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US Army

A Nice Warm Bed and more –Well-Earned!

A Nice Warm Bed and more –Well-Earned!
I turned 18 in January 1943.  Three months later I got my “Greetings from Uncle Sam.”  After three months of basic, I was assigned to ASTP (Army Specialized Training Program.)  At graduation we become engineers.  Lucky for me, I ended up at Yale, and went home to Brooklyn every weekend! 
Alas, after five months, they canceled the program.  The army needed “cannon fodder.” Off to another basic training for five months as a light (30 cal.) machine gunner.  
In September 1944, I was on the Ile de France for eight days, dodging subs, until we landed at Grenoch, Scotland.  By train we arrived a day later in Southampton England, and then went immediately by ship over the channel to Le Havre.  By truck, I arrived at Company “B”, 319th Infantry Division, 80th Infantry Division as a replacement, carrying 2 boxes of ammunition and my M1 rifle.  Two days late, I traded my M1 for a carbine and then a 45 pistol, because I was now a second gunner. 
We were in a small town near St. Lo and stayed in a large school building. Three days later I read in the “Stars and Stripes” paper that a bomb from German planes had demolished the entire building!  Wow! 
In the ensuing months, I was now first gunner.  We pushed the Krauts back towards Germany, taking many towns and cities along the way. In December 1944, we were in eastern France overlooking the Siegfried line, near Saarbrucken.  Advancing through one town and another, encountering little or no resistance.  The scuttlebutt had it that we’d be home for Christmas.  Yea, sure! 
While having our coffee one morning, our lieutenant ran in and said, “The Germans have broken through in the first Army sector, matching us man for man, plane for plane, and tank for tank! We have to go there and stop them!” 
After three days in open trucks in 9° weather and plenty of snow, we ended up in Dahl, Luxembourg, just south of Bastogne.   Two days later we were up in the attic of a large house.  When we looked out the window, we saw several hundred Krauts lined up about 50 yards out.  I opened up with my machine gun and my buddies with their M1s.  I don’t know how many we got, but they retreated quickly. However, I looked to my left, and down the road was a Tiger tank taking aim at us.  I told the guys to “get the heck downstairs!”  When things quieted down, I went back upstairs and the entire loft was in ruins, including my gun.  But the tank was now a shell—some of my company must have knocked it out!  Wow! 
The  next  day,  we  left  Dahl  and  moved  into  some  woods  nearby.  As we marched through, with a new machine gun on my shoulder, we encountered fierce fire from snipers in the trees. The first gunner “Zel” (Andrew Zelenak from the other squad) was shot and killed and our sergeant was wounded in the hip. I opened up on the snipers and got two of them.  Then orders came down to go back to Dahl.  On the way, my second gunner was shot and he died in my arms.  It was a horrible day. Thank God, I was spared!
A few days later, we marched through those same woods with no resistance.  A week later the Battle of the Bulge was over! I was very Lucky.
* * * *
Now, I have a story on the lighter side.  About a month and half later, we came to a small town in Germany.  Along came our Captain William Scott saying, “Boys, do you want to sleep in warm beds tonight?” We all said, “Yes, sir!” So he said, “Let’s take that town!” We did, amidst very little resistance.  When the town was securing, our captain told me to find a nice place to rest.  Me and one of my buddies started looking  around  town,  and  in  a  short  time  we  came  across  an  8-foot  wall.   Finding the gate, we wandered in, and found a 40-room mansion!  I rapped on the large wooden door with my pistol.  After a while, it was opened by a tall gray-haired man, who said “Was ist los?”  I put the barrel of my gun to his head and commanded, “Shut up!” He scurried away, and we started looking around from room to room.  Finally, we went down to the cellar and there we found, from North, South, East and West, Champagne bottles as far as the eye could see! Needless to say, we ran back to our company and told them, “We have a GREAT place to sleep tonight!”  After pouring bubbly for a couple of hours, we all hit the sack in nice warm beds, not feeling any pain.
A month later, April 12, 1945, our captain William A. Scott was killed as he attacked a German battalion. I will always remember him.
Source: The Bulge Bugle August 2017

By Cpl Norman KATZ


"B" Company,

319th Infantry Regiment

80th Infantry Division



Battle of the Bulge,