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The Open Field of Elsenborn


The Open Field of Elsenborn

After fighting our way out of the trap and coming out at Krinkelt we were brought to the open fields of Elsenborn to set up a defense and re-organize.  I was made S/Sergeant, (you, you & you stuff) bat at first without any men.  Gradually replacements began to arrive and I got four men.  I received orders to go back to Elsenborn to the ammo dump and get 300Ibs of TNT, caps and fuse to blow holes on the frozen ground.  We found the dump and picked up the TNT and headed back through town when we passed a building that was a supply room.  “Coats” I thought as I didn’t have any, only my OD shirt and pants.  I had laid my coat on a wounded man at Krinkelt after the barrage was laid on us.  We entered the room with a G.I. quietly sitting at a desk writing.  He looked up to see several men standing there, “Ya! What do you want”  he asked?  I told him that we were drawing as many coats we could carry.  “What outfit you from,”  he asked?  “Company “E” in front of you,”  I replied.  “Can’t give you anything with a req--------.  He stopped talking as several Garand rifles were pointing at him.  A second man ran in from another room and he was taken prisoner as we tied them both up and grabbed the coats.  One man grabbed nice warm mackinaws but I told him to leave them.  They are officers mack’s and enemy snipers would be looking for them.  We took Field jackets instead and left.  On the way back I saw three pair of ski’s standing there against a building and we liberated them also.
We were in reserve of the battalion having only 18 men & 2 officers left of the company, so we drew the patrols.  One night, I was ordered to take out a patrol to take some prisoners.  I was given a few more men on loan from another squad.  We slipped through “F” Company lines where German patrols had been slipping through and set up a trap in case they came by that night.  After waiting patiently for a couple hours, we saw them coming and buried ourselves in the snow.  As they arrived, suddenly several of us stood up in front of them and then the rest of my men came up out of the snow behind them.  They quietly dropped their weapons and raised their hands.  We searched them and headed back for our lines and as we gave the password approaching “F” Company outpost, the prisoners began to talk saying something about.  Ski troops in German.  I ordered them to be quiet but as we passed through “F” Company lines and onto the open fields, they became very excited calling out Sky Troops again.
Ya I called out, we are ski troops and the prisoners were quite upset as ski troops in the German Army or Elite troops.  We looked out over the fields and they were covered with our ski tracks of the night before.  When we decided to try the ski’s out, as we tried the ski’s were passed on to others who too were quite bored sitting here in our holes.  As I was skiing, one guy was coming up out of his hole and I slid right over his helmet and he dived for safety as I ski’d on down the hill.It was a great night goofing off.
During the day before, one of the men came to me complaining about all the case of “C” rations piling up by each hole giving away our positions.  I looked over the field and there were piles of O.D. cases stacked by each hole outlined by the white snow.  I told him to pass the word to spread the cases out away from our holes.  We were normally given only “K” rations but now we were just sitting here waiting for new men so those behind us began to send up “C” rations but for full companies.  We only had 18 men left with a few replacements arriving very slowly.
The Germans saw our ski trails and all these cases of ammo (they thought), and figured that we had been replaced with the 10th mountain division over night and were perhaps ready to attack them.  I smiled as the Jerry kept saying Ski Troops.  One morning about a month later, we looked out behind us and coming from Elsenborn were hundreds of men walking in lines over the snow toward us.  Our new replacements had finally arrived, to fill the 25636 men we lost, but this also meant that we would soon go on the attack and no more “C” Rations that we could warm up.
Source: Bulge Bugle November 2010

By S/Sgt Curtis R. WHITEWAY


"E" Company

394th Infantry Regiment

99th Infantry Division


Battle of the Bulge,