Monday, December 21, 2009

Between the Lines: Bill in Combat Dec.22, 1944-Jan.11, 1945

Just before Christmas, warm winter clothing arrives at the front. The weather by now is extremely cold and miserable. Practically all the men have trenchfoot to some degree.

On Christmas Day the men enjoy a hot meal. At midnight the Germans attack several positions. Company A has no trouble and even captures two enemy prisoners. On December 27 the Company CP is moved to Reyersviller. The men have now been existing in holes for fourteen days in brutally cold weather.

At exactly midnight on January 1, 1945, the Germans start the New Year with a banging attack. Against many units this attack is bitterly and fanatically fought by the Germans. With thin, long-stretched lines it is necessary for Company A to withdraw. It is a bitter pill to swallow- the first loss of ground to the enemy. During the general confusion of the withdrawal the First Platoon is cut off from the Company. The platoon is finally able to take cover in three houses in Reyersviller. The town is now held by the Germans, but miraculously under the cover of darkness the platoon manages to slip out of the houses through the rear and make its way back to the American lines and Company A.

The Company assumes a new position above the Reyersviller-Siersthal road. This position on the wooded hillside above the road comes under continuous fire from German artillery and mortars. There is so much shelling that the trees are reduced to splinters. The new position becomes know by the men as the “Splinter Factory.” The whole area is covered with two to three feet of snow. It is bitterly cold. The men have now been on the line in holes continuously for 27 days, living for most of the time on field rations. Everyone is bearded and dirty. Finally, on 11 January 1945 Able Company is relieved by F Company. The unbelieving but grateful men are marched back to Siersthal for a short rest.

1 comment:

  1. I have received the following information from John Day who participated in the New Year's Day battle as a member of the First Platoon, Company A:

    "Some of the story you got from "Able in Combat" (the published Company A unit history) about the New Years attack was not entirely correct. I was a member of the first platoon and we were sent to reinforce the Recon Squadron where the Lemberg-Bitche road met the Reyersviller-Siersthal road. The Recon Squadron retreated, leaving us more or less isolated because we had no one on our left. So our platoon (not at full strenth) probably 20 men, took refuge in the basements of a couple of houses on the far side of the road, away from the main attacking force."

    "A Company itself was short handed. The normal number in a company was 185 and on January 1 we were at 145."


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