium.  Getting supplies to the troops became more difficult.  Trucks were bringing supplies over land.  The truck convoys were called “The Red Ball Express”.  The roads were not good in Europe, and rain often made the roads very muddy.  Also, the distance became so long, we needed another port to receive supplies.  Antwerp became a very important supply route.  The British fought to secure the port and we were to set up Artillery (the 125th AAA Bn) outside Antwerp to defend it from the VI Buzz bombs that the Germans sent.  The operation was known as “Antwerp X”.  It was a highly secret mission.  The US Government did not allow any information out about this mission until 50 years ago, after WWII was over.  During this time (December 16, 1944) a Buzz Bomb Rocket hit a recreation theater in Antwerp.  The children were watching a western movie that afternoon, and 500 died.  Russ Elliot and I helped carry many of the children out.  The success rate for destroying the VI rockets was 90%.  But the V2 Rockets were so fast that radar couldn’t pick them up, and there was no defense.
Battle of the Bulge, December 16, 1944 through January 25, 1945.
World War II continued in 1944 and for a rest after Antwerp X, we were sent to the Bulge area located in Ardennes, Belgium.  Winter was on the way.  It was said that this was the coldest winter on record for many years.  The snow was so deep we could hardly walk.  Many of the men had frozen feet and needed amputations.  My left foot was frozen, and I was told gangrene would set in if not removed.  I kept asking for one more day.  By the morning of the next day, circulation began to reappear.  We were to have winter clothing and boots, but for some reason the boots were for summer and not waterproof, and no winter clothing was given.
Our unit was started at St. Vith.  We were assigned to keep the Germans from coming to the crossroads from Houffalize and prevent the Germans from going further west.  Thankfully, we had raincoats.  We would sleep in our wet clothes, and most of the time in an army blanket.  During this time we could not put up a tent, as there wasn’t time.  We were always moving and most nights we spent in foxholes in the snow.  When we had a chance, we would get into an old building.
The Ardennes forest was so dense they had to have tanks to knock down the trees to get the large artillery through.  The large artillery was set up behind the line and would shoot over the line to the Germans.  A B-17 crashed near us while on a bombing run. We picked up several men.  All were deceased. One was a general, but at the time we didn’t know that.  In combat no stars or badges were worn. If taken prisoner, you didn’t want the Germans to know your rank.  Later the story was written up in The Stars and Stripes.
The weather stayed bad for days or weeks – I don’t remember which.  But I do remember all the frozen feet and sleeping in the snow.  Christmas Day 1944, a German jet was strafing us.  It was a brand new model (ME262) jet.  The attack caused multiple injuries and fatalities to our men.  In the Battle of the Bulge, there were 600,000 Americans and 650,000 Germans.  It was the largest land battle of WWII.  Three American armies and six Corps, 81,000 GI wounded, 19,000 killed.  When the weather finally permitted planes to fly, the 101st in Bastogne had supplies dropped by air.
Winter of 1944 – Spring 1945 
General Patton’s 3rd Army and tanks were received with much joy, and the battle began in our favor.  General Patton was held up from arriving sooner because of the weather and no gas for his tanks.  My unit, the 83rd Infantry Division, 329th Infantry Regiment, was sent toward the East (Rhine River), crossing it into Czechoslovakia.  The Germans knew the Americans were coming and near the town of Pilsen, the Concentration Camp of Nordhausen was liberated.  The Germans guards left or wore civilian clothes so as not to be known as guards.  The prisoners in the camp were not able to move, because most were too weak or too sick.  Approximately 1/3 of them survived.  Near the end of the war was the discovery of the Dachau Concentration Camp.  Pilsen was the capital of Czechoslovakia and the prisoners were used by the Germans as slave labor.  Where the underground VI Missile flying bomb assembly plant was located, the underground factory had multiple miles of tunnels.  When the camps were freed, the Occupational Army took the refuges to another camp to be clothed and fed until they were healthy and able to make decisions for themselves.  It was found if they were left alone they would eat and eat.  Not mentally able to make a decision until the body became healthy. 
After leaving this area, we went on to the Elbe River, going through the Hurtgen Forest.  The combat lasted about a week to 10 days.  Upon reaching the Elbe River (March 13 or 14, 1945) the crossing was made on a pontoon bridge and small boats brought by the engineers.  The engineers were great craftsmen.  The area was about 35 miles from Berlin.  We waited for the Russians, who came on April 13, 1945.  The wait was necessary, for President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill had promised Stalin (the Russian Ruler) that the Russians could take Berlin.  The Germans surrendered May 8, 1945.
Source: The Bulge Bugle May 2014
By 1st Lt Forest E BROWN

3rd Battalion


"I" Company


329th Infantry Regiment


83rd Infantry Division



Battle of the Bulge,